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In Search of the Novel
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eight workshops

ten novels
ten novelists
the teachers
about the project



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[Teacher-talknovel] (no subject)

From: Randi K <>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2012 17:33:32 -0500

*3/13/12 *

*Workshop #6: What’s in it for Me? *

How do we keep students engaged? One of our jobs is to take students from
“have to read,” to “want to read.”

* *

One teacher in this workshop discussed a unit out of which the class had
just emerged, a unit on “making choices.” She tied in “Flowers for Algernon
because it asks students to question the characters’ motives and to
identify with where the character is. She said that, although the main
character’s story is not one which they likely have lived, the emotions and
the conflicts are familiar with places they may have been at some point in
their lives.

* *

The culminating assignment for this novel was the class later completing
body maps, using quotes from the book, phrases, and words pulled from the
text and which support the idea of the character’s development (the early
Charlie and the later Charlie).

* *

I found an interesting connection between early Charlie/later Charlie and
students reading the novel. The teacher points out that they share some of
those decisions: Being smart…how to show it, when, and where and when,
where and how NOT to show it. I work with a very economically and racially
diverse group of students at my school. One of the things that students
struggle with is NOT appearing smart in front of certain students. It is a
phenomenon I did not see when I was in school. That being said, any extreme
was ammunition to a degree…for example the extremely bright student who was
the stereotypical “nerd” was always vulnerable to teenage judgment, as was
the opposite extreme. But it was not a sweeping generalization that smart
was bad. I have been disappointed in recent years to see this idea
perpetuated among students.

This workshop delved into how to create compelling lessons which help
students identify with characters and to empathize with them in their
situations. There were good examples of students using text to defend their
assertions about a character or characters, including the body map, which I
have seen used very effectively in classrooms where students needed the
freedom to express their ideas graphically or visually and not simply in

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants
happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do
other creatures.
Dalai Lama*

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Received on Tue Mar 20 2012 - 08:36:30 EDT

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