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Learning about Memoirs through Primary Resources

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Brigid Schmidt
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Learning about Memoirs through Primary Resources
Red Scarf Girl and China's Son

I chose to do this lesson on memoirs and primary sources after listening to our class discussions. Other teachers emphasized the importance of students being exposed to more primary sources and stories from historical events rather than just reading history books. The memoirs of Ji-li Jiang and Da Chen both talk about a time in China's history that had many challenges: The Cultural Revolution. Hearing some of these moments from the voices of children will help my students relate to them and understand and engage in the historical events more. Both authors are faced with challenges and searching for their identities and voices. This is something we are working on with our students during their Advisory classes. I enjoyed reading more about each of their stories. 

A rationale for the proposed unit: This group of lessons is put together to achieve a level of understanding of memoirs and primary sources while learning about children’s lives during the Cultural Revolution. According to 6th grade Language Arts Standards, students should be able read and comprehend literary non-fiction and be able to compare and contrast ideas from different sources (memoirs, diaries, biographies, etc.) Through reading excerpts from Ji-li Jiang’s memoir in Red Scarf Girl and Da Chen’s biography in China’s Son, the student will read and discuss first-hand accounts from children, learning about what their lives were like in China during the Cultural Revolution. Both Ji-li and Da Chen were finding their paths and searching for their identity, and our students are encouraged to find their voices as well.