Students have already read the story "Raymond's Run" one time with me, so it is time for them to tackle it on their own...or with a partner! I think I am generally DONE with large groups. Four is way too many for me right now. Three can work, but it depends largely on the students. Right now, my cooperative groups contain only 2 students.
Back to the topic now....
Students are going to partner read with a partner of their choice. I know that this is a risky decision, but the story is long, and I feel like they will work better with a friend. If there is an issue, I will split the group up, and the students can work alone.
As they are reading, students will highlight parts where Squeaky's attitude helps her in one color and hurts her in another. If the students don't have highlighters they can always code it with "helps" and "hurts."
I like this process because it requires students to read with meaning. They are looking for something specific which keeps them focused and aids in comprehension. The fact that they have a partner is great because they can have a conversation about their choices. I spend my time circulating and observing the students' annotations. If I notice that a group is struggling, I will question them in order to help them see examples in the text. Of course, there are several groups of students that will need more help than others. I plan on spending more time with them to do some modeling and prompting as they read.
Once students are finished reading, they will fill out a character evidence map on Squeaky. Since this is the first time they've used this particular map, I will support them by filling in some of the parts.
To use this map, students will come up with 3 character traits that describe Squeaky and can also be supported by textual evidence. (I have already done one for them.)
Then, the students will find one piece of textual evidence to support the character trait they have chosen. I have also filled in one piece of evidence and would like the students to find a trait that describes it.
This map causes the students to really figure out why they see Squeaky the way they do. I steer the kids away from any physical descriptors right away. Most students will say small with a squeaky voice, so I have that conversation up front. They need to focus on her personality only! Many will say that she is mean or bossy. To them I say, "What in the story makes you think that?" Or, if they say she is protective, I will ask, "Which part of the story shows her protecting someone?"
Students will be able to find their textual evidence in the passages that they highlighted, and I will encourage them to look back. If their trait is a positive trait, look at the places you said her attitude helps her. For negative traits, look where her attitude hurts her.
To wrap things up, I will ask the students to have a quick conversation with their table groups. I will have them describe Squeaky to each other and decide if they would be her friend or not if she came to our school (and of course, why they think that way.) This five minute discussion will help them process all of the information they have encountered today.