Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Super Modeling – Assumed identities

I love the potential for deepening understanding, especially in history, with students assuming an identity or role from a specific time period.

Taking on an historical identity with an authentic voice requires a tremendous amount of understanding about that time period, going way beyond clothing and other physical props.  And what does it take to get there?  No big surprise here – research.  Opportunities abound!

A colleague told me about a similar activity that had totally engaged her junior high daughter.  After reading one of the books from the Dear Canada series she had to write in diary format about her life as a newly arrived immigrant in Canada in the 1700’s.

Another example is Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village (822 ScG 2007).  This book is a collection of 22 monologues in which each student assumes the identity of a person (from the poorest to the richest) living in a typical village from the Middle Ages.  This book provides a great model where students can research a specific person living in a particular time period and then construct a narrative about who they are, their roles in the village and even relationships with other villagers.  This book won the 2008 Newbery Medal for children’s literature.

One last example resource to share is The Dead Guy Interviews : Conversations with 45 of the most accomplished, notorious, and deceased personalities in history  (909 StD 2007) which, often in a humorous vein, asks probing questions to Cleopatra, Harry Houdini, Mae West , Da Vinci, Genghis Khan, Einstein and many others about their lives and time they lived in.  The amount of understanding required to conduct an ‘interview’ (both sides) with a particular person asking appropriate question about their lives, will be fairly extensive.   I should mention this book is more appropriate for upper junior and high school levels.

So, maybe there is value in pretending to be someone else.


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