Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Mini-Lesson

photoI want to start out by thanking you, my peers, for your insightful feedback on my mini-lesson. I hope you won’t mind that I’ve decided to use this post to reflect on your suggestions and questions. All of your suggestions and questions addressed aspects of the mini-lesson that could’ve used improvement.

Here’s one of my favorite questions/suggestions: “Would you consider a ‘banned books’ unit? Maybe kids can further explore why books get banned and challenged.” This is a fantastic idea! It might not go over too well in some school districts, but I feel confident that students would really enjoy a unit on banned books. After all, young people seem intrigued by all things forbidden, don’t they? (I know I was!)

Another insightful critique suggested that I provide more examples of diction and tone, or even a handout that would give students an opportunity to connect samples of diction with appropriate tones. This piece of advice, like the metaphor post-it game we played yesterday, underscored the importance of helping students handle literary terms before asking them to analyze complex texts.

A couple of the other suggestions I received had to do with my close reading questions. One person suggested that I leave the first question (which dealt with the essentiality of the passage) for last because it involved higher-order thinking. The other person advised that some of the questions seemed similar to others. Both of these critiques are spot-on. For me, the “lesson learned” here is: take the time to sit down and answer your own questions. When I’ve done this in the past, I’ve discovered the flaws of the questions I’ve created and improved them. I wish I had taken the time to do this with the close reading questions!

Another comment asked that I not answer the “do now” question so quickly. It’s another unarguable critique. I shouldn’t have shared my thoughts, or even my knowledge about Chris Crutcher’s opinions, until everyone who wanted to respond was given a chance to do so.

Another helpful suggestion read: “[You] may need to define words like ‘profane,’ ‘controversial,’ ‘authentic,’ ‘unjustified’ and ‘contention’ for high school students.” This is absolutely right. I guess that’s the advantage of teaching a mini-lesson in front of graduate students!

Finally, I want to share one of my favorite questions from the feedback sheets: “What would happen if the students were given the option to ban their own choices?” How thought provoking! I chuckled to myself imagining the joy students would take in banning the books they dislike…

Thanks again to everyone!

Posted by SD


One thought on “Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Mini-Lesson

  1. PDC – I highly enjoyed your mini-lesson and agree with many of the suggests and comments. I especially think that having a unit on banned books would be really interesting and appealing to the students. Students could possibly have the chance to do research on the time period or area where the book was banned. I am still curious to know what was happening in Belleville, Wisconsin for them to want to ban Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. The lesson can also go internationally, for example China and the Little Red Book. A final project could be students creating a claim on a book they believe should be banned or fitting for a book a to become unbanned.

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