In partnership with the American Writers Museum, we have created a variety of activities for grades 6 and up that enable you to help students explore the museum’s American Voices and My America online exhibits using our Shared Inquiry™ method of learning. Our simple, flexible resources enable you to engage students in one or more activities of your choice, including:

  • Discussing an essential question rooted in exhibit materials
  • Sharing and comparing inquiry-based notes about a short text by a featured author
  • Developing connections and responses to a featured author’s work

Just download the activity guides on this page to get started! Each guide includes:

  • Shared Inquiry activities for each exhibit
  • Links to short videos on Shared Inquiry for you and your students
  • Links to specific parts of each exhibit that students will be exploring

If you have not used the Shared Inquiry method in your classroom, we recommend you watch the overview on Shared Inquiry before you get started with the lesson plans for each exhibit. It will also be helpful to have your class watch the student-facing videos to provide an introduction to this learning style.

New Video Guides to Get You Started!

My America

In this exhibit, students explore the influence of modern American immigrant and refugee writing on our culture, history, and daily lives. Our activity guide focuses on the exhibit’s video clips of authors addressing significant topics, and includes opportunities for individual reflection, discussion, and writing. The guide helps students explore three themes used in the exhibit:

  • Why Writing?
  • Influences
  • What Is “American”?

Students will watch and respond to video clips of authors addressing the theme(s) they choose to investigate. Download the activity guide on this page to get started. It has links to the exhibit, every author video students are invited to explore, and videos on the Shared Inquiry method.

American Voices

This exhibit traces the development of American writing from the 17th century to the present, reflecting the richness and complexity of our nation’s literary heritage. Great Books activity guides help students analyze the life and works of three noteworthy writers:

  • Sojourner Truth—Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth had a passion for freedom and a commanding personal presence that made her one of America’s leading advocates for equal rights.
  • William Apess—William Apess’s 1829 memoir A Son of the Forest was one of the first published works by a Native American.
  • Louisa May Alcott—Louisa May Alcott embarked on a writing career while still in her teens, and her novel Little Women features one of America’s most influential heroines.

Download any one of our three activity guides for the American Voices exhibit to get started today! Each activity guide has links to the exhibit students are exploring, as well as to helpful videos on Shared Inquiry.

We are proud to partner with the American Writers Museum to make these outstanding exhibits even more accessible to teachers and students. As students explore the many ways and periods in which American writers have grappled with important questions, they develop important reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. Most importantly, students come to see themselves as participating in the shaping of what America will become.