Today’s class period happens to fall on Halloween, so the excitement level is quite high. To keep things in check, I let students know that if we accomplish what we need to during class then we will participate in a Halloween activity at the end of class.
They quickly settle in and are ready to respond when I ask, “What happens to Maroo as she and Otak begin to cross the glacier?” Right away I hear comments like “That was scary.” “I was so worried!” and “Otak surprised me and did just the right thing to save his sister.” The students were able to accurately retell the event that almost ended the children’s journey to save their family before it even started. This is also an event that many had a connection to, either with an experience in the snow or by getting tossed around by ocean waves until it was hard to tell which way was up.
Once again the students spend time reviewing chapter summary notes, participation guides and their literature circle jobs. As they do so, I check in with each group on homework completion, listen in on their conversations and clarify any misconceptions. After about 20 minutes, we have a whole class discussion about the main events in this chapter and add it to the list we have been making on chart paper.
I also spend time with the group of advanced readers that have finished Maroo of the Winter Caves and are making their way through Dar and the Spear Thrower. They are far enough along to make some comparisons between the two plots. They are able to accurately identify that although each book is set in the Ice Age, the lifestyles of the people represented differs in some basic ways. Maroo’s tribe migrates seasonally, is more limited in their access to a steady food supply and is less technologically advanced than the people in Dar’s village. The students determine that this may be because Dar lives in a later time period and/or in an area with a warmer climate than Maroo. A packet of information for these two novels appears here, a sample of student work appears here and some thoughts on supporting advanced readers appears here:
To reward their concentration and good work during class, the students complete a Halloween Mad Lib that they enjoy. However, it is not all fun and games! There’s a serious side to this assignment because it gives us the opportunity to review and apply knowledge of parts of speech. Students randomly list words that fit a category according this list that includes nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. This easiest thing to do is project the list on a whiteboard or by using a document reader. Then fit each word into the Halloween Story in the order that they appear on the list. Without a doubt, there are plenty of laughs to go around. It also gives me some insight into the fact that we need more practice with adverbs!