English 341: It’s Like This

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Author: Rachel Larson

Civil Rights Leaders Party: Make for Brown Girl Dreaming

Civil Rights Leaders Party: Make for Brown Girl Dreaming

On pages 3-4, Woodson lists several names of people fighting for a similar goal. Divide the class into groups. Have each group research and explore the following: a) What was this person’s main goal? b) What philosophies and strategies did he/she use to reach this goal? Once the research is complete, students prepare for and hold an Equality Party where students attend with name tags and in character as the people they researched. Instruct them to discuss with other “attendees” how they fought for equality using their unique strategies and techniques. After the party, the groups discuss what they learned about the other historical figures through the conversations at the party. How were they similar and different from one another?
I found this activity idea on A Guide to Jacqueline Woodsonbrown girl dreaming, written by Erica Rand Silverman and Silverman and Sharon Kennedy, former high school English teachers and co-founders of Room 228 Educational Consulting, also with Shannon Rheault, who is an elementary school teacher. I imagined this activity would be best for 4-6th graders, and loved it because it is incredibly applicable to both the book itself and critical history. Further more, it can be applied to both History common core standards as well as English/ Reading standards. It is a fun activity that the children can genuinely enjoy, and learn from as well. I would make the activity an extended, multi-week event, that the students have plenty of time to prepare and truly understand their individuals purpose, techniques, and goals. Although I would also make this even something that they look forward to, making an actual party atmosphere; including music, food, games, anything that a social party would include to motivate the students to socialize in the character of their specific activist.
I could arrange this party in February, to celebrate and educate about Black History Month. It would be a pot- luck style event, where we would each bring a designated dish, drinks, cups and plates, etc. I would provide name tags, and I would get the student’s input on whether or not they would want to dress up in their character’s chosen style for the occasion. My ideal outcome from this activity is to have an assignment that they could truly enjoy while simultaneously learning from. It will also give students an opportunity to empathize and understand their characters, and through sharing “experiences” with their peers, they can learn more about other civil rights leaders as well. Also, I think any assignment resulting with mass amounts of food will be something for them to be excited about.
Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

For my verse book, I chose Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, which follows the author’s story growing up as a young African- American girl in the 60’s and 70’s in both the North and South. Having to deal with remnants of the civil rights movement, Woodson shares her childhood memories told through beautiful passionate verse. I am super excited to read this book, I have been flying through the pages and am already enthralled with her story. The unique versing and structure of her thoughts was difficult at first, but once I changed how I was approaching the reading, it has such a beautiful flow I can’t seem to put the book down. I personally love this style of writing, and because it is her own story, Jacqueline has the freedom to create whatever format she sees fit. The breaks in between the stanzas also make it so that I can go back and really resonate with her thoughts, and picture how she lived. I would love to incorporate these types of books in a classroom, to challenge the students and see how they do with a non- traditional formatted novel. My students would be exposed to all different kinds of books, and these verse books will only help to expand not only their reading skills, but their creativity as well. Although writing a poem seemed to be much more difficult than reading one…

 

So much depends

upon

 

The sun

rising

 

The birds

chirping

 

I depend

upon

 

Coffee

brewing

Helping children like Ada

Helping children like Ada

Throughout reading The War That Saved My Life, it was incredible to me to see Ada’s strength and growth, despite the incredibly abusive household she was raised in. Ever since birth, she has suffered from clubfoot, a deformity which can be, and is usually resolved at birth. Although Ada’s cruel lowlife mother leads her to believe she is incapable, simpleminded, and essentially worthless to society. Although in escaping from her prison of a home, Ada finds she is everything her mother said she is not, and so much more.

For this Make, our group decided to gather multiple resources to help children and young adults seek help if needed. We understand that most children either don’t realize they are being abused, or are unable to speak up for themselves if they are. Therefore, as teachers and instructors, it is important to have these contacts available if the student needs any help.

Download (PDF, 1.35MB)

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1736eATeuLBynpkGO-wZsBovbqOjkzZl_gIJbPBgTNPc/edit?ts=5bc0de4f#slide=id.p

The War That Saved My Life: Ada the Fighter

The War That Saved My Life: Ada the Fighter

Ada is a young girl living in London during WWI, who is constantly abused by her mother because of her deformity, clubfoot. Never allowed to leave the house, she cooks and cleans, doing her mother’s chores during the day, and occasionally getting a peak out the window at the world around her. She waves hello to the neighbors and people passing by, but never anything past that. Ada’s best friend is her brother, Jamie, who helps Ada as much as he can, sneaking her food and sticking by her side, facing the abuse and neglect of their mother together. It is only when Jamie gets old enough (about 6) to go out and play with his friends, run errands, and start school, that Ada realizes she will have no one to keep her company during the day. Even from the beginning of the book we can tell Ada is a strong, determined girl, who knows she is better than what her mother tells her, “just a cripple”. So determined that the first opportunity she had to escape this prison, she taught herself to walk, and made a plan to leave with the children that are being sent out of London to the countryside, all within the matter of days.

“When things got really bad I could go away inside my head. I’d always known how to do it. I could be anywhere, on my chair or in the cabinet, and I wouldn’t be able to see anything or hear anything or even feel anything. I would just be gone” (Bradley 26). Ada is an admirable character, I believe she is an inspiration, and proves that even in the absolute worst of conditions, when the world is against you, you always have one thing: your mind.

Make 2: Series of Unfortunate Events Secret Spelling Message

Make 2: Series of Unfortunate Events Secret Spelling Message

For my second Make, I found this awesome idea on the one and only Pinterest. Throughout my series book, A Series of Unfortunate Events, the children struggle with trying to find a plan to foil Count Olaf from trying to steal their fortune. All three of the Baudelaire’s, Violet, Klaus, and even Sunny have incredible intelligence, ingenuity, and creativity when it comes to getting themselves out of a situation- and I believe this activity will help the students not only get excited about the books, but even feel like a Bauldelaire themselves. The activity is a letter from Lemony Snicket, summoning the help of the readers to tell the Baudelaire’s that Count Olaf is “on the prowl”- but it’s not that easy. The readers have to find all of the misspelled words, correct them, and using the corrected letter, form a phrase that leads to Count Olaf’s next planned attack. I really love this activity because it is fun and I feel that students will really get into it- while practicing their spelling!

Blog 3: Series & Miller’s book

Blog 3: Series & Miller’s book

For my first series book I chose The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. So far, I have really enjoyed the story and I believe it will be a great read! One of my favorite parts of this book is how Snicket treat young children as mature, smart individuals. For example, the oldest member of the siblings, Violet, takes on the role of an engineer, with a bright mind always thinking of new inventions. The second, Klaus, is an avid reader who has a niche for science. Even Sunny, the baby, who can’t really speak or comprehend much, seems so be intelligent for her young age, always seeming to be more aware then we assume. By creating the central characters as strong, independent and intelligent individuals, it gives children someone to look up to, and shows them admirable characteristics for them to possibly embody. I also love how Snicket adds vocabulary excerpts as a learning tool to help children expand their vocabulary. Personally, I prefer books that are somewhat a challenge, to stimulate my mind and keep me interested in the story. I feel like this would be a great book for children seeking to excel their current reading level, and I can think of hundreds of lesson plans involving this series!
As for Miller’s book, I love her relatability and her teaching style. She understands children have chaotic lives and sometimes cannot find time outside of school to read. So she works with their schedules and points out times in their day when they can squeeze in at least 10 minutes of reading. She discusses how when teachers assign reading for class, it discourages children from truly retaining the information, and instead they skim- read, only trying to find answers. I feel that Miller not only understands the importance and vitality of reading, but also what tools children need to become readers. I am really looking forward to hearing more of her ideals, and learning how to become a “wild reader”.

Little Red Riding Hood Arts & Crafts

Little Red Riding Hood Arts & Crafts

For my first Make, I chose to do an arts and crafts project, creating some of the characters from Little Red Riding Hood using household items: toilet paper rolls, yarn, crayons, a ribbon and a paper towel! Although I had limited resources this time, I thought it would be an awesome project for children to do in the classroom to celebrate finishing a book or unit. Plus, I love arts and crafts!

The picture I had in my head looked a lot better than the outcome, but what’s new. If I were to do this with the children in real life, I would make a trip to Michael’s and go all out: glitter, felt, googly eyes, anything that the kids could think of to make these toilet paper roll people come to life. I had fun making Little Red, Grandma, and The Wolf with my friend, so I think my students would have fun with this activity too.

 

Blog 2: Fairytales

Blog 2: Fairytales

I found Robert Cole’s quotes to be an interesting take on the purpose of a story. Personally, I would agree with Coles statement, “The whole point of stories is not ‘solutions’ or ‘resolutions’ but a broadening and even heightening of our struggles.” (Coles), because as readers we tend to search for some type of relation to the characters in the story and their situation. And based on how the character handles their struggle, we consider how we deal with our own. The “Little Red Riding Hood” cycles proposed multiple different version of the same tale. Cole’s quote forces us to not focus on being satisfied (or unsatisfied) with the resolution of these stories, but to focus on the content of the story itself, and how it relates to our struggles. It shifts the purpose of the simple tale of LRR, into something much more personal, carrying an individual meaning for everyone.

When relating Coles’ quote to the “Little Red Riding Hood” stories, we must think of the struggles that Little Red faced throughout the tale. I believe her main problem was her blissful ignorance in thinking that The Wolf would not harm her, and even further trusted him enough to tell him where she was going. In the Brothers Grimm version, “Little Red Cap”, Little Red listens to The Wolf when he encourages her to delay her trip to look at the flowers and the birds, using manipulative phrases such as, “You are walking along as if you are on the way to school, and yet it’s so heavenly out here in the woods.”  (Brothers Grimm). Little Red wants to believe that the world is a safe place, where the sun always shines and everyone is friendly, therefore, she takes the Wolf’s advice and picks flowers and get herself deeper into the woods. Being very easily persuaded myself, I can identify with Little Red, because I too have a positive perception of the world, and wish people weren’t as cruel and conniving as they are. But that’s what separates my struggle from Little Red’s, because I understand reality, and I know better not to trust strangers.

My personal favorite version was Chiang Mi’s “Goldflower and the Bear”, simply because Goldflower was clever enough to take control of the situation, show some courage and cleverly freed herself and saved her brother. Although as I focus on Cole’s first quote, I see multiple struggles that the reader can possibly identify with in this story. One example would be what makes Goldflower so admirable, her strength and courage. Numerous people everyday struggle with their own lack off strength and courage. It is a trait that is earned, not inherited, and reading this version of LLR could “even heighten” (Cole) their struggle with it. Another example of Goldflower’s problem is her conceited attitude when she teases the Bear in the tree after her escape. Having an egotistical attitude often places you in a worse position then that of when you started, and Goldflower could have easily gotten herself in too deep for her wit to save her. Just as Cole had said, instead of focusing on the happy resolution of this story, the reader will be focused on their own struggle with their ego.