Do you remember what it was like the first time you read a book that you couldn't put down? My students have discovered two such books written by Gary Paulsen that capture their imaginations!
I teach seventh grade ELA to approximately 120 students at an inner-city middle school with a very high poverty rate.
Over half of my students have scored a 1 or 2 on the NYS ELA Exam in 6th grade. I am always looking for new ways to motivate my students to read. The novels Nightjohn and the follow-up book Sarny are two novels that my students enjoy reading.
These two novels follow the life of a slave girl, Sarny. Perhaps the most valuable lesson my students learn is that what we now take for granted, learning to read and write, was once punishable by death if a slave was caught reading or writing. I formulate my questions for each chapter of the book based on how my students performed on a diagnostic test administered in the beginning of the school year and I also model my questions to mirror the format used on the NYS 7th Grade ELA Exam. Along the way we work on vocabulary development! We do an exercise called 4 Corner Vocabulary. A sheet of paper is dived into four equal sections. The vocabulary word is written in the center of the paper. One quadrant is used to provide the definition of the word. Another quadrant requires the part of speech,a synonym and an antonym(thesauruses). The third quadrant is used to write the word in a sentence and the final quadrant is used for a non-linguistic representation of the word: a picture!
My class set of these novels are in poor condition.
After five years the book jackets are falling off, some pages are missing, and some books had to be thrown away because their condition was so poor that I could no longer use them in class. I've never had a class set of thesauruses. Usually I have to look up synonyms and antonyms for the students because they aren't included in our class set of dictionaries and we don't have computers in my class. Please help my students out!
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