Thinking about Text Sets: Considering Time and Place

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Thinking about Text Sets: Considering Time and Place

by: Kerrigan Mahoney

If you ever dutifully memorized the definition of the setting of a novel as the time and place where the story happens, and never much thought about it again, well … you have much to look forward to! Setting is the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, the eerie chirps of crickets at twilight, the sensation of a pat on the back for a job well done; the sound of hope, the smell of fear, the chills of desperation. Time and place shape identity, experiences, and social and cultural norms: both for our students and in our books. Considering how time and place impact identity and shape actions can be a powerful bridge between students’ own lives and experiences and those of the characters in a book. Centuries can become seconds when you can stand next to your character and empathize with her.

These three books put time and place, front and center:

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, the Michael Printz Award winning novel for excellence in young adult literature, links together seven vignettes that unfold on the same Scandinavian island over the course of millennia. The sensory experience of the island itself, along with the mythology and peoples tied to this place bring together each vignette in captivating and visceral storytelling. This genre-defying book will provoke discussion on the nature of time and the congruency of the human experience among students and adults alike.

“Open Mike Fridays” in Mr. Ward’s English class bring together the students of Bronx Masquerade, Nikki Grimes much beloved Coretta Scott King Award winning novel. The first year copies of this book showed up in my classroom shelves I heard: when can I read that book? Hey, that looks like a book I actually want to read! My internal celebratory dance and accompanying whisper/shouting was immense, but I played it cool – and my students certainly took the bait. Each chapter in this story is told from the point of view of a different student in Mr. Ward’s English class along with accompanying poem shared at “Open Mike Friday.” The importance of classroom space itself and its power to help students learn through shared experiences in a positive and supportive environment cannot be undersold – in this book or your classroom.

“Where the best and brightest strive and shine and stairways lead right to cloud nine.” Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie is a celebratory picture book for all ages. The reader can dance, sing, stroll, study, and play through the masterful use of language and compelling illustrations that take us on a journey in Sugar Hill. An excellent book to think about how literary devices and figurative language can help to captivate readers; it also could be an excellent mentor text for students to write about their own neighborhood, school, classroom, time, or place that is important to them.

 

Questions to consider when thinking about setting:

  • How does the setting impact the plot, characters, or conflict?
  • In what ways does the setting evoke a sensory response?
  • How does a change in setting (or lack thereof) help to propel the story?
  • How does the combination of words and images shape your experience of the story?
  • How does the setting in this story relate to places you have been or settings you have experienced in other stories? How does this impact your understanding of the setting in this story?

 

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Meeting Nancy Wright Beasley

Last month at the Monroe Scholars Book Award Luncheon, SURN Executive Director Jan Rozzelle met Nancy Wright Beasley, author of Izzy’s Fire: Finding Humanity in the Holocaust. Beasley’s book tells the story of Jewish families who survived the Holocaust, going into hiding with the help of another family. It is a powerful story based on memoirs and personal interviews. An exhibit at the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond retells the story. Both the book and the exhibit are highly recommended!

N.W. Beasley

 

Diane Sweeney, Coming Soon!

SURN is pleased to have Diane Sweeney, author of Student Centered Coaching: A Guide for K-8 Coaches and Principals and Student-Centered Coaching at the Secondary Level, join us for our Leadership Academy this summer on June 22-23, 2015.

Diane has been a national education consultant since 1999.  She taught and coached in the Denver Public School system before serving as a program officer at the Public Education and Business Coalition in Denver.  She is a well-respected educator who focuses on coaching and professional development.

Student Centered Coaching: A Guide for K-8 Coaches and Principals (Corwin Press, 2010) focuses on school-based coaching designed to impact student learning.  Professional development should focus on how to best support teachers and collaborate with them in order to design successful and targeted instruction.  The book focuses on the critical role of principal in developing and sustaining a culture of learning.

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Student-Centered Coaching at the Secondary Level (Corwin Press, 2013) is the follow-up to Sweeney’s 2010 best-selling book and focuses on the principles and tools of student-centered coaching in order to meet the challenges in middle and high schools.  Coaching focused on the student can allow the coach to provide feedback that has a direct impact on student achievement.

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For more information on Diane, please visit www.dianesweeney.com.  For more information on SURN’s Leadership Academy and how to sign up, please visit our website for more information or email us surn@wm.edu.

Review of The Wrap-Up List

The Wrap-Up List is a great YA book told from the point of view of Gabriela.  Gabriela lives in a modern-day town where one percent of the fatalities happen in a very strange way, called “departing.”  Gabriela’s group of friends is fascinated with the concept, until Gabriela receives her own death letter.

The book has an interesting mystery to explore in this alternate world where Gabriela and her friends must deal with first loves, a country going to war, and the idea of dying so young.

I recommend this thoughtful and engaging book to readers in grades 7-12.

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National Library Week

Celebrate National Library Week in style with this fun new video!

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Please click on the image to watch the video

Review of Dear Teen Me

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Book review by Julie K. Marsh, Graduate Assistant

Dear Teen Me (DTM) caught me off guard in such a happy way.  I enjoy reading about writers and artists and the paths they took to where they are now.  DTM took this a step further by including advice from a group of young adult authors to their teenage selves.  The stories they share, some in narrative text and others in more visual ways, are about insecurities, first crushes, friendship, love, bullying, and everything in-between.

The letters range from heartbreaking to hilarious and truly give a glimpse into the authors’ young lives full of curiosity, passion, and teenage angst.  These glimpses offer the reader a way to hear the authors’ internal voices and the ways most of them were able to incorporate their early life trials into their creative work.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to both young and old.  I think young adults will welcome the experience of sharing their current thoughts and feelings with an adult who became a successful, creative person even though they experienced the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.  Adults will also enjoy the book and have the opportunity to reconnect with their younger selves in order to reflect on where they were and how far they have come in their own lives.  DTM truly was a wonderful reading experience, one I think we can all enjoy!

And the winner is…

It is official!  To Kill a Mockingbird is our winner!  Mindset came in second place and Chicka-chicka-boom-boom came in third place.

Thank you to everyone who voted!  We look forward to another March Reading Madness next year.

The Official Bracket Based On Your Input:

MRM March 31st

 

 Click to Zoom

More Information on the Books:

To Kill a Mockingbird

Mindset

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

 

March Reading Madness Finals

Time for the finals of March Reading Madness!

It is officially time to choose your favorite book!  SURN’s version of March Reading Madness has been so much fun, and we appreciate everyone who voted.  We need your votes one last time to choose first, second, and third place!  Please take a minute to vote, and be sure to share this with your friends, colleagues, and students.

Will your book win?  Check back next week for the results!

March Reading Madness Schedule:

March 24th – Semi-finals

March 31st – Final Championship

The Official Bracket Based On Your Input:

 MRM March 24th

Click to Zoom

How to Vote:

Please visit our Google form to vote.  It should only take about one minute—it is super quick! 

More Information on the Books:

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Mindset

To Kill a Mockingbird

MRM Quarter Finals

March Reading Madness is Heading into the Quarter Finals!

Your votes have been counted, and it is time for the quarter finals of March Reading Madness!  Thanks to everyone who has voted so far.  Let’s keep up with the reading madness by voting.  We are down to four fantastic books.  Check out the titles and make sure to vote!

Please also share this post with your friends, colleagues, and students.

March Reading Madness Schedule:

March 17th – Quarter Finals

March 24th – Semi-finals

March 31st – Final Championship

The Official Bracket Based On Your Input:

MRM March 17th

Click to Zoom

How to Vote:

Please visit our Google form to vote.  It should only take about one minute—it is super quick!

More Information on the Books:

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Mindset

To Kill a Mockingbird

MRM Round 3

The Winners Are In!  Time for Round 3!

Your votes have been counted, and it is time for round 3 of March Reading Madness!  It only takes a minute to vote for your favorite books.  The books with the top votes will move to the quarterfinals next week!  Please also share this post with your friends, colleagues, and students.

March Reading Madness Schedule:

March 10th – Round Three

March 17th – Quarter Finals

March 24th – Semi-finals

March 31st – Final Championship

The Official Bracket Based On Your Input:

MRM March 10th

Click to Zoom

How to Vote:

Please visit our Google form to vote.  It should only take about one minute—it is super quick!

More Information on the Books:

Ruth and the Green Book

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

The Book Whisperer

Teach Like a Pirate

Mindset

Papa’s Mechanical Fish

To Kill a Mockingbird