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AHS Subject Guides: English: M. Barkin

This guide includes print and online resources for English: Courses include: English Literature, Communication, Expository Writing, Creative Writing, Journalism, Humanities, Reading, etc.

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Witchcraft: How to approach an informational text

Maggie Barkin

English II

Witchcraft: How to Approach an Informational Text (updated 9-2016, R. Musco)

Information literacy topics:

  • Determining best sources

  • Taking notes

Objective: To practice how to approach a print resource: evaluating non-fiction print sources for relevance, taking notes, and summarizing information from text.

Before class: Students will have read The Crucible, and discussed aspects of witchcraft and mass hysteria.

Explain objective: To practice how to approach a print resource: evaluating non-fiction print sources for relevance, taking notes, and summarizing information from text.

1. Presentation: How to approach a print resource:

  • Finding aids:

    • The cover:  focus on title, design, author, all clues to the value of the content.

    • The preface/forward/introduction: will often give a summary of the book’s treatment of the topic, and often includes a full overview.

    • The table of contents: the headings may be descriptive, or may be more metaphorical, and not of much help.

    • The index: the index will list all the most pertinent topics in alphabetical order, the number of times that they appear.  They may be extremely complete, or less so.

  • Reading and taking notes.

    • Highlight key words (if you own the item).

    • Highlight new vocabulary (look it up).


  1. Discuss key words.

Students practice choosing key words.

Your task (3 minutes):

Underline the key words (VERY few) that are VITAL to giving a description of the symptoms of hysteria that are manifested in witches.

Brainstorm results and comment.


  1. Discuss summarizing and paraphrasing.

    Students practice a summary of the text.

Your task (2 minutes):

Write a few sentences, using paraphrasing, that summarize description of the symptoms of hysteria that are manifested in the bewitched.

    Compare summaries.


  1. Review strategies

  • Highlight key words (if you own the item).

  • Highlight new vocabulary (look it up).

  • Summarize paragraphs or important ideas in the margins (or in notes).

  • Ask questions, write criticisms/comments/questions in the margins (or in notes).

  • Write your summary notes as full sentences so you can understand and use them later.

  • Write your summary notes as paraphrases so you can use them later.

  • Add quotes around any notes that are directly lifted from the text (except for common phrases or words that don’t have easy synonyms).

  • Use a note-taking program to put your notes IMMEDIATELY into categories as they develop.

  • Hints on doing good research with books

    • Read a good overview on the topic (a complete book, chapter in a textbook or a specialized encyclopedia).

    • Spend some time searching the book catalog.

    • Spend an afternoon browsing the BEST books from the library.

    • Read a few more chapters to finalize your research topic.

    • Be prepared to find more books as you learn more.

Additional Online Resources:

Salem Witch Trials: Documentary Archive Transcription Project

Published by the Scholars' Lab of the University of Virginia Library

Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities

M. Barkin - Children's Books project

M. Barkin

Creative Writing

Children’s Books






Objective: To understand the creative process and elements included in successful picture books.  Analysis and evaluation of picture book composition and production of an original work.



Amity website→High SchoolAHS Library Information Center

Find Online Stuff→By Subject→English→Class Projects →Barkin


The Library has a collection of children's books found here. Books have been selected and placed on a cart.



Consider the following when evaluating picture books:



Who created the book?

  • Author

  • Illustrator

  • Is it the same?  What are the pros/cons of that?



Artistic Method/Medium Used - Technique

  • Mood/tone

  • Is it appealing?

  • Watercolor

  • Photography

  • Torn paper or holes

  • Esthetic

  • Exposure to art

  • Simplistic

  • Monotone

  • Black and white - Splash of color

  • Size or shape of pages

  • Interactive parts /



Does the book incorporate

  • Historical perspectives

  • An imaginary place

  • Message / Theme

  • Fable



Writing Method Used

  • The impetus to reading

  • Use of sight words

  • Few words used

  • Made up words

  • Use of funny words/ rhyming

  • Point of view/perspective - positive? negative? from a child? adult?

  • Pacing - are you drawn into the story? Do you want to linger on a page?



Suitability?  Would you make that choice for a children’s book?

Variety - does it maintain interest?

Consistent illustrations or change with the demands of the text?


Book binding:


Now that you have completed your story it is time to put your book together.  It is important not to rush into this final part of the process.  Having an appealing presentation is as important as the story you wrote.  Your reader will appreciate the presentation you compile.


Watch this VIDEO on book binding by hand with thread.


DIY book binding INSTRUCTIONS (step-by-step) with images.


FedEx offers book binding SERVICES for a fee.


Book binding ideas on PINTEREST - you will need to set up an account to view pinned items.



Other options:


  • Three hole punch (with ribbons or string)
  • Presentation folders
  • Stapled pages

Book Covers:



Use a hard cover with an attractive overlay.

  • card stock
  • cardboard
  • fabric
  • laminate



Ask for help in the library!


Please complete the packet/handouts:

Final Evaluation

Children's Book Synopsis

Project Requirements

Childhood Memories

Peer Review



See due dates on the class website here.

Additional Reading:

Bang, Molly. Picture This: How Pictures Work. New York: SeaStar, 2000. Print.

Hands, Nancy S. Illustrating Children's Books: A Guide to Drawing, Printing, and Publishing. New York: Prentice Hall, 1986. Print.

Amity High School, Amity Region 5 School District, Woodbridge, CT 06525, 203-397-4844 Librarians: Robert F. Musco and Victoria Hulse Copyright 2017