The Struggles of Writer Wannabes by Paola M. and Amy C. (6th grade)
(Kellee’s note: These girls are already writers, not wannabes, but they titled their piece, so I didn’t want to change it.)
So, you want to be a writer? Truth is, it’s not as easy as it seems. Take it from two author wannabes. We could come up with the greatest ideas, but as soon as we pick up the pencil or or place our hands on the keyboard we realize we have nothing to write! And this is only one example of the struggles authors go through every day.
Coming Up with Story Ideas
Everyone comes up with ideas differently. You could be riding your bike when an idea about talking dogs talking over the wold hits you. But honestly the real problem isn’t how you come up with your ideas, it’s actually coming up with them.
If we’re being completely honest here, a big problem that writers like us have is coping with the planning stages of writing our stories. Now, I know you must be confused. What does planning have to do with coming up with ideas? Answer: Absolutely everything! Planning is basically thinking about the basic elements of your story (like theme and characters). What makes it especially difficult to deal with is the fact that you need to have everything ready to write. Which means you need to be able to explain your ideas off the bat if someone asks for your synopsis (that’s a fancy word for summary).
Another problem we have while coming up with our ideas is second-guessing ourselves. We keep questioning what we’ve written because we get nervous about what other people might think of our story or we start thinking about whether or not this is relevant to the story. Problems like these, fellow writers, is what causes writer’s block.
Ah, writer’s block. Don’t take it personally but nobody likes you. Currently, we’re dealing with this mess which makes writing (very) hard. You’d think writing about writer’s block while having writer’s block (wow that’s a tongue twister) would make things easier for us. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Writer’s block is pretty self explanatory. It’s when a writer can’t come up with new ideas or doesn’t know what to write next in his or her story. The problem about writer’s block is that no matter how hard you try you CANNOT come up with anything. You have to do something else to occupy your mind and get the creative juices flowing. The good thing is that while you’re doing chores (or anything else, for that matter) you can get some pretty amazing ideas. But sometimes doing something else can just be distracting.
We can’t wait for the live action Mulan movie (that has no songs whatsoever) to come out!!! Oops! Wrong blog post… As you can see from our totally off topic starter sentence, we’ll be talking about some distractions that get writers off their game.
One thing that distracts aspiring authors from writing is the Internet. People can get so distracted with videos, social media, Netflix, games, and researching stuff for their books they forget about the most important thing: WRITING!!! This happens most often when you write on the computer. You can be searching something up real quick and come across an article that is interesting enough to keep you off task.
Procrastination plays a HUGE part here. Procrastination is the act of avoiding something. So basically when writers procrastinate they try to delay or avoid writing. Procrastination is a pretty big problem because we get absolutely no work done. And if you ever want to publish something… well let’s just say you can’t show an unfinished story to a publisher.
This is probably a very weird one but too much noise, or even no noise at all, can distract writers. If there’s too much noise some writers won’t be able to concentrate. But if there’s no noise at all it can make some writers weary and unable to focus on their writing. Distractions can also cause another problem: A hiccup in time management.
Not Having Enough Time to Write
As we have previously mentioned, distractions can cause many problems. Like time management problems. Sometimes writers just can’t find enough time to sit down and actually write.
For us the biggest problem is having so much school work to finish. For others it might be actually having to go to work. Whatever the reason, may it be homework, your job, having to run errands or see family members, it’s hard to set apart some time to do what you love, which is (hopefully) writing. The worst part? If you have no time to write, then you probably have no time to edit.
Revising and Editing
Editing and revising are such a pain! And it gets even worse when you have no time to write. The problem is that it’s necessary. You need to edit and revise some parts of your story to get the best results for your book. Sometimes you need to cut out whole chapters or just fix a word to improve your story.
Editing and revising is a multi-step process. You need to know what you need to change and then you have to have the time and patience to actually edit and revise your story. We usually dedicate a couple hours to a day of editing and revising, so that we can get most of that work off our to-do lists. But as we have said countless times before: People do things differently. And getting over these writing struggles is yet another example of that.
From not being able to cook up some new ideas to not being able to write about those ideas, we have talked about some of the most painful struggles that we, as writers, go through every day. All of these things are hard to overcome and sometimes we might want to give up (Please don’t). In the end, though, this is all part of the story-making process and we kind of have to learn to deal with it.
Thank you to my wonderful students, Paola and Amy, for sharing your hilarious and thought-provoking reflections on being a kid writer!
Daring Dreamers Club #1: Milla Takes Charge
Author: Erin Soderberg
Illustrator: Anoosha Syed
Published June 5th, 2018 by Random House
Summary: When you follow your dreams, the possibilities are endless!
Milla loves nothing more than imagining grand adventures in the great wide somewhere, just like Belle. She dreams of traveling the world and writing about her incredible discoveries. Unfortunately, there is nothing pretend about the fifth-grade overnight and Milla’s fear that her moms won’t let her go.
Enter Piper, Mariana, Zahra, and Ruby. Together with Milla, they form the Daring Dreamers Club and become best friends. But can they help Milla believe she’s ready for this real grand adventure?
Diverse, talented, and smart–these five girls found each other because they all had one thing in common: big dreams. Touching on everyday dramas and the ups and downs of friendship, this series will enchant all readers who are princesses at heart.
About the Creators:
ERIN SODERBERG lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, three adventure-loving kids, and a mischievous Goldendoodle named Wally. Before becoming an author, she was a children’s book editor and a cookie inventor and worked for Nickelodeon. She has written many books for young readers, including the Quirks and Puppy Pirates series. Visit her online at erinsoderberg.com.
ANOOSHA SYED is a Pakistani illustrator & character designer for animation. She received her BFA in illustration at Ceruleum: Ecole d’arts Visuels in Switzerland, and now lives in Canada. Visit her online at anooshasyed.com.
“Though core issues of identity, independence, and teamwork ground the novel, Disney Princess devotees will likely be the most charmed. —Publishers Weekly
“I cannot wait to “hear” the stories of all the other girls! Brava Erin SD for kicking off a new series for the younger MG set! Positive messages for kids! —Goodreads Praise
“Young readers will be able to relate to the story, there is a positive message, and the characters provide a model of friendship, showing how friends work together and support on another. Loved meeting these girls!” —Goodreads Praise
Review: I know that at first this book may seem like a book that only Disney or Princess lovers would like, but it is so much more than that! So please do not judge this book by that idea! Instead you will find a story about girls who find a deep friendship within each other after being placed in a group at school together. With the guidance of an amazing educator, they look deep within themselves and join as a group while still celebrating their individuality.
Now, as someone who DOES love Disney and Disney princesses, I loved the angle that this book took! After the first assignment by their group teacher, the girls are asked to write about a princess who they connect with. Milla and her friends are using the strengths of the princesses as inspiration to build their own strengths. For example, Milla feels like her life is very sheltered, and she loves to write, so she finds inspiration in Belle. Ruby, who is athletic and prides herself in her strength, first struggles to connect with a princess but then she realizes that Mulan is a person that is very much who she would like to be. And each girl does her own reflection (written in her own words in a journal format).
This first book focuses on Milla, but we get to know all the girls through the inclusion of the journals and from Milla’s point of view. I assume that future books will also be in different points of view to allow readers to get to know more in depth each of the characters. I look forward to future books to see where Piper, Milla, Mariana, Ruby, Zahra and Ms. Bancroft go next!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I love Ms. Bancroft! And I think that how she had the girls introduce themselves and her first assignment that she gave the Daring Dreamers Club would be wonderful activities in a classroom:
- “I’d love for each of you to introduce yourself and share one of your big dreams.”
- “I want each of you to think of a princess you connect with or feel inspired by and explain why. Dig deep and really think about your answer.”
Since each of the girls’ answers are shared in the book, they would be a great thing to share as well.
In addition, this book is going to be LOVED by realistic fiction fans! I cannot wait to share it with my students.
- Which of the five main characters do you connect with the most?
- If you had to choose a princess you connect with, who would you choose?
- Do you think Milla went about getting her moms to trust her correctly?
- How does Ms. Bancroft inspire the girls? How is she different than the last music teacher?
- What is one of your big dreams?
Flagged Passages: “Milla loved reading and writing just about anything, but there was nothing she enjoyed more than creating adventures for herself. In Milla’s stories, she was always a brave hero without fears or worries of any kind. One of the things Milla most loved about writing was that she was totally in charge and got to make all the decisions about what would happen on her adventures. The only limitation was her imagination, and her imagination was vast.” (p. 6)
Read This If You Love: Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin, Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson, Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski
Disney’s Dream Big, Princess–Be a Champion Campaign:
**Thank you to Sydney at Penguin Random House for providing a copy for review!**
Edwin C.’s Book Wish (7th grade)
I’ve never seen a book with a motive or change like this: I want it to be your typical protagonist and they have to stop someone. The author makes the protagonist look all nice and like they are the one doing the right thing then suddenly the protagonist shares their true intentions and they show they are actually the antagonist. And the antagonist is actually the protagonist. I think this would make a very interesting story, and the big plot twist would drag someone into the book.
Alejandro S.’s Book Wishes (8th grade)
- One of my book wishes is for there to be more teenager reincarnation into a fantasy world where they are strong and smart enough to survive.
- Another one of my book wishes is for there to be books where a person is transported inside a game and the game turns into real life.
- Kellee’s note: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde would fit this wish!
- I wish there were books about surviving in a fantasy world as the main character has to purge the demon king and has to keep his power a secret to stay safe.
- I wish there was a book about a main character who starts out weak in a fantasy world then unlocks a secret power which allows them to grow stronger at a faster pace and they have to save the world from chaos.
- I wish there was a book with a main character who is a dragon who has to deal with monsters and humans.
Lucas D.’s Book Wishes (8th grade)
- I wish there were more books about a kid who has it rough and only basketball helps him ignore it.
- Kellee’s note: Slam by Walter Dean Myers would fit this wish!
- I wish a book existed about a kid who rules the school but a simple mistake ruins his whole career in basketball.
- A wish for me is for there to be about a book where there’s two kids left on Earth, and there are clues on how to live.
- Another wish is for a book about a man who is hard working and dedicated to going to the NBA but ends up playing in the G-league, so he’s now nonstop training to make his dream come true.
- I wish there was a book about a struggling kid who has nothing to live for and no one to help him in life or school, but when he picks up a basketball, everything changes.
Christian U.’s Book Wishes (8th grade)
- I would like a book like Rescued by Eliot Schrefer but from the ape’s point of view. Many books are from the primate’s owner’s POV, and it would be interesting if one would accurately describe the behavior of an ape in real world situations.
- I would like a book about a chair that holds secrets from WWII that could potentially stop WWIII from happening.
- I would like a book about the life of an abused child because it can show how hard one’s life can get and the hardships they face and how they overcome it.
- Kellee’s note: A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer would fit this wish!
- I would like a book about the hardships Black Americans face today. This information can help show readers what it is like and potentially stop racism, discrimination, and other hardships.
- Kellee’s note: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Tyler Johnson was Here by Jay Coles, and more would fit this wish!
- I would like a book about an utopian community that seems perfect but the main character is facing many hardships. Readers would relate to hardships when everything seems perfect.
Lizzie S.’s Book Wishes (6th grade)
- I wish there were more books about:
- Middle schoolers discovering their sexuality.
- Camp life.
- Sexual assault survivors.
- Funny things little kids say.
- The struggle of being a woman.
- Dying coral reef.
- Women becoming themselves.
- Endangered species.
- Characters who are enemies and the narratives alternate.
Sarah H.’s Book Wishes (8th grade)
I want more books that talk about LBGTQ+ in middle school because middle school is already hard and questioning your sexuality doesn’t make it easier. Reading about people/characters in the same situation help push you in the right path. More books like that will help kids/students feel less alone and find people who are facing the same problems or thinking the same questions they are.
Estela R.’s and Ashley F.’s Book Wishes (8th grade)
- Here are some ideas for books that Estela and Ashley wish existed:
- Tabitha is just a normal 17 year old girl, except for the fact that she goes to Gloria Steinem School of the Arts, a Performing and Visual Arts School. During junior year she sees her dad die in a car crash, so she becomes a foster child of one of the most popular stars on Earth, Gavin DiCaprio, the son of Leonardo DiCaprio.
- Lilia is in her senior year at Jackson High School in Prescott, Arizona. In 8th grade, her best friend, Justin, moved to a boarding school in England. He suddenly comes back for senior year and although Lilia remembers him, he has no clue who she is. She plays it off like they never met before; however, at a party, she goes into his room with him, and she sees all these pictures of her and him when they were little.
- Every year teens from 13-18 go to a camp. They each get put into 4 different groups: cliste (smart), athletau (athletic), terreux (down to earth), and dirigeants (leaders). Bellamy and his sister, Maxwell, go to a camp where they have to take three official tests with their group to survive and not get illuminated (which means death).
- Lee was a “normal” 8th grader, but his life changes when he gets stuck in his favorite horror movie “Skin.” He meets the main character, Victoria, and they have to work together to kill Skin for Lee to be able to go home.
- Casey and Maisy are internet best friends. They have bonded for months over shows, movies, and more! They Facetime and text everyday until Casey gets into a coma, and Maisy has to figure out why she’s not texting anymore. Then she wants to somehow get to her.
Kim J.’s and Serine M.’s Book Wish
- Here is an idea for a book that Kim and Serine wish existed:
- The story is based off of a kidnapping. The main character has to be kidnapped to save others. What if she fails? But the world needs to change, and she’s the only one that can do it.
- Main character: Adelyn Wyer
- Friends: Julie, Kalia, Angelica
- Other characters: Calyn, Wybie, Mr. Smelly, Doodle, Pete
- Parents: Alex Wyer, Melissa Cargener
- The story is based off of a kidnapping. The main character has to be kidnapped to save others. What if she fails? But the world needs to change, and she’s the only one that can do it.
Thank you to my wonderful students, Edwin, Alejandro, Lucas, Christian, Lizzie, Sarah, Estela, Ashley, Kim, and Serine, for all their wishes and ideas!
Reading Non-Fiction Books Are Not as Horrible as You Might Think! by Lorenza M. (7th grade)
At the beginning of the year, Mrs. Moye announced that our next unit would include reading an informational non-fiction book. I was a little disappointed because in my mind non-fiction meant huge, boring books that my dad likes to read. However, I was proven wrong.
Our first task was to choose the book we wanted to read. We had countless books to pick from that covered a vast variety of topics. I’ve always been interested in medicine and the human body, so I chose The Book of Blood.
In the weeks to come, I became obsessed with my book. I learned more from reading that book than any anatomy lesson I’ve ever had in science. I also made it my life’s goal to tell all my friends and teachers the nastiest facts about blood.
Our final project for the unit, after we finished our books, was to created a presentation about the topic we learned. From watching my peers’ presentation, I learned about plenty of topics I had no knowledge about, and it was super fun sharing what I’d learned with my class.
Reading a non-fiction book taught me never to judge a book by its genre, and neither should you! The book I read for this unit was one of the best and most resourceful books I’ve ever read, and I plan to continue reading non-fiction books even if I don’t have to.
Dos and Don’ts When Picking Out a Book by Clara A. (8th grade)
- DO get out of your comfort zone!
- Reading different genres exposes you to different situations, types of characters, and points of view. Plus, you won’t know if you like a certain genre if you have never tried it.
- DO ask someone for recommendations.
- There are many books in the world. You won’t read them all, so ask for help. Your friends probably know great books that you’ve never heard of.
- DO read the next book of the series as soon as possible.
- If you read the 2nd book of the series a long time after reading the 1st book, it may be very confusing if you don’t remember the 1st book.
- DON’T judge a book by its cover!
- While the saying may be cliche, it is true. Saying a book is bad because it looks bad is similar to saying a jacket does not keep you warm just because it has a bad design on the front. It just isn’t right!
- DON’T not read a book just because you don’t know the author.
- If you don’t read Long Way Down because you don’t know Jason Reynolds, then you are missing out on a great book. And that is just one example. There are many authors you don’t know that have great books.
- DON’T judge a book by its movie.
- There are so many great books with horrible movies (ex. City of Ember). Many directors have to change the book’s details, and this ends up making the movie worse than the book! Trust me, books are always better than the movie!
If You Liked… by Tulsi M. and Stanley T. (8th grade)
- If you like Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, you’ll love The Young Elites by Marie Lu.
- If you like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, you’ll love Warcross by Marie Lu.
- If you like Scythe by Neal Shusterman, you’ll love Renegades by Marissa Meyer.
- If you like Rescued by Eliot Schrefer, you’ll love Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby.
- If you like Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan, you’ll love Magnus Chase by Rick Riordan.
- If you like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, you’ll love Dear Martin by Nic Stone.
- If you like the movie Tarzan, you’ll love Rescued by Eliot Schrefer.
- If you like the movie 9/11, you’ll love The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner.
- If you like the T.V. show Steven Universe, you’ll love Upside Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Emily Jenkins, and Lauren Myracle.
- If you like the T.V. show Star Wars: The Clone Wars, you’ll love Star Wars: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston.
Thank you to my wonderful students, Lorenza, Clara, Tulsi, and Stanley, for sharing your advice!
In continuing the reflections shared on Friday, here are some students’ reflection posts on taking Advanced Reading with me:
Favorite Activities in Mrs. Moye’s Class by Daniel U. and Ian B. (6th grade)
Book Trailers: We made a whole presentation about a book we read […]
In continuing the reflections shared on Friday, here are some students’ reflection posts on taking Advanced Reading with me:
Favorite Activities in Mrs. Moye’s Class by Daniel U. and Ian B. (6th grade)
- Book Trailers: We made a whole presentation about a book we read and liked. Mrs. Moye gave us recommendations of where to make the presentations and helped us prepare to type our ideas and thoughts about the books. We also added images and music, and we presented it to the class. It was a fun experience making the presentation and watching all of them and learning about new books.
- In-Class Book Clubs: Mrs. Moye gave us a choice of what book we wanted to read with a group then set up dates for our book club meetings where we talk about the book. In between meetings, we write questions to discuss with our group. This was great because you get to socialize and get to read a great book and discuss it with others.
- Passion Research Project: We made a presentation about a topic that connected to Rescued, the book we read. We used different websites to get our information that we turn into a presentation with images. Then we presented it to the class who jotted down facts and new things that they learned from each presentation.
- Affixes: We learned how to use different word parts such as prefixes, suffixes and roots, and how to use them to define unknown words by breaking down words. This makes passages easier because the different meanings of word parts help us understand words that we may not know. When we break them down while reading, we can figure the passage out.
- Novel Study: We read Rescued by Eliot Schrefer as a class, answered questions about the book, and we did focus questions every week while we were reading. Then we went on a field trip to the Center for Great Apes!
Why I Decided to Stay in Advanced Reading for Three Years by Maria N. (8th grade)
I decided to stay in Mrs. Moye’s class for all three years of middle school because not only is it a great learning experience, but it is also fun. Mrs. Moye’s class has taught me things that I didn’t learn in other classes and that made me feel very smart. Word parts were also a need to know in her class, and they helped so much when I didn’t know a word on tests. Her class was also fun because we got to laugh, smile, and cry over amazing books. I made friends that I will forever be thankful for. I not only made great friends, but these friends like books just like I do. Mrs. Moye gave us many book options that my friends and I could read, including reading the same book if we wanted to or we could read books that are completely different. So many options. I am so thankful for Mrs. Moye’s class.
Why I Decided to Join This Class in 8th Grade by Haruna R. (8th grade)
I decided to join this class because I heard a lot of good things about it. When I heard that it was about reading books, I got more interested in it. I also knew a lot of my friends were in it, and they told me there are so many books to read. When I first came into the class, all I saw was books. I saw so many series that I love, and we got to check out books with no specific due date. Mrs. Moye is very flexible about turning in and grading work. She also makes the class fun. I like to read books as a class and in book clubs. We also had a field trip to The Center for Great Apes which was a great experience, and we could connect the book we read to the field trip. Mrs. Moye has read so many books, so whenever I read a book, I could talk to her about it. I could also ask questions about the book. Mrs. Moye also recommends books and talks about books she has read, so we can read it if we want. There is never a time when I ran out of books to read. Mrs. Moye encourages us to read and tells us about books that she enjoys. We use Goodreads to keep track of what we read and what we want to read. You can discover new books on the website, too, and can even narrow them down by genres. Overall, Mrs. Moye’s reading class has been wonderful, and I will miss it very much!
Why I Didn’t Leave Advanced Reading by Amanda C. (8th grade)
When I saw my schedule the summer before 7th grade, I was so upset to see that I was taking a reading class. I hated reading! It was boring, and there was never any good books to read. When the first day of school rolled around, I was dreading the very though of going to first period. I assumed that I was probably going to get assigned a whole book to finish by the end of the week. The teacher was probably mean, too. But I was wrong. Mrs. Moye turned out to be so sweet and had such a passion for reading. And no, I didn’t have to finish a book by the end of the week. In fact, Mrs. Moye let her students read whatever they wanted. She had a huge classroom library with every kind of book you could think of, including books even SHE hasn’t read yet. We got to do research projects, make book trailers, and we even had a debate unit! I had a lot more fun in her class than I thought I would. And while we did all of these things, the most important thing I did was find a love for reading. By loving to read, my vocabulary has gotten so much larger, and I’ve found some great friends through reading and the class. I’m going to miss walking into Mrs. Moye’s class every morning because her classroom is somewhere I feel safe and joyful. Thanks for everything, Mrs. Moye! <3
Thank you to my wonderful students, Daniel, Ian, Maria, Haruna, and Amanda, for sharing the joy you got from my class! I have the same joy teaching you all! XOXO
Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You
Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator: James E. Ransome
Published January 2nd, 2018 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Summary: You can be a King. Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall.
You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience.
Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King’s life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford’s poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives. See a class of young students as they begin a school project inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King’s example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world . . . to be a King.
“While the book is accessible as an inspiring primer on social justice and taking action, it also challenges more sophisticated readers to make connections between the art, the text, Dr. King’s life, the civil rights movement at large, and the continuing struggle to affect change . . .This book is sure to spark discussion and empower readers of all ages.” – Starred review, School Library Journal
“Thoughtful paintings of moving scenes are paired with brief, motivational reflections that evoke all the sentiment and fervor of the American civil rights movement.” – Foreword Review
“The book manages to make essential lessons in civic responsibility accessible to the very young reader.” – Booklist
“The historical scenes, painted in Ransome’s signature thick, saturated style, are infused with a powerful sense of narrative.” – Publishers Weekly
“The use of rich, realistic paintings with pencil detailing for King’s life contrasts with the brighter, simpler drawings for the contemporary children, giving a physical reminder that his work is ongoing.” – School Library Connection
Review: I am so happy that a book like this exists! It makes a beautiful connection between King’s history and how the same concepts can (and should!) drive us today. The book is very young kid friendly and is a great scaffold to talk about Dr. King or about kindness; however, it could also be used with older kids to infer and go deeper into the lyrical language Weatherford uses. I also loved how Ransome’s illustrations changed between King’s biography and the more contemporary school narrative.
P.S. As a teacher and a person who believes in kindness and equity and acceptance and friendship, I am so happy to see conversations like this happening so freely now! My students and I speak about injustice and prejudice and equity so often now when it would have been a stigma just a few years ago to even mention race or other social justice issues. It is important to talk about race in a non-prejudicial way with children to allow them to learn and grown and reflect. Sadly, it has been through horrific injustices that has gotten us to this point, but hopefully with our future generations having these types of conversations starting at such a young age, these injustices will stop.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Have students look at each school spread (or split up the spreads between groups of students) and ask them to connect the ideals happening in the spread with something that King spoke about. This idea can also be used with the King spreads because it does not explicitly state what historical event each spread is representing, so students could look through King’s story and try to match each illustration and words with an event in his life.
- What was Dr. King’s dream?
- What are some ways you can fulfill this dream?
- Although he was speaking of a much larger issue than a classroom, how can King’s ideals be transferred to how we treat each other in the classroom?
- What events of King’s life were portrayed in the illustrations?
- What other ways could you BE A KING?
- Why do you believe the author wrote this story?
- What is the author trying to teach the reader?
- How did the author structure the story to reach her purpose and theme?
Read This If You Love: Stories of MLK, Jr.’s life, Books (historical fiction or nonfiction) about the Civil Rights Movement, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Yesterday, I shared some words about my classroom after Parkland and how I am talking with my students about this tragedy because I think it is so important that we as teachers talk with our students about how to deal with the emotions they are feeling about Parkland. Today, I am going to share how my school chose to honor and mourn the Parkland victims.
I was so proud of my school for giving students the option to take part in the National School Walkout today that was organized by Empower, the Women’s March Youth Initiative. Thank you to our Student Government; their sponsor, Ms. Harriss; and our administration for setting up our walkout for today.
At 10:00am today, approximately 1,000 of our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders chose to walkout to mourn the 17 murdered in Parkland and to show solidarity against school violence.
I think any teacher that was worried about students not taking the walkout seriously were greatly surprised with the maturity and solidarity that our students showed. These thousand preteens and young teens were silent as we remembered the lives that were lost and to show we stand with our fellow Eagles of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.
After the music that signaled our time to enter the courtyard stopped, our principal and Student Government representatives spoke on the PA system about our purpose:
“The majority of those who died in the Parkland shooting were children, bright teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers and coaches who devoted their lives to helping their children fulfill their dreams.
This evening we will all go home and hug our families a little tighter. But there are families in Parkland who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans, as Eagles, and as fellow students. Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need, to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories, but also in ours.”
-Principal’s speech inspired by and adapted from President Obama’s address about Sandy Hook
Student Government representatives then took over:
“Let us remember the victims…
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, was a student at Stoneman Douglas and a soccer player for Parkland Travel Soccer. Lori Alhadeff, Alyssa’s mother, dropped her daughter off at school and said, “I love you.” When her mother heard about the shooting, she hustled to school, but was too late.
Scott Beigel, 35, was a geography teacher who was killed as he tried to usher students back into his classroom when the shooting broke out. One of his students said that he died saving her. “Mr. Beigel was my hero and he still will forever be my hero. I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom,” she said. “I am alive today because of him.”
Martin Duque Anguiano, 14 was a very funny kid, outgoing, and sometimes really quiet. He was sweet and caring and loved by all his family.
Nicholas Dworet, 17 was killed in the shooting, he had been recruited for the University of Indianapolis swim team and would have been an incoming freshman this fall.
Aaron Feis, 37, an assistant football coach, was killed when he threw himself in front of students to protect them from oncoming bullets. Mr. Feis, suffered a gunshot wound and died after he was rushed into surgery. “He died the same way he lived — he put himself second. He died a hero.”
Jaime Guttenberg, 14 was among the victims, according to a Facebook post by her father, Fred. “My heart is broken. Yesterday, Jennifer Bloom Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school. We lost our daughter and my son Jesse Guttenberg lost his sister.
Chris Hixon, 49 was the school’s athletic director — as an awesome husband, father and American, according to his widow Debra.
Luke Hoyer, 15 was an amazing individual. Always happy, always smiling. His smile was contagious, and so was his laugh.
Cara Loughran, 14 danced at the Drake School of Irish Dance in South Florida. “Cara was a beautiful soul and always had a smile on her face,”
Gina Montalto, 14 was a member of the winter guard on the school’s marching band.
Joaquin Oliver, 17 was born in Venezuela, moved to the United States when he was 3 and became a naturalized citizen in January 2017. His interests included football, basketball, the Venezuelan national soccer team, urban graffiti and hip-hop.
Alaina Petty’s, 14, family said she was vibrant and determined. She had volunteered after Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September. She was a part of the “Helping Hands” program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,and was also a member of the junior ROTC at her school.
Meadow Pollack, 18 had been accepted at Lynn University in Boca Raton. Meadow was a lovely young woman, who was full of energy.
Helena Ramsay, 17 was a smart, kind hearted, and thoughtful person. She was deeply loved and loved others even more so. Though she was some what reserved, she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies, and her soft warm demeanor brought the best out in all who knew her.
Alex Schachter, 14 participated in the school marching band and orchestra, playing baritone and trombone.
Carmen Schentrup, 16 was a National Merit Scholar semifinalist.
Peter Wang, 15 had been a member of the junior ROTC program, Friends said Peter was shot while holding a door open to let fellow classmates get to safety. Thousands of people have signed a White House petition asking for him to be buried with military honors. “His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens.”
We join together today, in this courtyard, to make a promise and a commitment to say NEVER AGAIN.”
-Information for list of victims taken from various CNN articles.
Student Government members then read some responses to the tragedy written by our students. I do not know the specific ones that the SGA chose to read, but here are some of, what I felt were, the most poignant responses our middle school students wrote in reflection of the tragedy:
Fear and guns have no place in schools. No kid should worry about going to school and not coming back. Those kids were just like us, they had their whole lives ahead of them. It is not fair for anyone to take that away. We can’t just sit around and wait for someone to take action, we have to stand up, for us and for those who lost their lives.If not us, then who? We HAVE to be the one we’ve been waiting for. We can never forget what happened, and we need to do everything in our power to not let it happen again. -L.M.
What a tragedy that has happened. School is supposed to be a safe place, but now some people are afraid to go to school. My prayers go out to the families who lost their loved ones that died too soon. This horrible event was so close to us it’s scary. All these shootings are happening it makes me wonder what this world has come to. Instead of just talking about it, we need to do something about it, because this could happen to us. We need to stand up against gun violence, and that is why we walk out today, for the 17 people that died in the Douglas High School shooting. -C.D.
What happened at Parkland High is a terrible tragedy that should’ve never happened. Students go to school to attain a education. Students go to school to hang out with their friends. Some students think of school as their “safe” place. If something bad happened or hard stuff is going on at home, some students go to school to escape that hardship and have some fun. School should be a safe place to go no matter what. You give 10 months of the year to go to this place for 7 hours a day to learn and socialize. You leave your family to come to this place. They will do anything to take care of their children and make sure they are safe. School is a place where they send their children as they believe it is or should be a safe place to go. I believe that the gun violence that has occurred recently needs to change. It is unacceptable. People are brought to the world for a reason and no one deserves to have to face that action that occurred on February 14. I personally knew a few people who went to that school and thankfully survived. Their stories are insane of how they did everything they could in their power to live that day. Gun laws should be stricter as that man should not have attained a gun. Background checks are greatly needed to see why that person needs a gun let along an AR-15. What the students have done so far to try to get stricter gun laws is amazing. Now the government needs to do more. Background checks need to happen. The lives of students, teachers, administrators, literally anyone should matter and no one deserves to have to go through that. -S.K.
This tragedy should not be taken lightly. This was to close to HCMS. We need to take charge of this and not let it happen again. We need to support them in every way possible. Many people lost friends sisters brothers. Gun violence needs to stop. My mom is a Kindergarten Teacher and the day she told me of this shooting she was in tears, She said “I should not have to teach 5 year old’s how to run or hide is someone is trying to shoot them.” I feel no kid or adult should have to go through a tragedy like this. They will have to keep this in their memory for a life time and its not fair for them. We need to speak out and make a change. A school shooting should not even be a possibility or something we have to worry about, Unfortunately it was a reality and it has happened enough that its time to stop and now we need to take a stand and stop this from happening! for Parkland and Hunter’s Creek GO EAGLES!! -A
I’m glad that this has woken us up. This shouldn’t be a problem. This should have never happened. People like this shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun and the fact that these weapons are so easily accessible isn’t helping. We need stricter gun control. Whats more important, the 2nd amendment or our lives? Most gun owners have guns to protect themselves from other guns. So many precious lives have been lost do to guns being in the wrong hands. Pulse, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Virginia Tech, Stoneman Douglas High, the list goes on. It upsets me that there is a list. It seems inhumane to have a list. There shouldn’t be a list. All of these victims should have been alive and living but some psychos ended those lives. Lives we will forever miss.
Ready to thrive.
They lay in a hospital bed.
With wrapped up wounds,
They will see the end soon.
One man with a gun
Ended all of their high school fun.
Even though our hearts are filled with sorrow,
Hopefully, it will bring no guns for tomorrow. -S.R.
I’m tired of all this violence on the world, and I feel we need stricter gun laws. There are some people that don’t understand how serious this is, they don’t understand the fact we can lose 17 young lives in only one day. Those people that pull the trigger wouldn’t be able to do it without a gun. This has to stop, all this violence is making the world worse. Today I pray for those who were affected at Parkland and I pray nothing like this keeps happening. -J.A.
The time is now to act on this. It doesn’t take a debate to determine that we should stop selling such dangerous guns. If we don’t, who will? -I.C.
Its sad that kids cant go to school without have to worry about getting killed or injured by other people because of their life problems. I feel sad for these parents who lost their children at school. Where they should be learning not dying. -J.M.
And there were so many more heartfelt, truly emotional responses that I was so proud of our students for writing.
The last two minutes of our walkout were spent listening to “We Are the World” played by our Chamber Orchestra.
When we returned to class, there was no way to easily transition back into the day, so I knew that we had to spend a moment. I was crying, they were crying…no one was going to get any learning at the moment. To help the transition, I took a couple of minutes to just talk about using our sadness to have courage to continue standing up for those who cannot. And to be okay with the sadness and anger they are feeling, but to hold onto it and remember to focus on taking those feelings and making them productive. I then said, “And we get to go on, but let’s cherish every day.”
This was one of the most emotional moments I have ever spent with my students, and the sadness, empathy, and anger that my students feel about this are real. They are the future, everyone, and they don’t like how the present is looking.
Teaching Tuesday on a Wednesday
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