My first freebie for you!
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is one of my all-time favorite novels to explore with my sixth graders. They are so intrigued with the city-below-ground and love to pour over the map in the front. (Who doesn't love books with maps?) The thought of being done with school and getting a real job at age 12 seems just about ideal. Well - at first!
When I introduce this novel, I don't hold back anymore on "the secret" - I tell them up front that Ember is deep underground. There are enough of my students who have read it or seen the movie (ick) that trying to keep that under wraps was getting tricky. They'd generally tell their friends, and then it turned into a I-know-you-found-out-but-I'll-pretend-you-still-don't-know scenario. This way we can discuss the little clues throughout the story and focus more on how the author built suspense.
After discussing the premise, I conduct our very own "Assignment Day". I am the stern Mayor with the little drawstring bag, asking students to "walk forward" and select a tiny slip of folded paper that will reveal their job, their destiny, for the next three years. (Yes, I know the bag is green in the book. Still working on that detail!)
Each student reads their job out loud and then returns to their seat. Adding little comments along the way can get the whole class erupting in laughter or groaning in sympathy:
"Ah...doctor's assistant...a vital job. You're not squeamish at all are you?"
"Supply Depot Clerk! Perfect! You'll finally get a chance to work on your handwriting!"
"Mold Scraper......I am so very sorry."
Their task is to imagine they are living in Ember and graduated with the two main characters - Doon and Lina. They have to keep a journal describing their experiences - their job, their interactions with the characters, their opinions on events. It's a fun way to keep students writing, and with jobs like mold scraper and pipeworks laborer - there's a lot they want to share! Do you have a great idea for clever journal prompts or activities to pair with The City of Ember? Please share!
Coming Soon: Our Penny War and a terrific end-of-the-year gift idea to give your students!