Refugee by Alan Gratz
Josef is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .
Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .
Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .
All three kids go on journeys in search of refuge. All will face danger, but there is always the hope of tomorrow. This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home. - Barnes and Noble overview
2018 Sydney Taylor Award Winner
"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry & "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant
The class will be reading and discussing "The Gift of the Magi," a Christmas classic. They will be digging into the characterization of Della, the protagonist.
Ultimately, the students will be comparing and contrasting Della with another character they will soon meet in "The Necklace."
Students will be reading and discussing this classic in small groups. They will be noting the rising action of the story and looking into the characterization of Mathilde, the protagonist.
When the class comes together for discussion, we will be discussing the lessons/themes of the story. Ultimately, using a Venn diagram, the students will be comparing and contrasting Mathilde's and Della's character and actions to prove a lesson learned.
Figurative Language Unit
Students will be completing a variety of assignments as they continue to learn about figurative language terms.
1. Draw an idiom poster.
The focus of the poster should be a picture of an idiom in literal terms. The idiom itself as well as how it is interpreted should be written on the poster.
Interpretation - Time goes by very quickly.
2. Complete worksheets.
- the difference between similes and metaphors
- identifying similes, metaphors, and hyperbole
- decoding idioms.
3. Analyze lyrics.
- Choose a song that you believe is rich in figurative language.
The lyrics must be appropriate (i.e no cursing or graphic words depicting violence, etc.). If you’re not sure, ask.
- Provide a copy of the lyrics.
- On a separate sheet of paper, neatly cite examples of literary terms found within.
You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch,
You really are a heel,
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch.
You're a bad banana with a greasy black peel!
You're a monster, Mr. Grinch,
Your heart's an empty hole,
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch.
I wouldn't touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole!
"You really are a heel." - metaphor
really heel - assonance
"You're as cuddly as a cactus; you're as charming as an eel." - similes
"cuddly as a cactus" - alliteration
"charming as an eel" - personification
"You're a bad banana with a greasy black peel." - metaphor
"bad banana" - alliteration
heel, eel, peel - rhyme
"You're a monster." - metaphor
Mr. Grinch - refrain/ repetition for effect
"Your heart's an empty hole." - metaphor & alliteration
"Your brain is full of spiders; you've got garlic in your soul." - hyperbole
"a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole" - hyphenated modifier
hole, soul, pole - rhyme
4. Write a simile color poem.
- Choose at least four colors.
- In the odd-numbered stanzas, create similes using like and the verbs feels, sounds, smells, and tastes.
- In the even-numbered stanzas, create similes using as and the same verbs.
- Each color gets its own stanza.
- Try to create an alliterative title.
Although the focus is on similes, it is fine to try to add onomatopoeia, a hyphenated modifier, personification as well as an allusion or two if you are able. Your poem will be as original and interesting as the imagery you create with your choice of words.
Blue feels like the ocean breeze cooling my skin on a warm day.
Blue sounds like ice clinking in the bottom of my glass.
Blue smells like the sky after a rain.
Blue tastes like snow in a snowball fight.
Red feels as hot as the noon day sun.
Red smells as fragrant as a rose in bloom.
Red tastes as spicy as Mom's homemade chili.
Red sounds as alarming as sirens in the night.
Extra Credit Opportunity:
After I have looked over your color poem, you will have the opportunity to turn it into a mini-poster filled with color and pictures (drawn or cut and paste) surrounding your words.
Students will look for figurative language in reading as well as try to incorporate it into their writing throughout the rest of the school year.
Sample terminology: simile, metaphor, idiom, hyperbole, oxymoron, onomatopoeia, personification, alliteration, allusion, hyphenated modifier, refrain, rhyme, assonance, and rhythm
Small-Group Novel Reading
Students chose the novel they wanted to explore. They will read and discuss the book in small groups of other students who made the same selection.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick
Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren't allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn't go to school. Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. On October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause. She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school. No one expected her to survive.
Now Malala is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner (2014). In this Young Readers Edition of her bestselling memoir, which has been reimagined specifically for a younger audience and includes exclusive photos and material, we hear firsthand the remarkable story of a girl who knew from a young age that she wanted to change the world -- and did. Malala's powerful story will open your eyes to another world and will make you believe in hope, truth, miracles and the possibility that one person -- one young person -- can inspire change in her community and beyond. - Book description
Anne Frank Award for Moral Courage, January 2012
Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice, November 2012
Rome Prize for Peace and Humanitarian Action, December 2012
One of Time's "100 Most Influential People in the World", April 2013
Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International
Hidden Figures by Marot Lee Shetterly
This edition is the powerful story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program. Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country. - Barnes and Noble summary
2018 Amelia Bloomer List: Middle Grade, Nonfiction
NSTA Best STEM Books 2018
Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde
"Pay It Forward is a moving, uplifting novel about Trevor McKinney, a twelve-year-old boy in a small California town who accepts his teacher’s challenge to earn extra credit by coming up with a plan to change the world. Trevor’s idea is simple: do a good deed for three people, and instead of asking them to return the favor, ask them to “pay it forward” to three others who need help. He envisions a vast movement of kindness and goodwill spreading across the world. Trevor’s actions change his community forever." - Barnes and Noble overview
Best Books for Young Adults, 2001, American Library Association
Roundtable - Quarters 2-4
Round Table Guidelines Expanded
Step 1: Choose the book you wish to read. Feel free to read the back cover. Take into consideration the subject matter of the book. If you have read the book before, please opt for a different choice.
Step 2: Make sure to secure a copy of the book with enough time to read before the discussion date but not so much time that you will have forgotten key elements of the story. I have many copies in my classroom.
Step 3: Keep notes while reading or use flags, Post-It notes, or slips of paper in the book to highlight ideas, questions, dialogue, or description that you want to bring up in discussion.
Step 4: When discussion day arrives, be an active part of the discussion. Be willing to ask and answer questions. Be willing to listen to the viewpoints of others, especially those who don’t agree with you. You must contribute significantly to the discussion by adding your own thoughts — not just agree with the ideas of others
Quarter 2 Book: The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
Fantasy - Journey takes the main character far our of his comfort zone to meet unexpected creatures and face daunting challenges.
Discussion Date: Monday, December 17
Quarter 2 Book: Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Fiction - The story of four sisters growing into the women they are going to be.
Discussion Date: Wednesday, December 12
Quarter 3 Book: To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Fiction - The atmosphere and issues within a small, Southern, Great Depression-era town are exposed through the eyes of two children, but even more so the character of the people who make up the town. In many ways, these townsfolk represent all people, and the story asks for dignity, which should be given to everyone. (Some mature language and subject matter)
Discussion Dates: Tuesday, February 5 (Chapters 1-15) & Tuesday, March 5
Quarter 3 Book: I’ll Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifireenka
Non-fiction: The story depicts how a pen pal relationship changed lives.
Discussion Date: Thursday, February 28
Quarter 4 Book: Diary of Anne Frank - Anne Frank
Autobiography - Anne writes in a diary of her feelings and experiences during the time she is in hiding during World War II.
Discussion Date: Thursday, May 2
Quarter 4 Book: Hiroshima - John Hersey
Journalistic war account - This story recounts the stories of six individuals who were in Hiroshima, Japan, on the day the atomic bomb was dropped. (Mature subject matter)
Discussion Date: Tuesday, May 7
Note: Discussions date may have to shift slightly if something comes up on our school calendar.
Students will be reading and analyzing several of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories and poems. They will explore the elements of literature as applied to his works. The students will consider how Poe's life may have affected his work, and they will compare and contrast the mood and themes found in both the stories and poems.
"The Cask of Amontillado"
"The Masque of the Red Death"
"Deep in Earth"
"To My Mother"
"Murder at the Rue Morgue" (extra)
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
A seemingly peaceful town lends its setting to a story about conformity and resistance to thinking and change. The story leads readers to question mob mentality, scapegoating, and cruelty in a civilized society.
Students will begin looking for foreshadowing as the story unfolds.
"The Ransom of Red Chief" by O. Henry
Another quiet, sleepy town is the setting for one of O. Henry's most famous short stories. The characters are humorous, and the twists and turns lead to one ironic moment after another. The students discussed foreshadowing, irony, allusion, and perspective as they read this classic tale.
Independent Reading & Quarterly Book Projects
Reading is a vital way to learn information of various types, and it can be a huge source of enjoyment. In addition to reading together in class, I would like you to do some independent reading. Ideally, I would love for you to be able to do a great deal of reading, but I know that life keeps all of us busy, and sometimes we cannot always fit in as much as we would like. I would like you to try to read about ten pages a day. (Of course, you may read more!) The reading should be at your ability level, and you should choose various genre.
What is genre? Genre is the category that the book falls under: biography/ autobiography, historical fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, drama, science fiction, realistic fiction, mystery, etc... Eighth grade students also need to read a World War II or Holocaust-related book at some point during the year. I own many from which you may choose if you cannot decide. This book does not have to be one of your quarter projects, but we will use the knowledge gained from it during fourth quarter.
Each quarter, you will need to present one book in one of the following ways: orally, with the use of technology, written, or in a round-table discussion (available quarters two through four). For example, one quarter you might present a book talk with a poster to the class, telling your classmates about the novel and making them interested in reading it. Another quarter you might choose to do a mini newspaper, writing articles about major events in the story. A Power Point presentation, character monologue, movie short, puppet show, treasure box, or series of diary entries are just some of the possibilities. Presentation options are limitless as long as they show effort and creativity as well as demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the book. (Before you spend a great deal of time on a project, please run it by me first.) Just as with the genre of the book, please choose a different presentation method each quarter.
Projects are due approximately one week before the end of the quarter. If you plan to present a monologue, a book talk, or any other form of project to the class, let me know so that I can schedule some time for your presentation. Please ask questions if you have them and do not wait until the last minute to complete this assignment. If you finish and there are still three weeks left in the quarter, that’s okay. Turn it in early. Then you won’t have to worry about it as the quarter draws to a close.
Independent reading will also be the basis for written responses to some classroom lessons.
Due dates: Friday, October 5; Thursday, December 13; Friday, March 1; Friday, May 3
Thomas Jefferson said, "I cannot live without books." I hope that you find some authors and books that you love, too.
Basic Independent Book Project Guidelines
Show understanding of a novel you have been independently reading in an interesting and creative way. (Always pretend the teacher/class knows nothing about the book.)
Keys Elements to ALL Projects:
Key Elements to an Oral Presentation:
Key Elements to a Written Project:
Do NOT go online to look for thoughts.
Key Elements to a Technology-based Project:
Key Elements to a Round-table Discussion:
Sampling of Projects: book talk, Power Point, character talk, book review, puppet show, book (movie) trailer, graphic novel presentation, photographic journey, character diary, letter to a character/ author, feature article for a newspaper, live TV/radio report of a breaking event from the novel followed by backstory, movie, scrapbook, (Please talk to me before you invest a great amount of time.)