Steinbeck Blogs

Adapting the Text
Cumulative Activity
Grades 6–12
Language Arts, Technology
Individual or Small Group, Online, Online Collaboration, Ongoing


Students will gain a greater understanding of the events in Travels with Charley by re-interpreting them into their own words.


Steinbeck described himself as a writer, not an author. He actively and consciously experimented with different writing styles throughout his career. He was a journalist, a novelist, a playwright, he kept detailed diaries while writing The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, and he wrote many letters. Would Steinbeck have embraced any of the modern forms of writing that we experience today such as blogging or social media platforms?

In this activity, students will practice summarizing and interpreting Travels with Charley in the form of blog posts or social media posts. This can be easily expanded to include photos, “replies” by people Steinbeck encountered on his journey, and other creative additions.

Materials Needed/Preparation

  • Copies of Travels with Charley.
  • Access to computer, laptop, tablet, or other device (optional).
  • Determine whether this will be a one-time activity or an ongoing part of the overall unit on Travels with Charley.
  • ~As a one-time unit, teachers may want to choose specific sections of the book for students to summarize and reinterpret.
  • ~Consider assigning different sections of the book to different students or groups of students.
  • ~Decide what medium to be used such as:
  • ~~Hard copy submission
  • ~~Online format: There are many blogging sites that can be used for free, especially for educational purposes. Google for Education and Google Classroom may be available at your school – see if Blogspot is offered through these services.
  • ~Decide if all students (or all groups of students) will be submitting work in the same format.
  • ~~If students (or groups) are given a choice of their particular format/medium, be certain to set parameters which ensure that all work is of the same quality, quantity, and depth (e.g. length of blogs, length of social media posts, etc.).

Estimated Time

This can be a one-time activity that begins and ends during a single class period or it can be an ongoing activity that students do as homework throughout the book.


Introduction of the activity

  • Discuss with students how they share their everyday experiences with their friends, family, and the world.
  • ~Depending on the age group, this may be a good opportunity to discuss online safety, manners, and bullying.
  • ~What are the differences between how Steinbeck shared his travels across the United States and how most people today share their experiences?
  • Introduce the formats students (or groups) will be using, or the formats that are available for choosing.
  • Explain the steps/requirements of the activity
  • ~Each post will summarize that section of the trip in the student’s own words.
  • ~Students may emulate Steinbeck’s style, quote from the book, but they must write in their own words.
  • ~Each post must highlight not only the important events from the reading, but must discuss the important themes addressed.
  • ~Students are encouraged to be creative! However, they must stay within the confines of the book (no adding alien abductions!); the purpose of the activity is to summarize and analyze in a creative, fun way, not to write a new story.
  • ~Students may write “replies” or “comments” on their own posts. These “replies” and “comments” can be from people Steinbeck encountered, from his wife Elaine (he was, in fact, writing letters to her at the time), or from people “following” Steinbeck’s journey online.
  • ~~In an online environment, it may be possible for teachers to assign students to reply and/or comment on other student’s postings. This needs to be monitored, however.
  • ~Images or even videos may be incorporated, and are encouraged.

Individual, ongoing assignment

  • At the end of each assigned section of reading, students submit (online or as a hard copy) their post regarding that section of the book.

Small Group, one-time assignment

  • Assign a section or sections of the book to individual students or small groups.
  • After that section is completed, that student or students create their posts
  • ~In an online environment, it may be possible for teachers to assign students to reply and/or comment on other student’s postings. This needs to be monitored, however.
  • Alternatively, each student or group can post on their assigned sections after the entire book has been completed.

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up

Post Activity

  • All student or group posts can be used as study guides for a cumulative exam.
  • Consider using these posts in conjunction with the activity Interviewing Characters.


  • Students will reinforce their knowledge of the events and themes in Travels with Charley.
  • Students will practice creative writing, summarizing, and analyzing.


  • The posts from this activity can be used as study guides or in conjunction with other activities.


  • How well did a student or group summarize the important events in the assigned section of reading?
  • Were the important themes of the section included? Did the student or group expand on those themes?
  • Did posts, photos, etc. stay within the confines of the book (i.e. were there any alien abductions)?

Common Core State Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2, 3
  • ~Craft and Structure: 4, 5
  • Writing Standards  6-12
  • ~Text Types and Purposes: 2, 3
  • ~Production and Distribution: 4, 6
  • Language Standards 6-12
  • ~Conventions of Standard English: 1, 2
  • ~Knowledge of Language: 3
  • ~Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 4, 5, 6
  • ~Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 7, 8
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
  • ~Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 7, 8
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
  • ~Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 8

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