Open to all Middle and High School Classes
Division I – 6th – 8th grade
Division II – 9th – 12th grade
Due: May 31, 2013
Table of Contents
- The Challenge
- Range of Activities
- Essential Questions
- Student Outcomes
- Evaluation Rubric
- Curricular Goals
Memorial Day has an interesting history. It started out, in 1868, as a day to honor those who died in the Civil War and was called Decoration Day based on the tradition of decorating graves with flowers. This day was designated for the end of May because, it is believed, that is when flowers are in bloom throughout the nation. It wasn’t until 1971 that Memorial Day became a federal holiday, it’s definition having expanded earlier in the century to include all the men and women who died serving our country.
Every single person that is commemorated on Memorial Day has an interesting history as well. In this Challenge, each team must create a two to three minute Memorial Day audio biography of either:
- A person in their community who has died serving their country; or
- A character that your team creates who comes from your community and, in serving the US in a war (of your choice), died.
The focus here is on presenting the story of a person’s life – in that time, in your community, in that war — and not just an account of their life or of the war. The story can be presented in the first or third person. We recommend that approximately half of your audio biography focus on his or her life in your community, and the other half on their time spent in the war.
There are two important conditions:
- The conflict must date no later than 1975 (the end of the Viet Nam War). Please do not select a person or character from a conflict that began later than 1975.
- At the very end of the audio biography your team will reveal whether or not this was a real or fictional character.
- Radio Script
- Audio Biography (this is the only Meridian Stories deliverable)
- Full Timeline Paper, with proper source citation, as determined by the teacher
- Historical/cultural research on a select war
- Historical/cultural research on your community
- Idea organization, script writing and character building/creation
- Documentary/News/Interviews Audio Biography Format Creation – Pre-production, Production, Post-production
We recommend that this Meridian Stories Challenge take place inside of a three to four-week time frame. The students must work in teams of 3-4. In the description below, the suggested teacher reviews are at the discretion of the teacher. Below is a suggested breakdown of the students’ work.
During Phase One, student teams will:
- Decide if they are going to research a real person or create a fictional character.
- If the team doesn’t have clear agreement on this decision, your team may want to instead focus on a time period or war. For example, if the team is interested in the Korean war, the team’s research into people serving in that war from your community might reveal whether or not you want to create a biography about a real person or a fictional person.
- Fictional Character – Begin researching the selected war. Since you are creating a fictional character, we recommend;
- Focusing on several events in that war that interest you and your team. They can be big or small events. Keep in mind that this Challenge does not ask your team to catalogue a war. But it does ask you to provide some insight into some of the circumstances of that war, as understood through character.
- Consider placing your character inside one or more of those war-related events and imagine the conditions, the activities, the free time, the food, the weather, the uniforms, the equipment, the tensions, the camaraderie and the isolation. What else can your team think of that might help define the physical and mental conditions of your characters in war?
- Non-Fiction Character – Begin researching your person. This might involve starting in the town hall, the archives of the local newspaper, the local library, school yearbooks, or with a local family who’s related to your choice.
- Primary and Secondary Sources – A good biography will be based on a mix of primary and secondary sources (not just the latter). Be sure to present a mix of these two as you create your portrait. For those teams creating a fictional character, you may have to invent some of your primary sources.
|Meridian Stories provides two forms of support for the student teams.
Recommended review, as a team, for this Challenge include:
|Media Innovators and Artists||Meridian Tips|
|On Radio Plays – Margaret Heffernan
On Non-Fiction – Margaret Heffernan
On Memoir and Non-fiction Writing – Liza Bakewell
|“Creating a Short Documentary”
During Phase Two, student teams will:
- Once you have started to gather information about your subjects, create a timeline that organizes that information. In doing so, check if you have covered the following:
- Childhood – a few key or defining events that connect this character to your community.
- Home Life – Parents, siblings, economics, religion, travel….
- School – Any significant interests, strengths and weaknesses. Girlfriends or boyfriends?
- Enlisting and Training – why, where and which (military organization).
- Character type – What is the emotional make-up of this person. Can your deduce why this character enlisted? What were his or her aspirations for joining the military?
- In general, in order to tell an effective audio biography, your team will need to know a lot more information than you can possibly include in a very short biography. The list above is not exhaustive: there are many other areas of life to investigate. But also understand that this audio biography is not asking you to report on any or all of these categories above. They are just meant as guidelines as you begin to bring to life the story of a person.
- Teachers may require a Full Timeline Paper to accompany the audio deliverable. This paper is intended to reflect the depth of research that the team covered, with all sources properly cited. We recommend that the team present the timeline draft to your teacher for review and comments.
- With the timeline in place – a structure that allows your team to organize all the information that you have so far – the next step is to script the story. What key moments or events in this person’s life do you want to focus on in order to deliver a biography that is informative and evocative; that paints, for the listener, a three dimensional person? Again, keep in mind that your aim is to tell a story and not just recount facts in chronological order.
- Once you have identified those moments, ask yourself if you have all the information that you need.
- Will an interview help you to gather useful information and insight?
- Are there other research sources that your team should explore? Keep in mind that this type of story — one that centers on one person in one time – won’t be well catalogued or documented on the Internet. But it may be in local places of interest. What are those places?
- Write the first draft of your script. We recommend that you present the first draft of the script to your teacher for review and comments.
- Brainstorm about production issues including point of view, character voices, and use of music and sound effects.
- Now that you have all of your story elements and script in place, how are you going to tell the story? Somberly or energetically? Realistically with appropriate sound effects or in a straightforward, narrative style? One voice or multiple voices?
During Phase Three, student teams will:
- Finalize their scripts.
- Cast the voice(s)
- Finalize all pre-production elements such as use of sound effects, recording space and equipment.
- Record and post-produce their radio drama.
- Finalize their Full Timeline Paper.
- What was your community like in recent history? How was it different and how was it the same?
- How is a person or character the product of the time in which they lived? In other words, how does a historical time period influence the development of character?
- In your chosen war, how did having to see it through the eyes of a character change your research approach and deepen your understanding of that moment in history?
- How does one research, select and organize primary and secondary source content in order to present a compelling, cohesive and historically accurate narrative?
- In bringing to life a character for your biography, what are the most important choices you made?
- How has working on a team changed the learning experience?
- The student will have an understanding of a historical time period in their community.
- The student will develop an awareness about life in their community in the historical time upon which they have chosen to focus.
- The student will develop an awareness about what it was like to be in the war that they have chosen to focus upon.
- The student will understand the processes involved in researching content from a variety of primary and secondary sources; selecting relevant information from those sources; and organizing this information in a way that yields narrative cohesion and historical accuracy.
- The student will understand the critical elements that go into creating character, fictional or non-fictional.
- The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration.
|CONTENT COMMAND – Clear understanding of the character in relation to their community and their war|
|Criteria||1 – 3||4 – 7||8 – 10|
|Clarity of historical community content||The historical content is not presented clearly||The historical content is evident, but presented too generally or weakly||The historical content is presented selectively, clearly and compellingly|
|Clarity of historical war content||The historical content is not presented clearly||The historical content is evident, but presented too generally or weakly||The historical content is presented selectively, clearly and compellingly|
|Character’s relationship to history||The character is not an accurate reflection of his or her historical time and place||The character basically reflects his or her historical time and place||The character embodies the attributes of his or her historical time and place|
|STORYTELLING COMMAND – Effective character development to create a compelling narrative|
|Criteria||1 – 3||4 – 7||8 – 10|
|Narrative Clarity||The narrative is hard to follow||The narrative is presented clearly||The narrative is presented clearly and compellingly|
|Character||The character is not fully rendered||The character is believable and present||The character is robust, convincing and interesting|
|Scripting and Voice||The choices made in how to tell your story (perspective) and what words to use to tell your story (language) were not suitable to your character or narrative||The choices made in how to tell your story (perspective) and what words to use to tell your story (language) were suitable to your character and narrative||The choices made in how to tell your story (perspective) and what words to use to tell your story (language) were appropriate, exciting and compelling|
|MEDIA COMMAND – Effective use of the media to communicate narrative|
|Criteria||1 – 3||4 – 7||8 – 10|
|Editing||The piece feels patched together and the overall editing detracts from the narrative||The piece works, but there are occasional editing distractions||The piece is edited cleanly and effectively, resulting in a seamless audio experience|
|Sound Effects and Music||The sound effects and/or selective use of music do not enhance the overall listening experience||The sound effects and/or selective use of music help to generally enhance the overall listening experience||The sound effects and/or selective use of music effectively place the listener closer to the character and their story|
|21ST CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (for teachers only) – Effective use of collaborative thinking, creativity and innovation, and initiative and self-direction to create and produce the final project.|
|Collaborative Thinking||The group did not work together effectively and/or did not share the work equally||The group worked together effectively and had no major issues||The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member|
|Creativity and Innovation||The group did not make a solid effort to create anything new or innovative||The group was able to brainstorm new and inventive ideas, but was inconsistent in their realistic evaluation and implementation of those ideas||The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively|
|Initiative and Self-Direction||The group was unable to set attainable goals, work independently and manage their time effectively||The group required some additional help, but was able to complete the project on time with few problems||The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project|
The Memorial Day Audio Biography Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that have been articulated by two nationally recognized sources:
- The new Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts; and
- The Themes of Social Studies, as outlined by National Council of Social Studies (NCSS).
Below please find the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts Standards
Text Types and Purposes
|Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.||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.||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.|
Text Types and Purposes
|Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.|
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
|Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.||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.||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.|
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Comprehension and Collaboration
|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.||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.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one- on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.|
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
|Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.||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.||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.|
Knowledge of Language
|Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
|Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.||Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.|
Key Ideas and Details
|Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.||Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.||Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.|
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
|Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
|Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.||Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.|
Goals – NCSS – The Themes of Social Studies
|Theme – Culture|
|Through the study of culture and cultural diversity, learners understand how human beings create, learn, share, and adapt to culture, and appreciate the role of culture in shaping their lives and society, as well the lives and societies of others. In schools, this theme typically appears in units and courses dealing with geography, history, sociology, and anthropology, as well as multicultural topics across the curriculum.|
|Theme – Time, Continuity and Change|
|Through the study of the past and its legacy, learners examine the institutions, values, and beliefs of people in the past, acquire skills in historical inquiry and interpretation, and gain an understanding of how important historical events and developments have shaped the modern world. This theme appears in courses in history, as well as in other social studies courses for which knowledge of the past is important.|
|Theme – Individual Development and Identity|
|Personal identity is shaped by family, peers, culture, and institutional influences. Through this theme, students examine the factors that influence an individual’s personal identity, development, and actions. This theme typically appears in courses and units dealing with psychology, anthropology, and sociology.|