VOYA Evaluation Code: 4Q; 4P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts I am excited about reading this book because of the controversy that surrounds it. I f...moreVOYA Evaluation Code: 4Q; 4P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts I am excited about reading this book because of the controversy that surrounds it. I first heard about this controversy in a YA literature course I took at USC. The anonymously written book is told through a series of journals. I know that the character is a female who does drugs. The controversy surrounding this issue is drug-related. I expect this text to be less "damaging" than traditional South Carolina bible-belt parents claim.(less)
A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts Looking at the cover of this book intrigues me. The cartoon is very appealing. Despite...moreVOYA Evaluation Code: 5Q; 5P
A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts Looking at the cover of this book intrigues me. The cartoon is very appealing. Despite the cover's appeal, I was not initially excited about this book. Graphic novels usually take me a long time to read because I have to look at the pictures and take everything in. I've never had a bad experience with a graphic novel, but it takes me a while to get over that initial hump. The cover and the title lead me to believe this novel will involve racism. For some reason I immediately think of the Japanese concentration camps that were in the United States during WWII; come to think of it, that's probably a racial stereotype because the title explicitly says "Chinese."
B) During Reading I really like the way the author breaks up the chapters. Each chapter is a separate story. I anticipate these stories coming together at some point, but I am not quite sure how. The character Jin motivates me to keep reading. It seems as though he does not want to be grouped with the other Asian American students. It's like he'd rather have no friends at all than hang around with them. In some ways, Jin's character reminds me of The Great Gatsby and the American dream. I'm excited to finish this text and see how everything turns out. In addition to Jin, I am very curious about Danny's cousin Chin-Kee. His behavior is bizarre; he exhibits all aspects of Asian stereotyping: "good" and bad.
C) After Reading Wow. This book is amazing. It's focus and attention on racial stereotyping is profound. At times I felt my jaw drop while I read. I also really enjoyed how everything came together at the end. Both writing and graphics contribute equally to the impact of this story. I like how the Chinese folklore of The Monkey King is interwoven throughout the story to help represent Jin's struggles with being "different." This text would be valuable in the classroom for many reasons. The stories within the story show a style that most students aren't exposed to. In addition, the story touches on many themes and could easily be brought into the curriculum.
D) Ideas for Future Teaching This text affected me as a reader. It was the first time graphics were able to profoundly affect my reading experiences. I think most students would be intrigued if they were asked to read a required novel that looked like a comic book. I think they'd probably actually read it. I also think that they'd be shocked by the reality of its content. American Born Chinese would pair perfectly with American literature and the study of the American dream. It could also work well in comparison with other multicultural literature texts in a discussion/unit concerning stereotypes. Thinking about it more, this text would fit comfortably within a thematic unit of alienation and isolationism. Because of this text, I'll be more open to the use of graphic novels in the classroom.(less)
VOYA Evaluation Code: 5Q; 3P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts I'm not sure why I am so intrigued by stories of mental illness; however, this one is...moreVOYA Evaluation Code: 5Q; 3P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts I'm not sure why I am so intrigued by stories of mental illness; however, this one is no different. I initially picked up this book and thought it could be of no value because it is so small. I flipped through the book and realized it was a story composed of poetry. The fact that it was not the traditional format of a book made me want to read it. I anticipate enjoying a different reading experience. I also have a feeling that I will embark upon some powerful poetry.
B) During Reading The main character of this book is represented in a realistic manner. When reading, I get lost in her thoughts and they seem to accurately represent a middle school student. I am motivated to keep reading because of the format. The poetry is quick to move through and extremely powerful at times. The main character is going through this internal battle that starts driving her crazy. My favorite poem is, "The Truth Is." Sones writes, "I don't want to see you./I dread it./There./I've said it" (64). This poem illustrates part of the struggle a younger sibling of a mentally ill person might go through. At first I thought this seemed selfish of the main character; then, I realized that she struggles back and forth between anger and guilt. I can't imagine what it must be like for a young person to go through an experience like this. I'm excited to finish the book. I can't put my finger on what this book reminds me of. It's luring in the back of my mind, but I just can't place it.
C) After Reading The poetry in this book is amazingly powerful. The book is short and composed of poems, but that doesn't mean the author does not use words, emotion, and imagery to her advantage. If I could change one thing about this book, I would make it longer. I'd like to see more in-depth family visits to the asylum. This book sparks my interest in mental health diseases and their affects on family members. Reading this book would coincide perfectly with a poetry unit for obvious reasons but also for the serious nature of the topic and the emotion of the writing.
D) Ideas for Future Teaching The feelings of alienation and isolationism in this text resonate with my experiences with American literature. I think students would be just as hooked as I was when reading this text. It would also appeal to them because it's short and has a lot of white space. In future classes, I'd like to use the poetry in several ways. Examining them as both individual poems and a collective text would make for an interesting genre study with students. In addition, this text could be used in comparison with texts about isolationism. For example, it'd be interesting for students to study factors that cause feelings of isolation and alienation. I'd love to pair this with Nella Larsen's Passing. I'd also like to pair this with comical representations of alienation, such as the character "Fez" on That 70's Show. Come to think of it, this text would pair well with American Born Chinese too.(less)
VOYA Evaluation Code: 5Q; 3P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts Before reading this book, I read the back of the book. I hardly ever do this as I feel...moreVOYA Evaluation Code: 5Q; 3P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts Before reading this book, I read the back of the book. I hardly ever do this as I feel like it is somewhat of an insult to the author; however, reading the back of this book affirmed my decision to read it. In the version I initially picked up, the back cover was the first couple of paragraphs of the book. The details of living amongst murderers with his family drew me in; I had to buy it. I was also curious about the narrator's mention of his sister. I anticipated she had some sort of disability. In addition, the title was intriguing because it indicates the book is set in the 1930's. I was very excited about diving into this book.
B) During Reading I love the style Choldenko uses when writing this book. She seems to have an accurate grasp of a middle school student's mind. I also really like that she ends each chapter with a reference to the title of the chapter. It creates a sense of uniformity that pleases my mind as I come to the close of each chapter. The character of Natalie also intrigues me. I think Natalie's character and Moose's interactions with Natalie are what entice me to keep reading. Natalie also makes me somewhat emotional. It makes me think about my family and how our lives would have been different if we lived during the 1930's. I get angry when the Esther P. Marinoff people and the other kids judge Natalie. It almost makes me sick to my stomach because it brings up bad memories of people mistreating my brother. In addition to reminding me of my brother, this book also reminds me of the mischievous kids in The Goonies. This book also reminds me of a book I'm currently readin g about an autistic savant called Born on a Blue Day.
C) After Reading This book dives into a world where the knowledge of students with special needs is in its very early state. The author accurately represents the mistreatment of people with special needs during this time period. Although it was sometimes hard for me to read, I'm glad the author illustrated this mistreatment. The overall story kept its momentum by following Moose's daily routine and interjecting the family's experience with Natalie. After reading this book, it makes me wonder how many families dealt with the lack of knowledge about special needs and how many still deal with it today.
D) Ideas for Future Teaching As I've previously stated, I connect with Moose and his sister Natalie. I think middle school students would enjoy Moose's adventures as they also become exposed and sensitized to students with special needs. There are a couple of ways this could be used in the classroom. The style of the writing (journals) could simply expose students to different formats. The idea of the "full-circle ending" could also be easily seen in each chapter. It'd be interesting to pair this with a film study of I am Sam, What's Eating Gilbert Grape? or maybe even Rain Man (depending on the parts). I'd also select pieces from nonfiction, like Born on a Blue Day.(less)
VOYA Evaluation Code: 2Q; 1P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts Before I picked up this book, I knew absolutely nothing about it. Normally, I don't ch...moreVOYA Evaluation Code: 2Q; 1P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts Before I picked up this book, I knew absolutely nothing about it. Normally, I don't choose books at random like this. I was at the used book store with Woman (my mother) looking for The Giver. As I was browsing through the store's "Required Reading" section, I stumbled upon The Call of the Wild. I remembered seeing this title on our adventure story selection of books. Since this was one of the few sections I had not picked out a book for, I grabbed the book and proceeded to the checkout. I didn't really look at the cover until I got home. To me, this looked like the typical "guy" book. Although there was a dog on the cover and the title indicates it will be a nature-type book, I assumed I would be following a human throughout the course of the novel.
B) During Reading So far, this book has been killing me. The book is only 134 pages long, but I just cannot get through it. Every time I pick it up, I only get through about six pages before I have to put it down. Yesterday was the first time I read more than six pages in a row. To the author's credit, I was able to get through more than six pages because of the descriptive nature of his writing. I got really into the details of the surroundings and was able to imagine them in my head perfectly. Just after I finished reading this amazing description, London got back to the plot of the story and I once again lost interest. I will say that this book is unlike any book I've ever read. I really don't like it, but the imagery is amazing. I'm not really interested to see what happens to Buck at the end of the story; however, I am interested in exploring the rest of London's writing.
C) After Reading I found it incredibly hard to connect and get into this book. For me, the story was weak and uninteresting. I never cared about Buck, where he was going, or how he eventually got there. I was surprised to find beautiful writing among this unfortunate story. Like I've previously noted, London's imagery provided me a profound sense of relief as I continued to endure page after page. In addition, I stumbled across the thread of "power" within the text. Buck's experiences with power got me thinking like a teacher; because of my observance of Buck's relationship with power, I was able to consider the possibility of actually using this text in the classroom.
D) Ideas for Future Teaching I'm not exactly sure how students would respond to this text. A large part of me thinks that most girls would not enjoy reading the story of Buck; however, I could be wrong about this. Although this text is recommended for high school, it seems like it would be a text 8th graders might read. The thread of power in this text resonates with my professional teaching experience in the sense that it reminds me of history and literature's relationship with history. Power is something that is always and will always be present. The different experiences Buck had with power and the factors that played into those experiences with power struck me. In my future classrooms, I think I could carry the story of Buck's affairs with power into the classroom. It would be interesting to compare this text to current events and even our new presidential change. I would love to ask students to journal about power. Specifically, I would ask them to relate Buck's experiences with power to teenage experiences with power. I would eventually ask students to move away from a focus on themselves and look out into the world they are living in. I might have been unconsciously influenced by today's presidential inauguration; however, I am infatuated with the way this text pairs with current events. Previously, I could not imagine using this text in any way, shape, or form. I have been awakened to see a new light and a new facet of connecting this "classic" piece of literature to the everyday workings of my own classroom.(less)
VOYA Evaluation Code: 5Q; 3P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts The first and the last time I read this book was in fourth grade. I remember sitting i...moreVOYA Evaluation Code: 5Q; 3P A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts The first and the last time I read this book was in fourth grade. I remember sitting in reading circles with classroom moms as we read and explored this book. I also remember my teacher's enthusiasm for this novel. I think it was his enthusiasm that carried over into my enthusiasm for this book. I loved reading it and talked about it with my mom and classmates constantly. I think I liked it so much because I was embarking on something different and unlike anything I had read up to that point. At times I felt weird, like we were exploring ideas that couldn't or shouldn't be talked about. Despite the overwhelming excitement I remember from reading this book, I only remember this book to be about some "Utopian" society. It may have been premature to read this in fourth grade; however, I am excited to reread it. When I look at the cover, it gives me the same excitement I remember from the first time I read it so many years ago. I am excited to see how my opinions and understandings of the text change and grow after I reread it.
B) During Reading This book intrigues me because it brings back memories of reading it so many years ago. I guess this is a bit ironic because of the assignment Jonas is given. The plot, setting, and characters in this story are strange to me. It's almost alarming to read about this place where no one has choices and everything is laid out with perfect order. Despite the claustrophobic feeling I get while reading about the uniformity, it is the idea of "Sameness" that motivates me to keep reading. It strikes me that I read about these communistic and socialist type societies when I was in fourth grade. Even as a fourth grader, something about this book seemed odd to me. I guess I couldn't put it into words then because I didn't know what these things were. For some reason this book reminds me of Star Wars. I think it reminds me of this because when we studied government in high school, my teacher used Star Wars to help portray different types of government.
C) After Reading The strengths of this book are obviously Lowry's ability to set up a society that is so different from our own. It is easy to decipher concepts and how they relate to our own concepts, but she is able to distinguish this community as completely different from the lives we lead. I like the fact that Lowry draws the idea of Communism to the minds of young adults. I think students might be able to understand learning about government in their social studies classes if they examined fictional types of governments like the one Lowry created. After reading this for a second time, I wonder why my fourth grade teacher made this book mandatory for our class. As I read, I realized that I actually remember a lot of this book; however, I didn't understand how it actually related to me or history. It was just a story that I knew to be fiction. Something that could never happen. Now I understand the value and the commentary (if that is what it is) in this book.
D) Ideas for Future Teaching This book resonates with my experiences with writing. It makes me think about the personal pieces I've written throughout my life and what influenced those pieces. The idea of not having memories scares me. I think this book would be interesting to read at the beginning of a semester as a class community forms. It would be interesting to talk to students about memories--good and bad--and how they influence our daily lives. It'd be great to lead discussions about the book and memories into the feather circle and journaling. When I think of feather circles, I consider my own process of sorting through my own memories as I begin to write and edit. With some refining, I think The Giver could help students think more critically about the process of writing and what it involves. In addition, I think it would be interesting to plan a cross-curricular unit with a social studies/government class. A unit like this could help reinforce ideas in more than one class and help meet the standards of reading across the curriculum.(less)
VOYA Evaluation Code: 4Q; 2P A) Pre-reading/Anticipatory Thoughts I am excited about rereading this book. It has been a text that I've always enjoyed. T...moreVOYA Evaluation Code: 4Q; 2P A) Pre-reading/Anticipatory Thoughts I am excited about rereading this book. It has been a text that I've always enjoyed. The last time I read this was in eleventh grade, so it will be interesting to figure out what I missed the last time I read it. I anticipate picking up on more of the historical, literary, and racial references. I have always loved Atticus Finch and think that his character and court case with Tom Robinson will win me over again. B) During Reading: To Kill a Mockingbird has always been one of my favorite books. Reading it now, I am still enjoying the story and its intricacies; however, I've found that I question everything. It took me entirely too long to get through the first chapters because of these questions. For instance, on page 8 Lee writes, "Jem said the show sounded better than the book." Jem is talking about the film adaptation of Dracula. The sentence implies that Jem, age 10, has read this novel. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions and assuming something Harper Lee did not want me to assume (afterall, we all know what assuming does). It was questions like this one that bothered me throughout the beginning of the novel. The questions actually made me put the book down for about a week before I could bring myself to pick it back up again. Eventually, I was able to get myself back to appreciating the writing, but this does not mean my questions have stopped. I am motivated to continue reading because I've read the novel before and know that it's worthwhile. The only thing that this novel keeps bringing to mind is its film adaptation. When one of the characters is talking or being talked about, I can only imagine the characters from the film. This is bothersome to me because Dill in the movie looks nothing like he is described in the novel. C) After Reading: After reading this text again, I’ve realized that I only really like the second part of the novel. I think I like this part better because it goes into more depth with the court case. The first part of the novel is slow; its focus on the children gets boring at times. I think I may have liked the beginning of this more when I was younger because it was an adventure of a young person. I still consider this book a valuable text. It deals with issues of racism and of young people trying to figure out what’s right and wrong. Overall, it seems like a good novel for young adults to read; however, I don’t think I would make students read the entire text. D) Ideas for Future Teaching: I think I’ve always enjoyed this story is because racism has fascinated me since I moved to the South. I moved to Georgia from Wisconsin when I was about six years old. So, I was in first grade when we got down here. Thinking of describing other people by color did not occur to me until I moved down here. When I started learning about racism that occurred, it intrigued me. I could never understand why people were judged or looked down upon because of their skin color; it didn’t make sense to me and it still doesn’t. I would definitely use this text in the classroom, but I don’t think I would read the entire novel. The beginning is too slow and I think I would lose students. Parts of the text have merit and could be adapted for use. I think I could definitely use the court case to intrigue students; I could probably also compare this to real court cases or even current court cases. The symbolism in the novel would be worth talking about; however, they are intertwined throughout the novel and it might be difficult to examine those if we only read parts of the novel. Previously, I thought I would teach this entire text to a class; however, I really don’t see myself doing that. Reading this novel would take up too much time, and I don’t think my students would be very interested. (less)