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Wednesday Window Into My Class: A Book Club

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This Wednesday’s peek into my classroom is a look at a book club I am currently doing with The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo.  It’s the tale of a mouse who’s in love with a Princess.

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I am using this novel with a large group of students who are in a challenge group for RtI.  Because they are challenge students, I have lots of leeway to teach this novel in very creative and challenging ways.  Of course I had seen the movie, but had not read the book.  The book has so many interesting layers and challenges for the students to understand.  We have just started the Book 2 of the novel and  it is titled Chiaroscuro.

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What a wonderful opportunity to teach this challenge students some art history!  I made a PowerPoint of various examples of chiaroscuro (Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Vermeer) and we discussed why the author made this reference to this style of art.  Wonderful discussions about the use of light and shadows — perfect for understanding a dungeon!

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Now that my class is equipped with a cartload of Chrome Books for 1:1, I’m going to have the students explore Kate DiCamillo’s website so that they can get more insight into her purpose for writing the book.  There are also audio links on the site and they’ll actually be able to hear the author read aloud her book.  What a treat!

The first chapter of Book 2 asks a very interesting question:  What is the meaning of life?

I had the students write their thoughts about the meaning of life and we will hold a discussion about it.  Hold on, it gets even meatier…a discussion about torture!  Roscuro the rat says, “I would very much like to torture a prisoner.  I would like to make someone suffer.”  Wow.  That is going to make for some interesting discussion about what is torture, it’s use, and is it justifiable.  Stay tuned!

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