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Classroom Happenings: Adventures in Reading

The Steward School
Display pays homage to a gifted writer
Two years ago, author Gary Paulsen published “Gone to the Woods,” an autobiography about his life as a writer. When Middle School English Teacher Mary Hopkins read it, she instantly knew that her seventh-grade students would connect with the author’s story and humor. Mr. Paulsen, who passed away in 2021, is known for his books featuring stories of adventure, exploration, and survival. 

Ms. Hopkins’ seventh graders each chose a book from Mr. Paulen’s 200-plus collection of books to read during the 2022 summer break. To share their summer reading, students were tasked this fall with creating an interactive display for their books. Using the Middle School/Upper School Library Makerspace (think: cardboard cutters, legos, paint, and copious amount of hot glue), students got creative. Their collective works are now on display in the Gary Paulsen Museum in the Library. 

“We recently played forest sounds as each seventh grader visited the museum and reviewed six of their classmates' projects,” shared Middle School/Upper School Librarian Crystal Hamlin. “Students responded to questions from each other about the projects, interacted with the displays, and then gave feedback.”

Like all Spartans, these students are making important connections between their classroom experiences and the wider world. Seventh graders are currently reading Mr. Paulsen’s “Gone to the Woods,” which they are thoroughly enjoying. “Since seventh-grade English focuses heavily on writing, we are looking at how Mr. Paulsen’s experiences as a child, as seen in his memoir, affected the topics he chose to write about in his fiction,” noted Ms. Hopkins. 

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