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Ready-Set-Tech: Journeying to Jo'Burg and Beyond
Journeying to Jo'Burg and Beyond

Students read
Journey to Jo'burg by Beverly Naidoo and through it explore social conditions that have existed in South Africa as well as other parts of the world. This exploration takes place through projections of Web sites that give wonderful overviews of South Africa,and a WebQuest that links to many great sites--including one where kids can listen to the various languages spoken in South Africa so that they can really understand and feel the novel, making it come alive.

The students also practice writing journals as if they are characters
in the novel, writing in their own diaries, enabling them to relate to characters and become more aware of their development and motives. They also work on their summary and prediction skills, which enhances their comprehension skills and ability to think critically, which in turn will help them become more proficient readers. The students discuss literature with each other in their groups, as well as with the whole class. It is very important that kids connect their lives and experiences to those of the characters in their novel, and connect the occurences in the novel to what happens in our world.

Journeying to Jo'burg and Beyond develops young minds to be active on our global stage and to have a relevant and aware voice. With the help of the Internet, learning becomes a fun-filled adventure... children evolve with a bit more depth and appreciation for the opportunities that they have and become better readers, writers, and thinkers.

Raven Roytblat

Raven Roytblat is a teacher and literacy coach at Ditmas Intermediate School 62 in Brooklyn, New York. She received both her B.A. in History and Psychology, and her M.S. in Elementary Education with a Reading Concentration, from St. John's University.

Raven passionately loves music, athletics, international travel, and a good book. "All positively develop one's being and have the command to uplift and free a burdened soul." She is married and currently raising three cats.



English Language Arts, Social Studies

Grade Level:6-8

Time: 4 class periods for reading and discussing the novel, additional time provided to explore web sites and complete the web task.

Materials: Computers with Internet access, word processing software, projector, and copies of Journey to Jo'Burg by Beverly Naidoo.








Students will:

1. Garner a deeper understanding of history and how it has impacted world events today.

2. Practice summarizing and predicting what has happened and will happen in a novel.

3. Begin to think on a global level.

4. Feel more compassionate towards others and their struggles. In turn they will feel less sorry for themselves and their situations. Hopefully, they will feel empowered.

5. Learn about various aspects of the culture of South Africa including musi, languages, and apartheid.

Web sites:






Day One:


To introduce a brief history of the country of South Africa and the plight of the South Africans as a backdrop to our study of Journey to Jo'burg.

Do Now:

I wanted my kids to practice using information of one kind for other purposes. I wanted them to go through the table of contents of this novel and look at the cover and try to predict what they thought the novel would be about.


  1. Begin a class discussion focusing on the previous night's homework of looking up the word apartheid.
  2. Have students discuss definitions found in dictionaries an/or online sources.
  3. Create a web on poster paper or on the front board about the elements of apartheid .
  4. After getting a general idea about what apartheid is, ask kids how they feel about such a system of government. Describe feeling and explain why they have these feelings. First they should take a few moments to think about this, then briefly write a response.
  5. Share responses with classmates and create a graphic organizer that displays class feelings concerning apartheid and link to the elements that make them feel that way specifically.
  6. End this lesson by bringing thought and discussion back to Journey to Jo'burg. We would talk about class predictions about the novel. The class must be clear in what clues have lead them to make the predictions that they are making.


Based on our very brief discussion of apartheid, any information they may have come across when looking up this term, and prior knowledge, begin a KWL on South Africa. Fill out what you know and what you want to know about South Africa.

Day Two:


To learn more about the history of South Africa as it relates to the plot of Journey to Jo'burg.

Do Now:

Take out homework (KWL) and select the two things that you are most interested in learning about South Africa.


  1. Share with group mates the things that you know about South Africa.
  2. Moving from group to group, ask members to mention one thing that they know about South Africa. Create a class KWL chart with this information displayed as it is mentioned by having various group mates adding their knowledge of South Africa to the chart.
  3. We discuss this and then continue with this procedure to fill out what we, as a class, want to know about South Africa.
  4. Using a projector hooked up to the computer, explore www.southafrica.net/index.cfm . . . briefly go over the history and analyze data concerning doctors, land to person ratio for the people of the Black Africans versus those statistics of the White Africans, and other information found through browsing.
  5. Begin reading the novel.


Continue reading the novel.

Day Three:


To continue to enjoy reading our novel, Journey to Jo'burg, while getting to understand Nadeli, Tiro, Grace, the people they are, the choices they make, and how that affects them.

Do Now:

Brainstorm and find 5 really mature words to describe how you would feel if you lived in a country like Tiro and Nadeli do.


  1. Share with group mates why you would feel this way.
  2. As a group, think of how you would counteract those feelings.
  3. Have one speaker in each group share what they would do to make their life better when living in such difficult circumstances.
  4. Begin reading our novel. As we read, be sure to stop and discuss key points in the story. Constantly ask thought-provoking questions to keep the kids interested. Before quasi-climatic moments, ask kids to predict what will happen next and have them consider why they think that will happen next.
  5. Stop reading at a point in the plot where a quasi-climatic moment is about to occur.. where some questions are about to be answered.
  6. Discuss what we have read… summarize it as a group and/or have them summarize on their own.
  7. Then have the kids choose one of the characters that they want to be and have them write in a journal about happenings that we as a class just read about. The entries should show an understanding of the character beyond the superficial. Every class should end with this exercise


Predict how the story will end, and be prepared to discuss those predictions at the start of class the next day.

Day Four:


To bring closure to the reading of our nove, Journey to Jo'burg, and move into our culture studies.

Do Now:

Review predictions for the end of the novel.


  1. Complete the reading of the novel.
  2. Discuss the ending of the novel as a class. Did it make sense? Did you like it? If you were the author would you have ended it differently?
  3. Refer to the KWL done previously on South Africa. What have we learned? Are there things that you still want to learn?
  4. Log on to computers and explore the possibilities of study with the web sites provided to complement this novel. Start here: http://searchsd.com/joburg/.
  5. Scroll down to the "Languages" section and bring students to the language task http://searchsd.com/joburg/
  6. Have students use worksheet provided here to complete the activity.
  7. Discuss how difficult it would have been for Tiro and Naledi to travel to Jo'Burg without knowing some basic words in each of the three languages spoken there.


1. Read a book of high quality (leading us to our goal of reading 25 this year).

2. Read and comprehend at least four works of the same genre.

3. Read and comprehend informational materials.

4. Demonstrate familiarity with a variety of public documents.

5. Produce a response to literature.

6. Participate in group meetings.

7. Make informed judgments about TV, radio, and film.

8. Demonstrate an understanding of the English language in written and oral work.

9. Analyze and subsequently revise work to improve clarity and effectiveness.



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