Posts tagged ‘literary essay’

21. The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake

the skin I'm inRetell: Every day students tease Maleeka Madison.  Whether it be her good grades, her homemade clothes or her dark skin, it seems like the world is against Maleeka.  She does others’ homework in exchange for friendship.  That is until Miss Saunders, a new teacher from the business world, challenges Maleeka to think for herself.

Topics: self-esteem, confidence, body image, race, middle school, peer pressure, money issues, assault, clothing, status, taking a stand, arson, bullying

Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Historical Fiction (Writing), Literary Essay, Talking and Writing About Books

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs, right to pass

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, synthesis, making connections

Writing Skills: keeping journals, writing poetry

My Thoughts: This is a fantastic text to read aloud in a middle school classroom.  I’m not sure that I would read the text as a whole to everyone in an upper elementary grade classroom.  I would encourage certain fifth grade book clubs to read and discuss this book.  I plan to read certain sections from this book.  For example, Maleeka keeps a journal which she writes from the perspective of an African girl aboard a slave ship.  There are several scenes throughout the book where Maleeka’s historical fiction writing parallel’s her own life.  This would be a great way to show how writers of historical fiction create characters who struggle with similar issues to their own.  This is an excellent cautionary tale detailing what can happen if you refuse to let others force you into situations that you know are wrong.

July 17, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

19. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

those shoesRetell: It seems like everyone in school has a pair of black high tops with white stripes–everyone but Jeremy.  Jeremy’s grandmother only has enough money for a pair of boots.  When they spot a pair of “those shoes” at a thrift shop, Jeremy buys them with his own money, only to find out that they’re too small.  He is then faced with a difficult decision–does he keep his blister-causing shoes or give them to a friend.

Topics: shoes, needs and wants, fads, money, grandparents, decisions, friendship, generosity

Units of Study: Character,  Talking and Writing About Texts, Literary Essay, Realistic Fiction, Social Issues

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best, community building

Reading Skills: inference, prediction, making connections

Writing Skills: using dashes, transitional phrases, incorporating a balance of dialogue and summary

My Thoughts: My fabulous student teacher introduced this book to me last year.  Every year it seems there is some sort of expensive fad:  Tech decks, sidekicks, iphones, sneakers, smencils.  My heart breaks when I think about the students who are being teased just because they don’t have the latest fad.  Those Shoes is a book to address this issue.  It is an ideal book to read aloud to discuss the differences between need and want.  I can see reading this book aloud during a Social Issues unit.  I could also see using this as a text to analyze during a literary essay unit.

July 15, 2009 at 9:00 am 1 comment

14. There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar

there's a boy in the girls' bathroomRetell: It is easy to dislike Bradley Chalkers.  He beats up other students, lies about everything, and refuses to do his homework.  Bradley’s life begins to change when he meets Carla, the school counselor who inspires him to be a gold star student.

Topics: school, counseling, disagreeing, lying, making excuses, power, trust, friendship, homework, imaginary friends, partnerships, fights, confidence, putdowns, name-calling, safety, sibling issues, self-esteem, rewards, gold stars, asking for help, just right books, love of reading, affirmations, trust

Units of Study: Character, Literary Essay, Talking and Writing about Texts

Tribes: mutual respect, appreciations/no putdowns, right to pass, personal best

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, empathy, making connections, synthesis

My Thoughts: My heart still aches after reading this book.  It’s not a depressing book it’s just that I spent the book fearful that Bradley was going to keep digging himself into holes (not literal holes that’s Sachar’s other book).  As you can see from this post’s tags, there are so many ways that one could use this book during interactive read aloud.  The book lends itself very well to examining character relationships.  Many of the secondary characters make significant changes that affect Bradley.  I think many students will be able to make connections to Bradley’s complex relationship with his sister, Claudia.  Sachar encourages his readers to try and understand the bully rather than demonize him/her.  Bradley reminds me of one of my former students.  I think I’m going to buy this book and send it to him.

July 10, 2009 at 9:00 am 3 comments


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