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K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

It Wasn't Me

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Author/Publisher/Website: Levy, D. A.
Copyright: 2018
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: May/2019
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9781524664436
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: 6-8
(View recommended grades and subjects) English Language Arts

Resource Description

When seventh-grader Theo’s photographs are vandalized in the school gallery and his developing pictures in the darkroom ruined, the principal orders Theo and the five students who were at the scene to take part in a restorative justice circle during spring vacation to identify the culprit. During the week, the youth face accountability, allegiance, and identity, and confront their assumptions, perceptions and biases. This engaging contemporary novel for grades 6-8 is told primarily through Theo’s voice but presents the perspectives of all the students. It addresses issues of bullying, community, honesty, conflict resolution, and identity, and is suitable for an independent or literature circle novel.

CURRICULUM FIT

Does the resource support BC curriculum?
Extensively
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Communication
Creative Thinking
Critical thinking
Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
Personal Awareness and Responsibility
Social Responsibility
Comments:
There is strong potential to link three Core Competencies as the novel explores personal values, self-awareness, and identity, and it also examines perseverance in difficult circumstances and regulating emotions. A predominant theme involves respecting the rights of others and learning how to resolve conflict peacefully by understanding others' perspectives. ELA Big Ideas are exploring stories to make connections to others and extending our thinking by sharing multiple points of view. Relevant Curricular Competencies are appreciating how form reflects message and purpose, and recognizing the roles of personal, social, and cultural contexts, values, and perspectives in text.

GENERAL CONTENT

Content
Is the resource engaging?
Moderately
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Moderately
Audience:
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Extensively
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Moderately
Is the content of particular interest to male students?
Moderately
Is the content of particular interest to female students?
Moderately
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Comments:
Learning to be accountable is important in the middle grades, particularly when peer pressure influences decisions and risk taking. This novel's unique use of multiple perspectives allows readers to easily appreciate and acknowledge the consequences of one's actions within a community. The narration and dialogue rely heavily on current colloquial language and cultural references that may date the novel and narrow its audience or uses.

TECHNICAL DESIGN

Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Extensively
Is the resource easy to use?
Extensively
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
Extensively
Comments:
The novel's use of separate chapters to present a rotating cast of perspectives is effective. Each student completes a series of self-assessments throughout the week; these are shown in unique fonts to differentiate the characters, aiding readers in understanding and empathizing with the various points of view.

PRINT NOVEL

Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Extensively
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
Extensively
To what degree is this text stylistically rich?
Moderately
Plot description:
Theo takes a risk to display his talent for photography, but someone has trashed the gallery and ruined his developing pictures in the darkroom. To get to the truth, Theo and five students identified at the scene must meet over spring break in an exploratory justice circle. Through the next week, the group slowly develops a bond as it struggles with accountability, allegiance, identity, and strong emotion. The teens must confront their assumptions, question their roles, and unmask their public personae. In the end, the revelation of an administrator's idea of the real truth is less important than a collective sense of a more complex truth shared by the group.
Related Comments:
Theo and the other grade 7 students must learn that their own perceptions and biases block the truth as well as connection. Each character is more than the stereotype others see (except for the principal). The rotating voices allow for a fuller discussion of perspectives and identity. Each character's own loyalties and need to create a safe image make the conflict complex to untangle. The reliance on dialogue and on Theo's perspective (rather than an omniscient narrator) means the truth isn't revealed until near the end so the novel retains some tension and suspense throughout. However, both the dialogue and Theo's narration are very 2018-2019 in style and slang.
Genre:
Contemporary
Mystery / Suspense
Literary Highlights:
Complex conflict
Rich Characterization
Point of view
Type:
Novel

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Readability:
At intended grade level(s)

SUGGESTED CLASSROOM USAGE

Comments:
As the novel examines themes of bullying, community, and identity, it has potential to fit into many ELA activities. At over 300 pages, and dialogue driven, it may be suited to independent reading and lit circles rather than whole-class study or read-aloud. The characters' distinct perspectives lend themselves to readers' theatre as well as extension activities such as writing in character, or predicting the end of the novel from a particular perspective. Although not a strict representation of restorative justice, the novel allows for exploration of methods of conflict resolution. There is also potential for a mock "trial" in which student jurors weigh evidence and deliberate consequences.
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