Always Running is a GREAT book to read with 11th or 12th grade Continuation School Students. My school is located close to the setting of this Los Angeles Coming of Age story. In Rodriquez' intro he states that this is the book that non-readers, read-I personally can confirm this is true. He also mentions that this is the most stolen book from libraries, I can attest to this too.
This memoir speaks to my students as they are able to compare themselves to the main character. although many of my students have not quite lived such a abused upbringing...some of my students have. This book is the perfect mix of high interest, medium - high text complexity, figurative language and imagery, and tons of opportunities for close readings.
A colleague and I decided to beef up our prior lesson plans and decided to include some Close Readings and a "Smarter Balance like" assessment of the close reading.
This was our first time, and we plan on tweaking a few things, but I thought it was worth sharing. We focused on the "The Long Run: New Introduction to Always Running" We felt that this gave a good overview of the Luis Rodriquez' writing style, intentions/audience, and the structure of the novel. Not only did it give students a taste of what to expect, but it explained the "why". Why it is an important story to write, why it is a necessary story to read, why this story is relevant to the world we live in today. Within these truths are beautiful metaphors, complex vocabulary and wonderful imagery that allows students to think and get buy-in...as if they needed extra buy-in, they were hooked in the first paragraph.
First we typed up important parts of the introduction for ourselves so we could write all over it. We needed a blank canvas to begin to really make a good lesson and unit plan. We highlighted key vocabulary and came up with a key concept. We bundled this concept with the documentary G-Dog, and since we are in Los Angeles we are lucky enough to take a field trip to Homeboys industries.
Key Concept: Adversity Essential Question: What does overcoming adversity look like?
Literary Elements we wanted to cover: writing style, figurative language, imagery, symbolism, repetition, citing evidence, and authors purpose
Direct Instruction Vocabulary for the Introduction: Adversity, thrive, accolades, insular-minded, nuance, transcendent.
View our Annotations and focus on Quotes from the Introduction. For students using a text book this can be done with Post-its, half sheet that refer back to paragraph numbers, or typing up of key paragraphs for students to write on. My close readings will be available on Teacherspayteachers.com really soon!
For more ideas on teaching Always Running I am going to post my lessons on Teacherspayteachers.com very soon! Stay tuned!
Here are the Annotation Posters I created to use in my Classroom. Make sure to download the Fictions chart! It is free. If you don't want to sign into TPT, just click here. Use this for all close reading lessons! You can make these low cost posters by printing them as engineer prints at any office supply store. Here is a link to Staples Engineer Print services.
At the conference I was able to purchase some life changing books! I was really excited when I bought them, and now I am even more excited to read them and get all of those key ideas out of them. First on my "To Read" list was The Literacy Cookbook by Sarah Tantillo. This book is a must read for any alternative ed teacher. In our positions, and with the common core, it is essential that we are teach literacy and writing in our classrooms. This book is a user friendly and comprehensive book on literacy that has great, easy, out of the box ideas that get students to mastery. The author, Sarah Tantillo, also offers its readers a 30 day free trial of her downloads page on her website. It looks like a huge database of various lessons, rubrics, skills and graphic organizers that she has created over time. Let's face it, as teachers we can use any "free" advice that will save us time. The books outlines comprehension (not the comprehension you got in your teacher preparation classes), but true comprehension and how to get students to comprehend various texts; Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening and then gives great examples and strategies to approach assignments like Persuasive Writing, Test Prep, Document Based Questioning, Research papers, and teaching with novels across content areas. I particularly like her vocabulary assessment approach. Rather than asking students to match definitions or to write the definition, she suggests using types of assessments that were developed by Jessica Majerus in her writing "Bringing Words to Life" which uses a "Answer the Question" type assessment. The example given in the book says:
Answer the questions. Use your knowledge of our vocabulary to answer the following questions. (two points each).
Which of these do you think should be compulsory: buckling your seatbelt in a car or being in your house by 8:00pm? Why?
Right there you have a fair vocabulary question, and feedback. You can use this as a formative assessment, see how a student did and get a sense of their cognition when answering the questions. Did they forget the word and look at the root or suffix? Why did they think that? It this a re-teachable word?
Another example is to pick scenarios:
Word Scenario 1 Scenario 2
Interspersed I was so angry that my writing was mixed with invectives. I was so angry that my writing was made up completely of invectives
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The thing that I have learned about all common core assessments are more...they take longer to write, more time to make, more brain power (in my opinion), and our students will get more out of them. These two examples profusely changed my thinking and vocabulary assessment.
Again, these are only 2 things out of a book that has a ton of great ideas. I hope as I integrate more of these ideas into my lessons to share to share more!
For more info on The Literacy Cookbook, take a look at theliteracycookbook.com or check out the book on amazon.