Library Digital Content Access

B. F. Harris - Creative Writing Assignment

Created By: Michael Marassa, Edison Middle School (Champaign, IL)
Grade Level: 7th
Content Area: Arts
Database Integration: Students will find pictures of the B.F. Harris home and use architectural details, maybe even a local visit by students, and background information supplied by the teacher to create a narrative short story.

Illinois Learning Standards Achieved

Standard Achieved

Standard that Meets this Standard

State Goal 3: Write to communicate for a variety of purposes.

Students will be writing a narrative essay. This narrative implements the writing process of prewriting, drafting, editing, and publishing to demonstrate the student's ability to do the following:

  • Develop a vivid setting utilizing artifact
  • Create lively characters based upon historical information from artifact and teacher research on family history
  • Keep essay focused on topic
  • Organize coherent and cohesive paragraphs
  • Use proper English grammar and conventions



  1. Give student handout of assignment, explaining timeline of prewriting activities, drafting, peer editing, revision, and final publication date (adapt your timeline based upon student progress)
  2. Using the DSD database and Digital Video Projector, research "Harris" and view each of the five sources. Explain to students current location of the home and history as Cole Hospital and now Pavilion Rehab Facility.
  3. Have students get into groups of three and complete the following prewriting assignment - Looking at the artifact, what details of the setting do you notice (house architecture, grounds, mood, etc.) What additional information does the artifact's description provide? Have one student from the group write down observations.
  4. In the same groups, read through "Writing Dialogue to Develop Characters" on pp. 160-162 in Writers Choice. Have group write a sample dialogue between two people discussing an upcoming UI basketball game. After 4 minutes, transition to the same two characters discussing and reacting to a robbery / theft happening directly to them.
  5. Share with class historical event that took place at the B.F. Harris II home - three armed men entered home during a U of I tailgate party. The armed men robbed the partygoers, but police were notified. One suspect was killed at the scene, and the other two fled but were eventually apprehended.
  6. With this information, have the students write a first draft (2-3 single sided pages) of a story detailing a party and robbery at the B.F. Harris II home. Students should include setting details from the observation and dialogue to aid character development.
  7. After two class periods of drafting, have students meet individually with instructor and one peer to receive written feedback on story. Students should read feedback and write a brief paragraph in response to critiques and outline any modifications that will be made to the story. Turn in to instructor.
  8. Write final draft (handwritten or typed). Check essay for grammar, spelling, and punctuation before turning in for publication.