Summer Adventure Mini Lesson: Not in Kansas AnymoreMichael M. Guevara
For his first two years of college, I drove my youngest son back and forth from San Antonio, Texas, to the University of Kansas. I drove him up for the start of each semester, picked him up and drove him back at Christmas break, and carted him home at the end of the school year.
As he begins his third year this fall, he’s taking a car of his own back to school (sigh, gulp, is that a tear in my eye?), which will greatly reduce the number of times I trek across three states multiple times a year.
Over the years, people have asked why I didn’t just fly him back and forth or winced when they got the answer to how long a drive it is. But I have always enjoyed the trips. Aside from having the time with my son as a captive audience, the whole idea of a cross country road trip still has an air of nostalgia to it. And one of my favorite stops on each trip was the Kansas Visitor Center. Aside from the whole University of Kansas vibe going on (they also give a slight nod to Kansas State, but I try not to hold that against them), they celebrate all things Kansas from The Wizard of Oz to sunflowers.
Like any visitor center, there are the racks and racks of brochures alighting, informing, attracting passersby to the must-see places the state has to offer. Whether it's the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site or the Moon Marble Company (both of which we visited in Kansas), the brochures in those visitor centers not only offer good information, they are also excellent mentor texts for our classrooms.
Mentor Text: Read the excerpt from Road Tripped by Peter Hautman.
I sit in the car and look at the Great River Road map as I eat. The “points of interest” triangles don’t look very interesting—mostly museums and such. I notice one place called Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. It’s only a few miles away. I look through the various brochures I’ve picked up and find one about Cahokia. The brochure is pretty interesting. I’m still sitting in the BK parking lot reading it after my last french fry is gone. (119-20)
Teachers can gather travel brochures to use as mentor texts. Whether out on a summer vacation or a quick trip to a local hotel, the brochures are free and there are plenty for the taking.
Points of Interest: Have students create a points-of-interest list. They can create a points-of-interest list for their city, their school, their neighborhood, or even their home.
Site Seeing: Have students choose a points-of-interest selection from their lists. Have students write the brochure entry to attract a visitor to want to see that sight. As an extension, students can include images with their writing or create an entire brochure with multiple points of interest. Students may also work in groups with each group member adding a point of interest writing component to the group’s brochure.
Download the lesson below in a convenient pdf to print or save!
Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, high school, has worked as a district level leader, and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.