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Blueprint for Novel Study

A Letter to Teachers
A Letter to Teachers
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Author bio

Dear Friends,

I have always thought differently from others. Growing up I learned to fit into the mold of education, but I constantly looked for what made learning exciting for me—the “Aha” moment: the opportunity to take knowledge and transcend it to a new understanding or awareness. As a teacher, I looked toward my own mentors, Jim Curry, Sandy Kaplan, Don Finkel, Howard Gardner and others, whose style of teaching and passion for learning inspired me to go beyond.


So after 25 years of teaching, I decided it was time to share the things I have learned with my fellow colleagues: what worked and what didn’t; how to involve students effectively in self-directed learning; how to inspire students to go beyond, not just for a grade, but for the love of learning.

First and foremost I learned that teaching and perfection do not go hand in hand. I was not always successful. I learned that every student presents a different set of wants and needs. I discovered that when I did not set limits and allowed my students to be part of the learning process, to develop and create their own goals and aspirations, my students could achieve more than I ever imagined. Learning became a group experience in which each of us grew as individuals.

Educators take on the demanding task of imparting knowledge that enables the learner to better understand the world and how he or she fits into that world. A structure of basic knowledge, skills, and expertise are the first tools needed; but education must be more than isolated facts and figures to have meaning. The complex task of learning involves problem-solving, critical thinking, passion, and the capacity to reach a higher plane of thought and understanding. And, the educator is expected to impart all of this wisdom to his or her students.

In developing this curriculum guide, I sought out and created activities that inspire students and teachers to analyze novels in a variety of ways through investigation. I combined years of experience and knowledge about education: philosophies, teacher training, classroom trial and error, student and parent input, and colleague support and collaboration, to create a blueprint of teacher-designed materials and handouts that worked for my students and me.

The teacher materials stand alone as a unit or can be pulled out and used as individual activities in the classroom setting. Handouts, overheads, and rubrics are also available on a separate CD so that they can be modified by you to fit your subject area, your class assignments, your students, and your teaching style.

Yes, each of us comes to this task of teaching with different talents and goals. It is up to each of us to add our artistic design to what we do. Hopefully these ideas and handouts will help you design the curriculum that allows you to reach your students to make learning real and authentic.


                                                                                    Sandy Horton

Sandra Horton, author and consultant * 8133 NC 181 * Newland * NC * 28657