From the first page of Neverhome by Laird Hunt, I was mesmerized. Was my absorption due to
~the first line, “I was strong and he was not, so it was me went to war to defend the republic”?
~ the knowledge that women masqueraded as men to fight in the Civil War?
~ Laird Hunt’s ability to spin mere words into vivid and emotional word pictures, such as, “…but there had been a bite of sorrows in that empty place made me glad to think we had found another spot and weren’t going to return,” (21)? As an avid reader, I give three solid, “Yes” votes to these questions.
As a teacher, I appreciate the societal/cultural links, and reasons why this 243-page novel provides a rich cross-curriculum unit of study that middle and high school English and Social Studies teachers may share.
Societal/ Cultural Links
~ Constance Thompson, AKA Ash Thompson, is a woman who succeeds in a man’s world, though she has to disguise herself as a man to do so. The two recent graduates of Ranger School, First Lieutenant Shaye Haver, and Captain Kristen Griest also excelled in a – previously -men’s only domain.
~ Some reasons for the Civil War, from both Northern and Southern Points of View are presented.
~ The interpretation of historical persons, places and things as well as their symbolic meanings is timely.
Cross Curriculum Ideas
~English teachers can share elements of literature activities such as Character, Plot/Conflict and Theme with social studies teachers.
~ Social Studies teachers may share activities that deepen students understanding of the people and places of the Civil War, especially those that are shown- with literary license- in this novel.
~ English and Social Studies teachers could “guest teach” in each other’s classes.
What does this 103-page Unit Plan: Neverhome offer teachers?
Here is a shortened version of the Table of Contents:
Objectives and Teacher Notes
A Unit Activity Plan (specifies the Common Core Anchor Standards and Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs for each activity)
Pre-Reading – What Do I Know? How Do I Know It?
Section Analysis Activity (3-pages; one set is designated for every reading division section that I created- three each for the author’s book divisions that he names, One, Two and Three.)
Group Activity –Ash’s Journey 1862-1864
Character Activities (6)
Plot/Conflict Activities (5)
Setting Activity - Setting Up Ash(1)
Symbols Activities (2)
Theme Activities (2)
Tone Activity (1)
Figurative Language Activity
Points to Ponder – Discussion Topics (10)
Essay Topics (8)
Project Topics (9)
Assessments –Division Quiz
Assessments – Unit Test
Historical Footnotes, Vocabulary, and Assessments Answer Keys
This Neverhome Unit Plan provides a plethora of teacher notes, activities and assessments that enable students to
~deepen their reading comprehension and their understanding of the Civil War and its impact on contemporary society.
~grasp the fact that what happens in the past always impacts the future
~ strengthen their writing depth and their higher level thinking skills, and, to
~ create lifelong readers and learners.
Enjoy a Teach it Now Day, Every Day
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