Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

“I Remember Memorial Day”

Older students  will enjoy this storytelling activity discussing Memorial Day with a senior in their lives.

Few young people in the United States have a direct relationship with service members, with less than 1% of the American population actively serving in military roles. For our generation of elders, military service was an expected part of adulthood.  Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles from their 50s to 90s have vivid memories of life during wartime.

Commemorate Memorial Day with your children and students by having them learn first-hand about Memorial Days past. (Instructions are written in the second person, to the student. Advanced instructions for collaborative activities are included as well)

Memorial Day in America's Past

a teen boy holding a white cane strokes the surface of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial   
photo courtesy of NFB.org

How do your friends and family celebrate Memorial Day?  Usually the weather is warm and school is nearly finished.  It's great to have a day off!  Many families have a picnic, go to a town parade, or a drive in the country.  Maybe where you live, it is already warm enough for the beaches and pools to open!

Memorial Day is the day we set aside to remember troops we have lost in war, throughout American history.  Have you ever asked older people in your life, such as your grandparents, godparents, teacher, or neighbor, what Memorial Day was like when they were your age?  Here are some ideas for turning a fun conversation into an interesting writing and research project.

1.            Ask a family member or friend to talk about their Memorial Day Memories

3 men with white hair use smartphones

Do you know anyone who is more than 50 years old?  Maybe you have an uncle or aunt, a godparent or grandparent, or a neighbor, minister, or teacher you like to talk with.  Ask them what they remember about Memorial Day years ago. 

Here are some questions you can ask to help them remember:

  • Where did you live when you were my age?
  •  What were you like?
  • Do you remember Memorial Day Celebrations?  What did you do?
  • Tell me about a Memorial Day you remember really well.  What makes it such a strong memory?

You can take notes while they talk, or record them on audio or video.  Listen for things that make you want to know more, and ask questions about them.  When you hear words or ideas that are new, ask your friend to explain.

You might enjoy using library and Internet resources to research more about the things you talk about.

2.            Write a summary of one of their stories

From your interview notes, retell one of the memories in a paragraph or two, as the beginning of an essay. Imagine that your reader s have never met your friend, and include details that will explain who they are and when their memory takes place.

If you are a braille reader, try writing your story in braille! You may have to use your favorite spell check program or a dictionary to check the spelling and syllable breaks of new words you'd like to use.

3.            Think about how your friend's story compares with your own Memorial Day 

How is your friend's memory like your own Memorial Day memories?  How is it different?

What did you hear about that you had never heard of before?  Is it something you would like to do?

What did your friend remember that you had heard of in books in movies?

Imagine you lived in the time and place your friend recalls. What do you think you would have been like?

4.            Write a summary of your thoughts

Continue the essay you began in Step 2 with your thoughts about your friend's memories. 

5.            Share your reflections

Share your essay with your class or family by reading your papers aloud. 

teen boys use a laptop side-by-side     teen girls in a classroom share a laptop

 

Collaborative classroom ideas for teachers

Have class members exchange papers and practice reading material they did not create.

Use the collected essays to make a class project of Memorial Day memories, using audio, video, or presentation software.  

Find tactile symbols for the collected memories and bind them together in a book.

Create monologues out of memory stories and have class members portray characters in a staged performance.

Materials: 

Braille readers will need their preferred brailling tools.

Materials for tactile book making include art supplies and small representative objects, tape/glue, and a notebook or other page binders like stables or brads.

Students may wish to use a note taker or recording device in their interview.

Procedure: 

 

1.  Interview a subject, preferably a senior citizen, about their Memorial Day Memories

2.  Structure an essay to compare/contrast the interview subject's experiences with the interviewer's own.  Essays can be as long or complex as the students' skill level supports.  These instructions suggest 1-2 paragraphs summarizing the senior's memories, and 1-2 paragraphs of the student's own.

3.  Present essays. 

Variations: 

Students may present orally, submit written papers, collaborate on a class Memory Book, or combinations of all of these.  Audio/visual or dramatic presentations, art work/poster projects, poems, tactile books, are all variations on the activity.

For a class activity, discuss similarities and differences across all the projects.  Have students discuss their interview experience, and share tips.

Standards are identified for 6-12, and may also vary given the skill level and intellectual abilities of individual students or class groups.

 

memorial day collage


 

Core Standards

Literature: 

RL.6.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
RL.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
RL.6.6 Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.
RL.6.7 Compare and contrast the experience of reading a story, drama, or poem to listening to or viewing an audio, video, or live version of the text, including contrasting what they “see” and “hear” when reading the text to what they perceive when they listen or watch.
RL.7.6 Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.

Language: 

L.6.1e Recognize variations from standard English in their own and others' writing and speaking, and identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language.*
L.6.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
L.6.2a Use punctuation (commas, parentheses, dashes) to set off nonrestrictive/parenthetical elements.*
Spell correctly.
L.6.3 Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
L.6.3a Vary sentence patterns for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style.*
L.6.3b Maintain consistency in style and tone.*
L.6.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 6 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
L.6.4c Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech.
L.6.4 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
L.6.6  Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Speaking and Listening: 

SL.6.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
SL.6.5 Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.
SL.6.7 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
SL.7.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
SL.7.4  Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
SL.7.5 Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.
SL.7.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
SL.8.4  Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
SL.8.5  Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
SL.8.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
SL.9-10.1b Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.
SL.9-10.1c Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
SL.9-10.4  Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
SL.9-10.5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
SL.9-10.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Information Text: 

RI.6.2  Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
RI.6.3  Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).
RI.6.4  Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.
RI.6.5 Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.
RI.6.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text.
RI.7.2 Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
RI.7.5 Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.

Writing: 

W.6.2a Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
W.6.2b Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
W.6.2c Use appropriate transitions to clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
W.6.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
W.6.2e Establish and maintain a formal style.
W.6.2f Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the information or explanation presented.
W.6.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
W.6.3a Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
W.6.3d Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
W.6.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
W.7.2a Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
W.7.2b Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
W.7.2c Use appropriate transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
W.7.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
W.7.3  Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
W.7.3a Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
W.7.3b Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
W.7.3c Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another.
W.7.3e Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.
W.7.4  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
W.8.2a Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
W.8.2b Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
W.8.2c Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
W.8.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
W.8.2e Establish and maintain a formal style.
W.8.2f Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.
W.8.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
W.8.3a Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
W.8.3b Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
W.8.3c Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.
W.8.3d Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
W.8.3e Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.
W.8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
W.8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
W.9-10.3b Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
W.9-10.3c Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole.
W.9-10.3d Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
W.9-10.3e Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.
W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Braille Standard

Grade 6 - Writing: 

6.1.4a Design and publish print and braille documents, using appropriate adaptive computer technology to navigate the Internet and computer networks to access bulletin boards and databases.

Grade 7 - Writing: 

7.1.3 Use strategies of notetaking, outlining, and summarizing to impose structure on composition drafts, using a slate and stylus, braille notetaker, or notebook computer.
7.1.6 Create documents by using adapted computer hardware, a scanner, computer navigation software, word-processing skills, and publishing programs; develop simple databases and spreadsheets to manage information and prepare reports.
7.1.6a Create properly formatted braille documents.
7.2.0 Using the writing strategies of grade seven outlined in Writing Standard 1.0, students effectively use braillewriters, braille notetakers, notebook computers, screen readers, braille/print translation software, scanners, printers, and braille embossers. Students:
7.1.6c Use speaking techniques, including voice modulation, inflection, tempo, enunciation, and facing the audience, for effective presentations.

Grade 8: 

8.1.4a Using the writing strategies of grade eight outlined in Writing Standard 1.0, students effectively use braillewriters, braille notetakers, notebook computers, screen readers, braille/print translation software, scanners, printers, and braille embossers. Students:

Grade 9 and 10: 

9.1.9 Analyze the occasion and the interests of the audience and choose effective verbal and nonverbal techniques (e.g., voice, gestures, facing the audience) for presentations

Grade 11 and 12: 

11.1.9 Revise text, using a braille notetaker or a computer with a screen reader, to highlight the individual voice, improve sentence variety and style, and enhance subtlety of meaning and tone in ways that are consistent with the purpose, audience, and genre.
11.1.9a Using the writing strategies of grades eleven and twelve outlined in Writing Standard 1.0, students effectively use braillewriters, braille notetakers, notebook computers, screen readers, braille/print translation software, scanners, printers, and braille embossers. Students:

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