Wednesday, May 30, 2012

YA Book Review: Godless

GodlessGodless by Pete Hautman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Only introduced to Pete Hautman's writing this past week after diving into two reading books by Nanci Atwell and Donalyn Miller. The prevailing opinion is that Hautman rates high with adolescent male readers--well, after flying through Godless, I have to admit that he rates pretty high with me too.

Godless completely entertained me.

On the surface the idea seems silly enough--a small group of adolescents decide to worship the town's water tower as its god...its almighty deity. The ensuing mess they find themselves in with their parents and the law reads true and believable.

What starts out as something tongue-in-cheek and in good humor quickly unravels into a brush with death for one boy, and a potentially psychological nightmare for another. Questions of faith, self-image, and friendship buoy the fast-paced plot through any sense of heaviness or ideological debate.

As the protagonist states, after his father attempts to force feed him theological texts during his grounding:

"I read as much as I could. They're all pretty much the same."

"Oh? You're telling me that Teen Jesus is indistinguishable from Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain?"

"They all require a belief in a supreme being. If you don't believe in God, then the books don't mean much."

And this is where Hautman handles the polarizing topic of religion magically. He allows the teenage protagonist to envy those with faith even though he has no idea what he believes in himself:

"I'm not sure what I am."

This is about as deep as it gets. Hautman offers the opportunity for some interesting discussion, but in terms of bang for your buck, you're getting this book for your classroom library for the sheer fact that it is an entertaining book for adolescents--who wouldn't love to read about their climb up onto, and then in, the monolithic water tower for a midnight swim? Outlandish, daring, and stupid pretty much sums up some of the chances I took as a teenager...and Hautman doesn't ever forget that that magic is part of the privilege of being young.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

YA Book Review: Where Things Come Back

Where Things Come BackWhere Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Corey Whaley's (Where Things Come Back) antagonist Cabot Searcy steals the show. He reminds me of Hazel Motes from Flannery O'Conner's Wise Blood. Searcy learns about a secret writing called "The Book of Enoch" and can only be found in the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible--upon reading its story of the archangel Gabriel being sent to Earth by God to destroy the children of the fallen angels, Cabot Searcy becomes consumed with it.

Searcy's plot line plays second fiddle to the protagonist Cullen Witter for much of the novel--and for much of the novel I felt in limbo. Nothing seemed to happen...even though I was intrigued and had bought in to the lives of the small town people of Lily, Arkansas.

Consumed by the possible return of a thought-to-be-extinct woodpecker, the townspeople of Lily embrace the hope that elusive Lazarus woodpecker has resurrected itself in their humble town. Led by college professor John Barling, the townspeople believe because they want to believe--they need to believe--that something special could happen for them. Upon this backdrop that we join in the ten-week wait, the patient and painful ten-week wait, for any word or sign of their youngest son, fifteen-year-old Gabriel Witter. Gabriel vanished one day without a trace just a week or so after attending the funeral of their cousin Oslo Foukes--a local junkie who succumbed to demons he could never defeat.

And as a reader, you wait, and wait, and wait for any sign of hope...for any tangible proof that this woodpecker has returned, and for any shred of evidence for a lead into what happened to Gabriel Witter. You hold it together with Cullen, yet like Cullen, you have no idea what to believe...or how Gabriel's story will end. Whaley's narrator processes this for the reader, and for me, serves as the heart of the story:

"We can be comforted in the fact that life will always be a struggle. There will always be false hopes. Lazarus woodpeckers. There will be John Barlings to lead us astray and Oslo Foukes to remind us that maybe we are doing things right after all."

I can imagine my stronger and mature student readers caught up in this book and definitely recommend it for a classroom library anywhere from 8th grade and up.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

YA Book Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Monster is metaphor. Monster is metaphor for cancer.

Monster is metaphor for the fear and sadness haunting those who watch loved ones slip away--for coming to terms with loss.

Monster is metaphor for the truth.

In A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, a yew tree visits an adolescent boy at midnight. In the spirit of A Christmas Carol, this monster comes to tell the boy three stories so that afterwards the boy can tell the monster his own story--a true story. A very hard to admit story. A story built on words so awfully difficult to say--what he can't bring himself to say to his dying mother: "I don't want you to go."

I need to take a step back and put the book into context--Ness wrote the book for author Siobhan Down, who lost her bought with cancer in 2007. A Monster Calls was inspired from notes she compiled for a fifth book. As Ness shares in the Author's Note, "This would have been her fifth book. She had the characters, a premise, and a beginning. What she didn't have unfortunately, was time."

Additionally, the illustrations by Jim Kay enhance the jagged darkness of the tale. A combined effect of etchings, wood cuttings, and collages, they strike me as cross between Jackson Pollack meets Andrew Wyeth meets Lynd Ward.

A wave of YA literature had been tackling heavy issues--issues that consume the curiosity of some adolescents. A Monster Calls deals with the stomach-wrenching reality of losing a loved one to cancer so respectfully and plainly, that this should be thought of as healthy read.

Literature is often the way into difficult topics--the great leveler when we do not have the words ourselves. I think of music as the place where so many people, particularly teens, turn for moments of shared heartache, joy, loss, etc. How often did we, as teens, sit alone in our rooms singing lyrics, following the lyrics on an album jacket or CD cover? YA has been bravely taking on that mantle as well in the unique way that only literature can provide--this novel continues that impressive and welcome trend.

A superb piece of art, and a sensitive approach to encouraging conversation with adolescents about one aspect of our humanity, I strongly recommend A Monster Calls for your classroom library.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Money, Wedges, and Literacy: What the Common Core Missed

"The Common Core" distracts educators away from a pressing need: training in digital literacy.  Access to technology is access to power.  Without training and resources education continues to drive a larger wedge between the haves and have-nots.  With, at best, a casual mention of digital literacy, the Common Core ensures only one thing—as the Digital Renaissance evolves we are all at risk of being left behind.

What the Common Core Missed
As Digital Literacy provides access to information—and access to power—this Digital Renaissance exposes the haves and the have-nots in our country.   While education must always remain pedagogy-driven, society’s immersion in technology can not be ignored by educators.  Without the correct training and focus on a Common Core built on the needs of this society, teachers will no longer be able to help students unlock their futures.

Teachers need immersion and training in technology in order that students may have immersion and training in technology.  Technology passes books as the access point to information and power.  In a 2008 PEW study, researchers learned that the primary source for research done at or for school is the internet: 94% of teens use the internet at least occasionally to do research for school and nearly half (48%) report doing so once a week or more often.  Without a revised Common Core, we are in danger of contributing to an even greater divide of haves and have nots—and it isn’t all about having the money to supply the technology.  Permitting a culture of teachers of haves and have-nots is my greater fear—those who have the comfort, experience, and training to immerse themselves and their classes in digital literacy and those who simply have not.

Technology is largely taught in isolation.  Computer rooms grow in our schools while other classrooms are lucky to house one or two computers.  This Sex Edification of technology contributes to an educator’s fear or resistance.  Rather than synthesize digital tools with real-world applications and core curriculum, the digital tools sit on tables like $1,000 encyclopedias or typewriters.  Just like Sex Ed, we tend to believe "someone else will teach it" and do so in isolation.

The fact is, we are online.  We are digital readers.  We are digital writers. All roads intersect and we have redefined Digital Reality with people.  Within the last decade Digital Reality shifted from a game played on an LED battlefield to a way of life.  In many ways, we live every moment of our lives in a digital reality because the world is making more land—a digital landscape.  Yet instead of training educators, young and old, to engage inspiration and inventiveness, American politics burns the digital landscape right from under our feet, almost as fast as it can be created, with the oversights of the Common Core.

The axiom good writing is good writing will never be displaced.  Whether we teach with chalk, white board markers, or Smartboards (which some will consider outdated by the way), the fundamental truths of reading, writing, and arithmetic remain among the few constants in education, yet we stand on the frontier of a Digital Revolution and the national plan is fragmented and weak...actually, there is no plan. With only a too casual yawn and nod at technology, the Common Core nudges educators to rewrite curriculum built on international testing standards.

We can’t just leave using technology and digital literacy to the whim of individual teachers—yet this is what the Common Core establishes.

Common Core Oversight #1: No specific mention or acknowledgment of digital literacy

Without the appropriate level of leadership and training, computer labs can best be labeled technology dumps as educators are left to decide for themselves—depending on their school’s budget and climate—how best to incorporate technology in the classroom.  For what we do and produce in our American classrooms, Underwoods, hardback encyclopedias, and tri-folds are currently just as effective as computers—given two classes, one with technology and one with typewriters, books, and cardboard, we would see little difference in the products between the classes.

Until there is a common training program and goal built on digital literacy, educators will continue to use new technology in old ways because the old ways are rooted in the financial soil of testing and achievement.  What message is reinforced when our schools receive Race to the Top funds and selective waivers from the No Child Left Behind requirements all in the name of carrying the torch for the Common Core?  What incentive exists to grow with the technology?  How will we ever expect educators to see new technology as anything other than a digital poster, encyclopedia, or way to type and print? 

In reality, we will fail our students when it comes to digital literacy and this new access to power.

Education is failing—we are failing to be led.  We are failing to be supported.  We are failing to be recognized for all that we achieve with technology in spite of the “you’ll figure it out” model.  Buttressed by the financial obligations of Achieve, Inc., the ACT, and the College Board,  the Common Core supports the testing business.  Who is in the business of supporting, leading, and recognizing educators? Who is in the business of supporting and leading technology use in education?  Educators.  I assure you, we will figure it out.  Yet, along the way, we fight district by district for what we need, to overcome the inequities from school to school, and only if we’re lucky and blessed some of us fight to bring American education into the Digital Renaissance.

Common Core Oversight #2: Reading
The Common Core does little to encourage adequate growth and progress of technology use in the K-5 Reading Plan.

Listing no formal digital reading expectations among its Foundational Skills, the Common Core mentions in its Reading Standards that students should analyze how writing is affected by different modes, particularly multimedia.  A modest, but promising start considering “multimedia” does not explicitly mean digital.  Multimedia can mean photography, a poster, a set of slides.  Depending on the whim, comfort, or training of the teacher, an informed exposure to digital reading may never occur for many students.

Additionally, and equally as distressing, in the Common Core Reading Plan, from the 6th through 8th grades, students are asked to compare and contrast different forms, including multimedia. Even if I imply “multimedia” as digital and online, it does not mean others teachers will—education outgrows that word on a daily basis. 

Digital reading for citizens and consumers in our society is a non-negotiable skill. It is a must-have. Perhaps this dearth of digital reading is a reflection of the comfort level that our Common Core designers have with the K-8 age range handling costly digital hardware.   Perhaps they have well-founded fears of elementary and middle school students seeing pornography or graphic violence on the internet.  Perhaps the focus in K-8 should be more on the skill of analysis than the digital vehicle through which the analysis occurs.  This is plausible until we consider the next phase in the Common Core progression.

Sadly, from 9th-12th grade there are no digital (or multimedia) reading expectations.  There are no expectations for students to interact with what they read digitally.  There are no expectations to instruct students in how to be a savvy digital reader and consumer.  None.  Zero.  Digital reading, disguised or misinterpreted as multimedia, ends at the 8th grade.  In our Common Core, digital literacy may never develop for some of our students. 

Is this plan driven by pedagogy and the needs of an emerging societal shift?  Or is it the architecture of a financially asphyxiated team regarding education through test-colored lens?

Common Core Oversight #3: Writing
Heroically, the anchor standards for writing in the Common Core ask students from the fourth grade through high school graduation to “use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.”

The focus words are produce, publish, interact, and collaborate—no explicit mention of achieving these things digitally other than through use of the Internet.  While the Internet is one important acre of the emerging digital landscape it does not cover everything.  Suggesting Internet equals digital literacy is already an old-fashioned understanding of technology; I’m reminded of Rupert Murdoch sounding out of touch recently as he railed against Google as an Internet pirate.  An illustration of just how confused people in power can become; we so often mistake the size of someone’s bank account for the breadth of one’s knowledge.

Educators are forced to imply the word “digitally” within the expectations of the Common Core—but what happens when that is not implied?  The problem with the language in the Common Core is that “digital” is implicit and therefore this aspect of the Common Core is open to the vagaries of a teacher’s digital comfort level. 

For example, if I show my students a sample of an essay (on the internet), and then students brain storm ideas face to face while hunting for topic ideas (on the internet), then type a paper on a laptop while checking my requirements for the assignment on our school website (on the internet), then save the essay to the school server (on the internet) and print it wirelessly in order that I might tack their essays across the walls in my classroom, haven’t I then fulfilled the expectations of the Common Core: produce, publish, interact, and collaborate?  I included the internet and I can complete that assignment in less than a week.

Fundamentally, I’d hope the Common Core meant to express that our students also digitally produce, digitally publish, digitally interact, and digitally collaborate.  Embedded in what it means to be alive in 2012, much of the world communicates through digital means—if we leave these emerging digital tools to the next Angry Birds or just to keep in touch with family and friends then we lose—and you can point your fingers right at us, the American educators, because we will be working in a system which fails all of us.

It is not too late for American education to right itself and become active participants in the digital literacy renaissance.  We belittle the tools of technology when we do not actively reach to train our teachers and then our students to use them.  Otherwise, computers are little more than toys, typewriters, encyclopedias, or delivery systems for web-based supplemental tools such as Study Island (which provides little more than supplemental worksheets and activities on-line).  Technology in education often suffers beneath the yoke of simply pulling the same lessons built on the same expectations of tools-gone-by.

Why?  Because that is all we know—it’s what we were raised on.  A computer works like a typewriter, works like an encyclopedia, works like a tri-fold; therefore, that is all I’ll expect of it.

It is no longer enough to put computers in schools and roundly call it a success.  Educators need training in digital literacy, but that takes having a plan.  Currently, teacher training programs such as the National Writing Project are under the gun to have its funding eradicated.  If we ever really want to see our young people grow into creators and innovators, then we need teachers trained and constantly practicing and talking all aspects of the art of teaching—added to this is the digital component all teachers need training in digital literacy.  

We seem to be working backwards—the talk is that teacher training is a target of upcoming economic cuts and yet we roll out a Common Core entrenched in testing.  Write your Senators and Congressmen to take a long hard look at the Common Core and then at the digital landscape.  They won’t have to look far to see it—its inspiration is burning all around them.

Common Core Oversight #4: Assumption
Now there is a caveat for the Common Core—intended as merely a guide it assumes that districts can add and modify as they see fit.  This is a big assumption by our best and brightest.  Irrespective of neglect born from pedagogy or finance, we as educators can’t in good conscience leave this emerging and critical skill to the hope and discretion of “do as you see fit.”  Digital literacy skills are a must have for every child.  We can’t assume that it will get done.   We can’t assume that all kids have access to it at home—we have to demand training, resources, as well as the leadership.  We need to demand a better plan—we can measure training.  To the educational leadership, raise up your teachers, expect more—and arm them with the tools to do more.

Today, the Common Core leaves our young people digitally unarmed.  Students will file out of graduation and into a world milling and seething with technology…and we will have barely touched on it unless a rogue teacher exhibits the comfort and expertise to use it and teach with it.

The one thing that education should have going for it is technology—the depth and quality of our nation’s education should rise along with the continued evolution of technology.  We’re in the infant stages of a Digital Renaissance— and while our biggest and brightest sleep on this issue, we have a professional responsibility as educators to make ourselves digitally literate. 

I also hold the mirror up to myself.  We need to take the responsibility for the digital literacy that this generation will need to thrive and survive not only in the workplace, but in the family unit.  Digital literacy has infiltrated our television screens, our smart phones, and in our daily moment to moment communication with our family and friends—all of which sits in many of our pockets or bags.

Digital literacy is about more than recognizing the Twitter or Facebook icon at bottom of a commercial, it is bigger than the fear of graphic imagery that our young people could be exposed to on the internet.  You know they print pornography with paper and ink too, but that never stopped us from going to the library, bookstore, or handing out paper and pencil.  Avoid the luxury of excuses—make yourself more digitally literate.

Common Core Oversight #5: All Teachers Left Behind
Recently I wrote a grant for technology so that my students could be digital writers and readers more consistently and found myself presented with a concern that technology would replace pencil and paper.  The insinuation slanted technology more towards fun or idle time and pencil and paper as the emblem of diligence and getting our knuckles dirty with graphite.  Every adult in education is responsible for that perception.

Digital writing still requires that writers move through the recursive phases of planning, reflecting, drafting, and revising—the skill is still the skill, and, no, technology is not essential to the core of that skill, but we can't simply bring only traditional mindsets to current literacy practices.  The day is coming when reading and writing on paper will not be good enough in our world.  The definition and cultural concept of a textbook is about to be exploded by Apple and its competition.   Digital technology creates new skills and redefines old skills—life is about growth and change.  Depending on your perspective I suppose it is also about withering and dying…and being left behind.
I came across the anecdote that a group of teachers, instructed on some advancements to school email, learned students would also have their own school email accounts.  A concerned teacher questioned why we would give middle school kids this kind of access—how could we possibly trust them?  Can’t they abuse this?  What about if one kid cyber bullies another through the email we handed to them?  The teacher leading the group retorted, “Why would we ever trust them with pencil and paper?”
These concerns illustrate the boogeymen that can be conjured without the proper exposure and training to just what these tools are, what they can do, what they can’t do, and how they improve education and our collective quality of life.   It also demonstrates how far behind some of us are—eh, Rupert?

 If we allow the innovations of technology to serve merely as distractions or vehicles of our social lives then that is all we are going to get out of them.

Digital tools aren’t used in schools because they are cute or the latest thing or a vehicle to produce a sexier reproduction of a tried and true lesson, but they should be used because they, and only they, address the specific and unique skills emerging in today’s world. 
We underwhelm ourselves sometimes.

Politicians, parents, and educators need to share in a common core.  Our core should be built on the recognition that the digital age is here and it is a renaissance that we need to engage.  We can’t continue to be so casual about it.  We need to expect more of each other and become active members of the current Digital Renaissance in order that our students have a chance to grow into active creators and innovators who network professionally and socially as easily as they speak. 

If we want measurable results, train your teachers with an eye on the specific needs and evolution of society.  Being an adolescent in the early stages of the 21st century looks little like the early stages of the 20th century—when typewriters, the New England Primer, and paper flourished. 

You cannot teach what you have not made your own. You cannot inspire unless you too are inspired.  Quite frankly, the Common Core does little to inspire any of us, and in the end, may only serve to leave all us behind.

art by Sarah Louette

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Great Inches in Art

Inspired by Thomas Newkirk's The Art of Slow Reading, I worked with my 8th grade students on individual lines from Anne Frank's text.  In our writer's notebooks, we created short lists of self-selected lines of text that we liked or found interesting.

Lines of text could be a full sentence or two to anything clipped from within any piece of text written by Anne Frank.

The challenge was to treat one of Anne's line as a "golden line" of text, to borrow from Kelly Gallagher's Teaching Adolescent Writers.  In the past, we have extracted our own lines of texts where we explore what idea, concept, big picture, we were really writing about.  Now, we are asking ourselves what idea, concept, big picture, Anne was really writing about.

I asked the students to create a bumper sticker of the selected line of text written by Anne Frank.  With this, use imagery to help the reader see the line through your eyes.  Avoid imagery that is decoration or window dressing--find a way through imagery, color, text manipulation, to show the reader how you feel, interpret, think about the line.

In his book, Newkirk shares the anecdote about a colleague who, when reflecting on the practice of students focusing on one small piece of a novel asked, "What's next, great inches in art?"  I laugh--I'm really fond of that line.  However, I have found that by slowing down and opening up the conversation to hear, read, and see what my students hear, read, and see in the text we have found a rich and meaningful experience (in my mind) accessible to all.

My mentor text / bumper sticker (above) included a spelling error in the word "contradiction" that I completely missed!  An eagle-eyed student pointed it out to me.  Another told me to pass it off as an intentional contradiction. That gaffe aside, my piece includes drawn faces of many different emotions and lines of text behind them--I included many of Anne's emotional statements.  It was intended to be a reflection or study of her wide mood swings and tender temperament.

On the back, I included a reflection of the line and the imagery I chose--essentially I am trying to make connections for my readers.  I'm digging deep into why this line all of us.

I learned, through a mixed bag of final products, that some of my students struggled with the concept of using imagery, manipulated text, and color as a way to work with the text beyond just decoration.  Of course, this leads into all kinds of discussions about media and the influences we encounter everyday online, in the car, on television...everywhere.

In the mix of student work samples below,  I included five sample that I felt achieved at least some success visually.  You'll find a mixed bag regarding the reflections included on the back of each piece:

It only takes one bomb...
This bumper sticker caught my attention for the possibilities beyond the cranky scrawl of a boy for a couple of reasons--what he observed and the connections he made.  The starkness of his lettering on the front feels so appropriate for the plain, somber, message.  Furthermore, the student equates the term bomb as a potential metaphor for mistake.

(segment of student text) I choose this quote because it represents something more than a single bomb.  Any one movement, one noise, one accident or even as the quote suggests one bomb could spell doom for them all.  A movement or noise could alert (illegible) in the shop below, who would turn in the Franks to Nazi S.S. forces.

When will we be granted the privilege of fresh air...
 I found myself really pleased with the focus on the lush green nature of this bumper sticker.  It feels soft.  It looks pleasant.  And there, dominating it all, the word "privilege" looms and puts nature and fresh air into a fresh perspective.  To be fair, we had been discussing this concept (Anne and nature) and had looked at this quote as a class.

(segment of student text) This quote hit me because we don't normally think of trees and grass as a privilege.  We take advantage of things like this and its weird to think that it takes being trapped inside for 2 years for someone to realize this.


I firmly believe that nature brings solace to all troubles...
Here I found myself drawn to the image of the girl, alone in nature, complimented by the bold text of "believe" and "solace"...when I think of Anne, I return her longing for someone to hold onto and her profound conviction that happiness can be found through the sun, the trees, the air...finally, I love the clouds.  How often do younger students include fluffy white clouds into an outdoorsy image?  These are like puddles of eggplant, oil slicks...they move, in my mind, across the gloaming.

(segment of student text) This quote reminds me of every sunset I've ever seen.  I imagine the sliver of the oranges, yellow sun in the center surrounded by the reds and pinks that blend together until they fade into purples and black.  I am reminded of all the places that  have the best sunsets, like the beaches in the Outer Banks and the shores in Hawaii and the Chesapeake Bay.  As the memories come flooding back I remember the sense of comfort and warmth that sunsets have always given me. 

Himmelhoch jauchzend und zum tode betrubt. - Goethe
On top of the world or in the depths of despair.
 The image speaks to beauty and destruction, freedom and containment, fragility and severity.  Inside the bird, the student wrote "On top of the world." Hugging its feet, the words "or in the depths of despair seem to cling to barbed wire themselves.  Adding to the feel of the piece for the reader is the simple tone of the colors of graphite and paper along with the text written in German.  It  makes me feel uncomfortable and wary--yet, a sense of longing exists as my eye, after tracing the line of barbed wire back and forth, constantly comes back to the bird with its back to us...looking off to its right, off the page, unaware of us behind him.  Is it looking in, or out?  My gut tells me...out.

 (segment of student text)...Anne is torn between whether she's lucky or in a deathtrap.  The picture I drew "the bird on the barbed wire" symbolizes how the bird is free and on top of the world but if he takes the wrong step and isn't careful he could die.  In German "zum tode betrubt" translates into "in total silence."  Throughout Anne's diary she is conveying her sadness and longing to be free and happy once again.

What I could be if...
The manipulation of "if" strikes a melancholy chord.  I love the sunrise (or sunset?) behind and framing "if" and the fact that the long narrow lane fading into the horizon almost perfectly splits the dark and light diving the sky also seems appropriate.  The overall image makes me contemplate the line, for sure, but the combination of the sky and the word "if" asks me to dwell on the melancholy.

(segment of student text) Her usual hopelessness puts a great weight on five words that sometimes are used for trivial things, but in Anne's world she clung to a perfect place she would live in after being in hiding, that was, if she lived, if she would not be tortured, if she could make it past this traumatic experience mentally sound, but she didn't.

There is no smoke without fire...
Perhaps my favorite visually, the student looked surprised when I praised it.  A difficult task is to take a cliche such as "Where there is smoke there is fire" and create imagery with a relevant connection to the literature.  Although the image is only smoke and fire, there is something enormous, out of compass, and untenable about the message behind the image.  It elevates the line beyond the cliche and provides a slice of the horrific and shameful.  It makes me want to look at it.  It makes me think about the line of text as it pertains to Anne's situation...and then I read the student's reflection on the back.  And I am surprised again--the line comes from disagreements with Mrs. Van Daan over Anne's skirt length.  And I reflect again on the image and love it even more--the toothsome ranklings of a fourteen year-old girl!  I felt Anne's spirit when I read this student's reflection (below).

(segment of student text) In Anne's case, she is "immature" because her skirts are too short and she is too loud.  It shows you just easy it is to label someone personally wrong.  This quote connects to me because sometimes I feel the same way as Anne.  Some people see me as irresponsible because I like to have fun while doing something serious.  Its like someones personality affects on how other people see them, but then nothing happens without a reason, so sometimes I say if those people don't like me, then maybe its a sign that we weren't supposed to be friends.  Because if they do judge me without knowing me, that it isn't meant to be.