‘Looking for Alaska’ Discussion Questions

‘Looking for Alaska’ Discussion Questions

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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.

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.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

Reviews for Young Readers: A Bear Called Paddington

Reviews for Young Readers: A Bear Called Paddington

 

Hello and happy Thursday. I’m very excited to bring you this review because I think it can be the start of something fun in this blog. Basically, for reasons that I might explain in another post, I will be reading and reviewing books for young readers. By this, I mean even younger than middle grade, which is an age category I don’t tend to ever read. I want these reviews to be useful for adults who are in some way responsible for a child’s reading process, so I’ll be giving my input both as a reader and as a teacher.

Today I want to start with probably the cutest discovery of the year for me: A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond. I read this book between July 1st and July 4th, 2019 and gave it four stars. As a Colombian, I did not grow up with the figure of Paddington, and I actually only heard about him a few years ago when the movie was released. I have yet to watch the movie, but I expect to love it.

Paddington is a bear who got adopted by the Brown family and who makes an adventure out of every activity, no matter how mundane. I think his books are a great addition to an elementary classroom because the stories are very simple and they are about a family’s everyday life. Besides the tiny little detail of having a bear who talks, reads, writes, and wears proper human clothes, the story is pretty relatable. I would recommend it for children who are dealing with a new sibling or who are trying to understand the process of adoption or being moved to a new family.

The book is divided by chapters but really every chapter is a separate story. You might want to start with chapter one, though, because that one is the story of how the Browns found Paddington and how he got his name. Other than that, you don’t need to read the other chapters in any particular order. I think these stories could be great for a read-aloud, especially for kids who might deem picture books as too simple for them. This is also great for independent reading because it has the most adorable illustrations.

One thing I will say is that you must keep in mind that this book was written over sixty years ago. There is no language that could be considered offensive nowadays, but on two occasions I did notice the use of the words “policeman” and “fireman.” That’s antiquated, in my opinion, and I always use gender-neutral language with my students. Other than that, I found the books to be pretty harmless for young readers.

Have you read A Bear Called Paddington? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

“Moana” Teacher Review and Movie Study

“Moana” Teacher Review and Movie Study

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Hello and happy Saturday. I recently watched Moana because apparently I’d been living under a rock and had missed out on that wonderful production by Disney. Of course, I watched it with teacher eyes, which means I constantly thought about ways to incorporate this movie into my classes, or rather ways to plan a lesson that revolves around Moana. I think this movie is relevant in many aspects, which makes it perfect of teachers of any grade to work with.

As a preschool teacher, I immediately thought of how cool it would be to work on a whole science unit that revolves around Moana. The way it presents nature and the sea as this characters that are always there, and the way it shows the damage humans have done to them is so clear that I think it can get little kids to reflect about our environment and come up with ideas to save it. Obviously the movie is a whole metaphor, but it’s a great one.

Now, I love the cultural aspect of this movie because it shows us that there are people who think and live different than us, and that Greek or Latin myths are just two examples of the way in which people thought about their origins. I’m already thinking how cool it would be to do a project on the whole Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures, or to encourage children to explore different groups of people, based on their mythology. I think one of the conclusions they’d reach is that we are not that different from one another, even if we have different lifestyles and belief systems.

Finally, for older students, I would work on female empowerment. I would encourage students to analyze the movie and look for examples where Moana was empowered and them some others that are a portrayal of sexism. I would have them think and write about how they think the story would’ve gone had the main character been a man, and just have them reflect on the importance of movies for young children portraying strong women as main characters, as opposed to princesses who became worthy by marrying a prince they’d just met.

I’m obviously writing all these ideas in the hopes of making them a reality one day, or inspiring someone to do so. I also made this movie study that’s on my TpT store and you can check out by clicking here. I don’t want to make any promises, but I’ll try to make more movie and book studies and have them in my store.

What other movies should I make worksheets or activity sets for? Let me know!

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila