By: Erin McTigue, Elaine Thornton & Patricia Wiese
Presented by: Gina Gonzalez
Historical Fiction is Great
Historical fiction provides an opportunity for students to connect with history through unique points of view. They are able to relate with the text and the historical events as if they experienced it themselves.
The Problem with Historical Fiction
It is very easy to confuse fiction with fact, which can easily lead to misinformation about historical events. It is imperative that teachers address these concerns by pairing historical fiction with accurate nonfiction sources.
The process of fact-checking sources for accuracy by identifying and then researching questions regarding the source material.
Authentication becomes an important part of synthesizing information present in historical fiction.
Step 1: Whole-Class Introduction
Select a mentor text (historical fiction) and identify reliable nonfiction sources about the same topic.
Introduce ‘Authentication’ to the class: “Authentic means when something is real. Authentication of a book begins by questioning the places, people, and events of the book and wondering, Do I believe it? Then authentication is checking those questions with trusted, informational books, websites and other texts.”
Read the mentor text. Do a think-aloud of potential research questions. Make sure to model a variety of topics (geography, beliefs, historical events)
Brainstorm potential sources of informations. Share the sources you found.
Assign groups of students to search through a source and verify the mentor text
Share findings as a class and determine the historical accuracy of the mentor text
Step 2: Independent Research
Students select a text to authenticate and identify research questions.
Students research the topic using reliable sources- use the school librarian to assist in teaching research tips and source location
Students compare and contrast their findings with the text to verity the historical accuracy
*”I look forward to projects with my students because I can easily incorporate other subject areas like science and history. I also remember as a student wondering what things were in books I read but never researched further.”
“The authentication project provided me with a deeper understanding of how historical fiction books are based on true events. It is intellectually stimulating and rewarding to research and compare books to historical events. Making these kinds of comparisons has helped me to broaden my analytical skills. By taking reading and incorporating history teachers can help students to understand the relationships of learning.”
“I thought this authentication project was very helpful and insightful to furthering our knowledge and understanding of the topics addressed in these novels (another way to dig deep into the information). By doing this assignment, I realized how much is sometimes left unsaid.”
Authentication projects are a valuable, authentic and exciting way to incorporate History into Language Arts. These projects can be easily modified for learners of all ages and abilities. Additionally, they are an integral part of providing context to the events that have shaped our world.