Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Civil War YA novel: Bloody Times

 I love the school book sales and when my daughter's school had one during open house I took advantage of the opportunity and bought two Civil War books that were specially adapted for young people. Civil War is not a particular interest, but anything that I might use in a classroom is.

Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis by James L. Swanson was a delightful find. It could be a mentor text for showing students how to integrate primary documents into a text. Pictures, cartoons, letters, telegrams and other resources are incorporated into the text to support ideas throughout. Common Core Reading goals include:

3. analyze how and why individuals, events and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text,

 7. integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words

11. Respond to literature by employing knowledge of literary language, textual features, and forms to read and comprehend, reflect upon, and interpret literary texts from a variety of genres and a wide spectrum of American and world cultures

The writing goals include:

2.Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
4.Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

8.Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

9.Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

All of these goals can be addressed using this mentor text to show how a published author performs. Be careful not to teach too many concepts at once. That would overwhelm students and result in less learning. Think about focusing on one or two CCSS goals. Students may notice other things for another lesson, but maintain focus for the duration of the present lesson.
 The book's presentation of comparisons between Lincoln and Davis is intriguing and would be wonderful to analyze. The book lists the guided reading level as X and the Lexile as 1010L. This puts it as a middle school text. Students who have not read material that switches timelines may be confused by the structure and need support to identify the parallel story lines. For some students, reading parts of the text to them may be all that is needed. For higher level readers, independent assignments based on the reading could be completed while others worked with the teacher to learn skills need to conquer the reading.

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