Help me give my students paperback copies of Sherman Alexie's novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. The author's honest and authentic yet sophisticated book deals with key issues facing 8th graders.
8th graders at my school are an eclectic group from multiple cultures, neighborhoods, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, aptitudes, and abilities. They are lively and eager to learn, though we are still building essential skills and encouraging compassion and pride through more confidence and more respect for our wonderfully inclusive K-8 community. We are one of the smallest schools in the district, largely focused on social and emotional growth as well as high-expectations in academics. Most students will move-on from here to large public high schools where they'll have to carve-out their paths to make the most of their abilities, and 8th grade is the year to grow and look ahead.
We spend a ton of time just chatting as class groups about issues facing the kids both at school and in the community at large. Alexie's book uses a humorous but authentic and emotional perspective to which the kids can really relate as they face many of the same issues in their own lives as the novel's narrator. Classes will work on character analysis by looking at the narrator's actions as well as his description of himself and other characters throughout the novel. We will also study themes, tone, and figurative language and practice the essential skills of objective, analytical writing and citing evidence to support ideas in literary analysis essays.
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