While reading "College and Career Readiness in Middle School: From George Constanza to Oprah Winfrey" in Voices From the Middle one day, I ran across a lesson idea that jumped out at me as being perfect for my AVID classroom, as we focus on college and career readiness. The Head, Heart, Hands, and Feet lesson I was reading about focused on exploring future career possibilities in a far more creative way than simply writing a research paper, and I am all about mixing things up to keep my students engaged. I took the basic idea and expanded upon it, ending up with some amazing results.
Per the article, I started by sharing the literary nonfiction trade book Me...Jane with my students. In my experience, many middle school teachers are unwilling or afraid to use children's trade books with older students, thinking they do not provide much value. I strongly disagree. In the many years that I have been using trade books with my classes, I have seen unbelievably positive response from my students. Children's trade books are intelligent and witty, requiring students to not only read text but to also read images and create inferences.
After reading Me...Jane to my students, together we created a graphic organizer , analyzing Jane's actions with her head, heart, hands, and feet that led her to become a world famous primatologist. We filled up our person map (I could not think of anything else to call it) with information about Jane climbing trees, drawing pictures, reading books, and using her imagination. We then took this information and wrote a short analysis regarding Jane's career development. I guided this process, receiving student input, creating a model for my students to use in their next step: