Students Write the Darndest Things–To Kill a Mockingbird and Love

Here is a gem from one of my students practicing writing an Occasion/Position topic sentence:
“Even though many little kids love mythological creatures, we should crush their dreams”
They got the format right, but the topic sentence is still hilarious!
Last month, my 8th graders finished reading To Kill A Mockinbird. They were very into it–they loved reading it (even if they didn’t say it out loud). I only ever had one or two students who didn’t do their reading homework every day. For a junior high English class, that is a miracle! I wasn’t all the excited to teach it, because it’s not one of my favorites, but my students’ interest in the book made me excited!
At the end of the novel, we had a discussion on the symbol of the mockingbird, and how Boo Radley was the mockingbird. But, I was interested. I wanted to hear their opinion. So, I asked my students who else could be the mockingbird. The top picks were: Atticus, Tom Robinson, and Miss Maudie. They loved Miss Maudie.
I also asked the students to write a reflection on To Kill A Mockingbird, what they liked, disliked, what they learned, etc.:
“My least favorite character is probably Bob Ewell…because he was a freaking jerk-face to everyone and he’s just so annoying.”
“I  didn’t like how in the middle and at the beginning of the book it was just life, and to me that’s kind of boring.”
“I thought the book got boring in the middle, but overall it was the best book we read this year.”
Now this next student did a very good job with his quizzes and projects in this unit, but has an elitist attitude… 
“I liked nothing. The book takes way too long to get anywhere, and when it does, I feel like I’m in a preschool again. I learned..let me thin…NOTHING. I have heard most of those quotes before. I did not have a favorite character. I thought all were nuisances.”
My 8th graders are now working on The Scarlet Pimpernel, a romantic adventure book that takes place during the French Revolution and whose protagonist is a mix of Robin Hood and Zorro. One of the major themes of this book is love and relationships, so I asked my 8th graders to define love. I was interested in what 13 year olds would come up with, especially as my students are, for the majority, Mormons and thus, don’t date until they are 16. So, being as young as they were, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, I was pleasantly surprised by their deep answers:
“Love them unconditionally.”
“Willingness to stick wit this person for the rest of their life and deal with your differences.”
“A good relationship between man and woman who like them for who they are and believe the real them.”
“It’s when you are willing to die for them.”
“When you can except (accept) someone for who they are even if they don’t live up to society’s standards of ‘beauty’.”
It seems like they know what love is. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.


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