Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crowdsourcing an English Curriculum #EngChat #EdChat

Hello everyone! I’m working on a proposal to drastically change the Grade 10 Curriculum. Currently, our curriculum starts with Puritanism and ends with Catcher in the the Rye or Death of a Salesman. Our “newest” book is over 60 years old. It is getting harder and harder to engage reluctant readers to texts that are further and further away from who they are. I’m looking to bring in new texts that students can identify.

What I want to do is move our 2nd semester that generally starts with Huck Finn and move it to the first semester an start the 2nd semester with all new texts. The main focus on the Grade 10 Curriculum is coming of age. Despite being an avid reader, there are plenty of things I have not read or heard about that would be a perfect fit for this curriculum.

Here is where I need your help. Please suggest literature (Poetry, short stories, novels, essays, fiction, non-fiction, media, etc) that would be perfect for grade 10 students. Here is the criteria for the selections.

Must be American Authors (This is an American Literature Class)
Must have been published post 1960
Must be age appropriate for 15-16 year old students with varying reading levels

Feel free to add your suggestions to the Google Doc and I will be able to put together a list of suggestions for my district. Thanks for all of your help and support.

Links to book reviews would be very helpful as well. Thanks again!

Google Doc Link


  1. Some contemporary texts that I have had a lot of success with are:
    The Maze Runner
    The Hunger Games
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

    Hope that helps :)

  2. One of the books I read in Middle School that I think about often is Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange. "The sun was a singular preoccupation with Betsey. She rose with it at least once a week. "

  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a great text, meeting all of your criteria. You should review it, because it involves drug use and coming of age sexually. I view it as 'appropriate,' but could imagine someone objecting.

    Kurt Vonnegut novels - Cat's Cradle, Mother Night, Slaughterhouse Five - can work well. Again, some folks object to his work.

    Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories would be great. Several are written from the perspective of a kid; or are from the perspective of someone looking back on their childhood. The Namesake, her novel, is also fantastic and truly coming-of-age. It might be a bit slow-going for some kids.

    Junot Diaz's short story collection Drown is fantastic. There's a podcast of him reading a story on the New Yorker fiction podcast on iTunes - if you haven't looked there for short stories, you should. His novel Oscar Wao would be a good challenge text for some kids.

    Dave Eggers's memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is a compelling coming-of-age story as both of Eggers's parents died within a few months of each other, leaving him as his younger brother's guardian. His nonfiction account Zeitoun is a powerful book about Hurricane Katrina. His novel What is the What is a fictionalized biography of one of the Lost Boys in Sudan who relocates to America.

    I would echo the Curious Incident recommendation above, but that book is by a British author. It all depends on how tight your criteria are. It's a really great book, perfect for 10th graders, and worth bending the rules for.

  4. I'm so excited by all of the great suggestions everyone has been giving me. This is just another reason why I love my PLN.

    Ken - I love Perks. One of my new favorite books. They are turning it into a movie starring Emma Watson, so I'm curious to see how that turns out. Not sure I could get it to pass in my district (Very Conservative) but it is a great read.

  5. Looking for Alaska by John Green. I could see it changing a young teen's life. There are a few strong themes, but coming of age and finding oneself is def. one. Just one awkward/inappropriate scene & some cursing, but great messages and life lessons.

  6. There are a lot of great ideas, I love this! The Help would be a great one (you could combine it with To Kill a Mockingbird), The Giver, Cat's Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut) is excellent.

    I have a list of short stories/poems also, but I will have to dig it out. If your district is conservative, you may not be able to get by with Vonnegut.

    I also always love The Outsiders and the kids seem to also.

    Good Luck!

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  8. To me, Dick is the postmodern Faulkner.

    "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" brings us to the edge of what it means to be, and does it in a manner that's meaningful for a generation that interacts with computers every day.

    Although his exploration of being is topical and often pessimistic, It's amazing to me that Dick hasn't yet been included in the canon to at least the degree that William Goldberg was... but then William Goldberg wrote much more acceptable prose.

    Dick explores the nature of being in a very self-reflexive and oh-so-postmodern way. In a Phillip K. Dick World, being human is much more about the cognitive idea of being than about the emotive aspect of being human.

    Sometimes I wish that emotive exploration of being was there, but then it wouldn't be very postmodern, would it.

    Anyway, my $0.02 on it.


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