Seventh Grade English and PC's 325th Anniversary, continued . . .
In addition to these literary extensions, there were some other curricular expansions we designed. Working in collaboration with the library staff, we created a research assignment as an anticipatory project at the start of the unit where students explored various Quaker topics that they would see in the novel (i.e. prison reform, peace and justice, religion and politics of 17th century England, William Penn and early Pennsylvania). Students did independent research and then collaborated with a partner to create and present a Google presentation on one of the topics. Creating this foundation of background knowledge and allowing students to enhance and complement each others’ historical investigations aided their comprehension of the reading and allowed them to hone their cooperative learning skills early in the year. Additionally, we developed a relevant field trip for the end of the unit where the entire grade visited some influential Quaker sites in the city, including Eastern State Penitentiary, the Free Quaker Meetinghouse and Arch Street Meeting. Students photographed and wrote reflections about the trip as a means of expressing the connections they were making between the historic sites and the Turnbull works they had studied.
In the future we see even more possible extensions of this unit that include making deeper connections between the first-person religious accounts of the protagonists in the novels and the spiritual autobiographies all seventh graders compose in QUADS. We also see more opportunities for service-related field trips that are founded in the Quaker lessons of the Turnbull series and the tenets and virtues that appear in our readings later in the year.
All in all, we are excited to have augmented and diversified a literary unit of study that continues to provide a catalyst for Quaker values and the history of Penn Charter in the Middle School English classroom.