English 341: It’s Like This

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Author: Sydney Swain

Blogs 6 & 7

Blogs 6 & 7

Blog 6

  1. Graphic novels are now available for a wide range of ages. Graphic novels are a great option for reluctant readers, and a good way to get a student into becoming a “reader”. This is another great genre to recommend to English learners in our future classrooms. I really enjoyed the Classroom Activity section to this scholastic website. They offered a lot of ideas that you can definitely mold into a lesson plan for any grade level. I saved this website into my future teacher google doc and will reference back to it for my future classrooms.
  2. I adored my graphic novel, “Smile”. It was about a girl’s experiences with dental care throughout seventh, eighth, and ninth grade (rattling her self-esteem). At first, she falls and knocks her teeth out, but then they end up not looking right so then she has braces with mouth gear, then she has an overbite so that requires more dental worth, and the poor girth is a never ending dentist’s dream brace face until finally she gets to finish ninth grade with good friends and just a retainer.
  3. I had to teach myself how to read this graphic novel, it was my first ever! At first I would start by looking at all the pictures over the two pages from left to right, and then would great frustrated because I knew exactly what was going to happen, so I started folding my paperback book and reading one page at a time from top to bottom. Once I was going one page at a time, I tried to read each panel together, reading/looking at the words and pictures alongside each other.  The panels made time go by so much faster than in a normal novel. Each sequence of panels was able to represent a day or week or entire winter vacation, showing time so much more clearly. I love the freedom a graphic novel has for student’s reading styles.

Blog 7  

  1. Miller Chapter 5 Wild Readers Show Preferences
  1. a) Offering students different genres to choose from is essential. Giving the student the power to pick their own books helps them feel connected to their choice. As teachers we need t0 hold of books of the same value, whether that be fiction, non fiction, graphic novels, magazines, internet content, series or the preference for rereading old favorite books. Students need to commit to their books to show  strong reading habits.
  2. b) As a reader, this class and book taught me I need to step my game up a bit. Rediscovering children’s books in this class has been a treat and something I will continue to cherish throughout the rest of my education. With all of the homework, class readings, and required books, I have not read for myself until this classroom community pressured me to do so for my future classroom. I plan on continuing to read not only for myself, but for my future student’s benefit. I want to be able to offer them books that will make them feel special. Telling a student they might like a book that you also liked, makes them feel special. I think creating a fun craft for reading logs in my classroom could create more active readers. Instead of getting parent signatures, they can create something, while feeling proud for reading and finishing their book. Preferences help students become independent readers.


Young Adult Novel – We Are Okay by Nina LaCour 

Marin is having a hard time her freshman year of college, She is still at the dorms over winter break because she has no home to go back to. Marin is insecure and on edge. She has been through a lot and prefers to immerse herself in her studies to distract her from what she had been through. She interacts with her gramps in her flashbacks with so much love. She has a warm heart during her flashbacks. She is cold when she writes in the present tense. She is depressed and has been through a traumatic experience. Marin’s world around her is dark. Her friend Mable visits her from her hometown. Marin wishes things could be like they used to, but after losing her Gramps nothing will ever be the same.

My young adult novel is lonely. It is definitely not what I was expecting. I did not realize that it was a college student or that I would relate to the book so closely. This book make sme very sad when I read it because it reminds me of my best friend who suffers from severe depression and trauma like our main character, is a reader, and is close to her grandfather. This novel helps me understand what my best friend is going through depression wise, a little more. I would recommend this to first time college students. Being eighteen and away from home is a brave thing to do. I think this book could comfort many students.


Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again

I chose to write Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai because I have always viewed American refugee policies and American immigration policies to be overall inhumane. I hoped to see a first hand an account of that kind of traumatic experience through this book. Reading it in verse definitely helps makes her experiences easier to understand.  Lai went from Vietnam to Alabama, a culture shock I could never even begin to understand. Boarders are supposed to just be lines on a map. Instead, these boarders create power dynamics in society and in politics. These lines create ownership over American land that was never a white man’s to begin with. Just this year we saw Donald Trump create pop up immigration holding centers where they stripped children away from their families. These horrific acts in American history will hopefully push for a better, more open minded country. Seeing the hardships faced by immigrants or refugees will help create for an empathetic society so that law makers feel the urge to create the change. Inside Out and back Again is a primary example of how reading a young girl’s experience, could help eventually change how some people may view current immigration policies.

Superhero Pets!

Superhero Pets!

I created a form that would be great in a classroom that worked with Flora and Ulysses. Flora has a pet squirrel with super powers, so I thought it would be fun to give my students a chance to give their own pets powers. Attached, I added my example stories and picture of my own super-dog. I think that this would be a better assignment for younger children because it is simplistic, but would like to lower the writing requirements if I used it in a grade any younger than second. This would be an activity to do after class reading time to let the students get creative. Click on picture and read please :) I think the assignment would go well and I really enjoyed doing it, however I forgot to draw Spencer with glasses so now his identity is blown. He is now just a dog because he had to retire.  

Flora and Ulysses

Flora and Ulysses

I originally chose to read Flora and Ulysses because when I was a little girl, my dream was to have a pet squirrel of my very own. I was so obsessed with Alvin and the Chipmunks and other movies with small critters in them, that eventually my mom bought me a “Furr Real Squirrel”! The furry guy was a mechanic toy that bent down, eat or drink his bowl, and lifted it to his own mouth! I wish I could remember what I named him, but it definitely was not a name as cool as, Ulysses. I also loved and connected to this book because the main character, Flora,wears glasses. I have been wearing glasses since Kindergarten and I would have loved an adventurous main character with four eyes like me.

In Flora and Ulysses, the characters are believable in reality and in the world of fantasy. Even though Flora’s new pet is a poem writing, superhero squirrel, her love for her pet is what makes the story believable. This story does not paint a perfect world. Flora doesn’t have the nicest mom, her new friend has a disability, and her parents are divorced, which are relatable for many children. The text’s representation of reality resonates with me off of my own experiences. Although there is a fantasy element of superheros, the reality comes from Flora’s relationships in the book. I can remember my mom hurting my feelings and me going over to my neighbors. I can remember believing in fairytale books so much, that I could feel that the characters were real in my heart. The love Flora has for Incandesto, is the kind of love I had to fairytales. The believability level brought a whole new appreciate to the author for me. Her ability and creativity for explanation and detail made me believe there was a literate, super squirrel, and I adored it.

The attached photo is my exact Furr Real Squirrel!


Series and Miller

Series and Miller

I adored Keena Ford. I loved that she was a spunky little girl, with thoughts of her own. She reminded me of so many students I have had in the past. Keena is a relatable character! I love the relationship she has with her brother and her mom. It is playful, but also with a little fear of disappointing. They whole story begins because her older brother taught her how to write the date wrong, so she gave her teacher the wrong birthday on the first day of school. The teacher begins to celebrate Keena’s birthday the next day of class. I love chocolate cake just as much as Keena, so I understand why she felt she had to lie. Keena ends up telling the truth after her mother catches her dead in the lie, while being sung to by the entire class. I would use Keena Ford in my own future classroom by having an Honesty Wall, or mandatory apology notes. Keena Ford would be a great way to teach students how to get themselves out of a web of lies, by just telling the truth. Keena Ford will be on my classroom bookshelf.

Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley sum up how to get students to read in one sentence, “I knew that given class reading time, the opportunity to choose their own books, and teachers who read and promote books to them, the children would read.”

I completely agree with this statement. Dr. Jaxon has implemented this into her own classroom, and guess what! I am actually reading, because I would fall in love with the books that we start reading in class. Through Dr. Jaxon’s recommendations, I have actually taken ownership over reading for the first time. For me, reading has always been something to check off of a list. But now, this gives me hope that I can change my student’s perspective on reading.

I am a U course mentor and after hearing all the groans before the reading of a scholarly article I asked my students, “What is it about reading that you guys hate?” (My students and I are more friends than anything) so they reply to me, “I know I am not going to even end up reading this!” All heads started shaking in agreement. So I said “Shit okay, well if none of you are going to read this then lets each take a paragraph and summarize it for each other real quick, you have 5 minutes! So I shared with them that since it is scholarly they MUST read the intro, headings and summary to grasp it fully. These students are fake reading because they never were given the skills to read properly. They never learned how to read a scholarly article, so they just hate it. They never learned good strong reading habits, so they avoid it. My favorite ways to implement in my own future classroom were, reading groups and reading communities in the class with different books, while they get to choose those their own books.

Taking students out of class because they are not the best readers, takes them away from a community. It takes away their reading identity.


Thank You & Apology Letters (Keena Ford)

Thank You & Apology Letters (Keena Ford)

This project started out as an honesty wall in my future classroom. I imagined it would be a useful thing for my classroom on how to combat the urges to lie, cheat or steal. I had ideas about sentence starters of “How to Take Back Lies”, like Kenna Ford could have used. However, after many different options of what could be useful for my students on that wall, I came up with the idea of “Classroom Thank You’s & Apology Letters” Now my “Make” is sentence starter forms to give their friends or friend-enemies, in the form of letters. I want to have a space in my classroom with an adorable mailbox where students can place their letters into envelopes and leave it in there for me to pass out at the end of each day. I imagine this being for a kindergarten through second grade classroom. This could be easily modified for older grades, where instead of a fill in template, they could write full letters of their own. The point of this would be to open the lines of communication between students, negative or positive, in a healthy way. The power of writing helps students see their own faults, and to connect to something emotionally

Thank You Letter Starters

To: ___________________ From: ___________________’

“Thank you for helping me with _____________________________________.

You are very _______________________________________!”


To: ___________________ From: ___________________      


“Thank you for __________________________________________________.

It made me feel ___________________________________________,

because ______________________________________!


To: ___________________ From: ___________________

“It makes me happy when you _____________________________.

Thanks for being a great friend!”

Apology Letter Starters

To: ___________________ From: ___________________

“I did not mean to say _______________________________________.

What I should have said was _______________________________________.

I am sorry!


To: ___________________ From: ___________________

“I know I made a mistake when I _____________________________.

I am sorry!


To: ___________________ From: ___________________

“I am sorry! I lied to you about ________________________.

The truth is that _____________________________.”


To: ___________________ From: ___________________

“I feel bad for when I _________________________. I am sorry!”

Willow the Wonderful Werewolf

Willow the Wonderful Werewolf

I chose to write an original story about a werewolf puppy named Willow. I hope to make this into a series book that I can eventually bring into my own future classroom. I love fairy tales and thought about how I would have loved this character when I was a little girl.

Willow The Wonderful Werewolf

Paul and Tina were new parents, holding their beautiful newborn, watching TV on their couch in Santa Cruz, CA. Paul was an astronomer, and Tina was a hair stylist. Lucky thing, little Willow had a mother that did hair, because as a newborn she was already blessed with a full head of hair. On the TV played the news, reporting that Fairytale creatures spoke out for their civil rights. Their stories had been exploited. There were marches that lined the streets in leather boots, heels, and hooves. There were protests that looked like color and jewel explosions throughout the country. The Fairytale creatures were fighting for the right to not be judged based off of their books, or the stories about them that had spread generation by generation.

Paul came from a family of werewolves. He was the only brother whose gene was never expressed. The new parents wanted to protest but all Paul and Tina wanted was for their daughter to be safe in their community. They held her tight and wished for equality among all types of people. The new parents understood that their child could grow up to be viewed as a fairy tale creature in their society, and all they wanted to do, was protect her.

Willow grew to be average six-year-old little girl. Paul and Tina had barely aged. Willow was hyper and happy and loved her Kindergarten classroom, friends, and teacher. She had huge violet eyes, big curly brown hair, and unique freckles that were scattered from head to toe. With rosy cheeks and long eyelashes, she was smiled everywhere she went. She was a beautiful child and a kind sister. Tina had just given birth to twin little boys and Willow was the nicest big sister she could be. To show appreciation for how well Willow had been adjusting to the boys’ arrival, Paul decided to take her out for some father-daughter time.

Paul loved exploring outer space from his telescope, and sharing that experience with Willow. After taking his little girl to see the full moon, something very strange happened. While he looked into the telescope focusing in on the full moon, his young daughter suddenly transformed into a puppy! Her clothes are ripped in half from the thick fur expansion, and they laid on top of the dirt. Willow was covered head to toe with thick brown fur, her huge violet eyes wide with shock. Paul knew this little pup, was his little girl. This six-year-old little girl’s freckles were not actually freckles at all, they were pores. Pores releasing millions of fur fibers. Poor Willow was on all fours, completely transformed, scared and confused. She jumped up into her father’s arms and they both stared up at the full moon. She began to howl at the moon. Her vocal cords were so weak, it sounded like a soft whimper. Paul knew his genetics had done this to his daughter.

Sitting under canopies of trees and greenery, the huge bright moon shined through each leaf. Paul and Willow could see each other clearly and perfectly. He explained it all to her under the full moon. Holding his pup, Paul said, “Honey, I am so sorry you are scared right now. Do you understand me? This is only for tonight. This is your first transition to being a puppy werewolf. Willow replies to her father by nudging her snout against his neck while whimpering. Paul explained to Willow that his father was a werewolf. It was a genetic mutation that dated back to thousands of generations to young men in their family, and that she, amazingly was the first girl in their family ever to transform.“My sweet Willow, this will only happen once a month on the night of the full moon. We need to tell your mom and warn her. Did you know my brothers are werewolves? That is right, Uncle Rylan and Uncle Caden transform together each month! They think it is a cool way to stay in shape. They say they can run faster and jump higher then any living thing in the world. But, this is a secret power my little pup, and for now, you must keep it a secret.” said Paul.

He walked home holding his scared, furry puppy of a daughter. After walking back into their home, his wife screams, “Where is Willow?!” Paul opened his flannel jacket to reveal that their daughter had transformed into a were-pup for the first time. Willows mother began to sob. She exclaimed, “Oh my goodness! My baby! Are you in pain?” Willow and her parents all sat on the floor, waiting for morning to come. All night, her father shared with her the stories of their family’s past. The wars they had helped win, the travels they experienced, they different stories of werewolves’ first transformations, of all ages. As the moon set and the sun rose, Willow magically transformed back into her normal, hairless, six-year-old self. Her brothers and parents did not look like she did. Her family had blonde, straight hair and blue eyes, while she had curly brown hair with sparkling violet eyes. Willow was covered in freckles and her hair became untamable. Her mother stood outside Willow’s bathroom each night waiting with a brush and detangle her massive hair. Willow was small for her age but after hearing her father’s stories, she felt mighty and tall. Her first transformation was on a Saturday, so she and her family spent all Sunday sleeping, relaxing, and trying to recoup from their exhausting, scary night. Willow loved freedom, exploring new places, and meeting new people. She was an adventurous child, curious and confident. By Monday, she was back in her Kindergarten classroom, hugging her teacher and friends. Although she was back to normal, all she could think about was what this new werewolf thing could do? Like, how fast she could run as a werewolf woman, or how high she could jump. She could not wait until the next full moon! Willow was relieved to be back to her human self but had so many curiosities about this other side to her.  Now, unfortunately every day all she hears day and night from her scared parents is “Where is Willow?!”

Willow was ready to test her limits. She was lucky she had a father like Paul. He was understanding, and watched his own brothers and father go through transitions once a month. Willow’s mother was very worried about her first and only daughter, being the only one in their family to express the Werewolf gene. She, her sons, and her husband were all only human until just a few weeks ago. She feared that people would treat her family different, because of the current political state of the country they lived in. Their elected president was threatening to make anyone with powers or family history of fairy tale creature genes, wear an armband showing they they were apart of the “fairy group”. Tina was heartbroken that someone with power could insight so much fear and hatred, into so many families. She feared her sons would eventually also express their wolf gene and in time would not be safe to freely walk the streets. Tina, did not care that her children were different, she actually thought it was amazing, but she did not want her children to have to face those kinds of challenges. Paul believed that being apart of the Werewolf community, would only better and strengthen their children. Paul believed that it was was 2018 and people did not have to live in fear anymore.

Tina said, “Willow, my honey bee, Mom does not want you to be upset, but um, I think for now we need to keep this puppy thing, a secret between the five of us. Your brothers, dad, and I will help you transition and get used to these powers.”

Paul chimed in, “We just want you to stay safe, Pup.”

Willow asked, “Why wouldn’t I be safe just because I am a werewolf now?”

“We are worried that some people might think you are dangerous. It has only been six years since the fairytale community was granted equal rights.” said Paul.

Willow began to cry. As a little girl she did not realize she had anything to be afraid of. She thought it was wonderful. She just thought one night a month, her freckles grew lots of hair and made her a hyper puppy. How cool is that!

“Pup, don’t cry. Mom and Dad are not mad. No one is scared. We are just being cautious. Until we know that we can control you during your transitions, this has to be our secret” further explained Tina.

Twas finally the night of the full moon, and Willow’s second transition. This time, the baby boys, Mom, and Dad all joined her during this unique time. They were her pack, werewolf or not. Paul got out his telescope. They also brought binoculars to be able to give Willow freedom, but still keep an eye on her. The moon rose and Willow’s fur grew. Painlessly, she transitioned to her hairy, sharp teethed, puppy dog wolf self. Willow’s mom even brought her favorite headband so she could still feel like her self! She looked up at her mom, her violet eyes peeked out through the fur. A big pink bow plopped on top of her ear. She raced around her parents’ feet in circles, looked up, whimpered for permissions, and bolted up the trees!

In this form, Willow’s world was the most beautiful she had ever seen. She saw night as day. The moon was her sun, filling her with warmth and comfort. Her little puppy body howled at the moon in appreciation. The six-year-old felt overjoyed.  With a huge smile on her face while giving her family a show, she ran faster than any animal. Willow shot up and down trees. There were no bad intentions, or animalistic hormones. Willow was still Willow, just in a different, more powerful form. She ran up to her brothers, licked them both on the cheek, and jumped into her father’s arms panting and drooling. Tina had never been more proud of her little pup. Willow and her pack sat in wonder, looking up at the moon.

Willow’s parents knew that their daughter would be the best Werewolf in the world. How some of the country viewed their daughter did not matter. Throughout their lives, the family fought for social and racial justice by protesting and standing up for what they believed in. All Paul and Tina wanted was equality for their family and children. They dreamed that in time, their little pup would grow up to be the first Fairytale President.