Day 80: Paper Pushing Day and Gearing Up for _To Kill a Mockingbird_

1. Today, students received their Odyssey close reading essays back with comments for improvement. They added their essays and their memoir from the fall into a writing portfolio, which will be used to collect important writings throughout all four years of high school.

2. About improving the essays: All students have the opportunity to revise their essays for a completely new grade. All revisions are due on or before January 15–next Friday. I am available every day after school to help revise these essays if students need help. If you are a parent, please encourage your child to meet with me after school to work on the essay revisions.

3. Moving on: We will be reading To Kill a Mockingbird as a class within the next month. Since about 15% of students have read this book at least once, we discussed the benefits of rereading books: as you change as a person, your understanding of the book changes; you can see the foreshadowing better the second time through; you can understand the messages in the book on a deeper level; it’s enjoyable! We talked about how many people had read Harry Potter over and over and the importance of rereading.

I encourage all students who can get their own copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee to buy one (or locate one in their home library) by the beginning of next week. It does not matter which copy of the book you buy or whether it is used or new. The important part is being able to write in the book. This will make the reading experience more personal, more enjoyable, and more successful. If you can’t get a copy, I will check out a school copy to you.

Find any copy of _To Kill a Mockingbird_ by next Monday.

Challenge option for Honors students: If you are a strong reader and a good student, you should consider the following reading Challenge for this unit. Most of the units in the spring will have Challenge options in order to provide a more rigorous experience to those who need it and introduce new texts to those who have already read the canon. Students who take the challenge will benefit from reading a complementary text: they will understand the main book better and will earn extra credit.

To Kill a Mockingbird Challenge: Read Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote alongside TKAM. I will give you a reading calendar later this week to keep you on pace.

If you want a challenge, also buy _Other Voices, Other Rooms_.

About this challenge book: First of all, OVOR has a more complex narrative style than TKAM, which makes it a good challenge for higher level readers. This novel also addresses more complex themes, including those relating to gender identity. Now here’s the kicker:

In writing To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee based the character Dill on the real life Truman Capote, who wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms. In writing Other Voices, Other Rooms, Truman Capote based the character Idabel on the real life Harper Lee.

Both are stories about growing up in the South and learning the evils and mysteries of the world.

HW: Optional – Purchase or find a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Due Monday. Challenge Students – Purchase, find, or borrow from the library a copy of Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote.

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