Author Feature-Varian Johnson

 


Spirit of Texas Reading Program

Middle School

Featured Author

Varian Johnson

Varian Johnson

The Great Greene Heist


Varian was born in Florence, South Carolina. He has a twin brother and a younger sister. He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. He later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Varian now lives outside of Austin, TX with his family. 

 

Find him on the web:

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Book Trailer


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Book Quiz

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Multiple Choice

  1. What is the name of the school where the story takes place? 
    1. Washington Middle School 
    2. Greene Leaf Junior High 
    3. Maplewood Middle School 
    4. Jackson Junior High
  2. What was the Jackson's trademark? 
    1. red tie 
    2. leather jacket 
    3. Nike sneakers 
    4. Baseball cap 
  3. What Donald Greene's occupation? 
    1. Accountant  
    2. Policeman 
    3. Lawyer 
    4. Special Agent
  4. Why did Megan break up with Stewart? 
    1. He didn't want to go to the dance. 
    2. He took video game as a bribe. 
    3. He quit the basketball team. 
    4. He was late for dinner. 
  5. What did Jackson and Gaby have in common? 
    1. They both had dogs. 
    2. They both loved pizza. 
    3. They both played basketball. 
    4. They both were in the botany club.
  6. How was Keith so sure he would win the election? 
    1. The principal was paid to make sure he won. 
    2. He gave lots of free gifts to students. 
    3. Stewart dropped out of the race. 
    4. Ms. Appleton liked him. 
  7. What does MAPE stand for? 
    1. Megan Also Plays Eagerly 
    2. Multiple Artists Plan Everyday 
    3. Many Angry People Eat 
    4. Most Awesome Phone Ever
  8. Where did the Greene Gang make their plans? 
    1. Charlie's house 
    2. The Pizza place 
    3. Hashemi's shed 
    4. Omar's basement
  9. What does Keith plan to do when he becomes president? 
    1. shut down clubs he doesn't like 
    2. change the class schedule 
    3. fire the principal 
    4. build a new gym

 

Matching

10. Megan a. likes Gaby
11. Samuel b. is in the Chess club
12. Victor Cho c. Gaby's brother
13. Charlie d. works in the school office
14. Omar  e. President of the Tech club
15. Bradley  f. Jackson's brother


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Academic Program 

Printable Copy

Introduction

In Varian Johnson's The Great Greene Heist, the election process is a major theme throughout the book. Without the election, the heist would have never happened. In this program, students will design propaganda to persuade voters and learn how personal preferences effect voting decisions.

TEKS

  • 6.14 Citizenship. The student understands the importance of voluntary individual participation in the democratic process. The student is expected to: (B) explain the role of the individual in state and local elections
  • 7.7 History. The student understands how individuals, events, and issues shaped the history of Texas during the 20th century. The student is expected to: (B) evaluate the Progressive ad other reform movements in Texas in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • 8.23 Citizenship. The student understands the importance of effective leadership in a democratic society. The student is expected to: (B) describe the contributions of significant political, social, and military leaders of the United States such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Length of Program

The program can be adapted to fit a variety of schedules. As planned, it should take approximately 5 days.

Materials

  • 3 different types of candy for students to observe and compare (Ex: M&Ms, skittles, lemon drops)
  • Water
  • Ziploc bags
  • Poster board
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Markers/crayons/colored pencils

Resources

Preparation

  1. Create a schedule and plan the event.
  2. Set up meetings with campus personnel who will be involved to get input and pencil in commitments.
  3. Gather all materials needed.

Books to Share

  • Non-fiction informational books are great reference materials. Here are a few to get you started.
    • The Election Process edited by Noel Merino
    • The Presidential Election Process edited by Tom Lansford
    • Voting and Elections by Michael Burgan
    • A kid's guide to the voting process by Tammy Gagne
    • Propaganda by Charlie Samuels
    • Propaganda by Ray Spangenburg
  • (Read-a-likes) If you like The Great Greene Heist, then try these great fiction titles.
    • The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
    • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
    • The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
    • Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner
    • Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg
    • The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
    • The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer
    • Dash by Kirby Larson

Bulletin Board

Surround the bulletin with red, white and blue boarder. Across the top of the board, put the question "Whom would you vote for?" Put the statement, "Weigh your options" across the bottom. In the center, put a scale with different candies on each side.

Activities

Day 1 – Candy Observation
1. Test Candy
2. Make Observations
3. Take notes

Day 2 – Prepare Campaign
1. Select a Candy Candidate
2. Organize students in groups of 3 - 5
3. Begin creating campaign poster using propaganda techniques

Day 3 – Campaign Poster rounds
1. Hang Posters around the grade level hallway. (number posters by class)
2. Have students go around and read all of the campaign posters and complete a checklist for your planning partner's class posters.

Day 4 – Election Day
1. As students make their way to the library to vote, they will look at campaign posters one last time.
2. Students will vote by checking the appropriate box on the ballot that signifies their choice. *You could possibly have a student club separate and count the ballots.
3. Announce the winner at the end of the day.

Day 5 – Journaling
1. Have students write a journal entry on the experience.
2. Conduct a class discussion on the process.
3. Compare and contrast to the government election process

Resources

 

 

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Active Programs

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Science Playground

Introduction/Purpose of Program

In The Great Greene Heist, one of the characters is Megan Feldman. She is both a cheerleader and a science genius. In order to get kids excited both about reading and science, you can transform your library into a science playground.

Detailed Description of the Program

By using items found around the house, participatns can create many different science experiments that they can replicate at home. By creating several stations, attendees can come and go as they please and participate in any experiments that they choose. Examples of experiments include (but do not have to be limited to):

Creating ice cream in a Ziploc baggie
Producing an iodine clock reactnio
Experimenting with non-newtonian fluids (corn starch in water)
Creating a vase of "dancing spaghetti"
Making a Cartesian diver

Program Related Books to Display or Book Talk

List of Supplies

Your supplies will depend on the types of experiments you choose to use during your program. A list of potential experiments and their necessary supplies will be included in the resources. Other experiments can be found on the websites listed and other printed resources.

Resources (print and electronic)

  • Steve Spangler Science – lots of easily replicated, kid friendly experiments that use household items or relatively inexpensive items that can be purchased from his store.
  • Iodine Clock reaction -  a very fun reaction that's easy to replicate but does require careful measurement to pull off.
  • Science Buddies – This website has a list of experiments that can be conducted with items found in the kitchen.
  • Heinecke, Liz. Kitchen Lab for Kids: 52 Family Friendly Experiments from the Pantry. Quarry Books, 2014. Print.
  • Herbert, Don, and Roy McKie. Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science. New York: Random House, 1980. Print. – a great resource with easy to replicate experiments, again using items found around the home.
  • It would be very easy to have local patrons collect the items you need (i.e. plastic bottles, coffee cans, etc.) and donate them directly to the library.

Program Flyers, Posters, Advertisements, Bulletin Board Ideas, Templates, Rubrics, etc.

 

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Passive Programs 

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Introduction

In Varian Johnson's The Great Greene Heist, school clubs play a key role throughout the story. The characters are pushed by their need to save their clubs from the corrupted principal and Keith Sinclair, the boy who wants to buy the School Council Presidency. In this activity, teens will be participating in a Maker Space where they can experiment with diverse activities and try new things. Each activity is meant to represent a different club.

Length of Program

The program is designed to be patron centered. The amount of time depends on how long the patron takes to complete a project. Time limits could be set for how long the materials are available.

Materials

  • paper
  • glue
  • tape
  • scissors
  • crayons
  • map pencils
  • rulers
  • origami paper
  • string
  • buttons
  • anything you can imagine. Materials vary by the activities included in the Maker Space.

Resources

Here are few ideas on activities that can be included in a Maker Space.

Preparation

  1. Before the program begins, you should become familiar with the activities you would like to incorporate. You could also have teen volunteers become familiar with the activities so they can answer questions as needed.
  2. Gather all of the materials necessary for the activities you will be setting up.
  3. Set up tables for the different activities and place all supplies on the tables as well as books and any printed instructions.

Books to Share

Non-fiction informational books are great reference materials. Here are a few to get you started.

  • Tape It & Make It: 101 Duct Tape Activities by Richela Fabian Morgan
  • Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon
  • The Complete Book of Origami: Step-by-Step Instructions in Over 1000 Diagrams by Robert J. Lang
  • The Decoupage Book: More than 60 Decorative Projects Using Simple Techniques by Holly Boswell
  • Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games by The LEAD Project
  • Design Originals, Joy of Zentangle by Marie Browning CZT, Suzanne McNeill CZT and Sandy Bartholomew
  • Friendship Bracelets 101: Fun to Make, Fun to Wear, Fun to Share (Can Do Crafts) by Suzanne McNeill
  • Make a Card Awesome! A Step-by-Step Guide to Creative Card Making Techniques (Green Crafts Book 7) by Mahe Zehra Husain
  • Chess Tactics for Students by John A. Bain

Read-a-likes

  • The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
  • Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner
  • Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg
  • The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer
  • Dash by Kirby Larson

Bulletin Board

In The Great Greene Heist, every member of Jackson's team had a specific talent that helped the group accomplish their goal. The maker space is a place where patrons can find their talent. The bulletin board could have the title of the book at the top and in the center state in large letters "What is Your Talent?" Then post pictures of the different types of activities you are using around the wording.

 

 

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Created on Apr 13, 2015 | Last updated July 15, 2015