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Social Studies
Grade: Middle

#553. Book In A Couple of Days--Year of Impossible Goodbyes

Social Studies, level: Middle
Posted Mon Aug 3 22:18:50 PDT 1998 by Janet Stout (
Metro-Nashville Davidson County, Nashville,TN USA
Materials Required: Two copies of the book--Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Choi
Activity Time: Two to three class periods of 50 minutes
Concepts Taught: Interdisciplinary activity--literature tied into social studies

Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Choi is a book about a young girl growing up in Korea during the Japanese occupation. This is an excellent book to use as an interdisciplinary unit to tie literature into the social studies curriculum. This method of reading and discussing the book as a class was suggested to me by the media specialist in our school. The method would be equally successful with other novels.

I would suggest that you read the novel first and make a list of discussion questions. You may or may not want to give each group a set of questions or "talking points" for their chapter. I have done it both ways. It depends on your group as to which will be more successful.

1. Tear the book apart by chapters. You will need two books to do this, as some chapters will end on one side of the page and another chapter will begin on the other side of the page. Staple the pages together.
2. Divide the class into groups by the number of chapters in the book.
3. Give each group one of the chapters of the book and study questions (if you decide to use them).
4. Depending on the reading level of your class, this could take between one-half and one whole class period.
5. After everyone has read their chapter of the book, begin with the group that has chapter one and allow them to summarize the key events in that chapter for the rest of the class.
6. Continue to do this for chapters two, three and so on.
7. If anyone has a question in the class, the students must answer the questions from the chapters they have read.
8. Continue until the book has been completed.

I teach social studies and am not a reading teacher. I had great success with this method. I had a wide range of reading levels in my classroom and paired my students so that a stronger reader was with a weaker reader. The students were hesitant at first, but soon realized that this method would work. It built a lot of confidence in the weaker readers. This book is also an Accelerated Reader book and if your school participates in the Accelerated Reading program, a test is available. I used the AR test grade for a grade in my class and the students were able to earn AR points for their reading class.