First and foremost, Happy New Year! I hope that 2017 is starting off well for you. Now that the new year has come and gone, I am off and running with my two novels with my 7th and 8th grade students.
My 8th graders are about to start reading To Kill a Mockingbird, while my 7th graders just started A Long Walk to Water. If you read any of these novels with your students, I wanted to share some resources that I made (and found!) that are extremely helpful and interesting for the novels.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Let’s start with To Kill a Mockingbird. Whether you reading it at the middle school level or high school level, anyone who has ever read this novel, knows that it is challenging. Furthermore, bringing your students into the time period (the Great Depression, the deep South, racism is rampant, and tensions are high), can be rather difficult. Before beginning the novel, I like to dive deep into introducing my students into the historical aspects of the book. I truly believe that in order for my students to be able to understand the novel and the language, they have to understand the background of WHY the events are happening in the novel.
I created a Prezi Presentation that not only introduces your students into the novel, but helps your students to understand why Harper Lee wrote this book. Here is the link, and I hope you find it useful:
Secondly, one of my favorite activities to do in an English class is prediction activities. I love when my students use their inference skills to try to predict what is going to come next or what is going to happen in a piece.
Have you ever engaged your students in an anticipation guide? An anticipation guide is a great way to get discussions going about the books without giving the book away. In an anticipation guide, the students are given general statements in reference to the themes of the novel/text. The students have to decide if they agree, disagree or feel neutral about the statement. They then have to support their claim with elaboration. Check out my anticipation guide for To Kill a Mockingbird below. The anticipation guide also has some great journal questions!
Have you ever tried the activity called, “Probable Passages”? It is sooooo much fun, and your kiddos will love it! This is another fun prediction activity.
How Probable Passages works is you give your students a list of 10-25 words, phrases, dialogue, characters, conflicts, etc. Next, the students have six boxes to choose from-Characters, Conflicts, Settings, Outcomes/Endings, Unknown Words/Phrases, To Discover. The students then have sort their list into what box they believe the term should go (the tricky part is they are only allowed to put the word/phrase into one box and one box only). Once they have sorted all of the words/phrases/terms, the students have to write a gist statement of what they believe will happen in the text.
This year I printed all the statements out on half sheets, and the students have to glue the statements onto a roller coaster (the roller coaster metaphorically stands for the plot).
Want to try out the Probable Passages for To Kill a Mockingbird? Here it is!
A Long Walk to Water
My 7th graders are reading A Long Walk to Water. I found two amazing videos that I wanted to share with you. Even after giving my students background information, it is amazing how much they do not realize what is taking place throughout our world, especially in a place like Sudan.
On the Water for Sudan website, I found a great video introducing the struggles with water in the Southern Sudan. You can find that video here:
In addition to this, in 2016, National Geographic produced a documentary called, “God Grew Tired of Us”. It is absolutely fantastic (and mind-blowing), and the viewer follows four Lost Boys on their journey from the refugee camp in Kakuma, Sudan to their relocation in America. My students found the documentary to be extremely intriguing, and it gave them more insight into the troubles in this country. Here is the link to the documentary:
“God Grew Tired of Us”
I hope you are having a wonderful January!!!!
I have an incredible freebie coming for To Kill a Mockingbird-Let me give you a hint! It is graphic, and it is perfect to use for chapter one and to differentiate instruction.
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