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Using Text Sets with "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli

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Kat Williams

on 22 November 2013

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Transcript of Using Text Sets with "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli

Integrating Text Sets with "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli

Kat Williams

Rossier School of Education

University of Southern California

EDUC 505

November 1, 2013

Dr. Stephanie Kim

Class size is made up of 15 students
9 are IEP students
3 are EL and IEP learners
There are 6 boys and 9 girls
The classroom has a rich cultural diversity with ethnicities ranging from Korean to Jamaican.
Text #2: "Be Yourself"
Medium: Video featuring astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson,
Director of the Hayden Planetarium, NYC
Tyson was born as the second of three children in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, and was raised in the Bronx. His mother, Sunchita Marie (Feliciano) Tyson, was a gerontologist, and his father, Cyril deGrasse Tyson, was a sociologist, human resource commissioner for the New York City mayor John Lindsay, and the first Director of Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited. His maternal grandparents were Puerto Rican.

Tyson attended the Bronx High School of Science (1972–76, astrophysics emphasis) where he was captain of the wrestling team, and editor in chief of the school's Physical Science Journal. Tyson had an abiding interest in astronomy since he was nine years old, following his visit to Pennsylvania and seeing the stars, saying "it looks like the Hayden Planetarium". He obsessively studied astronomy in his teens, and eventually even gained some fame in the astronomy community by giving lectures on the subject at the age of fifteen. Tyson recalls that "so strong was that imprint [of the night sky] that I'm certain that I had no choice in the matter, that in fact, the universe called me.”

Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson's professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way.

Two of Tyson's recent books are the playful and informative Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries, which was a New York Times bestseller, and The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet, chronicling his experience at the center of the controversy over Pluto's planetary status. The PBS/NOVA documentary "The Pluto Files", based on the book, premiered in March 2010.

For five seasons, beginning in the fall of 2006, Tyson appeared as the on-camera host of PBS-NOVA's spinoff program NOVA ScienceNOW, which is an accessible look at the frontier of all the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe.

During the summer of 2009 Tyson identified a stable of professional standup comedians to assist his effort in bringing science to commercial radio with the NSF-funded pilot program StarTalk. Now also a podcast, StarTalk Radio combines celebrity guests with informative yet playful banter. The target audience is all those people who never thought they would, or could, like science.
A brief snapshot of Maryellen Redmond's 7th Grade Period D ELA class
Text # 3: Graphic Images

Students have been reading "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli as their first novel of the year.
Mrs. Redmond has been tying in prior knowledge of literary terms and reinforcing that knowledge throughout the chapter lessons.
The teacher has chosen "Stargirl" as the classes' first novel specifically because of the author's use of figurative language as well as the message of non-conformity and uniqueness. These are themes she feels are important to underscore at this age.
Your lipstick stains
On the front lobe of my
Left-side brains
I knew I wouldn't forget you
And so I went and let you
Blow my mind
Your sweet moonbeam
The smell of you in every
Single dream I dream
I knew when we collided
You're the one I have decided
Who's one of my kind
Hey soul sister
Ain't that mister mister
On the radio, stereo
The way you move ain't fair, you know
Hey soul sister
I don't wanna miss
A single thing you do
Hey, hey, hey

Instructional Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.

Learning Objective

Students will be able to identify and interpret figurative language by comparing phrases from the text to a pop song.

This book was chosen in part by the teacher for its prose and the opportunity to teach figurative language to her students, which aligns with the CCSS RL.7.4. Additionally, this learning objective reinforces this understanding by accessing two facets of understanding; explain and interpret (Wiggins, 2006). The teacher can use this knowledge and comprehension of artist interpretation and figurative language as a scaffold to engage students’ imagination towards future creative writing lessons.
Literacy strategy

We will set up this lesson by reading aloud from page 85 when Leo realizes that he is in love with the ukulele playing Stargirl. After watching the music video, students will read the lyrics using a double entry journal in which they can make notes on the word choices and phrasing. This strategy will allow students to identify figurative language in the song and compare it to the figurative language in the book. Other benefits of using the DEJ is its ability to combine reading and listening tasks effectively.

Elements of the constructionist theory will be activated for this lesson, where students will be required build on prior knowledge of figurative language from "Stargirl" by listening and relating the material to the way artists interpret what falling in love feels like using words and music. The lesson will build on both small group sharing and whole class responses, fostering a collaborative learning experience (Omrod, 2011).

Possible extension activity: Students will be asked to either bring a song in that is evocative of a feeling or a moment that has touched them, and to read and analyze the lyrics.


A double entry journal will provide a formative assessment in which students participate in small group and whole class discussion where creative thinking skills might be fostered.
Text #1: "Soul Sister" by Train
Medium: Music Video
Instructional Standard * Craft and Structure

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

Learning Outcome

Students will be able to evaluate the theme in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s discourse and relate it to the main characters in "Stargirl".

I believe students will be drawn in by Dr. Tyson’s enthusiasm for his work, and his dual message of being unique and being connected; ideas that are run tandem to Mrs. Redmond’s theme of individuality. It also aligns succinctly with the CCSS ELA SL.Literacy.7.2 by asking students to analyze main ideas and offer explanations with relation to core text and/or themes.

This lesson will focus primarily on constructivist theory where students will build meaning from prior knowledge and associations with text. However, it will add the component of social cognitive theory as well, where learning is not always obvious, but digested over time. These two theories align with the learning objective in that it allows students to analyze and process information into new schema by using a multi-media format to parallel the course topic. Additionally, this text set “engages in effective metacognition”, or self-knowledge, in that it requires the students to think about, clarify, and connect themes (nonconformity, uniqueness), and real life examples of this theme (video) with personal choices they may make in the future (Wiggins, 2006).


Reaction Guides give the teacher the opportunity to prompt discussion on key concepts, questions, as well as reflections. This is a formative assessment, which provides valuable information on a student’s ability to utilize specific content and apply it to abstract ideas (Vacca, 2011). Reaction Guides are also useful for mapping future multi-modal text set lessons (Lester, 2002).

Literacy Strategy

Students will begin by reading a brief biography of Neil deGrasse Tyson. They will then read page 103 from "Stargirl", where Leo learns that in the space between sleeping and waking he is, “untitled, unnamed, natural, suspended between what was and will be” and that “…for a few brief moments, anything and everything” he could aspire to be (Spinelli, 2000).

Students will then watch the video and complete both a Reaction Guide in tandem with a Think Aloud whole class discussion on how the video relates to Leo’s inner conflict and choices.


Why Text Sets Work
Instructional Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.5 Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

Learning Objective

Students will be able to create a collage of images and words that celebrate their own uniqueness by incorporating their comprehension of the core theme with digital media and art department materials.


This exercise works as a culminating activity where students are not only asked to critically think about their otherness, but define it by way of multimedia components thus creating a visual expression of themselves and the schema they have acquired during this unit, aligning with both CCSS ELA-Literacy SL7.5 and CCRA.SL.5

Literacy Strategy

This assignment builds on the two previous lessons by asking students to apply their own meaning as it pertains to themselves as individuals. The graphic images displayed are a springboard to engage students in creating a concept map that will lead to an artistic collage.

The lesson will begin with students working with a concept map. They will note salient details from “Stargirl” and the connections they’ve made to figurative language, artistic expression, main ideas, and aspects of themselves that parallel main characters. Making connections between texts helps students to think more deeply about ideas “encountered during reading” (Vacca, 2011). By including slides that have a slanted view towards uniqueness, the lesson aspires to prompts discussion on why some people resist ideas or other people that differ from their own. The class will read pages 126 and 127 where Leo realizes the student body at Mica high will never forgive Stargirl for being her own person. In his words, “they hated her for it”. The passage highlights Leo’s internal conflict of caring about Stargirl versus what other people think. This task incorporates high order thinking skills by requiring students to synthesize text sets, identify concepts and themes. By creating a personal final project that incorporates this new schema, this lesson entwines two additional facets of understanding, empathy and self-knowledge (Wiggins, 2006).


Concept maps are excellent ways for a teacher to formatively gauge student comprehension of complex sets of tasks (Lester, 2002). Adding a new media literacy component to this lesson builds on the concept map by bringing words to life. Both are wonderful additions to a student's portfolios.

This activity bridges Vygotsky's social constructivism and cultural learning theories. Having acquired the tools to construct their own knowledge, students will work within their ZPD by applying meaningful learning in a socially interactive environment culminating in a creative output activity (Omrod, 2011).

Applebaum, D. (2009). Critical Encounters in High School English. New York, NY, USA: Teachers College Press.

Beach, R. et al (2012). Teaching to exceed the english
language arts common core standards. New York, NY: Routledge.

deGrasse, T., (2013), About Neil deGrasse Tyson. Retrieved October 29, 2013 from http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/profile/about-neil-degrasse-tyson

Goodman, J. R. Text sets: Providing Possibilities for Adolescent Readers. University of South Carolina, Education. Columbia: University of South Carolina. http://www.ed.sc.edu/raisse/pdf/handouts/iraGoodman.pdf.

Lester, J. H. (2002). Literacy & learning: Reading in the content areas. (L. P. Broadcasting, Ed.) LA: Southern Louisiana University.

McLaughlin, M. &. (2004). Critical literacy as comprehension: Expanding reader response. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy , 48 (1), 54, 56, 58.

Monahan, P. L. (2009). Soul Sister. EMI Music Publishing.

Monthei, F. (2013). Astounding/Be Yourself. Retrieved October, 2013 from http://youtu.be/vgpjn8uNmDE.

Omrod, J. E. (2011). Educational psychology: developing learners (7th ed.). (Pearson, Ed.) Boston, MA, USA: Pearson.

Spinelli, J. (2000). Stargirl. New York, NY, USA: Knopf.

Vacca, R. T. (2011). Content area reading: literacy and learning across the curriculum. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Wiggins, G. &. (2006). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

In conclusion....
Engages students by enhancing literacy strategies such as analysis and interpretation with non-traditional texts.
Although often aligned with reading comprehension, text sets make students active participants in their learning by integrating new media literacies and collaborative engagement.
Text sets are tools that "are designed to be supportive of the learning of readers with a range of experiences and interests" (Goodman).
Implementing this theory creates high expectations for students with a solid base of multi-resources to draw knowledge from.
Allows teachers to approach "Big Ideas" by letting students
absorb the information, digest it, and recreate their understanding and knowledge of it in creative ways.
The text set acts as a scaffold to support "intertextual connections" in which students can consider thematic relationships between different text resources (Beach, 2012).
Across the curriculum this semester, critical literacy has been a focal point. Utilizing
text sets in the classroom serves many positive purposes.

Provides materials that will engage a wide audience, thus creating inclusive classrooms.
Gives the teacher a chance to update course material with current pop cultural texts as wells culturally meaningful texts.
Enhances the theory that critical literacy education can promote “reflection, transformation, and action” (Applebaum, 2009).
“Juxtaposing different types of texts” such as books, lyrics, etc., may open students eyes to different perspectives, create new meaning and “deepen contextual understanding” (McLaughlin, 2004).
By creating sets specific to particular units of study, text sets can be an original technique in framing events, constructing identities, recognizing literary devices, (such as internal conflict), and reinforcing thematic elements (Vacca, 2011).
Accessible content addresses students across the spectrum of learning.

Text sets are a way for a teacher to broaden their instructional base with their students by connecting knowledge, concepts, strategies and multi-media content.
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