Loneliness and Isolation with The Diary of Anne Frank (7th Grade)


The Diary of Anne Frank offers readers many approaches when it comes to cultural studies. One main theme that students can likely relate to is Anne’s struggle with isolation. Throughout the book she constantly alludes to her family hating her and preferring Margot. She also claims that nobody in the annex likes her…and eventually she even feels that Peter her love interest doesn’t like her anymore. Even in a tiny space crammed with people Anne feels alone. This is something I think everybody can relate to at some point. Whether in school, with family, or with friends most students understand the feeling of isolation. In this unit we will explore those feelings through class discussions, writing samples, and activities to get students thinking like Anne.

By the end of the unit students will have a better understanding of Anne’s struggles while they also get more acquainted with their own feelings. I want students to feel a connection between their own life and Anne’s life. I will pull in another book called “The Courage to Be Yourself: True Stories by Teens About Cliques, Conflicts, and Overcoming Peer Pressure”. The Courage to Be Yourself . This book is a compilation of true stories told by teenagers in today’s society. We will focus on a few stories where students feel isolated from their family or friends. For example one teenager in the book writes about how his family taunts him for not being “black” enough. In our class discussion students will compare his story to Anne’s story then they will turn to their journals and connect it with their own life. I will give each of my students a diary or journal at the beginning of the unit. Each day they will be given 10-15 minutes to write. They will write about different things, but always about the feeling of isolation. I will prompt them to write about times they felt alone with their family, friends, church, school, sports….I will also have them write about how Anne’s situation connects to theirs. Since this is considered a diary I don’t expect students to share it with anyone (not even me) unless they choose to. I will also use pop culture to connect to students. One day I am going to play a music video of a song called "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction. What Makes You BeautifulThis band is popular with middle school students so they will likely already know the song. As a class we will use the lyrics to analyze whether true love can exist as teenagers. I will also show students images, videos, and take them on a virtual tour so they can get a better idea of what Anne Frank went through.

My goal is that these conversations get students talking about issues that cause them to feel isolated. Weight, gender, race, and social classes are just a few examples of topics I expect my students to talk about. If they feel comfortable sharing their experiences with the class that is great! But if not I won’t force them to share, but I will encourage them to write about it.

Students learn best through practice. As I mentioned students will be writing in their journals each day. This will help them become better writers while they are thinking critically about themselves. Students will use the topic I have assigned as a stepping stone to deeper and deeper thoughts. Students will read The Diary of Anne Frank at home and each day we will focus our discussion on what happened in the diary that night. Then they will write about it in depth in their journal. For my students who have a visual impairment I will offer an audiobook version. If I have any students who have a learning disability I will provide the book at a simpler reading level so that everyone can read the same thing. Picture book version of The Diary of Anne Frank

Students will be graded throughout the unit on:
Class participation: 25 points
Journal: 50 points
Final paper: 25 points

For their final project students will turn in their diaries. As promised I will not read them but I will go through just to make sure students wrote for each day. Using their diaries students will write a final paper. They need to choose one topic that they wrote about and stretch it into an entire paper. They also need to connect that to Anne Frank. For example: One student may write about how their boyfriend caused them to feel isolated from their family because their parents didn’t approve. Anne Frank felt the same way when her father didn’t approve of her building a romantic relationship with Peter Van dam.

Points for the final paper:
Organization: 5 points
Mechanics and Grammar: 5 points
Connects their own experience of loneliness to Anne Franks: 15 points

Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.1.b Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.1.e Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

-Students come to class having read diary entries 1-12

-We have a class discussion about the story thus far

-I will give students a journal where they are instructed to write each day like Anne did.

-For their first diary entry students write about what it would be like to live in a tiny space with just family.
-We will have a class discussion about diary entries 13-25. Anne Frank feels like her parents don't like her. She feels alone in the annex crammed with people.

-Students will make a journal entry about a time where they felt isolation they from their parents.
-I show a virtual tour of what Anne Frank’s annex looks like.
Secret Annex

-After the video we discuss what it would be like to live in such a small area. Also we touch on the topics Anne wrote about in diary entries 26-38

-Students will write about a time that they felt isolated from their siblings (like Anne feels separated from her sister Margot)
-Class discussion about diary entries 39-51. Anne Frank always felt like she was the object of everyone’s jokes, which hurt her feelings.

-Students write a journal entry about a time where students felt like they were being picked on by their family.
-I will show students images of what the characters looked like.

-I will show a clip from the first part of the movie Anne Frank.
Movie Part 1

-We will have a group discussion about her diary entries 52-64

-Students will write in their diaries about a time when they felt that nobody in their family understood them.

-We will begin by discussing Anne’s diary entries 65-77

-I will introduce the class to another book called "The Courage to Be Yourself:True Stories by Teens About Cliques, Conflicts, and Overcoming Peer Pressure”
Courage to Be Yourself
This is a compilation of short stories that really happened to teenagers. We will focus on the stories dealing with isolation and finding ones identity. We will read these in class and discuss how they relate to Anne Frank.

-Students will write in their journals a reflection piece relating the new book to their life.
-For the remainder of this week I will focus students thinking on isolation to friendship. I will put students in groups of 3-4 kids who don’t normally hang out together. They will have group discussions rather than whole class discussions.

-In their groups students will talk about her diary entries 78-90. The small groups will help students realize that it doesn’t matter what friends you have, everyone feels alone and left out sometimes.

-Journal entry will be about a time when they felt isolated from their friends.
-In their small groups students will be encouraged to talk about Anne Frank dairy entries 91-103 and the book The Courage to Be Yourself. I want kids to relate what Anne is going through with the book.

-Students will write in their diaries about a time where their friends didn’t understand them.
-Anne writes about her blossoming friendship with Peter Van dam. As students should have read diary entries 104-116 they will talk about a time where they made a friend in an unusual situation.

-They will write in their diaries about a time where they left a friend out from doing something.
-Students will read diary entries 117-129. Anne writes about missing her friends while she is cooped up in the annex.

-My students will discuss missing someone and how that makes them feel.

-In their journals students will write about a specific person that they miss and how they feel lonely when that person is gone.

-I will also show a video clip from the movie of Anne talking to Peter Van dam.
Movie Part 2

-We will return to full group class discussions. Students read diary entries 130-142.

-In Anne’s diary she writes about growing up and becoming a woman. We will have a class discussion about the isolation that occurs when people grow from a child to an adult.

-Students will write in their diaries about a time where they felt alone during their transition into adulthood.
-Students will read diary entries 143-155. Anne feels like Peter may be upset with her about something and she feels like he is ignoring her. She isn’t sure if their relationship is more than just lust.

-I will reference song lyrics about love that students will know. For example will use the song “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. What Makes You Beautiful

-We will have a discussion about whether teenage love can be a real thing like it’s described in the song or if not.

-In their diaries students will write about a time where a relationship has left them or someone else feeling alone. It could be their own romantic relationship or one that they observed (in real life or television)
-Students will read entries 156-168.

-Anne feels like she crossed the line with Peter by kissing him when she doesn’t love him. Her parents begin to isolate her because they don’t agree with the relationship.

-Students will have a class discussion about where the line should be drawn in relationships.

-In their journals students write about the importance of family acceptance in a relationship.
-In Anne’s final days (diary entries 169-181) she questions whether it would have just been better to die rather than live in the annex.

-We will have a discussion on a time in students’ lives where they felt so lonely that they would have rather done anything else.

-They will write about that experience in their journal.
-Students will finish up the diary.

-We will have a class discussion on what happened to Anne after the book ended.

-Students will finish their diaries by reflecting on Anne’s experiences related to their own life experiences.

-I will show students the end of the movie where Anne Frank gets captured and sent to a concentration camp.
Movie Part 3