Initial Reading of "The White Umbrella"

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SWBAT analyze literary elements and point of view by generating questions and identifying important vocabulary words for "The White Umbrella."

Big Idea

Students use the shared inquiry method to read and analyze a short story.


10 minutes

Have you ever been embarrassed by something a family member did?  What happened?  Provide plenty of concrete evidence and commentary to describe what happened and your reactions.

Preparing for Reading

10 minutes

The idea behind the shared inquiry model is

  • students read a text multiple times
  • students are in charge of the discussion


The idea behind classroom management is

  • students need guidelines for discussion
  • students need guidance (scaffolding) to create questions for discussion


So, how can I provide scaffolding?  I broke the story into six different sections.  The number six wasn't magical, but how did arrive at that number?  I'd already read the story a couple of times, so I quickly skimmed through the story for suspenseful moments or natural pauses.  I placed a sticky note at those places, and ended up with six.  I could have gone for five or seven. 


Unfortunately, my school doesn't have enough books for every student.  We have a class set, so this reading had to be done in class.  Each student was assigned a book number (alphabetical order) and they will be responsible for that book number.  If someone writes in the book, the students who were assigned that book will be responsible and will face the consequences. I showed students a list of their names and which book they were assigned, and then directed them to get the books five students at a time.  Don't have them all get up at once.  That way lies madness. MADNESS!


I gave each student six sticky notes and asked them to place them in those parts of the book so that when they got to that part, they could write a response.  If students were reading in groups or independently, I wouldn't have to interrupt their reading to tell them to write a question. The sticky note would provide a visual reminder of when they needed to stop, so it would be completely self-paced.   I decided to use the audiobook instead, but it  could easily be self-paced.


What could they write for their response? They could ask a question that they didn't know the answer to or comment on a character's actions.  In addition, they also needed to write down one word or phrase that stood out to them in that section.  It could be a word that was unfamiliar to them, that was powerful, repeated, confusing, or just sounded cool.

Initial Read of "The White Umbrella"

30 minutes

According to the Junior Great Books people, it should take 30-45 minutes to read this story. The audio story is 18 minutes and 25 seconds.  It takes time to stop, write a question and word, and share three or four of them, so this activity took about thirty minutes.


I think it's really important to ask three or four students to share their questions or words during reading.  Some students are hesitant to write a question or word, and hearing that they would ask the same question as their peers helps build confidence, or provides an example of what type of question to ask.


I gave one lucky student the job of sitting at my computer and stopping the audio book at the designated times.  He loved it, and everyone else was so jealous.

Lesson Resources

Today's absolutely adorable lesson picture is two of my students reading "The White Umbrella."  One of those students is usually off task and needs to be reminded to get back to work.  Today?  He was engrossed.  Both of them were.  


I don't have any lesson resources, since I didn't really produce anything.  All I needed for today was the book, some sticky notes, and the audiobook.