I literally could not be more proud than I am right now. Thanks to Poitras and her helper, Maria, for this clip.
James Scot Brodie is a teacher at Presidio Middle School in San Francisco, where Jen Wang and I spoke last month on our tour for In Real Life; prior to my arriving, he assigned my book Little Brother to his students, and produced some curricular materials that he’s generously given to me to publish.
I was thrilled when the librarian announced that Cory Doctorow was going to make an appearance at our school. As an English teacher, aspiring writer, and complete nerd — I find author visits a nice perk to the job. The students too, like to get out of the classroom whenever they can and author visits are a rare treat. I’ve been teaching for about five years and I’ve met two authors. It then dawned on me that we seldom read the books of the authors that come to visit our school. Mainly because our closets are filled with tons of dead people. Maybe five percent of our class sets are from the living, although Mr. Gomez somehow scored 40 copies of The Fault In Our Stars (he must know someone).
Nevertheless, it was early September and Doctorow was set to visit on October 16. I was determined to have my students read the book, but we only had ten copies from a box on loan from the public library. Now, Doctorow is super generous with his stuff and offers a lot of material to educators and students for free via his website, so I figured I would tap into this and download the book. At the same time I didn’t want to print up 102 copies for my 3 English classes. That would take forever, cost a lot, and kill too many trees. So, long story short, this is what I did: I purchased the audio book, and two copies of the text. I read the book, making “marginal” and underlining vocabulary words, slowly sculpting it into a “teacher’s edition.” I also came up with questions for each chapter. Most the questions are simple guided questions (who, what, when, where and why), but I also made sure that each chapter has a question where the students can relate the reading to their own lives — these inquiries were also great springboards for interesting classroom discussions. I printed up these sheets and students completed them as we listened to the audio book. This is where the second book comes into play – I used the unmarked version of the text to display on the white board at the front of the class via my ELMO projector for all the class to see. I was surprised at how huge I could get the book — it was roughly four feet by six feet and I didn’t know this but the little orange button on the left is for focusing (a student pointed this out to me). I’ll have to say it was one of the most positive reading experiences I’ve ever had with a class. It may be psychological but the minute I projected the book on the board and hit the play button on the audio book — students were enthralled as if watching a movie. Of course it may also have something to do with Mr. Doctorow’s book — there is a lot in there that the modern day teenager can relate to.
The entire unit took about six weeks. Students gathered all their vocabulary/question sheets into a portfolio. I purchased card stock and brass fasteners for students to make covers for these portfolios (which they decorated themselves) and this turned out to be a great boon for students that couldn’t afford to purchase their own copies of the book, because when the big day came — Doctorow autographed copies for his admirers. And this is how the lesson plan ended up here, Cory signed a few, thought they were cool and offered to post them. There are a couple of other activities that I’ve thrown in, but the above is the real meat and potatoes. Use them as you like, put your own personal spin on them and hopefully it will save you some time.
James Scot Brodie
For the first time, one of my books has been challenged. The students at Booker T Washington High in Pensacola, Florida were to be assigned Little Brother for their summer One School/One Book read. At the last instant — and over the objections of the head of the English department and the chief librarian — the principal reversed the previous approval and seems to have cancelled the One School/One Book program outright. My amazing publishers, Tor Books, have volunteered to send 200 copies to the school for the students to read, and I’ll participate in a videoconference with the students in the coming school year. Read all about it on Boing Boing.
Hey, Danes! There’s a limited-edition Danish-language translation of Little Brother that’s just come out from Science Fiction Cirklen! Tell your friends!
The Humble Ebook Bundle continues to rock, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a bundle of great name-your-price ebooks, including Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, Steve Gould’s Jumper, and Holly Black’s Tithe. Also included in the bundle is an exclusive audiobook of my novel Homeland, read by Wil Wheaton.
I commissioned Wil to read the book — it was pretty much the only way to get a DRM-free audio edition in the age of Audible — and while he read, he had a series of conversations with the project’s director Gabrielle di Cuir from LA’s Skyboat Studios. In this clip (MP3), Wil explains how the discussions of crypto and technology in my novels serve as a spur to drive kids — and grownups — to research more about security and freedom.
You’ve got 11 more days to avail yourself of the Humble Ebook Bundle!
As you may have noticed, I think Litographs are really cool: the company turns the text of various books into a piece of appropriately themed text-art and makes lithographs, tees and tote-bags out of it.
Now, I’m delighted to announce that the company has produced a line of Litographs based on my novel Little Brother, with a gorgeous anti-surveillance design by Benjy Brooke.
Each piece is custom-made, and you can choose between a variety of color schemes or a black-and-white design. Tees are two-sided, screened from collar to hem, and come in both boy- and girl-cuts.
The company sends a new, high quality book to the International Book Bank for every poster they sell.
For this week only, you can get $5 off any Litograph product with the discount code M1k3y.
Locus Magazine has published its annual Recommended Reading list, which is my favorite annual guide to the best that science fiction and fantasy have to offer. The 2013 roundup includes several of the books I’ve reviewed on Boing Boing this year, including Paolo Bacigalupi’s Zombie Baseball Beatdown, Charlie Stross’s Neptune’s Brood, Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls, Richard Kadrey’s Dead Set, Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam, Ian Tregillis’s Necessary Evil, Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and Nathan Ballingrud’s North American Lake Monsters.
The whole list is just a fantastic signposting of the best the field has to offer.
Don Liebold teaches High School English in Milwaukee, where he and his class read my novel Little Brother. He writes: “To celebrate finishing the book, we are playing Jeopardy tomorrow in class. Here is round 1, and here is round 2.
Those are tough questions! I missed a couple!
Holy. Cats. My novel Little Brother has made it into the CBC’s Canada Reads Top Ten. It is in astoundingly great and humbling company, including Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood and Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda. I’m so, so pleased by this — thank you to everyone who supported the book. And I hope you check out the whole top ten, which is quite a list of wonderfulness.
These two young fellows are brothers from Palo Alto who’ve set out to produce a series of videos explaining the technical ideas in my novel Little Brother, and their first installment, explaining Bayes’s Theorem, is a very promising start. I’m honored — and delighted!