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Asian Stories Book Club #5: A Single Shard (Newbery Award; Historical Fiction)

Alaina Bell Gao
Star Educator
Average rating:4.9Number of reviews:(403)
In this 7-week course, students will explore and discuss the historical fiction genre, various themes, and conduct short research projects as they travel back in time to 12th Century Goryeo (Koryŏ) Period Korea.

Class experience

US Grade 5 - 8
Ontario English Language Arts Standards

1.1 read a variety of texts from diverse cultures, including literary texts (e.g., short stories, poetry, myths, culturally focused
legends, plays, biographies, novels) . . .

1.2 identify a variety of purposes for reading and choose reading materials appropriate for those purposes (e.g., an online
or print encyclopedia article for background information, dictionaries to clarify word meanings, biographies for information about authors or historical figures, print and online newspapers/magazines for information on current issues, e-mail and text messages from friends)

1.3 identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (e.g., activate prior knowledge through asking questions about or discussing a topic; develop mind maps to explore ideas; ask questions to focus reading; use visualization to clarify details of a character, scene, or concept in a text; make predictions about a text based on reasoning and related reading; reread to confirm or clarify meaning)

1.4 demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (e.g., . . . theme and supporting plot details in short stories, myths, and fairy tales)

1.5 use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning 

1.6 extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them 

1.7 analyse a variety of texts, both simple and complex, and explain how the different elements in them contribute to meaning and influence the reader’s reaction


2.4 identify various elements of style – including foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolism – and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness of texts 


1.3 gather information to support ideas for writing, using a variety of strategies and a range of print and electronic resources

1.6 determine whether the ideas and information they have gathered are relevant, appropriate, and adequate for the purpose, and do more research if necessary (e.g., review material with a partner using a mind map or timeline) 

2.6 identify elements of their writing that need improvement, using feedback from the teacher and peers, with a focus on specific features (e.g., effective use of language, logical organization)

American English Language Arts Standards

Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges . . .; summarize the text.

Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
I have been teaching English Language Arts, Literature, Social Studies, and ESL for the past fifteen years. I currently teach gifted students online (literature and writing).
Homework Offered
Each week, there will be reading and writing homework. The reading homework ranges from one to three chapters per week and the writing homework will help the students focus on vital passages and important themes. Each week, their responses will be woven into the lessons.
1 - 2 hours per week outside of class
Assessments Offered
Each week, the learners will receive oral feedback from their teacher and peers as they submit their written work and participate in class discussion. During the final class, peers will complete a rubric giving feedback on the research history presentation and the teacher will follow up with feedback for continued development.
Grades Offered
Required Materials: "A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park (e-book or book)

Provided: PowerPoint lessons & social studies materials for historical context
Learners will not need to use any apps or websites beyond the standard Outschool tools.
This novel contains touching themes and challenging content, including orphanhood, homelessness, poverty, and death. This class may not be suitable for sensitive learners. Additionally, there is some reference to Buddhism (historical), which will be referenced in passing in class (with a purely historical/cultural focus).
Star Educator
Average rating:4.9Number of reviews:(403)
Hi! My name is Alaina Bell Gao, and I am an experienced Canadian English teacher with 15+ years of professional teaching experience. As a dedicated, creative, gentle, and patient neurodivergent teacher, many neurodiverse learners thrive in my... 
Group Class


for 7 classes
1x per week, 7 weeks
50 min

Completed by 8 learners
Live video meetings
Ages: 10-14
2-6 learners per class

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