The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (an entertaining and educational look at life in Civil War America); The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (a "turn of the century" look at life in Texas as a young girl explores naturalism and Darwin's Origin of Species); Moon Over Manifest (the 2011 Newbery winner that focuses on life in a small Kansas town during WWI and the Great Depression); The Watsons Go to Birmingham (a hilarious book that deals sensitively with civil rights); and The Wednesday Wars (which focuses on a 7th grade boy in the 1960s New York, coming to grip with the issues of his day THROUGH Shakespeare -- yes, this was my favorite!). For each of these novels, the students took on one of five roles (Historian, Character Analyst, Summarizer, Thematic Adviser or Passage Illuminator), switching for each novel, so that by the time the course was completed, everyone had a chance at each role. They wrote an essay for each novel, based on their role and presented it to the class to help spark our discussion. Along the way, they learned a lot about writing, history and literary analysis and this book (which contains all the essays, creative writing and drawings they did for their work on these novels) is a fitting tribute to all their efforts. I couldn't be prouder of these kids!
If you'd like to see a preview of their Guidebook, it's Available HERE!