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  • Writer's pictureAlicia D Williams

Genesis Begins Again Novel Study

Wow. I like the ring of that. Never have I dreamed that my book would be studied in classrooms. Not only that, included in Battle of the Books. (If Genesis is in your BOTB, here's a video to share with your students.) It became real when I spoke with the Tar Heel Teachers Book Club. I had the pleasure of sharing with teachers before, and it's always been awesome. But this event challenged me--in a wonderful way. The questions were so in-depth that I wanted to linger longer, exploring deeper meanings in the story. Meanings I hadn't entertained since I wrote it--effects of untreated rabies, marketing products to children, stigma of homelessness and mental health, Detroit's Devil's Night. (Check out the Instructions Ideas & Strategies Related to Genesis Begins Again discussion.) If you're teaching Genesis, this is a MUST watch.

This got me thinking about extensions to add to your lessons.

  1. Emotional Journaling: If you haven't yet explored emotional journaling with your students, I encourage you to give it a try. It offers them a "check-in" time to be reflective. They are to write freely without the worry of punctuation, grammar, and spelling. In time, their writing will improve with more details and descriptions by the mere practice of writing. While emotional journaling doesn't need prompts, it would be good to offer them with the novel study. Also, if you do read the writings, do not judge. It is important for students to feel safe. Resist the temptation to add your own input or to correct. If you do make a comment, be general like "That is interesting" or "I wonder if there's more to this point?" or "I wonder if you knew why the reaction was as such." This encourages them to go deeper in their own thoughts.

Genesis Begins Again can incorporated in your Social Justice curriculum. So, I'll add some prompt ideas for that too. By all means, this is only a starting place to tailor for your needs.

* Genesis witnessed both Sophia and Troy being bullied and eventually stepped in. Write about a time that you witnessed someone being bullied and how did it make you feel?

* Have you ever stood up for someone? Write about that time.

* There were many times Genesis was afraid. Write about a time you felt brave? Or scared?

* Homeless and poverty is a theme in this story? What are your thoughts when you see someone homeless? Do you think our government does enough to help with homelessness? Why or why not? Have you ever known someone to move around a lot like Genesis?

* Genesis tried so hard to make friends. Have you ever felt that it was hard to make friends?

* Sophia ate alone in the library to avoid being teased. Have you ever witnessed someone ostracized? How did it make you feel?

* Genesis felt ugly because of her dark skin. This is called colorism. The more lighter your skin the more beautiful you are. Beauty has been based on European standards. Who gets to set beauty standards? Do you adhere to these standards?

* How would you define beauty?

You get the idea...

2. Lists: As you read, have your students keep a list of postives about themselves. At the end, discuss why we tend to remember the negative things that people say, more than the positive.

3. Music: There is a playlist in this book. Artists from Beyonce to the Temptations are mentioned. Have students create a timeline of the music. Allow students to create their own playlists that reveals who they are. Perhaps a biography of the artists.

If you're teaching Genesis Begins Again in your classroom, I'd love to hear from you and your students. Tell me what you're doing, and I'll share it with other subscribers! If you have questions, send them my way and it may be selected for my next FAQ video on youtube!--be sure to add your name and school.)

An old journal...I guess my theme of "being good enough" has been with me all along.

Fun Fact: The character Mrs. Hill is named after a long-term substitute teacher from high school. She didn't teach Chorus, and I never had a chorus class in my life. But she listened to us students and we felt seen by her.

Fun Fact: I was a Master Teaching Artist. The vocal orchestra exercise is one of the improvisation warm-ups that I did when I visited schools. So fun!

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