My most recent article for the SmartBlog on Education, titled "No nonsense nonfiction: Tips for incorporating nonfiction into the ELA curriculum", was published in December. Check it out here!
Text: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Summary (from Goodreads): When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
CCS: 7.RL. 3 Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).
Text: The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Summary (from Goodreads): Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.
As a member of our district’s curriculum review committee for English Language Arts, I have been helping write the new 7th grade ELA curriculum to meet the Common Core Standards. As part of this, we have talked a lot about mentor texts. As I read young adult books, I’m often struck with the thought, “Oh that would be a good mentor text to teach [insert CCS here].” So I’m finally getting my butt in gear to organize these thoughts of mine into actual mentor text lessons.
As I find them, I will be posting mentor text selections, along with how I would use this text to teach a reading strategy or element of the CCS. They will be based on 7th grade CCS, but many can be modified for 6th or 8th grade since the standards can be very similar. I hope that other teachers find this helpful, since the idea of coming up with all of your own mentor texts can be overwhelming! I’d also love to hear from other teachers about what they use.
Integrating technology into school curriculums is the big push in many school districts. Beyond computers, teachers and students now have access to iPads, Flip cameras, smart phones, and more. My school district even has two full-time “Technology Integration Specialists” whose sole job it is to help teachers incorporate technology into their lessons. While a self-proclaimed “late adapter”, I have seen first-hand the impressive academic gains technology can help students make, especially students with learning difficulties. Often, these are fun and simple activities that students can do at home to complement their academic learning in school.
Many of my best ideas I have borrowed from other fabulous educators. This blog is a place for me to share what I have done, in the hopes that someone else can find it useful in their own practice. In addition, I use it as a space to reflect on the issues important to those of us in the education field.