Schooled, by Gordon Korman
First page, first paragraph, the present: a fourteen-year-old hippie is being arrested for driving a pickup truck without a license.
Third chapter, first page, the present: the eighth grade big-man-on-campus gets off the school bus and notices that someone has put the “L” back on the school sign. He removes it. This is going to be his year at C Average Middle School.
Or so he thinks. He hasn’t yet met the new student.
Welcome to Schooled, my new favorite middle school title! Gordon Korman’s story-telling skills translate into page after page of hilarious and dead-serious teachable moments. This title is a middle-school MUST!
A clever mix of juvenile humor (spitballs, wedgies, and sneakers dangling from power lines), boy-girl relationships, and the most serious inside look at bullying and cliques you’ll find anywhere, Schooled tells the story of Capricorn Anderson, a brilliant but totally naïve youngster suddenly ripped from the tranquility of his grandmother’s left-over hippie commune and deposited in a foster home with a super spoiled foster sister. Then he takes the bus to the raucous world of C Average Middle School. Eighth-grader Zach Powers, chief bully and uncontested leader of the school’s in crowd, quickly identifies long-haired Cap as a foolproof victim. What fun it’s going to be watching the freakazoid fall apart and disintegrate under the pressure of the cool jokes and pranks he has planned.
Clueless Capricorn Anderson is about to transform Zach’s bullying campaign into a rollicking love feast of peace and harmony.
As if the C Average students and their shenanigans weren’t enough to make the title middle-school perfect, the author tells the story in first person through the eyes of eight different characters! Cap Anderson’s first chapter narrative is replaced by a different character’s point of view in the second chapter. Still a third character picks up the action in the next. This technique is so unusual, it took a while for me to get used to it, but I eventually realized that eight different points of view is the ideal way to tell this story. So many dramas are taking place on so many different levels, a single person’s perspective would have told a really drab tale.
More good news! I just happen to know where you can find some CCSS aligned classroom-ready materials for teaching Mr. Korman’s middle-school masterpiece.
Check out my Schooled teaching pack. Purchase the full 196-page unit in a single PDF file, or choose from seven individual components according to your needs.
(Please note that all CCSS alignments are listed in the answer keys rather than on the printable worksheets for the sake of my international customers.)
Don’t forget to download your free CCSS aligned Informational Text from the Schooled package. This article, The American Search for Utopia, is designed as a pre-reading activity for the book, but it can stand alone as an independent study. Stay tuned for a new Informational Texts Pack, which I will be adding to the $5 Or Less Department soon along with a free Christmas Informational Text activity shortly thereafter!