Author Archives: The Teaching Factor

NCTE#17 TakeAways

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I am in St. Louis, MI to attend NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) and it is always empowering to be among thousands of English Teachers, Literacy Coaches, Researchers, and Authors. From 7:00 AM through the wee-hours of the night we are listening, learning, networking, collaborating, discussing, sharing, and inspiring each other. This annual convention is one of the best in-person professional development opportunities for someone in the English Language Arts and Literacy field.

Yesterday the kickoff included a meet up for Middle School Teachers with Ignite Keynotes from Kylene Beers, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Chris Lehman, and author, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich addressing the role of Middle School and literacy in shaping student identity. This morning the power of poetry was the theme with Jimmy Santiago Baca and youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman.

The first session I attended was with Penny Kittle on “Creative Structures for Organizing Writing: Beyond the 5 Paragraph Essay.” She mentioned that the five paragraph essay is nothing that students have to complete in college so why are we using this limited writing structure to teach writing. Breaking free of the 5 Paragraph essay structure allows for more authentic writing like Op-Ed pieces, reviews, profiles and Public Service Announcements. Show students the models and mentors to help them succeed in writing these types of texts and build their writing repertoire. Her handouts are available on her website under NCTE.

Kelly Gallagher spoke about Fake News and helping our students develop world knowledge and being critical readers. Too many people accept information for what it is where a website, news story, or text and don’t ask questions about who is writing the story? What is their purpose? What is being left out? Who is the audience? Does it pass the CRAP Test – Currency, Reliability, Authority, Purpose? He argued that maybe we need to put literary analysis aside in order to bring to the forefront the value of the reading experience.

I was one of the presenter in the next session on Igniting Wonder in the Classroom along with Laura Robb, Kristen Ziemke, Carol Varsalona, Blanca Duarte, Laura Purdie Salas, and Wonderopolis. I presented on Quest Based Learning to spark wonder and play in the classroom. My slide deck is below.

Since there are so many amazing authors at NCTE, I could not forego seeing a few outstanding YA authors including A.S. King, Somon Chainani, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, Andrew Smith, and e.E. Charlton-Trujillo. Let’s just say, these are a few of the badass authors who write great YA fiction. They addressed social justice, humor, and tackling tough topics with their readers.  For all of them writing has been “freedom, power, and voice.”

Dropping into the exhibit hall, a few ARC copies of soon to be released books were shared and cannot wait to start reading. New titles that tackle historical fiction and zombies, dystopia, and poetry.

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Working Your Way Towards Argumentative Writing with Gameboards

Last spring I came across an amazing Revision Gameboard created by Lisa Guardino, a middle school teacher and blogger in California. I was immediately inspired and in awe. 

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My students are currently writing an argumentative investigative journalism piece and they started their research and have just finished creating an Annotated Bibliography for the evidence they collected. But how do I help them get from their Annotated Bibliography, to write their Lede, to expanding their writing into an entire essay? That is when Lisa’s game board popped into my mind.

Her game board focuses on revision and is has a Monopoly layout. I imagined more of a Snakes and Ladder’s template to help students move across and around the board to write, elaborate, incubate, and revise their work. Based on Lisa’s work here is what I came up with. Click on the image to link to the actual document.

Revision Gameboards

My intentions are to help my students think through their writing and build their ideas into a well developed investigative journalism article that utilizes ethos, pathos, and logos. I have used Lisa’s Revision Game Board for steps 6-11 when students are revising and editing their work before submission. Hopefully, this will help my students put together an essay that is packed with evidence, elaboration, and utilizes elements of rhetoric.

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Writing Blogging About YA Lit

This semester I am teaching a young adult literature class to graduate students. The students are required to keep a blog that catalogues all the books that they read for the course. There are many ways that they can respond to young adult literature and I thought it would be interesting and engaging to have them write each post in a different format. These are the blog post choices they were assigned.

“When one has read a book, I think there is nothing so nice as discussing it with someone else – even though it sometimes produces rather fierce arguments.”

– CS Lewis in a letter to Arthur Greaves

Introductory Blog Post Assignment  – This first blog post will ask you to think about, explore, and document your own relationship to and experiences with reading. Using words and images, address the following in your first blog post:

  1. How did you learn to read? Who and what influenced your relationship to reading and writing in and out of school?
  2. What do you believe are the purposes of reading, in and out of school?
  3. How does your relationship and experiences with reading shape your approach to teaching reading?
  4. What are the top ten books that have influenced your reading life? How have those books influenced you?
  5. What do you hope to get out of this class, both personally and professionally, in terms of your relationship with reading? Do you have any reading goals?

 

Book Talk Flier – Create a one page document that briefly describes, summarizes, and sells the book to young adults. Your fliers must include key information about the book, who might be interested in reading it, key review quotes that you (find or create) that suggest the importance of the book and why young adults might find it interesting. Your flier must also include visuals – a picture of the cover of the book and any other images that you think might help adolescents to be drawn into the book. Be creative and use interesting layouts and fonts.

Book Trailer – Create an original video presentation designed to motivate teens to check out the book.

Top Ten Post  – Also known as the If You Like  . . .  Check Out . . .  

Create a list of ten related titles that share similar themes, issues, or genre. For more ideas about this type of post, check out https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/category/top-ten-lists/

Book Review – Write a review of the book. Book reviews contain both summary and personal response. For sample book reviews check out The New York Times Book Review or The Nerdy Book Club Book Reviews. Feel free to write your book review, create a podcast or video cast of your book review.

Ways In/Ways Out/Ways Through the Text – Design three activities/lessons that actively involves young adults in reading the text. “Ways In” is an introductory activity that motivates students to engage with the text. What specific literacy strategies will you use? “Ways Through” are the literacy strategies and tools to help students make sense of and understand the text. “Ways Out” are activities that let students demonstrate their relationship to the text and their comprehension of the key ideas they encountered with the text.

Discussion Questions for Novels – Develop 10-15 questions that would prompt deep discussion about each novel. Work towards open-ended questions that have no correct answer; questions that would challenge us to think deeply, thereby prompting an engaging conversation. These questions should pertain directly to your book and your personal reading experience, rather than to general analysis of literary elements or queries over authorial intentions.  

Book Q & A – Based on Richard Peck’s 10 Questions to Ask About a A Novel

  1. What would the story be like if the main character was the opposite sex?
  2. Why is the story set where it is?
  3. If you were to film this story, what characters would you eliminate if you could not use them all?
  4. Would you film this story in black or white or color?
  5. How is the main character different from you?
  6. Why or why not would this story make a good TV series?
  7. Name something in this story that has happened to you?
  8. Reread the first paragraphs of chapter one. What is in it to make you want to continue reading?
  9. If you had to design a cover for this book, what would it look like?
  10. What does the title tell you about this book? Does it tell the truth?

Booksnaps – Create five or more different Booksnaps of your favorite or most telling passages in the text. Once you snap images of your favorite quotes, create visual representation of your thoughts with bitmojis and emojis, and adding them to a “Snap Story.” Check out Tara M. Martin @trarmartinEDUon social media for more.

#Booksnaps

Exit Blog PostDescribe in narrative format the development of your relationship with reading during your time in this class.

  1. What was (were) your favorite book(s) that you read this semester?
  2. Did your personal relationship with reading grow or change during this course? If so, how? What classroom practices do you think contributed to your development?
  3. What practices/philosophies regarding reading and children’s literature do you plan to carry forward to your future students, and why?

What books from the book list and mentioned in class would you still like to read?

 

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Always Be Curious

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Tim Ferris has one of the best podcast series around and his most recent podcast with author, Walter Issacson does not disappoint. Issacson is the author of many biographies, including The Innovators, Steve Jobs, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, Kissinger: A Biography, and his most recent, Leonardo da Vinci. Both Ferris and Issacson have made their life work to tease out key stories, rituals, habits, and daily practices of well renown people.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Below I share some highlights and lessons that inspire my daily life.

“I think Leonardo da Vinci teaches us the value of both being focused on things that fascinate us but also, at times, being distracted and deciding to pursue some shiny new idea that you happen to stumble upon. Balancing intense focus with being interested in a whole lot of different things is something that we have to do in the Internet age.”

“We relate to Leonardo da Vinci because his genius was just being passionately curious about everything. He wanted to know everything he could know about our universe, including how we fit into it. We can’t all have a superhuman intellect like Albert Einstein’s, but we can be super-curious. And we can also quit smashing curiosity out of the hands our children.”

“Leonardo da Vinci had such a playful curiosity. If you read his notebooks, you’ll see he’s curious about what the tongue of a woodpecker looks like, but also why the sky is blue, or how an emotion forms on somebody’s lips. He understood the beauty of everything. I’ve admired Leonardo my whole life, both as a kid who loved engineering – he was one of the coolest engineers in history – and then as a college student, when I travelled to see his notebooks and paintings.”

“Throughout his life, Albert Einstein would retain the intuition and the awe of a child. He never lost his sense of wonder at the magic of nature’s phenomena-magnetic fields, gravity, inertia, acceleration, light beams-which grown-ups find so commonplace. He retained the ability to hold two thoughts in his mind simultaneously, to be puzzled when they conflicted, and to marvel when he could smell an underlying unity. “People like you and me never grow old,” he wrote a friend later in life. “We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.”

“And by reading his notebooks,” Isaacson continues, “whenever I had the chance and marvelling at how much he crammed on a page, I could see the connection that his mind made as it danced across nature, from the beauty of a woman’s smile to the miracle of a bird in flight.”

“I think that in order to be innovative,” says Isaacson, “you have to question the traditional ways of doing things. Leonardo did that. Steve Jobs did that. Einstein did that … It is the nature of creativity to not just do what was done before, and whether it was Leonardo’s flying machines or his drawings of a dissection of a human body or his plan to divert rivers, or his way of making the smile of the Mona Lisa so mysterious, all of that was a great act of creativity.”

“One of the things I’ve learned from Leonardo is how to be even more curious and how to be more observant; how to make lists every morning of the things I want to learn or the questions I want to ask. We can all be more observant and more curious … Leonardo made me more intentionally curious.”

Issacson has written biographies of so many geniuses that we can use as models and mentors for creativity, education, and passion. In all of his subjects, including his newest book on Leonardo da Vinci, stayed curious, admired beauty in the world, learn through travel, and keep journals with questions you wish to pursue daily.

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Image retrieved from http://sciencevibe.com/2016/02/17/leonardo-da-vinci-did-not-see-a-divide-between-science-and-art/
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Celebrating Literacy for Change: NACTE 2017

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This past weekend I attended NEATE’s 2017 Conference –  New England Association of Teachers of English. President of NEATE, Lynn Leschke, states that “this year’s conference reminds us of the power of words to effect change  . . . [and] as educators help our students live better in their world and prepare them to make it a better place.”

There were an abundance of workshops over the course of the two days that addressed all aspects of literacy and teaching English.

The first workshop I attended was “Graphic Novels: the Unicorn of Literary Instruction” presented by Assistant Professor of English Studies at Fitchburg State University, Katharine Covino. The workshop highlighted a handful of new and noteworthy graphic novels and using them in conjunction with classical texts such as Frankenstein, The Highway Man, and Alice in Wonderland.

Daniella King, a high school teacher and Ph.D. candidate at UConn along with high school teacher Arianna Drossopoulos presented “Creating an Understanding of an Unfamiliar Culture (Islam) Through Adolescent Literature.” This workshop featured Islamic and Muslim protagonists in YA Literature and activities to go along with the texts to promote a better understanding of this rich culture and society as a whole.

Author Elly Swartz presented alongside Humanities teacher, Jimmy Sapia to address teaching empathy, courage, forgiveness, and gratitude with Young Adult Literature and picture books. Mr. Sapia participates in the #180BookADay Challenge, reading a picture book to his sixth grade students every day to teach lessons that build character and offer a lens in which to view history.

Tapping into the debate about teaching grammar, Nilda Irizarry, presented “Making a Difference with Grammar.” Grammar is an essential tool for creating powerful writers and oral expression, enabling writers to create mood, add impact, and engage readers. Powerful instruction of grammar teaches not only the knowledge and identification of language and sentence structure, but also how to use language and structure with intention and purpose.

There were many more workshops than these that I have highlighted. As a teacher, I am always looking for new ideas, insight, and to extend the conversations about teaching and supporting students so they are successful. Both national, regional, and local conferences are opportunities for all teachers to hone their craft.

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Getting Google-ly At #EdTechTeam Connecticut Summit 2017

Local Edcamps and Google Summits are the best professional development opportunities to learn the best technology platforms and practices to 10X student learning. Today’s #Edtech Team Google Summit in Manchester, CT was filled with engaging sessions to boost the potential of Google Suite in the Classroom.

Google Innovator, Jeff Heil @jheil65 was the opening speaker addressing moonshot thinking, quality instruction, and rethinking teaching. He raised questions about core beliefs, amplifying student voice and choice, and Google’s Project X as a model for classroom learning.

Brooke Whitlow presented “The WRITE Stuff with Advanced Docs” offering a Doctopus and Goobric Demo to efficiently evaluate writing in Google Docs.  Both of these add-ons for Google enable flexible, efficient rubric-based grading of Google Drive resources. As I re-evaluate the assignments that I create in Google Classroom for student reading and writing quests, these add-ons can help organize my evaluation of student work while at the same time allow me to offer effective feedback on their work.  Here is a step-by-step guide to using Doctopus and Goobric.

Revenge of the (Google) Sheets led by Jedi Master, Jesse Lubinsky @jlubinsky offered advanced tips to effective sort and filter data in Sheets. Again, there are many add-ons for Google Sheets that can help manage data and sheets for mapping, power tools, and even QR Code Generators. Save As Doc allows you to convert any Google Sheet (Think Responses for Google Forms) for printing and improved readability.

I led the session Getting Going With Gamification to introduce elements of gamification. In the session we defined gamification versus game based learning and looked at aspects gamification to utilize with our students to increase voice, choice, and adventure based learning. I discussed how to get started with gamification and build multi-layered games to engage and motivate both teachers and students. Below are the slides from the presentation.

Great teachers never stop learning and as Jeff Heil shared this morning, “We are here because we want to do what’s best for our students and to be better teachers for the students we serve.” There are so many amazing add-ons and technology tools that can help teachers and students succeed.

Through confidence, perseverance, respect and understanding you can accomplish the greatest of challenges that come in life. Never fear the idea of stepping out of your comfort zone. Never fear the idea of breaking free from traditional lifestyles. Believe in yourself and you will be able to overcome the trials you fear the most.” — Ryan Hudson @rhudsonsb

Snowboard Athlete & Public Figure

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Flipped Writing Instruction

This week I had to be out of the classroom for meetings and I wanted to make sure my students had productive writing workshop to begin working on literary essays. I decided to make screencasts to review the elements of essay writing: introductory paragraphs, building better body paragraphs, and writing a conclusion. Using Screencast-O-Matic, a free screen recording program, I recorded my mini lesson to go along with each slide deck covering the elements of and essay. These screen recording were to help my students begin writing their Multi-Paragraph Outline for their literary essay.

Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul wrote the book Flip Your Writing Workshop: A Blended Learning Approach (Heinemann, 2016) describing how students can access instruction independently, in small groups, and at home through flipped learning.  Johansen and Cherry-Paul write,

“Flipped learning is a blended approach to instruction. Catlin R. Tucker (2012) defines blended learning as a hybrid style in which educators “combine traditional face-to-face instruction with an online component” (11). Teachers “flip” lessons online so students can access them at school or at home and work at their own pace. Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams (2012), leaders of the flipped learning movement, state that “time is freed up to explore and discover concepts in an inquiry-based fashion” (46). Troy Cockrum (2014) says educators can use flipped learning to transform their learning environment. As with other teaching methods, flipped learning can play a central or a minor role in your writing workshop.”

With the ideas presented in the book fresh in my mind, I took my slide deck that I would have presented in my classroom as a large class lesson and screen-casted each lesson –recorded my voice thinking aloud through the elements of the essay. By screen casting my lesson and posting them in Google Classroom, my students can reference the videos when they get stuck writing. The notes that my students take from the flipped lesson go into their Interactive English Notebooks to help students to learn strategies like six ways to start an essay. The videos let students manage their own writing workshop time, work at their own pace, and return to key elements of essay writing throughout the school year.

Check out the three videos I have made so far. I can see myself creating a few others to touch upon leading in and leading out of textual evidence and formulating a claim.

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Awe Struck: Poetry & Art Collide with Chihuly

The New York Botanical Gardens is currently showcasing artworks by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly. There are more than 20 installations, including drawings and early works that reveal the evolution and development of Chihuly’s artistic process during his world renown career.

Chihuly is known for his vibrant glass sculptures. His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including twelve honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Glass as an art form is relatively new in regards to American art history. Glass as an art form did not flourish until the 1960s. Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade. Due in part to the influence of Dale Chihuly and his founding of Pilchuck Glass School, glass has taken on an unique form of expression and art (http://www.chihuly.com/learn).

Chihuly’s work and installation at the New York Botanical Gardens is breath-taking and inspiring. In fact, The New York Botanical Garden, in partnership with Poetry Society of America, presents a Poetry Contest for kids in elementary, middle, and high school who live or study in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Students are invited to submit poems (written individually or with student collaborators) inspired by the installations on view at The New York Botanical Garden. The poems are judged by Newbury Award Winning poet, Jaqueline Woodson.

Here are three of my favorite poems on display with Chihuly’s work.

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Sapphire Star

Oh Sapphire Star, your beauty and grace
To see you completely
I’d have my eyes, detached from my face.
You are simple and complicated, but never overrated Whenever I see you, my amazement is automatically instigated. To pronounce your greatness, I’d have to say it with my mind When I rst saw you

You put your signature on my subconscious
Which will forever be signed.
You are a ne work of art, seeming to be made by da Vinci You have my awe, and everyone else’s
Across every sea.
Sapphire Star, you have also taught me a lesson
That of which my heart and mind is taped
To be yourself
No matter who you are
Or what type of abstract shape.

 

Marcus Lopez-Pierre, 6th Grade
Success Academy Midtown West New York, New York

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Sol

Spirals like the way dance makes my hips move left and right
Overjoy people’s faces with the vibrant colors, allusions
Loops like the way natural hair does in its natural state bouncy and coily

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Dazzles you with brightness that may blind your eyes in a snap of a hand Exquisite like the sparkles sparkling on a disco ball
Luxurious for everyone to enjoy going beyond what they can imagine

Citrón

Curves like the way a worm slithers back into its habitat
Injects you with freedom into a new world like Chihuly
Ties all the pieces together to make it unique
Rams all the ideas, differences in your mind that it suddenly goes “poof” Ongoing into my brain was rst a little thing that wasn’t possible

Now it’s a large scale glass curling sculpture Sol del Citrón

 

Essence Sanders, 8th Grade

Harlem Academy New York, New York

 

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Skillfully Sculpted

Glistening in the sun The way water does On days where
The sun

Like a diamond Sparkles
On its throne in the sky

Fountaining up
With bubbles Perched
Where the
Column of water Breaks at the top Into a petaly array And cascading down Sending ripples out From its landing point

Delphinium Sibley-Wilson, 4th Grade
Bronx Community Charter School Bronx, New York

 

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The Hero’s Journey: A Study in Film

Years ago I attended the National Gallery for Art‘s Summer Workshop focusing on Mythology. I spent a week in Washington, DC with fifty other educators learning from academics, teachers, and visiting every museum in the District. One evening we attended the National Air and Space Museum to see an exhibit highlighting the Joseph Cambell’s The Hero Journey through the lens of George Lucas’ Star Wars. The exhibit paralleled two stories, making visible a plot structure and trope that plays out continuously in film and story canon.

Joseph Campbell, an American mythological researcher, wrote a famous book entitled The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  As MythologyTeacher.com points out, “in his lifelong research Campbell discovered many common patterns running through hero myths and stories from around the world.  Years of research lead Campbell to discover several basic stages that almost every hero-quest goes through (no matter what culture the myth is a part of).  He calls this common structure “the monomyth.” It is commonly referred to as “The Hero’s Journey.'”

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When George Lucas was writing his drafts of the early Star Wars movies he had read Joseph Campbell’s work and there is a clear structure of the Hero’s Journey in Lucas’ films.

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Star Wars is not the only films that follows the Hero’s Journey. Many of Disney’s Films also use this plot structure in their animated feature films: Finding Nemo, Mulan, The Lion King, The Incredibles, and Moana. Additional movies include Shrek, and Kung Fu Panda. Major feature films like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Spiderman, Matrix, and The Hobbit also follow this trope.

I am using The Hero’s Journey with in my Media Literacy class to teach about plot structure, character motivation, and theme in the stories they write and films they create. I started by asking students to think about what qualities they associate with heroes. Are heroes born or are they made? Are there heroes in real-life or must they be larger-than-life? Who are the heroes in our society.

Students viewed short films about the Hero’s Journey to understand the monomyth. Then we brainstormed possible movies, books, and stories that would fit within this structure. Students were given a graphic organizer of the The Hero’s Journey to map out a text on their own. The graphic organizer on MythologyTeacher.com was clear and specific to help students articulate their understanding. I found out among my students that not many have seen animated Disney Films, The Hunger Games, or the new Spiderman Homecoming movie. With this in mind, I will be showing the class the movie  Spirited Away by MIYAZAKI (2001), one of my favorite filmmakers.

Many of Miyazaki’s films follow the Hero’s Journey and are great to use with students. Once we view a film in it’s entirety together, we will discuss and plot out the Hero’s Journey in the film. Students will use this foundation for writing their own Hero’s Journey story that they will make into a movie. Additionally, students will apply the foundations of film knowledge (Types of Shots, Color, Sound, and Style) to effectively tell their Hero’s Journey story.

 

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Building Quests for Independent Learning: Classcraft’s New Feature

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I am so excited for Classcraft’s new feature that allows teachers to build quests for their students. Classcraft states, “Quests enable teachers to turn their lesson plans into personalized, self-paced learning adventures for students to embark upon in the game. Your entire curriculum can take the form of an interactive map — each point representing an activity or resource that must be completed to go further.”

I have just put together a reading quest based on a social justice book unit. Students have a choice to read I am Malala, All American Boys, or Warriors Don’t Cry. Since students are reading books in small groups, the quest feature allows all students to work at their own pace to complete different “checks for understanding” assignments that will highlight their thinking about the text.

Here is a breakdown of the Social Justice Quest:

The Story – Throughout history there have been moments when people have been called upon to stand up for what is right. They have witnessed injustice, hatred, intolerance, and have decided that they cannot stand aside as a bystander. Who are these upstanders and how do they change the course of history for all of humanity.
Mission 1 – Perception Reading Expedition

You have read the backstory, been introduced to the characters, and seen injustice presented in the text. Now, complete this mission to unlock the journey of a true hero.

Answer the questions on the google form related to your social justice book.

Warriors Don’t Cry https://goo.gl/forms/X5HoTnSFU29nl2S92

I Am Malala https://goo.gl/forms/Pc6S1uFiAs9zmo1Z2

These Google forms include 20 basic comprehension questions based on the first 100 pages of the books. Student responses will be assessed using the Google Add-On Flubaroo

Mission 2 – Alliances

We often look to models and mentors for wisdom. These people’s lives are a testament that being an upstander takes strength and perseverance.

What aspects of Mahatma Gandhi are a model and mentor for your main character?

Articulate how your main character best exemplifies the philosophies and practices of Gandhi.

To learn more about Gandhi’s beliefs and complete this task click here.

Again, students will write a short response for this task on Google Forms which will be evaluated by the teacher. 
Mission 3 – Evaluator Mission

When we get to the end of a story our mind is filled with questions, thoughts, connections, and reflections.

  • What surprised me? What did I wonder?
  • What did the author think I already know?
  • What changed, challenged, or confirmed my thinking?

Before you make it to the end of the Social Justice Vision Quest, you must complete the Evaluator One Pager Mission.

One Pager Task: Your task is to showcase your understanding of your social justice book in ONE PAGE. Please follow the guidelines and check off each box as you complete each step.

  • Use a sheet of blank, white computer paper(8 ½ X 11).
  • Make sure the title of the novel is located on your one-pager. The title should STAND OUT.
  • Include a graphic representation on the part of the book you are focusing on (drawing, magazine picture, computer graphic, a symbol)
  • Your one-pager must include color (markers, colored pencils). No pencil is allowed.
  • Answer three (3) questions (see below) regarding the book and include two or more textual quotes to support your response.
  • Personal Response: A comment, an interpretation, a connection, or a review. Please do not include a summary.
  • Fill up the entire page
  • Place your name in the lower right hand corner.
One-Pager Scoring Rubric Points
Answers three reflection questions with  specific textual quotes to support response. 10
Graphic Representation that ties to the quotes. 5

+5 Awarded for Original & Unique Artwork

Thoughtful, well-written response 10
Title clearly stated… stands out 5
Presentation: Fill page, uses color, no pencil. 3
Name in lower right corner 2
Total (40 Points Maximum)

 

All American Boys – One Pager Questions

  1. Describe Rashad and Quinn. What makes them dynamic characters?
  2. What is your impression of Spoony, Rashad’s brother? Do you find him to be a good brother to Rashad? In what ways are these two brothers similar? How are they different?
  3. Quinn states, “On Friday nights, there were only two things on my mind: getting the hell out of the house and finding the party.” Why do his responsibilities at home make him feel such a need to escape? In what ways has the absence/loss of his father impacted how the family functions? Are they in any way similar to your own? If so, in what ways?
  4. For what reasons do you think Quinn begins to feel connected to Jill? How would you characterize their relationship, and how does it change over the course of the novel?
  5. Guzzo states, “People have it all backward. They do . . . I’m sorry, but my brother did the right thing. He has to make tough calls.” When his brother attacks Rashad, Guzzo is around the corner from the store, so he doesn’t bear witness to the assault. Why is Guzzo unable to come to terms with the truth about his brother’s actions?
  6. Consider the variety of settings for All American Boys; name the three places you believe to be most important to the story.
  7. Jill tells Quinn, “I don’t think most people think they’re racist. But every time something like this happens, you could, like you said, say, ‘not my problem.’ You could say, ‘it’s a one-time thing.’ Every time it happened.” Do you agree with her assessment?
  8. Quinn states, “And if I don’t do something. If I just stay silent, it’s just like saying it’s not my problem.” How does this moment show that Quinn is actively choosing not to be a bystander? Though difficult, do you agree it’s the right decision?
  9. How does the discovery of the spray-painted tag, “Rashad Is Absent Again Today” change the dynamics about how students at the high school are able to deal with the event? In what ways does this initially non-spoken symbol become an avenue for reflection and conversation among both the student body and the faculty?
  10. All American Boys is told in a dual first-person narrative. How would the story be different if someone besides Rashad and Quinn were telling it? Do you think changing the point of view would make the story better or worse? If you could, would you want another character’s perspective to be included in the novel? If so, whose?

 

Warriors Don’t Cry – One Pager Questions

1. What are 2-3 ways different white students respond to integration at Central High?

2. What role does peer pressure play in how white students respond to African American students?

3. Melba says she feels both proud and sad when she is escorted into school by federal troops. What do these feelings say about who she thinks she is – as a citizen and as an individual?

4 What role does Grandma India play? Why is she an important to Melba? Provide at least three (3) well substantiated reasons to support your assertion.

5. Explore the role Link plays. Why is he important in the book? Provide at least three (3) well substantiated reasons to support your assertion.

6. Why is the book called Warriors Don’t Cry? Which character or characters is/are the “warriors” in this play? Explain providing at least three examples.

7. How does Melba change as the story progresses? Be sure to clearly state your thesis and explain fully the instances where her behavior or attitudes change.

8. Based upon your reading of this book, what role do you think religion played in the Civil Rights Movement?

9. In the context of Melba’s story, what does it mean to be a warrior? What qualities does a warrior in this story need to possess? Provide at least two direct quotes from the book to help explain your answer.

10. Melba’s experience at Central High School happened more than fifty years ago. Why is it important to discuss it now? What could happen if Americans don’t learn about the struggle of the Little Rock Nine?

 

I Am Malala – One Pager Questions

1. Would you have had the bravery that Malala exhibited and continues to exhibit?

2. Talk about the role of Malala’s parents, especially her father, Ziauddin. If you were her parents, would you have encouraged her to write and speak out?

3. How does Malala describe the impact growing Taliban presence in her region? Talk about the rules they imposed on the citizens in the Swat valley. What was life like?

4. Mala has said that despite the Taliban’s restrictions against girls/women, she remains a proud believer. Would you—could you—maintain your faith given those same restrictions?

5. Talk about the reaction of the international community after Malala’s shooting. Has the outrage made a difference…has it had any effect?

6. What can be done about female education in the Middle East and places like Pakistan? What are the prospects? Can one girl, despite her worldwide fame, make a difference? Why does the Taliban want to prevent girls from acquiring an education—how do they see the female role? *

7. Talk about the Taliban’s power in the Muslim world. Why do you think  it continues to grow and attract followers…or is it gaining new followers? What attraction does it have for Muslim men? Can it ever be defeated?

8. Malala witnesses her immediate surroundings change dramatically within a short time period. Describe the changes to both Pakistan and Swat throughout I AM MALALA. How does Malala experience and respond to these changes? How is Malala’s character influenced and shaped by her surroundings?

9. Discuss Malala’s relationship with her mother. What influence does she have on Malala? In what ways does Malala’s relationship with her mother compare/contrast with her relationship with her father? Did it surprise you to learn that Malala’s mother did not know how to read yet her father insisted that Malala be well educated and learn all that she can?

10. In Chapter 5, after Malala does not win the class trophy at the end of the school year, her father tells her “It’s a good thing to come in second because you learn that if you can win, you can lose. And you should learn to be a good loser not just a good winner.” What do you think about this advice? How do you think it builds Malala’s character?

11. Would you have been as brave as Malala at this point in the story? In what ways do you feel like you relate to Malala?

 

Mission Complete – Reading Ace

Social justice means moving towards a society where all hungry are fed, all sick are cared for, the environment is treasured, and we treat each other with love and compassion. Not an easy goal, for sure, but certainly one worth giving our lives for!

Medea Benjamin, co-founder Global Exchange and Code Pink

We know that within our world and throughout history that not everyone has had equal opportunities or access to resources that should be a given right. Books have the power to help us see the world for what it can be and stand up for what is right. You are a reading ace and now you must make choices that show what you have taken to heart from the stories you read.

 

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