Introduction: I am simply astonished by the remarkable work my students produce with this project. They are so proud of what they discover, and their families often get quite involved as well. In short, it's a great way to get students writing and thinking about something about which they already have a personal passion.
Text: Ann Petry's The Street (but any text where location plays a major role would work well)
I did this with my non-honors juniors and seniors, and what they produced far exceeded my expectations.
Difficulty: Moderate (students can make it as complex as they want to)
Examples: Feel free to get some ideas from taking a look at my students' projects here.
In the novel The Street, Ann Petry tells us the story of a street (116th Street, to be exact) in Harlem, NY, in 1946. We meet several characters along the way (Mrs. Hedges, the Super, Min, Lutie, and Bub are a few), and, by learning about their lives anecdotally, we are able to build a picture of the street where they live.
Now, it’s your job to introduce me to a street that’s important to you. It could be the street where you live, the street where you work, the street where you go to school, or any other street that is important in defining who you are as a person today. You’ll have a lot of different ways to show me your street, but what I’m ultimately looking to do is to get to know you better by getting to know your street.
Required Components (minimum needed to achieve a grade in a B/C range):
1) An interview with at least one person who lives or works on the street. (You should record and then transcribe the interview word for word. If you do not have a recording device, you may take notes as you talk to the person and write the interview like a newspaper article.)
2) At least two photographs (from the past or present).
3) A minimum two-page description of / reflection on the street from your point of view.
4) A minimum one-page description of an event that happened on the street in the past. This should not be an event described by the person you interviewed; it needs to be a new source. You are welcome to talk to actual people or to look up articles in newspapers / magazines. (Please note: “The past” is any time that you do not recall on the street).
Optional Components (to possibly achieve a grade in the A range):
1) “Package” your project in an interesting way that somehow gives me an even better perspective on your street.
2) Visit your local town hall to find maps or learn more about the history of how/when the street was developed and why.
3) Consider multi-media components like audio or visual recordings.
4) Write more, or offer more photos / interviews / events.
5) Surprise me—get creative in a way I haven’t already thought of!
The Ultimate Goal:
Ultimately, your goal is to offer me a glimpse of your street. Be creative, and see how much you can uncover about your street and its inhabitants in the process. The more you think outside the box, the better you will do on this project!