Goals and Objectives--Grades 3 - 5
Voices and Choices--Ella Oelke
Note: It is a good idea to print
Level One for easy reference.
Ella Oelke is a fourteen-year-old girl who lives
in rural Illinois. She and her family are originally from Germany.
Ella has just graduated from grade school and wants to attend high
school. The only high school is located in town which is miles from
her home. She needs to find a way to get to town everyday or will
have to put off her schooling.
These themes can be explored with either a social studies or
language arts curriculum. Use these themes to tie in other
resources to your class discussion, i.e., other books, other
cultures, students' own lives.
- Public education and its role in shaping one's future.
Free public education in this country has provided people with a
means of social and economic advancement for decades.
- Roads, carved out of fields and forests, they were a
vital link between people living in remote, rural areas and towns.
Roads and cars allowed more people to take advantage of important
civic institutions based in towns, such as schools, post offices,
libraries, hospitals and municipal government offices.
These questions, which come at the end of each story (minus "the
answer"), can be used to start class discussions or be assigned as
From what country do you think Ella and her family came? What
language do they speak?
Ella and her family speak German at home. Where they came from
in Germany is unknown. You might play a tape of spoken German so
that students can experience what Ella's mother toungue sounds
Ella tells us that at first she didn't understand English and
was sometimes sad at school. Why do you think she was sad?
If your students have trouble understanding Ella's situation ask
them if they have ever changed schools and been the new kid in
class. Maybe they can remember what it was like to start school as
a very young child. How did they feel about being placed in this
new and unknown environment?
What do you think it would be like to live in a foreign country
and not know the language?
You may have ESL students in your class who can share their
experiences of arriving in America and having to learn English for
the first time. If you know another language speak to your students
in that language then ask them to imagine living where that
language is spoken and having to learn it for the first time. Some
of your students may have lived or visited a foreign country and
might like to share their experiences. Ask your students to choose
a country that they would like to visit. What language would they
need to learn?
Can you describe Ella's grade school? Compare your school to
Ella's school. How are they different?
Ella graduated from a one-room school house where all seven
grades learned together. Ask your students to think about how many
rooms their school has and how many different grades are in their
school. Do these grades interact and learn together or are they
Why is Ella's schooling going to end? How old is she? How old
do you think you will be when your schooling ends?
Ella is fourteen and about to enter high school. The public high
school she would attend is located in town. Because of the lack of
daily transportation into town Ella's schooling must end. If your
students end up going to college and on to graduate school, their
schooling will not end until they are in their late 20's or
What does she love about school? What do you love about
Ella says she loves books. We can assume she loves the process
of learning and acquiring knowledge. Help your students concentrate
on aspects of school that they enjoy including the learning
Do you think education is important? Why or why not? What does
Many farm families did not think a girl needed a higher
education. Girls were expected to marry and keep house for their
husband and children. For Ella, education would have been a luxury.
In today's high tech world of double-income families, higher
education is necessary to establish one in a career that will
enable one to help support a family.
These are suggested classroom activities and student projects
that you may want to use with your students or as models to create
1. Oral Interviews
The theme of this interview is the importance of education and
what people are willing to do to receive higher education. Like
Ella, many college students must be willing to work in order to pay
for their education and living expenses.
Interview a college student and find out about their experiences.
You might ask the following kinds of questions:
If you don't know anyone in college right now, then interview an
adult who has been to college. You can even interview your teacher!
- Why did you decide to go to college?
- Is college expensive?
- Do you have to work in order to pay for college? What kind of
work do you do?
- Is your family helping you? How?
- Do you think a college education is important? Why?
2. Map Activity: Comparing the Past to the Present
Compare the 1921 road map of Illinois in Maps with a road map
- Make a list of the different kinds of roads on today's
- Do you think there was as great a variety of roads during
Make a list of the most important roads in your life:
Write a story about living without roads. You may want to begin
- For example, the roads you take to school or the roads you take
to visit your best friend.
- Imagine if those roads no longer existed. What would you
- "One morning I woke early and I looked outside my window.
Something was very different. The road in front of my house had
turned into a field and in that field there were cows..."
3. Creating a Flip Book
Create an illustrated Flip Book for your story.
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