Everyone has a story to tell. This assignment prompts students to research their family history in order to write a fictionalized account of an event from their family’s past. The assignment can follow all the steps in the lesson, or you can pick and choose how detailed you want to be. The lesson begins with an Academic Peace Circle that not only builds community in the classroom, but gives the students topic ideas for their stories. The unit involves:
1. Academic Peace circle
2. Family tree
3. Narrowing down questions
4. Interviewing a family member
5. Researching a time period
6. Planning a story
7. Writing a story
8. Reflecting on the process.
This unit can take anywhere from 3 days to a week and a half. You can add lessons on bibliography, creative nonfiction, interviewing, etc. I have never had a year where this assignment didn’t create wonderful stories and more importantly, meaningful experiences for students. Creative Nonfiction is a great genre for beginning creative writers because it allows them to use their experience as a jumping off point.
I highly recommend that before attempting a circle in your classroom reading my resource titled Restorative Practices: Classroom Integration through Academic Peace Circles (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Restorative-Practices-Classroom-Integration-through-Academic-Peace-Circles-1660666). In it I provide hints and tips for how to run circles as well as other ideas for using circles for instruction.
If you like this lesson, please let me know in the feedback section. It is in rough form—my goal is not perfection, but to share lessons that excite students and allow them an opportunity to learn and grow. Please feel free to amend as necessary. Another fully editable lesson from Preserving Civilization.