Grade 9: "A Monster Calls," by Patrick Ness

"A Monster Calls," by Patrick Ness

Focus Questions:
What monsters haunt us?  What might we learn from characters in stories to  help us deal with our personal monsters?


Before Reading the novel, students needed to know what a Yew Tree is so we read 2 articles to find out. See Below:

Students examined the two opposing points of view using a tug of war thinking strategy. We read each article and identified 3 tugs that make the following claim true and false.

CLAIM: Natural remedies are better for people than scientifically engineered ones.


Next, we answered a few questions about monsters using Lynda Barry's "What it is".  See image below:


We thought:

There were so many monsters in old stories because...
  • we believed in them
  • they were used as warnings and teachings
  • they are entertaining

We need monsters because...
  • they give us a tangible way to cope with fears or problems

TRUE, where ever there are people, you will find stories of monsters...
  • Different times call for different monsters: cold war - alien invasion stories, currently zombies - global warming or biological warfare fears

Next, we watched the book trailer and movie trailer to make a prediction about why this monster is in the protagonist's life.

Students thought... 
  • From the book trailer: "the monster wants the truth" means the monster was there to help Conor face something (book trailer observation)
  • From the movie trailer: "The invisible man calls for a monster" meant that Conor needs the monster to be seen again.

While we read the novel, we will be actively reading the exposition of the novel by recording our observations about when and where the monster shows up.  See below:

What is characterization?  Why does the author rely so heavily on indirect characterization?



Students have been recording their brief observations about the character's personalities using the chart below:



This information will help us create Want Ads for one of the characters in the exposition.  We will focus on one character and one situation they find themselves in.  Then identify what they seem to need based on an excerpt from the novel.

I statement: I experiment with language and components found in a want ad to show my understanding of a character's perspective.

To deepen students understanding of character's perspective we watched Disney's "Feast" and answered the following questions?

What is perspective?  How does Winston see the world?  How does the man? The woman?


Next, we identified what Winston might need or want in his situation and we created a want ad as a whole class:



We read "Grandma" together and identified her situation and what she might need or want to help her.  We want to be sure we show an understanding of her perspective.

See our brainstorming below:



Next, students identified different styles of want Ads and common features found in all of them.  As a class we construct a quick Want Ad for Grandma based on our observations.  We included: 
  • Clear Headline 
  • Interesting Hook 
  • Words that improve authenticity 
  • Purposeful Font size and shape  
  • Informative Image 


Example:


Students generated a list of the character's needs:
  • truth
  • friendship
  • compassion
  • strength
  • courage
  • appreciation
  • kindness
Based on this list we all did some free writing see Mrs. Anderson's example below:



When we were finished we watched a TEDEd video, "The Case against GOOD and BAD" and answered the following questions:

Why does the woman dislike "GOOD" and "BAD"?
                                           &
How can I use this information?

We used stars and stairs feedback strategy to think about our writing and share phrases we felt were particularly beautiful.

The next three chapters of the book we'll focus on passages we feel are particularly beautifully written and imitate some of these moves in our own writing.


Students Watched Boyd Varty's TedTalk to think about:
  • What is a memoir?
  • What makes a memoir interesting?

See some of our observations and ideas below:


We read "On Love and a Lake," by Renee David to identify lessons in the writing and note a star and stair based on our definition.



Students pulled out events with vivid details and lessons learned using the chart below:



Students used their free writing to mine for a story that would show the importance of overcoming an obstacle in their lives.  

After identifying an obstacle we used telling boards to expand on our big moments in our memories.  See example below:




Steps to using a Telling Board:

  1. Sketch big moments & Caption what's happening
  2. Use criteria to make improvements (show your reader your experience by including vivid sensory details)
  3. ADD DETAILS - labels, speech bubbles, narrator box
  4. Tell your story & Listen to your peer's Stars and Stairs 
  5. FIX your story: ADD Lessons include the KEY WORDS(important to overcome obstacles)
  6. Tell again and type.
  7. SELF-assess with rubric




BACK TO THE BOOK...


Now that we're finished the Provincial Achievement Test, we are continuing to read "A Monster Calls".  Students are focusing on the understanding the main character, Conor.

We are using a CSI strategy to think about Conor's character.  See exemplar below:


Students discuss ideas that are important, interesting, insightful from a chunk of reading and then use a colour, symbol, and image to represent their understanding of Conor's character.  

See our class example below:

We realized it was important to explain our choice and to prove why it was a good choice by pulling out evidence from the text.

We are analyzing the "tales" the monster tells Conor by completing an Analogy Organizer. See our first analysis below:



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