Bethany Griffin - The Fall
Bethany Griffin - Masque of the Red Death
Bethany Griffin - Handcuffs
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Check back soon for a complete Common Core standards based unit on teaching The Fall side by side with Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher.
 

My take on Young Adult literature - I’ve always loved literature of all types, but as a teacher I have a particular love for YA. It’s contemporary, it moves fast, and it deals with the issues and emotional journeys of the students we are teaching.

The classics are great, but often they don’t resonate (or engage readers) like YA literature. I think YA choices should be available in all English classes, even AP classes, though an intrepid teacher could pair contemporary YA with classic required literature.

Masque of the Red Death Study Questions
1. Can anyone ever really hide from death?
2. What would the responses of the populace be during a plague?
3. How would the lives and expectations of young people change in the aftermath of such a catastrophe?
4. Do catastrophic events cause regular people to take on heroic or villainous roles, or would people take those roles, to a lesser extent, in normal times?
5. What are some positive ways to rise from the depths of despair, and why are people, teens in particular, more likely to find negative ways to deal with sadness?
6. In her search for oblivion, what do you think Araby was truly searching for? Did she find it?
7. Themes/Motifs in Masque of the Red Death (Poe’s version, or mine!)
 
  • Death
  • Plague
  • Despair
  • Heroism
  • Hope
  • Loss
  • The role of the scientist in changing the direction of history
  • The role of the inventor in changing the direction of history
  • The role of catastrophe in changing history
  • Alternate history and alternate technology/science.
General YA Questions and Lesson Ideas
1. What is YA Literature? Young Adult literature generally has a young person (generally a few years older than the target audience) as a protagonist. Most young adult novels deal with coming of age, because the characters are growing up and learning and experiencing new things. They also commonly deal with issues faced by teens. Young adult literature spans all genres, from science fiction to contemporary/realistic. I consider Handcuffs a contemporary/realistic book.

2. Isn’t it better to teach from a canon of classic literature? I like to mix classic and YA literature, but if I had to choose one or the other, I’d go with YA. High interest is just something that cannot be over valued. And if you have questions about literature, try some assignments that promote choice.
Reading Assignments That Easily Lend Themselves To YA
Literature Circles
1. Introduce books with a book talk.
2. Students choose books.
3. Students read books independently, coming together to share and do cooperative work with the students reading the same book, and to share and find common themes with students reading different books.
Book Project Ideas

Book Projects can include book related power points, timelines, diary entries written from character’s point of view, posters, scripts, interview a character from the book, write a book review for a newspaper or review site, mobile, new book cover or advertising poster, write a letter to the author :), collage, news paper review, outline a sequel, etc.

Do a collage/poster showing pictures or 3-d items that related to the book, and then write a sentence or two beside each one to show its significance (this one would be really fun for Handcuffs).

Any time you can give a student a choice and a chance for a little creativity, I think you have a great learning opportunity.

Teacher online discussion opportunities
I’m happy to do a question/answer session with a class or group,
just email me, and we can set up a time and format.
Library Visits and After School Visits
I can’t do school visits, since I’m teaching during the day,
but I am willing to do weekend or after school visits.
Email me at info@bethanygriffin.com with any questions.
Discussion Questions for Handcuffs
1. If one of your parents lost their job and did not immediately get another one, how would this impact your family and lifestyle?
2. How do you think modern technology, blogs, myspace, message boards, and email, have changed and revolutionized the art of gossip?
3. What challenges would a middle child face, particularly one with siblings like Preston and Paige?
4. What does Parker believe about her sister Paige’s life, popularity, and happiness, and how are her beliefs challenged by discoveries she makes within the book?
5. Why do you think Parker allows her ex-boyfriend to put the handcuffs on her?
6. Do you think Parker really is an ice princess? If so, what are the characteristics of an ice princess, and how did she become one?
7. Describe Parker’s friendship with Raye. Do you think Raye is a good friend? Explain.
8. Compare and Contrast this book with another book of YA contemporary fiction.
9. Describe Parker’s ex-boyfriend. Include Parker’s impressions and your impressions of him.
10. Is it better for him to lie, or not to say it at all? See the back of the book if you need clarification on this one.
Themes from Handcuffs
1. Obsession- obsession means being totally into someone (or something) so much that you lose sight of yourself. There are several characters who are obsessed in this book. Parker, Paige, Kyle, to name a few.
2. Choices- characters in Handcuffs make choices. Some of them are good and some are maybe not so good or smart. That’s where you get into...
3. Consequences- for every choice there is a consequence. But it isn’t always what you expect.
4. Self Image- or being comfortable with yourself. As a self proclaimed Ice Princess, Parker has decided some things about herself. We all define ourselves in some ways, and it can be hard to break out and change.