Reading and Writing Workshop: The Essentials of Getting Organized

Great tools to help facilitate effective writing workshop model!

moving writers

I found Rebekah’s visual guide to planning for writing workshop tremendously helpful, and I know many of you did, too. In an effort to be transparent and share the systems that work for us, this week I am going to write a little bit about the various organizational tools that help my workshops run more smoothly and keep the materials my students and I need at our fingertips.

Master Workshop Binder

My Master Workshop Binder

For a year or two I tried to go completely paperless. I condensed dozens of binders (one for each study or unit) into two or three by making or finding digital copies of everything. I forced myself to move conference notes online, and I asked the students to set up digital writing folders. At first, I loved how much space a purely digital system opened up in my room. Our classroom unfettered by papers, thick 2-inch binders, and…

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Rorschach, Raskolnikov and Titan 21 visits

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Section 2A Student Rorschach Ink Blots

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Section 4A Student Rorschach Ink Blots

The drop cloth was spread. The paint was high-flowing, and the paper was ready for blotting. After getting into Crime and Punishment, and examining Raskolnikov in all his anti-hero glory, we looked at some psychology. Students explored the history of the famed ink blot test, its validity or lack thereof, and how the test can be interpreted. Students chose their paint colors and paper sizes and set about creating their own ink blots.

After they were finished with the art part, they had to look at their blots and write about what they saw. The interesting thing is that many of them saw things that revealed something about their frame of reference. One of my students stared intently at his and when I walked over and asked him what he saw, he replied “surgery, here are the lungs and the kidneys and you can see a shadow of the rib cage.” When he said that, I could see what he was talking about, but more importantly I thought it was interesting that this student aspires to be a doctor and has been shadowing a trauma physician to get a feel for the career. He saw something that was meaningful in his life. This was meant as a fun activity to break up some of the deepness of Dostoevsky’s novel, but it became a jumping off point to talk about Rask’s dreams in the novel and what they reveal about him. I think as teachers we need to develop activities that help students engage in chunky, older texts and psychology is a great avenue given our current obsession with criminal profiling.

As a cap-off to a great week of student-centered activities, a team of visiting members of Titan 21 came to our class to check in on the students’ 20 Time projects. My school is part of an initiative to bring more project-based learning into classrooms. The visiting team consisted of administrators, teachers, and an educational consultant from Advanced learning Partnerships, Amos Fodchuk, who has been spear-heading professional development for our school system. The students rose to the challenge. It was a typical 20 Time day with groups gathered in their favorite spots around the room working on their final leg of these projects. The visiting team spread out around the room and asked the students questions about their projects, challenges and triumphs they had faced, and how they thought the project time was impacting preparing for the AP Lit exam in May. I caught little snippets of the conversations and was impressed. Students were poised and confident. They shared their work from Sketch-Up models of a baseball field redesign to a website for homework help to a first aid app to a journey with random acts of kindness. I could not have been more proud. I think in the future I need to provide more opportunities for the kids to showcase their work. It infused a renewed passion for their projects and showed them how excited other people are about what they are doing!

20 Time presentations and iSearch Papers

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With all the snow, I have had some time to reflect on what we need to accomplish in my classes as we draw near to the end of 3rd nine weeks. It also gave me time to order a few things to support my students’ 20 Time projects. One of the great fears of most students is public speaking. Being able to communicate a message effectively to an audience is such an important skill to possess that I decided to spend some extra time on that aspect of the 20 Time projects. I am a huge fan of TED Talks and show them regularly in class as bounce points for discussion or journal writing. You can find a talk on pretty much any topic you might want to explore and there are new ones being added all the time. Preparing my students to deliver a TED-like talk will be a daunting task so I decided to order a couple books. I bought Talk Like TED and How to deliver a TED Talk to help me with my students’ public speaking skills. I deliver presentations to large audiences myself, so hopefully between what I learn from the books and what I already know, I can help my students craft great presentations.

I have come to realize that the model I set up with the 20 Time projects is too lengthy to keep students engaged. There was alot of excitement when we first embarked on these projects and some students have kept up with that drive to learn, but many are lagging at this point. When I changed the model to be just two blogs a month about progress and one day every other week devoted solely to the projects, I thought that would help students focus more on what they wanted to accomplish. I have come to realize now that this project should be more of a semester-long quest rather than a whole school year. The students that chose smaller ideas to pursue are starting to stall and the blogs reflect that stagnation. I think when I set this up next year, I will make it a semester pursuit, but will allow the option to continue on throughout the year for those it makes sense to. I will have to figure out how to incorporate it into second semester for those who want to continue, but that is something to think about over the summer.

I have also realized that two weeks of snow days really crunches trying to get these presentation in around Spring Break. My other impediment is the AP exam window in May. I know many of my students will be out those two weeks in May for various AP exams and it would not be prudent to try and plan presentations leading up to them or during the window since students will be spending all of their mental energy preparing for those exams. So, as much as I wanted to finish these in April, I am going to have to push them to the third week of May. The good news with that is two of my groups are doing school-wide activities as their culminating products, a “Keep Rec Sports Alive” football camp and a March Madness-style basketball tournament, “Gilbert’s Game,” in honor of a beloved faculty member with breast cancer to help pay bills and support her through her time of need. Both of these large-scale projects are happening in late April and early May so the students will actually be able to present on their full projects. I think next year I will also add a required research element to the projects, probably before the Pitch Proposals to add another layer to what we can explore with the projects and maybe give kids more ideas about what to pursue. The other thing I have been kicking around is a response element so students are actively looking at each other’s projects and maybe providing some feedback. They are always excited to hear about what others are doing when we talk about it in class, but few actively go out and read other’s blogs. I think a discussion/feedback element would aid in keeping the students excited about what they are doing.

In some of my senior classes (non-AP), my students have started an iSearch project. I read about iSearch papers a couple of years ago in Ken Macrorie’s book, The I-Search Paper: Revised Edition of Searching and Writing. I like the iSearch format because it gives room for a more personal approach to research. The paper becomes not just a regurgitation of what is already out there, but an avenue to add your own voice to that body of research. I find too, the narrative approach to research makes the inquiry more meaningful and relatable to the student’s life. So,I asked students to think about something they are interested in doing the year after graduation- career or personally- to spend some time researching and writing about. I widened the parameters more than I usually do and told them to think about ideally what they would want to do if given any option. Last year, I held it to just researching a career or college program they planned to enter. I realized as I was talking to them about their projects, that some had followed on to what they are doing with their 20 Time projects. I have students writing novels that want to be professional writers after high school and students working with animal care agencies that want to pursue Wildlife Biology and Veterinary Science after graduation. It was pretty cool to see this tie-in to what they have been pursuing all year. One thing I always require with research is a personal interview. I think it is important to talk to somebody who has walked in the shoes you aspire to wear.  It gives you a better idea of what it takes to be successful and the pitfalls you might face. I also realize that sometimes students don’t know where to start with finding an interview subject, so I always offer my resources to find an interview. I was able to hook up one of my students with a Wildlife Biologist for the State of Virginia and two of my writers with published poets. There is no substitute for interacting with people practicing in the field you want to be a part of. It is interesting to see how curriculum can become so interconnected when you make it driven by student choice and voice. It is not always easy as a teacher to let the control go, but the reward with the students is worth it.

Teaching Research with PSAs

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Research is always that dreaded word with high school students. I get them as seniors and they seem to have been inoculated against enjoying all the doors you can unlock as you explore sources and search for answers to questions. We do little bits of research throughout the year as a primer for a larger quest. We embarked on one of our mini-research projects a couple of weeks ago and presented the culminating projects this week, PSAs. Students chose a heroic cause, organization or person to look into and create a public service announcement to share with the class. Their subjects ranged from a local shelter for battered women and children- The Turning Point Shelter, to the SPCA, to warnings against drunk driving and on and on. They all took unique approaches to their final products as well. Some visited locations and conducted interviews, others created role play scenes and still others used photography intermixed with statistics to get their messages across.

Once students identified a subject for the project, we went into the nuts and bolts of effective research, what constitutes research and how to properly create an annotated MLA bibliography. I have found over the years that direct instruction is necessary when teaching students citation style. I have tried everything under the sun to make it fun, but nothing embeds the knowledge more than lecture, teacher modeling and student practice so that is what we did. I heavily use the Owl at Purdue website. They have thorough, up-to-date materials on MLA style and often examples for students to follow. The quick guide I give students based on the Owl at Purdue materials is below. Once we have gone through the notes and I have done some modeling, I asked students to pick a topic, any topic, find 5 sources and then we practice creating MLA citations for those sources. I like to do this in class so I can circle around and help them find the sometimes elusive information such as author, publication date, and publisher on websites. After they have successfully cited their sources and proven to me they know where to look for information, I allow them to use Easybib.com. This may be scandalous in the English teacher world, but I know they will fall back on sites like this when they get to college or even other classes. We do go through easybib so they can see that it does not always pull all the information for a complete citation and now because of our practice work, they know where to find it.

Next up is evaluation of sources. This is such an important step in today’s world of instant information. Students often will just Google something and go to the first site as their source. We need to teach them how to be smart consumers of information. I start with an oldie, but goodie- the Tree Octopus site. A former librarian turned me onto this and I have used it every year to introduce evaluation of sources. I give them the handout my librarian made for me. It is attached below. We use that handout as we look through the Tree Octopus website. Once we have evaluated and determined this website to be not credible, the students went out on their own to find a website, evaluate it and then present it to the class. I play the devil’s advocate and ask them lots of questions about their websites to get them thinking about the questions they need to be asking as they are looking for sources. I have found this to be very effective in teaching reliability and credibility of sources over the years.

The last thing we go over before I let them go is copyright. Especially with the creation of student videos, they need to understand the laws regarding web content and music. Most students today are savvy with pirating videos, music and images and they don’t think about the ramifications of their actions. They have grown up in an age where everything is at their fingertips. Communal property has become and aspect to their thinking. Everything is owned and shared by everybody. Music is what most interests my students so that is how I approach copyright and it is especially relevant with the Sam Smith case being waged currently in the music world. We start with one of the most famous copyright in music cases in my lifetime, Vanilla Ice vs. Queen. This video shows a mashup of the two artists. The students immediately see the similarities and that opens the conversation for other famous copyright infringement cases. This video is a compilation of possible copyright issues. I let the students check it out and vote. Most of these are not considered infringement but there are a couple thrown in there like the Huey Lewis and Ray Parker case. We also look cases of famous authors reprimanded for plagiarism. Christian Science Monitor has a great article detailing five of the most famous ones. After we looked at all of this, I let the loose on their research.

The process of the PSA project included a five source annotated bibliography, a full script and storyboard and then the final video, cleanly edited with appropriate special effects and music. I ran most of these classes leading up to the presentations as workshops so I could walk around and help students troubleshoot or give them the opportunity to go outside the classroom to film scenes. If you are just starting this project and want to show students examples of PSAs, some good ones can be found on the MY Hero website. The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter is one of my favorites! I also like the Smokey the Bear commercials. This is the link to one I showed in class. The students really enjoyed this project and did not even complain about the research element. In fact, they requested more video projects. I plan to incorporate a video element into our in-depth career research project coming next week. I was really impressed by what they produced and the enthusiasm they came to class with each day. They continually show me that if I give them choice and get out of their way, they do great things!

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2009 MLA Packet

21st Century Curriculum in Industrial Era Schools: Challenges and Triumphs

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We have now officially had our full 20 Time work days in both my “A” and “B” day classes. I observed much more real work going on with the projects. Most teams charted out their timelines for the duration of the project, allocated responsibilities for blog posts, as well as other project elements.

By and large the change in model has been successful. I did have a couple of interesting conversations with my writer groups though. The students that have committed themselves to writing a novel, collection of short stories or poetry anthology actually espoused a dislike for the new model and I can understand why. One student lamented that the weekly writing requirement forced him to create a writing routine for himself. He has found without the class requirement of weekly writing, it is difficult to make himself write, especially when writer’s block sets in. I completely understand this dilemma. I explained to him that I schedule some time each week that I must sit down and write, even if I don’t want to, even if I have nothing to say. I sometimes write the same word over and over until something comes, but I make myself do it no matter what I have going on in my everyday life because I know how hard it is to get back into a habit once you have deviated. For this particular student, I offered to have a “dummy” requirement of a chapter a week due to me on Fridays. He was a little hesitant this would work, but agreed. I am thinking of setting up some system where all my writers could do this since many of them talked about the issue of not having a routine to follow.

On the other hand, my mentor text project with another student has really taken off. In fact, a student from a different project has, of her own volition, jumped in. She also struggles sometimes with the density of “novels of literary merit,” but wants to increase her reading acumen. It was heartening to see the two of them discussing what they liked and what they were looking for in books. With my guidance, they both found books to try out. It helps they have similar interests- historical fiction and romance. In an effort to help with this mentor/ladder text issue in secondary classrooms, I investigated the availability of a program that would help find books similar in lexile level and prose style. I want something similar to Pandora for music, but most of what is out there (Amazon, Goodreads) is more if you liked one genre, you would like these books. That is not really what I want. I want students to be able to reach to other areas for books with similar prose style, not necessarily genre. I did stumble across an interesting idea, the Book Genome Project.

How BookLamp ingests a book

It is called BookLamp, but it has apparently been bought by Apple and is no longer available. It is hypothesized Apple will use it to battle Amazon, but I would just like to check it out and see if it does what I am looking for. So far, it is the only program of its ilk that looks like it might satisfy my requirements. I did have the idea that I might propose to some of my app teams to try their hand at creating an app for novels based on the programming behind Pandora.

Some of the obstacles we have encountered thus far have to do with the general philosophy and current model of public school. I find it interesting that many systems have jumped on the STEM and Project-Based Learning train, but do not take the steps to encourage success for the classes that embrace it. I just sent an email to our Central IT department asking for some programs to be unblocked and others to be added to our school computers so students working on app creation projects and projects involving the 3D printer can be completed. Unfortunately, I have heard from my ITRT that he has been fighting this battle for over a year and the school system is unwilling to allow programs to be installed on school computers. Basically, the students who have their own resources to purchase home computers and software can participate in this type of learning, but those that cannot are at a standstill. Again, economics becomes a factor in public education. I have students excited about what they are doing, but are stymied in the Industrial Era model of schooling. I also find it interesting that we spend money purchasing new technology but then lock it down so much, it becomes useless. They want collaborative work, but provide spaces and equipment that are mired in a traditional school philosophy. Personally, my students will find some alleviation of these issues because of a mini-grant I was awarded through the National Writing Project, but that does not help other teachers who will face similar problems in trying out my project. I am not sure what the answer is, but you can’t have both a traditional school and an innovative curriculum. There has to be flexibility for this type of learning- flexibility in classroom environment, time allocation, curriculum and rules.

New take on Google’s 20 Time in the Classroom

Over the past two weeks I have had some time to rethink how my classes are approaching their 20 Time Projects. I have been allowing a lot of looseness in how the students used their 20% class time and not being as hands-on with their progress. I have been feeling that this might be a disservice to some of my students who need more structure. I wonder too, how much work students can actually get done with just a short 20% of their class time each day rather than a larger chunk. I also think the weekly blogs have not been effective reflection tools. So I have decided it is time for a slight overhaul. Below is what I sent to my students and I will go over it with them in class tomorrow. Hopefully this change will facilitate better progress for the teams that seem to be lagging and allow for others to have a more stable work period they can count on.

20 Time Updated Model:

Up until this point all students have had blogs due each Monday by 3:30 to document their progress on their 20 Time Projects. Each time has also been provided some loose class time to work on their 20 Time Projects. In looking at various group’s progress and evaluating the effectiveness of the weekly blogs, I have decided to make some changes. They are outlined below. Projects are still due to present in April, after Spring Break.

 

Blogs: Each team or individual student will post two blogs per month for the project for a total of eight more blogs. These blogs should not be content for your project. They should be what I originally intended, check-ins to let me know how things are progressing. The due dates are below. They are hard dates regardless of weather, vacations, field trips, etc.

  • January 15
  • January 31
  • February 15
  • February 28
  • March 15
  • March 31
  • April 15
  • April 30 (This will be a final reflective blog about your presentation and the culmination of your project)

 

20 Time: Each Friday will be a 20 time class. You will have the entire class period to work on your projects. This can include interviews, videotaping, writing, reading or whatever makes sense for your project. That means on the block schedule you will receive this time every other week. I will be requiring you to only work on your 20 time project during this time and will monitor to ensure this is occurring. I feel that the short bursts of time I have been giving you are not effective for you to accomplish anything of substance towards your project. I think having a dedicated class every other week will help this issue. I will be assigning participation grades for the work being done in class. You should come prepared to work on your projects- not Math, Science, Government or other work for this class or any other class. The school has acquired a technology and art supply cart to help with project-based learning and you are welcome to use items on the cart. I have also been awarded a mini-grant for some of the supplies and costs associated with some of your projects. As I receive those funds, I will help you solidify your websites, arrange for book editing and publication and whatever else is needed for finalization of your projects. I hope this change in format will aid your efforts and fuel you on the second half of your journey with these projects.

Happy Birthday, Moving Writers + Some BIG News!

This blog has offered so much fruit for my own classroom Writing Workshop struggles. I even took the use of mentor texts to a new level with a project I am working on with one of my own students laddering YA novels to mentor texts that bridge to classics. Great news and can’t wait for the book!

moving writers

One year ago today, we started a blog. Inspired at NCTE13, we felt compelled to join the global English teacher conversation. So, we picked a name, paid a graphic designer $5 for a logo, and hung a sign in our little corner of the Internet.

We started writing. And we have loved it. We love the conversations this blog has sparked with you. We love the way the blog has pushed our own writing. We love the way that, on occasion, the self-imposed pressure to post something new has driven us to experiment in our classrooms to exciting results. Moving Writers has made us better at everything we do.

Moving Writers has moved us.

And all this thinking and writing has propelled us into some very exciting new work. We are writing a book! Actually, we are very nearly finished writing a book for Heinemann that will be published…

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Scrabble, Operation Beautiful and Reflection

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This week has been a whirlwind and I think I just need to reflect on all that happened. I have an amazing school librarian. He is more than just a source for books. He is thoughtful, sarcastic and his heart is in the right place- with the students. He and I were chatting a few weeks ago about classroom expectations and assessments and I told him about one of my middle school teachers who used to do vocabulary study with Scrabble. We would draw teams and tiles and he would give us a few days to plot on the words we could make and how we were going to approach strategy for the game. I remember it as a highlight of my 7th grade year, along with Capture the Flag for and Debate. He was just an amazing teacher who did PBL before it was PBL. As Page, my librarian- ironic but actually his name, and I were reminiscing, I thought about how I could bring that Scrabble idea into my classroom and what the results would be. Page is a crossword puzzle lover so we plotted a day for Scrabble tourney and Crossword Puzzle Race. There would be vocabulary, trivia, team-building and competition- all great things for today’s classroom.

On Monday, I announced the game day and allowed students to form their teams. The competition that ensued for certain members of the class who read a lot and have good vocabularies was hilarious. We even got to the point in one class where a student who was hotly sought after told me the team he would be on privately so we could do a surprise reveal on Game Day. When Wednesday arrived, I even had a student come to my room with dictionary in hand before school. She had been studying it the night before- you can’t pay for this kind of engagement! Before class started, Page and I explained the rules of Scrabble and drew numbers for turn order. The teams then put their heads together to come up with team names. We had the Winter Wordsmiths, the Cocklydoodledoos, Team Buddy, the Scramblin’ Scrabblers, Team Panda and many more. The energy in my room was electric. The teams played their first round of words and you could see each team strategizing based on the board. They would walk up to the table and then run back to their teams to confer about their next moves. We even had some word challenges! As the letters dwindled, the competition rose. Students were jumping up and down in celebration as they finished their letters, crowd-surfing- or as much as you can do that in a classroom- as they won challenges and talking smack to each other as the point totals edged closer. Page and I laughed the entire time! It was one of the single-most fun activities I have ever run in my classroom. There were many requests for a repeat next nine weeks! We ran out of time for the Crossword Race so next time I will structure it so there is a time limit for each team as they place words. I could see this working with vocabulary lists for novels, history units, science units etc. It would take a little more structuring as far as letter drawing, but it could be done and the team-building/collaboration skills the students gain would make the extra work worth it. As a bonus, activities like this would be a good mini-lesson for the type of teamwork necessary for the 20 Time projects my students participate in.

Wednesday was a big day. In addition to the rousing Scrabble tournament, students also turned in their Operation Beautiful projects. I asked students to commit a random act of kindness that would brighten someone’s day between Thanksgiving and December holidays. Their only restriction was they had to document it in some way to show myself and their classmates. The activities they chose were just amazing. Many stayed with the post-it note idea but put them in unique spots, while others baked and still others “Paid it Forward” at a local McDonalds. Below is some of their “evidence” they submitted. The results of this assignment reinforced for me the importance of incorporating character-building and humanity into curriculum. We aren’t just teaching students; we are teaching human beings. Enjoy!

Doug 1

 

Courtney Martin Operation Beauitful

Howard and Sean 2

Lauren Carla Hannah 2

 

Lindsei Hamilton2

Hannah Jackie and Haley 5

Martha 2

Josh and Claudia 6Josh and Claudia 2

Martha 1

Josh and Claudia 1

Mentor Texts and 20 Time Update

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I opened my email yesterday and there was a great surprise waiting for me. I was awarded an Educator Innovator Learning Challenge mini-grant. It is not the whole sum I applied for, but substantial enough to help my students realize some of their 20 Time dreams. The money will help us purchase website domains for some teams, pay book publishing fees for some teams, pay for some speakers to run some workshops on public speaking and purchase some video equipment to put together our 20 Time Showcase. It is an exciting time for my students!

In an effort to check in on team progress, I developed a status report for the teams to complete. This was partly inspired by a worry for some teams and their lack of movement and a desire to have a pulse on all the teams and the great work they are doing beyond the walls of my classroom. This turned out to be an important idea. Below is a link to the status report form.

20 Time Status Report

The status reports gave me a chance to open communication with groups adrift, as well as help other teams with the next steps in their visions. I helped one group complete their paperwork to enter the Verizon Challenge for new apps, I facilitated another student getting a complimentary table at a local Christmas Bazaar to help her fledgling business and pushed another student to finally dig into his idea for a school Frisbee Golf course. I am amazed and inspired by the great work they are doing! The status report also allowed me to help some students redirect their project focus. Any time you embrace group projects, there is always the chance you will have some students riding other student’s work. I gave students the option of completing the status reports together if everything was working out or individually if they were having issues. A couple of teams chose this option and I had to step in and mediate. One team broke into two smaller projects and another changed the final product they will work towards. It is not easy to have these discussions with students, especially the ones that are not participating, but they are necessary with projects like this. Next year, I will implement incremental status reports more often so I can keep a tighter eye on team dynamics. Some of the new directions in projects involve cross-curricular collaboration with Business classes, Computer Science classes, Culinary Arts and our school DECA program. I never could have imagined when I first started thinking about this project what has come to pass thus far.

Probably the most gratifying thing about the 20 Time projects was something that happened today. One of my students chose to embark on a classic book journey to get back in touch with reading and experience some of the greats through the ages. A noble undertaking, but not easy. I love classic literature, but I also recognize the challenges with older, more complex texts and I worried for this student. It had been many years since she read avidly, but I pride myself on finding the right book for each of my students. I interviewed her about the books she could remember loving and a theme of romance emerged. I gave her my copy of Jane Eyre. It has always been one of my favorites and I have had great success over the years finding other Jane-lovers among my students.

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I could tell within a couple of classes she was not enjoying the book. I approached her and she hesitantly told me it was not her favorite- she found the story a little complicated. I immediately thought, mentor texts. Sometimes students need to get their feet wet with Mentor Texts that can provide a scaffold to classics. Teri Lesesne wrote an informative book about the subject called Reading Ladders. I do feel there needs to be some more investigation into specific mentor texts to scaffold students to those classics us old English teachers love. So many of us have embraced the use of mentor texts, but some specific direction for teachers of older students trying to move them to more complex texts, specifically classics is a much-needed resource. I may begin to compile one with this student!

In talking to my student a love of dystopic texts also emerged. I suggested When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. I read this on the plane coming back from the AP reading in Louisville and loved it. I thought the dystopic setting, the angst-filled teenage love story and the cautionary message would appeal to her without overwhelming her. I explained to her the idea behind mentor texts and she took When She Woke willingly. https://i1.wp.com/persephonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/when-she-woke.jpg

Unfortunately, this was not the right mentor text. I thought it would easily lead her to The Scarlet Letter, one of the books on her to-read list, but she did not love it. She read it, slowly, but there was no joy. She ended up thinking it was a little weird and some of the issues in the novel bothered her. I was still determined to find her book.

This time I went deeper into what she liked about each book she remembered reading over the last few years. One of the books she mentioned was Girl in Hyacinth Blue. I loved this book and the journey through the ages with a piece of art. The writing style is visual and prosaic.

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I immediately thought of Ruth Sepetys. I read her novel Between Shades of Grey a few years ago and loved the different perspective of the Holocaust. I also loved the integration of the art pieces as clues for the young girl’s father as she and the rest of the family trekked across Poland. I thought my student might just like Sepetys’ writing style and pulled Between Shades of Grey off my shelf for her. She took it and promised to give it a try. This was Monday. She came in today chattering excitedly about the book. She read it in one night. She stayed up until 3 a.m. because she could not stop reading. We found her book! It was so gratifying to see her passionate about a book and know we were finally successful. Now it is my job to find her next book! Off to the bookshelf…