Inheritance Boxes Help Kids Share Knowledge

Seventh graders pass along what they have actually discovered to future classes in this Inheritance Box task, part of a literacy + history system.

By Katie Durkin

In this article Ill introduce you to how my mentor team facilitates the development and appoints of the inheritance boxes, share some of the artifacts students develop for this project, and recommend methods you can adjust or change this assignment to fit the needs of your curriculum or material area.

These boxes are a method for my 7th graders to introduce next years students to historical fiction and help them choose which historic era they d like to study throughout our 8-week system.

The boxes are filled with artifacts, letters, and objects that help me evaluate the abilities we have actually worked on developing throughout our examination of historic writing (nonfiction enters into play too). The boxes likewise supply a chance for communication between trainees across grades.

Completion of any unit presents us with opportunities to examine and celebrate trainee knowing in myriad ways. Among my favorite projects each year comes at completion of our Historical Fiction system, where students develop what we have come to call Inheritance Boxes.

What the unit appears like

Students then checked out a second book from that same historic period, using what they found out from the first book and their nonfiction research to help with their understanding. At the end of the system, students work with their groups to produce inheritance boxes and leave a tradition for next years trainees who “acquire” their understanding.

. Throughout our unit trainees checked out one historical fiction story, using only their previous knowledge of the period to help them comprehend the text. They then invest time reading and viewing nonfiction pieces about their picked historic era– specifically main source images and documents, maps, videos, and short articles– to assist them start to build their background understanding of the time duration.

The idea for inheritance boxes was adapted from the last lesson in the Teachers College Reading Workshop unit focused on historic fiction, where small groups of about 3 to 4 students study the very same historic age (Ehrenworth & & Wolfe, 2017)

What enters packages

Here are the items trainees produce for their inheritance boxes:

For this project, students do not define the terms for students; rather they share why they think trainees require to know these terms in order to comprehend the history and fiction related to the system. When they start the unit, this work requires trainees to seriously think about what they discovered and how it would benefit students next year.

► Introduction Letter: Students write a letter to next years trainees presenting them to the unit, the historic fiction books they read as a group, and the contents of the inheritance box. In this letter I ask trainees to present themselves, give a little bit of background about the era they studied, provide a brief synopsis of the books, and supply future 7th graders with some ideas for how to approach the reading and projects for the system.

Students have enjoyable drawing and producing objects to display on their box, making them inviting to next years students in the hope that they will analyze the artifacts and letters inside.

► Dont Read Until … Letter: Students separately compose a second friendly letter to next years trainees that they dont open up until they have read to a certain point in one of the books. Students are asked to pick a particular part of the book that they think was thought-provoking, amazing, or essential.

► You May Want to Learn About: To evaluate their vocabulary skills in relation to nonfiction, students produce a list of historical terms they think students require to know to help them much better understand their era and historic fiction books generally.

► Famous Quote Cards: Students pick a quote– either from the book itself, or from a poet, historian, or author — that they believe represents a significant theme from the historical age they studied and one of the books they read. This task connects to one of the foci for the unit which requires trainees to believe about why we checked out and study both history and historic fiction. Trainees describe how the quote associates with a style from the story and era, focusing specifically on attracting trainees to choose the books and period to study.

► Decorated Box: Students truly take pleasure in embellishing their boxes to showcase their books and historical era. The only requirement is trainees need to guarantee the beyond the box is plainly identified with their historic era in addition to the names of the group members.

► Important Facts about the Era: To practice the abilities found out throughout the system related to nonfiction, trainees team up to produce a list of ten important truths they believe trainees must understand before they start the system. Students are asked to pick facts they think will benefit next years trainees in comprehending their groups historical fiction books.

► Maps: To collaborate with our Social Studies equivalents, who concentrate on location in 7th grade, trainees create a map to show next years trainees where a few of the historical fiction stories take location. As the settings for the historical fiction books span the world, next years trainees are able to see the particular places of the stories. Students utilize the maps to be imaginative, tracking the journeys some characters made in the stories or labeling the locations where they live.

This letter is written by the entire group and sealed in an envelope that advises next years students to read this letter first.

Once they have chosen the part of the book they desire to highlight, each trainee writes a letter in the type of a written conversation. Comparable to the Introduction Letters, students begin the letter by sharing a little bit about themselves and after that dive into talking about the story.

► Souvenirs or Objects of Importance: To assist trainees believe about symbolism in a historical fiction book, they are asked to pick a specific item from one story that represents something crucial to the character. This object could be of historic significance, associate with a characters journey, or showcase something the character discovered in the book. Students are asked to develop or draw this things, accompanied with a brief description attached, describing why it is essential to among the historical fiction stories.

I ask trainees to follow a friendly letter format, consisting of an address, closing, salutation, and date. This provides students a chance to practice their letter-writing abilities, as well as think of what next years students require to understand prior to they select their books and the historic age they wish to study.

I ask students to think of this like having a discussion with somebody, simply writing it in a letter. They are complimentary to share connections, questions, reactions, and more to get next years students thinking about a specific part of the book. These letters are sealed and labeled with “Dont Read Until …”, identifying the chapter name or number, and title of the book, so next year I understand when to provide students these letters to check out.

A flexible teaching/learning method

While the completed boxes do take up a lot of storage space in the class, I constantly return them to the previous groups the next year after my newest crop of students have viewed the boxes through a gallery walk.

Every year students are inheriting knowledge from their peers through this project method, supplying a chance for trainee voices and student-generated work to notify the decisions of future students about how they want to approach a system of research study.

Ehrenworth, M., & & Wolfe, P. (2017 ). Historical fiction book clubs. Heinemann.

The inheritance boxes provide my students an opportunity to discuss, produce, and work together, showcasing artifacts whose audience is not primarily the instructor.


► Maps: To work together with our Social Studies counterparts, who focus on geography in 7th grade, trainees create a map to reveal next years trainees where some of the historic fiction stories take location. As the settings for the historic fiction books cover the globe, next years trainees are able to see the specific locations of the stories. ► Famous Quote Cards: Students choose a quote– either from the book itself, or from a historian, writer, or poet — that they think represents a major style from the historic era they studied and one of the books they check out. Students describe how the quote relates to a theme from the story and period, focusing specifically on luring trainees to pick the books and age to study.

While the finished boxes do use up a lot of storage area in the class, I constantly return them to the previous groups the next year after my latest crop of students have seen the boxes through a gallery walk. By doing this, I am not keeping the very same boxes more than a year. The turnover system likewise permits me to revitalize the tasks so they fulfill the requirements of a brand-new crop of trainees.

Inheritance boxes can be adapted for any subject, category, or unit. While the products my students produce for these boxes are particular to historical fiction, other teachers can believe about “boxing” trainee work as a way to introduce new students to a system or subject.

If trainees solely work on the tasks in school, this job generally takes about a week to finish. I start getting ready for this task a week ahead of time, asking students to generate empty shoeboxes from home. This gives me time to guarantee I have enough boxes for all of my groups.

Katie Durkin (@kmerz610) has been teaching English Language Arts to middle school students for a years and currently teaches 7th grade Reading Workshop at public Middlebrook School in Wilton, Connecticut.


Katie is a zealous reader of middle grades and young adult books and enjoys sharing her love and enthusiasm for reading with her students. She is finishing her doctorate at Northeastern University studying the effect of class libraries on middle school trainees reading engagement. Shes also the 2020 recipient of the Edwyna Wheadon Postgraduate Training Scholarship from the National Council of Teachers of English.

While the boxes do supply me with a chance to evaluate students ability advancement, the projects have other advantages: we can also have conversations about how to approach working in a group to collaboratively complete a project, as well as how to ensure our work is polished enough for others to read.

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