Lessons

Fractured Lands Children's Book

006.jpg

Border crossing in Ras Jdir near Ben Gardenne. Image by Paolo Pellegrin. Tunisia, 2011.

Common Core Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.5: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

Introducing the Lesson:

We have explored many elements of Scott Anderson’s “Fractured Lands,” published by the New York Times. Take a minute and reflect on the topics we have covered (Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Iraq War, the Arab Spring, ISIS, the Refugee Crisis, etc.)  Reflect on the individuals we have heard from (Majdi, Laila, Majd, Wakaz, Azar, Khulood).  Reflect on the regions we have vicariously experienced (Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, Jordan, Tunisia).  Which person, place or event did you connect with most?  What do you want to research more? What person, place or event do you want to teach to others? 

Once we determine our interests and desired focus, we will create groups that are comprised of individuals with similar interests.  Every group will create a book with an intended audience of 5-8 year old children.

In our groups, we will discuss and decide the following:

  1. Type: historical fiction or non-fiction
  2. Main Character(s)
  3. Primary situation that will be explored in book
  4. Goal: What do we want to teach the children that will read our book?
  5. Although all group members will help each other and work collaboratively, each person will be specifically responsible for a different aspect of the assignment.  Roles include: 
  • Lead Plot Developer and Character Developer
    • You develop the plot and characters whether fiction or non-fiction. You work closely with the author to communicate the many aspects of the characters
    • Lead Author/Writer
      • You write the dialogue and text. Keep the 5-8 year old audience in mind as you create age-appropriate dialogue and text.  Remember in media res (start in the emotional or physical action).  Use a couple literary devices when it works and feels organic.  Also, to get the readers into the setting, consider sprinkling in some transliteration of Arabic (or Kurdish or the appropriate language) and/or possibly a regional idiom into the dialogue.
    • Lead Illustrator
      • You create the illustrations considering the text.  Keep the 5-8 year old audience in mind as you create age-appropriate images.  You need to be in constant communication with the author, plot developer and researcher.  You also need to research tips on creating illustrations for children’s books. 
    • Lead Editor
      • You ensure correct grammar, capitalization, usage, spelling, punctuation, etc.  This needs to be impeccable.   You work most closely with the author.
    • Lead Researcher
      • You research everything necessary for the plot/character developer, author and illustrator.  You are researching details for setting, background, translations, attire, etc.  Remember to use credible sources and triple check everything.
    • Lead Publisher
      • You are in charge of the group.  If there are disagreements among the group, you make the decision.  You help everyone as needed.  You coordinate working relationships among everyone.  You get the book done.

*Note: Groups that include 5 students will combine research duties with plot/character development duties.

Cover

Title and illustration on cover clearly relate to the story and entice readers to pick up the book.  

Title and illustration on cover clearly mostly relate to the story and somewhat entice readers to pick up the book.

Title and illustration on cover don't relate to the story and don't entice readers to pick up the book.

  5 points 3 points 1 point
Text

The font and legibility of the text flow and support the content.

The font and legibility of the text flow and somewhat support the content.

The font and legibility of the text don't support the content.

  10 points 7 points 3 points
Language

Perfect execution of grammar,  capitalization, usage, spelling, punctuation, etc.

Near perfect execution of grammar,  capitalization, usage, spelling, punctuation, etc.

Text has grammar, capitalization, usage, spelling or punctuation errors.

  15 points 10 points 5 points
Literary Device

Two or more different literary devices are used in the work.

One literary device is used in the work.

No literary device is used in the work.

  10 points 7 points 3 points
Plot Development

All five areas of the plot (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution) are present and are clearly developed through dialogue and text.

One area of the plot (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution) is missing or needs development.

Two areas of the plot (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution) are missing or needs development.

  15 points 10 points 5 points
Illustrations

 

The illustrations help present the plot and dialogue of that page.

The illustrations mostly help present the plot and dialogue of that page.

The illustrations are mostly disconnected with the plot and dialogue of that page.

  10 points 7 points 3 points
Illustrations

 

Illustrations are neat, visually pleasing and have a sense of "flow"  throughout the entire work.

Illustrations are neat, visually pleasing and have a sense of "flow"  throughout the majority of the work.

Illustrations are messy and disconnected.

  15 points 7 points 3 points
*Your specific jobs

The specific tasks of your job will be worth an additional 20 points. The points in the rubric specifically associated with your job, will be counted again and weighted to be worth a possible 20 points.

*For example, if your book earned a 15/15 for language, and you were the editor responsible for ensuring perfect grammer, spelling, etc., you will earn an additional 20/20 in this section of the rubric as well

 
  100 possible points    

-Above rubric adapted from ReadWriteThink.

Educator Notes: 

Prior to assigning this project, you may want to show examples of real-world, tough issues that are explored in some children's books.  This allows students to get an idea of how to depict and articulate a mature topic to a younger audience.  For example, when children’s author Jeanette Winter (Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery) communicates the moment when Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai gets shot in the head by the Taliban, it is said simply and it is illustrated without the gruesome scene that it actually was.

While showing an example of a children’s book, it is also helpful to point out how the color scheme, images and font follow a consistent pattern throughout the book.  In terms of the writing, it is helpful to show students how the book starts on page one “in medias res,” in the middle of the action, in order to hook readers from the beginning.  Ideally, the book that you are sharing features characters that are non-English speakers, thus includes some text that is indigenous to the culture that is portrayed in the story.  Show students how authors successfully do this.  If the author includes a regional idiom in the dialogue, also point this out to students.   This should provide a solid foundation for students as they begin the writing process.

Lesson Builder Survey