This year, I have built my units around the concept that ANYONE, even an 8th or 9th grader, can be someone's hero. It's really worked out GREAT and I think the kids are really getting it which is the best part of teaching!
In my HONORS ENGLISH 8 class, we've studied:
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
In my ENGLISH 9 classes, we've studied:
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Romeo & Juliet
along with a variety of short stories
It's been a GREAT year with a lot of discussion around which character(s) could be viewed as a hero and what they did to earn that "title." I've always tried to tie it back to what THEY...the students...could do. I feel like I've pretty successful with most/all of the students.
Today, we read an incredibly powerful scene in the novel. The students have had some amazing reactions to what they learned about Doug. The discussions have been FABULOUS!!!!!!!! I can't wait to continue and see how their understanding of the power of literature, text-to-self connections, deeper meaning, etc., etc., etc. I've also realized something I needed to be reminded of: Every child, every student, every adult, every teacher, EVERYONE...has a story! NO ONE is exempt from trials and crappy things that help shape us into the people we become. Sometimes, it takes persistence and a lot of hard work to figure out how to help someone but as teachers, adults, leaders, we can TRY to make a difference!!
NOTE: Even if you don't teach English, EVERYONE should read this book!!! I'd recommend reading The Wednesday Wars first but you don't have to...Okay for Now can be a "stand-alone" book.