A Whole lot of Literacy

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. ūüôā

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!

Monday October 1st, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading?¬†Always nice to wrap up a week of reading by participating in Jen and Kellee’s meme and sharing with others all of the wonderful books read over the week. Link up and visit all of the other bloggers participating!

First of all I am so excited to celebrate that after two very busy weeks of not getting a novel completed, I have been able to steal away enough reading moments to finish Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. I have read both Graceling and the companion book to Bitterblue, Fire and so was very pleased to dive into this young adult read. A dramatic story. More mystery and confusion than the action packed adventure of Graceling. But some seriously sad moments. Bitterblue needs to keep searching for strength and considering her upbringing, where does she get it all? She is a character that I liked more and more as I read the story. Being a young Queen is hardly easy in this Kingdom. Wonderful to revisit so many characters from Graceling. I am a definite fan of Cashore.

I have continued to source out titles from the Backyard Book series that I haven’t read yet. I just purchased a number of them for my classroom non-fiction collection. These books are ideal for students to interact with when learning to ask questions about a topic and read for more information. Ideal “Fact? React” titles. ¬†And of course, they are fantastic books for independent and buddy reading. The following three titles are written by Judy Allen and illustrated by Tudor Humphries.

Are you a Dragonfly Dragonflies are gorgeous creatures. Did you know they spent two full years in the water before coming out to live on land? And that while in the water, they can eat tadpoles and small fish?

Are you an Ant?¬†The fascinating thing I learned from this title? Anting. There is something called anting. Who knew? Birds will pick up ants and put them under their wings so that the acid in the ant’s body will kill the ticks that bite the birds and make them itch. Fascinating.

Are you a Snail? I am not a snail. And . . . I will confess I am a gardener who does not like snails. But I do admit they are quite fascinating and when they are in a book and not in my garden, I am willing to get excited about how fascinating. I did not know how snails overwinter. Pretty cool. But still, I like snails best out of my garden! In this book is a great place for them!

The fact that this book exists is pure kismet: A Rock is Lively by Diana Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long¬†is the fourth book I own by this amazing team (A Seed is Sleepy, An Egg is Quiet and A Butterfly is Patient¬†are all favourites – follow the links to see how I’ve used each in the classroom before.) Now the year I have decided to teach about rocks and soil in science after collecting unique and wonderful rocks over the last year, this book is published. It is just gorgeous and I cannot wait to share it with my students! Rocks are everything: tiny and huge, old and ever changing, galactic and bejewelled. Amazing.¬†

A Rock is Lively

I read a lot of books to my class this week but no titles new to me. I did find a new title in the school library when signing out books for our guest readers to read with the students:   JoJo the Giant written by Jane Barclay and illustrated by Esperanca Melo. An important little read that explores many themes: bullies, kindness, courage. JoJo is small only in stature and he demonstrates this in how he honours his Mom at the end of the story.

I am hoping to finish The Search for Wondla as a family read aloud this week and Code Name Verity is the novel I begin next.

Happy Reading everyone!