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Surviving the Applewhites: A Novel Study

posted Feb 26, 2018, 1:45 AM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Feb 26, 2018, 1:45 AM ]
For the month of March, the sixth graders will be working only with Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan as part of a mini-novel study unit. Surviving the Applewhites is a wonderful story about personal identity, growth, and transformation that can be enjoyed by students on many levels. It is the story of two teenagers that come from very different backgrounds who both struggle with their identities for different reasons. Through the course of their story, both have their identities challenged and changed. I like this novel because it holds a deep message for students: Find your talent. Our talents play a defining role in our identities. Some of us find it early, but others sometimes take a lifetime. Ms. Tolan's book is about the search for our talent and the joy of living a life that nurtures it.  

We have been reading this novel on and off since the beginning of the school year, but we still have about half of it to finish. That second half of the novel will be our focus for this unit. The first three weeks of March, we will be reading the novel and doing a combination of vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and reading skill practice tasks related to the novel. The students will also be completing writing response activities based on the events of the book. The first of these will be to write a dialogue that is only inferred in the novel. It is a great exercise in characterization and creativity.

The real work begins in week four when students begin their final project. This will be to create a website that summarizes and introduces the characters, settings, and themes of this book. Their work will be unveiled at the ASLA Expo in April. A later post will detail this assignment more.