Into the Curriculum
School Library Media Activities Monthly/Volume XXV, Number 6/February 2009
Reading/Language Arts: Male and Female Courageous Protagonist Project
by Michael Stencil Sr.
Michael Stencil Sr. is a 6th grade reading teacher at Westminster East Middle School, Carroll County Public Schools, Westminster, MD. He is also working on his school library media certification at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information Literacy Skills Objectives:
AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner:
- Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge: 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.6, 1.3.1, 1.4.2.
- Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge: 2.1.2, 2.3.1.
Curriculum (subject area) Objectives:
Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum Reading/Language Arts Objectives:
Standard 3: Comprehension of Literary Text
Topic 3: Students will:
- Analyze elements of narrative texts to facilitate understanding and interpretation.
- Analyze characterization.
- Analyze relationships between and among characters, setting, and events.
Topic 6: Students will:
- Determine important ideas and messages in literary texts.
- Analyze main ideas and universal themes.
- Analyze similar themes across multiple texts.
Grade Levels: 6-8
- Suggested Courageous Male Protagonist Books
- Avi. The Christmas Rat. Aladdin, 2002. Lexile Score: 500. Eleven-year-old Eric finds himself alone in his apartment over Christmas and fighting an unusual battle.
- Bloor, Edward. Tangerine. Sandpiper, 2006. Lexile Score: 680. Twelve-year-old Paul wants to play soccer despite being legally blind.
- Clements, Andrew. Frindle. Aladdin, 1998. Lexile Score: 830. Fifth-grader Nick Allen invents a new word as retaliation for his teacher's love of the dictionary.
- Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander. Scholastic, 2004. Lexile Score: 630. Eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister are transported from New York to an underground world.
- Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. Random House, 1999. Lexile Score: 950. Ten-year-old Bud escapes an undesirable foster home and goes in search of his father.
- Durbin, William. The Broken Blade. Yearling, 1998. Lexile Score: 900. Thirteen-year-old Pierre takes his injured father's place to travel into northern Canada for fur trading.
- Feinstein, John. Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery. Yearling, 2006. Lexile Score: 757. Eighth graders Stevie and Susan Carol are sent to cover the Final Four tournament and they discover that a player is being blackmailed.
- Gantos, Jack. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. HarperCollins, 2000. Lexile Score: 970. Joey is not your normal kid and he is not a still boy—to the point he cannot control his behavior and it is causing him trouble in life.
- Gardiner, John Reynolds. Stone Fox. HarperCollins, 1992. Lexile Score: 592. A young boy enters a sled race and hopes to use the winner's purse to save his grandfather's farm.
- George, Jean Craighead. My Side of the Mountain. Puffin, 2004. Lexile Score: 783. A young boy spends a year of survival in the Catskill Mountains.
- Hiaasen, Carl. Hoot. Yearling, 2006. Lexile Score: 760. After moving to a new home in Florida, Roy joins another boy in trying to save burrowing owls.
- Horowitz, Anthony. Stormbreaker. Philomel, 2006. Lexile Score: 670. After the death of his uncle, fourteen, Alex Rider becomes involved in continuing his uncle's work with Britain's intelligence agency, MI6.
- Levine, Gail Carson. Dave at Night. HarperCollins, 2001. Lexile Score: 490. To escape the unpleasant treatment at the Hebrew Home for Boys, Dave sneaks out at night to participate in the music world of the Harlem Renaissance.
- Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Laurel Leaf, 2002. Lexile Score: 760. Jonas is given a lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve and becomes a receiver of memories.
- Mikaelsen, Ben. Touching Spirit Bear. HarperTeen, 2005. Lexile Score: 670. Based on the Native American Circle Justice, Cole is sent to a remote Alaskan Island instead of going to prison.
- Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Shiloh. Aladdin, 2000. Lexile Score: 890. Marty finds a lost beagle in the hills behind his West Virginia home and tries to hide the dog from his owner who has mistreated him.
- Park, Linda Sue. A Single Shard. Yearling, 2003. Lexile Score: 920. Set in medieval Korea, this is the story of a homeless thirteen-year-old orphan in a potters' village.
- Paulsen, Gary. Dogsong. Simon Pulse, 2007. Lexile Score: 930. A fourteen-year-old Eskimo boy seeks his own identity by making a 1400-mile journey by dog sled.
- Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. Aladdin, 2006. Lexile Score: 1020. Involved in a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the Canadian wilderness.
- Rawls, Wilson. Where the Red Fern Grows. Yearling, 1996. Lexile Score: 816. This is a story about a young boy growing up in the 1930s in Oklahoma and his love for two hunting dogs.
- Rodda, Emily. Rowan of Rin. HarperCollins, 2004. Lexile Score: 660. Rowan is the only one that can read the map, so he joins with villagers to climb a mountain and possibly face a dragon.
- Smith, Roland. Thunder Cave. Hyperion, 1997. Lexile Score: 620. Fourteen-year-old Jacob travels alone to Kenya in search of his father after his mother dies.
- Winkler, Henry, and Lin Oliver. Hank Zipzer: I Got a "D" in Salami. Walker Books, 2008. Lexile Score: 650. Hank has lots of problems at school and tries to hide his report card by destroying it in a meat grinder.
- Suggested Courageous Female Protagonist Books
- Anderson, Laurie Halse. Fever, 1793. Aladdin, 2002. Lexile Score: 580. It is 1793 in Philadelphia and sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook must learn how to deal with a yellow fever epidemic.
- Avi. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. HarperCollins, 2004. Lexile Score: 740. In 1832, young Charlotte is on a transatlantic voyage with a dangerous captain and a crew ready to rebel.
- Babbitt, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting. Square Fish, 2007. Lexile Score: 770. A ten-year-old girl is kidnapped and shares a secret about a water spring that allows people to live forever.
- Bruchac, Joseph. Skeleton Man. HarperCollins, 2003. Lexile Score: 730. Molly is in the care of a strange uncle after her parents disappear.
- Creech, Sharon. Walk Two Moons. Harperteen, 2003. Lexile Score: 770. Thirteen-year-old Sal and her grandparents travel by car trying to find her mother—the only thing she really wants.
- DuPrau, Jeanne. City of Ember. Random House, 2004. Lexile Score: 680. In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina is trying to interpret a message that will save her ancient city.
- Farmer, Nancy. A Girl Named Disaster. Penguin Group, 1998. Lexile Score: 730. While journeying to Zimbabwe, Eleven-year-old Nhamo almost drowns and faces starvation.
- George, Jean Craighead. Julie of the Wolves. HarperCollins, 2003. Lexile Score: 860. A thirteen-year-old Eskimo girl runs away from home and an unwanted marriage. Lost on the North Slope of Alaska, she is taken in by a wolf pack.
- Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Running Out of Time.Simon & Schuster, 1997. Lexile Score: 730. Believing it is the year 1840, thirteen-year-old Jessie tries to save her family and friends from a diphtheria epidemic. She discovers it is actually 1995 and they have been deceived into being part of a tourist site.
- Haddix, Margaret Peterson. The Uprising. Simon & Schuster, 2007. Lexile Score: 790. Many years after her experience in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Mrs. Livingston tells about the experience.
- Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. Scholastic, 1999. Lexile Score: NP; Grade Level: 4.5. Fifteen-year-old Billie Jo writes poems about living on a farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl and the Depression.
- Hill, Stuart. Cry of the Icemark. Scholastic, 2006. Lexile Score: 1140. Fourteen-year-old Princess Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield must defend her homeland, Icemark, from invasion.
- L'Engle. Madeleine. Wrinkle in Time. Square Fish, 2007. Lexile Score: 740. Meg Murry, her brother, and a friend find themselves in a space adventure, trying to find Meg's father, who has disappeared while working on a secret project.
- Levine, Gail Carson. Two Princesses of Bamarre. HarperCollins, 2003. Lexile Score: 570. Princess Addie is forced to be brave and search the kingdom of Bamarre to find a cure for her sister Meryl who suffering from the Grey death.
- Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Laurel Leaf, 1999. Lexile Score: 670. Ten-year-old Annemarie must be brave, helping to hide a Jewish friend from the Nazis during the 1943 German occupation of Denmark.
- O'Dell, Scott. Island of the Blue Dolphins. Yearling, 1987. Lexile Score: 1000. Karana, an American Indian girl, survives alone for eighteen years on an isolated island off the California coast.
- Pearsall, Shelley. Crooked River. Yearling, 2007. Lexile Score: 910. In 1812, twelve-year old Rebecca Carter witnesses the reaction of her town to a Native American accused of murder, even though he is innocent.
- Ryan, Pam Muñoz. Esperanza Rising. Scholastic Press, 2000. Lexile Score: 750 . Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave a privileged life in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California.
- Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Penguin Group, 2000. Lexile Score: 920. A black family living in the South during the 1930s are faced with prejudice and discrimination.
- Voight, Cynthia. Dicey's Song. Aladdin, 2003. Lexile Score: 710. Abandoned, the Tillerman children go to live with their grandmother. Dicey faces the challenges of her new situation.
- Watkins, Yoko Kawashima. So Far from the Bamboo Grove. HarperCollins, 1994. Lexile Score: 730. Eleven-year-old Yoko escapes from Korea to Japan with her mother and sister at the end of World War II.
- Wells, Rosemary. Red Moon at Sharpsburg. Viking, 2007. Lexile Score: 760. As the Civil War breaks out, India, a young girl in the South, must face challenges that threaten her family and her life as she knows it.
- Yep, Laurence. Hiroshima. Scholastic,1996. Lexile Score: 660. This book describes the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and tells the story of Sachi, who was badly burned.
- Reading Tracker
- Web Sites:
- ReadWriteThink. "Boys Read: Considering Courage in Novels" Lesson Plan. http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=997
- ReadWriteThink. "Student Materials: Persuasion Map." http://www.readwritethink.org/materials/persuasion_map/
Working together, the classroom teacher and library media specialist plan the unit. The majority of the teaching takes place in the library media center/computer lab while the majority of reading takes place in the classroom or at home. The classroom teacher conducts discussions illustrating acts of courage from students' texts, allowing students to work in groups/partners to discuss their protagonist's actions, allowing time to read in class, and consistently monitoring student progress. The library media specialist introduces the activity, provides the booklists and books, sustains the students' reading, instructs the students in how to use the "Persuasion Map" and the PowerPoint program, and supports the students in creating their final projects.
Activities and Procedures for Completion:
Students will come to the library media center on the first day of the assignment. This lesson is taught by the library media specialist. This is only a suggested timeframe and visitation schedule. It can and should be adapted to meet the needs of the students.
Day 1: Class led by the library media specialist
Discuss with the students what "courage" means. What kinds of people show courage in their community/lives? Give examples. How do students show courage? What types of courage are there? Have there been any current events that illustrated courage? Ask students to share role models in their lives who have showed courage.
Tell the students that they are going to be choosing and reading a novel with either a male or female protagonist. Explain that as they read these books, students should reflect upon the characters' actions and ask themselves whether the main characters show courage.
Pass out the suggested booklists to the students (see Resources). Hand out the male protagonist list to the boys and the female protagonist list to the girls. Have several back-up copies in case a boy or a girl would like to read a book off the other list. Display many of the books and book talk several.
Allow students to choose their books. The teacher may help students choose books on their reading level based on their Lexile score. Pass out the Reading Tracker Handout (see below). Students will use it to monitor and complete their reading. Have students divide their book into three different sections and complete the timetable on the handout.
Tell the students that their teacher is going to allow class time to discuss their books in either groups or partners. As they read, students should identify actions from their protagonists that show courage, mark them with sticky-notes, and eventually record them on the Reading Tracker Handout.
Days 2-21: Classroom
The classroom teacher encourages, supports, and allows class time for students to read their books, discuss their protagonist with others, and record examples of courage shown in their books. The teacher can decide whether to have boys work separately from girls or if there will be mixed groups. Times can be scheduled when the library media specialist also leads discussions with the students.
Day 21: Class led by the library media specialist, may be in the computer lab
Begin by re-examining the definition of "courage" that they developed at the first meeting and lead a discussion. Ask how the main characters of their books showed courage. Were they heroic? Was it always physical courage or was there emotional courage as well? Examples? Could you have done those things? What was the most courageous thing that happened in any of the books?
Model how to use the online "Persuasion Map" that will help students graphically represent their argument supporting why their main character was or was not courageous (see Resources).
Model how to set up a basic PowerPoint slide, used by students to complete their final project. They can print out their "Persuasion Maps" and use them to create the PowerPoint slide to graphically represent their argument about the courage of their main character. Print out each slide to be turned into the library media specialist.
Students complete the Self-Assessment handout (see example below), and check out other books to read.
Student assessment will be done using the student Self-Assessment handout, teacher examination of the PowerPoint slide, and the results of the Reading Tracker Handout. Assessment of the unit will be based on statistics gathered on books checked out of the library media center.
The students' PowerPoint slides could be displayed in a decorative bulletin board about courageous characters for the entire school to see. Additional character education lessons/library media activities could be created to continue to emphasize having the courage to do the right thing. An author visit could create a unique opportunity to have that class ask the author questions about the problems the character faced and how the author helped their character to show courage.