Friday, November 18, 2011

Novels to Knowledge: Writing & Literature Through History (Middle Ages)

Wednesdays: 10:30am
Ages:  10-13
Travel back to the Middle Ages with some fantastic Newberry Winning books.  There are so many engaging, entertaining and educational historical fiction novels for this age group and over the years, Newberys have been awarded to the very best.  This semester we’ll be reading books with storylines from Medieval England, Poland and Korea …and they're all FANTASTIC stories:
Catherine, Called Birdy – 1290 (1995 Newbery Honor Book) – Unhappy about her impending, arranged marriage, 13 year old, Birdy, daughter of an English Nobleman, keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life. Birdy details a wealth of information about medieval England (it’s food, dress, religious beliefs, manners, health, medical practices, and (un)sanitary habits).  Kids LOVE this book!

Crispin, the Cross of Lead – 14th Century (2003 Newbery Winner) -Falsely accused of theft and murder, an orphaned peasant boy in fourteenth-century England flees his village and meets a larger-than-life juggler who holds a dangerous secret.

The Single Chard – 12th Century Korea (2002 Newbery Winner) -- A thirteen-year-old orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge in a potters' village, and longs to learn how to throw the delicate celadon ceramics himself.

The Door in the Wall – Middle Ages (1950 Newbery Winner) - A crippled boy in fourteenth-century England proves his courage and earns recognition from the King.

The Trumpeter of Krakow – 15th century Poland (1929 Newbery Winner) - A Polish family in the Middle Ages guards a great secret treasure and a boy's memory of an earlier trumpeter of Krakow makes it possible for him to save his father.  This one is a classic!

Reading, discussing and writing about these five novels will create a truly amazing literary and history experience for mature and focused 10-13 year old students eager to expand their analysis and essay writing skills.  For our class projects, we’ll be incorporating the "literary circles" approach -- where each student takes on a specific role (Character Analyst / Thematic Advisor / Summarizer / Historian / Passage Illuminator) for each novel. Over the course of the semester, students will write five 2-3 page essays related to their “role” for each book.  By the end of the semester, the class will have created a full-fledged book entitled “The Novels to Knowledge Guide to Historical Fiction (Middle Ages).”  (We’ll publish this as a paperback book and copies will be available for purchase.)  Take a look at last semester's class project book HERE!  Students will also participate in a variety of other creative writing activities to help them engage with these novels.  Because writing is one of the most important and essential skills a student can learn, we’ll be emphasizing the entire writing process – from planning through drafting and revision.  Writing well allows students to express their ideas, argue their opinions and demonstrate their knowledge.   As they write about these novels, students will go through the process of organizing, developing and clearly articulating their ideas -- an excellent way to learn about any subject.  We will look at essays together as a class so students can also learn about the reactions their writing elicits from others and offer helpful feedback to aid with the revision process.  This class will be a great opportunity to enjoy some wonderful novels and practice essential literary analysis and writing skills.

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