The second semester started today and I didn't waste any time jumping into content. I don't like to ease them into it. I like to pretend that no time has gone by at all! Also, I might just be a little excited to be teaching To Kill A Mockingbird this year! It's always been a high school book. Even I read it in 9th grade. But, after talking to a friend who teaches at the high school, she said that the high school teachers decided it should be an 8th grade book. No one told the middle schools, so I spent Winter Break re-reading and planning to teach TKAM to my advanced class. Unfortunately, my school only has 24 copies and I need 35, so I'm banking on the idea that one of the high schools will let us borrow some copies and I've already started having my students take notes on the historical context. We will spend some time studying the Scottsboro Trials and hopefully by next week, we'll have enough books.
My other 8th grade class is reading The Outsiders. This is for 2 reasons: 1) We won't have enough copies of TKAM for both classes and I was already planning on doing The Outsiders anyway. 2) They're immature and I don't want to deal with them not being able to handle all of the n-word dropping in that book because I know the first time a kid giggles about it, I will freak out at him/her. I know that sounds horrible, but these kids don't really experience racism, so they often perpetuate it in the form of a joke. We are lucky to live in a beautiful place that is extremely diverse. These kids are used to it because it's all they know, and so we don't really have race issues here. All of the kids crack jokes about each others' races and their own race and everyone laughs because no one means it maliciously. It is because of this that I am afraid they won't know how to take the TKAM seriously. And I refuse to drag them through it because it is a beautiful book and I don't want them to ruin it for me. Selfish, I know.
The Outsiders will be more interesting to them anyway. One of my students asked if they needed their textbooks today and I told her they wouldn't for a while. She said, "You mean, we're reading a real book?! Yes!" They hate the textbook just as much as I do :)
I can't wait to start reading TKAM with the advance 8th graders though. I think they're going to love it. They already have so many questions!