The 9th grade team, last year, switched To Kill a Mockingbird for In the Time of the Butterflies, in an effort to expose students to a more international curriculum and to fend off the multitude of students who read TKAM in middle school.
The issue, though, is that in our extremely heterogeneous classroom, the text could be too challenging for some students. We have a number of reluctant readers, a good majority had problems with A Lesson Before Dying. Alvarez's novel, written in multiple genres and mixing in a bunch of Spanish and history, would be a very rich novel to teach, but its complexity and length might turn the more reluctant readers away from reading, just when we have grabbed them a bit with A Lesson Before Dying.
The idea that we floated and discussed today is as follows:
-In the Time of the Butterflies is a long and challenging text
-We don't want to lose the reluctant and/or low level readers that we just hooked with A Lesson Before Dying
-We want to include some independent reading that gets the kids to self select, in order to foster lifelong reading
So we propose this...
-Our next unit is about the world of Julia Alvarez.
-Students choose to read one of her works that we offer them (novels, young adult fiction, collections of short stories and poetry collections)
-Our teaching focuses on skills, culture of Alvarez work and author's purpose
I'm part of the "we" above, but I'm still not sure. First, I haven't read any of Alvarez's other work, so it'll be a bunch of work in the coming weeks preparing. I'm very intrigured by Yo. I'm also concerned that her work overly emphasizes the immigrant experience in the United States, rather than a truly international experience.
I also thought about Dandicat for this, because of the new interest in Haiti, but we already had Butterflies in the syllabus and students may have bought it already.
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