Working and Writing for a Living at Connemara
Table of Contents
Title
Overview
Museum Collections, Similar Items and other Materials Used
National Educational Standards
Student Learning Objectives
Background and Historical Context
Vocabulary
Teacher Tips
Lesson Implementation Procedures
Evaluation/Assessment for Measurable Results
Extension and Enrichment Activities
Resources
Site Visit
Charts, Figures and other Teacher Materials
 

A. Title: Working and Writing for a Living at Connemara
  • Developers:
    Linda Mazzei, WD Williams Elementary, Swannanoa, NC
    Symantha Petitt Gragg, Brevard College, Brevard, NC
    Jodi Huggins, Brevard College, Brevard, NC
  • Grade Level: 5th and 6th grades
  • Number of Sessions in the Lesson Unit Plan: 3 lessons, 60-90 minutes each. This unit contains three lessons based on the theme “Sandburg Home” and focuses on the "Work Habits of Carl Sandburg" at his home, Connemara, located in Flat Rock, North Carolina.
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B. Overview of this Collection-Based Lesson Unit Plan
  • Park Name: Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site Flat Rock, North Carolina
  • Description: The theme of this lesson is investigating Carl Sandburg’s work habits, his organization, and needs as a writer. This lesson uses museum objects from Carl Sandburg’s Home to examine and draw inferences.  The unit will include writing for understanding assignments, guided reading notes and processing assignments.  The museum objects will be the foundation for the students’ personal connections to how they work, based on an examination of the students’ history and a collection of items that reflect this history.
  • Essential Question: How do Carl Sandburg’s possessions allow for the interpretation of his work habits?
  • Similar objects/items: Have the students bring in their favorite writing instrument: lead pencil, mechanical pencil, gel pen, colored pencil, Sharpie, or ink pen in any color. The writing instruments will be used when the students preview museum object CARL348, an image of the thick lead pencils Carl Sandburg would use while writing.  Unlike a real museum object, these items can be safely handled by the students. They promote local products for the museum object.  
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C. Museum Collections, Similar Items and other Materials Used in this Lesson Unit Plan
MUSEUM OBJECT [photos of objects in the Carl Sandburg Home NHS museum collections] SIMILAR OBJECTS [local items similar to museum objects] & OTHER MATERIALS Length of time
Lesson One
 
Cardboard Box
Carl Sandburg
An object that represents teacher’s personal heritage (examples: family bible, grandfather’s walking stick, etc


Similar objects/items [similar to the museum objects in the Sandburg museum collection] 


Other Materials:
    

 

50 – 60 minutes
Lesson Two
 
Carl Sandburg's desk and
desk file
 

Similar objects/items [similar to the museum objects in the Sandburg museum collection] 


Other Materials:
  • Transparency: Template for Biography Poem
  • Transparency: Template for Autobiography Poem
  • Poetry Rubric 
  • Venn Diagram
  • Pizza boxes (one per student), colored pencils, construction paper, magazines, scissors, glue sticks
    

 

50 – 60 minutes
Lesson Two
Typewriter
Pencil Holder
with Pencils

Similar objects/items [similar to the museum objects in the Sandburg museum collection] 


Other Materials:
  • Transparency: Template for Biography Poem
  • Transparency: Template for Autobiography Poem
  • Poetry Rubric 
  • Venn Diagram
  • Pizza boxes (one per student), colored pencils, construction paper, magazines, scissors, glue sticks
    

 

50 – 60 minutes
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D. National Educational Standards
Language Arts
NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Understanding the Human Experience
Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions of human experience.
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Standards
Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features.
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills

Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
NL-ENG-12.5 Communication strategies
Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Evaluating Data
Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

Social Sciences – United States History 5-12
NSS-USH5-12.9 Post War United States (1945 to earl 1970)
Understands the economic boom and social transformation of postwar United States

Arts Education – Visual Arts 5-8 and 9-12

NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
Students select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective in communicating ideas; and reflect on the effectiveness of their choice.
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E. Student Learning Objectives
Lesson One: Sandburg’s House and Mine!
  • Evaluate information found in the images of the museum objects.
  • Apply the information to compare and contrast Carl Sandburg’s work places and the students’ work places.

Lesson Two: Organize This
  • Communicate their ideas and hypotheses about themselves and Sandburg through an autobiography poem and a biography poem
  • Create a museum exhibit of student suitcase with items found in their autobiography poem.

Lesson Three:  The Writing Tool
  • Analysis of museum object CARL 1289 – Remington Noiseless Typewriter.
  • Applying knowledge of figurative language and Carl Sandburg’s poetry in a personification writing.
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F. Background and Historical Context

Carl Sandburg was a diverse writer, receiving numerous awards and honors, critical acclaim and notoriety. His major accomplishments include a 1940 Pulitzer Prize in history for his comprehensive four-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency entitled The War Years and a Pulitzer Prize in 1951 for his book entitled Complete Poems, a compilation of poetry published from 1916-1950.  In 1959, Sandburg was asked to address a Joint Session of Congress on the occasion of Abraham Lincoln’s 150th birthday, and in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Sandburg a Presidential Medal of Freedom, this nation’s highest civilian honor.

Most known for his poetry and biography he also contributed to American children’s literature with his series of American fairytales Rootabaga Stories and Rootabaga Pigeons and to American folk music with The American Songbag published in 1927.  Each project he approached with his full attention and energy. Sandburg knew no trends and followed no conventions. He was uniquely Sandburg.

Unlike many of his contemporaries he (Sandburg) never went abroad for a literary apprenticeship.  While other writers found their voices in Paris, London or Rome, Sandburg turned to Milwaukee and Chicago.  In the process he became the passionate champion of people who did not have the words or power to speak for themselves.  (Niven, p. xviii)

Every writer has his or her own way of performing his or her craft. Carl Sandburg was no different. Carl Sandburg's "poems were sometimes typed on newsprint paper, but there are many that were handwritten in his round, strong, readable script." (page 68, Park Handbook) He preferred pencils over other writing implements. They were easy to carry and easy to restore by simply sharpening them with a pocketknife, which he always had on his person. Pencils became a topic of Sandburg's poetry as well, capturing on paper characteristics he had learned about the pencil. In this poem entitled, Pencils, published post-humorously, Sandburg describes his affection for these tools:

Pencils are to hold when you write.
Pencils come loose unless you hold them.
One pencil writes many thousand words, if
you know the words.
Pencils too pointed break their points and
then laugh at you.
Blunt pencils write big long words for you
even if the words mean nothing.
Proud pencils get furious waiting to be sharpened.
Long pencils say, “I will write and I forget and
leave it to the paper to remember.”
Pencils in pockets and boxes shove each other and
nearly come to fighting.
They wait to be found before they write again—the
lost pencils.

Sandburg’s biographer Penelope Niven remarked that “At home at Connemara, Sandburg loved to work in the bright sunlight, often taking a chair out to the wide shelf of rock up the hill just behind the house.” (page 614, Niven). He also used boxes and crates to organize his collections of ideas, for shelving and filing; typical Sandburg organizational fashion.

Boxes and Bags
The bigger the box the more it holds.
Empty boxes hold the same as empty heads.
Enough small empty boxes thrown into a big empty box fill it full.
A half-empty box says, “Put more in.”
A big enough box could hold the world.
Elephants need big boxes to hold a dozen elephant handkerchiefs.
Fleas fold little handkerchiefs and fix them nice and neat in flea handkerchief-boxes.
Bags lean against each other and boxes stand independent.
Boxes are square with corners unless round with circles.
Box can be piled on box till the whole works comes tumbling.
Pile box on box and the bottom box says, “If you will kindly take notice
you will see it all rests on me.”
Pile box on box and the top one says, “Who falls farthest if or when we
fall? I ask you.”
Box people go looking for boxes and bag people go looking for bags.
Carl Sandburg, Complete Poems, 1951.

"My grandfather often used orange crates instead of desks or tables. His workroom had one desk, a lamp, a chair, file cabinets and at least fourteen orange crates in it. They were versatile. He piled them one on top of another into bookcases, or he broke them down and spread them about, so he could see his work before him. On end they were the perfect height for two fingers to pick at the straddled typewriter in newspaperman fashion; and with their bottoms down they held endless stacks of manuscripts in proper confines." (page 111, My Connemara, Paula Steichen)

Mr. Sandburg’s upstairs garret was a place of tremendous production for this writer. Here he would create and edit his works well into the night, often going to bed as other members of the family were waking up to do chores at the barn. Sandburg would produce, finish, or re-arrange more than ten volumes of work at Connemara in the twenty-two years prior to his death on July 22, 1967.
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G. Vocabulary
Vocabulary List provided. Post the list on large chart in the classroom. Write definitions with student input as words come into use during the lesson. Have students record these definitions.
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H. Teacher Tips
  • Download and laminate images of the museum objects used in each lessons.  Create enough copies so that each group can have a copy. 
  • Download and make a color transparency of the museum objects used in these lessons.  These images are referred to as Transparencies in the lessons.
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I. Lesson Implementation Procedures
Lesson One:  Sandburg’s House and Mine!

Objective(s):

Students will…
  • Evaluate information found in the images of the museum objects
  • Apply the information to compare and contrast Carl Sandburg’s work habits and the students’ work habits

See Section C chart for museum objects, similar and other materials used in this lesson.

Learning Groups: Whole class and individual

Warm-Up:

  1. Project transparency of museum object CARL 38546: “Perhaps” Cardboard Box
    Whole class analysis and discussion:  Help students analyze the object by asking the questions below.
    • What do you see?
    • What is it called?
    • What is or was it used for?
    • What would you use it for?
    • What does it look like?
    • Does its design have a purpose?
    • What can the object tell us about Carl Sandburg?
    • Has its use changed over time?
    • What is it similar to today?
  2. Discuss student’s analysis of the Cardboard Box image.
    • Ask volunteers to step forward to share their observations and to point to the part of the object that supports their ideas.  Students might share observations such as these:
    • It is cardboard
    • The box is designed to hold something.
    • I could use it to keep my baseball cards in
  3. Project Transparency CARL 3000.45.26P Hickory and Laurel curved back chair.  Whole class discussion of these questions:
    • Where is the image taken? (at Connemara)
    • What can be seen in this image? (A chair sitting outdoors.)
    • What could happen here?
  4. Make a connection between the Warm-Up and the upcoming activity.
  5. Tell the students that Carl Sandburg was an important American writer.  He wrote children’s books, poems, newspaper and magazine articles, biographies, and songs.  Select one of his poems to read aloud to the students.  Sandburg had a desk where he wrote his correspondence, an upstairs office where he wrote, and he also wrote in a chair on a large rock behind his home.

Essential Question: How do Carl Sandburg’s possessions allow for the interpretation of his work habits?

Introduce Lesson: Explain that in this lesson students will learn about places where Carl Sandburg, their teacher, and the students feel comfortable writing.

Procedure:
  1. Pass out Lesson One A – Sandburg’s House and Mine: My Ideal Place to Write Tell the students that they will take the handout, a pencil, and a clipboard to any place within the classroom where they would be comfortable writing. They will be allowed ten minutes to complete the handout. When students return to their seats, the teacher can either ask the students to share their writing with the whole class or exchange with a partner.
  2. The teacher can share his or her response to the handout.  Discuss similarities and differences.

    Homework:  Students will complete the handout Lesson One B –Sandburg’s House and Mine! - My writing place at home.

  3. Display transparency CARL 2662 Carl Sandburg’s Home Office at Connemara
    Ask the following questions of the students and discuss their answers.
      • What do you see?
      • Who do you think the man is?
      • How do you think he is feeling?  Why?
      • What is happening?
      • Have you ever been to a similar place?
  4. Display the transparency Lesson One C – What’s “in” a desk?
    Do the following with the students:
      • Distribute copies of the Handout – Lesson One C – What’s “in” a desk?  .
      • Ask the students what objects they see on Carl Sandburg’s desk
      • List the objects on the transparency under the heading HIS
      • Have the students copy this list under the heading HIS
      • Select objects from your desk (teacher)
      • List the objects on the transparency under the heading Teacher’s
      • Have students copy this list under the heading Teacher’s
      • Have the students examine objects in their desk
      • They will list the objects on their handout under the heading MINE
      • When complete, students can exchange and compare their lists with a partner
  5. Processing Lesson One – Venn diagram using handout: What’s “in” a desk?
    Complete the Venn diagram comparing your desk to Carl Sandburg’s desk.  Draw a design of your dream desk and chair.  List what you would want at your desk and why.


Lesson Two:  Organize This!

Students will…
  • Communicate their ideas and hypotheses about themselves and Sandburg through an autobiography poem and a biography poem
  • Create a museum exhibit of student suitcases with items found in their autobiography poems

See Section C chart for museum objects, similar and other materials used in this lesson.

Warm-Up:
  1. Project transparency of museum object CARL 38546 Perhaps Cardboard Box
    Review with the students the cardboard box analysis.  Ask the students what is handwritten on the outside of the box. (“Perhaps”)  What do the students think this means?  Describe Carl Sandburg’s method of organizing his books – by themes.  Organizing his correspondence:
    • XYZ – business reply A.S.A.P.
    •  F – Family and friends
    •  AAT – Reply anytime
  2. Make a connection between the Warm-Up and the upcoming lesson.
    Tell the students that Carl Sandburg was an important American writer.  He wrote children’s books, poems, newspaper and magazine articles, biographies, and songs.  Select one of his poems to read aloud to the students.  At the time of his death, he owned about 17,000 books and everyday he received correspondence from family, friends, fans, school children, presidents, senators, businessmen, reporters, and many businesses and institutions.  His books were organized by themes.  How are the books organized in the classroom?  He also had a unique way to organize his correspondence.  Display a list of his organization categories.

Essential Question:
How do Carl Sandburg’s possessions allow for reflection on his work habits?

Procedure:
  1. Display transparencies CARL 1264- Carl Sandburg’s desk and CARL 1262- Carl Sandburg’s desk file.  List the items seen on the desk and file.  Discuss what the objects might tell the students about Carl Sandburg.  Use this list to create a Biography Poem about Carl Sandburg.  Use Lesson 2 Transparency – Template for Biography Poem.  This can be completed as a whole class or individually.
  2. Pizza Box Suitcases
  3. Complete the following activities.
    • Have the following materials available: construction paper, scissors, and magazines
    • Give each student a pizza box
    • Explain that the pizza box will be a suitcase containing items from home that display what the students love, fear, feel, need, give, would like to see, enjoy, wear, and gives them happiness. (Some items may need to be a representation and not the actual item.)
    • Each student will decorate the outside of their pizza box to look like a suitcase including a luggage tag and stickers of places they have visited.  Complete the suitcase in class, and fill with objects at home.
  4. Processing – Lesson 2 Autobiography Poem Students will use the objects in their suitcases as the foundation for their autobiography poem.
    • The poem will follow the template of the Autobiography Poem.
    • Title
    • Be free of spelling and grammatical errors
  5. Organize This! 
    • Collect the students Autobiography poem. 
    • Pass out the poems to the students, making sure no one receives their own poem. 
    • Display and open the students’ pizza box suitcases
    • Students read the poem and, based on the poem, find the pizza box suitcase that reflects their classmate’s poem.
    • Each student will stand and explain why he or she believes the poem and suitcase match.
    • Publicize Organize This! 
      • Set up a bulletin board with the students’ poems posted and a table displaying the suitcases.  Teacher tip:  Cover the open boxes with clear plastic wrap to protect the students’ objects.

Lesson Three: The Writing Tool

Objective(s):

Students will…
  • Analysis of museum object, the Remington Noiseless Typewriter [CARL 1289]
  • Applying knowledge of figurative language and Carl Sandburg’s poetry in a personification writing

Materials:
Books: Grassroots Poems by Carl Sandburg paintings by Wendell Minor
Poetry for Young People Carl Sandburg edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin
Handout: How to Read a Museum Object.
Reader’s Theater links

Reader’s Theater Rubric
Poetry Rubric

Learning Groupings: Whole class, partners, and individual

Warm-up:
  1. Introduction and analyze a museum object using How to Read an Object chart
    Tell students they will be using an object from a National Park Service site as a source of learning and information.  Explain that they will learn to look very closely at a park museum object to deduce historical, cultural and social information and to draw inferences about people, events, and life then and now.  Ask questions that draw on observational skills and powers of deduction, inference, and creativity in this introductory lesson. 
  2. Do the following with the students:
    • Pose an overarching or essential question that will guide student interactive learning and research.  Post the question on a large banner at the front of the classroom.
    • Use the museum object CARL 1289 Remington Noiseless typewriter.  Print out enough copies of the image of the museum object for each small group. 
    • Find a similar object locally: computers, laptops, PALMS, PDA, cell phones
    • Divide class into small groups; one set/group analyzes the photograph of the museum object, and the other analyzes the local object set/group using a How to Read an Object chart.  This introduces students to the inquiry method as they discuss history, material, size, date, function, maker/manufacturer, places of origin, function and use, cultural significance of the selected object. It also engages students and introduces them to the idea of learning through museum collections. 
    • Have groups write up their responses on the How to Read an Object chart and compare their responses.
    • Record their preliminary answers to the “banner” question.  Then ask students what additional questions they want to pursue after handling objects, specimens and photographs.
  3. Guided Reading – The Poems of Carl Sandburg
    • Read aloud a selection of poems from either Grassroots Poems by Carl Sandburg paintings by Wendell Minor or  Poetry for Young People Carl Sandburg edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin
    • After reading each poem conduct a class discussion about the poem.
    • Students will read selected poems of Carl Sandburg. Have student select one or two of the poems to read aloud to another student.
  4. Reader’s Theater – “Arithmetic” by Carl Sandburg
    • Divide the class in equal groups for Reader’s Theater
    • See the above internet links to read more about Reader’s Theater if teacher is unfamiliar.
    • Have each group divide poem into stanzas.  Group members will partner up and will practice reading a stanza of the poem, focusing on pronunciation, comprehension, expression, fluency, pacing, and volume. 
    • Have each group member create a color illustration for their poem.
    • Have students read the poem and practice their parts at home.
    • Perform Reader’s Theater.  Student groups may practice for about ten minutes in class.  Ask for groups to volunteer to perform their poem. 
    • Use the Reader’s Theater Rubric to evaluate the group and each member’s performance.
  5. Processing Lesson Three: Writing Tool - Writing in Personification
  6. You are either Carl Sandburg’s Remington Noiseless Typewriter or Thick Lead Pencil.  Select a poem by Carl Sandburg that you, as the typewriter or pencil, wrote down or typed.  (Give students a selection of poems to choose from) Using personification, write what you think Carl Sandburg may have seen, heard, felt, or thought about that would have inspired him to write that poem. The poem should include:
    • The name of the object, pen or typewriter, which is personifying the poem.
    • Title of the poem
    • Follow conventions of grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  7. Wrap Up Activity and Discussion
    The students will read aloud their personifications.  The final copy may be posted on a bulletin board inside the classroom, in the hall, on the school’s web page, or in a class newsletter.
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J. Evaluation/Assessment for Measurable Results
  • Use the Reader’s Theater rubric for assessing students’ performance.
  • Use the poetry rubric for assessing the students’ poetry.
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K. Extension and Enrichment Activities
  • Create a pencil box or holder for class decorated with pictures that reflects the student’s autobiography poem.  Cover with contact paper.
  • Have students select and conduct research on an author.  Using the knowledge gained during research, write a biography poem for the author.  Send the poem to the poet if applicable.
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L. Resources

Bibliography
Carl Sandburg Adventures of a Poet By Penelope Niven with Poems and Prose by Carl Sandburg
Grassroots Poems by Carl Sandburg, paintings by Wendell Minor
Poetry for Young People Carl Sandburg edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin
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M. Site Visit
The site visit includes a visit to the:
    • Park or a similar site, such as a local museum, historic house museum, or historical society.  Provide instructions on how to organize an actual park or local museum or historical society. 
    • Virtual museum exhibit: http://www.nps.gov/history/museum/exhibits/carl/

    Pre-visit: Before the visit, have students visit the institution’s website for an overview or provide brochures and other written/visual materials about the site. Have each student come up with 2-3 questions to guide the visit.  Work with park interpretive and museum staff to arrange the visit with challenging activities.

    Site visit
    : At the site, have students select at least two objects on exhibit to analyze.  Provide “How to Read an Object” sheets.  It also includes an object sketch sheet (white space to make a detailed sketch of the objects).  For younger students, use the ‘How to Read an Object’ chart for elementary school students together with a “scavenger hunt” object list to encourage close observation skills
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N. Charts, figures and other Teacher Materials

Click here to download supplemental documents including:
Lesson One A –Sandburg’s House and Mine: My Ideal Place to Write
Lesson One B –Sandburg’s House and Mine! - My writing place at home
Lesson One C- What’s “in” a desk?

Vocabulary
Lesson Two- AUTOBIOGRAPHY POEM TEMPLATE [you]
Lesson Two- BIOGRAPHY POEM TEMPLATE [the author]
Lesson Three- Reader’s Theater Rubric
Lesson Two and Three- POETRY RUBRIC