English 341: It’s Like This

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Author: Rachel Mollenbernd

Brown Girl Dreaming Lesson

Brown Girl Dreaming Lesson

Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is a collection of poems about different people, places and experiences in her life. Most titles of her poems are different, but the title “how to listen” appears throughout the book consisting of three lines each numbering all the way up to #10. “how to listen #1,” on page 20. It says:

“Somewhere in my brain

each laugh, tear and lullaby

becomes memory”

Think of poem examples in the book where Woodson talks about a certain day, outing, time at home, etc. One example could be “lullaby” on page 58. What details does she provide? Why do you think it’s important to her and what role it played/plays in her life? How does it contribute to her story?

Now, write about one of your memories. It can be sad, or it can be funny, or it can be soothing to remember. Any kind of memory that sticks out to you! Use Woodson’s way with words as a guide, but write it down in any format you like on a page or less. Include a picture/pictures on the other side, if you like, to help aid or tell your memory.

This can be done as an activity sequence using each “how to listen” poem in her book as a prompt. Like Jacqueline does in the book, these pages can eventually be stapled together to make a book that they can give a title to in the end.

Intended grade level: 6th grade

Common Core Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.5: Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.

I can imagine this being at the beginning of the school year because I think if it’s done as an activity sequence, it could really help the students grow in their writing and show them different ways to get the ideas used in writing including from reading other writings.

They will need the book Brown Girl Dreaming, possibly some strips of different colored sticky notes to mark pages in the book, a pencil, 10 pages of paper if doing the activity sequence and photos of family, friends, places, objects, etc.

I hope that students will learn that much of their writing is influenced by who they are and there’s a number of contributions that compose their lives. If they draw from these many elements, they should be able to write without a problem and be able to better relate to the books/authors they’re reading.

Free Yourself with Verse

Free Yourself with Verse

I chose Brown Girl Dreaming for my free verse book. This was the only genre I wasn’t exactly looking forward to, but this book is so beautifully written by Jacqueline Woodson that I quickly regretted that thought. I got really excited because I recognized the poem “a girl named jack” early in the book that Professor Kittle had showed us in his class that I really liked. And that liking for her poems continues and grows with each page of her book! Sometimes the form can get a little distracting, but I find that it makes me linger on the word a little longer and the next line packs a heavier punch because of it. It also allows me to create more of an image of whatever Woodson’s describing. This book can be used in a classroom when learning about the history of how African Americans fought for their equal rights and the gradual change that came about throughout the North and South because of it.

so much depends


the position of the glowing


over the colors of bloomed


held by a lady with a white


It’s in the Stars

It’s in the Stars

Part of what I enjoyed most about Hello Universe was the character Kaori’s interest and belief in her psychic ability. It really seems like she’s just grasping at straws most of the time, but she does turn out to be right about a few things. She doesn’t believe in coincidences, it must be fate. She refers to astrology in the story and finds all of their astrological signs important in knowing about their character. So I looked up the constellations for Kaori, Virgil, and Valencia’s signs and drew them all together for Make 3.

I started with characterizations associated with each astrological sign. They fall in line with their actual characters for the most part! I then wrote the sequences of events that they each took place in that led to Virgil’s search and rescue and their eventual joining as friends. I’m not entirely happy with the outcome of this make. I think there could’ve been an easier and more simple way to do it. But I think it looks pretty good and I enjoyed looking up and drawing the constellations at least!

Hello Universe.. is that you?

Hello Universe.. is that you?

Sometimes, it’s hard to look back on the best things that have happened in your life and not think that it’s pure coincidence. There’s just some people and events that nearly seem to be carefully placed in your life path on purpose. I know I’ve thought about how if my next door neighbor hadn’t gotten locked out of her house, I may never have met the people that became my life-long best friends. And how if I hadn’t uprooted my life to move to Chico, then I would have never met the man of my dreams. This book certainly has the same sort of  life occurrences that eventually leads to something good. To me, it also seems to give a message that the parents you’re born from may shape who you are as a person and the alignment of stars in astrology may closely resemble the type of person you are and to most people’s beliefs dictate your qualities as a human being. However, these kind of things don’t have absolute control over you. You can be outspoken when needed even if you’re typically shy as a Pisces and you can face those fears you’re not aware of, but find a way to sneak into your dreams as a fearless Scorpio. It may be pure coincidence. But maybe sometimes life sets you up to triumph your personal obstacles and gets you to the right people and places you always wanted.

Case File: Dwight Tharp

Case File: Dwight Tharp

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a case file consisting of personal accounts of Dwight and Origami Yoda from various kids attending McQuarrie Middle School. They all have their personal opinions on Dwight and whether they think Origami Yoda is a higher power fueled by the Force, or just Dwight which seems nearly impossible to them. I made a case file specifically on Dwight made up of the other students thoughts on Dwight and things they know about him. I think it went pretty well! About halfway through though, I was getting frustrated about their opinions on him and their belief that there’s no way it was him, when it obviously was. So I thought something a teacher could do is have their class make up a case file based on their personal opinions and observations. Mine personally would be more like Dwight is a hilarious, eccentric kid that only wishes the best for others in the end. I was able to draw the conclusion from this Make Cycle that Dwight uses Origami Yoda as a way to talk to other kids and make friends while still being able to be his weird, yet awesome self that they weren’t ready to accept. That could be useful in a classroom setting and you could also do one on Origami Yoda as well as the other characters in the story!

Little Labeled Riding Hood

Little Labeled Riding Hood

My artifact is something I drew and traced of a picture of red riding hood’s coat. (The picture is the featured image of the article.) Although the coat isn’t featured in every Little Red Riding Hood’s stories, it’s a major identifier encompassing her story that we know and love. I then went through our blogs and picked out words we used to describe Little Red Riding Hood, her story and the lessons or morals we grasped from the stories. I got this idea from the book we read the first week of class, Love that Dog, where Jack made a picture of his dog using words and lines.

My initial plan was to have all the words with darker meaning in the black portions of the coat and the more positive labels in the red portion of the coat. However, it turned out there were way more words leaning in a negative light so I ended up throwing most of them in the red color. Some of the words I actually even have in both colors such as society and innocent since, depending on the way you look at it, the meaning or circumstances can go either way with her and her story.

This took much more time than I had anticipated. I also wanted to include Cinderella’s shoe, but I felt happy with what I had already in consideration of time! I just wanted a visual of composed words we assigned to her story and labeled her character that could be compared and contrasted. There’s definitely quite a spectrum that makes it very difficult to pinpoint the answer to: what the heck is going on in the story of the Little Red Riding Hood?

Fairytales for Sale

Fairytales for Sale

Tatar states in Little Red Riding Hood, “For centuries, farm laborers and household workers relied on the telling of tales to shorten the hours devoted to repetitive harvesting tasks and domestic chores.” It’s in consideration of this statement, that I feel as though the stories of the Little Red Riding Hood tells a story about how things can be taken from a person if they’re gullible enough to listen to the smooth-talker wanting to take advantage of their situation. I feel as though these stories were manifested through the potential hardships of the workers telling them.

Maybe they were under the impression that by doing all this tedious work, they would be able to provide for their families in need. In Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood, Little Red Cap by Brothers Grimm, and Chiang Mi’s Goldflower and the Bear, she’s taking some goods to her grandmother, because she’s feeling ill. In each case, Little Red is on her way to give them to her grandmother, where she is then devoured. Every good you see such as bread, wine, and cakes eventually leads to the consumer or even back to the person who made it.

I also feel as though Italo Calvino’s version has a theme of consumerism in the sense of “you get something, when you give something in return.” The little girl was able to pass though these thresholds only by giving the items it needed/wanted. However, since the ogress hadn’t given them anything they could use, they became obstacles to her.

Intro & Digesting Words as a “Reader”

Intro & Digesting Words as a “Reader”

Hello! My name is Rachel Mollenbernd and I’m a senior Liberal Studies student with a minor in Child Development. I’m originally from Vacaville, but I’ve also lived in San Luis Obispo, Sacramento, and now here in Chico. When I’m not at school, I’m working at Woodstocks or hanging out at my house with my boyfriend and our crazy, adorable cats Lola and Loca.

Being a reader means taking in any form of writing as more than a list or multiple lines of words, but as a meaning of ideas and concepts that can be applied to many things. Outside of school I read things such as fiction books when I have the time, subtitles to a show when I’m trying not to wake anyone in the house, and receipt orders for making pizza at work. I read in a little more relaxed manner when reading outside of school. However, there are times where I read a little more carefully and urgently. Like when I’m at work or when I’m reading an important notice/document. Reading in and outside of school can connect though. You can use things you have read outside of school to apply to the readings in school through the knowledge and concepts you have gathered. Williams has pointed out the stigma of being a “reader” to me and how that can make us blind to the many other ways that a person can be a “reader.” Especially since there are now so many things available to us to read nowadays.