Using The Snake Fence

With Common Core Standards for ELA/Social
Studies, grades 6-8
Why I wrote the book
How I wrote the book
Fran Holleran’s recommendation
Interdisciplinary Cooperation between
Social Studies and Literature
Because the social studies standards are coupled with
English language arts, both departments benefit from
Creative teachers sharing ideas generate more interesting
lesson plans.
Students gain sense of subject matter’s relevance when
information is reinforced in more than one discipline.
Students read one book instead of two, thus cutting down
on time spent on homework.
• Book Summary for The Snake Fence, done by Rose Milner, 7th grader at Booker Middle School
• Noble Butler, a 16-year-old Quaker boy from Pennsylvania, on a journey to find himself, makes some
friends on the way. Noble meets lovely Molly, a rambunctious young woman whom he finds amazing and
falls in love. Peter, a quiet boy, joins the militia and stays at Fort Cumberland with Molly. Broken Blade is a
15-year-old Indian who has a grudge and a debt. John McCowen is a wounded man who has his eyes on
Noble’s sister.
• The fascination. . . Wood work is a skill Noble longs to have, but he can’t afford the tools.
• Peter and Molly get married and are expecting a baby in the spring. Noble is shocked. He hates the idea of
Peter and Molly. He loved her more than anything and is jealous.
• Israel Pemberton is a wealthy Quaker who offers Noble a runner job. Noble accepts. What is a runner? To
deliver messages? It pays. It’ll get him tools.
• Remember the Walking Purchase? Walkers ran, and cheated the Indians out of their land.
• During the Peaceful Compromise, the Pennsylvania government and the Quakers talk to the Indians to
make peace. Indians and Quakers travel to Easton to have discussions and make peace. Noble stores
peace offerings with Peter and Molly and meets baby Sarah. The conference failed. In the end the
compromise didn’t go as planned.
• Noble found his worth. The courage he showed was brought forth, and Noble realized his hopes of finding
himself were true. The amazing Noble Butler is content with life.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support
analysis of primary and secondary sources.
Braddock’s defeat, p.120 ff.
There are many descriptions of this battle, in journals written at the time,
other newspaper articles, letters home to England, even George
Washington’s memoirs written much later. Google “General Braddock’s
defeat” for secondary sources of information and compare them with The
Pennsylvania Gazette article.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of
a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the
source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Minutes of the dinners at Pembertons’: p.175-6, 182-186
The description of these dinner conversations was taken from the minutes
written at the dinners, although not all of the minutes were used in the story.
These minutes are part of the Special Collections Library of Haverford College.
Have students read the account here and tell or write what they have learned
from this primary source. The two quotations from The Pennsylvania Gazette,
found on pages 4 and 121-122, could also be used here. See also the
discussion questions on this chapter, p. 227.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3 Identify key steps in a text’s description of
a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law,
how interest rates are raised or lowered).
Primary source materials for this section come from Minutes of the Provincial
Council. Choose another negotiating topic, such as found in President
Jimmy Carter’s book, The Blood of Abraham, about peace negotiations
between Palestine, Israel, and several other countries in the 1970’s and
analyze them. Have students assume roles of diplomats from each country
and have a mock peace conference of their own, to see if they can achieve
peace in the Middle East, using the background information in Carter’s book.
Alternatively, let students pick a topic relevant to their own
lives and set up a series of negotiations based on Noble’s
description of how these things work.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, students might re-enact the scene of
Tom Robinson’s trial or write about the appeal of his
sentence as if it had occurred, thus learning the roles of
various officers of a court and the appeals process.
• Craft and Structure
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4 Determine the meaning
of words and phrases as they are used in a text,
including vocabulary specific to domains related to
history/social studies.
• Look up the definition of “traitor.” Does this apply to Israel
Pemberton, Jr.? Was he charged with treason? Look up
information on his biography. Would you consider him a
successful man? Why or why not? What traitors have
been convicted in the United States? If time allows, you
might have the class conduct a trial of Israel Pemberton.
In Red Badge of Courage, students could look up the
organization of an army: battalion, regiment, etc., and the line
of command. Has this changed since the Civil War?
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.5 Describe how a text
presents information (e.g., sequentially,
comparatively, causally).
• The author presents a great deal of information about the
Walking Purchase in a narrative, causal way. Have
students write or tell the information in a comparative way
by finding other sources of this information, either on-line
or in print sources, and comparing them to this account.
Are students convinced that the circumstances of The
Walking Purchase were the cause of Indian violence on the
frontier? Could there have been other causes? What might
they be? Then analyze the effectiveness of conveying
history in each form.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.6 Identify aspects of a text
that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g.,
loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular
• Describe the differences between the Butler family’s
response and John’s response. Why did they react so
differently? What do you think is the author’s point of view
In To Kill a Mockingbird, which characters do you think
reveal the author’s point of view? Which are in contrast to
it? Find examples of loaded language.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information
(e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps)
with other information in print and digital texts.
• Map, p. vi
• Compare the 1756 map on p. vi of The Snake Fence with a
map of Indian paths found in Indian Paths of Pennsylvania, by
Paul Wallace or another source on line. Explain why the same
area is portrayed so differently. Research descriptions of travel
in colonial times, such as are found in Into the American
Woods, by James H. Merrell. Then look again at the map on p.
vi of The Snake Fence and compare it with maps of 1856,
1956, and 2006. If you don’t live in Pennsylvania, do the same
kind of research for your own state as well.
1756 Map of Pennsylvania
In Red Badge of Courage, the site of the battle is not
named, but the author says in a later publication that it
was the Battle of Chancellorsville. Find on-line maps of
that three-day battle and try to locate Henry Fleming’s part
in the story.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact,
opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
• Stories in the Rain,” p. 45-46
• In this passage we learn that Daniel’s and Christopher’s
attitudes toward Indians differ. Can you distinguish among
fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in this scene? What
are they based on? Can Noble tell the difference? At this
point are his thoughts and feelings based on fact, opinion,
or reasoned judgment? Do they change by the end of the
book? Choose another topic about which people feel
strongly. Can you identify and distinguish between fact,
opinion, and reasoned judgment?
In To Kill a Mockingbird there are countless examples to be analyzed. Pick
any character and focus on that person’s speech. Which dominates: fact,
opinion, or reasoned judgment? What does that tell you about that character?
How does that person advance the story? Does that person reflect the
author’s point of view?
• In Red Badge of Courage, the soldiers have difficulty
distinguishing between fact and opinion and question the
officers’ reasoned judgment about the battle. Find several
examples where soldiers fail to distinguish between fact
and opinion. Then find passages where they question the
officers’ reasoned judgments. What impact do these
scenes have on the main character? Henry Fleming tries
to understand his own character, whether he is cowardly
or brave. By the end of the story, is Henry Fleming relying
more on fact, opinion, or reasoned judgment about his
own actions?
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.9 Analyze the relationship
between a primary and secondary source on the same
See Standard 6-8.1 above.
• Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.10 By the end of grade 8,
read and comprehend history/social studies texts in
the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently
and proficiently.
• Other title suggestions for interdisciplinary projects:
• Colonial Period: The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne,
The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
• Creating a New Nation: “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,”
by Longfellow, The poetry of Phyllis Wheatley, Johnny Tremain,
by Esther Forbes
• The Early Republic: Eclipse: A Novel about Lewis and Clark,
by Richard Wheeler; Undaunted Courage, by Stephen
Ambrose;Native American myths
America Grows and Changes: Moby Dick, by Herman
Melville; “Civil Disobedience,” by Henry David Thoreau;
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railway, by
Ann Petry
The Nation Divided: Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen
Crane; “Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” by Ray Bradbury; “O
Captain, My Captain,” by Walt Whitman; Across Five Aprils,
by Irene Hunt; John Brown’s Body by Stephen Vincent Benet
Modern America: The Holocaust: The Diary of Anne Frank;
by Anne Frank; The Devil’s Arithmetic, by Jane Yolan; Night,
by Elie Weisel
For more Twentieth Century suggestions, ask any English
For more writing topic suggestions, google “Writing Across
the Disciplines” for a very long list of resources. The one from
Brevard County, FL, is an excellent one.
• How Booker Middle School’s Visual and Performing
Arts department used The Snake Fence:

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