Last week I read Fly Away Home written by Eve Bunting about a homeless family for the social issue interactive picture book read aloud. This week I chose An Angel for Solomon Singer. There are two things I want students to gain form hearing and discussing this text: Theme and using information to fine-tune predictions by listening to confirm or revise ideas.
Before writing the lesson plan, I will read the book with the purpose of finding teaching points that are integrated with previous lessons. This lesson fits in well with Reading the Blurb on the Back because students will first look at the cover of the book, read the title and hear the blurb to make predictions about the story. This lesson also compliments and builds on identifying themes as students are learning to do in the read aloud mentor text (Hound Dog True) and their own independent reading.
An Angel for Solomon Singer is an excellent book to use as a read aloud picture book to illustrate theme. The lesson on reading the blurb was focused on theme. One theme of this book is loneliness. I also want to reinforce the skill of reading the title- thinking about what could this story be about, reading the blurb on the back and adding to our ideas, and then after reading/hearing the story revising ideas of what the story is about by citing evidence.
The students will independently fill out a "Somebody Wanted But So Then...." worksheet to show what they synthesized from text. This is a strategy I learned from Macon, Bewell, and Vogt in their 1991 booklet Responses to Literature in order to help students understand the elements of a story.
"Students today we will be looking at theme, again. Remember one book can have many themes. Usually though, one ideas seems to really stand out. Let's look at our anchor chart we made from the lesson "The Blurb on the Back".
Show chart and read to students and ask them give you a thumbs up if they have read a book with one of these important themes.
Begin by explaining in this picture book, An Angel for Solomon Singer, the watercolors painted by Peter Catalanotto and the text (words) written by Cynthia Rylant together tell the story.
Set students up for success by saying. "Today, we are going to be using VTS: visual thinking strategies: I am going to show you two pictures- and you are going to look at them one at a time and describe to the class, "What do you think is going on in this picture..."
2nd question is "What do you see that makes you say that?"
Third question, "How do you think the character in the picture is feeling? What do you see that makes you say that?" Activating our feelings as we read is a strategy we used in the lesson Make a Movie in Your Mind. Reading with our feelings activated helps us understand the characters and situations better because we understand who people are feeling.
Show students the pictures on page 1.
Say, "Students, take a minute an look at this picture." (Wait for a couple of minutes to give students time to look at the picture.
Ask, " What is going on in this picture?"
Call on students to share what is going on. After a student shares, an important part of VTS is to rephrase what the student has said, pointing to different parts of the picture they student mentioned.
Ask a follow up question to the student who just shared, "What do you see that makes you say that?" (This pushes students to make connections, find evidence and grow theories about the picture.) Repeat what the student has said so the rest of the class hears the student's thinking.
Continue in this manner, letting students share their thinking and providing evidence for the picture on page 1 and then on page 5. Spending about 2-3 minutes on each page.
Ask, "Based on our discussions, how the pictures make you feel?"
Now, I want you to turn and talk with your partners about what is an important theme in this picture book. What is a big idea of this book..an idea that lies between the words?
Let students share their ideas of possible themes in the book and jot them down for later.
Let's read the title: An Angel for Solomon Singer. Think about what this could be about?
Turn and talk. Process.
Listen to the blurb: Turn and Talk: Listen in and process.
Any revisions? Process.
As you listen to this story be listening to how things change. Listen so hard that you can tell your partner at least one thing that changed in the story and give evidence to back up your idea.
Let's listen to the whole story, now. Read entire story at regular rate. It is a great story and I suggest that you let the pictures and words fill in any blanks the students have about the events and what causes the changes to happen.
After the story, use the doc camera to set up independent practice. Show "Somebody-Wanted-But-So" worksheet. Explain the format. Say, "Take a few minutes students and think what goes in the blanks. Wait for about three minutes. Next say, "OK students I want you to turn an talk about your ideas of what makes sense to you as to what goes into the blanks.
Listen in. Coach students. Ask permission to call on them and would they be willing to start off a class discussion of ideas.
Next, call on partnerships to share their ideas. You might want to show how to write ideas in the blanks. Depending on how much time you have and students attention for listening. Next dismiss a column at a time to their seats.
Students have up to 20 minutes to complete the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" template.
As students are working, circulate in the room and observe how the mini-lesson supports students as they do a written retell using the template. I will ask students to retell to me across their fingers using the words on the template if they are having a difficult time with completing the assignment. After I hear their retell, I will know if the problem lies with comprehension of the plot or with writing out his/her thinking.
If the problem is with comprehension and the student is not able to retell across their fingers, I will get the book and point to the pages and let the student either read it to me, or I will reread parts to them.
On the other hand, if the problem is with writing, I will give the student a word splash (fancy name for writing down many of the words the student will need to convey their ideas on a piece of paper for them and tell them not to worry so much about spelling. I will tell them on this assignment I am concerned that they can retell the story and understand the theme and that we can fix their spelling tomorrow. I think the vocabulary word splash will support the student.
This student would have benefited from having a word splash. The is an ELL students and she understood the big ideas and theme of the book but she needed specific words such as balcony, chimney, Angel- the cafe owner, so that she could have added more details to support her ideas.