EDUCATION

Welcome to a fun and engaging curriculum developed specifically to meet 7th and 8th grade TEKS. Learn how your students can develop their own fictional Ransom Poem, modeled after O. Henry’s famous short story, “The Ransom of Red Chief.” 

 

What did Austin look like in the late 1800's and what did Austinites wear? Discover hands-on activities and research to become a History Collector. Find out more about famous Texans, such as Susanna Dickinson, through student research and writing on their favorite Texan.

 

Finally, are there precious items passed down through generations in your family, just like the artifacts found in the O. Henry and Susanna Dickinson Museums? Build your own Keepsake Memory Box with the help of this exciting Lesson Plan.

 

For Student Museum Tours:  

Open Wednesday-Friday, noon to 5 p.m. The museums are small historic spaces and can only accommodate a maximum of 15 students at a time. All tours require two weeks advance notification. For more information, contact Bao Nguyen.

 

"In charting our course to the future, we are mindful of our path from the past."

 

O. Henry

LESSON: "HISTORY COLLECTOR"

OVERVIEW

 

TWO LESSON PLANS AVAILABLE (LONG & SHORT)

 

TIME:

Long: Estimated 4-5 to complete assignment (50-minute periods)

Short: Estimated 1-2 to complete assignment (50-minute periods)

 

CLASS LEVEL:  7th grade

 

TEKS LANGUAGE SOCIAL STUDIES GOAL: In this lesson, students seek out evidence (online and through artifacts at the O. Henry Museum) to learn more about Austin/Texas history through the life of one of its most famous writers, William Sydney Porter (O. Henry).

 

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS: Why is it important to know about the past? Why is the preservation of historic buildings/items important?

 

STUDENTS (LONG VERSION):

  • Learn more about Austin and William Sydney Porter’s life between 1893-1895, using primary and secondary sources

  • Discuss the “old Austin” of that period as compared to the “new Austin”

  • Draw renderings of the “old Austin” landmarks/buildings, city streets, and other things you might have seen then

 

STUDENTS (SHORT VERSION):

  • Learn more about Austin and William Sydney Porter’s life between 1893-1895, using primary and secondary sources

  • Discuss the “old Austin” of that period as compared to the “new Austin”

 

TEKS: 7th grade Social Studies: 7(2a), 7(9b-c), 7(22a-d), 7.23(a-b)

 

 

 

"HISTORY COLLECTOR" LESSON DOWNLOADS (PDF)

 

Lesson Plan - Long Version

Lesson Plan - Short Version

 

 
LESSON: "KEEPSAKE BOX"

OVERVIEW

 

TIME: Estimated 4 class periods to complete project (50-minute periods)

 

CLASS LEVEL: 7th and 8th grade Language Arts

 

TEKS LANGUAGE ARTS GOAL: In this lesson, students read a short story, make inferences about museum artifacts, create a memory box of personal keepsakes, compose an expository essay, and share a presentation with their peers.

 

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: How do the ordinary objects we collect in our daily lives reflect who we are as people? 

 

STUDENTS:

  • Read “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry.

  • Discuss the plot development, characters, and irony of O. Henry’s story.

  • Examine O. Henry museum artifacts and make inferences about the purpose and value of the objects.

  • Create a memory box of personal keepsakes that elicit important memories.

  • Compose an expository essay that explains each keepsake and its importance.

  • Share their memory box and expository essay with their peers.   

 

TEKS:

7th and 8th grade Language Arts: Reading/Fluency, Reading/Vocabulary Development, and Writing/Expository Texts

 

Reading:  (1) (2) (3) (6A) (6B) (6C) Writing: (14A) (14B) (14C) (14D) (14E) (17A)

 

 

"KEEPSAKE BOX" LESSON DOWNLOADS (PDF)

 

Lesson Plan-Long Version

Lesson Plan-Short and Sweet Version

Criteria Sheet

Sample Essay

 
LESSON: "LARGER THAN LIFE TEXAN"

OVERVIEW

 

TIME: Estimated 4-5 class periods to complete project (50-minute periods)

 

CLASS LEVEL:  7th grade Texas History

 

TEKS SOCIAL STUDIES GOAL: In this lesson, students research the life and contributions of a famous Texan, create a life-sized visual representation of the Texan, and share a presentation with their peers.

 

ESSENTIAL QUESTION:  How have individual citizens contributed to the diversity of the state of Texas?

 

STUDENTS:

  • Identify famous Texans or others who have made significant contributions to the state of Texas.

  • Choose a famous Texan and research that individual’s life, using both primary and secondary sources.

  • Compose a short, biographical report about a famous Texan that highlights the individual’s accomplishments.

  • Create a life-sized visual representation of the famous Texan.

  • Share their Larger-Than-Life Texan in a formal presentation to their peers.   

 

TEKS: 7th grade Social Studies

 

History:  (2E) (3B) (4A) (4C) (5C) (6A) (6B) (6C) (7D) Citizenship: (18 B)

 

Culture: (19D) Science, Technology, and Society: (20 B) Social Studies

 

Skills: (21A) (21 B) (21C) (21G) (22B) (22C) (22D). 

 

 

"LARGER THAN LIFE" LESSON DOWNLOADS (PDF)

 

Lesson Plan

Texan Biographical Report

Criteria Handout

Famous Texans Handout

Notetaking Sheet Handout

 
LESSON: "RANSOM LETTER"

OVERVIEW

 

TWO LESSON PLANS AVAILABLE (LONG & SHORT)

 

TIME:

Long Version: Estimated 3-4 periods to complete assignment (50-minute periods)

Short Version: One 50-minute period

 

CLASS LEVEL:  7th and 8th grade Language Arts

 

TEKS LANGUAGE ARTS GOAL: In this lesson, students engage in reading a short story and compose a written text with a clear controlling idea, coherent organization, and sufficient detail.

 

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS (Long Version):

Why do some authors incorporate special writing techniques, such as irony in their works? What might the impact be if they did not use these?

 

ESSENTIAL QUESTION (Short Version):

Why does O. Henry incorporate irony in many of his works? What impact would the lack of irony have had on this particular story?

 

STUDENTS IN CLASS STUDIES (Long Version):

  • read “The Ransom of Red Chief: The Tale of a Reformed Kidnapper” by O. Henry

  • identify the overall plot, characters and irony of O. Henry’s story

  • discuss, in particular, the ransom note/letters showcased in the story

  • create a ransom letter using poetic and humorous writing techniques

  • create a drawing of the kidnapped object

 

STUDENTS IN CLASS STUDIES (Short Version):

  • read “The Ransom of Red Chief: The Tale of a Reformed Kidnapper” by O. Henry

  • identify the overall plot, characters and irony of O. Henry’s story

  • discuss, in particular, the ransom note/letters showcased in the story

  • create a ransom letter using poetic and humorous writing techniques

 

TEKS: 7th and 8th grade Language Arts: Reading/Fluency, Reading/Vocabulary Development, and Writing/Expository Texts

 

Reading:  (1) (2) (3) (6A) (6B) (6C) Writing: (14A) (14B) (14C) (14D) (14E) (17A)

 

Art (7th and 8th Grade): Creative expression/performance. The student is expected to create artworks based on direct observations, personal experience, and imagination. (7.2 and 8.2 A)

 

 

"RANSOM LETTER" LESSON DOWNLOADS (PDF)

 

Lesson Plan- Long Version

Lesson Plan- Short Version

Assignment Handout
Peer Revision Handout

Student Work Sample