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Liberty and Justice for All? The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. Cynthia Benford and Becca Manery Chicago Teachers’ Center Northeastern Illinois University. Why teach this book?. Why teach this book?. Written in a language perfectly suited to the author’s purpose

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Liberty and Justice for All?The Astonishing Lifeof Octavian Nothing

Cynthia Benford and Becca Manery

Chicago Teachers’ Center

Northeastern Illinois University



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Why teach this book?

  • Written in a language perfectly suited to the author’s purpose

  • Exposes readers to complex human dilemmas

  • Includes compelling, disconcerting characters

  • Explores universal themes that combine different periods and cultures

  • Challenges readers to reexamine their beliefs

  • Tells a good story with places for laughing and places for crying

    Carol Jugo,Classics in the Classroom, 2004


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Why is Octavian Nothinga difficult book to read?


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Difficult vocabulary

Unfamiliar syntax

Information withheld

Discontinuous narration

Unusual book format

Genre-blending

Indeterminate ending

Requires prior knowledge

Frames historical events in unfamiliar ways

Complexity of characters and situation

Emotionally wrenching scenes

Why is Octavian Nothing difficult to read?


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My students already struggle with reading. Why should I teach such a difficult book?

  • Students who only read books at their independent reading level are not stretched as readers

  • Challenging text that is meaningful and appropriately scaffolded can be very engaging


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My students already struggle with reading. Why should I teach such a difficult book?

  • After graduation, college-bound students will have to read very difficult texts—without help.

  • We need to provide students with strategies for reading college-level texts before they go to college.

  • The goal is to make students confident, independent readers who know how to deal with difficulty.


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When teaching difficult texts, don’t forget to… teach such a difficult book?

  • Teach some strategies in advance

  • Alternate with less difficult texts

  • Encourage students to continue reading books at their independent level

  • Watch for signs of frustration and adjust strategies or schedule accordingly

  • Provide additional support for students who need it


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Essential Question teach such a difficult book? for this Presentation

“What can we do, as teachers,

to prepare our students to read

challenging text at the deepest

levels possible?”

--Kelly Gallagher, Deeper Reading


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Framing the Text teach such a difficult book?

  • Connects students to their own experiences and provides background knowledge

  • Helps students engage emotionally

    with the world of the book

  • Focuses the reading


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Framing Activities to Use teach such a difficult book?Before Reading a Major Work

  • Web searches

  • Anticipation guides

  • Theme spotlights

  • Focus poem

  • K-W-L-R charts

    From Deeper Reading by Kelly Gallagher


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Other Pre-Reading teach such a difficult book? Framing Activities

  • Read a related story or article as a warm-up

  • Role-play some of the issues in the book

  • Discuss a related current event

  • Show a clip from a film

  • Bring in an artifact

  • Use guided imagery exercises

  • Listen to music related to the text

  • Bring in a guest speaker


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Define this word: teach such a difficult book?

Mumpsimus


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Mumpsimus teach such a difficult book?(MUMP-si-mus) n.

1. a traditional custom or notion adhered to although shown to be unreasonable. 2. a person who persists in a mistaken expression or practice.


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Connect to Theme teach such a difficult book?

Have you ever had a belief you thought was true proved wrong? What happened? How did you feel?


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Seven Habits of Effective Readers teach such a difficult book?

  • Activate prior knowledge

  • Create a focus for reading

  • Ask questions and make predictions

  • Visualize

  • Synthesize and summarize while reading

  • Draw inferences

  • Monitor and repair comprehension

    Modified from Teaching Reading in Middle School by Laura Robb


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Tools for First-Draft Reading teach such a difficult book?

  • Visualization: Sketch to Stretch

  • Focus

    Question/Prediction Charts

    Concept-Definition Maps

    Character Charts

  • Monitoring Comprehension

    Trouble Slips

    Twenty Questions


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Resources for teach such a difficult book?First-Draft Reading

  • Double-entry journals

  • Word books and word walls

  • Audiobooks

  • Videotapes


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Tools for Second-Draft Reading teach such a difficult book?

  • Multi-layered timelines

  • Double-entry journal plus

  • Small group discussion


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Have students ask: teach such a difficult book?

  • What does it say? (What is unsaid?)

  • What does it mean?

  • What does it matter?


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Post-reading Reflection teach such a difficult book?

  • Asking deeper questions

  • Exploring real life connections to the themes and issues of the book


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A final thought teach such a difficult book?

“If my students are to have any chance of becoming deeper readers, I must do more than simply assign questions at the end of each chapter or pull worksheets from a file cabinet. There is a big difference between assigning students difficult reading and teaching them how to read deeply…


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A final thought teach such a difficult book?

“…This definition reminds me that I am a teacher, not merely an information dispenser; and as a teacher, I will enter my classroom tomorrow morning with the goal of helping my students learn what deeper readers do.”

--Kelly Gallagher, Deeper Reading


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