My students need multiple copies of the books The Pearl and Number the Stars.
I teach at a Title I school that draws on the local community of Hispanic low-income families. Twenty years into this job, I love it more than you can imagine. My students come from hardworking immigrant families who have high expectations for their kids.
Many of my former students have received full scholarships to universities and have returned to give back to their communities.
One former student hails from a low income black family that still lives in the local projects. He just completed medical school at the University of Colorado, and he interned this summer with an orthopedic surgeon in LA. He spoke to my students last year and explained that success is not about intelligence, it's about organization and effort.
Another student has not paid a nickel towards her UCSB education. Dedicated to being a special needs teacher in her community, she, too, comes from the projects.
Motivated teachers and students like these two make the impossible "possible."
Two books that offer great class discussion, writing prompts, essays, and projects are Steinbeck's The Pearl and Lois lowry's Number the Stars. The Pearl offers themes such as class structure and greed embedded in a narrative that offers great characters and conflict. Steinbeck communicates these literary elements with precise yet descriptive language that is a writing style that students recognize as highly effective. Lowry, most notable for penning The Giver, offers a more concrete tale in Number the Stars: the story of a Danish Jewish family facing persecution and possible execution during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. We need multiple copies of both The Pearl and Number the Stars.
For the Pearl, we do so much more than reading and writing.
We inquire into the history of pearls and learn how European kings exploited the New World for these types of riches and how that conquest created a class system that exists today. We even discuss farming and how the science behind the harvesting of pearls brought the price of pearls way down. We do a project that asks the students to draw pictures representing the various types of figurative language used by Steinbeck to create imagery and connection to the narrative. We finish with a lesson devoted to the Pearl's theme that material things should never supplant the gift of life.
For Number the Stars, I tread delicately. World War II, Nazi Germany, and the Jewish Solution are carefully navigated. My wife comes in and speaks to the kids about family history. She hails from Holland, so, of course, Anne Frank comes up. More importantly, her father, separated from his mom and hidden in the French countryside, lives but his father and the rest of his family lost their lives in concentration camps. All of this is handled delicately.
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|Number the Stars • AKJ Education||$5.58||20||$111.60|
|The Pearl • AKJ Education||$7.18||15||$107.70|
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