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A Teacher's Guide for using Thrill in the 'Ville in the classroom

Thrill in the 'Ville Download the teacher's guide

Thrill in the 'Ville
Middle grade fiction, Grades 3-7
Themes: Democracy, elections, United States politics, political campaigns.

Overview
Doug Alverton figured that defending a soccer goal was the toughest job in the world. That was before a political campaign invaded his small town. Suddenly Main Street has disappeared in a blizzard of red, white, and blue, and the Secret Service seems to be keeping tabs on Doug's favorite neighbor. As students explore and enjoy Doug's story, they will become more familiar with ways that the competitive adult world of politics has a great deal in common with the kid-friendly world of sports. The fact that Doug has moments of very good - and very bad - decision-making also will provide fodder for discussion. Supplemental historical information is included in the back of each book, along with questions for classroom discussion. Thrill in the 'Ville is a work of fiction recommended for grades 3 through 7.

Common Core State Standards
While I was writing Thrill in the 'Ville, my goals were to give readers a lot of laughs and a candid look at crazy things that go on during election campaigns in the United States. But I wanted to invite those same readers to look past the silliness and see the beauty of democracy. My Teacher's Guide offers ideas for classroom projects and guided discussion. During school visits, I attempt to set up a quick version of an 'election,' asking students to vote on some important issue such as hot dogs vs. pizza in the cafeteria! Information about Common Core connections is provided on my School Visits page.

Make Me the Mayor
Pretend that you are campaigning to get elected as mayor of your town. Complete one or more of the following activities:

  • Create a campaign slogan that will help the voters remember your name and why they should choose you.
  • Write a campaign song and present it in a video recording.
  • Design a bumper sticker.
  • Make a campaign poster.

E Pluribus Unum
The official seal of the United States includes the Latin phrase, E Pluribus Unum, which means "Out of many, one." The idea is that the United States of America stands in unity as a single nation, even though we have citizens of many backgrounds and with varied ideas. Create a work of art - such as a sculpture, painting, collage, or mobile - that expresses your feelings about E Pluribus Unum.

Get Out the Vote
Do some research to find out what percentage of voters in your area participated in the last presidential election. If your city or county is like many other places in the U.S.A., you may discover that more than one-third of the eligible people did not take the time to vote. Think of three things that your school or neighborhood could do to get more people to vote.

Free Speech Park
Choose a day and time when your classroom can become a Free Speech Park where students are free to speak about important issues. Develop rules that will make your free speech day enjoyable for everyone, and let classmates take turns speaking about issues they consider important.

News and Views
Imagine that you are a news reporter and have been asked to interview two people who are competing against each other to be elected president of your school. Your boss at the TV station has said that you should ask each candidate only five questions. Plan your questions and stage the interview with other students posing as the candidates.

Questions for class discussion
A two-page discussion guide is included in the back of Thrill in the 'Vill, along with four pages of nonfiction material about historical figures mentioned in the story. Here are a few of the featured discussion questions:

  • In this book, political competition is compared to sports. What similarities do you see between a political debate and a sports tournament?
  • Do you think the main character, Doug, will try to get elected to a public office when he grows up? If so, would you vote for him? Who or why not?
  • If you had been a Secret Service agent assigned to the town of Benville, would you have been suspicious of the artist, Mr. Potensky? Give reasons for your answer.
  • Which item from the Who Said It? Wall did you most enjoy?

A special thank you goes to educator Mary Jo Craft who shared ideas about classroom and library use of Thrill in the 'Ville. If you can suggest other ideas, contact me.

Teacher's guide copyright © Patsi B. Trollinger

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