The Year’s Work Begins

Behind the Book has kicked off the year with our first two visits!

On October 12th, our lovely and talented teaching artist Barbara Korein visited Ms. Sheryl Mayers’ 6th grade class at JHS 13 to conduct a journal-making workshop. Students used brightly colored paper, stickers, markers, pre-printed phrases, and magazine cutouts to decorate notebooks in a way that reflected their personality, with spectacular results:

JHS 13 Grade 6 Student

A finished journal

Even Ms. Mayer and Vice Principal McKinley joined eagerly in. And who can blame them? Covering and decorating notebooks was certainly one of my favourite things to do in Middle School. It really got me excited about writing in them. We all know we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but there’s something to be said for one which invites you in. To this day I decorate my journals, endowing them with maximum power to draw me to them. Appearances are worth boosting if they, in turn, enhance substance.

JHS 13 Grade 6 Teacher Ms. Mayer

Ms. Mayers gets into it


JHS 13 Vice Principle Ms. Leia McKinley

{This project was made possible in part with public funds from Creative Curricula, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts’ Local Capacity Building Program and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.}


On October 22nd, Behind the Book brought one it’s most beloved authors, Rita Williams-Garcia, to Ms. Lizette Aguilar’s 8th grade class at JHS 13, which is reading Ms. Williams-Garcia’s book Jumped. Ms. Williams-Garcia discussed the book’s three protagonists–Trina, Dominique and Leticia–with the class, and had each student come up with a playlist of songs that reflected each character’s personality. Students shared their selections with the class, and drew up collaborative playlists for Trina and Dominique.

JHS 13 8th Grade Students

Students Brainstorming

JHS 13 8th Grade Student

Full of Ideas

The students’ knowledge of pop-music was amazing, and made me feel decidedly old and uncool. Ms. Williams-Garcia encouraged the high output of ideas, while Ms. Aguilar kept them organized, like some sort of magical music conductor. At the end of her visit, Ms. Williams-Garcia gave the class a writing assignment to work on until her next visit on November 3rd: write and prepare to perform a dialogue between Trina and Dominique. Students immediately began pairing up and exchanging ideas. We barely managed to get everyone facing forward for a group photo.

Rita Williams-Garcia at JHS 13

Ms. Williams-Garcia explains the assignment

JHS 13 - Ms. Aguilar's 8th Grade Class

Everybody say JUMPED!

That’s the dispatch for October, folks.



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