So what? Reflection

Wow oh wow! I can’t believe this class is already over. When I think about what I have learned and done in this class and how I can apply it to my class… I think the most applicable part is what I have done here is in my blog.

I’ve been able to reflect on books I’ve read and what I plan on prioritizing in the classroom. I think broadening my range on what I typically read has been a particularly success of mine that I’m proud of. I always go for the same books and this time I was forced to step out a little and it paid off. I didn’t have much experience with mental health novels and in other sections I tried to pick some books I wouldn’t have typically gone for. I think this will benefit me later when I have my own class library and want to pair students with a book or be able to steer a child in a direction they might enjoy and engage with. I also think this can benefit me as a growing reader. I want to be able to pick books from all different areas and this is something I will continue to work on! This can also help with literary ladders and helping students to build from previous skills. I also could see how my thinking process changed. I went from thinking about the book and how it related to me as a teacher into thinking about what the reading experience would be like from the students perspective reading it for the first time as a middle schooler or high schooler. This I think will allow me to coach the students through their books in a better way.

Week 7 Blog Post

This is something I am so glad we get to address! I have always debated about going a teaching route or a counselor route! My mom was a guidance counselor in a school and her work was so powerful and the relationships she made there she is still in contact with now. Mental Illness and school is such an ignored yet important connection that I believe should be addressed more often.

Language and Symptoms of Mental Illness in Young Adult Literature

This first article spoke about the importance of keeping this conversation in life and in classrooms. This is such an easy way to incorporate this dialogue into your, you can include novels in your class library that talk about mental illness. Two specific positives this novel bring to light are:

  • YA lit can demonstrate how our language signifies our beliefs
  • YA lit can showcase authentic symptoms of mental illness

Bringing this topic to conversation and including literature that can educate people can only benefit students. If students can get a more wholistic understanding of mental illness through a narrative or an educational text it can benefit them in the long run. This kind of inclusion can also help with differentiating “authentic” terms for disorders and symptoms verses words that are just wrong. The book that came to mind reading this article was “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini. I really enjoyed this book and at the time that I read it I had not read a book that addressed mental illness before.

The author of this article was talking about his perspective as a third party who was conducting research on how accurate the mental illness stories are in the text verses factual information. He concluded that the stories he had read in his research were an accurate representation of many of the symptoms. This is such an approachable way for students to get another perspective or find themselves in a more relatable way.

As the article discusses I think a common concern that teachers have doing this is they are scared of the conversations that may arise in the classroom about things like depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or ADHD. While I do understand this concern to want control over discussion and not wanting to disrupt the eb and flow, it can be beneficial to the class and students personally. This can be a chance for you to correct stigmas around things like this and facilitate a comfortable class. You do not need to be an expert like the article says to be able to make this a positive experience.

Literature to Confront Stigma of Mental Illness

This article had a different perspective than the previous one, focusing more on the wrong terminology constantly used to describe people with mental illnesses. This article showed how teachers can make an impact in a positive way through literature and classroom discussion. He broke down different ways teachers could teach this material to your class depending on what age range you were working with.

One example they spoke about was the overuse of the term OCD or bipolar disorder. You can always count on someone to claim someone else is “OCD” if they’re being too detail oriented or become frustrated if something is not done in a certain way etc. The article points out the issues with doing things like this and the harm it can have on people who are truly OCD and the harm is can have in educating people incorrectly. People also will call someone bipolar if they have frequent or sudden mood changes. While this can be a symptom of bipolar disorder calling people bipolar who aren’t truly bipolar, doing it so sporadically just to emphasis and make a point belittles those who do have this disorder.

The article also goes through different book titles and the different lessons it can teach students if teachers utilize it in the classroom.

Some interesting facts the article listed that I think are important to know when dealing with students in a lot of the age ranges listed and to know in general to understand you own feelings or be a source for others.

  • 75 percent of lifetime cases of mental health conditions begin by age 24.
  • One in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness.
  • More than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year.
  • 64 percent of young adults who are no longer in college are not attending college because of a mental health related reason. Depression, bipolar disorder and PTSD are the primary diagnoses of these young adults.
  • 31 percent of college students have felt so depressed in the past year that it was difficult to function and more than 50 percent have felt overwhelming anxiety, making it hard to succeed academically.

Understanding these facts and statistics and recognizing them as current issues your students may be facing now or in the future is the first step in choosing to have the dialogue about mental health conditions. I want to help my students the best I can and reading other narratives about mental health conditions has helped me grasp a greater understanding of the struggles and symptoms that are related to these disorders. But most importantly it helps me gain more grace to be a source in my classroom.

From the Writer’s Desk

The first image is where I always find myself reading! The big window in my room is something I love! It makes it so much brighter and happier that it helps set my mood to start a new book or project. The natural light makes reading that much more enjoyable! I always loved when teachers would leave a door open or bring more light into a space to help me work. I don’t get a lot done in a space without natural light or where I’m not comfortable. Reading is something I really enjoy and I like to do in my own space. I live with 3 of my best friends and my room is one my space to take time to myself and dig into my books. All the little details in my room just make me so happy that sitting here is one of my favorite spots in my house. 

The second image is my class work space! I always have to sprawl out to work. I don’t like being confined to a small space when I’m working or writing. I like to look at various different mediums when I’m working on a project. I might have a book open that I’m pulling from, maybe a school text, and my computer, I always have my planner and notebook with me, I always keep a pen and highlighter out.. and so many different things! I like to make sure everything I have out I can have access to. I know the floor is not very conventional but it helps me work and focus when I can just have everything out in one spot and have space to move around. The printer is right in front of me on the floor so I am close to that as well. I don’t work very well in complete silence or I get too much in my head so working in this communal space helps that. I’ve been living here for 2 years now and I have always sat here to do my work. My roommate is a special education major so we sometimes it here together and work. It’s nice to bounce ideas back and forth with someone you know so well and thinks a lot like you!

Week 6 Blog Post

The Age of YA: A Timeline of Historical Fiction

Some patterns from the article noted and I found include:

  1. Most of these historical novels were published post 2005.
  2. There are clear patterns in topic as the years go on. In BC Cleopatra and Sphinx’s were a popular topic like the 50’s and 60’s related to race and identity.

 This week I just read Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin and it was incredibly entertaining while still teaching history. This novel has an alternative historical ending which originally without reading it I thought would have made it more difficult to teach in the classroom. You would have to be clear on fact and fiction and make sure they do not get confused, and while that still might be true, there are still clear ways this book can teach history. The book is focused on World War II but the powers of the war is switched and it is written as an alternative world where Adolf Hitler won the war. While there are various activities where you can do compare and contrast between history and the novel to clear up fact and fiction it teaches on a larger scale how to learn from the past. It also shows students in a real life way how important it is to voice their opinion for what is right and wrong. This book can stand as a “what if” and pose a lot of interesting discussions and writing topics.

Week 6 Book Project

32. Make up a word test for the novel. Think of fifteen words that are essential to the understanding of the book. Explain why you picked the words you did and how you would define them in terms of the story.

Wolf by Wolf: Ryan Graudin

  1. Skinshift: This is a power the main character Yael has. She can take on the appearance of others. This is important in understanding Yael and major plot points of the novel.
  2. Concentration Camps: It is important to understand exactly what a concentration was historically and what it was in terms of this novel to better understand the characters. Yael learns a lot about herself and society through concentration camps. This a major catalyst to the novel.
  3. Adolf Hitler: It is important to know who Hitler was historically and his role in this alternative ending of WWII. Yael kills another skin shifter instead of Hitler. Hitler is 66 in the novel and is portrayed in a relatively similar manner.
  4. Third Reich: Germania is the capital of the 3rd Reich. The Third Reich and Japan make up the 2 empires of the Axis. This is unique to the novel which makes it important to understanding the book.
  5. Operation Sea Lion: This is the operation that brought down Great Britain. This helps the reader understand the moving points of the story.
  6. “Wolf”: The wolves represented significant people in her life that died; Babushka, Mama, Miriam, Aaron-Klaus, and Vlad. She has five wolves tattooed on her arm to commemorate the people she lost in the concentration camp. This is a symbol for the entire novel and is very important in understanding Yael.
  7. The Axis Tour: This was a race with 9 checkpoint cities: Prague, Rome, Cairo, Baghdad, New Delhi, Dhaka, Hanoi, Shanghai, and Tokyo. The racers rode Zundapps motorcycles. Yael needed to win this race to complete her mission. Luka Lowe won the tour. This is a cross-continental bike race. This tour was high stakes for the characters and was important in determining the outcome.
  8. Hole Festival: Festival that welcomes the arrival of Spring. This was unique to the novel.
  9. Angel of Death: This was Dr. Geyer’s nickname, it holds a lot of irony for Yael. He performed experiment 85- melanin manipulation on Yael which resulted in his ability to skin shift.
  10. Reiniger: This is the secret leader of the resistance. The resistance leader was a symbol throughout the novel.
  11. Axis: The Third Reich and Imperial Japan make up the 2 empires of the Axis. In this alternative historical novels the Axis Powers win WWII. This is different than the historical version so its important to know to understand the moving players of the war.
  12. Ally Powers: This was made of Great Britain and Russia. This is different than the historical version so its important to know to understand the moving players of the war.
  13. Epitaph: A statement written in memory of a person who has passed away. Typically you see this on a tombstone. This was a word I came across I didn’t previously know so I thought it was good to note!
  14. Adele Wolf: She was the first female winner of the Axis Tour, which commemorated the Axis powers’ victory. She was a symbol for the Axis powers thus she encouraged the plot of the novel.
  15. Identity: This is a very broad term but is a theme you can see throughout the novel. Yael struggles with this when she forgets what her own face looks like since she skin shifts. We see this when the skin shifter was killed instead of Hitler. There are various instances in the novel where characters are struggling with their identity and this was encouraged by the writing of the author.

This novel was amazing! I would highly recommend! I couldn’t put it down!

Literary Listography

Books That Have Changed Me:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  3. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  4. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  5. When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  8. A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
  9. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
  10. Love Does by Bob Goff
  11. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  12. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  13. Lightning Thief series by Rick Riordan
  14. The Shack by William Paul Young
  15. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  16. The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  17. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  18. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  19. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  20. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
  21. Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish

Fictional Characters I Cannot Stand:

  1. Peeta from the Hunger Games series
  2. Kate from This is Us
  3. Rachel from Something Borrowed
  4. Bella Swan from the Twilight series
  5. Edward Cullen from the Twilight series
  6. Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series
  7. Cholly Breedlove form The Bluest Eye
  8. Daisy Buchanan from the Great Gatsby
  9. Miss Trunchbull from Matilda
  10. Jadis the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia series
  11. Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games series

Fictional Characters I’d Most Like to Meet:

  1. Hermione from the Harry Potter series
  2. Hagrid from the Harry Potter series
  3. Noah Calhoun from the Notebook
  4. Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars
  5. Anna Beth from Percy Jackson
  6. Mr. Tumus from Chronicles of Narnia
  7. Landon Carter from A Walk to Remember
  8. Gale from the Hunger Games
  9. Haymitch from the Hunger Games
  10. Severus Snape from the Hunger Games
  11. Robin Hood from Robin Hood

Week 5 Blog Post

It Doesn’t Matter that You Don’t Like the Book

This article was interesting in that it offered a perspective I don’t usually hear but it also reminded us of something we already knew. Kids LOVE to read what they want to read. Why discourage them reading books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid? or Captain Underpants?

I think occasionally people can get caught up with reading literary “masterpieces” or works with clout or novels praised for their intellect and challenging lessons. Especially being an English education student, there are many of my peers who push these novels and love to discuss the root meaning of the book, the approach of the author or what it this type of book can do for our future students. Of course there are novels like this I love and plan on bringing into my classroom, however, I think starting with books the kids show interest in is important as well. It doesn’t make you better than anyone, or them, for your interest in canon literary works compared to more causal modern books. Belittling books with the target audience being that of our future students does not help to encourage reading and instead creates an us vs. them mentality. If you don’t laugh at Professor Poopypants joke that’s on you. The article brings up statistics that shows these novels are gaining popularity and I think this is important when building a reading encouraged class or even thinking about what to include in your library.

This. article brings up a second really important point: mentor texts. These types of books, regardless of the template bring either a full length novels or magazines, students can learn from them if they’re reading. Students can learn so much from approachable books like the ones listed in the article. It shows students literature can be flexible and humorous. It can teach students the grammatical lessons we see in school in a different more enjoyable format. To ignore the idea that books like this don’t offer important lessons like this to students is foolish. Valuing any and all reading experiences is important for a supportive reading environment in a classroom and in my life. I completely and whole heartedly agree with every aspect of this article. One of the most important things I want to make sure students feel by me is encouraged, and this is such a great baseline to understand the power of that.

I think this article brings up good points about how to be a teacher who reads in a more subtle way. To be a teacher who reads you need to read yourself yes, but there’s so much more than that you can embody. You can read books that your students might show interest in. You can include books in your classroom that have a range of ability, genre, interest, age range etc. You have to encourage your students reading attempts of any kind and support the ways they choose to target reading. Being a teacher who reads you can take mentor texts and show students how much craft pages like this hold. You want to be on your student’s team and this article demonstrates how to do this in such a simple way.

Week 5 Book Project

15: Cartoon Squares

“Create a series of six drawings in six squares that shows a significant event in the novel. Under each picture or cartoon, write a few lines of explanation.”

I chose to complete this option because it incorporated more than just responding to the book but being able to put each scene into your own perspective. There is a creative angle to it but it gives the students enough creativity to create their own work while still having instructions to lean on. For example they can create which scenes they think are important or what characters they want to represent but they do have limitations on how many they need to pick.

I did my book project on Endangered by Eliot Schrefer.

Week 5 Activity: RL

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Reading Ladder Activity: Week 5

Reading Ladder’s allow the students to receive some guidance in selecting books after they start to enjoy reading enough to pursue it more on their own. Lesesne relates this idea to children who are picky eaters and only like grilled cheese, chicken fingers etc. Parents push children to try new foods like teachers should push students to broaden their book choices. No adults I know only eat chicken fingers and grilled cheese, they broadened their world and are better for it. Ladders take an area students show involvement with or passion towards and then you can help build them to the next level. After they choose one book and show interest the next selected book shows similar theme or idea but it more abstract or longer in length or a more challenging read. This is not a stringent ladder that has to be followed and students aren’t allowed to plateau or stay at one level longer if need be but it is a good guide to help them grow.

Grade Level: 9th grade

On the lowest rung of the ladder I could suggest Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. This is a rather short book but still deals with ideas that are complex enough for a ninth grader to stay involved with but easy enough to gain confidence in themselves and a place to build off of. I would base this off previous interest in this type of novel.

For the next rung I could suggest the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This novel is much longer in length and opens up the idea of a series if the student enjoys the novels. The words are still easy for the students to comprehend but it is more challenging than the previous novel. This is a very popular book among this age range which again may help build a student up and keep them interested in reading. This has more adult themes to it and it is a different genre than the previously selected novel. This can help grow the students base ideas of what dystopian action books are like and help them branch out.

The next book I might select would be the Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This book is similar in regard to genre as the first book. The student was able to branch out with the second book. But with this third book I would bring it back to a genre the student showed interest in since the complexity is building. This book would be more challenging to the reader as it is again longer than the previous and holds more complex language. This is also why I used a book in a series as the second rung. That way if a student needed to plateau or wasn’t ready for the next step they had another clear path to turn to. This book continues to build off the second one.

The final book I might choose would be Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. This is definitely a more challenging book and might require more books in between this and the previous rung but could be a possibility. This is again more complex. Although shorter in length, the language and complexity is much higher than the previous works. This is also an opportunity for you to open up a conversation about abandoning books and give the student more than one option to pursue. It is important to pick a novel that wouldn’t result in the student being too bored or frustrated. The previous selections have built up to this and have hopefully demonstrated techniques to help the student take charge in working through this top tier selection.

I like the idea of a reading ladder. This can really benefit the reader in staying within their ability while still setting goals and improving their individualized reading. This can also help with a teacher student relationship.

Week 3 Book Project: Listicle

What does it mean to be a teacher who reads?

As an educator we want to bring literature into the lives of our students and encourage them to make it a personal experience. Ever hear of the saying “monkey see monkey do”? My mom used to tell me all the time to watch what I did because my younger siblings would follow, monkey see monkey do. As a primary source of influence over young children’s literacy I encourage all teachers to make reading a priority for them. Have your students SEE you read. Have your students HEAR you read. Have your students UNDERSTAND what reading can do for them, for you and for others. Books and literature are powerful and it is important to not get caught up with the practicalities of it all. Make reading a priority in your classroom and you will see all that it can do. Here are five easy steps that break down what it truly means to be a teacher that reads.

“When the young see their teacher excited about books that include families and homes like the students’, they connect more deeply with themselves, with us, and with the text.”

Pat Mora
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1.Read alongside your students.

Often in class there is time for the students to read. Whether that is a free couple minutes here and there or designated time you as a teacher have set aside specifically for reading. It is an easy and simple thing to set in motion that you read whenever they read. This can give you a chance to broaden what you typically read. That is often a personal struggle of mine, getting caught I the the same genre over and over again. Reading WITH your students gives you the space to maybe read books you can suggest to them, or read something you think some students might have interest in. This shows the students that reading is important to you and it should be for them. This also gives meaning to what the students do, it doesn’t seem as trivial if you are also reading alongside them. Penny Kittle recommends various books you can start to read that would appeal to you and students in her book, Book Love. Another idea to show students how you are reading alongside them is dedicate a space in the class to show what books you have read and open dialogue with the students about how you are enjoying your book or not and why. You can keep a space on the white board “Miss Brown is currently reading: X, Y and Z.” This shows the students in another way that you are reading and allows them to look into the book if they’d like.

2.Importance of choice.

Giving your students a space to chose a book they think they would like and not one that is assigned is important. This allows the students to brainstorm and seek out their own interests and passions. This is a way to encourage your students to take charge of their own reading and show them that reading and literature can be an enjoyable and personal experience. Children are more likely to read something if they enjoy the material and can relate to the material. Middle schoolers typically drift for general themes.

“They want romance yes, but they also seek stories about sibling and other family attachments and books that explore love of friendships….and acceptance…students seek an understanding of themselves and others. Acceptance brings peace.”

Penny Kittle

Students want to feel a connection with what they’re reading just like most people. Themes like love, friendship, family, acceptance, humor, or historical stories. This is important to know when suggesting books for students or what to look for to include in your classroom library. You want your students to discover a love for books and you have the power to create a space for them to do that.

3. Build a classroom library.

Diversity enriches students and allows them to have a better grasp on their understanding of the world around them and all those different voices. This is yet another space for students to take charge in their own passions and desires for reading. This where you can show how your prioritize student agency, the students can create the library with you. You can again discover new authors and new novels you haven’t yet read from your students. Some successful ways is to create a class order list that has to go through your first, but it allows you to take note of what students are looking for and work to add to your library. Your library can include what Penny Kittle identifies as “human truths.” She encourages students to come in contact with themes that create empathy and knowledge for the students. To do this it helps to read stories of other people, to read titles that embody characteristics you see in yourself, read books that hold themes that they come in contact with. Having a diverse library gives your students better and easier access to books that may help encourage their literature journey.

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