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Lesson Plan

Exploring Author's Voice Using Jane Addams Award-Winning Books

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Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jennifer J. Brooks

Bay City, Michigan


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1. Introducing the Jane Addams Book Award

Sessions 2 and 3. Exploring Jane Addams Award-Winning Books

Session 4. Book Assignments and Projects

Sessions 5 and 6. Creative Work Time

Session 7. Let the Voices Be Heard!

Session 8. Closure

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Discuss different book awards, and read and examine books that have won the Jane Addams Book Award, focusing specifically on the author's voice in each one

  • Identify and compare the author's voice in several pieces of literature

  • Engage in critical discussions of shared texts

  • Share their understanding of author's voice using writing, speaking, and presentation skills

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Session 1. Introducing the Jane Addams Book Award

1. Begin the lesson by having students discuss what they know about book awards. This discussion will probably lead to the naming of some of the more popular awards (e.g., Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal). Have some award-winning books on hand for display to make this discussion of the books more meaningful (see Preparation, Step 4).

2. Introduce the Jane Addams Book Award, explaining that books that win this award have a common theme of peace. Encourage students to visit the Jane Addams Peace Association website to learn more about the award and see if they recognize any of the books that have won the award over the years.

3. Introduce the picture book The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy and read it aloud to the class. This book won the Jane Addams Honor Award in 2001.

4. Review the concept of author's voice by first having students think about something ordinary, such as a trip to the mall. Ask them to describe the voices of a little old lady, a giggly teenager, a curious little boy, and a gang member. If each of these people were to write a story, how would the stories be different? What types of words would each one use? What would be the tone?

5. Summarize this discussion by leading students to the understanding that voice is the use of figurative language in a story that allows readers to hear and feel the personality of the author.

6. Together as a class, review The Yellow Star and take note of the author's voice throughout the story (i.e., proud, funny, determined, then inquisitive in the author's note). If students have already read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, use the H Diagram to compare the voice of Lowry in that book (i.e., innocent, harsh, proud, determined, hopeful, then a good friend in the afterword) with the voice of Carmen Agra Deedy in The Yellow Star.

7. For closure and to check for understanding, have students respond to the following prompt in their journals:
How could you add voice to something that doesn't normally have voice, for example, your science book, VCR directions, or a recipe?

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Sessions 2 and 3. Exploring Jane Addams Award-Winning Books

1. Share various Jane Addams Award-winning books with the class. Have students sit with their partners, and gather enough books for each pair to have one. Provide each student also with a Book Notes sheet. Invite pairs to browse and discuss the book they were given, rotating their book with another pair of students every three minutes. Have students jot quick notes (5 to 10 words) to themselves about each book on the Book Notes sheet.

2. After browsing all of the books, ask students to individually number the top five picture books that they have an interest in examining further.

3. Assign one book to each student before Session 4. Make every effort to assign students their top picks.

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Session 4. Book Assignments and Projects

1. Distribute the book assignments to each student.

2. First, allow time for students to read and enjoy their books. As they read, they can begin to anticipate what the next step will be for them.

3. Discuss author's voice again by sharing some of the more insightful journal entries from the closing portion of Session 1, Step 7.

4. Give students another opportunity to read and enjoy their books, this time paying special attention to the author's voice.

5. Introduce the project that students will complete. The purpose of the project is for students to demonstrate their understanding of their assigned author's voice and style. Students may choose from the following list of projects:

  • Write a story of peace from your own experience, and then rewrite the story using your assigned author's voice. This is an individual project, and presentation to the class is optional. (Essay Rubric)

  • Explore the library for other books by your assigned author. Compare the book that you read with the other works written by the author to find similarities and differences in voice. Write a summary of what you find. This is an individual project, and presentation to the class is optional. (Essay Rubric)

  • Create a puppet show of the story you read. Be sure the author's voice is apparent to the audience and use a narrator if necessary. You may have as many as three people in your group, but all group members will need to write a report explaining their individual contributions. If you are working in a group, choose one book from those assigned to individual students. (Puppet Show Rubric)

  • Conduct a mock 60 Minutes interview of your assigned author in which his or her voice and style is discussed. The mock interview can be videotaped or performed live for the class. The script for the mock interview will need to be turned in and is an individual project; however, you can ask other class members to play a role in the interview performance. These class members will receive extra credit, but will also need to turn in their own individual projects. (Presentation Rubric)

  • Develop a reenactment of all or part of your assigned book. Be sure the author's voice is apparent to the audience and use a narrator if necessary. The performance can be videotaped or performed live for the class. The script for the reenactment will need to be turned in. This project can be done individually or by two students. If two students are working together, costumes are mandatory. Additional actors/actresses can be recruited from the class; these students will receive extra credit. (Presentation Rubric)

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Sessions 5 and 6. Creative Work Time

1. Depending on which project each student has decided to do, pass out the related project rubrics (i.e., Essay Rubric, Puppet Show Rubric, Presentation Rubric) and discuss them with students. Answer any questions students have about the expectations for each project.

2. Allow students to work on their projects in class. Circulate around the classroom, monitoring students' progress and providing assistance as needed. To assist in monitoring students' work, use the On-Task Checklist to keep track of what students are working on and what they are expected to do. Use the "On-Task" column to casually mark whether students are on- or off-task throughout the sessions.

3. Have students finish their projects before Session 7 by working on them at home or during free time in school, if necessary.

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Session 7. Let the Voices Be Heard!

Collect students' written projects and invite those who have prepared presentations to give them.

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Session 8. Closure

1. Have students respond to the following prompts in their journals:
  • List three things you liked about this unit.

  • List one way to improve this unit.

  • Write a specific, positive comment about one of your classmates' presentations.

  • In your own words, what is the Jane Addams Book Award?

  • In your own words, what is author's voice?
2. Return the assessment rubrics to students. Be sure to include specific positive comments and gentle constructive criticisms on each one.

3. Form a circle and have a class discussion about the journal prompts. Make sure that every student has an opportunity to respond orally to one prompt. If time allows, invite students to respond to a second prompt or facilitate a whole-class discussion of each prompt.

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