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Teaching Historical Biography: I am Malala

Teaching Historical Biography: I am Malala

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I am in the middle of currently teaching one of my student’s favorite classes, which is also one of my favorite classes, To Hope and Back. Every year, I have students on the edge of their seat when they are reading this book and as we integrate history into each lesson. Why is it a favorite?

There are many explanations for why historical literature and autobiographies/biographies are popular amongst middle school students.

First off, it piques kids’ curiosity. Combining history with stories that are based off of historical time periods keeps students on the edge of their seat. Having students do predicting activities as well as informal journaling as if they are the main characters involves them in the history on a different level.

If done right, teaching this kind of material hammers home everyday details. Kids will learn not only the general history, but the general culture of the time period or group of people as well. When accurately portrayed, these details are like a savings account. Students can draw on and supplement each detail and then, deposit information to provide a richer understanding of the period.

Historical literature puts people back into history. Sometimes, social studies or history textbooks are too in-depth for this age. It is a list of names and dates. And other times, quite frankly, textbooks might be too shallow reducing an event to a few words. Using historical fiction (or biographies) allows students to feel a true connection to the time period. It provides in-depth description that students can picture in their mind.

Historical literature and autobiographies/biographies not only provide the historical elements but teaches geography, critical thinking and historical perspectives (timelines). Having students merge multiple subjects into one text makes learning more fun (and saves time!). Simply put, it connects social studies learning to the rest of our school day. Historical fiction, while enhancing understanding of the past, can help you integrate social studies across the curriculum.

This winter, beginning in January 2020, I am teaching a new book in the series of historical literature: I am Malala. This amazing class is geared for grades 6 (mature) – 9. We will weave the horrible situation that many people face in Pakistan because of the Taliban. Students will not only learn geography and historical events, but they will learn the human-interest side of what is happening in other parts of the world.

Join us!  I’d love to have your child in my class.


EvaEva Goldstein-Meola is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium.


Eva is offering the following courses for the 2019-2020 year:

Adulting 101 – Spring 2020
All About Essays – B Week – Full Year – 2019 – 2020
An Author Study: Examining the Work of Katherine Paterson – Winter 2020
Beyond Worksheets: Grammar, Punctuation, Editing – Oh My! – Spring 2020
Exploring American History with American Girls (Session One) – Fall 2019
Exploring American History with American Girls (Session Three) – Spring 2020
Exploring American History with American Girls (Session Two) – Winter 2020
Hidden Figures: The Women who Changed NASA Forever – Spring 2020
I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World – Winter 2020
Introduction to IEW Writing – A Week – Full Year – 2019 – 2020
Junior Historian: The Civil Rights Movement – Fall 2019
Middle School Writing – A Week – Full Year – 2019 – 2020
Middle School Writing – B Week – Full Year – 2019 – 2020
Outliers: The Story of Success – Fall 2019
Perspectives: Combining IEW Writing with Classic Short Stories (Session 1) – Fall 2019
Perspectives: Combining IEW Writing with Classic Short Stories (Session 2) – Winter 2020
Powerful Paragraph – B Week – Full Year – 2019 – 2020
Profiles from History (Session 1) Stories of Those Who are Worthy of Remembrance – Fall 2019
Profiles from History (Session 2) Heroes of America’s Growth and Freedom – Winter 2020
Profiles from History (Session 3) Leaders who Changed Worlds Both Large and Small – Spring 2020
Starting at the Very Beginning: A Jump Start to IEW Writing – Spring 2019
Starting at the Very Beginning: A Jump Start to IEW Writing – Spring 2020
Strong Males: Coming of Age – Winter 2020
Strong Males: Two Newbury Honor Novels – Fall 2019
Ten Days to Research Writing – Spring 2020
Ten Terrific Ted Talks! Don’t say that ten times fast! – Winter 2020
To Hope and Back The Journey of the SS St. Louis Combining Literature with History – Fall 2019