Inside the Educator’s Toolbox
Quest of the Keys novel (print or digital)
In the timeless shadows of the mines, distant screams glide across rock walls worn by running water and groping hands. Here where the sunlight never reaches, the picking of axes and dragging of chains is met by the wails of new slaves and the dying of the old. The guards’ words echo off the walls as if from the dark heart of the mountain itself, crushing any hope of freedom: You are nothing here! You have no power and no chance of escape. Returning to his hometown defeated, penniless, and desperate, Decklen resolves to seek help from the only man strong enough to provide it- the elder of Leonesse. When he pleads his case to the elder, Decklen is not offered access to the town’s resources as he had hoped. Instead, he is presented with an invitation- an offer to begin a quest to unlock eight scrolls and learn the secrets therein. But to do so, Decklen must find each key. Could it be that this quest will prepare him for the dangers ahead? But for two tenacious captives- Decklen, a young man coping with the mistakes of his past, and Camberly, a feisty ten-year-old orphan- escape from the mines is not a dream; it is their reality. However, Camberly’s brother has accidentally been left behind. They must go back for him; they must free him from the debilitating darkness. But how can Decklen face the nightmare of the mines again?
Character Development Course Materials
A week by week guide of the various tools that can be used for the entire school year or a few weeks. A Teacher’s Pack is also included for each of the Eight Character Keys. The pack provides answers and additional insights. A Student Pack is ready to use as a fill-in-the-blank handout.
Explore the meaning words as used in the story, as students pronounce and use the words correctly in sentences.
Behemoth – noun: a thing of monstrous size
Overseer – noun: someone who supervises or manages others
Remnants – noun: fragments or scraps
Use the included questions during or after reading to guide students’ understanding of the text.
1. When and where does the story take place? Cite textual evidence, as well as inferences drawn from the text.
2. How does the setting of this story shape the characters of Camberly and Decklen? RL.8.3.
Discover how students have internalized concepts by the way they are expressed contextually.
Describe a day in the life of a child working in the mines alongside Camberly.
Tell about a time when you pursued a personal quest.
Teacher Pack and Student Pack
Teacher and Student Packs correlate to guide both teachers and students through lessons.
Example of Teacher and Student Packs. Pages 21 and 31 of print materials reference book
Top 40 Letters from Leonesse
and Student Lead Discussion Prompts
These prompts offer students the opportunity to reflect and discuss ideas correlated to the Keys.
- Reflect alone and write down your thoughts (2 minutes).
- Share/compare/improve/expand in pairs (3 minutes).
- Share/compare/improve/expand in groupings of four (3 minutes).
- One (sutend or group) at a time shares one important answer with the whole group moving quickly from group to group avoiding repetition (3-4 minutes)
Friends, My mentor, Maximus, would often share his vision for Leonesse. It was so grand that I would be filled with excitement. Years later, I see his vision becoming a reality. Maximus once told me you have to “see it before you see it.” He died before the vision was fulfilled, but he saw it many years ago. Continue your quest, Octavius
Friends, My daughter Nicole taught me that problems exist in order to be solved. She would say, “I get to solve this problem.” Most people say, “I have to solve this problem.” Her “get to” attitude spoke to me and helped me look at hardships in a different way. Continue your quest, Octavius
Friends, Painful experiences teach us powerful lessons. Those experiences also make us more empathetic to others. Do not waste painful times in your life. Ask yourself these questions when you encounter heartache and pain. What can I learn? How can I better serve others because of what I have been through? Continue your quest, Octavius
Write Around Activities
Includes a writing activity for each of the Keys.
Sample: The Key of Purpose
- Divide/fold your paper into fourths.
- Print your name neatly in the corner of the upper left square.
- After reading Chapters 1-2 in Quest of the Keys, write for two minutes about the following:
- What is your purpose in life?
- Remember these words of Maximus: “It is much easier to write your life purpose; the greater challenge is to live it each day.”
- At the end of your life, what do you want to be remembered for?
- A passion to help others will change you. Explain by making a connection to your life or someone you know.
- After two minutes, pass your paper to the person to your right.
- That person will read the comments, and then respond to them by writing their own comments.
- After 2 minutes, pass the paper to the person to your right, and repeat the process until all four people in the group have responded to their peers.
- If time, discuss the activity.
Engage students with dramatic presentations taken from the Quest of the Keys book. These are a creative way to make the text meaningful and fun for the students. Includes 3 scripts adapted from the book.
The Puzzle Box (adapted from pp. 113-115)
Speaking Parts: Narrator, Decklen, Camberly
NARRATOR: At a dimly lit table in the Sleeping Dragon Inn, Decklen held the cylinder in his hands and pondered what to do next.
CAMBERLY: Don’t let it get you down, Decklen. You’ll figure it out.
DECKLEN: Give me that puzzle box; the one from the shop.
CAMBERLY: Here it is, but good luck trying to open it.
DECKLEN: I remember my sister spending hours creating puzzle boxes like this. Things seemed to come so easily to her.
CAMBERLY: Well, give it a try. You can make it work…
- Video Book Trailer
- Audio Book
- Classroom Posters
Meet the Author
Depending on location, timing and budgets, you can schedule a SKYPE session with the author, or even an in-person class/school assembly.