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Teachers, Simplify Your Lesson Plan: The Story Behind My Educator Guide

This summer, I placed the finishing touches on my website’s new Education tab. It focuses on assisting teachers, both as an author and public speaker.

Are you an English, history, biology, or art teacher? I have created an educational supplement to facilitate learning in your classroom!

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My historical fiction debut about a medieval outbreak of bubonic plague, The Kiss of Death, now has something extra special for teachers: an Educator Guide. In addition, I’m continuing to grow as a speaker by expanding my presentation venues. I began in Barnes & Noble, transitioned to the independent bookstore, tiptoed through the library and book club, and now, I’ve branched out into the classroom.

With an educational connection to literature, history, and biology, my book has roots in the classroom – and not just because it was written in one. Crystal Lake Central High School, to be exact. (Learn more about my path to publication.) As a supplement to the Questions for Discussion included in my book, I developed a stand-alone Educator Guide correlated to Common Core Curriculum national education standards. My guide provides a helpful resource for teachers, and now you can download it right from my website.

This is an exciting moment, indeed! It all began with my artist, Peg Pappa, who drew the beautiful cover for my debut. Peg was captivated by my story and saw that it had potential beyond the bookshelf. She envisioned a home in the classroom. Given her education background, she encouraged me to craft Questions for Discussion as an addendum to the book. These questions would facilitate classroom and book club discussion. My publisher loved the idea, and my questions were incorporated into my book prior to its release.

At one of our design meetings, Peg encouraged me to take my forays into education a step further.  Because I’d already done the legwork of researching historical facts, she viewed my book as a learning tool. In the words of Jerry Thiel, the Creative Writing teacher for whom I’d written the story, I “produced a seamless balance between fact and fiction” in his class.

That’s the beauty of historical fiction.

My educational supplement brings the textbook to life in a fun, memorable way. Through the power of narrative, students can imagine themselves traveling the unpaved streets of medieval London and tasting old-fashioned sweetmeats. This journey invokes the power of imagination to cement ideas introduced in the textbook. What better way to enhance a history lesson?

With the classroom connection having come full circle, the idea for an Educator Guide emerged.

Author Sarah Natale (Mondello)'s Presentation for Belinda Strebel's 7th Grade Class at Bernotas Middle School 001

Speaking engagement at Bernotas Middle School

As a first-year Creative Writing and Public Relations student at Drake University, I had to educate myself on how to write a lesson plan and navigate the nuances of Common Core Curriculum national education standards. The summer following my book’s release, I made it my personal endeavor to do so.

First, I expanded upon my initial English literature questions by crafting unique questions for each of the other three disciplines The Kiss of Death speaks to: history, biology, and art. Then, I researched Common Core, making sure each question met those standards.

Why these four disciplines, you ask?

Literature: Given its historical fiction and literary fiction genres, the story lends itself to a literary discussion.

History: Due to its historical fiction genre, the narrative is infused with elements of research.

Biology: The book incorporates much of the medical knowledge of the time. Students will have fun laughing at the absurdity of primitive beliefs (ex: bathing was considered dangerous!) and comparing and contrasting them with modern science.

Art: The visceral imagery makes for stimulating art projects.

Author Sarah Natale (Mondello)'s Presentation for Belinda Strebel's 7th Grade Class at Bernotas Middle School 005

With Belinda Strebel, who invited me to her 7th grade classroom as a guest speaker

Many of the Middle English terms used in The Kiss of Death are not easily found in your average dictionary. As a result, I saw it necessary to add a Vocabulary section, which became my favorite part. I enjoyed crafting definitions in my own words based on the research I’d consumed in order to write the book. After all, they say you haven’t grasped the true meaning of a foreign term until you can put it into your own words (a great study tip, by the way!).

Finally, it was important to me for the guide to be laid out in such a way that it can stand alone from the book. In addition to the multiple activity ideas the guide contains, I wanted it to be the only item a teacher needs in order to gain a solid grasp of the story, its background, and its classroom potential. In fact, my comprehensive guide has been called more than just a guide – it’s been dubbed a Media Kit of sorts.

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Looking back, it was a whirlwind project. I enjoyed the challenge of tackling something new. Within a short time, I had written, designed, and packaged the project into a classroom booklet.

Now, you can find a link to a PDF (or contact me for the physical booklet) under my website’s new Education tab.

You will also find information about scheduling me as a guest speaker for your classroom as well as testimonials from my previous speaking engagements.

Author Sarah Natale (Mondello)'s Presentation for Belinda Strebel's 7th Grade Class at Bernotas Middle School 003

Whether you’re a teacher, principal, school district board member, student, or reader, I’d love to hear from you! What you think of my latest website addition? I’m always open to suggestions on ways I can improve or content you’d like to see.

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy exploring my site!

~ Sarah


Purchase your copy of The Kiss of Death through Kellan Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo.

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