Recently I had a picture perfect day in my little reading group. Everything went so smoothly that I just mostly wandered amongst my students and snapped photos! They were engaged in the important work and I was lucky enough to just watch it all happen. 🙂
We had started to work on being able to retell and summarize stories and I found an easy to use anchor chart on pinterest that helped us with this process. (Somebody Wanted But So) During one class, I read two stories to the group and we filled in the chart trying to choose the best words to capture the essence of what happened. We read Boy by James Mayhew and Jojo the Giant written by Jane Barclay and illustrated by Esperanca Melo. Our thoughts are captured in the chart below.
These books were fantastic to use. Boy is the simple story of a little boy who wakes up cold and is determined to find a warm place to sleep. He encounters all sorts of intimidating creatures (mammoths, sabre tooth tigers, etc.) during his morning journey and ends up returning to the security of his parents after his brave and independent search. I have featured this book before in this post. Jojo the Giant (mentioned in this post) really impacted the students. As much as they were caught up in the story of a little boy who was determined to win a race despite the taunts of the bullies who doubted him, they really responded to the act of kindness Jojo performed for his mother. I love how when we talked about whether or not Jojo really did grow taller, one student commented that he grew bigger in his heart. Beautiful.
Students caught on quickly to using the chart so the next day I put out some picture books and had them work with a partner to read a book together and fill in their own summary chart (one chart for the partners).
I was so pleased by how independent and engaged the students were. They took turns reading aloud, negotiating how they should split up reading the text. Everyone listened keenly to his/her partner. It was wonderful fluency practice!
Also fantastic practice at attentive listening! I observed partners gently coaxing each other with decoding a challenging word. Lots of laughing together and stopping to talk about the text.
Students then got down to the business of filling in their charts together. Many took turns writing sections. I saw children going back and rereading to confirm ideas or search for a specific part in the text.
While the pages were filled out well (especially for the first time with just minimal guided prompts from me), it was the conversations I was most excited about. Students were really listening to each other. There was negotiation about what to say. Students had creative ideas about how to share the writing. They considered together how best to explain something.
So while I had set out to practice summarizing and knew that fluency practice was built into the activity, a lot of other things happened. This is the magic when students meet lesson plan and the sum is absolutely more! What else did I see?
- active listening
- stating opinions
- asking and answering questions
- rereading text for specific information
- building on an idea
- discussion/negotiation about how to approach an assignment
- partner work practice
- relationship building
What did students do who finished early? Found more books and engaged in buddy reading, happily extending the joy of reading with each other. Yep, a whole lot of literacy!