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Dueling Accounts of the Sierra Leone Civil War Fair

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By Roberto Clemente Community Academy staff

In 9th grade World Studies classes, we are focusing on the Sierra Leone Civil War. We are reading two novels intermittently; A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Child Soldier and The Bite of the Mango. Both of these novels are from the perspective of teenagers. A Long Way Gone is from the perspective of a child solider who fought in the Sierra Leone Civil War and committed horrific acts of violence. The Bite of the Mango is from the perspective of a victim of the rebels employing child soldiers. While students are reading the novels, they are preparing for the upcoming PARCC exam by answering PARCC-style text-dependent questions. Students are also working on creating claims and evidence (or arguments) using knowledge gained from the book.

Student Ana Rojas reports that she loves this unit. “Reading these books is extremely interesting because it makes you feel like you are in the story and really helps you understand the perspective of both of the main characters.”  Angelique Davis is also thoroughly enjoying reading the novels. “I really like the story. It pulls you into the situation. There are many stories that are boring, but I can actually stay up for this one and am excited to find out what happens to the main characters.”

Once the students are done reading these novels, they will be conducting research in the school computer labs to learn about other crimes against humanity or human rights violations. They will be focusing on what has been done and what can be done in regards to helping the victims in these situations. Students will continue their work with writing arguments, creating claims, and supporting them with evidence while writing a research paper.

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