Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Slave Dancer

Paula Fox's The Slave Dancer, set in the late 1830's, was recommended to me by a teacher who used to teach U.S. History.  Our school used to teach this text, but it has been sitting on a shelf for a couple (?few? ?several? ?many?) years.  Because of its short length combined with my students' begging to do some independent reading, I decided to add this to the eighth grade reading curriculum.

Students could work at their own pace or in small groups.  They had a packet, quizzes, and short essays to do along the way.  I gave them two weeks to complete the work.  I'm noticing that the more we get into the novel, the more these small groups are gaining in popularity.  It reinforces that books are meant to be shared sometimes.  Love this unexpected aspect!

Specifically, this novel (1974 Newbery winner) is about a boy who is kidnapped one night while out running an errand for his mother.  He is brought aboard a ship where is primary purpose is to play his fife for the slaves--as a means to keep up their morale and their physical strength.  It is interesting to watch the range of emotions Jesse feels toward the idea of slavery and to the slaves individually.  I have not read a book told from the perspective of someone forced to participate in the kidnapping and sale of slaves. 

I have not explored GoogleLitTrips yet; however, there is one specifically designed for The Slave Dancer (click HERE).  I am definately going to use this next year if I teach this novel again.

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