Sunday, August 24, 2014

Driving over Tukey's Bridge

This summer I spent time with family and wrote content for titles that will appear in Curriculet's premium store.  One such title was the young adult novel Delirium by Lauren Oliver where love is considered a disease in a dystopian future. 

I greatly enjoyed working on creating questions, quizzes, and annotations for a young adult title, applying all that I've learned from teaching canonical texts like A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Romeo & Juliet, Young Adult literature should have a place in the academic classroom.  Young adult literature is the bait and hook for reading.  Dr. Jung Kim from Lewis University makes the case here for young adult literature in the classroom. There are also some examples of canonical and young adult pairings. In creating the curriculet layer for Delirium, I examined the text just as I would with a canonical text: narration, structure, diction, plot, setting, etc.  

While the syntax of Delirium is not difficult, I targeted Common Core Standard CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.9 in the creation of the questions and annotations: Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work.  Through out the novel, author Lauren Oliver makes allusions to Romeo & Juliet and sets the story in Portland, Maine. While author Lauren Oliver doesn't exactly copy the story of Romeo & Juliet, she does emphasize similar themes and conflicts: forbidden love, man versus society, and personal growth. The main character, Lena, begins to question the restrictive society in which she lives as she develops a relationship with another character, Alex. Not only can I have students make connections between Delirium and Romeo & Juliet, but also to 1984 and any other text where a character realizes that the world in which he/she has lived is not as it seems. If I want my students to be independent and analytic thinkers, I need them to have opportunities to do so by giving them texts that connect to them FIRST and then using the young adult text as a bridge to understand and connect with the canonical texts. 

I applaud Curriculet for working to evolve reading in the digital era and making ALL texts more accessible for readers.  Renting publisher-controlled digital texts for my classroom will be much more budget-friendly than asking my supervisor to purchase class-set paperback copies-- and I don't have to worry about collecting and replacing paperback copies over time. While I could send students to the library to check out individual copies of the book, I would not have enough books for the whole class to read, and even though I could have students choose their own books for independent reading,  what I want is to have students reading more of the same books together.

So back to Tukey's Bridge.... Delirium is set in Portland, Maine, and Oliver continually references real locations found in the city, in addition to adapting them to suit the vision of the dystopic future. The statue of the Governor that Lena and Hana run past in Delirium is really Our Ladies of Victories statue in Monument Square. This connection provides opportunity to discuss how societies memorialize heroes and students can explore the monuments in their hometowns. In addition, if students traveled to locations mentioned in the text, they can walk in the shoes of characters. 

As my family traveled to Maine for a week-long summer vacation in Bar Harbor, following 295 North through Portland, we drove over Tukey's Bridge and past Back Cove.  I craned my next to spot the Promenade and envisioned Lena swimming with Alex on East End Beach. I had a moment of double vision as we rocketed along at 70 miles per hour, I imagined that we were really travelling in to the Wilds.

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