Middle School Monday: Classroom Crossover
All of the arguments we know and make for authentic representation in books on our shelves are just as important for the books that are used as texts in our classrooms. More important in some ways, because we can help challenge the normative position of whiteness in the curriculum by flooding classrooms with reflective, engaging literature to be used as class texts.
I see no reason why The Crossover is not being used in Language Arts classrooms in every middle school. It is THAT good. It makes teaching poetry incredibly enjoyable and seamless. Intuitive. There is so much rich, figurative language in The Crossover that it explodes on every page. Similes. Metaphors. Extended metaphors. Alliteration. Personification. All of that beautiful writing makes it an ideal mentor text for students to use to guide and inspire their own poetry.
Plus, it is simply an amazing piece of literature. We pair the novel with the audio, which I highly recommend. Hearing our students verbally respond to the rhymes and rhythms of The Crossover is a highlight of my year.
This is my second year collaborating with our 8th grade ELA teacher to teach the novel, so I’ve read it about nine times. It gets better every time. The novel is so nuanced, the writing so skilled, that I am still seeing new twists and double meanings in each new reading.
Tomorrow, we’ll probably get to page 210. Questions. I cry each time on that page. My students will tease me about it, but I’m comfortable showing them how much I love this work—isn’t that part of our role as librarians? Modeling that love of reading—showing the effect that words can have?
This year, we’re trying out a new choice-based creative project to culminate our learning and discussion with the novel. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Please, please get a class set of this novel and expose your students to the enjoyment of this beautiful piece of literature. We’re planning on doing Booked in the spring. I can’t wait to hear Kwame Alexander himself on that audio!
What are YOUR favorite books to see used in middle school classrooms? How are you chipping away at the literary canon?
Filed under: Middle School Monday
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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