Bridge To Terabithia.  I've chosen this as our first whole class book.  It is a short and easy read, covers some interesting themes/topics (family, friends, school, imagination, loss of innocence), and has a movie worthy of some comparative analysis.

BTT 10 - 13  Propose A Topic, Write an Essay

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 through Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Final Chapters Essay
The writing assignment for the final four chapters of this book will be for you to propose an essay topic of your choice using this form.  Once I've approved the topic and perhaps added some suggestions, you will have one week to write the essay.  Some time will be given during class, but not enough to complete the entire essay -- you will have to use some out-of-class time as well.
Topic Proposals:

Final Essay Topic Proposal

BTT 8 & 9 (Discussion)

Tuesday, 10/25/11
Discussion starters for chapters 8 (Easter) and 9 (The Evil Spell)
  1. There is a bit of foreshadowing in these chapters regarding Leslie's death.  See if you can find examples.  What is the purpose of foreshadowing as a literary element?  Is it important to a first-read, or does it just get noticed on the second time through the book?
  2. How is Jess' battle with fear and pessimism going at this point in the book?  We know how he starts out and we know how he ends up, but where is he in the transition in these chapters?
  3. Is there significance or symbolism behind Bessie the cow, or is she just a cow?
  4. The "sunlight in the purse" scene was in the movie but not in the book.  Why do you think the movie people thought that they needed to create that part?
  5. Look at the chapter titles for the remaining chapters and use them to tell the remaining general plot.  Since you've seen the movie already (or maybe read the book already), this will be easy, BUT take some time and engage in a discussion about why the title is a good choice of words.

BTT 7:  Choose a Statement, Support in Paragraphs

For chapter 7, choose one of the following six statements and write a few (2-3) paragraphs that elaborates of the statement and support it with examples from that chapter of the book.
  1. Jess' self esteem rises while he is at Leslie's family.
  2. The magic of Terabithia is a product of both Jess and Leslie, as well as the "secretness" (not a word) of it and the forest itself.
  3. Leslie's relationships to adults, her parents, and especially her father, are very foreign to Jess.
  4. The Burke's living room is a metaphor for their way of being in the world.
  5. The opportunity (/obligation) to help Janice is very significant to Jess, to Leslie, to their friendship, and to the story.
  6. How much information (and what types of information), that kids share with their peers about their families is significant.
If none of those statements appeals to you, please suggest another one and I'll post it here.

Timeline for this assignment:
  1. Receive and understand the assignment (Monday).
  2. Form table groups consisting of one person per question if possible, and discuss the statements (Tues). 
  3. Locate evidence in the book and write quotes, notes, and thoughts into your comp book (Tues)
  4. Write a rough draft (Wed)
  5. Get peer edits from someone NOT in your topic-group (Thurs)
  6. Post final product printed out and posted on the reader page of your website. (Fri)

BTT 1-6 Questions to Answer in Sentences

For chapters 1 to 6, answer half of the questions below per chapter (on paper or on a G-doc), then put one per chapter into a Google doc that you will eventually embed into the "Reading" page of your website.

Chapter 1
Why does Jess want to be the fastest kid at Lark Creek Elementary School?
How important do you think it is to be the best at something?
What is Jess’s family like?  Is any of it familiar to you?
4. The setting is "rural" middle-class America. Is that a setting to which you can relate?

Chapter 2
Jess doesn't show his drawings to his dad. How do you think it must feel to have to hide something you love from someone you love?
Why is Miss Edmunds the only person Jess shows his drawings to?
How does Jess’s family add to his feelings of loneliness?
Why doesn’t Jess seem very interested in befriending Leslie when they first meet?

Chapter 3
Does Leslie worry much about what people think of her? What about Jess? Which of these two characters are you more like in that respect?
Why does Jess try to keep his distance from Leslie?
Do you think Jess should have spoken up and asked Leslie if she wanted to run? What would you have done, and why?
What does Leslie mean when she says to Jess, “You’re the only kid in this whole durned school who’s worth shooting”?

Chapter 4
Why do you think Miss Edmunds chooses to sing “Free to Be . . .You and Me” after meeting Leslie?
What makes Jess change his mind about Leslie? How does he feel about the way he’d acted before?
Why do Leslie’s classmates make fun of her when they find out she doesn’t have a television set?
What are some ways Jess shows he’s brave, even when he’s scared?
Jess’s mother implies that his father likes Jess playing with Leslie about as much as he likes his son drawing. And although Jess hides his drawings from his father, he does not hide Leslie. Why?
Why does Jess write about football when Mrs. Myers asks the class to write about their favorite hobbies? What is really Jess’s favorite hobby? What does Leslie write about? What would you write about?
What are some of the major differences between Jess’s and Leslie’s families?
What do you think Leslie and Jess bring to each other in their friendship?

 Chapter 5
Do you think Jess and Leslie are right or wrong to write a letter to Janice Avery and pretend it is from Willard Hughes? What would you have done, if anything, to get back at Janice for the trouble she caused you and others?
How does Jess feel about leaving the letter for Janice? How does Leslie feel?

Chapter 6
Why is it so important to Jess that he give Leslie something special for Christmas?  Can you relate?
Why is Christmas such an unhappy holiday at Jess’s house?  What does Jess do to try to make it happier?

Summary Expansion for Chapter 10 (The Perfect Day).  Below is the summary of this chapter from
  1. Jess is out milking Miss Bessie the next morning when May Belle comes out to tell him he has a phone call. When he takes it, it is Miss Edmunds. She is going to Washington for the day to see the National Gallery and wants to know if he wants to come with her. Jess knows that if he asks his mother's permission to go when she is awake, she will never say yes. Instead, he barely wakes her up, just enough to get a murmur of consent. Soon he is off to Washington with Miss Edmunds.

    The two of them have a perfect day together. Jess is amazed and awed by the art gallery, and Miss Edmunds is pleased that she is giving him an opportunity to see these magnificent works of art for the first time in his life. Jess is particularly fascinated by a three-dimensional depiction of a buffalo hunt, in which a tribe of Native Americans is chasing a herd of buffalo over the edge of a cliff to their death. Miss Edmunds buys him lunch, which makes Jess rather uncomfortable, but he does not know how to tell her that he does not have any money, and on the way home they get ice cream. As she drops him off, Miss Edmunds thanks Jess for "a beautiful day." Jess is walking on air as he enters the house.

    When he enters the kitchen, he immediately senses that something is wrong. His whole family is staring at him silently, and suddenly his mother breaks down. He does not know how to ask what has happened, but he does not need to, since Brenda's pouting voice informs him that Leslie died that day.

Final Chapter Essay Proposal

Book Groups for Bridge To Terabithia and The Hunger Games
  1. Mrs. Pawell, Sasha, Luis, Connie, Chloe, David
  2. Mrs. Borst, Rory, Kyle, Parker, Devon, Jon
  3. Mrs. Bolei, Christian, Nick, Kenneth, Matt, James
  4. Mrs. Breunling, Norma, Veerali, Rebeca, Jenna, Ashley, Devin
  5. Mrs, Underwood, Elijah, Jonathan, Izzy, Cody, Laura
  6. Mrs. Frederickson, Amanda, Zahra, Jessica, Erica
  7. Mrs, Kao, Jena, Jeremy, Karina, Anya, Cameron
  8. Mrs. McCarthy, Jomo, Samir, Ted, Cade, Joshua, Matt
  9. Mrs. Shen, Nina, Ibrahim, Ciara, Abby, Evan, Marissa
  10. Mrs. Schmidt, Christian, Willie, Kevin, Owen, Alex, Josh