The Ransom of Red Chief - Comparing the Film and the Short Story (Pt 2)

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SWBAT finish their work comparing the short story and the film version of the Ransom of Red Chief

Big Idea

Second day's the charm --

Turn the page... the other side of the sheet

25 minutes

Because I underestimated how much my students would struggle with irony, I had to continue the activity by carrying it over to another day.  This ended up working out fine, since we do book journals on Fridays, so we had two short activities (unrelated, which isn't wonderful) instead of one cohesive lesson.  The kids were fine with that; sometimes a "clean up" day is needed wherein I put a "to do" list up on the board and they have at it. 

Compared to the gnashing of teeth that the irony activity caused, this simple book/movie comparison was pretty easy for the kids to complete.  Because I had asked them to take notes when we watched he movie, the students who actually listened :) to the instruction flipped their notebooks open and got busy.  Some students claimed that they didn't remember (OK, they are 13 and it was two days ago) but they figured it out.

The chart asked them to note changes, omissions, and inclusions in the film and to draw conclusions related to why the director and/or actors might have made those changes.  While all of the students could do the activity at some level, a lot of them filled their chart with details like "they added a skunk at the beginning of the film," "the boy had a different name" or "Bill wasn't fat in the movie."  (Sigh.)  So the analysis of those changes was fairly superficial.  Other students noted that the parents were featured in the film at the time of the kidnapping, which is a good observation that could lead us into talking about how characterization and tension is built in a film versus in a story.

This is the first book/movie activity of the year.  We will do several, so I am hoping that the students will become more observant and critical, now that they know that we never "just" watch a movie.

Book Journal

20 minutes

Whenever we are not reading a novel as a class (as we did with Tangerine,) I have students choose their own independent reading books to read.  As a "check" on their reading and their comprehension, I have them do book journals.  My book journals are short, the students do not know what the topic will be each week, and they are done in class.  I like to switch it up so that the students have to THINK about what they are reading.  

Reading Standards

The expectation is that students are reading 30 minutes a night.  I don't give a lot of written homework, because I think reading is the most important thing a student can do to become a better reader, thinker, and writer.  Therefore, my students should be reading about 200 pages a week, depending on the book's complexity, etc.  Some of my students read 50 pages a week.  Some read three to four books, every week.  It's hard to motivate the non-readers while not penalizing the good readers.  


I have always been an enthusiastic reader.  I loathe reading logs.  I think they are burdensome and silly, since most kids do not log every day...even if (especially if?) they read every day.  I do not believe in paperwork for kids.  So, this year I am trying a little friendly competition between my sections.  Kids write the name of their book on the door and the class with the most books read in October wins a prize.  The kids seem to like writing the books on the sheet, and it prevents them from writing about a book they read in 4th grade for the book journal.


I have used many different formats over the years.  I have yet to find one that works for every book and every kid, every time.  I have posted some samples that we have done this year.  This week was the format with the character map.  I like that one, because it requires the kids to think about how everyone relates.