English 341: It’s Like This

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Author: Stephanie Esquivel

Blog 7- an analysis

Blog 7- an analysis

Part of what I really enjoy about Reading in the wild by Donalyn Miller, are the recording instruments she uses to assess and evaluate her students reading. The one I found particularly useful was the genre charts. When attempting to figure out one’s personal book preferences it can be hard to know where to start, especially for children. I think graphing what books students do or don’t enjoy is a fantastic way for them to visually see their own preferences so they can begin figure out what it is they particularly enjoy about books. Determining the readers preference will allow me to recommend books I think they will enjoy and allow them to better choose books for themselves.

I’ve also realized that I lost many reading years in my time spent in high school. Now that I have made reading an active habit again I have noticed a few preferences. I enjoy realistic fiction and making connections and being able to relate to the story and characters. However, I also really enjoy fantasy. Books are like movies to me, and I enjoy being taken into another world where things beyond our boundaries exist. Part of the magic of books are the experiences created and emotions that are felt; sometimes I want to have powers too. Another big preference of mine are series books. I like growing attached to characters and seeing them change, adapt and mature throughout the course of the series.

In The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Starr Carter is a 16 year old African American female. Part of her signature look are her impeccable sneakers that she coordinates with her outfit everyday. She presents herself as two different Starr’s. One in lower-class Garden Heights, her home, where she is free to speak and act freely. Another is at Williamson Prep, a predominantly white and rich school where she is a part of the basketball team. Here she is careful about they way she speaks and presents herself because any slip up would cause her classmates to think of her as the black ghetto girl. Starr is always hyperaware of herself around her schoolmates and rarely discloses details pertaining to her home life. Even when she witness the shooting of her childhood friend Khalil, at school she denies any relationship to him. She fears that no one will understand or that people will see her differently and treat her differently. Starr’s character changes as she finds her voice and empowerment to stand up for herself and Khalil. I really enjoyed this book and it is so relevant to everything that is happening in our country. I think this is a great novel to open up these types of discussion with young adults and to allow them to see from a different point of view.

Blog 6- Just a (SMILE) and some words

Blog 6- Just a (SMILE) and some words

I explored a few resources and Diamond Bookshelf, was in my opinion, the most simple and helpful. Although I was initially a little confused by everything on the website I was able to quickly figure it out. It provides various lesson plans by age and even aligns them to the Common Core Standards. They are fairly detailed lesson plans that can be adapted to the teachers needs. I wasn’t able to find a lesson plan for Smile but just by looking through a few of the lesson plans I had enough ideas to work off of. There are also helpful links such as recommended reads, best sellers and new releases.

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier, is an autobiographical graphic novel about her life growing up in San Francisco. The story spans from middle school to high school starting with an accident that knocks out her two front teeth. On top of dealing with painful orthodontic procedures Raina deals with an earthquake, boy troubles, and some not very good friends. This is a coming of age story that hits close to home for most of us. When I first opened the book I was pleasantly surprised that it was all in color. I’m actually not sure why I expected it to be in black and white because it really is an antiquated idea for our point in time. All the elements such as panels, word balloons, sound effects, motion lines, narration, and background colors were found in my book. Although, any of these could be removed and not change the understanding of the story, it would definitely decrease the quality. Like when Raina is running and suddenly trips and WHAM! I flinched and heard the sound of her front teeth making contact with the cement beneath her. Both the images and words are equally important in a graphic novel. I can almost think of graphic novels as a movie on paper. You can see the movement on the paper, hear what is going on and feel the emotions happening. 

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

For my free verse book I chose Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. This story is beautifully told and written in verse which flows in a way where you can almost imagine her telling the story. By using poetry she tells the story of her childhood and what it’s like to grow up as an African American during the civil rights movement. Having her story told through poems instead of in chronological order adds a sense of realism to the book. We don’t recall our life through a set of linear events, but as flashbacks of memories that have defined our life. This book is a great example to show children that not all stories have to be told in one specific rigid format but that their stories can reflect their feelings.

 

So much depends

upon

 

4 years

One piece of paper

 

To open doors

That are nailed shut

 

Kindness in classrooms

Kindness in classrooms

What jumped out at me the most from the book George was the idea of kindness and the impact it can make. Sometimes it comes from peers around you but other times that most important type of kindness is the one wishing yourself. If you are struggling with anything it can be hard to see those great qualities within you which is where I go the idea of the kindness spider from.

In charlottes web it focused a lot on single words and important qualities. My make was to create a spider with eight legs.. one leg that defined an important and valuable characteristic of mine. I listed characteristics of mine and placed the defining ones on each spider limb.

I feel like this activity could help students look within themselves and find their redeeming qualities even when they don’t feel at their best. I attached my spider which has 8 words that I feel describe myself.

Who is George?

Who is George?

George by Alex Gino is a unique story, unlike any of the children literature I have ever read. The main character of the story is George and when people look at George they see a young boy in 4th grade. But “George” is keeping a secret from everyone and no one truly knows who he is.. because she is a girl and her name is Melissa. She desperately wanted to play the part of Charlotte in the schools play of Charlottes Web but was not given the part because she didn’t resemble a girl on the outside. Heartbroken and frustrated, Melissa eventually opens up to her best friend Kelly and they devise a plan for her to star in the play.

This is a beautiful story that can help many children who are struggling with understanding who they really are. The LGBTQ community is immensely underrepresented in literature (especially children and YA) and it was so nice to read a story that could help young children connect. This book, however, does touch on subjects that some parents might find unsettling. If I were to ever recommend this book it would have to depend on the district and setting I were teaching at. This is also a good way for someone who does not identify within the LGBTQ community to gain some insight on these struggles that others go through and perhaps encourage them to be more kind and compassionate to those who might seem different.

Make 2: A Count’s Crossword

Make 2: A Count’s Crossword

One of my favorite features of A Series of Unfortunate Events is the clever way that Lemony Snickets  introduces vocabulary. I think the simplest way to check for understanding of the vocabulary would be to use a crossword! In that sense the students would not feel like they were being quizzed but they would need to know the vocabulary in order to complete it. I had some difficulty finding a site that actually allowed me to make it for free without signing up for some sort of subscription but it turned out alright!

Download (PDF, 24KB)

The Bad beginning was my beginning

The Bad beginning was my beginning

When I read that A Series of Unfortunate Events was a part of our reading list I was honestly so excited! I can always pinpoint the moment I really began to love to read as the day my 3rd grade teacher handed me The Bad Beginning. I read every book up until The Carnivorous Carnival and I eventually read all 13 books of the series as they were released throughout the years.

The Bad Beginning tells the dark story of the Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire who are orphaned after a fire kills their parents and destroys their home. They are sent to live with their closest living relative, whom they have never met, Count Olaf. He is a monstrous and vile man who’s only goal is to make the children’s life worse and ultimately get his hand on the Baudelaire fortune. The rest of the series continues after a failed plan causes him to lose custody, but he is as persistent as he is evil. Although it is quite a dark series I think many kids would enjoy the mysteries that slowly unravel throughout it. This is probably a book I wouldn’t recommend to students who I know have lost a parent/s or are in the foster system since it can hit close to home. My favorite thing about the series is that it also gives a sense of empowerment to the children and they aren’t seen as weak dumb kids. All 3 Baudelaire children are smart and unique in their own way and choose to see the light at the end of the very long and very dark tunnel they are in. Because the series has been so popular among children there a hundreds of teaching resources available to teachers. The first that comes to mind would be a lesson incorporating engineering, a specialty of Violet Baudelaire. But there are many options available online that explore a wide range of topic.

There were two main take aways that I got from reading Millers text. The first is that I’m going to start taking a book with me everywhere I go (and I already started)! I took a book with me to the hair salon this weekend and was able to finish a good chunk of my book in my long 5 hours there. I chose to take one of my books instead of a children’s book because of the extended time I knew I would have available to read. The second point that stood out to me about Millers text was the importance of building a reading community between the students where they can share and discuss what they have been reading. This type of community creates exposure allows students to find new books or authors that they may have not found otherwise. But there is a  problem interfering with the building of a community. Many of the children who are struggling with reading are often pulled out between this silent reading time into remedial reading. This removes the child from the community and hinders them from creating the connections that the rest of the students are making during this time. The importance of a reading community should be stressed and children should be allowed to participate to fullest extent possible.