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Ideas for Classroom Use

Groton School Essays

Compare and Contrast: Essay

Ask students to choose one of the essay topics from the transcriptions and write a new essay that compares and contrasts the original essay with the state of that topic today.  Their essay should be a discussion of the changes that have occurred since 1864 related to that topic of study.  

Common Core State Standards Connections

Reading for Informational Text, Grades 3-5

Standard 1Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Standard 2 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

Standard 9 – Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgably.

Writing, Grades 3-5

Standard 2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Standard 7 – Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Standard 8 – Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Standard 9 - Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Reading for Information, Grades 6-12

Standard 7 – Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

Writing, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

Standard 2 – Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts and information through the selection, organization and analysis of relevant content.

Standard 7 – Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

Standard 8 – Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.

Standard 9 – Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Reading for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the evidence.

Standard 2 – Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Writing for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

Standard 2 – Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical process.

Standard 7 – Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Standard 8 – Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Standard 9 – Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Research Project

Using a website like ancestry.com ask students to research one of the authors of the essays.  Can you find information about the student’s family and life in the area?  What did that student end up doing in their lifetime?  What did they do with their education?  Where did they end up living?   Students can present their findings in brief oral presentations.

Common Core State Standards Connections

Reading for Informational Text, Grades 3-5

Standard 1Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Standard 2 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

Standard 3 - Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

Standard 9 – Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgably.

Writing, Grades 3-5

Standard 2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Standard 3 - Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Standard 7 – Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Standard 8 – Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Standard 9 - Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Speaking and Listening, Grades 3-5

Standard 2 – Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Standard 4 – Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount and experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

Reading for Information, Grades 6-12

Standard 7 – Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

Writing, Grades 6-12

Standard 2 – Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts and information through the selection, organization and analysis of relevant content.

Standard 3 – Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well structured event sequences.

Standard 7 – Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

Standard 8 – Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.

Standard 9 – Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Speaking and Listening, Grades 6-12

Standard 4 – Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

Reading for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 2 – Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Writing for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 2 – Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical process.

Standard 7 – Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Standard 8 – Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Standard 9 – Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Compare and Contrast: Essay

Ask students to spend time researching what daily life in schools was like in 1864.  Have students write a detailed essay comparing and contrasting life in schools in 1864 with that of life in schools in 2014.  

Common Core State Standards Connections

Reading for Informational Text, Grades 3-5

Standard 1Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Standard 2 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

Standard 3 - Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

Standard 6 – Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.

Standard 9 – Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgably.

Writing, Grades 3-5

Standard 1 - Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

Standard 2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Standard 7 – Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Standard 8 – Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Standard 9 - Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Writing, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

Standard 2 – Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts and information through the selection, organization and analysis of relevant content.

Standard 7 – Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

Standard 8 – Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.

Standard 9 – Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Reading for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the evidence.

Standard 2 – Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Writing for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

Standard 2 – Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical process.

Standard 7 – Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Standard 8 – Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Standard 9 – Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Worksheet Activity: Document Analysis

As you read these essays, fill out the Document Analysis worksheet located in the sidebar.  As you read further into the essays, do you find your answers change?  Allow students to analyze the essays as though they are detectives, taking one page at a time to figure out more and more information about the authors, the area where they were written, and school at this time.

Common Core State Standards Connections

Reading for Informational Text, Grades 3-5

Standard 1 – Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Standard 2 – Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

Speaking and Listening, Grades 3-5

Standard 1 – Engage in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Standard 2 – Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Speaking and Listening, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Standard 4 – Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

Reading for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the evidence.

Standard 2 – Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.