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Curriculum Details for
Spaghetti Book Club

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Practitioner Expert
Content Expert
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Content Expert Reviewer

Sara DeMedeiros
Sara Pollock DeMedeiros works as the Assistant Program Director at Tenacity, a youth development program that supports Boston youth in the summer and after school by fostering their literacy, tennis, and life skills. She supports staff in structuring high quality after-school programs for middle school students, and leads the development of Tenacity's literacy curriculum and instruction. Before coming to Tenacity four years ago, Sara taught 7th grade English as a Second Language in Washington, DC, and received her Masters in Education from Harvard University's Risk and Prevention Program.


  • Teaches students how to write and illustrate their own book reviews which they can then publish on the Spaghetti Book Club (SBC) website.
  • Students and teachers can choose the books they review.
  • The program also seems compelling for teachers, providing an opportunity to publish student work online with little technical knowledge.


Academic Skills
  • Reading books, then writing about and discussing them in an informed manner.
  • Making text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections.
  • Critically reading others’ reviews of books.
  • Editing and revising.
Study Skills
  • Using checklists to track progress toward completing a task.
  • Specific format for writing a review.
  • Organizational skills in thinking about how to create a coherent piece of writing.
Non-Academic Skills
  • Love of and engagement with reading.
  • Use of technology.
  • Builds self-esteem.

Alignment to Standards

  • Curriculum is generally aligned with English Language Arts standards of analyzing, comparing, critiquing, and reacting to literature.
  • While the particular lessons that cover these concepts are optional, the final product which students are expected to submit to the website requires that students have used these skills.


  • Checklist for students and teachers to use to assess the completion of a review.
  • Opportunities for students to continuously collect and respond to feedback from their teachers and peers.
  • These assessment strategies seem to primarily assess content.


  • Curriculum is somewhat structured.
  • There are recommended lessons that are very easily adapted to a program’s needs, but the product itself that the students create must follow a very specific structure.
  • Content is flexible: students may pick what books they would like to read and review.
  • Lessons are an even mix of teacher- and student-led. Teachers are encouraged to teach a prescribed combination of lessons, but students are encouraged to choose their own books.
  • Curriculum is also student-directed in that reviews themselves hinge on students expressing their own opinions.

Addressing Diverse Student Needs

  • Curriculum is adaptable to student needs.
  • Teachers can alter the order and use of the lesson plans to match the needs of their students and program, or omit them altogether.
  • Students can also work in groups to write reviews.  This can allow teachers to match students with different strengths or give extra support to students who need it.
Developmental level
  • Targeted to students in grades K-12. Lessons can be tailored to specific ages.
  • Reviewing books and sharing opinions appeals to all ages.
  • All reviews have the same expectations, regardless of age.  Writing these reviews may be advanced for the youngest students.
  • There are guiding checklists for different grade levels (K, 1-3, 4-6, and 7-12).
Learning Styles Addressed
  • The curriculum appeals to many learning styles.
  • Teachers can use visual cues, including the books themselves as well as overheads and examples of reviews, such as other students’ already published reviews online.
  • Interpersonal learning: Students work together to create book reviews. The curriculum hopes that books will create bonds between different students who might not otherwise work together.
  • Artistic learning: Students all create a self-portrait that accompanies their review, and are encouraged to create pictures that correspond with their reviews.
  • Diversity is not explicitly addressed, although teachers can do so by offering a wide range of books for students to review.
  • The curriculum requests that student self-portraits, accompanying reviews, show the students’ different skin colors.  It can be assumed this is to allow students who are reading others’ reviews to see a variety of backgrounds in the online community.
  • Language diversity is not mentioned.

Strengths and Challenges

Strongest Features
  • Gives students the opportunity to publish their writing in a more public forum.
  • Can give students a sense of meaning to their work.
  • Teachers can create a class website without starting from scratch.
  • Students become members of a safe and structured online community.
Challenges and Drawbacks
  • Curriculum depends on having easy computer and internet access.
  • Entering work on computers can be time consuming for a group that has few computers or students who are not skilled typers.
  • The publishing process could become overwhelming and time-consuming for an unorganized teacher.

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