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In honour of Earth Day, the boys and I will read Winston of Churchill, a quirky picture book that introduces children to the topic of global warming.
Some pre-reading activities include finding Churchill, Manitoba on a map, and identifying Winston Churchill as a historical figure. Post-reading grand conversation prompts can be found in the Smart Notebook file linked at the bottom of this blog post.
The book also offers a great launching point for critically examining media use of the environment as a selling feature: When I used this book with my grade 3 students last year, we examined the Coca Cola polar bear and also the Nissan commercials, and how they used various persuasive elements to make the viewer feel good about their products.
This book is definitely worth spending three days with. I find it most beneficial for Grades 3 -5 (and the lesson plan posted here is intended for that age range), but it could probably used with other ages as well.
We started reading this book this morning... will follow up tomorrow and Monday; stay tuned to Alex and Simon's blogs for some follow-up writing assignments! :)
She was also slapped with a hefty fine for "failing to pay the proper ticket price" (although she had indicated that she was happy to pay the higher price, they would not sell her a ticket in the white section of the theatre).
I am currently participating in an online book talk, about ETFO's Social Justice Begins with Me kit. In our last session, we read an article by Kathy Bickmore, which included a number of practical strategies for taking social justice teaching to the next level. I'd like to try two of these for this lesson: "hypothetical scenario" and "listen and paraphrase".
Introduce key vocabulary: segregation, discrimination, respect, and rascism
Read aloud up to the part where Viola is asked to leave the theatre. Stop and ask, "How do you think Viola is feeling? Why?"
Then, give students a hypothetical scenario: "how would you feel if you had just settled in and gotten comfy on your sofa, to watch your favourite TV show, and your brother/sister/parent -- with whom you had recently had a big fight -- came along and told you you had to move?"
What would you do?
After participants share their responses, these can be categorized as fight (violence), flight (avoidance), and alternatives (assertive nonviolent options). Then, take some time to predict the consequences of each response.
(In a full class -- remember, I only have two "students" this year -- I'd probably have each student write her responses on a sticky note. Once categorised, I'd ask students to do a "think-pair-share" with a partner, choosing 2-3 responses to discuss before having a whole class conversation.)
This activity can be repeated, now, returning to the story. "What would you do if you were in Viola's situation? Why?"
Continue to read the book, up to when Viola returns home. ("The story made them angry, too.") Ask students: "What are some ways in which the community might respond? What do you think they will do next?"
Finish reading the book.
Ask students to work in partners. One partner share her responses to one or more of the following questions, and the other partner listens, waits, then paraphrases what she thinks her partner has said. The first partner can clarify if needed. Then the partners switch roles.
2. Writing in Role
Have students write the story from 2 or 3 perspectives: Viola's, the theatre manager, the police, the judge. How is each perspective different? How much one convince each person to adopt a different stance?
3. Writing - Blog Post
Have students write a blog post about the process of listening to and paraphrasing their partners ideas, or about the process of being listened to. Alternatively, they could write a reflection about the book itself.
Finally, summarize the story, and post the big idea, along with the book cover, on the rich mentor text board in your classroom.
We're also reading Secret Signs by Anita Riggio, a picture book from the SJBWM booklist for junior students.
Interestingly, the story's main characters happens to be deaf, which the author uses to develop particularly rich descriptive language. We've spent some time during Literacy discussing descriptive language that helps the reader visualise, so this text is a nice link to that strategy, as it provides several excellent examples of that.
Here's how I hope things will unfold:
- Why do you think Mama soothed the dog instead of letting Ellie attack the intruders?
- How do you think Luke will deliver the message?
- Why did Luke crumple up the painting of his family and paint a farmhouse instead?
- How did Luke know that the girl had understood the secret sign?
This time, I'm planning to do things a little differently. Last year, I worked hard to develop a group of students that could dialogue respectfully and challenge one another one a wide variety of rich topics. Early in the school year, I spend several weeks explicity teaching conversational norms. Then, after each mentor text, I provided time for small groups in my classroom to have a "grand conversation". It's been somewhat challenging to carry on with that this year, seeing as how I only have two students in my class. :)
So, I've made contact with some teachers from my school back home in Canada, and we are hoping to engage with some grade 5 students later this week or early next to have a post-text conversation about the underground railroad, via Skype or some other online method.
Once that is done, we'll revisit our KWL or prediction chart, and of course also post the book cover and "big idea" on our rich mentor text wall.
We reviewed the features of an explanation, co-created criteria, and I set them loose. They were so excited, they even worked through recess and free time in the afternoon! The fruits of their labours required minimal editing.
I've tried to convert them to PDFs, below. Enjoy....
The story of Sadako is a favourite with junior level students in Canadian schools, especially around November. Its theme of peace fits in well with Remembrance Day at this time of year, and -- set in Japan -- this story offers the opportunity to learn a little bit about a different culture. Sadako is a particular good choice for me and my students this year, as we live only a short bus ride away from the Japanese gardens... FIELD TRIP AHEAD!
Another reason this mentor text is such an effective choice for us right now is that it provides decent examples of setting, plot and character, which we've been studying this month, as we write a mystery narrative based on the work of Chris Van Allsburg.
Next it was time to pre-teach some vocabulary: atom bomb, paper crane, monument, peace. After a lengthy discussion of nuclear arms, and why they are no longer used in warfare, we conducted a "picture walk" of the text, examining each illustration in some detail, and noting any predictions we might have about the plot.
The next day, I began reading the story aloud. Typically with rich mentor texts, I read the book through twice. But this is a longer story, so I decided to just read it aloud once, in two sittings.
The first time through, I asked the boys to note their observations about the three elements of a narrative: In their notebooks, they jotted down what they noticed about the plot, setting and characters in the text.
The following day, we finished the story, and talked about our impressions. I also did my best to answer any hard questions Alex and Simon had. As we read, we focused on another reading strategy from the CAFE menu, "ask questions throughout the reading process".
On Thursday morning, we re-read the story, this time noticing some of the many similes and metaphors the author uses, and considering how these enhanced the writing.
We also revisited some of our "rich talk" norms, and the boys had a grand conversation about the text, addressing their choice from the following questions*:
(*Some of these questions are taken from ETFO's Social Justice Begins with Me kit.)
In the afternoon, we headed off to the Japanese Gardens here in Buenos Aires, to soak up some Japanese culture, and bring to life a little bit of the setting of the book we had just read and discussed.
Finally, we revisited the text, dicussed the main idea or "author's message", and posted this along with the book's cover, on our "Rich Mentor Text Wall" in the classroom.
Another successful multi-day lesson with an excellent story!
This particular book is about a young immigrant boy and his non-English-speaking Grandfather, who tries to find work in his new country. Due to a misunderstanding in language, and the boy's dishonesty, a mistake is made, and the employer is very angry. But Abuelo teaches his grandson a valuable life lesson as he rebuilds trust with his employer, necessitating difficult consequences for the boy's weekend plans!
We began by looking at a mess of vocabulary I had pulled out of the book (immigrant, chickweed, replanted, lied, extra food, parking lot, etc.), and made predictions about the story by using as many of the words as possible in a paragraph.
Then we did a first read-through, pausing occasionally to do a think aloud, and also noticing when "our words" appeared in the text.
Later this week, we'll revisit the book, and discuss the main ideas and author's message in more detail. Then I'll have Alex and Simon respond to one or more of the following in a blog post:
If you're looking for a great book to teach honest and integrity in a current, relevant setting, I highly reccommend "A Day's Work" for your home or classroom!
Jeremiah Learns to Read makes a nice companion book to Eve Bunting's more classic adult illiteracy tale, The Wednesday Surprise. The three-part lesson below is intended to be taught over a number of days, and is best suited for grades 4-6 (though it could easily be adapted for younger or older grades, too).
BEFORE - Anticipation Guide
Before reading the book aloud for the first time, have students respond to the following statements, indicating whether they agree or disagree (they will revisit these statements after reading and discussing the text):
DURING - First Read Aloud
As you read the book aloud for the first time, stop periodically to model think-alouds, focusing on "Check for Understanding" and/or "Asking Questions", two comprehension strategies in the Literacy CAFE menu. A few suggested stopping points are below:
AFTER - Second Read Aloud (a few days later)
Choice of Activities After the Read-Aloud:
Pick two of the following questions to respond to or activities to complete…
Once student have shared their post-reading responses, gather to discuss the main idea of this story, then post the cover on a display board, along with the “lesson” or “big idea”.