Today I am ready to start reading a novel to my students. The first decision to make is what should I read? The important thing to consider is how much time is left in this first unit of developing action, stamina, and good reading habits. My first two choices are Wonder by R. J. Palacio or Hound Dog True by Linda Urban. Both of these books are new to me as I heard about them from the Book Whisperer Blog written by Donalyn Miller. Initially, I decided to read Hound Dog True because it was shorter and I liked the beginning of the book and I felt that my students would really connect with the main character Mattie Breen. Mattie is about to begin 5th grade in a new school. Her fourth new school. I have many 5th grade students new to our school in my classroom, too. I read the first couple of chapters and knew right away this book will be a great text. Mattie has a rich interior-lots of things going on with her. I will be able to use this book to teach my students how to develop theories about the characters and read to confirm, add to, or revise. I also picked this book because it will serve my needs of bonding my students to each other and to me. It is still early in the year and the students need to have a character to fall in love with- to relate to, and to serve as a role model. Fifth grade is an important year because my students will physically mature quite a bit. I feel this book will be an important guide to their social, emotional, and academic growth which all can be greatly shaped by the ideas they are exposed to through text, discussion and using technology to help them understand the metaphors and references made in the text.
So, that said- Hound Dog True it is! I plan to read Wonder to my students in a few months when I come back to literary fiction.
I post this Learning Objective: Readers envision while reading by picturing what is happening in the scene.
Readers, I was thinking about the opening of the book- and I want you to make a picture in your mind of the garden scene where the story begins. To help you I'm going to show you two garden related words that might be confusing. The first is "green bean teepees" and the second is "tomato cages". Throughout this book, I will sometimes show you pictures of things to help you know what the author is talking about. In the beginning of the book Mattie is walking out into the garden to look at the moon with her Uncle Potluck. It saids she walks past the green bean teepees and the tomato cages. This is what the author wants you to picture. Project slides 2-3. Talk about the importance of both things in relationship to supporting the vegetable as it grows and holding it up under the weight of the fruit. Is this what you were picturing for green bean teepees and tomato cages?
I am going to start reading now- and your job is to be visualizing or picturing what the author is talking about. Read the opening section of Hound Dog True. Read first two pages of the prologue.
Today I want to show you how I capture my thinking about what I'm picturing as I read by writing a post-it. When you make pictures in your head as you read it helps you to understand what's happening. O.k. Students, Watch me as I write a post-it to tell what I'm picturing in this section.
"I'm picturing Uncle Potluck leading the way through a dark garden- and his niece, Maggie, following him. I picture the uncle confidently walking through the dark garden toward the rock. I picture Mattie walking behind him looking around and feeling kind of scared.
I am going to put my post-itin my reading response book. Another thing that is important to pay attention to as you read is what you are learning about the characters with each page. Watch me as I write this post-it about what I'm learning about Uncle Potluck and Mattie. I will start my post-it with writing What I'm learning about Uncle Potluck.
Uncle Potluck is funny. My evidence for this is he talks to the moon. He said," Miss Moon, Come on out sweetheart." What I'm learning about Mattie is that she is shy. I think this because it said, "...she knew he wanted her to talk but she couldn't find the words.
Readers, today when you go to your seats to read your independent books I want you to capture your thinking by writing post-its about what you are picturing when you read. Also try writing a post-it when you learn something about your character. Just like I did in the "What I'm learning..." post-it talk demo.
During independent reading it is important to circulate in the room, giving table conferences and/ or conferring one-one with few students around the strategy that was introduced in the mini-lesson. "What I'm picturing..... "
"What I'm learning..."
It is crucial for students to realize that reading is interacting with the text. They have to read and think, read and think. One type of thinking is visualizing- seeing the scene in their mind's eye. And for that matter, also hearing what is going on in the scene. These skills are crucial for students' comprehension. Many other reading skills are built on these foundational abilities. That is why it is so important that kids can read the words in their books and are in a good fit book!
I support emergent and beginning readers with the skill of envisioning by teaching specific post-its strategies. Today's lesson focused on having students write "I'm picturing.. on the top of several post-its.
Another tip I have for readers is to ask questions "What kind of person is this? What am I learning about this character? Jot it down! I sometimes focus on several skill strands like I did today because I have such a wide range of readers- thinking and predicting about the character is very important and it gives advanced readers another dimension to think about.
After about 15 minutes, I will strategically highlight a few student post-it by putting them under the document camera to reinforce the strategy introduced such as this one.
The setting of the garden seems to be important to this story and not many of my students are familiar with gardening. I could take them on a quick walking field trip a couple blocks from our school is a community pea patch. I mentioned it in class to them and some knew what I was talking about and have seen it. This is something on my to do list, now. I can use it as an incentive for following our school rules. They are called the CARES rules. C: Come Ready to Learn. A: Act with Compassion. R: Respect adults, each other and property, E: Excel in everything you do. S: Stay Safe. We couch everything around the CARES Rules at our school.