English 341: It’s Like This

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Author: Rachel Larson

Blog 7: Reading in the Wild and The Hate U Give

Blog 7: Reading in the Wild and The Hate U Give

One of my favorite parts of Chapter 5 was discussing Community Conversations and Types of Reading Preferences. One of my favorite things about reading books is to discuss it with other people! Whether that be people who have read the book or have not, having that form of outlet in discussion is such a brilliant part of the whole reading experience. Although in a classroom, it’s difficult to manage when you have such a variety of students and their interests. Susan Kelley helps ease this fear by breaking down the different types of preferences, and providing suggestions for such. I definitely have learned more about myself as a reader throughout this semester, and how I will carry the importance of reading through my career. I would always try and read often, in between classes, while I was waiting in line for something, etc.; but I never thought about how much reading truly helps children in the classroom. This class has taught me countless tactics on how to not only incorporate reading and books into my classroom, but stress the importance of reading to my students, and how to get them excited about reading in school.

For my young adult novel, I chose “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. For this blog prompt, I chose the main character, Starr. She is an African/ American teen, who wears mostly homely looking clothes, nothing to flashy- except her Jordans. She is reserved when it comes to anyone but her family, and is constantly struggling between the preppy, predominantly white high school she attends, and the ghetto, mostly black neighborhood she was born and raised in. She is finding her way in the world, especially when she is involved in a tragedy which such magnitude she is forced to speak up and determine her path. In the first chapter of the book, Starr attends a Garden Heights party, where she feels incredibly out of place, as she thinks to herself, “I slip my hands into my pockets. As long as I keep it cool and keep to myself, I should be fine” (11 Thomas). Through the book we can see the progression of Starr as a wallflower who just wants not to be seen, to a woman who says, “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in the moments you shouldn’t be? (252 Thomas). This might be one of my new favorite books, because I love watching a character grow into themselves, as well as being able to realize their purpose. I would absolutely recommend this novel, because of its ability to inspire people to use the voice they have, and to stand up for what they believe or don’t believe in.

Blog 6: Resources and Graphic Novel Response

Blog 6: Resources and Graphic Novel Response

I researched the resources the website Bookshelf from Diamond Comics and found so much help with how to read graphic novels, and especially ideas for lesson plans. I love finding ideas for lesson plans, because you can choose to tweak it for your teaching style, or the student’s learning style. Super helpful resource!

C.: Graphic novels use both words and images. Pick a page or a sequence from a graphic novel and think through what you learn from just the words. Then think about what you learn from just the images. Are they telling you the same information, or are they giving you different information? How do they work together?

In “The Best We Could Do”, by Thi Bui, depicted in the first and largest panel, Thi and her mother sit at a dining table while Thi begs her mother to divulge information of their family’s past, “…the war… and the country that once was HOME.” (Bui 37). Although drawn behind them is a small boat sailing an enormous ocean, indicating how Thi’s parents’ escape route from Vietnam years before. In the next two panels, the two women are back in the living room, while the narrator/ author, Thi, tells us how her mother usually disregards her pleads and instead asks, “What should we do for dinner?”. Depicted, you can see the body language of both Thi and Ma: Thi pleading for answers and Ma with her arms crossed and distracted. Through the similar correlation in the illustrations and words that are told, you can paint a picture of emotion and empathy for the character. I love how simple Thi Dui’s illustrations are, while simultaneously being so complex we can feel each character’s emotions. In some examples I’ve come across through the book, you can see where Thi chooses to say something in the word balloon, but the picture shown shows the sarcasm- and the true story. Graphic Novels are so beautifully interesting in this sense, because the emotions of the characters are impossible to ignore.  

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”.