© Jennifer Allison
Discussion questions, writing prompts, projects, and creative writing activities for your students! Feel free to print and share these projects, but please keep the copyright attribution to Jennifer Allison. Contact me at Jennifer@gildajoyce.com to discuss how I can inspire the readers and writers at your school with an author visit!
1. To what degree is Gilda actually psychic? How does her interest in psychic phenomena help or hinder her investigation?
2. Do you believe that real psychics exist? Could it ever be possible for an “ordinary” person to become psychic through ongoing practice and hard work?
3. Have you ever had a spooky or psychic experience that you couldn’t quite explain? (A common example might be a friend calling you on the phone right at the moment you were thinking about him or her.) Do you think your experience was a coincidence, something you imagined, or something truly supernatural?
4. Consider the main characters in Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator. What does Gilda want to accomplish in the story? Why do you think Gilda is so interested in becoming a psychic?
5. How does Gilda use writing to help cope with the challenges in her life? Do you have any hobbies or activities that help you feel better when life is difficult? If so, reflect on how and when these activities are helpful to you.
6. Consider Gilda’s approach to writing and the writing environment she creates for herself. Have you ever used a manual typewriter like the one Gilda uses? If so, what was it like compared with the experience of using a pencil or a computer to write? How do you prefer to write?
7. What is Juliet’s biggest problem in this story? What does she learn about herself by the end of the novel?
8. Describe the friendship between Gilda and Juliet. How are these two girls similar and different as characters?
BOOK COVER PROJECT
Lesson focus: How visual artists interpret plot and character
Using poster board & art supplies or computer graphics, create an alternate cover for a new edition of Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator or another Gilda Joyce novel. How does your cover differ from the original edition? Does Gilda look different in this picture? Did you decide to leave her off the cover altogether? Write a paragraph explaining the choices you made and the details you selected when creating your book cover.
Lesson focus: How plot and scene are linked with setting
Create a collage of visual images from magazines, computer printouts, or images you have created depicting as many aspects of the setting of Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator as possible. Using pen or marker, make notes about the specific scenes and plot points that happen in each location.
SET DESIGN PROJECT
Lesson focus: The importance of detail in describing setting. Learning about literary genres.
Make a list of the various settings in which different scenes take place in the novel Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator. (Example: The Splinter Mansion – Juliet’s bedroom.) Now pretend you’re a director or set designer working on a live theater performance of Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator. For each scene, describe as many details as possible about the set design you will use to stage the story. Consider: props, lighting, painted backdrops, special effects.
OBSERVING SURROUNDINGS – “WARM UP” FREEWRITING ACTIVITY.
Tell students to pretend that, like Gilda in THE LADIES OF THE LAKE, they have suddenly found themselves in a new school – as the “new kid” in an unfamiliar environment. Have students take a 10-minute walk through the hallways (supervised) during which they observe as many details of their surroundings as possible. Then return to the classroom for a 10-minute “freewriting” exercise in which they record their observations through fresh eyes.
Write an additional chapter for Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator – the next chapter in Juliet’s life. What happens to Juliet Splinter after Gilda leaves San Francisco and Juliet starts school in the fall?
BEGIN WRITING A MYSTERY!
Retell your favorite ghost story. Now tell your favorite ghost story again, but with a twist – write the narrative from the GHOST’S perspective. Before writing, create a list of character traits describing your spooky main character.
HAVE FUN WITH YOUR FIRST DRAFTS. Be like Gilda Joyce, and make writing fun by using a new, colorful journal, a pen with glittery gel ink, or a typewriter instead of a computer. Try writing in a different place – a coffee shop, outside on a balcony, up in the branches of a tree, by the beach. You might begin your story with a sketch or an “inspiration collage” of images that inspire you. When you need a new idea, look at the pictures.
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