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An Acquaintance with Darkness, a Civil War novel

Created By: Donna Holinga, Lincoln Magnet School (Springfield, IL)
Grade Level: 8th Grade
Content Area: Language Arts and Social Studies
Database Integration: Students will use the TDC database to view images of the Civil War, the people and events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and his funeral procession from Washingtonton, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois.


Illinois Learning Standards Achieved


Standard Achieved

Activity that Meets this Standard

STATE GOAL 1: Read with understanding and fluency.
Learning Standard A: Apply word analysis and vocabulary skills to comprehend selections.

Students will find 4 words in each chapter which are new to them. They will complete Vocabulary Usage worksheets in which they will define a word, tell what part of speech it is and use the word in a sentence which lets the teacher know they understand the meaning of the word.

STATE GOAL 1: Read with understanding and fluency.
B. Apply reading strategies to improve comprehension and fluency in a broad range of reading materials.

Students will answer comprehension questions about the events in each chapter of the novel. These answers will then be used as starting points for discussion.

STATE GOAL 2: Read and understand literature representative of various societies, eras, and ideas.
Learning Standard A: Understand how literary elements and techniques are used to convey meaning.

Students will complete 3 Think Sheets in which they interpret the events in the story and tell their personal reactions to these events.Students will complete a "Name That Conflict" paper.Students will complete "Turning Point" in which they will identify the five most important events in the novel and tell which event was the turning point in the story.
STATE GOAL 3: Write to communicate for a variety of purposes.
Learning Standard A: Use correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.
Learning Standard B: Compose well-organized and coherent writing.
Students will respond to three of six journal prompts relating to events in the novel. Students will be given an Extended Response Question at the conclusion of the novel study. They will complete a graphic organizer and a written response to answer the question.
STATE GOAL 4: Listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations.
Learning Standard A: Listen effectively in formal and informal situations.
Learning Standard B: Speak effectively using language appropriate to the situation and audience.
In literature circle groups students will discuss the events in the story and the how these events relate to the darkness our nation felt at the time of the assassination of President Lincoln.
STATE GOAL 5: Use the language arts to acquire, assess, and communicate information.
Learning Standard C: Apply skills and strategies of an independent learner.
Students will research information about the trial of John Wilkes Booth, Dr. Samuel Mudd and the Surratt family. They will then write a persuasive paper about the guilt or innocence of one of these people.
STATE GOAL 16 (Social Studies): Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States and other nations. Students will gain knowledge and understanding about the events surrounding the end of the Civil War, the assassination of President Lincoln and the trial of those accused to killing him.


Materials:


Procedures:

Eighth grade students will study the Civil War in American History prior to reading the novel, An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi. This novel is set in Washington, D.C. at the close of the Civil War. The main character, Emily, deals with the lose of her mother, the uncertainty of the innocence or guilt of her friends, the Surratts and her mysterious uncle. The novel groups will last three weeks.

  1. Students will begin studying the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in American history class in order to gain background knowledge before reading the novel.
  2. Review with students how literature circles work. Each group will decide how many pages they will read each day. Groups will sign up to meet with a teacher for discussion at least three times during the three-week period.
  3. Before reading activities: Students will predict the meaning of the title of the novel, An Acquaintance with Darkness.
  4. Word Study: Throughout the novel students will find 4 words in each chapter which are new to them. They will complete Vocabulary Usage worksheets in which they will define a word, tell what part of speech it is and use the word in a sentence which lets the teacher know they understand the meaning of the word.
  5. Comprehension: Students will answer comprehension questions about the events in each chapter of the novel. Students will use these as starting points for the literature circle discussions.
  6. Literary Elements and Techniques: Students will complete 3 Think Sheets in which they interpret the events in the story and tell their personal reactions to these events.Students will complete a "Name That Conflict" paper in which they will identify the majors conflicts in the novel. Students will complete "Turning Point" in which they will identify the five most important events in the novel and tell which event was the turning point in the story.
  7. Writing: Throughout the novel students will respond to three of six journal prompts about the events and characters in the novel
    Students will choose one of the people accused of assassinating Lincoln and write a persuasive paper defending their guilt or innocence. Students will be given an Extended Response Question at the conclusion of the novel study. They will complete a graphic organizer and a written response to answer the question.

Assessment:

Teacher created, predetermined rubrics will be used to assess the assignments completed during the novel study. These rubrics will be shared with students prior to use.