Things Fall Apart

Discussion in 'General Education' started by AdamnJakesMommy, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    So I purchased Chenua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, which I was required to read as a freshman in high school. Obviously, I didn't read it really well then, but I did today because I've bought a class set for my upcoming 7th graders to read--I figured hey, it's a recommended book for students, it must be a-ok. There are parts of that book that made me uneasy: succulent "breasts," illusions to sex (woman on top, undoing garment), and the horrific scene of a baby getting mutilated (which made me want to throw the book out the window because I can't stand stuff like that).

    What the heck?

    Since it's a classic, and recommended reading I guess I will keep it. Anybody else think this is a somewhat questionable read?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    You've recently asked about a questionable textbook and hw this... You might be well advised to err on the side of caution. Avoid controversy. You can deliver excellent instruction with less objectionable text.
     
  4. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Well that's because I'm incorporating a ton of reading into my social studies classes (that there are a lot of texts I'm reading over the summer) because my kids are low low readers. I will still use this book because 7th grade is a grade where this book is read commonly. I was just personally stunned by it. If I feel my students aren't mature enough to handle it (by the time we cover this it'll be spring), I will just not assign those chapters. I'm not worried about my position being compromised by a text that is used all over the country in public schools. I was only curious if anybody else was put off by those parts of the book or if I'm too prudish, that's the only reason I asked the question.
     
  5. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    7th grade is too young for you to do "Things Fall Apart" as a required text. Looking around online, all CCSS references to that book seem to be for high school grades, and most for 10-12. To me, that seems appropriate. You might be able to use excerpts from "Things Fall Apart," but I wouldn't do the whole thing. The CCSS appendix has it down as a grade 9-10 exemplar. I don't even know if I'd be crazy about it for grades 9-10, but definitely not 7.
     
  6. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    You shouldn't care what other 7th grade teachers are doing all over the country. You should only care about what is A-OK in your own building.

    If your IST/Admin allow you to teach the book (especially without having to skip parts), then teach it. But, you should probably get approval first. No English teacher at my school does a novel-study without Admin/IST approval. This is mostly because the school buys the novels but none of them would go out and buy a set of novels and just starts teaching it without first talking to our IST.

    Also, I may have you confused with someone else, but if I recall correctly, you are a relatively new teacher (less than five years). Better be safe than sorry at this point in the game.
     
  7. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    I am also looking to incorporate novels in SS class. I'm reading through so many texts! I routinely eliminate anything vaguely controversial, but my district is ultra conservative . I've never heard of the novel you're talking about so I don't think it's common in my area.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Be guided by your standards. I'm sure there are less controversial texts you can use to deliver your required content to young learners.
     
  9. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I definitely wouldn't do this book for 7th grade. I've never seen it taught that young before. I'd see if you can resell the books and get something more grade level appropriate, especially if you have such low readers.
     
  10. live

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    I remember reading that book in high school, and honestly, I didn't even think twice about any part of the book. At that age, I was mature enough to know about those things; too immature to understand the weight of them. Every school, student, and student population is different though. With that said, middle school may still be too young.

    If you're concerned, you could always send a permission slip and provide alternative book options for those who do not wish to participate. And of course, get approval from admin.

    I think I'm actually interested in reading this book now that I'm a little older, and see how my perspective has changed.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    You read it in 9th grade
    You are going to teach low reading 7th graders
    You were taken aback by it...


    And you are still considering it?:confused:
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I've never read the book, but based on your post, I wouldn't have used it with my grade 7 class this year; most did not have the maturity to deal with some of the content you mentioned. On Scholastic's website, they list the interest level for the book as 9-12th grade--I usually find them to be fairly accurate.

    I almost never use a whole class novel--there is too great a range of levels in my classes to make any book an appropriate choice for all--unless I am doing it as a read aloud and/or for modelling.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Given the description, I'd have issues with the text for my not low level sons...and the OP is in NC where she could run into conservative families...as a new to grade level/district teacher....not a hill I'd choose to die on. Even as a seasoned, tenured teacher.:2cents:
     
  14. kab164

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    No, wouldn't use with 7th grade and would not want my 7th grader reading it. In the last school I worked at, that book would have gotten a teacher in trouble. Does not sound age appropriate
     
  15. Kelster95

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    I read it in 12th grade world lit and the teacher got some complaints from parents, I went to a school with high parental involvement.
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I have read and enjoyed this book. I do not think that it is appropriate for most middle schoolers.
     
  17. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I read it in university in 2 different classes, and I still don't think I read it well. I don't remember any of the parts you referenced. I wouldn't read this with anyone in grade 7 - 11.
     
  18. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    That's a junior/senior level book in the two districts on which I've taught. Not only do I think middle school is too young to handle it, I think they're too immature to "get" it. The themes and writing style of the book just doesn't seem well suited for middle school, in my opinion.
     
  19. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I agree. This book is meant for high school. I think they'd get a lot more out of this book if they wait until high school to read it.
     
  20. bros

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    I read that book in 12th grade Honors English - teaching it in seventh grade does not seem like it would fit, given the content in the book and the typical maturity of a seventh grader
     
  21. ScienceEd

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    If they are low readers and you are teaching history not English, I would recommend having current events with vocabulary notes instead of a novel.

    Plus i agree with the board, that novel is for upper grades (high school level) not middle school.
     
  22. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    I read it in college; though I think it was a very good book and gave me a different perspective on things, I really don't think it should be given to students below 12th grade. It's not the description of breasts or violence per se that bother me (after all, Romeo and Juliet has violence), it's more the darkness of the book and that I just don't think it is really accessible for younger teens.
     
  23. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Especially low readers.
     
  24. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I read it in 12th grade; I absolutely would not read it in MS.

    There are quite a lot of MS level books that will be accessible to your students and cover your needs in SS. I'm sorry if I missed it, but what is the curriculum for 7th grade where you are?
     
  25. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Do you have the ability to return the class set? It sounds like it's not going to work now that you've had a chance to reread and reflect upon it.
     
  26. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    What does your social studies curriculum encompass? Perhaps we could give some alternate suggestions.
     
  27. Ima Teacher

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    It came with our 7th grade textbooks. We don't read it. Too mature for our current kids.
     
  28. bros

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    Could also compare greek mythology to cinematic adaptiations of the greek mythos.

    I once read a very entertaining writeup on the differences between Disney's Hercules (1997) and the Heracles of myth. It's rather entertaining.
     
  29. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    7th grade is World History 1500-present (and I have a passion for African history during the colonial era), I will also teach 6th and 8th, which are different curriculums.. I would love recommendations for a book dealing with this topic.

    As far as novels, I am REQUIRED to teach with novels in my graduate program, there is no question I will do this.

    I am the social studies department, there are no other social studies teachers, and obviously there is only one teacher who IS the language arts department. I know her personally and she is super excited to have a social studies partner teacher who will incorporate tons of literacy into the curriculum.

    I will toss the book for my 7th graders but I would like recommendations for a book for colonial Africa.
     
  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Are you currently enrolled in a grad program?

    I guess I would focus less on what my grad program requires and more on what the school/district requires. Does it also require novel studies in social studies?
     
  31. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I have not read any of these novels and do not know their intended audiences. Interestingly, Things Fall Apart is on this list. Its a starting point for exploration anyway. Hope this link helps.

    http://www.historicalnovels.info/Africa.html
     
  32. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Yes, I'm in a masters program. My program has emphasized since DAY ONE the importance of incorporating historical fiction into the curriculum. It is a state program that works with my district extensively. I have absolutely NO worries about incorporating novels into my curriculum and am not quite sure why YOU are so worried.

    But of course, I am pre-reading every novel I have selected and each one was off a similar site provided by runs with scissors, (which included Things Fall Apart), guess that's why it is a good thing to pre-read and not have any surprises. I have seen this novel prescribed for 7th grade, but again I have elected NOT to incorporate it. But the novels I have selected thus far are (I have read and find them perfectly suitable)




    Definitely:

    The Midwife's Apprentice
    The Executioner's Daughter
    Angel on the Square

    Not sure about:

    A Break with Charity (Salem Witch Trials), I found the text a difficult read even though the lexile is pretty low. If I could find a more easy read on the topic I would prefer that.

    Haven't read yet but am considering:

    The Watson's Go to Birmingham

    Do you really think I need to get every book I choose pre-approved? What about every documentary and film I choose? What about every app I project on my overhead?
     
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  35. Upsadaisy

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    Meyer, Carolyn. Mary, Bloody Mary Mary Tudor, who would reign briefly as queen of England during the mid 16th century, tells the story of her troubled childhood as daughter of King Henry VIII. AR: 6.3, Lexile: 830

    Miklowitz, Gloria D. Secrets in the House of Delgado In Spain in 1492, 14-yr-old Maria, a Catholic orphan, becomes a servant to a wealthy family of Conversos, converted Jews, at a time when the Jews are being expelled from the country & when the Inquisition is diligently searching for religious heretics. AR: 4.7, Lexile: 670
    Molina Llorente,PilarThe Apprentice Working as an artist’s apprentice in Renaissance Florence, 13-yr.-old Arduino makes a discovery which may cost him the chance to become a painter. AR 5.3, Lexile: 730

    Morpurgo, Michael. Joan of Arc of Domremy While sitting on the riverbank in the ancient French city of Orleans, 17-yr.-old Eloise hears a voice, which relates the adventures and struggles of the medieval heroine Joan of Arc as she fights to free France by driving out the English. AR 5.5

    Morris, Gerald. The Squire, His Knight, & His Lady Legend taking place in medievalEngland. After several years at King Arthur’s court, Terence, as Sir Gawain’s squire & friend, accompanies him on a perilous quest that tests all their skills & whose successful completion could mean certain death for Gawain. AR 5.2, Lexile: 760

    Morris, Gerald. The Squire’s Tale Story based on legend. In medieval England, 14-yr.-old Terence finds his tranquil existence suddenly changed when he becomes the squire of the young Gawain of Orkney & accompanies him on a long quest, proving Gawain’s worth as a knight & revealing an important secret about his own true identity. AR: 4.8, Lexile: 700

    Namioka, Lensey. Den of the White Fox In medieval Japan, two out-of-work samurai warriors must use their fighting skills when they join a group of local boys, led by the mysterious White Fox, in resistance to a cruel occupying force. AR: 5.9, Lexile: 750

    Namioka, Lensey. The Samurai and the Long-Nosed Devils In medieval Japan during a warlord’s drive to unify Japan, two unemployed samurai become bodyguards to a group of foreigners being harassed by the warlord’s enemies.

    Napoli, Donna Jo. Breath Elaborates on the tale of "The Pied Piper," told from the point of view of a medieval boy who is too ill to keep up when a piper spirits away the healthy children of a plague-ridden town after being cheated out of full payment for ridding Hameln of rats. Based on Medieval living conditions.AR: 4.2, Lexile: 620

    O’Dell,Scott .The Captive As part of a Spanish expedition to the New World, a Jesuit seminarian witnesses the enslavement & exploitation of the Mayans. This is a tale of conquistadors & a perilous voyage, of cannibals & bloodied gods, of greed for gold, of shipwreck & solitary survival & of all the awesome splendor of ancient Maya civilization.

    O’Dell, Scott. The Hawk that Dare not Hunt by Day.Amid political turmoil and threats of plague, young Tom Barton accepts the risks of helping William Tyndale publish and smuggle into England the Bible he has translated into English. AR:6.1

    O’Dell, Scott. Road to Damietta In 13th century Italy Ricca, a young Italian woman, recounts the story of Frances Bernadone, later to become Francis of Assisi. He goes to Damietta on the Nile, where he tries to seek an end to the war between Moslems & Christians. AR 6.3, Lexile: 980

    Park, Linda Sue. The Kite Fighters InKorea in 1473, 11-yr.-old Young-sup overcomes his rivalry with his older brother Kee-sup, who as the first-born son receives special treatment from their father, & combines his kite-flying skill with Kee-sup’s kite-making skill in an attempt to win the New Year kite-fighting competition. AR: 5.5, Lexile: 880

    Park, Linda Sue. A Single Shard.Tree-ear, a thirteen-year-old orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge near a potters' village, and longs to learn how to throw the delicate celadon ceramics himself. AR: 6.6 Lexile: 920

    Paterson, Katherine. The Master Puppeteer The setting is Japan during Tokugawa times. A thirteen-year-old boy describes the poverty and discontent of eighteenth century Osaka and the world of puppeteers in which he lives. AR: 5.4, Lexile: 860

    Paterson, Katherine. Of Nightingales that Weep The vain young daughter of a samurai finds her comfortable life ripped apart when opposing warrior clans begin a struggle for imperial control of Japan. AR: 6.2,Lexile: 950

    Paterson, Katherine. Sign of the Chrysanthemum The setting is Japan during the turbulent Samurai period. The son of a legendary samurai warrior sets out to search for the father he has never met, but will know by the sign of the chrysanthemum that marks the nobleman’s shoulder. AR: 5.6, Lexile: 870

    Polland, Madeleine. AlhambraJuanito, born a Spaniard but raised in the Alhambra as a Moor, participates in the Spanish siege of Granada in 1492.

    Pope, Elizabeth. The Perilous Gard In 1558 while imprisoned in a remote castle, a young girl becomes involved in a series of events that lead to an underground labyrinth peopled by the last practitioners of druidic magic. AR: 6.3, Lexile: 1020

    Prince, Maggie. House on the Hill.Soon after she, her mother, and her younger brother move into an old house on what was once known as Beggarsgate, Emily begins to have terrifyingly real glimpses of scenes of seventeenth-century London devastated by the plague.AR: 5.4 Lexile:780

    Pyle, Howard. Men of Iron MylesFalworth is the son of a lord unjustly condemned for treason in the days when King Henry IV was bringing England under firm rule following the weak and corrupt reign of Richard II. How Myles grows in knightly prowess and viture until he finally vindicates his father makes a very adventurous story. AR 9.0

    Rupert, Janet E. The African Mask 12-yr.-old Layo, a Roruba girl living in the area of 11th century Africa which is now Nigeria, attempts to reject the man who has been chosen to be her husband.

    Scott, Walter. Ivanhoe Relates the adventures of the Saxon knight in 1194, the year of Richard the Lion-Hearted’s return from the Third Crusade. Danger, daring & romance in the world’s most popular novel of chivalry. A classic! AR 12.9, Lexile:1410

    Siegel, Deborah Spector. The Cross by Day, the Mezussah by Night Because she is a Marrano, 13-yr.-old Isabel suffers the harrowing experience of expulsion from Spain during the reign of King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella in the time of the Inquisition.

    Skurzynski, Gloria. Spider’s Voice Because he is a young mute person who can hear, Aran becomes involved in the adventures of Eloise & Abelard, France’s most famous lovers, who lived during the 12th century. AR 5.8, Lexile: 850

    Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Black Arrow Tale of adventure during the Wars of the Roses when Henry VI precariously occupied the throne of England. Richard, the Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) plays a prominent part in the story.
    AR: 9.0, Lexile: 980

    Suttcliff, Rosemary. The Shining Company 7th century Britain is brought to life in this sage of the three hundred Companions battling the invading Saxons. AR: 7.1, Lexile: 1240

    Sutcliff, Rosemary. Sword Song. At 16, Bjarni is cast out of the Norse settlement in the Angles’ Land for an act of oath-breaking & spends 5 yrs. sailing & witnessing the feuds of the clan chiefs of Scotland. (Vikings, Prior to 1066) Lexile: 1240

    Temple, Frances. The Beduins’ GazelleIn 1302, 2 cousins of the nomadic BeniKhalid tribe who are betrothed become separated by political intrigue between warring tribes. AR: 5.5, Lexile: 860
    Temple, Frances. The Ramsay Scallop At the turn of the 14th century in England, 14 year old Elenor finds her betrothal to an ambitious lord’s son launching her on a memorable pilgrimage to far-offSpain. AR: 5.6,Lexile: 890

    Tomlinson, Theresa. Child of the May. 15 yr.-old Magda helps Robin Hood’s men rescue Lady Matilda & her daughter, Isabel, from the clutches of the king’s evil henchmen. (Sequel to TheForestwife. Great Britain 1199-1216) AR: 4.8, Lexile: 640

    Trease, Geoffrey. Bows Against the BaronsThe setting is Norman (Medieval) England. Dickson , a Saxon peasant had unwittingly killed the landlord’s deer. To avoid the punishment of losing both ears or a hand, he joined a band of outlaws whose goal was the overthrow the Norman landlords.

    Trease, Geoffrey. Escape to King Alfred The setting is England in the 800s when King Alfred fought the invading Danes to prepare the foundation for a unified England in which he would foster freedom, humanity, & a love of learning

    Trevino, Elizabeth Borton de. I, Juan de Pareja The setting is Spain in the 1600s. Juan de Pareja was born a slave and died an accomplished and respected artist. AR: 6.5, Lexile: 1100

    Wallace, Lew. Ben-Hur A romantic story of Palestine & Rome in the time of Jesus. Crusades. AR: 9.1, Lexile: 990
     
  36. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jun 19, 2014

    Webb, Robert.We were there with Richard the Lionhearted in the Crusades. Two young boys, Guy and Gladwyn, share in the adventures of Richard the Lionhearted as they go on the Third Crusade.

    Wheeler, Thomas G. All Men Tall The year is 1323. 15-yr.-old Thomeline will soon take part in one of the most momentous events of all time: the discovery of gunpowder. Intriguing characters in this novel include Queen Isabella, plotting revenge against her husband, Edward II; Mortimer the traitor making his famous escape from the Tower of London; and young Edward III taking the throne and later daring to use the new weapons against the French.

    Willard, Barbara. The Iron Lily Orphaned in 1557 by the plague and disowned by her “brother’s” widow, who claims she is not true kin of the family, 15-yr.-old Lilas begins a lifelong attempt to identify her true parentage.

    Williams, Laura E. Executioner’s Daughter 13-yr.-old Lily, daughter of the town’s executioner living in the 15th-centruy Europe, decides whether to fight against her destiny or to rise above her fate when she is about to become her father’s assistant. AR: 5.5, Lexile: 720

    Wise, William. Nell of Branford Hall NellBullen recounts the horror of the Great London Plague in 1665 and the “Circle of Death” that was drawn around her village to keep the disease from spreading to the neighboring towns. AR: 7.0, Lexile: 1090

    Yep, Laurence. Lady of Ch’iaoKuo: Warrior of the South Southern China, A.D. 531 In 531 A.D., a fifteen-year-old princess of the Hsien tribe in southern China keeps a diary which describes her role as liaison between her own people and the local Chinese colonists, in times of both peace and war. This is one of the “Royal Diaries series”. AR: 5.3, Lexile: 700

    Yolen, Jane. Queen’s Own Fool : a novel of Mary, Queen of Scots When 12-yr.-old Nicola leaves Troupe Brufort & serves as the fool for Mary, Queen of Scots, she experiences the political & religious upheavals in both France & Scotland. AR: 6.0, Lexile:650

    SC/Kim. Sword of the Samurai: Adventure Stories from Japan 11 short stories about samurai warriors, their way of life, courage, wit & foolishness. AR 4.6
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
  37. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    Jun 19, 2014

    I haven't read that, so I have no idea how they'd compare, but Time of the Witches by Anna Myers is awesome! It's Lexile is 690, recommended for grades 7 and up; ages 12-17.

    http://www.amazon.com/Time-Witches-Anna-Myers/dp/0802798209/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403221743&sr=8-1&keywords=time+of+the+witches
     
  38. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 19, 2014

    Whoa.

    I'm not "worried" about how you incorporate novels into your curriculum. I was suggesting that you focus on your school and district's requirements, because those are what you agreed to do when you accepted your job, and not on your grad program's requirements. It may be true that both your school/district and grad program overlap in their requirements, in which case great. That isn't always true though, which is why I made the suggestion I did. I don't recall you specifying that your grad program is meant to work in conjunction with your school district and that programs overlap. Most of the time, grad programs and local districts work independently from each other and requirements for one are not the same as requirements for another.

    Honestly your response to me is super rude, given that I was just trying to help.

    And to answer your other question which I quoted above (and I have no idea whether you're being facetious or serious), you might. In my district I would absolutely need to get novels, documentaries, and films pre-approved by my admin. But hey, I don't want you to think I'm all concerned about your success in the classroom or whether you can manage to keep a job or not, so feel free to continue to be rude about my response here.

    Deuces.
     
  39. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Jun 19, 2014

  40. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jun 19, 2014

    :yeahthat:
    I was worried about the same thing. I am planning a similar path, but I've been meeting regularly with my Principal to go over ideas. It's great that your program works with the district. That wouldn't be the case where I work. Good luck to you. I'm done here.
     
  41. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    Jun 19, 2014

    Welcome. :) She also wrote Spy. It's about the Revolutionary War.
    It's Lexile is 710; reading grades 5 and up; ages 10-14. It's really good, but might be a little slow moving for your 7th graders. She writes a lot of good historical fiction novels, but I think only Spy and Time of the Witches fit in the time period you are teaching.

    http://www.amazon.com/Spy-Anna-Myers/dp/0802797423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403222714&sr=8-1&keywords=spy+by+anna+myers
     

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