Have you ever been in one place and longed to be in another place? Well that's the premise of the story Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say. To begin this lesson, we completed a T-chart graphic organizer about moving to a new country. We examined what are some possible difficulties a person might face as well as possible pleasurable experiences. I like to use brainstorming activities such as this to help students become critical thinkers. As students brainstorm, they're producing an abundance of possible ideas, thinking out of the box, and not necessarily focusing on a right or a wrong answer. This is definite Common Core-alignment when students are given the opportunity to view multiple perspectives.
Common Core State Standards include analyzing story elements (i.e., plot, character, setting, point of view, theme). I like to use graphic organizers whenever possible to help the many visual learners in my class. Just like words, graphic organizers can also communicate various types of information and show connections between the information. So, I had students complete a story map and share what they wrote. Use of the story map helps students to plan, organize, and make connections more easily.
To close the lesson, scholars took about 7 minutes to write a journal entry about imagining moving to a new place (i.e., what new place they would select and why, how they would feel, who they would miss and why, who would miss them and why, what they would look forward to, what they would be uncertain about, etc.). We then took about 8 minutes to share what they wrote (see attached sample of student work).