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HistoryFix: A Letter to Me...writing about George Washington

A Writing Across the Curriculum Lesson from HistoryFix
Historical Topic: George Washington Students Write: a poem/lyric and/or letter

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Denise Boswell has been a Northern Nevada Writing Project Teacher Consultant since 2004. She is an instructor in the NNWP's Writing Across the Curriculum courses. She teaches fifth graders in Sparks, Nevada.

Denise invites you to publish your students' writing done with this lesson at this posting page.


A Letter to Me...
George Washington
Reflects on his Life

This writing across the curriculum lesson was created by Nevada teacher Denise Boswell, who hosts our HistoryFix lesson collection.

Denise considers this writing assignment to be appropriate for students in grades 5-12.

Lesson Summary:

Overview/Objectives: Inspired by Brad Paisley’s song “A Letter to Me” and Brian Elroy’s “A Letter To My Younger Self”, students will reflect upon George Washington’s life and create a “Letter to Himself” using lyrics, poem, or letter.

  • Students will identify author’s purpose through poetry, lyrics, and letter writing.
  • Students will identify accomplishments during different stages of George Washington’s life.
  • Students will compose a poem, lyric, or letter demonstrating knowledge of George Washington’s life.
  • Students will compose a poem, lyric, or letter to themselves from the future.

Performance or Curriculum Standards:

  • Understands why the Americas attracted Europeans, why they brought enslaved Africans to their colonies, and how Europeans struggled for control of North America and the Caribbean
  • Understands how political, religious, and social institutions emerged in the English colonies
  • Understands how the values and institutions of European economic life took root in the colonies, and how slavery reshaped European and African life in the Americas
  • Understands the causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in forging the revolutionary movement, and the reasons for the American victory
  • Understands the impact of the American Revolution on politics, economy, and society
  • Understands the institutions and practices of government created during the Revolution and how they were revised between 1787 and 1815 to create the foundation of the American political system based on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights

Time Needed: Three or four 45-minute sessions

Writing skills (traits) to stress while teaching this lesson:

  • Idea Development (writing with a clear, central idea or theme in mind; and putting researched ideas into one’s own words)
  • Voice (conveying passion towards the message of the writing or the topic)
  • Conventions (spelling skills, punctuation skills, capitalizations skills, grammar usage and skills, Indenting and spacing)

Materials List:

Background Information:

George Washington was a general in the Continental Army and the first president of the United States. Although these are his most well known accomplishments, George Washington was a surveyor, farmer, inventor, and scientist; he was truly a man before his time.

To introduce this lesson, post the portrait of George Washington Porthole Portrait for the class to see. Have the class "popcorn talk" and create a Word Splash about what they already know about George Washington.

Teacher Instructions:

Day 1:

  1. Read a loud Farmer George. As you read, place the color illustrations on a piece of chart paper (use the GLAD Narrative model, if you know the GLAD strategies).
  2. Pass out the graphic organizer for “Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley. Play the song/video.
  3. Have students work through the questions on the Graphic Organizer.
  4. Continue to the Graphic Organizer's for “Letter to My Younger Self” by Brian Elroy page.
  5. Have students preread the letter to familiarize themselves with the text.
  6. Read through the letter as a class.
  7. Have students work through the questions on the Graphic Organizer.

Day 2:

  1. Pass out the George Washington quotes from Farmer George to the students.
  2. Read aloud Farmer George Plants a Nation, the illustrations should still be on the chart paper.
  3. As you read, students come up to the chart paper and match the quote to the illustration.
  4. Have students add to the original Word Splash using new information from the story.
  5. Include other information about George Washington, i.e. primary sources, textbook, etc…
  6. Move to the page about A Letter To Me by George Washington on the Graphic Organizer.
  7. Have students complete the Graphic Organizer using the facts they have learned about George Washington and write their poem, lyric, letter from old George Washington to the young George Washington.

Day 3:

  1. Draw students' attention to the A Letter To Me page of the Graphic Organizer.
  2. Have students complete the Graphic Organizer and write their poem, lyric, and/or letter to themselves from the future.


Denise's Extension Ideas:

This lesson is set into three class periods. I would incorporate the lesson into two units of study beginning with colonial America and ending with the American Revolution. These units could focus on biographies of the Founding Fathers. Students would gather information about George Washington during the units of study. A Letter To Myself would be taught towards the end of the unit as a culminating lesson and assessment.

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