Colorado Academy Eighth Grade students recently wrapped up the pilot of a new English unit developed by Middle School Librarian Allie Bronston, in partnership with Eighth Grade English teachers Liz McIlravy and Eric Augustin. The three titled the unit, “Windows & Mirrors,” a term coined by Emily Style. Professor Rudine Sims Bishop popularized the concept, and she highlights the importance of children being exposed to books that are “windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange,” as well as mirrors, in which “literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience.”
During the windows portion of the unit, students participated in literature circles, focused around five different book options that they selected as windows into the identities and experiences of characters very different from themselves. Likewise, students selected their own mirrors titles for the second portion of the unit, which needed to reflect some aspect of their own identity that they wished to explore more deeply.
In a survey that students were asked to complete after the unit ended, one wrote that the most meaningful aspect of the windows unit was “seeing that there are so many different people and that everyone’s backstory is different.” Another wrote of the mirrors portion of the unit, “It was nice to slow down, take a step back, and really think about who I was.”
Mr. Augustin, Ms. Bronston, and Mrs. McIlravy are already looking forward to offering the unit for Eighth Graders next year.