Getting Personal With Anne Frank

To finish up the year, my 7th graders read Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl.

I had never actually read her diary–while I was in Jr. High, I only read the play. So, it was interesting to read her actual thoughts, and one thing became clear to me–she was a very typical 12-14 year old girl! She was a little arrogant and sometimes, even a brat! But, she was still very reflective and loved to learn. She also really opened our eyes about the world of the Jew during WWII.
I was expecting my students to feel impressed and enlivened by Anne Frank’s diary and inspired to write their own, just as I had seen on the movie Freedom Writers. Well, I was mistaken. These 7th graders are from stable families with stable backgrounds, not kids in the slums of Long Beach. CA who fight abuse, poverty, gangs, violence, drugs, and other drama in their life. It didn’t hit hard and home for them, even thought they were learning about WWII at the same time in history. In fact, many didn’t like Anne at all, for the same reasons as I stated. But, that could just be a reflection of themselves, since they are the same age Anne was when she started her diary 😉 Then again, Anne got pretty personal with some details of her life, like having her first period. Whether you are a boy or a girl at the age of 12-13, that’s something you really don’t like reading or discussing, and they told me that!
I had my students my students write their own little diaries, to try and relate to Anne better. We wrote in our journals every Friday and the prompts related to what we had read in Anne’s diary each week.
Journal Entry #1
Give your journal a name.
Describe yourself. Describe your family. Describe your house. Describe your friends.
Describe your school. How do you feel about
school?
What was your last birthday like?

Have you ever had to move? What was it like?
Journal Entry #2
What is your relationship like with the
members of your family? Why? Do you wish it was different? How?
Describe a time when you were scared. What
happened? When? Where? Who? What? Why? How? How did you feel? What was the
result?
Journal Entry #3
Although you are not hiding out from Nazis and are
allowed outside, there is still something you are probably yearning for
freedom—summer. Why are you
excited for summer?
What are your thoughts and feelings on
prejudice and war?
Have you ever had a dream that you remember
vividly? How has it affected you? Was it a good or bad dream?
Journal Entry #4
What is your best remedy for loneliness,
anxiety, or depression?
Have you ever been in love? Describe the
person you had a crush on. Describe your feelings for them. Describe your
relationship with them.
Are you religious? Are you proud of your
religion or ashamed, or indifferent? How do you feel about your religion?
Journal Entry #5
Why do you write? What do you like to write?
Why do you think it’s important to write?
What is your favorite subject to learn?
Why?
Was there ever a time you said something to
your parents that you regret? Describe it.
Journal Entry #6
Why do you think religion is important?
What do you think of the youth these days?
What are their downfalls? What are their good points?
How would you like people to view you? Why?
Some students did the bare minimum and didn’t really put effort into the assignment. Others jumped head first and wrote as if it were a real diary. I loved reading these and getting to know my students on a better level! I was so honored they opened up to me and let me know their secrets. 
I am definitely keeping this assignment for next year. This is what it is to be an English teacher!
Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.