Today’s snapshot comes from Katie Stuart (@KatieStuart10) who teaches 9th grade English and 11th and 12 grade electives at Windham High School in Windham, NH. She previously taught at Windham Middle School and Pinkerton Academy in Derry, NH. She earned her B.A. in English and M.A.T. in Secondary English from the University of New Hampshire.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Imagine being a teen who is allergic to the world. Maddy cannot leave her specially designed, air-lock protected house for fear of germs that might kill her. When smart, funny Olly moves in next door, they quickly become intrigued with each other. This book is written in the style of a diary and is a fast read.
“Then I see him. He’s tall, lean, and wearing all black: black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He’s white with a pale honey tan and his face is starkly angular. He jumps down from his perch at the back of the truck and glides across the driveway, moving as if gravity affects him differently than it does the rest of us.”
This Passage Can Help Writers:
- Describe a person’s appearance in a way that communicates something about his or her personality
- Use a colon to introduce a list
- Vary sentence length
- Play with repetition
Together, the Class Might Notice …
- Yoon starts with a short, punchy sentence.
- The colon is used to introduce a list
- Each item in the list repeats the adjective that was used in the first clause
- The third sentence is shorter and contrasts all the “black” in the second sentence
- The last sentence describes how the person does something, not just how he look
- The last sentence uses figurative language, the simile “as if”
Invite Students to Try It By Saying …
There are many times we might describe someone in writing — sure, in fiction like Nicola Yoon. But we might also describe a person when writing a profile, a memoir, a poem, a personal essay. Try on the techniques we noticed here: the colon to introduce a list, the repetition, the description of how, and the figurative language. Use them to try your hand at describing a person who is important to you. It can be anyone you want, a real or fictional person. It could be your dog. See if this mentor text can help you describe a person.
Are there other ways you might use this sentence with students? Do you see different techniques worth teaching? Leave us a comment below, join the conversation on Facebook, or connect with me on Twitter @RebekahOdell1.