Heather Wolpert-Gawron

5 Nonfiction + Novels Series: The Middle School Edition for Dec. 2015

By on December 22, 2015

My newest post is the first in a series  in which I’m collaborating with Talks with Teachers podcaster and blogger, Brian Sztabnik.

Brian not only moderates the #aplitchat on Twitter but also writes the 5 Nonfiction + Novels series for high school teachers, pairing informational articles with high school level classics in literature.  In addition, Brian is the brains and editor of the Amazon bestseller, The Best Lesson Series: Literature, a compilation of lessons from 15 master reading and writing teachers.

I’ll post his most recent article pairing 5 Nonfiction Articles with classic novels in high school literature later this week.  In the meantime, to read my first post that is aligned to middle school level literature, keep on reading.

Welcome to the first of what will be a monthly collaboration between Brian Sztabnik and me, tweenteacher.

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1. Don’t settle refugees in our states, Republican governors tell Obama

Written by: AP and Newsela Staff

Published On: Newsela.com

“The Refugee Act of 1980 lays out the way in which refugees are to be handled. The law declares that refugee resettlement is managed by the federal government, not the states. The federal government does consult with state refugee coordinators. However, the purpose of that consultation is to ensure the refugees are settled in cities with enough jobs, housing and social services.”

Pair it with: Dragonwings

Why: Students can think critically about the refugees of today’s world and the jobs they may be entering into and the Chinese immigrants who built our western region and railroads.


 2.iRubric: Setting a Table Rubric

Written by: kringleg

Published On: iRubric

“Developing: Table covering and centerpiece did not compliment each other well, lacking in design and color choice combination. Choice was okay for meal being served but could have been better. “

Pair it with: The Finishing School Series

Why: While students love reading about the manners in books such as Ettiquette & espionage, they might find it lends more layers of understanding to characters to know that on which their favorite characters are being assessed at school.


3. 6 Things You Should Know About Growing Up in Foster Care

Written by: Mary Lee

Published On: The Huffington Post

“Many of us could avoid foster care if the right help were provided to our parents. Intensive services that strengthen and restore struggling families can keep children out of foster care entirely. That’s best for most kids — and society. Just the act of entering the foster care system, being taken away from your family, is traumatic and can cause serious emotional damage. The state just isn’t equipped to be a parent.”

Pair it with: The Outsiders

Why: Many middle school readers need to understand how imperative it is that Ponyboy remain with his brothers and not go into foster care. Even though Darryl and Sodapop are essentially kids themselves, they are Ponyboy’s family and are doing everything they can to keep that family together.


4. Keeping Enemies in Our Social Circle Damages Our DNA

Written by: Orion Jones

Published On: BigThink

“Our busy lives can sometimes keep us from seeing that everyone around us needs support, not just our closest friends. And just as your frenemies have tight-knit inner circles, you are likely someone’s frenemy as well. So play nice, everyone, and be kind to each other.”

Pair it with: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Why: The relationship between Helena and Hermia is one based on love-hate. They claim to be best friends yet turn on each other with jealousy and competition. Recognizing that these kinds of relationships exist in many middle schoolers will help students move beyond toxic relationships or help current friendships become more healthy.


5. Children as Soldiers

Written by: Unicef

Published by: Unicef

“Many children, therefore, want to become soldiers and offer themselves for service. Others are deliberately recruited. This was true in Liberia, where a quarter of the combatants in the various fighting factions were children—some 20,000 in all. Indeed, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia had its own ‘small boys unit’, ranging in age from 6 to 20. Armed groups will often aim their propaganda specifically at young people. In Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been particularly active in the school system, indoctrinating children.”

Pair it with: Ender’s Game

Why: Have students journal about what it might be like to be in Ender’s shoes. Is any child a willing recruit? Do they really know what fighting it like before they are committed to battle? Why use children in war?

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