Thursday, April 14, 2016

Middle School English Gets Graphic!

We started our fourth quarter unit.  This one has been my favorite to end the year with for the past few years.  Each year it is of course slightly different, but my unit goal stays the same, by the end of the quarter the students will be able to describe the hero's journey storyline and how it relates to a novel. Also, the students will apply the learning by creating a graphic novel of a brand new hero following the hero's journey storyline.  There's a lot going on!

We started out by choosing literature circle books.  I scoured the book room at my new school for books that fit the hero's journey pattern.  Here's what I came up with: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief; Harry Potter; The Dark is Rising book one; The Giver; Among the Hidden; The Outsiders; and Artemis Fowl.  I know you might see The Outsiders on this list and notice that it doesn't fit with the genres of the rest, but to me that's the beauty of it.  Ponyboy definitely fits the hero's journey! We can also use that to talk about the fact that this common pattern doesn't have to be just a fantasy or sci-fi storyline. I do know that this list is heavy on the male hero character with zero female leads.  At my previous school I also used The Hunger Games and Life As We Knew It. Divergent, Uglies, and Matched would fit the pattern as well. 

Since we are mapping the hero's journey with our novels, I am loving the newest plot chart that Created for Learning posted on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I am totally having the students use this when they complete their novels! They make the best plot charts and have a great news letter!

We have been working on our novels for a few weeks now.  The students have weekly quizzes once a week on Tuesdays and weekly literature circle activities on Fridays.   In order to easily facilitate multiple quizzes in a classroom I created my quiz answer sheet as a Google Form. I pass out paper copies of quizzes, but these include a list of common writing prompts for all students to choose from and then 2-3 multiple choice or short answer questions for their novels.  It's super easy to get all of the answers on one spreadsheet and grade for a class!  Here's an example of my Google Form quiz sheet! 

The students started planning their own graphic novels today with the creation of their villains.  Read, Write, Think has a lesson that a colleague and I used about three years ago and have evolved from.  From our creation of heroes and villains the students will move into storyboard planning, then creating their graphic novels.  I have used for the past four years.  We only use it for a month and I find it is totally worth the $9.00 for 200 students to create a really high quality graphic novel.  I also have the students use the Marvel Super Hero Creator to create their hero as if an artist designed him/her. This becomes our graphic novel cover. Here are some samples of my students creations over the years. 

If you choose to use Pixton and want to use my assignment it's been on there for five years now! That's pretty exciting in itself!  It's listed under activities as Super Hero Comic Book.  I have revised my rubric and focus since the original one, but I always start here. 

If you want the lessons done for you, I have the Hero's Journey Unit on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  This is eight full weeks of my super detailed lesson plans, plus links galore to help make it your own!  Let me know any thoughts or feedback that you have for the unit!  I am always looking for new book recommendations! 

In one more bit of awesome news.  I recently found out I am the Colorado PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator for 2016!   I get to attend the PBS Digital Innovators Summit in Denver this summer and one day of ISTE.  I hope to have so much more in technology and digital innovation to share next year!  


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