Lesson Plan

Dear Diary

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Subject:
Colonial History, Language Arts, Literature, Military and Wartime History, Reading, Revolutionary War, Women's History
Duration:
30 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 24
Setting:
classroom
National/State Standards:
NYS:
Gr. 4: The Rev War in NYS
Gr. 5: Hist. of US
Gr. 7: Un. 2, Sec. 1, Obj. 2; Un. 2, Sec. 3, Obj. 4; Un. 3, Sec. 4, Cont.A2
NYSED Standards:
1,2,3,5
US Standards:
Gr. 4: 1 A,B; 2 A,B; 3 A,C,D,E
Gr. 5,7,8: Era 2 St. 1 B; 2 A,B,C; Era 3 St. 1 A,C; 2 C
Keywords:
Battle of Saratoga, Battles of Saratoga, Saratoga Battlefield, Revolutionary War, American Revolution, geography, maps, military history, history, social studies, primary sources, PDQs

Overview

The Battles of Saratoga not only had significant effects on national and world history, but also deeply affected those directly and indirectly involved.  “Dear Diary” uses primary source documents—journals—to examine this crucial event through the eyes of participants.

Objective(s)

 Students will be able to:

  1. analyze journal entries and discern factual data
  2. analyze these journal entries to evaluate some of the effects the Battles of Saratoga had on participants




Background

The journal entries use original spelling, grammar, and syntax, and may be unfamiliar to many readers. Reviewing the content before classroom use will be important.  Also a good teachable moment to discuss how dictionaries with standardized spellings were not commonplace at the time.



Materials

 Downloadable PDF documents:

"Dear Diary" worksheets

Teacher's answer key



Procedure

Ask students how many have kept or do keep a journal or diary.  Point out how doing so can be a good way of recording and remembering what goes on in a person's life, how one feels about the events, and what one learns from these events.  Let students know that the practice of keeping a journal or diary is something people have done for many, many years, and that such documents from decades and centuries past can be fantastic sources of information on everyday life and on important events of past years. 

Distribute worksheets, letting students know they are about to read entries from 200+ year old journal and diary entries of real people who participated in or were witness to the Battles of Saratoga.  Also let students know about the lack of proper spelling and grammar often used in these old journals, and go over a few examples with them.

Let students know the activity will have them reading these journal entries to answer several questions.  Students could do so individually, or in small groups, depending on the teacher's preferences.

Assessment

 Downloadable PDF answer key available.



Park Connections

 Journal entries are from participants in or witnesses to the Battles of Saratoga.

School groups are able, in season, to sign up for free, self-guiding battlefield tours and for free, ranger-led education programs.



Extensions

 Have students keep their own journals, or a class journal, for a set period of time as a writing assignment.



Additional Resources

 Downloadable PDF document: Student Resource Packet.



Vocabulary

RECONNAISSANCE --scouting mission to find information
SENTRIES --guards watching over a camp or fortification
PIQUETS (pickets) --small listening posts with a few soldiers, positioned ahead or outside of a camp or fortification
RANK AND FILE --compact lines and rows of soldiers on the battlefield
LIGHT INFANTRY --specially trained soldiers acting as scouts, not usually involved in heavy fighting, working more spread out than the rank and file formation of soldiers
PENCE --pennies
SAVAGES --old term for Native Americans, reflects misunderstandings of its time