Out of the Dust - Study Guide

Progeny Press

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Grade Range: 7-9

Setting: Oklahoma, 1930s

Genre: American Literature

Page Count: 50 + Answer Key

Approximate Completion Time: 7 weeks

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Billie Jo Kelby is an only child. Though she knows he loves her, she believes her father views her as a substitute for the son he really wanted. Billie Jo is a good student, but her true joy is playing the piano. Billie Jo's piano playing leads to a job with a local musical group and gives her the opportunity to bring home a little money for the family.
When her mother reveals that she is pregnant again, and the pregnancy seems to be going well, the family is hopeful. Despite the hardships of dust and the Great Depression, Billie Jo and her mother and father are a relatively happy family. However, tragedy strikes during an ordinary day. A bucket of kerosene, mistaken for a pail of water, leads to a terrible fire. Billie Jo's mother dies, and Billie Jo suffers serious burns herself when she tries to extinguish the fire with her bare hands.
She and her father must now face the grieving, the healing, and the Dust Bowl alone. Written in free verse as a poetic journal, this touching novel of loss, healing and returning joy after tragedy strikes vividly brings the Dust Bowl years to life.

Progeny Press' Out of the Dust English/Language Arts curriculum provides your Middle School grade student with:

About the Author: Learn about Karen Hesse.
Background Information: Learn about the Dust Bowl and open form poetry as a writing style.
Vocabulary: Understand words used in the novel, completing a variety of activities to improve retention and language growth.
Literary Techniques: Unravel poetic devices, figurative language, and structural elements crafted by Karen Hesse. identify onomatopoeia, sensory images, poetic caesura, and how to compare and contrast. Grasp the nuances of symbolism, similes, metaphors and extended metaphors, as well as personification. Experience the linguistic beauty of alliteration, consonance, assonance, and repetition. Explore and discuss the narrative arc, story themes, dynamic characters, rhyme, conflict, double meanings, climax, and resolution.
Moral Lessons and Character Values:  Think about the moral lessons and character values throughout the book study. Examine themes of relationship, anger, and generosity. Discuss the impact of our words, the meaning stewardship, and the facets of blame, grief, freedom, forgiveness, and the transformative journey of a coming-of-age tale.
Activities and Writing Assignments: Select activities and writing projects that will take your language arts study to the next level. Learn about the historical context of the Great Depression, map geographical areas, participate in class discussions, contribute to a service project, explore farming through art, and express yourself through poetry and writing.
Suggestions for Further Reading: We include a reading list of more books Karen Hesse, and other related books to, Out of the Dust.

All of Progeny Press' Language Arts unit lessons are written from a Christian worldview!

Features and Benefits of a Progeny Press ELA study guide

Printed Workbook Format

  • Large 8.5x11 format is convenient to read and easy on Middle School student's eyes
  • Every question in our novel unit study has plenty of whitespace for middle school level student answers
  • Encourages neat and clean handwriting practice
  • Easily transports without the need for a laptop or other expensive equipment
  • Provides a permanent record of the middle school student’s work
  • Complete, removable answer key included for the teacher to make grading simple!

CD Format

  • Contains the complete study guide in universally compatible PDF format (works on Mac AND Windows)
  • No costly software purchases necessary
  • PDf files open in the FREE Adobe Reader program.
    Note: Mobile devices may require an alternative app that supports and saves fillable form fields and interactive features.
  • Upgraded, fillable form fields allow the student the opportunity to complete their work on the computer, saving you printing costs
  • Conveniently print what you need, when you need it:
    • Print the whole ELA study guide at once
    • Print single literature lessons or pages as the student completes them
    • Print multiple copies of the entire curriculum study guide for classroom sets
  • PDF format makes it easy to use with multiple students
  • Complete answer key PDF file included for the teacher to make grading simple!

Formatted with your Middle School grade student in mind, Progeny Press language arts study guides divide the book into writing assignments and lessons that strengthen their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and refine their critical analysis and writing skills. Each Progeny Press novel study accomplishes all of this without busy work that can drain the fun out of reading and literature! Kids have loved using Progeny Press ELA curriculum in homeschool, co-ops, and private schools around the world for over 30 years!

Book Awards:
Newbery Award Winner 1998   •   Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction   •   ALA Notable Children's Book   •   ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

Extra Information

Progeny Press