Selling to Spinelli

 

An Author Study WebQuest for 6th Grade Reading

Designed by

Penny Perez, Rebecca Comenale, Michelle Fontaine
pperez@hebron.k12.ct.us

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Teacher Page


 



Introduction

Jerry Spinelli, famous author of children’s literature (Maniac McGee, Stargirl, Loser, Crash, and more!), is coming to our school and he needs your help!  He has written many books already about children just like you, but he is fresh out of ideas for his next book.  He has heard that you are familiar with his books and his writing style and wants you to develop the elements for his next book.

Are you up to developing characters, setting, and a story line that will match the writing style of Jerry Spinelli?

 



The Task

Your job is to develop characters, a setting, and a storyline, and then to convince Jerry Spinelli why he is the best author to put all these together in his unique way.  You will come up with a presentation that will include the following elements in order to convince him to choose your book idea.

Your final product will be an oral presentation using one of the following tools: power point, posters, or other teacher approved format.



The Process

In class, you will have read with your group one of Spinelli’s books, discussed it in literature circles, and done comprehension and vocabulary activities.  As a class, you will have listened to another of his books as a read aloud, with some class discussion.  Other groups in the room will have read two other of his books and shared key points with the class.

To accomplish the task, you will

1.    Divide into groups of three or four.

2.      Assign each member of the group one of the following roles:

a.       Casting Director – you are responsible for the development of three well-developed characters.  Each character must have

                                                               i.      A name

                                                             ii.      Physical description (clear picture in anyone’s mind)

                                                            iii.      Personality traits

                                                           iv.      Brief background (family, hobbies, etc.)

b.      Set Designer – you are responsible for designing all the settings you think best fit this story.  Your setting(s) should include:

                                                             i.      Name (school, home, etc.)/ location (city, state, etc.)

                                                          ii.      Physical description (clear picture in anyone’s mind)

                                                        iii.      Specific items / buildings found in this setting

                                                        iv.      People found in this setting (not main characters – neighbors, teacher, etc.)

c.     Plot Developer – you are responsible for developing a basic that includes a:

                                                             i.      Beginning

                                                          ii.      Middle

1.    conflict

2.    attempts to solve conflict

                                                        iii.      End / Resolution

d.    Spinelli Specialist – you are responsible for wrapping up the presentation and making the final pitch to Spinelli to convince him to choose your group’s book idea.  This should include:

                                                             i.      Comparison of your characters to characters from his book(s)

                                                          ii.      Comparison of your setting to settings from his book(s)

                                                        iii.      Comparison of your plot to plots from his book(s)

                                                        iv.      A short summary of his biographical information to convince him that you are familiar with him as a person and his writing style.

3.    As a group, you must discuss, agree, and plan out the basics of each element (see above). 

4.    As a group, you must decide what presentation tool you will use to present your book idea.

5.    Once you have agreed and developed the characters, setting, plot and reasoning, you are responsible for preparing your portion of the presentation for your assigned role.

6.    Once your sections are completed, the group should meet to refine, combine and finalize your total presentation piece.

7.    Your group should come up with a creative title for your story.

8.    Rehearse your presentation.

9.    Give your presentation.

10.                       Turn in a hard copy of your presentation piece. (posters, handout copy of power point, etc.)

11.                       After your presentation, each group member is responsible for completing and submitting half a page typed reflection that includes:

a.    How well the group worked together.

b.    How the group decided on the elements of the story.

c.     How the group organized their individual sections to create their final product.

d.    How the presentation went.

e.    What you have learned from this project.



Evaluation

Here is the rubric for how each group will be evaluated.

 

CATEGORY

4

3

2

1

Creativity

The story contains many creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader's enjoyment. The author has really used his imagination.

The story contains a few creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader's enjoyment. The author has used his imagination.

The story contains a few creative details and/or descriptions, but they distract from the story. The author has tried to use his imagination.

There is little evidence of creativity in the story. The author does not seem to have used much imagination.

Setting

Many vivid, descriptive words are used to tell when and where the story took place.

Some vivid, descriptive words are used to tell the audience when and where the story took place.

The reader can figure out when and where the story took place, but the author didn't supply much detail.

The reader has trouble figuring out when and where the story took place.

Problem/Conflict

It is very easy for the reader to understand the problem the main characters face and why it is a problem.

It is fairly easy for the reader to understand the problem the main characters face and why it is a problem.

It is fairly easy for the reader to understand the problem the main characters face but it is not clear why it is a problem.

It is not clear what problem the main characters face.

Characters

The main characters are named and clearly described in text as well as pictures. Most readers could describe the characters accurately.

The main characters are named and described. Most readers would have some idea of what the characters looked like.

The main characters are named. The reader knows very little about the characters.

It is hard to tell who the main characters are.

Title

Title is creative, sparks interest and is related to the story and topic.

Title is related to the story and topic.

Title is present, but does not appear to be related to the story and topic.

No title.

Requirements

All of the elements required were met.

Almost all (about 90%) of the elements required were met.

Most (about 75%) of the elements required were met, but several were not.

Many requirements were not met.

Spinelli Connection

There were clear connections to Jerry Spinelli, and his writing style, made for each element assigned.

There were clear connections to Jerry Spinelli, and his writing style, made for most of the elements assigned.

There were some connections to Jerry Spinelli, and his writing style, made for some of the elements assigned.

The connections were unclear and did not cover most of the elements assigned.

Reflection

(Individual score)

Submitted a half-page typed reflection that thoroughly answered all questions.

Submitted a half-page reflection that  answered most questions with details.

 

Submitted a reflection that answered some questions with very little detail.

Submitted a reflection that answered very few of the questions with little or no detail.

 


Conclusion

You should have a good understanding of Jerry Spinelli and his writing style after completing this project.  You will have used your imagination to create a story, but you will have also presented a persuasive pitch to convince him to choose your idea.  How would your story ideas have differed if you were pitching to J.K. Rowling? Avi? Lemony Snickett? Or another author?  Can you think of any authors whose styles interest you or that you might want to imitate?  How might your own ideas differ than any of these authors?



Credits & References

 

Books Used in Class:

CrashCrash

Loser Loser

Stargirl Stargirl

Maniac MageeManiac McGee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                   

 

 

Websites for information on Jerry Spinelli

“Jerry Spinelli: Intro Page” http://www.jerryspinelli.com/newbery_001.htm

“Meet Jerry Spinelli” http://eduplace.com/kids/hmr/mtai/spinelli.html

“Jerry Spinelli Biography” http://www.carr.org/authco/spinelli-j.htm

 

 

 


 

 

 

Selling to Spinelli

 

An Author Study WebQuest for 6th Grade Reading

Teacher Page

Designed by

Penny Perez, Rebecca Comenale, Michelle Fontaine
pperez@hebron.k12.ct.us

Introduction | Learners | Standards | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Student Page

 

 

 

 
Introduction

This lesson was developed as a part of final project for an educational technology class at the University of Hartford. 

In this lesson, students will use their knowledge of Jerry Spinelli’s writing to create their own story idea inspired by his style.  Students will pitch their ideas to the class in a persuasive format to “convince Jerry Spinelli to choose their idea for his next book”. 


Learners

This lesson is designed for sixth grade reading, but can be adapted for other authors and books, and other grade levels.

Prior to beginning this WebQuest, students will need to know the basic story elements and have had some experience writing their own stories.  Students will also have read at least two of Spinelli’s books.  They should also be familiar with basic oral presentation techniques (eye contact, volume, pace, etc.). 

Curriculum Standards

Reading Standards Addressed


Process

In class, students will have read with their group one of Spinelli’s books, discussed it in literature circles, and done comprehension and vocabulary activities.  As a class, they will have listened to another of his books as a read aloud, with some class discussion.  Other groups in the room will have read two other of his books and shared key points with the class.

To accomplish the task, students will:

12.                       Divide into groups of three or four.

13.  Assign each member of the group one of the following roles:

a.       Casting Director – you are responsible for the development of three well-developed characters.  Each character must have

                                                               i.      A name

                                                             ii.      Physical description (clear picture in anyone’s mind)

                                                            iii.      Personality traits

                                                           iv.      Brief background (family, hobbies, etc.)

b.      Set Designer – you are responsible for designing all the settings you think best fit this story.  Your setting(s) should include:

                                                             i.      Name (school, home, etc.)/ location (city, state, etc.)

                                                          ii.      Physical description (clear picture in anyone’s mind)

                                                        iii.      Specific items / buildings found in this setting

                                                        iv.      People found in this setting (not main characters – neighbors, teacher, etc.)

c.     Plot Developer – you are responsible for developing a basic that includes a:

                                                             i.      Beginning

                                                          ii.      Middle

1.    conflict

2.    attempts to solve conflict

                                                        iii.      End / Resolution

d.    Spinelli Specialist – you are responsible for wrapping up the presentation and making the final pitch to Spinelli to convince him to choose your group’s book idea.  This should include:

                                                             i.      Comparison of your characters to characters from his book(s)

                                                          ii.      Comparison of your setting to settings from his book(s)

                                                        iii.      Comparison of your plot to plots from his book(s)

                                                        iv.      A short summary of his biographical information to convince him that you are familiar with him as a person and his writing style.

14.                       As a group, students must discuss, agree, and plan out the basics of each element (see above). 

15.                       As a group, students must decide what presentation tool you will use to present your book idea.

16.                       Once students have agreed and developed the characters, setting, plot and reasoning, you are responsible for preparing your portion of the presentation for your assigned role.

17.                       Once students’ sections are completed, the group should meet to refine, combine and finalize your total presentation piece.

18.                       Their group should come up with a creative title for their story.

19.                       Rehearse their presentation.

20.                       Give their presentation.

21.                       Turn in a hard copy of their presentation piece. (posters, handout copy of power point, etc.)

22.                       After their presentation, each group member is responsible for completing and submitting half a page typed reflection that includes:

a.    How well the group worked together.

b.    How the group decided on the elements of the story.

c.     How the group organized their individual sections to create their final product.

d.    How the presentation went.

e.    What you have learned from this project.

If teachers have a group of less than four students, all students in that group could share the “Spinelli Specialist” role.  It is not recommended that you have groups larger than four.

The teacher should have read and be familiar with all Spinelli books discussed in class. 

Variations

The author and books chosen may be varied according to the curriculum.  Also, teachers can expand this project and have students write out their stories as a short story.  Teachers can incorporate an artistic element by having students create a book cover, pictures of characters, settings etc.  Teacher can dictate presentation format to meet their comfort level, teaching style, and availability of resources. 

 


Resources Needed

 

Books Used in Class:

CrashCrash

Loser Loser

StargirlStargirl

Maniac MageeManiac McGee

 

If you have a computer lab where you can bring students, then that would be best for completing this project.  Otherwise, you may want to do a center-based approach, where one or two groups are using computers (based on how many available to you in your classroom), while you do guided reading with another group, and another group is working independently.


Evaluation

Teachers will know this was a successful lesson when the students are able to present a well thought out and creative story idea that connects to Spinelli’s style of writing. Group work will be evaluated throughout the entire process. Students should be monitored while they are working in their groups.  The final presentation will be evaluated using the rubric provided.

Conclusion

Students will have come to understand how to identify a writer’s style and how similarities in one author’s books can be found because of this style.  Students will also develop some persuasive skills in preparing their ‘sale pitch’ to Jerry Spinelli.


Credits & References

Teacher resources

“Amazon” www.amazon.com

“Jerry Spinelli” http://www.randomhouse.com/features/jerryspinelli/stargirl_rg.html

“Lesson Exchange: Activity Ideas for Stargirl” http://www.teachers.net/lessons/posts/3080.html

“Teachers@Random Catalog / Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli” http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375822339&view=rg

“Teaching Guides for Spinelli” http://www.harperchildrens.com/hch/parents/teachingguides/spinelli.pdf

“Jerry Spinelli @ Web English Teacher” http://www.webenglishteacher.com/spinelli.html

 

Pictures used on this webquest were obtained from

http://www.jerryspinelli.com/newbery_002.htm

http://www.amazon.com