Letters of 1916 Lesson Plan: Transition Year
Unit Goals






To develop research and ICT skills
To find, use, and critically evaluate digital and print sources for research
To describe and identify primary and secondary sources
To collaborate effectively with peers
To describe the historical context of and some varying perspectives toward the events
around the Easter Rising
To develop presentation and communication skills
Key Questions
1. What was the historical context of the Easter Rising in Ireland and Europe?
2. How the events of 1916 affected ordinary people / different parts of society (women, men,
children, Catholic, Protestant, etc.)
3. How can we use primary source material to form a broader understanding of a historical
event/period?
LESSON 1: IRELAND AND EUROPE 100 YEARS AGO
Aims:

Introduce students to the year of 1914

Introduce the use of digitized primary resources

To engage students with independent research
Duration: One class
Procedure:
 Introduction to 1914 through Irish Independent article
http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/ireland-1914-suffragettes-iceskating-in-the-park-and-acountry-on-the-brink-of-war-29893029.html
o
Discuss with the students what this snapshot of articles and advertisements tells us
about the issues concerning Irish people 100 years ago.
o
How would we find out more about any or all of these items mentioned?
o
Introduce the following three sites/databases:
http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/ as a digital resource. Discussion about available
material.
http://www.irishtimes.com/archive
http://archive.irishnewsarchive.com/Olive/APA/INArch.Edu/Default.aspx
Divide the 47 items between the students or select one per student. Certain items
should be selected to help with context later on i.e. Home Rule, Irish Volunteers etc.
Ask the students to research their item on either/both of the above databases or
anywhere else. In some cases they should aim to find the exact article or
advertisement referenced, in others they may find a reference to the
movement/organisation from any time throughout the year. Sometimes using a
general search engine may be the simplest way to get directed to the item.
Students should report back to the class

Questions after feedback
o What appear to be the main concerns of Irish people in early 1914?
o What is the Lockout about?
o Is there evidence of poverty in Dublin being an issue?
o What evidence is there that poverty is not a concern for everybody?
o In item 13, what “war” is referenced here?
o Why do you think there is no mention of this elsewhere on the sheet?
o What is the Home Rule Movement about?
o Are there any alternative views on Irish Nationalism?
o Are there people opposed to Irish Nationalism?
o What is the Irish Volunteer Movement?

Introduction to Ireland and Europe 1914-1916 (Power-point)
Q1. What was going on in Ireland in 1914?
Q2. What was going on in Europe in 1914?
LESSON 2: DIGITAL RESOURCES
Online connection: required / optional
Handouts: X printed articles from the Irish Times –Teacher’s choice of articles
Aims:


Provide an overview of digital resources. Which sources are more reliable, useful? What kind
of information they provide?
An introduction to more research tools and independent research
Duration: One class
Procedure:
 Introduction to:
Culture Ireland
http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/
Census of Ireland 1901/1911
http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/
Students pick/are given an article from the Irish Time from 1914 and research the topic in X groups
of X.
LESSON 3/4: SOURCES AND RESOURCES: INTRODUCTION TO LETTERS 1916
Aims:

To introduce students to the different digital repositories, archives and online research
resources

To introduce the students to the letters 1916 project and concept of crowdsourcing

To engage the students interest by allowing them to participate/ transcribe
Duration: One double class if timetable and schedule permits
Required resources:

Computer lab and internet connection

Hand-out 1: research resources

Transcribing instructions (Letters of 1916: Getting Started PDF and Transcribe a Letter PDF)

Hand-out 2:Transcribing feedback
Procedure:

The students will have engaged in research (based on the newspaper articles) in the early
classes. They should have recorded the sources of their information.

Based on the students’ experience, the teacher chairs a short class discussion on the
different types of sources and how to locate them on-line

The teacher distributes hand-out 1 with the various online resources, briefly describes the
nature of each, and explains that they will be useful later in the module.

The teacher introduces the Letters 1916 project using the Letters of 1916 PowerPoint and
emphasises the participative nature of the project – shared input into archiving history, and
the democratisation of history.

The teacher distributes the hand-out with instructions about transcribing.

Each student will navigate the site to find a letter on a theme or topic that interests them.

Using the instructions provided, the students will contribute to the project by transcribing
their own letters.

If unfinished the students will finish the transcription at home, and fill in a general feedback
form hand-out 2
LESSON 5/6: GETTING TO KNOW THE WRITER
Aims:

To familiarise the students with the 1916 letters as primary source material

To apply the early lessons on the contextualisation and guided research skills to researching
a specific personality.
Duration: 1-2 class periods depending on individual teacher’s schedule.
Required resources:

Approximately 20 letters provided by the Letters 1916 project.
Letters from the perspective of a volunteer/family member
Letters from the perspective of a British soldier/ family member/government officials
Letters from women

A list of online resources / archives to guide research (provided by the teacher in the
previous class)

Worksheet 3 with uploading metadata subject fields/biography.
Description:

In the previous classes, the teacher will have introduced the students to research skills and
the broad context of 1916.

The students are organised into pairs.

Each pair of students will be asked to choose a letter at random. The writer of the chosen
letter will be that pair’s chosen personality for the rest of the module.

Using the Think, Pair, Share, methodology, the students will read the letter individually, and
answer the following questions.
1. What is the writer’s name?
2. To whom is the person writing?
3. When was the letter written?
4. What do you think is the writer’s primary concern/ motivation for writing?
5. What do you think is the value of using letters like these to access/understand the period
more fully?
6. Are there any problems with using letters to understand what happened in the past?

The students will then share their ideas with their partner, and look for similarities or
differences in their ideas.

The teacher will then invite feedback from the class, about the last two questions in
particular, encouraging debate on the possibilities and problems of the primary sources.

For homework (or in class, if time and facilities allow) the students will be asked to conduct
research on their chosen person to expand on their first impressions. (worksheet 3)

The individual pairs gain an expert knowledge, and take an ownership of their chosen
personality. They will bring this knowledge with them when they are assigned to a larger
group for the final project.

Prior to the project beginning students can be put into their groups of 6 (3 pairs) and
introduce each other to their personalities and share the results of their research. Students
can be tasked with finding similarities/differences among the contents of the letters, as
initial points of comparison. This activity can serve as a jumping off point for student-
generated research, or students can be assigned a topic by the teacher for the final research
project.
LESSON: FINAL PROJECT, A “DOCUMENTARY”
Overview: The pairs of students will be combined into larger groups of 6 (3 pairs) and will work
together to ultimately create a documentary-style final product to present their understanding of a
specific topic related (teacher-assigned or student selected) to the 1916 Easter Rising, World War I
or wider social issues.
Duration: Students will need several class periods and/or days at home to complete the final project.
However, it is easily possible to extend or shorten the project requirements and expectations,
making this a 2-3 class period assignment, with some work at home.
Required resources:

Computers and internet access to conduct further research

If available: video recording device and video editing software (iMovie)

Computer and projector to show clips of historical documentaries (several are available,
especially on this topic, at http://www.rte.ie/worldwar1)

If technology is not available, students can present their documentaries in class in a more
traditional interview format

Handout 4: Documentary handout with assignment directions
Procedure:

Locate a few documentaries (probably just short video clips) that you believe are done well
and can serve as good models for your student. http://www.rte.ie/worldwar1 has some
good options.

Introduce students to the concept and purpose of documentaries as a means of telling
history and show a few of your pre-selected documentaries, identifying important elements
such as the narrative and interviews

Explain to students they will be creating a documentary to present their understanding of
the time period, specific events, people they've researched, and the multiplicity of ideas
toward various topics of this time

Students should be out into groups of 6 (3 groups of two). Depending on your individual
goals, it could be beneficial to group them by a specific topic or type of person (i.e. group
them by 'home rule' or 'women').

Read through the assignment directions and expectations with your students

Before beginning the assignment, students must sign up for individual roles (also explained
in detail on the project directions in handout 4)

Post-project discussion questions:
o
How did you decide which information to include in the narrative script and which
information to have the personalities speak?
o
How did the 1916 letters help you develop a personality and voice for the
characters?
o
What were some of the challenges in creating this project? How did you overcome
them?
o
How did you decide where/when to set your documentary? Why did the people in
the film dress the way they did?
o
Which sources were most beneficial/user-friendly for the different elements of the
project? Why?
o
What were some benefits and challenges of working with partners and with a
group?
Free Online Databases/Resources: Hand-out 1
 1901/1911 Census (http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/)
 The 1901 and 1911 censuses are the only surviving full censuses of Ireland open to
the public. The 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901. The 1911 census was
taken on 2 April 1911. This search engine allows you to search for people living in
Ireland on these specific dates. The return forms provide information regarding
name, age, residence, gender, occupation, religion and literacy.
 Family Search (https://familysearch.org/search)
 Family Search allows you to look for someone through based on certain criteria
ranging from name and residence to birth or death records. Their records span
across hundreds of collections including birth, marriage, death, probate, land and
military.
 Manuscript Collection Lists (http://www.nli.ie/en/ManuscriptListResult.aspx)
 The Manuscript Collection Lists provide detailed listings of the contents of
manuscript collections held in the National Library of Ireland. Each catalogue begins
with a brief biography relating to the subject of the papers.
 The Diary of Mary Martin (http://dh.tcd.ie/martindiary/)
 A Family at War: Mary Martin’s Diary, 1 January – 25 May 1916 is an online
exhibition of the Diary of Mary Martin, a widow and mother of twelve children,
living in the affluent Dublin suburb of Monkstown.
 Soldiers’ Wills (http://soldierswills.nationalarchives.ie)
 The National Archives of Ireland holds a collection of the wills of Irish soldiers who
died while serving in the British Army. Most of these date from World War I but
there is a small number from the late 19th Century and from the period of the South
African War, 1899-1902. The documents have been digitised by the National
Archives and are now available free online.
 Bureau of Military History (http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/)
 This collection is a joint initiative of the Military Archives and the National Archives
which allows you to search for the Bureau of Military History free of charge. Their
records include 36,000 pages of witness statements, an index of witnesses, press
cuttings from 1916 and an image gallery with audio recordings.
 United Kingdom Census (http://www.ukcensusonline.com/index.php)
 On this website, you will find some practical information about the UK census and
how to use it to research your family history, including full name, exact age,
relationship to head of household, sex, occupation, parish and county of birth,
medical disabilities and employment status. Basic information is free for further
information a subscription fee is required.

Alternative site that contains the same information

(http://www.1911census.co.uk/search/tnaform.aspx)
 Irish Geneology (http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/)
 This website holds a large searchable volume of pre 20th Century Church records of
Baptism, Marriage and Burial that in many instances pre-date the Civil Registration.
 Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org/)
 We commemorate the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces
who died in the two world wars. Our cemeteries, burial plots and memorials are a
lasting tribute to those who died in some 153 countries across the world. Our
Register records details of Commonwealth war dead so that graves or names on
memorials can be located.
 Google (https://www.google.ie/)
 Sometimes google can lead you to obscure websites, such as google books,
wikipedia and the Australian Dictionary of Biography, which can contain relevant
information so it’s usually worth a try. Google is also useful for figuring out obscure
names by typing in different options and seeing if any seemingly accurate results
come up, or for trying out different spellings of places to figure out an address.

Try using Advanced search operators and search operators
 British Pathé (http://www.britishpathe.com/)
 This isn’t really a database for research for specific people but provides additional
information as to contemporary viewpoints through interviews and videos.
Transcription Feedback Form: Hand-out 2
Name: _____________________________
Who was the writer of your chosen letter and to whom was he/she writing?
Writer: ______________________________________________________
Recipient _____________________________________________________
Explain briefly why you chose to transcribe this particular letter?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
Why was this letter written?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
Did you find anything in the content of the letter surprising or interesting?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
What, in your opinion is the benefit of having access to a site like “Letters of 1916”?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
Biography: Hand-out 3
Now that you have been introduced to your personality, you must
engage in research to create a fuller picture of who he/she was.
Using the resources provided, try to answer the questions below.
A) Writer’s name:
_________________________________________
B) Recipient’s name:
________________________________________
C) Date that the letter was written: _______________________
D) In the space below, provide a description of the contents of the letter (what is he/she writing about).
A summary of the main details.
E)
Date of birth and death of the writer. _______________________
F)
Date of birth and date of the recipient. ______________________
G)
In the space below provide any other information that you have discovered about the writer: (e.g
their family, work, politics, publications, achievements, life after 1916)
Final Project: 1916 Documentary: Hand-out 4
Name: _____________________________________
Project Due Date: ____________________________
Overview: Following the style of the various documentaries we watched and evaluated together in
class, you will work in your groups of 6 to create a 4-5 minute video documentary presenting your
understanding of _______________________. Collectively, you will script, act, direct, video, and edit
what will become a masterpiece film!
Project Criteria and Scoring Guide
Excellent
Good
Needs
Improvement
Below
Expectations
Narrative Script
Acting/Authentic Voice
Demonstration of understanding of
topic/event/people
Overall Video, Production and Editing
Collaboration/
Group Work
Bibliography/ sources used
Student Roles:
Before embarking on this group project, you will decide amongst yourselves which role each group
member will take. You will sign off that you understand and commit to completing the expectations
of each role, and you will be held accountable for carrying out those duties.
Role
Project Director and Coordinator
The overall project manager keeps the group focused and on task. S/he provides
written feedback, outlining the groups progress and/or challenges, to the teacher
on at least 3 occasions prior to the due date. S/he also guides the group in the
writing, directing, costuming, setting, and acting - essentially the production of the
documentary.
Narrator/Head Script Writer
The narrator is primarily responsible for writing and editing the contributions of
others to the script of the documentary. S/he will also play the part of the
narrator/interviewer in the documentary. The narrator must be audio, but may
also be video (it’s your stylistic choice)
Videographer/Film Editor
The videographer and editor is in charge of the filming and editing of the the
project. S/he is responsible for creating a smooth, edited film, as well as choosing
editing techniques (such as special effects and music) to enhance the overall
production.
Actors
There will be 3 actors in each group, representing the 3 people you’ve researched.
It is the job of the actor to take ownership of presenting this personality either by
playing the part of that person or by acting as a historical, expert scholar on this
person. Working in conjunction with the script writer, it is the responsibility of the
actors to develop the language and responses of their personality to questions
posed during the interviews.
Student
Signature
Download

Transcription Feedback Form: Hand-out 2