Lesson 5 Expanding on Colonial Life Book: Martha Ballard Primary Source for Writing Writing Project

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Lesson 5 Expanding on Colonial Life Book: Martha Ballard Primary Source for Writing
Writing Project: Characterization Essay Using Martha Ballard Diary

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Teaching Procedure

Read & Plan

Read and Plan

Organize for coherence

Organize for coherence & Oral Rehearse

Oral Rehearse & Take off Map and Write

Other Materials

or Handouts

Martha Ballard Background knowledge Y Diary inserts. Also look on line:

http://dohistory.org/diary/ & film vignettes

Martha Ballard Diary inserts

Character Trait dictionary or list

Thinking Maps

Tree Map

Tree Map

Flee Map

Flee Map

Linguistic patterns: The character is ___(trait)___ because ___(evidence)____. When the __(character)_ (evidence)__, I could tell _____ .

Grammar Focus: WC 1.5 Quotation marks used correctly. WS 1.4: Revise and edit to improve sequence and provide detail.


Film Excerpts: http://dohistory.org/film/index.html

Writing Plan Sequence:

Day 1 – 2: Using the Primary Source

Tell students that they will be focus on analyzing a character (characterization) this week with our Colonial Unit.

Say: Today as we read the read together about one colonial woman, Martha Ballard. First we will read some background knowledge about Martha and look at some maps of where she lived, etc. Now we will begin to read some of Martha’s diary. We will focus on all that the Martha did and thought & about others around her. I will help you with some of the unusual words in her diary. (you can display the tree map here).

Say: When we are finished, we will place our evidence on this map. This evidence will help us to infer the character traits the Martha Ballard possessed.

After reading some of the diary, lead a discussion on what the students initially perceived were some traits Martha possessed.

Continue to read the diary, looking for evidence: actions, words, feelings and thoughts, and what others did around her, and write them under the correct category. If you have a document camera (ELMO), display the specific entries to find the evidence about the Martha

Example: (After looking at evidence, sum up and use generalizations, rather than detailing every word

Martha Ballard (from Diary & Film)

Appearance/ Wore

plain clothing, hat, shoes

Information about others around her

Always took care of people at her house.

Her girls do a lot of the work too

People sent for Martha & depended on her for their illnesses & births, deaths, etc.

Husband gone a lot

What she thought/said

Told about the weather daily

wished she felt better

Had severe pain in foot


What she did

cooked, bought food, supplies, & medicine, grew food & herbs, housework, tended to sick people, assisted in childbirth, gave medicine, walked for long hours, stayed up all night with sick people, carded cotton and wool, spun skeins for weaving and cloth, sewed & mended, rode to fort, crossed a river for midwifery, stayed out late to take care of people kept notes on spending & who had paid her, etc.

Traits: hard working, diligent, tired, dependable, etc.

After evidence has been gathered, students can infer what kind of person Martha was like. Students may need to use the Character Traits Dictionary or the list of traits to assist them. If the trait is not listed, students can add it onto their dictionary. Put a “frame of reference” box around the tree map and write the traits that represent Martha Ballard in the box.

Step aside Standards Practice Question:

1. Which of the following tells us that Martha is hard working person?

a. She wore plain clothing and shoes

b. She wished she felt better

c. Created 18 skeins of wool one day

d. Rode to the fort
Follow up discussion question: What traits can be inferred from the evidence in a, b, and d? Possible answers a)not rich b) tired and sick d) traveled far
Day 3 - 4
Say: Now that we have determined the traits of the Martha Ballard, we will write a character analysis about her.

Display the prompt: What are Martha Ballard’s character traits? How has her diary helped you understand the significance of women during Colonial times? Defend your answer with evidence from the diary.
Break down the prompt: What is the first part asking? The next part and where should this part of the essay go (at the end)? What must you do in the 3rd part – where does the evidence go in a character essay?

How should you organize your essay?

  • Discuss how the traits are the 3 events

  • The evidence is the details.

  • Use the part about how the significance of women in Colonial Times in your conclusion.

Begin filling in the flow map. Students will fill in theirs. They can pick different traits or you can decide as a class for this essay to work with the same traits. You will not have to have three details for each paragraph, just the evidence to prove your opinion. Depending on the ability levels of your students, they can write about one or more traits. They do not have to write about 3 traits.

Thesis: In the diary of Martha Ballard, written (cite source, context, etc like 1785 – 1812)), The midwife, Martha Ballard was (state several traits). This diary gives us incite into what life might have been like for the every day woman of this time.

Transition Transition Transition

evidence evidence evidence

from tree map from tree map from tree map

Students will now oral rehearse their flee maps.
Day 5

Take the information off the map and write the essay. Revise for coherence and using better or more original words.

Tross, 2008 TAH Writing Lesson

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