Time Travel

sun dialWhen you tour Rome, you’re not always sure if you’re trav­el­ing in taxis or time machines. Down one street, you’re trans­port­ed back to around 2,000 years ago, watch­ing the Chris­tians take on the lions in the Forum. Head down anoth­er street, and you’re enrap­tured by one of Michelangelo’s Renais­sance mas­ter­pieces. Turn your head, and you see — the Gold­en Arches?

It’s the kind of place where it’s hard to remem­ber exact­ly “when” you are.

When” can also be the per­fect jump­ing-off point for a stu­dent writ­ing road trip. Is your class­room study­ing a key time in his­to­ry? Ancient Egypt? The Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion? World War II? Elim­i­nate the dis­tance between your his­to­ry les­son and your writ­ing les­son by ask­ing stu­dents to write a sto­ry set in that his­tor­i­cal time, using details accu­rate to the set­ting. Talk about how set­ting details such as the cor­rect tech­nol­o­gy, peri­od-appro­pri­ate cloth­ing, food choic­es, even the smells of that place and time, will help shape not only the story’s set­ting, but the char­ac­ters who live in the “then” and the “there” of that story.

Or why not cre­ate a sto­ry-writ­ing time machine? List the var­i­ous his­tor­i­cal peri­ods you’ve stud­ied this year on dif­fer­ent index cards. Count up the total num­ber of cards. Assign each card a num­ber. Then have stu­dents num­ber off into that many groups, or choose some oth­er way of ran­dom­ly assign­ing time machine des­ti­na­tions to each stu­dent. You can even use the time machine over and over again, with stu­dents end­ing up in differ­ent “times” each day they jour­ney down this writ­ing road.

Writ­ing can help take your stu­dents any­where, and any-when, you want them to travel.

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