In the Skin of a Monster

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Kathryn Barker's In the Skin of A Monster explores how a school massacre impacts a community. Unfortunately, the events depicted are all too familiar to many. This teacher's guide for Barker's novel offers activities that enable readers to consider questions about the nature of evil, about whether behavior is genetically predetermined, about guilt and redemption. The carefully scaffolded, sensitively crafted resource is a must-have for any instructor using this amazing novel in the class room.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas
  • Review the concept of point of view before starting the novel
  • Select a current news story and assign groups the task of presenting the events from the perspective of and in the voice of one of the individuals involved
Classroom Considerations
  • The resource comes with the warning that the novel contains coarse language and some sexual references; therefore, read the novel and examine all the materials carefully to determine if appropriate for your learning situation
  • An article and video about the 1989 Stockton, Ca. school shooting is included to provide background on character motivations
  • Research the support services available on campus and in the community
  • The unit presumes a protocol is in place for the safe, respectful discussion of sensitive issues
  • Not recommended for book circles or independent reading due to the subject matter and the unorthodox structure of the novel
  • The 15-page packet includes a richly detailed plan, an anticipation guide that introduces the concept of the extent of personal responsibility, activities, links to related materials, and blackline masters
  • None