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Persona Journals for World War II

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/17/2012

Students will research a type of person who was affected by WWII and then write a fictional journal discussing what this person may have experienced. This is part 1 of a 4 part series of lessons centering on WW II for integration of social studies and language arts or for a stand-alone lesson.

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    Persona Journal Lesson

    Goal: Students will complete research on people affected by the war and write fictional journal entries based on their experiences. This lesson could be used with middle school and high school students.

    Steps for Lesson on Writing a World War II Persona Journal

    Step 1 -- Gather books and Internet sites on World War II. It is helpful to schedule time in the computer lab for this activity.

    Small Cooperative Group Work

    Step 2 -- Break students into groups of four-to-five students. Have cards prepared ahead of time with the words: survivor, passionate, conflict and personal growth. Each group needs to brainstorm words that connect to the word on their card for five to ten minutes. Then, the groups will share words and try to come up with an overarching theme. Maybe they would come up with hero or challenges. These words could describe the people who lived during the war.

    Step 3 -- For the World War II series, students will be focusing on five areas: war in the Pacific, war in Europe, the Manhattan Project, the Holocaust and important leaders. Share these five areas with the students. If you are trying to integrate this with social studies, the social studies teacher will focus on these four areas in his or her lessons.

    Choosing a Person from WWII

    Step 4 -- Tell students that they will take on the persona of a person who lived through this time period and write at least five journals about their lives and experiences. Some possible personas to assume are as follows:

    • German soldier
    • American soldier
    • Holocaust survivor
    • Japanese internment prisoner
    • European child caught in the crossfire of battle
    • Survivor of one of the atomic bombs

    Step 5 -- After students have chosen a persona, they need to do some research on what it would have been like to be that person during World War II. This research can be done in the school library on in the computer lab online.

    Students Create and Write a Persona Journal

    Step 6 -- Create a journal. This journal should be individualized in its cover and pages. Students need to write at least five one page entries with dates that correspond to historical events or during the time period. Events can be fictional events that center around the time period and happenings that major historical relevance.

    It works best to start this at the beginning of this unit. Give students a deadline when all of the entries should be completed.

    Assess Journals Using a Rubric

    Step 7 -- Assess the journal using a rubric. Criteria for the rubric could be pages completed, historical relevance, writing using persona, creativity and grammar and spelling.

    This journal activity makes students think about what it really was like during the time period. It is a creative writing opportunity that may make them think about things a little differently.

World War II Creative Activities

A four part series of lessons on how to integrate social studies and language arts with the study of World War II. The lessons use many of Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences.
  1. Persona Journals for World War II
  2. Lesson Plan: Recreating A WWII Era USO
  3. Writing and Producing a Newspaper for the WWII Time Period
  4. WWII Creative Actitivies: Literary Analysis