Teen/Tween Book Clubs with Sabrina

Meet Sabrina

Dr. Sabrina Weiss is one of the teachers leading the Teen and Tween Book Clubs for the 2020/2021 academic year. Get to know a little more about Dr. Weiss’ approach and philosophy for teaching.

We are media, and media is us.  I have always loved stories as opportunities to learn, think, and explore ideas and problems within and beyond us.  So I use stories as starting points for learning, with a focus on fantasy, science fiction, and speculative fiction.  Many of these stories are based in actual histories, inspired by real cultures, and provoked by relevant problems and technologies. 

Feedback Approach

My approach to writing essays blends traditional training with learner-centered growth; this converges towards the goal of helping learners to cultivate their own voice and platform.  I emphasize the value of using standard formatting and organization to empower students in code-switching – using different approaches appropriate to a particular context – and magnifying the effectiveness of their voice across situations.  As a former debate coach, I value effective framing, references and argumentation and encourage students to use these in their papers.  Accessibility and forward-thinking are also important for me, so I will, after consultation with families and student, allow video or audio essays as ways to promote access for students who struggle with writing or who wish to develop skills with communications technology.  Be aware: I will evaluate such essays on presentation in addition to content using my debate background!

Types of Assignments

To support this approach, I offer four general types of essays that may be done for my book clubs: 

  • Personal reflections promote metacognition like self-awareness and self-regulation, as well as emotional intelligence, recognizing implicit biases, and problem solving in real life. 
  • Diegetic analysis supports critical thinking by giving learners a chance to think “in-world” about something or taking the perspective of a person in that world. 
  • Creative synthesis is a chance for learners who like to do creative writing to tell a story. 
  • Fiction-reality comparison is a chance for learners to do a compare-contrast exercise using what they read in the book to apply it to their world.These four types can also include expository, analytical and/or persuasive components to give another layer of opportunity. 

In terms of evaluation, I come from my experience as a professional and as a university instructor who emphasizes long-term goals like college preparation and professional development.  Therefore, I will be open about what the bigger goals and purposes are for writing while providing specific guidance for a learner based on their current level.  The more I know about a learner’s current abilities and goals (with family collaboration), then better I can identify a few goals to focus on for this project.  I also believe in the value of iterative learning – as a lifelong perfectionist and procrastinator, I am keenly aware of how important it is to learn to brainstorm, plan, and revise writing. To this end, I will emphasize process over product unless there is a specific need to add to a portfolio (such as for college admissions). 

I look forward to thinking with your learner!

Sign Up!

Ready to join us? You can sign up for any or all of these books as well as other book selections offered by Dr. Michelle Parrinello-Cason by visiting the SEA Teen and Tween Book Clubs page!





Teen/Tween Book Clubs with Michelle

Meet Michelle Parrinello-Cason

Dr. Michelle Parrinello-Cason is one of the teachers for the Teen and Tween Book Clubs for the 2020/2021 academic year. Get to know a little more about her approach and philosophy.

Hello! I’m Michelle, and I’m really excited to offer some books I can’t wait to read with your learners.

Some of you may already know me as the founder of Dayla Learning (a homeschooling humanities teaching resource) or from my time leading the SEA Teen Book club since September 2019.

I’m so excited about this opportunity to continue working with the SEA community. My time leading the Teen Book club discussions has taught me that the kids in this group are smart, thoughtful, and creative, and I cannot wait to dig deeper into those skills!

For these class offerings, I’ll be pulling from my expertise as a long-time English professor. I have a Ph.D. in English with about 15 years of experience teaching writing to learners of all ages: from elementary school to college level.

I’m also a homeschooling mom myself, so part of what drives my goals as a Book Club leader is helping parents like me put together homeschool learning opportunities that are fulfilling, engaging, and easy to implement.

How I Chose This Year’s Books

I’ve chosen the books that I’m leading this year with a few different goals in mind. I wanted to make sure that I highlighted stories from different communities. All of my selections are designed to help readers reflect on their place in the larger world and how their sense of self relates to empathy for others.

With that in mind, my first selections in both book clubs are about finding your own sense of identity and power.

For the tweens, we’ll be reading Matilda and The First Rule of Punk. Both of these books bring us spunky, fun protagonists who find out that their power is believing in themselves.

For the teens, we’re learning a similar lesson in a more mature way. We’ll first read Moxie, a novel that takes a look at the Riot Grrrl era and the flavor of feminism it represented. We’ll pair that with Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, a collection of essays that explore some of the more complicated parts of enacting that idea in modern times.

From there, both groups will move to looking at how identity and power operate in other circumstances.

The teens will first read Tipping Point, a nonfiction book from bestseller Malcolm Gladwell that looks at how little ideas can spark big changes when the circumstances are right. Then they’ll read two books that look specifically at what happens to people when their power is displaced and they’re fighting to get it back. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom is a nonfiction account of a teen who marched for voting rights in Selma in 1965. Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir in verse that explores the author’s childhood as an African American in the 1960s in South Carolina and New York.

For the tweens, we’ll also be exploring how one’s sense of power can be rocked by being displaced. First, we’ll read Esperanza Rising, a novel about a young Mexican girl who goes from a privileged life of wealth and comfort to one of poverty and uncertainty. Drowned City is a graphic novel that explores the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and the people who lived there. How do we use our sense of self to help us adapt when everything changes?

What’s a Class Like?

Everyone is welcome to join us on the Facebook groups (Link to the Tween group here; link to the Teen group here).

All participants will get free links to supplementary resources and discussion questions as well as the opportunity to discuss the book with other families in the groups. These will be posted in the Facebook groups.

Those looking for a more robust academic experience will find one in the accompanying class offerings. My approach to these is to make them like a middle or high school literature class. I’ll be creating reading guides, vocabulary resources, and writing/project prompts. Students will also get to share insights with one another on discussion boards as well as participate in a live discussion (or view a recorded summary of the discussion if they can’t meet at the same time). It would be possible to use these classes as a literature course for the whole semester.

Feedback Add-On

For those who would like to complete the writing and/or project prompts in the classes, I also offer feedback. My feedback style is thorough but constructive, and I always aim to leave writers feeling confident about their ideas and their ability to communicate them to others.

Learners receive personalized video feedback on all rough drafts and written feedback on all final drafts.

If you’d like to learn a little more about how I give this feedback, there’s a video coming soon! (It turns out it’s hard to record a video when you’re on a stay-at-home order with a three-year-old!)

Sign Up!

Ready to join us? You can sign up for any or all of these books as well as the excellent selections offered by Dr. Sabrina Weiss by visiting the SEA Teen and Tween Book Clubs page!