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The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

“Growing up is terribly wonderful. But often it’s also wonderfully terrible.”
S.D. Smith, The Green Ember

The Green Ember is a marvelous book. It’s a favorite of Christian homeschooling families given its exploration of virtues in the exciting exploits of its two main characters: rabbit siblings Heather and Picket. When their formerly safe and ordinary lives are turned upside-down, they find themselves at the helm of a dangerous quest that challenges them in ways they’d never imagined. As they find their way together in unfamiliar territory, they must remain faithful and trust their instincts while searching for the truth and navigating the good and evil that surrounds them.

The plot twists and character conflicts throughout the book are suspenseful, captivating, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Students will inevitably wrestle with how they would navigate the unknown, the virtues that correspond to each path taken, and if they would react the way Heather and Picket do. The final twist at the end, along with the heroism that follows it, is surprising, breathtaking, emotional, encouraging, and unforgettable. I’m so eager to share this inspiring story about the faith, hope, bravery, strength, and love of these two special rabbits with students and their families.

The Green Ember book club would offer a fun setting where students can enjoy the love of reading together. Students would read one novel over the course of five weeks, discussing the book in a relaxed and interactive setting. Attention will be given to whatever topics interest students most about the novel. Students will then have an opportunity to discuss their thoughts and ask questions.

Class discussions will be thought-provoking and intended to expose students to the elements of literature, teach literary analysis without formal assignments, and grow rhetorical insight. Through our student management system in Schoology, students will be able to informally continue to talk about the book with their peers on our class discussion board. This informal writing of thoughts and insights into the plot of the story will further enrich their learning. For the final week, students will be invited to choose from an array of fun culminating activities that will enhance learning and allow for further discovery through creative expression. Presentations for these culminating projects will be given over the final two days.

The Green Ember book club will be an opportunity for students to value one another as readers and learners. Reading in turn becomes a social activity, and this encourages them to keep reading and increasing their comprehension and ability to express their thoughts.

Summer reading book clubs are less formal than yearlong courses, but students will be expected to be prepared and participate in class discussions. The main expectation is that students will read the assigned pages of the book. Students may be asked to report on their reading at the beginning of each session.

Reading Schedule for The Green Ember:
Assigned pages should be read before the start of each class.

Week 1 First Day: Prologue, Chapters 1-5; Second Day: Chapters 6-10
Week 2 First Day: Chapters 11-15; Second Day: Chapters 16-20
Week 3 First Day: Chapters 21-25; Second Day: Chapters 26-30
Week 4 First Day: Chapters 31-35; Second Day: Chapters 36-44
Week 5 Last Two Days: Present Culminating Activities

Class Activities
Students will interact with the books and each other in several ways to experience the full reach of the story lines, themes, and characters. These activities include:

Reading Journal. Reading journal entries will be made as students read the assigned pages. There will be three parts of the Reading Journal entry: copy, context, and contemplation. Students will focus on specific words, sentences, or a short passage and copy this into their journals, along with why these chose it. They will write 3-4 sentences about what the copied word or passage means. Students then will share what they think about it. More instructions will be provided in the class Resources folder.

Read Aloud. Students will be asked to read favorite passages from their reading journals to facilitate class discussion. We also will read passages from the book together.

Socratic Discussion. Students may have different interpretations of the book’s stories, plot lines, and characters. Classes will revolve around the good discussion that leads to greater understanding. Students will be encouraged to share their interpretations with support from the book, along with any relevant outside materials.

Informal Schoology Discussion Board. Through our student management system in Schoology, students will be able to informally continue to talk about the book with their peers on our class discussion board. This informal writing of thoughts and insights into the plot of the story will further enrich their learning. I will carefully monitor this discussion thread, receiving a notification whenever a comment is made.

Literary Devices and Terms. There will be a Resources folder in Schoology with applicable literary devices and terms for the chapters read each week. These terms include anthropomorphism, personification, protagonist, antagonist, setting, cliffhanger, figurative language, simile, hyperbole, alternate point of view, inference, theme, plot diagram, virtue, conflict, genre, suspense, symbolism, characterization, foreshadowing, allusion, juxtaposition, flashback, pun, sarcasm, character foil, and moral.

Hands-On Activities. For the final week, students will be invited to choose from an array of fun culminating activities that will enhance learning and allow for further discovery through creative expression. Every student will share this with their classmates at the end of the club.

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The Green Ember, S.D. Smith

Alison Grace Johansen is teaching the fall course Introduction to the Art of Poetry, the spring course Formal History of Poetry, and the yearlong class Well-Ordered Language Level 1. She earned her Juris Doctor from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pa., where she was comments editor, and her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Richmond in Virginia. She worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for over 12 years before pursuing writing and editing in all forms of media: legal and academic publishers, startups and larger companies, magazines, newsletters, websites, books, and social media platforms.

Mrs. Johansen has always loved the written word and the sounds words make, which are the music of poetry. She has been writing poems, stories and songs for as long as she can remember! She also plays several instruments, enjoys singing, and loves using poems and songs as fun memorization tools. After all, poems — in their sound, rhyme, rhythm, tone and movement — are much like songs, which are a key part of the Well-Ordered Language Level 1 curriculum. She believes these forms of expression are beautiful ways students can learn about and praise God’s world. She hopes to inspire her students to discover the many ways they can use their own words to express themselves with truth, goodness and beauty.

She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and their two children. Her dedication to her faith and children influences every part of her life, from teaching Sunday school and writing a children’s picture book, to exploring the beauty of God’s world with her family. If they aren’t bird-watching while enjoying a walk outside, you might find them reading aloud together or playing their favorite instruments: the piano, flute, guitar, ukulele, and drums! Her love for both writing and music is one of the many reasons she is excited to share these courses – along with their poems and songs! – with her students. ajohansen.scholeacademy@gmail.com

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer.

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class.

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

 

  1. Visit zoom.us/download.
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

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