This post originally appeared on the Engage/Teacher to Teacher blog in October 2011. A BREAK WITH CHARITY: A STORY ABOUT THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS by Ann Rinaldi (Perfection Learning, 2003) Grades 6-10
A BREAK WITH CHARITY: A STORY ABOUT THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS is an historical fiction novel set against the backdrop of Salem Village. The story centers on the witchcraft trials through the perspective of Susanna English, who knew that the young women who "cried out" against witches were aware of what they were getting themselves into. Loathe to reveal their secret, for fear of retribution against her or her family, Susanna struggles with guilt as each one of the nonconformists who was accused were led to the gallows.
Using this book in the classroom will provide students the opportunity to step inside an episode in history while reading a novel. Using historical fiction in the classroom will help you present past events in a fun and interesting way. It’s also a great way to incorporate research skills into your lessons. Cross-curricular Connections:
history, art, research, writing Ideas for Classroom Use: Characterization of the Accused
In this activity, students complete a characterization portrait on one or more of the accused girls in Salem. The students will look into the history of these girls and create a portrait of them to help them visualize how these girls were portrayed during this period. Some questions to ponder:
Creating an Interactive Timeline of the Salem Witch Trials
- Who exactly were these girls?
- What made the community think they were practicing witchcraft?
- How did they react when accused?
- Did they confess?
- What happened to them?
Using historical fiction and nonfiction, students create a visual timeline of the events that occurred during the time period of the Salem Witch Trials. Using the Timeline Tool
, the students will conduct a historical date search within books and websites that are based on the Salem Witch Trials.
Completing the timeline will help the students create a visual graphic organizer of the time period that will aid in their comprehension. They can create a timeline that extends from the birth of Salem to the end of the witch trials or just cover the beginning of the trials to the end. Explore More Literature on the Salem Witch Trials
Additional Resources and Activities: Salem Witch Trials: The World Behind the Hysteria (Grades 6-10)
- Aronson, M. (2003). Witch-hunt: mysteries of the Salem witch trials. New York: Simon & Schuster.
- Duble, K. B. (2007). The sacrifice. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.
- Hemphill, S. (2010). Wicked girls: A novel of the Salem witch trials. New York: Balzer & Bray.
- Jackson, S. (1956). The witchcraft of Salem Village. New York: Random House Landmark Books.
- Miller, A. (2003). The crucible. New York: Penguin Classics.
- Myers, A. (2009). Time of the witches. New York: Scholastic.
- Petry, A. (1991). Tituba of Salem Village. New York: Harper Collins.
- Wallis, J. (2005). The Salem witch trials. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
- Yolen, J. & Stemple, H. (2004). The Salem witch trials: An unsolved mystery from history. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Discovery Education’s media-rich site offers images depicting life in 1692 Salem, a narrated summary of the witch hunt, and information about the people behind the trials. There’s also a wonderful list of Teacher Tips for creating a classroom unit on the trials. An Exploration of The Crucible through Seventeenth-Century Portraits (Grades 9-12)
Students create Trading Cards for one or more characters in THE CRUCIBLE. You could adapt this to A BREAK WITH CHARITY, as it pairs nicely with the written character analysis assignment given here. ReadWriteThink’s Character Trading Cards interactive
provides the perfect starting point. Beyond the Story: A Dickens of a Party (Grades 6-8)
This is another lesson plan that’s easily adapted to most works of historical fiction. Students research the time period of a book and collaboratively plan a party for its characters. You could assign them characters to portray while attending the party (perhaps the same characters they’ve created Trading Cards for). Susan Kaye Jennings is a graduate assistant at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Previously, she taught self-contained life skills to students in (K-5) for nine and a half years. at the same elementary school she went to as a child. Her passions include teaching reading to children with special needs, working with teachers to determine effective instructional methods/strategies, using reading assessment to drive instruction in the classroom, and using children's literature in the classroom. WANT TO WRITE FOR ENGAGE?
Send your name, the grade level(s) you teach, the title of book that you put to work, and a line or two about how you use it in your classroom to firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2012 Susan Kaye Jennings. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise. Putting Books to Work: Judy Cox's ONE IS A FEAST FOR A MOUSE: A THANKSGIVING TALE Season's Turning: Autumn Book Reviews