Buck Institute for Education

Back in the Day

Author: Randy Scherer

What will my students be doing?

In the Back in The Day project, students publish a thoughtful collection of narrative nonfiction writing in which they tell specific family stories of growing up and coming of age.

What's Included:

  • Project Overview
  • 8 Essential Elements of PBL
  • Sequence of the Project
  • Step-By-Step Teaching Guide
  • Student Handouts
  • Teacher Materials

Current Version: April 22, 2014

11th and 12th grade students are endlessly confronted with the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” They are asked, and ask each other, “Where are you going to go to college?” or, “What are you going to do after graduation?”

But long before these students thought about colleges, careers, places to live or visit — and how these choices relate to their identities — their parents, grandparents and extended families had their own hopes, dreams and aspirations; they fell in love and had their hearts broken; they seized opportunities and had their own accomplishments and many more experiences that shaped who they became.

In the Back in The Day project, students publish a thoughtful collection of narrative nonfiction writing in which they tell specific family stories of growing up and coming of age. Each student produces a nonfiction piece of writing using journalistic methods of research, such as interviews and the examination of primary documents, as well as creative writing techniques such as the development of characters and setting, and the use of selected literary devices. Along the way, students address specific questions that help them understand how their family members grew up in different times or different places. The final product is showcased as a hard-copy book, published using professional methods.



Project Notes

  • Subjects: ELA
  • Grade Level: 11th, 12th
  • Common Core Aligned
  • Time Required: 10-15 Hours
  • CC BY

Sponsored By

FAQs

Back in the Day: The Student Journal of Family History was inspired by a desire to encourage students to ask how previous generations lived through many of the iconic moments of life that young adults experience: first jobs, first loves, questions, dreams and aspirations. Furthermore, I hoped to personalize history, and encourage students to understand how specific cultural contexts impacted the lives of their family members. Finally, I hoped to direct direct students’ creativity through the narrative writing of true stories. This is one of only a few projects that I repeat each year because it is amazing how often I see that students are personally invested in the work. Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and more come to the exhibition and I love to see them connect over original student writing and old family photos that come together.

Student Work

The War to End A War
A narrative about a young girl's first encounter with war download file »
I Fought; We Lost
My father, Michael, was politically active at a young age and fought for an anti war cause download file »
Ampersand: Families Volume One
Preview 15 pages of the book on Blurb. visit »
Ampersand: Families Volume Two
Preview 15 pages of the book on Blurb. visit »

Project Documents

Project Author

Randy Scherer teaches Humanities at High Tech High Media Arts. Prior to joining the HTH Village, Randy was the Production Manager for three national magazines in New York City, published two nonfiction books (The Antiwar Movement and Political Scandals) and taught English at San Marcos High School. At HTH, Randy was a founding member and editor of the academic journal UnBoxed. He received his M.Ed. from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, his teaching credential from University of San Diego and his B.A. in Political Science and Creative Writing from Binghamton University. When he’s not at school, Randy is probably out playing with his dog, traveling or shaping surfboards.