Margin Notes

Guest Student Writer Paige J. Albert Recommends Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Nov
08

Lily and Dunkin is a beautifully crafted novel describing the unlikely friendship between two middle school students, a transgender girl and a bipolar boy. Lily Jo McGrother who wants nothing more than to gain her father’s approval and get the hormone blockers that will prevent her becoming the person she doesn’t want to be, is stuck in a war between wanting the approval of society including her father and being the young lady she really is.

Dunkin Dorfman who wants nothing more than to blend into the crowd at his new middle school and play for the basketball team with all the “cool” guys, is struggling to overcome the obstacles hurtled at him by his bipolar disorder and simultaneously attempting to escape the cruelty his illness has caused him in the past.

These two driven thirteen-year-olds will stop at nothing to obtain their goals, even when the storms in life are raging against them day and night. As their lives slowly intertwine, Lily and Dunkin begin to learn and prosper, for better or for worse, and slowly take steadier steps towards becoming who they really want to be.

Lily and Dunkin is a powerful and raw novel that trapped me between its pages and stayed with me long after the last page was turned. It had the recognizable passion displayed in books similar to R.J Palacio’s, Wonder and Ali Benjamin’s, The Thing About Jellyfish, each exhibiting similar inspirational characters that impact the world around them in one way or another. Lily and Dunkin could greatly change our generation’s view on the LGBTQ+ society (see also: George by Alex Gino) and boost awareness about certain mental health conditions frequently found in adults and children alike. I truly believe that Lily and Dunkin is a novel with the potential to make a difference (however slight it may be) in each of its readers lives and is definitely worth the time to read. At the end of the day, I’m not suggesting it, I’m prescribing it.

Bio:

Paige is a 13-year-old student at George Street Middle School in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Outside of school, Paige is involved in Highland dance and enjoys creative writing, drawing and spending time on her scooter. Paige is passionate about literature and is more than pleased to share her personal opinions on various novels so that other children like her can share in the joy of reading a good book.

The 19 Best Sentences of 2017

Nov
05

Slate posted The 19 Best Sentences of 2017,  which in itself is extremely helpful to anyone looking for interesting sentences to share in sentence studies and mini-lessons. I think this list can be used in a variety of ways:

* Share some or all of the sentences on the list with students and discuss what criteria may have been used to determine that these sentences are, in fact, the best.

* Invite students to name the sentence on the list they would consider “the best of the best” and cite the reasons for their choice.

* Invite students to nominate sentences from their own reading that will be considered for The Best Sentences of the Year or The Best Sentences of the Semester. Determine selection criteria and select which nominated sentences will make the final list.

Congratulations!

Nov
01

Michelle Wuest and Krista deMolitor, you are the lucky winners for the month of October for #ASDWReads!  We will have a shiny new book in your hands, ASAP:)

To be entered into the draw for November, simply post a picture of a book you have read and use the hashtag #ASDWReads on Twitter.  Happy reading and tweeting!

Guest Writer Lindsay Perez Recommends Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Nov
01

The books in our classroom libraries can become valuable teaching tools to be used to create a culturally responsive classroom where students feel included and represented. If you’re looking to add to your classroom library, Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan is a book to add to your collection.

Amina and Soojin have been best friends since elementary school. Now in middle school, they face the difficulties of fitting in, merging new and old friendships and staying true to their families’ culture.  A complication arises when Soojin starts to hang around with Emily, Amina’s nemesis.  Soojin soon wants to change her name to something more American sounding and this ignites jealousy and confusion in Amina. Things are changing too quickly for Amina and she is not sure what to do. The only thing Amina is sure of is her love of singing and playing the piano but she is shy and never has had the confidence to do in public. It is not until the local mosque and Islamic Community Center is vandalized that Amina finds her voice and confidence by helping to rebuild the mosque and unite the community.

Readers can connect with Amina’s journey through middle school during the struggles and triumphs she faces while staying true to her friends, culture and family. Readers will learn about Pakistani and Korean culture, and the similar experiences all children and families face no matter who they are or where they come from.

Bio:

Lindsay Perez is a guest blogger for Margin Notes who teaches Grade 6 Language Arts at Nashwaaksis Middle school in Fredericton New Brunswick. She is married with two young children Kai (4) and Myla (3).

NY Times Article of the Day

Oct
29

Finding current and engaging articles can be a challenge, which is why the NY Times Article of the Day column is such a fantastic resource.

Here is their description of the site: “Every weekday we choose an important or interesting news or feature story to become our Article of the Day, then write a quick series of questions and activities designed to help students both understand the piece and connect it to their own lives. Each edition has suggestions for engaging students before they read, comprehension and critical thinking questions to support them as they go, and ideas for taking the topic further when they’re done.”

Topics range from science to sports to current events to video games and the activities offered are designed to spark critical thinking and discussion.

Craft Studio: For Those About to Rock: A Road Map to Being in a Band by Dave Bidini

Oct
25

What I Was Reading

You may know Dave Bidini from his career in music with Rheostatics and now Bidiniband, or you may know him as the author of Tropic of Hockey or Writing Gordon Lightfoot: The Man, the Music, and the World in 1972 (among other titles). For Those About to Rock combines Bidini’s passion for music with his skill as a writer. It is a combination of memoir, music history, and advice to aspiring musicians.

In the chapter, “The Myth of Making It,” Bidini explains, “There’s no rock-and-roll blueprint. It’s not like studying a manual and learning how to build a Battlebot. You can’t diagram it and watch it come to life.” Instead of a how-to manual, For Those About to Rock is a roadmap. When I opened the book to check out the Table of Contents, I appreciated how it was organized:

Introduction

Let There Be Rock

The Mythology of Making It

And the Fickle Fruit of Fame

A Very Slow Hand

Your First Instrument

Playing in a Travelin’ Band (more…)

Taste Test

Oct
23

The Takeout is a goldmine for food lovers. The feature, Taste Test, is an excellent source of mentor texts. Each article analyses and rates a food that ranges from everyday fare to the exotic and/or outrageously priced. These short articles can be used by students as mentors to write their own versions about foods they love (or don’t). Also, they are brief enough to use in mini-lessons and contain excellent examples of description, word choice, and sentence variety.

Craft Studio: I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You by David Chariandy

Oct
18

What I Was Reading

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You is a letter written by David Chariandy to his daughter a decade after they were faced with a racist comment on an outing together. The author had taken his then 3-year-old on an outing and was confronted by a woman who told them “I was born here. I belong here.” After a decade of reflection, he writes to his daughter about it, opening with:

“Once, when you were three, we made a trip out for lunch. We bussed west in our city, to one of those grocery-store buffets serving the type of food my own parents would scorn. Those over-priced organics laid out thinly in brushed-steel trays, the glass sneeze guard just high enough for you, dearest daughter, to dip your head beneath it in assessing, suspiciously, the ‘browned rice’ and ‘free-range carrots.’ And in that moment, I could imagine myself a father long beyond the grasp of history, and now caring for his loved one through kale, and quinoa, and a soda boasting ‘real cane sugar.’”

What Moves I Notice the Writer Making

These opening lines immediately set the tone as a letter written by a father to his daughter. The first words, “Once, when you were three…” introduce the memory of a shared experience from a decade prior and the author recreates the event through details that his daughter might not remember because of her age. This serves a second purpose, which is to bring the reader into the event and establish the context for why the letter has been written. He refers to her directly, as “you” and “dearest daughter” creating a tone of intimacy. I felt the authenticity in the message. The writing is heartfelt and honest.

Possibilities for Writers

* Describe a vivid memory of an event you shared with someone by writing directly to that person about the experience.

* Consider options for the kinds of writing that might have an increased impact if they are addressed directly to the audience.

* Revise a draft in your notebook by rewriting it to address your intended audience.

* Find examples of other places where the writer directs their message to the audience and reflect on the impact of this craft choice.

Object Lessons

Oct
16

Object Lessons is a series of essays “about the hidden lives of ordinary things, from combinations to incarnations, sincerities to solutions” published online by The Atlantic. These essays are fascinating combinations of history, analysis, commentary, and personal narrative. They would be terrific mentor texts for writers delving into explanatory writing that focuses on why or how something came to be or how something works.

Book Relay 2018-19

Oct
12

This year, 40 educators are participating in our Book Relay.  In teams of 5, readers will read and circulate a collection of titles.  We took pictures of their stacks before mailing them out.

Grades 6-8:

BR 1

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