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Dystopian Book Clubs

Dystopian Book Clubs

1 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Unit 3 – Dystopian Book Clubs January

Welcome to the Unit

In this unit you push your readers toward deep comprehension from the get-go through the study of dystopian texts in clubs. Additionally, there will be a new strand of focus on literary terms, analysis and critique. And finally, you’ll continue emphasizing (or re-invigorate) volume, stamina, and voracious reading. While at first glance this may seem like a lot to accomplish in one unit, there are ways of putting these elements together that will actually help make accomplishing all these goals much more manageable.

Reading and dystopian series gets kids into highly engaging, complicated , which have a rich literary history stemming back to Tolkien and Orwell. In this unit, you will hook your students into reading in your classroom through the they are most likely to have picked up over their summer vacations, have tucked into their backpacks and beside their beds at home.

There are many reasons that adolescents are so drawn to this genre. Perhaps chief amongst them is what Laurence Yep has said, “Fantasy is closer to our emotional realities than realistic .” That is, sometimes walking down the school hallway feels like so much more than just walking down the school hallway. It can feel much more like battling an all-powerful wizard or a malevolent -state. Fantasy, and one sub-genre of it, dystopian fantasy, can often carry the gravitas of our students’ emotional realities in a way no other type of text can. Adolescents see their lives and their struggles as one and the same as the heroes and heroines who go on quests and wage impossible battles.

The literary traditions of dystopian literature are inherently complex. There is complexity to the other worlds, themes and symbols, and archetypal characters readers will find, no matter what the reading level. It is also one of the most read by teens and adults for pleasure. Because so many teen readers find dystopian novels fascinating, and there is so much contemporary cultural support for this tradition, you may be able to lead some of your strong readers successfully into classic and contemporary texts more geared for adults as well. The reader who loves Suzanne Collins is well-poised on a trajectory towards , , or .

Though there is a great deal of between readers of fantasy, , and dystopia, this unit particularly is aimed toward reading dystopian novels -- novels where something has terribly wrong, whether it’s a government breakdown or environmental disaster, and now the characters have to survive in the world they have inherited. You may find it challenging to find dystopian novels below level U or so -- the vast majority are clustered in the XYZ band of text complexity. If most of your readers are reading below this level, you might instead decide to use the 6th grade fantasy write-up.

Again and again the TCRWP has found that the best way to deepen thinking and increase engagement, while also quickly forging relationships in the classroom is to read in the company of others. In this unit you will set students up to read in clubs. Knowing that book resources vary, recommend a couple of different club configurations. The first, and perhaps most common and familiar, are book clubs, with each member reading the same books at the same time. Another option, which will be discussed at more length later in this write-up, is to have students reading

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2 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs different texts, but organized around a similar or concept. This option works best in classrooms where there are not enough copies of each title on offer to support ‘same book’ clubs.

The work in this unit is anchored by several short stories that include both older, classic stories and modern texts. One of the short stories you might choose, “All Summer In a Day” by Ray Bradbury, will also be the basis for some core student work in Literary Essays from Units of Study in Argument, Information and Writing, which might be the parallel or subsequent writing unit of study. We also recommend that students read dystopian books in clubs so that students are driving themselves and their classmates to continue to turn the pages and push themselves to comprehend every labyrinthine nook and cranny of the texts.

As a note, we expect to announce the publication of this unit in a Units of Study book in late fall 2017, in time to teach this unit with the support of the book. At this time there is no definitive date for publication, therefore we are including this curricular calendar. If for any reason you choose to teach this unit sooner than January, and need to rely on this write-up rather than the book, you should know that we stand by the teaching in this calendar. Teachers have used this calendar for several years with great success and, in fact, the work schools have done with it has informed the development of the Units of Study book.


Essential Questions:

• Bend I: Readers make sense of strange worlds and consider their relationship to historical or contemporary societies How can I use strategies from reading other genres in order to make sense of imaginary, often complicated worlds? In what ways does my understanding of these worlds affect underlying ideas the text is highlighting—ideas that might also offer insights or critiques of my own world? • Bend II: Deepening thematic analysis What are ways I can look at themes that live in each of the texts that I read? How can I trace not only the themes across the text, but the details which support each theme? • Bend III: Comparing and contrasting thematic development across texts What are ways I can see how themes travel across texts?? How can I be sure that with each subsequent text I read, I strengthen my reading by compounding my understanding with the themes from all the texts that came before it? • Bend IV: Analyzing literary traditions How does noticing some traditional literary techniques, themes and that I see playing out in the stories I have read help strengthen my understanding of those stories? How can seeing those same patterns in my life and in world events help me make sense of them as well?

Anchor Texts:

• “All Summer in A Day” by Ray Bradbury • “” by Kij Johnson (http://www.tor.com/2010/11/17/ponies/) as a possible alternative anchor text • “Harrison Bergeron” by • First chapter of or and the film clip

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3 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

There is a lot of engagement, comprehension, talk and literary know-how tucked into this one unit. In order to accomplish it all, this unit is designed to be taught with four bends, each bend building on the work of its predecessor. Each bend contains a mix of read aloud, minilessons, independent reading, club talk and literary centers. We imagine that while students will daily read the texts they are discussing with their clubs, they only need to meet to talk with their clubs two to three times a week. We imagine that this unit will take approximately twenty sessions, with perhaps an additional day or two at the end for a celebration. Each bend will run roughly a week and a half and be made up of similar methods of instruction and student work opportunities.

We can imagine most of the bends will begin with a read aloud—most likely from one of the anchor texts that will figure largely in the teaching of the unit. After the read aloud each week, if your time with your students is short, students might simply go off and apply some of what they learned during the read aloud to their independent reading. If the time is longer, students might have an opportunity to meet with and talk with their club members. Over the next three days, the workshop time will be launched by a quick minilesson giving explicit strategies students can apply right away to their dystopian and fantasy reading. Students will spend the bulk of their time reading, with some time set aside to have discussions with clubs. On the last day of each bend, the workshop could start with literary centers. These literary centers will be a way for students to learn about and work with the fascinating content of literary terms and traditions. It is a chance to offer more literary content in an engaging format, giving all students access to key concepts in small, rotating groups. Students will move through a different center each bend so that by the end of the unit they will have rotated through each one at least once. Each bend might look something like this:

Day One Day Two Day Three Day Four Day Five

· Read Aloud: · Minilesson · Minilesson · Minilesson · Literary Anchor text with · Students · Students · Students centers whole class independently independently independently (optional) conversation read their club read their club read their club · Students · Students texts texts texts independently independently · Students meet · If students were · Students meet read their club read their club with clubs able to meet with with clubs texts texts clubs on day one, · If time, students they might meet can meet with here and not days clubs 2 & 3

In the first bend, students will be immersing themselves, head first, into the genre, as they learn how to navigate the strange world of their dystopian stories. The read aloud of your anchor text will set the stage and the expectations for the work to come. In this bend, you’ll help your students develop or refine skills in handling harder literature. Some of the things that kids will encounter in most dystopian texts (in fact, in most texts at U and above) include settings and problems that don’t themselves immediately and require some inferring, multiple problems and lines, complicated and contradictory characters, and unusual timelines. It can be incredibly powerful for kids to know that this kind of complexity is coming, and to have some strategies in their back pockets to handle those elements. Instead of feeling like they have mysteriously become less competent, kids will know that they are simply learning to do harder work as readers. You could end this first bend with introducing kids to literary centers—an activity they could revisit

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4 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs throughout subsequent bends.

In the second and third bends, students will move into an intensive study of theme. First looking toward singular themes in one book, then looking to see how one book can in fact contain a multitude of themes. This work is exhilarating in any type of text, but so much more so in dystopian books when so much of what they are is allegorical. Students will lean heavily on their clubs, now, no matter how they begun, reading novels in each other’s company. In their clubs they will question, note, and trace themes that cut across texts—arguing which themes are most vital, which are more common across the most texts.

In the final bend in this unit students will pull together all they have done across the unit so far in read aloud, their minilessons, their independent reading, and book talk with what has been a through line throughout the unit. In their literary centers throughout the unit, students will be exploring common literary terms associated with dystopian texts, such as archetypes, allusions, and suspension of disbelief. Now, in this final bend, students will see how those literary traditions feed and are fed by the work around interpretation and theme. Students will also see how knowing about these literary traditions can help them read other non-dystopian texts, experience media (such as music and television) and even see patterns in their own life.

To end the unit, we encourage students to spend a day or two celebrating their expertise in this genre by holding literary salons. Students can sign up to lead or join round table discussions about their books, using the language of literary analysis and critique. In this way students will practice some of the high minded literary conversation in small groups that will be a more regular part of their classroom experience once they leave middle school.

CCSS/LS Standards Addressed in this Unit

(The below standards are the major reading literature standards addressed in this unit. However, the unit will also include work with other standards [e.g. Speaking and Listening standards and Foundational Standards.])

• R.L. 8.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. • R.L. 8.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, , and plot; provide an objective summary of the text. • R.L. 8.3 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the , reveal aspects of a or provoke a decision. • R.L. 8.7 Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film) • R.L. 8.9 Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from , traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new.

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5 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Getting Ready

As you prepare to teach this new unit in reading workshop, there are a few tips you might find helpful:

• Familiarize (or refresh!) yourself with the essential structures of middle school reading laid out in the Overview • Organize your library to highlight favorite dystopian texts • Plan anchor texts and responses • Prepare to set up clubs during the unit

Familiarize yourself with essential structures laid out in overview

For those who are new to teaching reading workshop, the TCRWP Overview of Middle School Reading and Writing 2017-18 makes explicit suggestions about how you balance your time in reading workshop across a series of days that launch each bend with read aloud and then shared reading, followed by multiple days devoted to independent reading. It also provides detailed information about matching middle school readers to books, teaching students to choose books wisely and monitor their comprehension, establishing the habit of recording data in reading logs, providing students with practice making transitions from one part of the reading workshop to another, and so on. Putting essential structures in place is essential to ensuring that the workshop flows smoothly and that students have the most reading time possible. We highly encourage you to spend a bit of time at the start of the year establishing these important structures—and if things are getting loose at this point in the year, a new unit is a great chance to refresh or revise these structures.

Organize your library to highlight dystopian texts

We hope you prepare for the unit by looking at the dystopian books you have available and consolidating them. It also might help to do book talks about the most popular young adult dystopian and fantasy series and novels so that students who have these books as home can bring them in. Encourage them to get books from the library, to buy used books, to trade books. You’ll have to adjust your recommendations to make sure you are recommending books that match the reading levels in your classes. In general, some of the most popular books of this type include:


Spiderwick Chronicles Naruto No Safety in Numbers The Hunger Games Dragon Keepers Narnia The Finisher Divergent Scream Street Deltora Quest The City of Ember Among the Hidden The Zombie Chasers Empty City Uglies The Big Dark The 5th Wave Cinder Forest of Hands and Teeth An Ember in the

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6 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Ashes Maze Runner Matched

Although your teaching will emphasize increasingly challenging comprehension work, throughout the whole unit, kids will be engaged in one consistent habit: reading, reading, and reading. It’s crucial that students continue to move up reading levels, and the way to accomplish that is for them to read a tremendous amount. You will want to provide as close to 30-40 minutes of reading time as you can in class during reading workshop, and to require students to dedicate the same amount of time to reading at home. If students read at about a page per minute (usually this is a reasonable benchmark for reading rate), you’d expect students to read minimally 300 pages per week, not including the weekends! The number of books you’d expect students to read a week is different according to the levels of the books in their hands, the length of those books, and the rate at which students are reading. For example, readers in Levels N/O/P/Q should expect to read two to three books per week. You will especially want to encourage readers at these lower levels to read a lot as they need to accelerate their growth; in Levels R/S/T, they’ll read from one to two per week, depending on the length of the book, and at levels U and above, depending on the length, at least a book a week. In all cases, they’ll be reading a lot—and this matters more than anything else in their reading lives.

Plan anchor texts and responses

When preparing for this unit, you will likely want to familiarize yourself with the suggested anchor texts or choose a few of your own. The texts featured in this write-up we chose because many teachers have them readily available and we know from working with them in countless classrooms that they offer a strong combination of dystopian literary quality, student interest and the ability to be mined again and again. You might not love them, or simply not be able to get access to them. If that’s the case, you will probably still want to have at least 3 anchor texts to use throughout the unit that contain similar characteristics. You might also want to consider the type of responses to these texts, perhaps even creating a few models at various levels so you have a clear vision of what you’re expecting and hoping for from your students. At the end of each bend we ask students to do some writing about reading and to use these pieces as self-assessments which will help propel their reading work forward. Having a few models of this work has proven invaluable for teachers who collected them ahead of time.

Alongside the anchor texts, you may also want to collect short video clips for whole class and small group work. Some teachers find it engaging to show a few trailers or clips of popular dystopian movies, such as those from Hunger Games or Divergent, because these brief clips vividly demonstrate the importance of setting and in dystopian stories, and can illustrate the challenges readers (and viewers!) face as they acclimate to these strange worlds.

Prepare to set up clubs during the unit

Many teachers believe that there are huge advantages to having students read in book clubs. Students have real reasons to write, talk, interpret and argue when there are peers involved. In fact, in the adult world, book clubs are now more popular than ever, driving more readers to read and be social at the same time. (See, “Really, You’re Not in a Book Club?” article from The New York

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7 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/opinion/sunday/really-youre-not-in-a-book- club.html?_r=0) Typically we waited until a little later in the year to suggest launching the classroom into book clubs. But it has come to our attention that more and more of you were launching clubs earlier and earlier in the year, formally and informally. It makes a lot of sense. So many of our students have been members of book clubs for years, so holding off on launching book clubs and immersing them in all of the benefits that come with them, doesn’t seem as necessary as before.

That said, we also acknowledge that there are some logistical challenges that can come with book clubs. Make kids part of the solution to these challenges. Show them how to buy used books (you can order for them to save shipping), trade books, use the library, and download digital e-books. Ideally you will have enough books, or can encourage kids to get two or three books in a series if possible. Encourage kids to get texts themselves. They need to know how to find and get books. They’ll be able to write in them, they’re more likely to keep getting books after they leave middle school, and they’ll join the club of people who feed their own reading lives.

Clubs are an ideal time for small group work. Since students are naturally grouped according to interest, skills or reading levels, there are already some commonalities between the students. This makes it an ideal opportunity to make sure small group work is happening on an almost daily basis without feeling as if it’s forced. We encourage you to pull up a chair with clubs on a regular basis to listen in, coach conversations and give quick tips, as well as perhaps offering book introductions and heavier explicit teaching. Ideas for small group teaching are sprinkled throughout this write-up.

Prepare for literary centers

Centers have figured prominently in the RWP’s work around content area, as well as during test prep. Centers are a powerful method of instruction which allows for intensive content and skill knowledge while also maximizing student collaboration and independence. This year we are offering centers for the study of literature and the study of informational texts—they will be available on Treasure Chest. They are not grade-specific, so coordinate with your department colleagues so that there is not complete overlap in materials year over year (though of course repeating these experiences will not be bad!) Typically, centers are organized in baskets or some other receptacle (in some cases, this might be a cluster of laptops or a desktop computer), spread around the room. Students go to a center with a small group of other students. At each center there is a task card, which lets students know the work they can do at that center. Any additional materials are also provided. Students typically rotate through centers so that by the end of a set time period (a few weeks, a few days of a period) they will have visited most if not all of the centers.

Centers are a highly engaging way to dump a lot of content or skill knowledge in a short amount of time, while also freeing the teacher up to do focused small group work or coaching into the content. For this unit we are imagining using the centers as a method for helping students to learn about and apply dystopian and fantasy literary terms and traditions. You, of course, might want to create and plan your own centers, or decide that structuring this kind of work very differently makes the most sense for your classes.

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It is likely that your readers come to you demonstrating a wide range of performance levels in reading. It is crucial to utilize multiple measures of assessment to determine what they are ready to work on—what will help them grow in the most effective ways. You know something about your readers from the first two units—your analysis of their reading records and reading responses will have given you insights into students’ preferences, their reading habits, and their level of independent analysis. You will want to continue tracking these components of students’ reading lives through a number of ongoing assessment methods throughout this unit.

In book assessment—an on-the-run quick assessment

There will be some students (or potentially many, depending on where you are teaching) who are reading well below the expected level. If this is the case, you will want to be aware of these students’ reading levels, so that you can guide their reading choices to the top of their independent reading abilities and also tailor your conferences and small group instruction to work that will help them move up levels quickly. Often, you can assess readers right in the book they are reading—ask a reader to read you a page aloud, and notice the reader’s intonation and accuracy. If all is well, ask the reader to tell you a bit about how what is happening in the book right now builds on what came before. For students reading below level P, you may also decide that the TCRWP running records assessment or another such assessment (Fountas & Pinnell or DRA) will be a good choice for this group of students, to give you a reliable reading level and track growth over time. If most of your readers are reading below level T/U, you may decide that putting a focus on dystopian novels will be hard to make work and you could decide to instead use the 6th grade fantasy reading unit write- up. Though students may have done a fantasy unit two years ago, they will have been reading very different texts at that time, and will have a different experience. It’s generally much easier to find a lot of engaging, well-written fantasy novels at lower reading levels than it is to find dystopian novels at these levels.

Assessing reading habits

We encourage you to also assess your entire class for their reading habits, continually. Look for red flags as you scan the room each day. These flags represent situations that you might see in your classroom—not individual children. They are a way to triage the class, thinking through the work that the majority of the class needs, and needs now. You may see that some students take forever to choose books, or that others are letting one partner do all the talking. You may find that readers are letting their reading logs drop, because they need significant reasons and time to reflect. Look for strong habits as well, so you can highlight habits that lead to success.

Performance assessment using written reading response

As the unit progresses, you might also want to do a very simple initial performance assessment, using writing about reading to assess. You and your colleagues may want to agree upon a read- aloud text to use in such an assessment—something very short, so that it is possible to read it and ask students to respond all in the space of a single class period. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, is an example. To implement this kind of quick in-class performance assessment, have students write on loose-leaf paper, so you can collect their responses. Plan stopping places in the text, and

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9 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs prompts, so that every teacher reads to the pre-determined spot, then prompts students to stop and jot in ways that show what they have gleaned from the text about the dystopian setting. You’ll want to be sure to ask kids to write just a short response, rather than a full essay. Though these questions could certainly prompt many hours of great discussion, in this case you’ll want to encourage kids to give just a brief response. Some examples of prompts that address specific standards for eighth grade (using the example of “The Lottery”):

• How is the setting used to symbolize central feelings or issues in the story? What makes the description of this setting so powerful? • “The Lottery” suggests various meanings, ideas, or themes. Explain how the story develops one theme or idea, including evidence from the story that supports your interpretation. • The title “The Lottery” has more than one meaning for the story. Consider what the word represents and the significance of the term in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

The advantage of students responding this way to the same text is that you and they can compare responses, making a progression of increasingly text-based, sophisticated responses. Your teaching for the unit and for your small groups and conferences can also become much more responsive based on what you gather from this assessment.

Bend I: Readers Make Sense of Strange Worlds and their Relationship

to Historical and Contemporary Societies

Bend I, Session One: Anchor experience

You might recall from last year’s reading curricular calendars that each unit contained an anchor experience—often a read aloud of a text that students study deeply, which becomes a touchstone for much of the work in the unit. The anchor text for this part of the unit, and one you could conceivably return to for almost any dystopian lesson you would want to teach, is Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day,” which is available online, and as an audio release. Ray Bradbury wrote this story in 1954, and it was originally published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Some of you work in schools that still refer to Lexile levels—its Lexile level is 860, which reflects Bradbury’s restrained style but which doesn’t begin to capture the story’s complexity or its place in cultural literacy. Taking into account the content of the story, we’d put the story in a band of text complexity of UVW. Its thematic complexity, nuance, and connotative use of language has won awards, inspired dissertations, and informed cultural allusions (for example when Oscar Wao, in Junot Diaz’s award-winning , remarks, on how it’s awful to “be left out of adolescence, sort of like getting locked in the closet on Venus when the sun appears for the first time.”) There is also an oddly gripping 28 minute film version available as well, made by the BBC and captured on YouTube. (If you decide to use the film, you might want to save the film for when you return to this story in Bend Three).

If you decide you want to use a different anchor text for this bend, a great alternative is the story “Ponies” by Kij Johnson, found at http://www.tor.com/2010/11/17/ponies/. There is a suggested read aloud plan for this story in the Appendix.

To get students started doing some of the reading work you’ll be highlighting in this unit, we suggest that you start with a read aloud where, with some gentle nudges from you, students are

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10 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs guided to notice ideas. For example, you might preface a reading by suggesting that as readers take in the story, they also be mindful of the subtle details the author uses to suggest how the setting is unusual. As students talk about what they’ve noticed with partners or in their clubs, you’ll listen for ways to give a bit of instant and specific instructional feedback. The key thing to aim for in today’s read aloud work is setting up the idea in read aloud and whole class discussions that the students are doing most of the talking and thinking work. When a student makes an insightful comment, or simply gestures toward a comment that could become insightful, you will likely want to use lots of nods and other cues that this is exactly what you expect from eight graders. When students comment on each other’s ideas or ask questions of each other, we know they are getting the hang of it. This is something students have had some experience with in years past, but likely not this early in the year. We might want to facilitate this talk with a seating arrangement that is conducive to discussion (such as a circle of chairs, or students gathered in the class meeting areas) as well as trying to make sure the words we’re speaking, outside of reading aloud the text, are as few as possible.

Remember as you coach into students’ work that you won’t be worrying whether students grasp the full meaning of the text on day one as they’ll be returning to it many times over the course of the unit. Also, be prepared for some awkward silences and not helpful comments. Even though you will have leapt into this read aloud assuming competence, students will likely be rusty with their skills. Many educators believe it is so much better to use this first session to get a sense of what they can do with minimal involvement, and add scaffolds as needed later than to start with lots of teacher talk and scaffolds which the students don’t actually need and actually impede their agency.

As your set students up to listen in particular ways while you read the story, remember also you are trying to teach them ways to read any story. Your invitations and prompts need to apply not only to Bradbury’s story, but to transfer to any story, whether it is a or a novel. Thus, an essential part of today’s instruction is to highlight and name the reading strategies that are replicable in other fiction, while also embedding them in this text. You might therefore, keep repeating phrases such as, “This will really pay off in the books you are reading…” or “The work you are doing here is work you will do often when you read fiction…”

Session One’s shared experience aims to teach students that readers often pay close attention to the setting in their stories, analyzing what makes it unusual and significant. You’ll focus students on this inquiry question: How does this master writer, Ray Bradbury, create a setting that is unusual and significant in the story?

In the shared experience, you’ll focus students to assume that details matter, and you’ll lead them through steps of describing the setting, analyzing what’s unusual about it, considering how the author laid out details and which details are suggestive, and think a little about how the setting affects the characters. Your instruction has a light touch on this day, as students will come back to the text in upcoming days.

See the Appendix below for a marked up version of “All Summer in a Day,” with a text introduction and possible prompts, modeling, questioning, and feedback. Ideally, you will have a bit of time at the end of the period for kids to pick up their independent reading books and transfer what they did today to those books, but if you don’t have that time today, there will be time tomorrow.

Today’s read aloud work will help kids realize that authors do things on purpose when they write, and that one reason authors create settings and bring out specific details about the settings is to

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11 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs highlight what’s unusual about this place, including its atmosphere and as well as its physical details. Here, students will read in the company of others in order to look more closely at moments in the story that seem especially suggestive of deeper meanings.

“Today I want to teach you that when readers are reading dystopian and fantasy stories, stories, where the world of the story is specifically created to help show a theme or message, they take the beginning of the story analytically, almost reading the characters and setting with a sense of suspicion. “What is this setting? Who are these characters? Why are they significant?”

In these sessions, you will want to have copies of the story for the students, and, if possible, a copy of the story projected. This can be an opportunity to more explicitly teach by demonstration. Giving them access to the text at this point is crucial, as you will want them finding and citing specific places in the text to support their analysis in their discussions with you and with each other. Many students will naturally start to move toward inter-textual work (between the anchor text and their club text) as they read.

Bend I, Session Two: Analyzing mood and tone

In this session, students will analyze mood and tone. Depending on students’ reading levels and their depth of interpretive understanding of text, this work might need to be more explicit. In part this is because, many people, especially adolescents, are great at identifying tone and mood, but not so good at analyzing it—that is, describing how they know what the tone and mood is, the work the author did to make that mood clear, and the role the tone and mood plays in the world of the story.

If you have planned to use video clips in this unit, now would be a perfect time to tap one. You could part of the trailer for Divergent, or any other dystopian film clip you have on hand that clearly creates a mood. You might then set up students to do an inquiry of what the tone and mood of the clip is. Does it change? What do the filmmakers do so that the viewer can pick up the tone and mood? You might chart, or better yet, have a student chart the class discoveries. Then, go back and annotate the work they did as viewers to make those discoveries. Finally, create a brand new chart that shows the transference of those skills. They could look something like this:

Tone and Mood in Divergent Trailer

• At the beginning it seems calm. Everything is bright. There’s . The music is calm. People’s faces seem calm. The mood feels calm. • Then, the music starts to pick up. There are some cold grey buildings. Faces look worried and stern. It starts to feel a little nervous. People are asking questions. • The music starts to go faster. The situations start to look more dangerous. There is more darkness, but there’s also light, it’s just too bright. Faces look stressed. There are fast movements. The mood feels frantic and suspenseful and dark.

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12 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Work we did as dystopian and fantasy movie viewers that we can do as readers in order to analyze tone and mood:

• We studied the characters’ emotions by paying attention to their facial expressions • We listened to the characters’ dialogue. We took note when the words they said seemed significant. We took particular note when what the character said and what they seemed to feel didn’t match. • We noticed movement—the characters, machines, nature (wind). The faster the movement, the more exciting the mood (good and bad) • We studied the setting. We kept an eye out for colors, light, warmth, austerity.

“Today I want to teach you that readers read and re-read to consider the tone of the text— what is the narrator’s voice like and how does is set the reader up to feel a certain way? And readers also think about the mood that the author is creating—what emotions are brought out?”

After working on analyzing the tone and mood in the class story, clubs will likely want to discuss the tone and mood in their own stories. It is important, however, to point out to students that tone and mood are just a bit of what clubs talk about. You’ll want to remind them in today’s session and in future sessions that they will also want to let the text or the ideas their club is exploring also guide the conversation. This will be important work throughout the entire unit, as you don’t want to give the impression that each day’s reading or talking will and only be about the topic of that day’s lesson. Instead, you want to encourage kids to build strong repertoires of analytic moves and methods of responding to reading, and help them make smart choices about which tool to pull from their toolkit at a given moment.

Once you send your readers off, you may choose to visit a particular club or reader, based on what you noticed as you listened to their club conversations or saw in their notebooks.

Throughout this write-up you might have noticed there are suggestions for additional teaching points. These teaching points can be used as alternate minilessons, mid-workshop instruction and perhaps even small group or conference work. You would likely decide to use them in different ways based on the make-up of a particular class and their needs. Also, if your clubs are organized according to level, you will likely be able to use these points easily to do that small group work. If, however, your groups are organized according to interests and are not reading the same level texts, you might need to choose alternate small group work focused more on standards and genre specific instruction.

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13 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Some predictable options for mid-workshop instruction, small groups, or conferences:

For readers who need more support For readers who are ready for extensions

When readers begin to analyze the details that In longer novels, the setting may change in tiny suggest how characters experience the place ways, or how the character feels about the they are in, they can often begin just by setting may change in subtle ways, so it’s often envisioning and describing the actual place at intriguing to trace these small changes over the the start of the story, making a movie in their novel. You might even make a timeline of the mind and comparing it with their partner’s. place, that marks when the mood is positive and when negative, and why, as one way to trace changes.

Let’s use the film of this story, to help us Sometimes authors describe the characters, envision this place... or let’s try this work in a using words that are similar to those he or she story where it’s easier to see how the uses about the setting (like rebellious, or characters feel about the setting...or let’s do this conflicted, or peaceful, and so on). For work together in your story... example, In this story, Ray calls the children ‘so many roses and weeds,’ which already separates some children as growing easily, If children are having trouble with mood and without light, like weeds, and some being more tone you might want to use the film to listen to delicate, like roses—much like the music in parts and describe the music and children and Margot—they don’t survive how that music reflects the mood/tone. equally well in this place. So you can look at You could also re-watch the snippet of film and how authors describe certain characters, in study it for the colors, shades of light and dark terms of how easily they thrive in their that helps to create the mood/tone. setting—who thrives in the arena in the Hunger Games, who thrives at Camp Half -Blood in The What words in the text or punctuation helps to Lightning Thief, and so on. create what the music or use of color does in the film?

How should you sound as you are reading this to bring out the mood/tone?

When you read in a book club, it’s often helpful When you read in a book club, it’s often helpful to compare your visions of the setting to do some annotation about the place before you talk, so you can have more detailed, Children could be invited to sketch the setting. specific conversations

Bend I, Session Three: Reading to notice and

One of the reasons Dystopian and Fantasy readers are drawn to these genres is because of their otherworldly settings. They are the ultimate escapist genres, allowing readers to jump in a book airplane and transport them to a world drastically different from their own. Settings are also one of the key reasons we reread these same stories. Whether it’s Middle Earth, Panem or Narnia, we feel

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14 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs like the more we re-read, the more times we get to visit these places, study them, and understand them more.

By this session, students will have at least one full story under their belts from the anchor text plus between one to three additional stories, if they read from short story packets, or they will have started a novel. In any event, enough experience, in just three days, to start to notice a pattern to the settings. No doubt you have heard your students say things like, “this place is so weird,”, or “this world is so different from our world. It’s not …” or “I would love/hate to live here!” Setting is very much on their radar. We will want to make sure that it is more than noticed by them, like vacation snapshots posted on Facebook. It’s not enough to tag the characters and label the setting with what it is. We want students to know that setting in these fantastical novels is something so much more.

In today’s minilesson, you might say something like, “Dystopian and Fantasy readers know, since the entire world of their story is created by the author for a reason, that most things in their stories mean something more—whether as an image, a symbol or an analogy. One way to be a wise reader is to read noticing things that feel as if they have a spotlight on them, left by the author—things that seem to pop out at us—and asking yourself, ‘What could this be really? Why did the author make the choice to include this here? What message is it trying to send?’”

You could refer to the class anchor text, “All Summer in a Day,” and model thinking about Venus. “Yes, I know it’s Venus, it’s a planet,” You might say, showing your students your thinking aloud. “But why did Bradbury choose to make it a different planet than Earth? I’m feeling like the message he might be sending here is something about how humans can be cruel anywhere—even outer space…That cruelty knows no bounds.”

For the active involvement in this lesson, you might decide to have the students study another aspect to the setting, like the constant rain, or the closet, and try to tease out the possible allegory there. Why did Bradbury choose this aspect of the setting? What could it be an allegory for? Or else, you could have the students practice the work on one of the stories they are reading with their club.

“Today I want to teach you that readers look out for parts of the story that feel as if they have a spotlight on them, left by the author to point towards something bigger. They re- read these parts to ask: ‘What could this be really? Why did the author make the choice to include this here? What message it is trying to send?’”

When the minilesson ends, students will head off to read and to practice the new work in their own stories. We expect that there might not be time for you to teach a minilesson, for students to read, and for students to engage in club conversation every day of this unit, so on this day, expect that after the minilesson, students will likely only have time to read and make plans for conversations with their clubs. Throughout the unit you will likely rotate between days where students read and talk and days where they simply read and use writing to help plan for their conversations. One other important note: if your students have not already started to create a secure way to collect their thinking about their texts, you will want to remind them to do so, since those notes will prove invaluable in your next unit—literary essay, in writing workshop.

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15 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Bend I, Session Four: Assessment-based instruction

Your instruction today will be calibrated to match what you are finding out about your readers as they analyze the impact of the settings in their novels, push past simply noticing particular literary effects such as mood and tone, and move into seeing how those literary effects can be tapped to help see possible themes, or even critique of our own, very real world. Over the past few days you will have no doubt listened in on conversations, peered over shoulders at sticky notes and notebook entries, had one on one and small group conversations about the stories they are reading. In ways big and small, as students are doing the heavy lifting work that is reading, you have been doing the heavy lifting work that is authentic assessment to decide your next teaching point.

Depending on what you see, you can likely imagine many great next teaching steps. A few possible teaching points to consider for large group instruction today might include:

• “Sometimes we can get a sense of what the author might be saying about our world by reading closely for setting. Which of these details feel almost identical to our world? Those are easier to set aside. Which of these details feel very, very different? Sometimes when something is very different it’s because it’s an exaggerated version of something that exists in our world, and makes us sit up and pay attention. Other times it’s because it is the complete opposite of our world. No matter what, by noticing what the author is including in a mix of familiar and unfamiliar, an astute club can follow what the author might be saying (good or bad) about our world.”

• “Today I’m going to teach you that often dystopian stories are a critique of our very real world today—or the world that existed at the time the author wrote. It helps to think about things, such as culture, , , interpersonal relationships, that could be analogous to the things being described in the book. Depending on how those issues are treated and their effects on the characters in the stories, a reader can see what the author might be saying about those issues in our world.”

• “Clubs work to make their conversation flow by asking questions of each other and the text that can’t be easily answered in one or two words. The very best conversation starters are ones that are complex—that can have more than one answer or more than one idea entertained.”

You may also offer some mid-workshop instructions or shares that will push the work along. Some suggestions for instruction include:

For readers who need more support For readers who are ready for extensions

Readers take one item at a time on the Readers sometimes push themselves to take checklist, and they work to do one item well, an item on the checklist to the next level, getting feedback from partners along the way asking for or making their own higher level checklist

Readers sometimes work together to improve Readers often compare and contrast their their responses, by going back to the text to responses, going back to the text to see how gather more evidence the author wrote that part, seeing if there is

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16 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

more to see

Readers sometimes talk out their responses, Club members pay attention to who says record them, and transcribe them, to capture more in writing and in conversation, and they more detail work to help each other strengthen both skills.

Readers of Fantasy and Dystopian novels Readers of Fantasy and Dystopian novels expect that the setting will be a place of expect that power will be uneven in the . They analyze the major conflicts in setting—they expect to analyze who has this place. power, and why, and how it shifts

Book clubs prepare for their conversations by When you’re preparing for a book club, it’s doing some jotting as they read, then sorting worth deciding if you each want to follow their quick writing into some more organized whatever ideas you find fascinating, and then thinking. We bring our best thinking, and our share these for a short time each, or whether marked up texts, to the club, so that we can you want to trace an idea together, comparing offer more to the discussion and contrasting evidence and analysis

Students will spend most of today’s session reading, unless it has been a day or more since their last club conversation. Then, in that case, you will want to make sure time is set aside, at least ten minutes, is set aside for students to discuss their stories—particularly in light of everything that has been discussed and taught so far.

Bend I, Session Five: Literary centers, first rotation

Today you might choose to introduce the first literary centers of the year. It will likely be the longest you will talk on a center day since you will need to go over logistics, expectations, and the centers themselves. But, even then, it will be better to talk less to the whole group and instead leave any lingering explanations for when you go from center to center coaching and fielding questions.

You will likely want to have the centers already organized and placed around the room. Usually when teachers introduce centers, they report the best success when students are gathered all in one spot (like the meeting area), and the teacher moves from center to center, a la Vanna White, as you talk, letting the students look to see the location and materials of each center.

Depending on your students and their experiences with centers, you might want to set up a few simple guidelines. One school had these written on a chart:

1. Go to center with your group and sign in 2. Read the task card 3. Complete a task 4. Put materials back the way you found them 5. Apply what you learned with your independent reading book right away

You might want students to be in centers with their clubs, a combination of two clubs, or perhaps another configuration. You will also want to decide ahead of time if there is a set time for how long

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17 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs students have to work at a center, or if they can stay at the center for the entire period. Additionally, since students will try the activities out in their books, you might want to decide if students will stay at the center to do their reading, or if it would be better for them to go back to their regular seats.

You may look for the following relevant centers on Treasure Chest: archetypes, quest structures, suspension of disbelief, language, classic symbols. You will likely want to choose four of the five that you think best suit your students and their needs. If you decide you want to use all five, or you have more of your own creation, you might decide to have students spend less time at each center (perhaps two rotations per center day) so that students are able to experience each center at least once.

Once you have done a quick (30 second) introduction to each center and its materials, you can send the students off to work. Expect that at first there will be a bit of confusion as people take turns reading the card, deciding how to best complete the task or tasks, and generally figure out how to navigate this new activity. Once the students are fairly settled, you’ll want to rotate around yourself, giving lean prompts to keep them going, taking notes on the work they are doing, sharing important information as needed.

Today’s work could either feel as if you’re not teaching at all, or conversely, you might end each of your class periods covered in sweat because you feel like you’ve been working so hard. Ideally, we’d like to hope you feel like something in between!

If you choose not to do centers, you might instead do another day of assessment-based instruction, to respond to the needs of your class.

Bend II: Readers Deepen Thematic Analysis

During their deep study of setting in the last bend, students already were gesturing toward thematic understandings. In this bend, students will continue that journey, likely finishing a novel and preparing to move to a second novel during bend 3 or 4. Students will notice and discuss in their clubs how texts can have many themes and also that themes can travel across more than one text.

Clubs might look a few different ways during this time period. They are likely only meeting to talk about their texts two to three times per week. However, they also probably meet for quick daily check-ins. This is particularly important if students are reading the same books as their club members at the same time, so they can ensure they are reading and stopping at the same places. If students are in swap book clubs, they will also likely want to meet regularly to check in on each other’s progress and swap books as needed.

When clubs meet, they will likely sit in desks or chairs clustered together, or else in loose circles on the floor in the classroom, or perhaps even in the hallway if your school allows students to spread out in that way. When they talk, students in clubs often have the text they are currently reading, as well as any other texts they might refer to (past text packets, the last book finished, reference materials). Students will often have various kinds of writing about reading to help them launch their conversations. If your building has access to , this might be tablets and laptops with

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18 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs notes. If not, this could be a combination of sticky notes, reading notebooks, or even note cards. Anything that a reader finds useful to note and keep track of her thinking, as well as any notes that helped students prepare for conversation.

Additionally, while clubs are mostly autonomously run, with students determining what to discuss and the trajectory of those conversations, you will likely want to stop by regularly to listen in, coach, and on occasion, use the small group opportunity to do some teaching tailored to the member of this club or that. If a club is all reading on the same level, and is reading the same texts, you might use this opportunity to do book or level introductions to an aspirational text—a text at those students’ instructional level which we can scaffold them into, using the club structure. Another option could be to do some level specific strategy teaching, such as exploring complex structures that begin to show up from level U on. Of course, no matter what kind of teaching the teacher brings, it’s important that once the teacher leaves the teaching behind, the students know to incorporate that teaching into their thinking, but also that they need to continue on with their own agendas as well

Bend II, Session One: Readers carry what they know of themes from past reading experiences to the new texts they read

In Session One you’ll probably want to use your shared experience reading the anchor text to build off of their hard work so far this unit, and all the books they’ve read with similar characteristics. You will want to make explicit with literature what so many of them know when interacting with pop culture (“It’s Macklemore—it’s probably going to be about big social issues,” or “It’s a new Diablo game—it’s definitely going to have some powerful which must be dealt with”), that when we see certain characters, plots, settings, our minds can leap to the file marked ‘themes’ and sort through them, already placing possible themes on our mental desktop, ready for us to start interpretive reading from the very start.

“Today I want to teach you that readers can use what they know from familiar texts in order to start determining themes of a text, right from the beginning of a novel. You can do this by noticing familiar characters, situations, and settings, and thinking about themes connected to other similar texts.”

In Bend II, you’ll also probably feel ready to read aloud your next anchor text. You could certainly continue referencing “All Summer in a Day” but it’s often helpful to have multiple texts in play. If you are ready, we suggest “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, first published in 1961. As you read, you can coach students that readers don’t wait for the end of a story to develop ideas about possible themes. Rather, they build ideas as they go, collect evidence along the way, and adjust their thinking as they read. You’ll probably want to trace some possible themes with your students, creating some charts of themes in “Harrison Bergeron “(or whatever short text you choose). You might want to highlight readers who are particularly open to adjusting their thinking in the face of new evidence. Also be sure to show that good stories are about more than one idea.

When students gather in their clubs after the read aloud, you will likely still hear them talking some about the anchor text. This would be great, since it shows the effectiveness of that powerful community text. However, you will also want to scatter quick reminders that they should move into discussing their own club picks, alongside the class text, coaching towards that transference. When you notice a club doing some specific text based discussion work—especially if it stems from

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19 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs writing about reading—go with the urge to make that club known, perhaps even videotaping a bit of their conversation to share with the class, or other classes.

Bend II, Session Two: Readers trace multiple themes in a story

We can imagine the next few sessions going a few different ways. Probably one of the most interactive way would be to give each club a small patch of bulletin board or a piece of newsprint or chart paper. Encourage them to record the themes they are discussing on index cards or sentence strips—preferably written large enough that other students can easily read them. This might take place as part of a ‘Do Now’, a homework assignment, or even just class exit slips over a couple of days. Building off of what it clearly becoming visible on the walls of the classroom, you might simply say, “I’m noticing many different themes are popping up across the clubs. Let’s take a few minutes to museum walk through each other’s jottings and see what conclusions we can draw about themes in texts.”

You might also introduce in session two that readers trace multiple themes in a story, remaining open to more than one theme as being important. You might, for instance, describe how fantasy readers know that The Lord of the Rings isn’t just about fantastical beings. This story is about the struggle between good and evil. This story is about how power slowly eats away and corrupts. This story is about how the physically strong can use their gifts to protect others. This story is about how even the smallest and physically weakest can find strength to defeat evil. This story is about love and how love drives us to be better than we are. Students can get the gist that every story suggests multiple themes.

“Today I want to teach you that readers trace multiple themes in a story. You might note one, jot it down, and then keep your mind ready for another one. Also, leaning on your conversations with other readers can lead to finding the multitude of ideas contained in one text.”

In another session, or as an alternate to this, you might do this same work in more detail, teaching students that readers look closely at pivotal moments in a story for how they illustrate specific themes. Some teachers give students copies of two scenes from the anchor text, and first demonstrate how they might mine one scene for possible themes, thinking about issues that are hiding in it, lessons the characters learn, or universal themes the scene suggests. Then for an active involvement students do the same work in another part of that story. You might encourage clubs to do similar work in their novels—especially if they are all reading the same story—or have swapped. They can find a scene in their novels that suggests multiple themes, and try comparing and contrasting their ideas and evidence with their book club, all focused on one scene they agree is suggestive.

This could also be a day when you want students to leave their reading notebooks open as they read, so that they can share with each other and with you how their thinking is developing. Based on what you see, and using what you know from the Reading Literature Progression, and your knowledge of this genre, some possible small groups/conferences to follow up this work might include:

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20 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

For readers who need support For readers who are ready for extensions

Some themes are typical in dystopian novels, Experienced dystopian readers expect themes such as: the struggle of good and evil, the that are common in this . They struggle to be strong, that people can change. look for how classic themes, such as the Readers sometimes recognize one of these struggle between good and evil, or the balance themes in their novels and can use that theme between nature and humanity, are developed as an example to launch their theme work off by various authors. of.

Readers gather evidence for themes from the Readers can go back to the pages in a story beginning, middle, and end of the story, on where they first felt the tickles of a thematic sticky notes or graphic organizers. They can idea. Then they study it with a writer’s then line up the evidence underneath their perspective, looking for how exactly the author themes, sorting out evidence that fits and crafted those pages to denote the theme. Was it doesn’t fit for each theme. structural choices? Word usage? Syntax? Perhaps the way the scene was constructed?

Bend II, Session Three: Readers embrace being surprised by their books

Kylene Beers has said that the best thing that can happen to a reader is to be surprised. It lets the reader know she had a theory going about a book that she might not have even known she had. Readers can then use that surprise as a gift—a chance to see how the author surprised them, and use that knowledge of how this writer really behaves at the move forward in the text. Sometimes that surprise can change the way the reader was thinking about possible themes in the text. You might say something like, “Today I’m going to teach you that readers love to be surprised. They love to be surprised because it helps them to see what theories they had going, and how those theories might need to be revised. Surprises can also help strengthen any ideas about theme, because surprise helps us to revise our thinking and see nuance that would have gone unnoticed.”

In this session you will likely want to remind students of times they were surprised during class read alouds (not just the ones you’ve read in this unit!). You might even want to talk through what happened when everyone was surprised. The conversation the students have might sound something like this:

• “We were so surprised that the kids decided to lock Margot in the closet. And even more surprised that they did not let her out until after the sun had already gone.”

• “If we really study why we were surprised we might realize that we don’t expect those kids to be that mean. Margot was really excited to see the sun and by locking her up they hurt her terribly.”

• “We were surprised because we had an expectation of the students. Also, maybe because we expected the teacher to be better than she was. When we were surprised we saw that we had expectations for the bare minimum for how people should treat each other in society.”

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21 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

“Today I want to teach you that readers love to be surprised! Surprises prompt for revised thinking, which ultimately leads to stronger theories about themes and an ability to see nuances that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.”

Encourage students to embrace being surprised and to use that feeling as an opportunity to retrace their steps as a reader. What were they thinking that they didn’t even know they were thinking? How could they be less surprised in the future?

Bend II, Session Four: Debate can help readers shore up thematic understanding

In today’s session, you will be wrapping up thematic study within a single text, knowing of course that some students might need additional work on this topic and you will work with them in either small groups or conferences as the unit progresses. One of the most engaging ways to get students to consolidate their skills and thinking is to argue. In today’s session, we suggest you lead clubs into taking at least part, if not all, of their talk time to debate and argue. You might say, “Readers may debate and argue which themes are more significant in a story, defending their ideas with evidence, testing their theories out in debate. When they do this, even if they do not change anyone’s mind, their own ideas about the text become even stronger.”

You might then have students first practice this with the class read aloud text. Perhaps start with two themes your class has discussed about “Harrison Bergeron.” Perhaps one is “People can fight back against seemingly impossible odds” and another one is “Human diversity is something to be celebrated.” Divide partnerships up and assign sides. If possible, have students either have copies of the read aloud text with them, or project it. The have students practice debating which of the two themes is the most significant, using details from the text to support them. You’ll want to give them 3-5 minutes to debate. Not long enough to actually see the whole thing through, just long enough for them to see what it feels like and get a sense of how it could go. Then, encourage students to go through their notes to determine their clubs most discussed themes in their texts. If the club is not reading the same text, they could reframe the debate to which themes are most significant to the genre or topic they are reading.

As clubs wrap up this bend, you might want to give them some time to choose a second novel if they haven’t already planned for this. If your students will not be reading the same text as their club mates, they will want to still spend some time looking across the covers and the back book blurbs for commonalities that they might want to mine when they have all read a bit and have a chance to talk. If your students are moving through books together as clubs, you might have clubs that seem particularly strong at assigning reasonable reading goals each day share their process so other clubs can follow their lead.

“Today I want to teach you that readers debate and argue which themes are more significant in a story, supporting their positions with reasons and evidence, and testing their theories out through debate and rebuttal.”

If you feel that students need additional work finding and supporting themes before you move into this debate work, you might consider any of the following teaching points as alternatives, or as possible small group work to do with clubs.

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22 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

• Readers sometime find themes by looking for repeated lines, actions or images.

• Some words or phrase can help make sure a theme is a theme: ‘many people…’, ‘often…’, ‘some people…’, ‘in life…’

• When a text reminds you of another one, whether it’s a song, a television show or movie, it might be an indication that they have a theme in common. Try writing long about what each text is really about, based on their commonalities.

Bend II, Session Five: Centers

Just as in the first bend, in this session, students will work in centers. Unlike last time, you will not need to use as much time on set up. All of the centers have already been introduced and students should know which groups they are working with. However, you might want to spend five minutes at the start of your class time doing some trouble-shooting for issues that might have come up last time. For example, if in certain centers people did not work for very long, and just seemed to race through, you might need to talk through what the work should look like. If you noticed people were not taking enough notes, you might want to remind them that they will be having a celebration at the end of the unit which will rely on their knowledge of these literary terms and traditions. If people were not taking care of supplies well, you might need to assign a person in each group to be responsible.

As was the case before, students will go off to the centers. Many teachers prefer that students work at just one center for 15-20 minutes and then spend the rest of the period reading. If, however, you would rather students spend less time at each center, you could have them spend 10 minutes, for example, and have two rotations, that can work too. No matter which way your centers go, it will be important to check in on each group, but to try to keep the coaching lean and brief.

Additionally, you might find you need to remind students that when they are done with their center work, they want to immediately put this week’s new knowledge and last week’s to good use by applying it to their reading life. Perhaps even having them place a marker on those pages in their notebook, or a symbol on their sticky notes, where they have been influenced by the center work.

Bend III: Readers Compare Thematic Development Across Texts

This bend dovetails with the last bend in that the work students did collecting multiple themes within a text will now transfer over to students seeing how a singular theme can travel across multiple texts as well. Themes are fickle mistresses. There can be many in one text. There can be many that travel across texts. In fact, students will likely be shocked to see how much redundancy in theme there really is—especially in a genre such as fantasy or dystopia, where many universal themes are explored.

Just as we suggested earlier in this write-up, you will want to choose the teaching points and activities you do with your students based on the work they are currently doing and what they are not yet doing. The main focus of this bend is thematic understanding, especially across multiple texts. This will likely take up the bulk of your teaching in this bend. However, it is also important to keep students’ engagement and participation in their clubs and ensure that those conversations are

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23 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs helping push them toward ever richer comprehension.

Bend III, Session One: Carrying themes across texts

Typically in this unit, day one of a bend is designed to start with read aloud work, usually of an anchor text. Today, you might decide to either finish an earlier text, or read a first chapter from a book your students know (either because they have read it or scene a film version). You could also decide to tap an accompanying video clip, whether a scene from Hunger Games or a trailer for Divergent, or whatever film might accompany your read aloud for the day, so that students can get a shared sense of a longer text with more themes, themes that also travel to the two other anchor texts.

One way this could go is, before reading or watching the video clip, is to have clubs quickly brainstorm as many themes as they can on one of the two anchor texts. Then place those themes, perhaps hanging them on the board. Students can look across the different themes for each of the anchor texts. Then any place where they see similar themes, these can be pulled out into a new grouping. For example, students might notice the theme ‘sometimes people are frightened of others’ strengths’, would be a theme that could travel across “All Summer in a Day” and “Harrison Bergeron”.

Students could then hold these themes in their mind during the read aloud or video clip, seeing if any of them could also fit in the new anchor text. You might want to either have students discuss what they discover in their clubs, or else in a whole class conversation.

“Today I want to teach you that readers carry what they know about themes from individual texts to study how themes travel across texts. To do this work, they not only identify themes, they compare how those themes are developed in each text.”

From there you’ll likely send your students off to spend a few minutes talking with their clubs about themes from the anchor texts that they can see in their club reading. Students will of course also need as much time as you have for some independent reading.

Bend III, Session Two: Noticing how details support similar themes in different ways

Because so much of yesterday’s work was led by the teacher, and while worthwhile, the thinking students might have been having about their reading was heavily influenced, you will want to ensure that today’s minilesson is very short so that students have plenty of time to read and talk with their club members.

You might begin the session by reminding your students of yesterday’s work, that when readers read many texts from the same or similar genres, they start to see familiar themes. Often they can set those similar themes, from different texts out to study them more closely, often in the company of others. In other words, much like entomologists might set out different specimens of bugs from the same genus, different species, readers often take out similar themes from different texts. We can teach students to jot their ideas for themes on cards or post-its so that they are moveable, and then try placing them out on a table with other readers’ themes, perhaps even on top of the book covers of books they have read. If your students are easily able to understand that work, and see how themes can move from one text to the next, you might then push your students to get better at

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24 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs supporting their thinking. You might say, “One thing readers can do to stretch their thematic work is look to see is how in very different texts, even ones with similar themes, those themes are supported by entirely different details. In other words, it’s not enough for readers to say they see themes across texts. They also like to show how those themes can be supported.”

You could then use your anchor text, to show how this works. If you were using the theme that sometimes, people learn about themselves from leaving home from Hunger Games and from “All Summer in a Day”, you could show how this theme was supported in each text. For example, in “All Summer in a Day”, Margot has to experience pain and bullying from people she thought of as peers, because of her difference. She almost becomes a victim of her own difference. Whereas, Katniss knows that she can be prickly, but she never tries to tame it until she ends up in the games, far away from the reasons she learned to be prickly in the first place.

“Today I want to teach you that readers dig into the details of their books, noticing how details within the story elements bring out a theme that is common across texts in very specific ways.”

Bend III, Session Three: Readers notice different craft moves authors make in the name of theme

In this session, students will build off of yesterday’s cross text work by moving over into the realm of author’s craft. Sometimes it’s tempting for readers to only focus on proving how they know what a theme might be, using text details. But, readers can also, and should also, talk about how the writer made that theme clear to the reader. What craft moves did he make? Can we see any similarities or differences in how different authors approach similar themes in their text?

We might say something to students like, “Today I’m going to teach you that it’s not enough for readers to simply spot themes and prove they are right. They can also compare and contrast the different moves different authors made in order to pop out similar themes. In other words, readers study a text closely to identify how each author uses , , structure, word choice— even punctuation—so that the theme becomes clear to the reader in a unique way.”

“Today I want to teach you that it’s not enough for readers to simply spot themes and prove that they are right. Readers study a text closely to identify how each author uses imagery, metaphor, structure, word choice—even punctuation—so that the theme becomes clear to the reader in a unique way. ”

At this point in the unit, we might also expect that clubs, in addition to following through on the work of our minilessons will start to (if they haven’t already) develop their own agendas for their conversations and thinking. If you see clubs who haven’t started to do this off-roading type of conversation, you might want to coach in to help them open up their conversations to other possibilities.

Bend III, Session Four: Readers use their lives to understand societal critique

Some readers, who have done a lot of theme and genre work, will start to not only notice thematic patterns in literature, but also thematic patterns that stretch from literature to life. For example,

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25 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs when thinking about the structure of a typical quest, they might think of their older brother who went away to college and became a stronger version of himself, able to stand up to Grandpa who sometimes picks on him. Or else, while watching their favorite television show or playing a favorite video game, the students might notice that leaving home and going on a journey can have a profound influence.

We might say to our students, “When readers see these similarities between the themes in their reading and in the world, they can be seen as an invitation from the author to the reader to consider what the similarities are between the world of the story and the real world. It is often in those places where societal critique lives. Wise readers can work to identify those possible critiques and decide if they agree or disagree with the author’s perceived message.”

“Today I want to teach you that readers consider how themes in their novels mirror themes in the world, but not exactly. Readers think about where there are similarities and differences between the world of the story and the real world. This is often where authors are inviting a critique of society. Wise readers can work to identify these critiques and decide if they agree or disagree with the author’s perceived message.”

When students go off to work and talk with their clubs, it is crucial that by this point in the unit we are seeing them truly stretch their own and their club members thinking. If clubs are still having a hard time living in the world of ideas supported by texts, you might consider having them watch a video of another club’s conversation, or even observing or joining another club which has stronger conversations. You might also try having the students talk about another topic, not related directly to reading, perhaps a song, and then have the students transfer their strongest work from that conversation to their book talk.

Bend III, Session Five: Centers

In this session, students will work on their third round of centers. As was true last week, you will want students to have as much time as possible working on their centers. When they are not working in their centers, they are either engaged in book conversation or reading. You will probably also want to make a big deal about any students who are immediately applying what they learned in their centers to their reading work. If you see any post-it notes or notebook jottings that reflect their new learning, you might want to ask the student permission to share them, and make a big deal out of that immediate transference.

If it makes sense for your students to do this, you might consider having interested students start a word wall using some of the literary terms your class is using and discovering in this unit— complete with definitions or artistic depictions of definitions.

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26 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Bend IV: Readers Develop an Understanding of How Literary Tradition and Techniques can live in a Variety of Texts and in the Real World

In a way, we saved the best for last. At least, likely as far as the kids are concerned. For many readers of dystopian works, some of their favorite aspects of these types of books are the genre trappings. For the books your students will have been immersed in all unit long, this means things such as archetypes, quests, and the use of fiction as social commentary. Some of these are the very things they have been exploring all unit long in their centers, just without your explicit instruction.

In order to do this work, you might want to bring students back to any anchor texts you have used so far, as well as introduce one that has a film component. As we have mentioned throughout this write-up, we recommend either the first chapter of The Hunger Games or the first chapter of Divergent paired with a clip of the film or a trailer.

It is important to, as much as possible, use the literary terms commonly used in these genres. Many of these are terms that they will either have known coming into this unit or will have learned in their centers. However, if students discover something that you don’t know a name for, encourage them to come up with a name as a community so that they can easily discuss it (and build their own community vocabulary). It is also important to note that sometimes when readers explore the land of literary technique, it can quickly move from being used as a tool toward deeper meaning and become a higher-minded version of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ (I think I see a villain! Look there’s a heroic flaw!) We want students to, as much as possible, use literary tradition as a stepping off point to grander notions and reading work. If we notice students simply naming things and not doing much more, we’ll want to nudge them, and encourage them to nudge each other with, “And how does noticing this lead us to some new thinking?”

Bend IV, Session One: Readers develop an awareness of literary traditions

In your shared experience, you’ll introduce the notion that readers develop an awareness of literary tradition, by reading each text in the shadow of others, alert to similarities and patterns. Remind your students, as most of them know from centers, that authors often develop characters, for instance, as archetypes—and you might focus particularly on the archetypes of the reluctant hero, or alternately, the anti-hero. You might also consider the quest structure, and show them how sometimes this structure is an explicit ‘getting past physical obstacles,’ and other times it is an emotional or spiritual quest—that characters are searching for something. Finally, when you talk about themes, suggest that the theme might actually be social or political critique—that is, these authors are often writing stories that as social commentary. On this day, you are introducing these terms as concepts or lenses, which readers often use to investigate a text. You will be presenting this information, almost as a quick survey, perhaps with a chart listing a few of your favorite examples (that just happen to be ones you know live in many of their texts). Then during your read aloud (or viewing), you can see which of these are productive for the story you read, and which might be useful thinking back over your prior anchor texts. Try to resist the temptation to turn this into a literature lecture, instead, giving students plenty of opportunity to spot various examples and discuss their importance.

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27 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

“Today I want to teach you that readers develop an awareness of literary tradition, by reading each text in the shadow of others, alert to similarities and patterns.”

Bend IV, Session Two: Readers consider archetypes as one way to analyze characters

We suggest you bring in film clips of other dystopian stories that students will be familiar with— Hunger Games, Divergent, , The Maze Runner. You can then teach your students that experienced readers of genre often consider the role that characters play in a story, thinking about them as archetypes, or as particular kinds of agents in literature. Students might brainstorm in clubs various characters that they have seen versions of again and again. Some students might know the archetypical name for these characters—if so, chart that name. If not, you can provide it. In this way, President Snow and Jeanine Matthews become grouped together as archetypical villains, while The Giver and Haymitch are dubbed the mentors.

“Today I want to teach you that readers often notice the structure of a text and how stories and certain literary traditions often have similar structures. Fantasy and dystopian readers are especially alert to quest structures, and they look for how a quest may be physical or psychological.”

Other archetypes they might notice, or you might feel important to highlight, include: the sidekick, the consort, the hero, the scapegoat, the mother figure and so on. On this day, clubs might lay out each of the texts they’ve read so far, alongside the anchor texts. They can then compare characters with this lens, analyzing how different authors develop certain archetypes, including when characters are not totally consistent. You might also want to entertain a mid-workshop inquiry for students who are particularly fascinated by the concept of archetypical characters: why would an author use them? What work does it do for the story and the genre when they are used?

Bend IV, Session Three: Analyzing structure, especially how quest structures play out in fantasy novels

In Session Three, you might return to structure, teaching students that readers often notice the structure of a text and how stories and certain literary traditions often have similar structures. Fantasy and dystopian readers are especially alert to quest structures, and they look for how a quest may be physical or psychological. Then you might return first to any one of your anchor texts to demonstrate how you trace the structure of a text, and analyze the internal and external journey of the character. If students’ books have maps, it can be an interesting thing for readers to trace the plot physically through the terrain of the map, seeing where the geographical terrain matches or doesn’t match with the plot points and psychological struggles from the plot.

“Today I want to teach you that readers find multiple ways to analyze the quest structure: through charting the external and internal journeys of the characters, as well as plotting the physical ups and downs of the actual journey, or other ways of visualizing and writing to interpret the physical and psychological elements of the quests in a novel.”

If students are finding that analyzing quest structure is something well within their grasp, they could up the ante by considering what the author’s chosen quest structure might be analogous to in

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28 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs our world. You might instead teach, that “Readers re-examine their novels with critical lenses, thinking about issues of representation, of gender norms, of stereotypes. Is the author sending messages about these issues intentionally or unintentionally? Does the reader agree or disagree with those messages? The reader might take one step further and consider another text as a counter-example of the first author’s treatment of that theme.

Bend IV, Session Four: Readers use literary traditions to help them draw conclusions about the texts they read

Since these are the last sessions of the last bend in this unit, you will want to make sure that you have tapped each of the points you wanted to hit on in this unit. You might want to re-read this curricular calendar with your students in mind, re-teaching or reviewing in whole class or small group sessions, concepts that feel vital to you and that your data shows you students could use a re- visit of. Additionally, you will want to make sure that students are doing a majority of the work in this section of the last bend. In other words, you will want to keep your own teaching short so as to maximize the amount of time students have to talk and read, keeping their momentum racing until the end.

Based on your assessment, and turning both to the Reading Literature Progression and knowledge of this literary tradition, your sessions might include any of the following teaching points:

• Readers use their notebooks in innovative ways to develop new thinking, including ideas about the craft and technique of this literary tradition. Then they bring their writing to their book clubs and test it out, comparing and contrasting ideas and evidence, debating and arguing, co-authoring stronger ideas.

• Readers notice when characters mostly fit an or role, and they also notice how an author makes a character slightly different. They ask themselves why the author might have made those choices. How does this help illuminate a theme or message?

• Readers re-examine the themes in their books, thinking about how they act as social commentary. They consider what issues stories tackle, and what the author suggests about that issue. They then consider whether they agree or disagree with the author’s social commentary.

“Today I want to teach you that readers often notice when characters mostly fit an archetype or role, and they also notice how an author makes a character slightly different from the conventional archetype or role.”

Bend IV, Session Five: Centers

Today is the last day in centers for your students. You will probably want to, in addition to giving your students time to do one more rotation of centers, give them time to reflect on what they learned in those centers.

This could happen simply by having students write a quick flash draft of everything they have learned in their centers that they know they will carry forward as readers. It could be a short last conversation with their clubs where they integrate what they have learned in the centers with the

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29 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs texts they have read and discussed together. It could also be a whole class discussion, one where you are the recorder, perhaps jotting key phrases on the white board or SMART Board that students mention as they discuss the role of literary traditions and terms on their understandings of dystopian and fantasy books. Yet another way to wrap up would be to place a large piece of newsprint or chart paper at each center and have students rotate through, with a just a few minutes at each, jotting their big take-aways, and responding to others thoughts and questions.

Wrap-up: Literary salons as celebration

You will no doubt want to do something to mark the end of this unit. Depending on your time, energy and resources, this could be as grand as students dressing up and role-playing their favorite stories from the unit in reader’s theater, to as simple as collecting all of their jots and writing during this unit and mapping out their own quest in becoming stronger readers of these genres.

Our recommendation is to have students participate in something literate adults have been participating in for generations—grand conversations with other like-minded literary types—a literary salon.

We suggest you set aside a day or two at the end of the unit, perhaps with other classes across the grade, where students get an opportunity to share their learning and thinking from the unit. Ideally, students will each pick one of the centers they most connected with and consider themselves an expert (or want to be an expert on), or a subtopic from one of those centers. Students would prepare a short book talk about the texts they read in this unit, focusing especially on using the terms and ideas they learned in their centers. We can imagine this going a few different ways.

For example, Marissa could be very interested in heroes and decide to be part of a roundtable discussion on the Hero, talking through the short stories and novels she read, being sure to use the most sophisticated literary terms. “Katniss is a classic example of the reluctant hero,” Marissa might say. “She doesn’t want to be a hero, but does because she’s the only one who can rescue her sister, Prim. She’s also a perfect example of the alienated hero, because she feels very alone in her world.” Trey might decide that he was fascinated by the idea of quest structures. He could put together a diagram in his notebook showing how text structures played out in the books he read, and prepare to have a conversation with other students about the quest structures in their books. We could imagine students either teaming up across classes with students who chose similar topics to study, or else giving every student a chance to be an expert, with students taking turns rotating roles as experts and participants.

No matter what you decide, your students will be well set to embark on their next journey into literary essay, carrying their significantly stronger knowledge of text analysis and literary traditions with them as they go.

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30 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Appendix A

Sample Annotated Interactive Read Aloud for Session One: “All Summer in a Day,” by Ray Bradbury

Unusual Settings Make for Unusual Characters

[Possible pre-teaching for students whom you have assessed as needing extra support would include introducing them to the story beforehand, perhaps sketching out the scenes and , perhaps showing a clip or two from the film, and alerting the students to the work you’ll do in the story, perhaps practicing some of it so they’re ready to see more during this experience. We also offer an alternate text and shared experience [see below] for ELL and lower level readers]

You might begin by saying:

We’re going to read a story today that is a famous dystopian story - dystopian, where it’s in the future, and things should be better, but somehow they’re not. This story is by Ray Bradbury, and he and George Orwell, who wrote , pretty much invented this genre, only Bradbury wrote stories with more of a science-fiction bent. He was really interested in science and how it made possible things that could be great and things that could be terrible. And both of them were really interested in human nature, and that’s something that comes up again and again in their stories - the question of how people treat each other when their world gets harsh - like in Walking Dead, or in the Arena of the Hunger Games. You’ll probably see a lot of connections between the kind of world in this story, and those kinds of worlds - and the ones in your novels you’re reading now too.

In all these kinds of stories, the place really matters. The author will usually give you clues that suggest what makes the setting unusual. Some clues will be obvious, and some might be more subtle. But one thing you can count on, is that in the kind of stories you’re reading, detail matters.

So today, let’s investigate this question: How does this master writer, Ray Bradbury, create a setting that is unusual and significant in the story? (I might post that question so students can see it clearly).

Okay, are you ready? Do you have your question in mind - how does Bradbury create a setting that is unusual and significant? So right from this moment, you need to be noticing small details. I’ll give you a tip. It’s usually helpful to envision at the beginning, to really let yourself picture the place, and then try to describe the details that seem unusual. Let’s see how that goes, to begin.

Begin reading.

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31 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

"Ready?” "Now?" "Soon." "Do the scientists really know? Will it happen today, will it?" "Look, look; see for yourself!" The children pressed to each other like so many roses, so many weeds, intermixed, peering out for a look at the hidden sun.

It rained.

It had been raining for seven years; thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again. And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.


You might prompt students then to turn and discuss: What have you noticed so far about how the setting is unusual, especially what details Bradbury included that seem most important? Listen for how they respond. If they need it, you can coach them on envisioning the place, describing in detail what it would look, feel, and sound like, comparing and contrasting it with their own world. If they are already capturing the details well, you might coach them to sort these details, so that they weigh which are most suggestive.

Next, you might prompt students by saying something like:

Once they have a clear idea of the setting, especially the details that make it unusual, readers often investigate how the setting is shaping the characters. One way to do this work is to analyze the setting not just for its physical details, but also for what it feels like - its tone and the mood that creates for the reader. Look for tiny details that let you know whether it’s a hostile place, or a comfortable place. The mood will have an effect on the characters. So let’s reread and read on, and this time, can you read with the lens of mood (that means what does the place feel like)?

You might reread the first part, then go on...

"It's stopping, it's stopping!" "Yes, yes!"

Margot stood apart from them, from these children who could never remember a time when there wasn't rain and rain and rain. They were all nine years old, and if there had been a day, seven years ago, when the sun came out for an hour and showed its face to the stunned world, they could not recall. Sometimes, at night, she heard them stir, in remembrance, and she knew they were dreaming and remembering gold or a yellow crayon or a coin large enough to buy the

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32 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs world with. She knew they thought they remembered a warmness, like a blushing in the face, in the body, in the arms and legs and trembling hands. But then they always awoke to the tatting drum, the endless shaking down of clear bead necklaces upon the roof, the walk, the gardens, the forests, and their dreams were gone.


This feels like a good place to stop. Partners, go ahead and discuss what you’ve noticed so far about the mood of this place? Ask yourself what it feels like for these characters, living in this world? I’ll listen in, and give you some feedback after I hear your thoughts.

As students turn and discuss in partnerships, listen in to a few partnerships, and you can be ready with some predictable feedback. Perhaps you’ll see that some students struggle to understand what we mean by mood or tone, and you might have them picture various movie scenes, and what makes some scary and some lighthearted. You might coach others to use more specific, literary language, moving them from sad to gloomy, for instance. In a way, what you say is less important than that they feel that you've listened to them, and you are poised to help them get better at this work.

If you feel you need to model, you might say:

I’ll sometimes compare the mood in a story to other moods. Like here, Bradbury makes it a rainy, rainy planet. So I think to myself about other stories or movies where the rain makes everyone feel a certain way. Like I remember reading Out of the Dust, when they are so glad when it finally rains. Or I compare it to my own experience - you know that feeling, when you wake up on a Saturday, and it’s raining, and you think, ‘oh, yay, I’ll stay in bed for a bit, and sleep, or read? And the rain feels cozy? But in this story, the rain doesn’t feel cozy, it feels gloomy, and depressing...in fact, it feels desolate - that’s when it’s almost full of despair. For instance, it makes tidal waves, it turns the plants white, it drums and drums, and it says ‘their dreams were gone.’ DEPRESSING! DESOLATE! See how I’ve come up with some specific words for this tone, in this scene? Then I’ll try to back it up with evidence...Bradbury makes the tone....and he does it by ….you try it too.

Students might then turn, discuss and revise their thinking to be more detailed, or to compare and contrast with other scenes.

Now you’ll probably want to read most or all of the rest of the story. You might suggest Readers, as we read on, let me alert you to a few things. One is that you’ve noticed what’s unusual about this place, and you’ve described both what it looks like and what it feels like - its mood or atmosphere. Be alert, now, to how it’s shaping the characters. I’ll keep reading, and why don’t you build some arguments about how this unusual place is shaping these characters? Do whatever jotting you need as we read, and then I’ll give you a moment to add to your theory before we discuss.

Continue reading.

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33 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

All day yesterday they had read in class about the sun. About how like a lemon it was, and how hot. And they had written small stories or essays or poems about it:

I think the sun is a flower; That blooms for just one hour:

That was Margot's poem, read in a quiet voice in the still classroom while the rain was falling outside.

"Aw, you didn't write that!" protested one of the boys. "I did," said Margot, "I did." "William!" said the teacher.

But that was yesterday. Now the rain was slackening, and the children were crushed in the great thick windows.

"Where's teacher?" "She'll be back." "She'd better hurry; we'll miss it!" They turned on themselves, like a feverish wheel, all tumbling spokes.

Margot stood alone. She was a very frail girl who looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair. She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost. Now she stood, separate, staring at the rain and the loud wet world beyond the huge glass.

"What're you looking at?" said William. Margot said nothing. "Speak when you're spoken to." He gave her a shove. But she did not move; rather she let herself be moved only by him and nothing else.

They edged away from her, they would not look at her. She felt them go away. And this was because she would play no games with them in the echoing tunnels of the underground city. If they tagged her and ran, she stood blinking after them and did not follow. When the class sang songs about happiness and life and games her lips barely moved. Only when they sang about the sun and the summer did her lips move as she watched the drenched windows.

And then, of course, the biggest crime of all was that she had come here only five years ago from Earth, and she remembered the sun and the way the sun was and the sky was when she was four in Ohio. And they, they had been on Venus all their lives, and they had been only two years old when last the sun came out and had long since forgotten the color and heat of it and the way it really was.

But Margot remembered.


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34 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Give students a moment to jot about the setting and its effect on the characters, and to turn and discuss. Continue reading. Stop at the end of the story.

Give students a moment to jot their theory about how Ray Bradbury created an unusual setting, so that you’ll be able to look over their shoulders at these and assess. You can also listen in as they discuss with their partners. After a few moments, you might finish with:

Readers, this work isn’t just Ray Bradbury work. It should pay off in the novels you’re reading as well. In fact, right now, give a nod if the setting is important in the story you’re reading. Right now, will you find a place where the setting is unusual, or where you can see how it shapes the characters or sets a tone? Will you find that place, and then turn and compare with your club? And then tonight, when you are reading, will you mark some of these places when you are jotting? Remember to carry that idea like a magnet as you read, pulling parts of the story into it as evidence for your ideas. This will really help you get ready for some fabulous book club talks.

Alternative Option for Session One: Interactive Read Aloud with “Ponies” by Kij Johnson

“Readers, imagine a world where every year, 24 teenagers have to leave their and fight each other—and 23 of them die. I know, I know—you all know I’m describing the world of The Hunger Games! And it feels, to a lot of you, like a world you understand, a world for which you know the rules. So think about this—imagine a world where, if you were especially talented at something, you had to purposefully limit it. So, Michael, since you’re a great pitcher in baseball, maybe you’d have to wear a heavy weight on your arm to hold it down. Or, what about this? Imagine a world where books were illegal. So illegal, actually, that there was a job to go out and books, whenever they were found.

“Now...imagine getting dropped into any one of those worlds. No one is around you to help you out. There’s no rule book. What would you have to figure out? What would you be wondering? Turn and talk.”

After only a minute (or less!), bring students back and connect this conversation to the work of the unit.

“What you did just now was a little like what we’ll be doing in this unit. I won’t really be abandoning you alone in horrific worlds...but you will be exploring a lot of those worlds in books— dystopian books, where the world has gone wrong in huge ways. If you were dropped there, one of the first challenges would be to figure out the rules of the place. And as you read these books, it will be just as if you were dropped into these worlds. One of the first challenges will be to figure out the rules of the place.

“Some of you are probably ecstatic about this unit, because you already love dystopia, and some of you may be wary, perhaps because you are not familiar with the genre. Either way, I can promise all of you that by the end of the month, after exploring some of these worlds that seem just absolutely awful, you’ll develop a new way of looking at our world.”

Introduce today’s read aloud, setting up the work of figuring out rules of an unfamiliar world.

“I’m about to drop all of us into one of those unfamiliar and troubling worlds. As we’ve been saying, you’ll have some questions and some things to figure out. That’s really the work of starting most

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35 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs books, but it is especially important in books that have strange settings. So we’ll approach this story, “Ponies” by Kij Johnson, with that job in mind. That means we’ll be on the lookout for things that seem odd and we’ll try to figure out what they might mean, how they might fit together. You ready?

The invitation card has a Western theme. Along its margins, cartoon girls in cowboy hats chase a herd of wild Ponies. The Ponies are no taller than the girls, bright as butterflies, fat, with short round-tipped unicorn horns and small fluffy wings. At the bottom of the card, newly caught Ponies mill about in a corral. The girls have lassoed a pink-and-white Pony. Its eyes and mouth are surprised round Os. There is an exclamation mark over its head.

Model your thinking at the start of the story, noticing typical and atypical parts of the setting and situation.

“So far, this seems like a typical kind of setting to me. Nothing too unusual. An invitation card, with some cartoon drawings of girls and ponies on it—I’m thinking this is some kind of party invitation, maybe for a kids’ party. I’ll read on.

The little girls are cutting off its horn with curved knives. Its wings are already removed, part of a pile beside the corral.

Let kids see you notice and react to this new, surprising information. Model considering theories about what might be going on.

“Whoa! Okay, this is definitely not what I expected! Whew. This happens a lot in all sorts of books -- the author delivers a surprise. If we were thrown into this dystopian world, our lives could depend on figuring this out -- human brains tend to do this when they’re faced with a shock. They start investigating and making theories. As readers we want to do this too.

We can start to say “Well maybe…” or “What if…” Now I’m thinking...well, what if maybe we’re in a place where little girls are the villains of this world. Like, maybe it’s little girls who commit all the crimes. Quickly, turn to your partner and try to spin out some other ‘what ifs.’”

After just a minute, pull students back together to read on, encouraging them to be ready to change or discard ideas that don’t work anymore.

“As we read on, some of your “what ifs” will change—they won’t work anymore. Others will come to your mind. That’s why I pushed us to come up with more than one theory—some won’t work out. So listen for what is strengthening your ideas and what is changing your ideas.

You and your Pony ___[and Sunny’s name is handwritten here, in puffy letters]___ are invited to a cutting-out party with TheOtherGirls! If we like you, and if your Pony does okay, we’ll let you hang out with us. Sunny says, “I can’t wait to have friends!” She reads over Barbara’s shoulder, rose-scented breath woofling through Barbara’s hair. They are in the backyard next to Sunny’s pink stable.

“Hmmm, so some new things that seem normal—like the invitation—and a lot of things seem strange, like this word ‘cutting-out party.’ Let’s keep going.

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36 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Barbara says, “Do you know what you want to keep?” Sunny’s tiny wings are a blur as she hops into the air, loops, and then hovers, legs curled under her. “Oh, being able to talk, absolutely! Flying is great, but talking is way better!” She drops to the grass. “I don’t know why any Pony would keep her horn! It’s not like it does anything!”

“Wait—what’s this about? Sunny keeping parts of her, or not keeping parts of her? How is this new information changing your ideas about what’s going on? Turn and talk.

Read on, reminding kids that sorting through confusion right now is their job.

“I heard a lot of different theories about what is going on in this place—and a lot of confusion! That’s actually a really good thing. Usually, dystopian authors WANT you to be just a little confused at the start, so it’s more worrying when you’re not at all confused. Once the authors get you really intrigued about what on earth is happening, though, they usually give you a few big clues. Look out for those as we read on.

This is the way it’s always been, as long as there have been Ponies. All ponies have wings. All Ponies have horns. All Ponies can talk. Then all Ponies go to a cutting-out party, and they give up two of the three, because that’s what has to happen if a girl is going to fit in with TheOtherGirls. Barbara’s never seen a Pony that still had her horn or wings after her cutting- out party.

Barbara sees TheOtherGirls’ Ponies peeking in the classroom windows just before recess or clustered at the bus stop after school. They’re baby pink and lavender and daffodil-yellow, with flossy manes in ringlets, and tails that curl to the ground. When not at school and cello lessons and ballet class and soccer practice and play group and the orthodontist’s, TheOtherGirls spend their days with their Ponies.

“WHOA! Kij Johnson just gave us a lot of information. Turn and talk—what did you learn? How does this fit with your theories—or not?

Sum up the conversation, setting kids up to take their theories further.

“So we’ve figured out a few things that definitely make this place an unfamiliar setting! I heard people say that in this world, there are talking ponies with horns and wings who go to school with the girls. That’s different. I also heard you guys figure out that there’s this creepy ‘cutting-out party’ where the ponies LOSE two of those things—ewww. Definitely doesn’t seem like our world.

“But with this kind of reality in mind, we now have to do the work of pushing our theories further. Often, at this point in a text, readers have the basics and now start to look for the smaller clues that will tell them more about how this world works. They start to hunt for tiny, precise details and they envision the world, with all those details included. They add on to their theories this way. Let’s try this work as we read on.

The party is at TopGirls’ house. She has a mother who’s a pediatrician and a father who’s a cardiologist and a small barn and giant trees shading the grass where the Ponies are playing games. Sunny walks out to them nervously. They silently touch her horn and wings with their velvet noses, and then the Ponies all trot out to the lilac barn at the bottom of the pasture, where a bale of hay has been broken open.

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37 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

TopGirl meets Barbara at the fence. “That’s your Pony?” she says without greeting. “She’s not as pretty as Starblossom.”

Barbara is defensive. “She’s beautiful!” This is a misstep so she adds, “Yours is so pretty!” And TopGirl’s Pony is pretty: her tail is every shade of purple and glitters with stars. But Sunny’s tail is creamy white and shines with honey-colored light, and Barbara knows that Sunny’s the most beautiful Pony ever.

TopGirl walks away, saying over her shoulder, “There’s Rock Band in the family room and a bunch of TheOtherGirls are hanging out on the deck and Mom bought some cookies and there’s Coke Zero and diet Red Bull and diet lemonade.”

“Where are you?” Barbara asks.

“I’m outside,” TopGirl says, so Barbara gets a Crystal Light and three frosted raisin-oatmeal cookies and follows her. TheOtherGirls outside are listening to an iPod plugged into speakers and playing Wii tennis and watching the Ponies play HideAndSeek and Who’sPrettiest and ThisIsTheBestGame. They are all there, SecondGirl and SuckUpGirl and EveryoneLikesHerGirl and the rest. Barbara only speaks when she thinks she’ll get it right.

“ Turn and talk—what more are you learning about what this place is like?

And then it’s time. TheOtherGirls and their silent Ponies collect in a ring around Barbara and Sunny. Barbara feels sick.

TopGirl says to Barbara, “What did she pick?”

Sunny looks scared but answers her directly. “I would rather talk than fly or stab things with my horn.”

TopGirl says to Barbara, “That’s what Ponies always say.” She gives Barbara a curved knife with a blade as long as a woman’s hand.

“Me?” Barbara says. “I thought someone else did it. A grown up.”

TopGirl says, “Everyone does it for their own Pony. I did it for Starblossom.”

In silence Sunny stretches out a wing.

It’s not the way it would be, cutting a real pony. The wing comes off easily, smooth as plastic, and the blood smells like cotton candy at the fair. There’s a shiny trembling oval where the wing was, as if Barbara is cutting rose-flavored Turkish Delight in half and sees the pink under the powdered sugar. She thinks, It’s sort of pretty, and throws up.

Sunny shivers, her eyes shut tight. Barbara cuts off the second wing and lays it beside the first.

The horn is harder, like paring a real pony’s hooves. Barbara’s hand slips and she cuts Sunny, and there’s more cotton-candy blood. And then the horn lies in the grass beside the wings.

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38 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Sunny drops to her knees. Barbara throws the knife down and falls beside her, sobbing and hiccuping. She scrubs her face with the back of her hand and looks up at the circle.

Show students how you add more to your idea about the place by paying attention to details.

“Wow...that was intense. I am tempted to just say oh well, we already knew that—we knew that this is a place where they cut off ponies’ horns and wings. But I’m going to push myself and try to see what else I might have learned. Let’s see...well, I can picture the shocked look on Barbara’s face when she gets told that she has to cut Sunny herself, and then I can picture the faces of the other girls, who DID know. It seems like Barbara doesn’t realize how the process would go. That makes me think that in this place, this cutting-out is one of those things in life that you only figure out once you actually do it. See how I found a detail that helped me learn even more about the world? Try that work as we keep going.”

Starblossom touches the knife with her nose, pushes it toward Barbara with one lilac hoof. TopGirl says, “Now the voice. You have to take away her voice.”

“But I already cut off her wings and her horn!” Barbara throws her arms around Sunny’s neck, protecting it. “Two of the three, you said!”

“That’s the cutting-out, yeah,” TopGirl says. “That’s what you do to be OneOfUs. But the Ponies pick their own friends. And that costs, too.” Starblossom tosses her violet mane. For the first time, Barbara sees that there is a scar shaped like a smile on her throat. All the Ponies have one.

“I won’t!” Barbara tells them all, but even as she cries until her face is caked with snot and tears, she knows she will, and when she’s done crying, she picks up the knife and pulls herself upright.

Sunny stands up beside her on trembling legs. She looks very small without her horn, her wings. Barbara’s hands are slippery, but she tightens her grip.

“Turn and talk—what details are helping you really envision this place and understand it better?

“We’re going to read to the end of the story now—and as you get to the ends of stories, often you learn new aspects of the world. The author isn’t going to completely change everything, but they might keep refining your understanding. Look out for that as we go.

“No,” Sunny says suddenly. “Not even for this.”

Sunny spins and runs, runs for the fence in a gallop as fast and beautiful as a real pony’s; but there are more of the others, and they are bigger, and Sunny doesn’t have her wings to fly or her horn to fight. They pull her down before she can jump the fence into the woods beyond. Sunny cries out and then there is nothing, only the sound of pounding hooves from the tight circle of Ponies.

TheOtherGirls stand, frozen. Their blind faces are turned toward the Ponies.

The Ponies break their circle, trot away. There is no sign of Sunny, beyond a spray of cotton- candy blood and a coil of her glowing mane torn free and fading as it falls to the grass.

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39 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar, Eighth Grade, 2017-2018 Unit 3 - Dystopian Book Clubs

Into the silence TopGirl says, “Cookies?” She sounds fragile and false. TheOtherGirls crowd into the house, chattering in equally artificial voices. They start up a game, drink more Diet Coke.

Barbara stumbles after them into the family room. “What are you playing?” she says, uncertainly.

“Why are you here?” FirstGirl says, as if noticing her for the first time. “You’re not OneOfUs.”

TheOtherGirls nod. “You don’t have a pony.”

“WOW! Take thirty seconds to react—I know you’re dying to talk.”

Call students back together to help them synthesize they’ve learned.

“So...what kind of place is this? You already know one way to answer that question—thinking about how the place feels, if it’s positive or negative—and I can see from your faces that you have some thoughts about that! But remember, today we were working on another way to answer that question, by really trying to figure out, if you were making a handbook or survival guide to being in this place, what is it all about? What are the rules? With your partner, take a post it and jot two or three details that feel really important to go into that handbook for this world. Push yourself to give all the information that you’ve learned. This is the kind of place that…

Collect post-its to keep together as you work in the bend and link this work to students’ own reading work.

So readers, as you dive into your own dystopian novels, remember that one of your big jobs, starting off, will be to figure out what kind of place this is. The author won’t always make it easy for you. It will probably be a strange place, an unfamiliar place. The rules won’t be clear, and the characters will talk like you should know what they mean! But just like any explorer, this is what you’re up against -- and what we practiced together today should help you.

Dystopian Readers Orient Themselves to The Familiar and Unfamiliar

• Look for details that seem odd and work to have them make sense. • Pay attention to small details and use them to envision more about the world.

I put up a chart with what we practiced, to guide you as you work. You’ll have about ten minutes to start reading today -- good luck in your new worlds!

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