The Great Houdini Reading/Writing Adventure!(created/assembled September 2012 by Pete Vincelette)

During this library activity students will* learn about the life and times of Harry Houdini by exploring websites, book excerpts, biographical articles, and video. Students will then use notes from their studies, along with their 21st-century problem-solving skills, to complete one of the following tasks:

Task 1 (Houdini’s strengths and weaknesses) - Describe at least two of Houdini’s strengths, and at least one of his weaknesses. Your description should include plenty of supporting evidence from things you have seen and read in class. (For example, you might claim that one of Houdini’s strengths was that he was hard working. If you list that as one of his strengths you would need to provide evidence from the video and readings to support that claim.)

Task 2 (Houdini in the 21st century) - If Houdini were alive today, how would he be using modern media to increase his fame? Use evidence from the video and readings to explain how Houdini might use things like cable TV, the Internet, smartphone apps, etc. to be world-famous.

Task 3 (Houdini as an MRMS Ram) - If Houdini were a student here at MRMS what sort of student would he be? Would he play sports? Join NJHS? What would his favorite classes be? Your task is to provide a description of what Houdini would be like as a seventh or eighth grader at our school. Your description should include, and be based on, evidence from the video and readings. (For example, if you state that Houdini would be a peer counselor, you must provide evidence from the readings that explains why it’s reasonable to believe that Houdini would do that.)

Task 4 (Houdini as a sandwich) - Suppose that you owned a restaurant and decided to create a Houdini sandwich. The sandwich must include a total of six ingredients chosen from the following types of food: bread, veggies, cheese, meat, and condiments (mayonnaise, etc.). Your task is to describe the ingredients you would choose for the sandwich, and use evidence from the readings and video to explain why those ingredients make sense as choices for a Houdini sandwich. (For example, your explanation might include something like this… “Since Houdini was born in Budapest Hungary, I have decided that the sandwich should include honey, because honey is often used in traditional Hungarian food, and Houdini had a knack for dealing with sticky situations.”)

Task 5 (You decide) - Create your own Houdini related essay assignment. Your essay must clearly demonstrate your understanding of the topics we've covered during the Houdini unit and it must be approved by your teacher.

Note: Mr. Vincelette is looking for students willing to take their final documents along with Houdini related images and create digital AV versions of their projects.

Day 1 Activities
Related Resources
Overview of unit

First 20 minutes of PBS video

Biography Resource Center (first reading)

Evidence Drill: find a quote from one of today's sources that supports the following statements.

1. Houdini had a habit of stretching the truth.

2. Throughout his life Houdini was devoted to his mother.

Jing Intro

Houdini Google doc instructions video

Essay outline courtesy of Ms. Britton
Mrs. Hepworth's Houdini template

Google doc for research notes: click here. to view

Ima Sample's notes

Day 2 Activities
Related Resources
Excerpt from Tonight Show featuring David Blaine + interview with DB

Group work adding 2 claims to Google doc

Next 20 minutes of PBS video

Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World's Greatest Escape Artist (excerpt)

Evidence Drill

Group work adding 2 more claims to Google doc

If time permits: explore websites related to Houdini

Evidence Drill: find a quote from one of the given sources that supports the following statements.

1. The Houdini's fame and success was the result of years of hard work.

2. Houdini became the enemy of many psychics and mediums.
David Blaine and Houdini: link 1, Link 2
Core #1 claim and evidence doc
Core #2 claim and evidence doc
Core #3 claim and evidence doc
Core #4 claim and evidence doc
Core #5 claim and evidence doc
Core #6 claim and evidence doc

Mrs. Hepworth's outline for your Houdini task

Great escapes/Library of Congres

David Blaine and Houdini exhibit

Harry Houdini story on NPR1

Harry Houdini story on NPR2

Was Houdini murdered

Details of Houdini's efforts to expose Margery

Day 3 Activities
Related Resources
Finish up American Experience video

Finish up looking at (& reporting on?) Websites

Reading of the day

Begin writing

If time permits: Houdini bowl

Escape!: The story of the great Houdini (excerpt)

Google doc for Houdini Bowl

* In teacher terms: Students will be reading, and learning/practicing how to gather evidence from, nonfiction text. They will then use that evidence to support arguments in their own writing.