I ditched the novel study booklet finally! I hope to never go back. I used the novel to teach sign posts, Notice and Note style. We talked about theme. We made connections. At the end I was tempted to have them illustrate their favorite scene...but then decided against it. I want to create authentic reading experiences for my students and as an avid reader, I've never illustrated my favorite scene after finishing a book so I ditched the idea.
These were some of our conversations:
Student: Guys, can you think of any movies that don't have a villain? Does the villain ever win?
Discussion ensues. Movies are thrown around. Villains are identified. Winners of conflict, it appears, are never the villain.
Character lesson: Check. Don't be a villain. It never pays off.
Losing your shine (p.?):
Student: It reminds me of when my parents had a new baby. You know how it is. They have a new baby and they're all excited and they spend all their time with the baby and kind of forget about you. In time, however, they come back to you.
Ivan is relatable:
Student: I like Ivan. He's kind of like me. He gets frustrated easily, but he isn't fierce about it. He keeps in control. Usually, I do too but I'm still mad.
Ivan has a poor memory. His memories slowly come back to him. We learned that when an author interrupts a story with a flash back there's a reason for it. We had some great discussions about memory moments:
Student: It seems like Ivan's memories are always triggered by something.
Me: What is an example of a trigger?
Student: He wants to protect Ruby and so she is a trigger for his memories.
We were pretty horrified at his memory of how his parents died. Why did the author share that memory? It made him angry! It moved him to action to do something to save Ruby (and himself). This is when his painting project started.
Thinking back to our conversation about westerns and villains in movies, we were led to a discussion about whether Mack is a villain or a hero. This is always an interesting discussion with this book. When we came across a picture of Mack with Ruby near the end of the story, they were surprised at how the author portrayed him. I had to admit that wasn't how I was imagining him either. There were a number of comments abut his appearance that suggested everyone thought he was terrible. I re-directed their judgment by asking them for examples in the story that have shown that Mack is a bad guy. It took some time, but they were able to come up with a number of examples of poor character. It was agreed. He is a bad guy. We couldn't quite agree on villain since most villains are wolves, witches and ogres and he isn't quite one of those.