Hello and happy Sunday. A few months ago, when my brief time as a high school teacher was ending, I was given the list of assigned readings for the following year and saw that ninth graders would have to read Looking for Alaska by John Green. Now, if you’ve followed this blog for a while, more specifically the bookish posts, then you know that I’ve read John Green’s books and collaborations before and that I really like his style. That being said, given that I was teaching English language learners, I wasn’t sure how much they would actually understand and enjoy from studying a John Green novel at school.
I was a bit conflicted about the choice the school had made because, like I said, at a personal level, I’ve really enjoyed John Green’s books, but as a teacher I didn’t know if Looking for Alaska was a good fit for ninth graders with an intermediate level of English. Then again, the reader in me was curious to explore this novel, so I decided to give it a chance and in a way “test” how much I could profit from it at a pedagogical level, if that makes any sense.
It was clear to me that a traditional novel study like the ones I’ve done before wouldn’t work for a novel like Looking for Alaska. I thought that by doing that, the true essence of the author’s writing would get lost and students were just going to approach the novel in an “academic” way. I decided, though, to approach this novel in a more relaxed, conversational way, and that led me to creating a set of Discussion Questions.
I like to think of this resource as a companion to the novel; I want teachers to consult it as they read the book in preparation for their classes. I want them to annotate the book and to insert the questions as they’re reading, so that they can be asked in class at the appropriate moments. To me, what this product will do is help both the teacher and the students to study the novel by talking about it, rather than through quizzes or, like I said, more traditional resources, which I’ve also created for other books.
As always, if you get this product and use it in your lessons, let me know what you did and especially what you thought about it. Also, if you have any requests for studies or any other type of resource I could create around a book or a movie, tell me about them in the comments.
Love, Miss Camila