I've included a powerpoint of the picture books I'm using in this historical fiction reading unit centered on slavery and the civil war. I also have a collection of chapter books centered on this time period, that I will make available to students as we progress through the unit. I want to limit the selection at the start so that students master summarizing skills within and across picture books before moving into longer chapter books. Also, when students are ready to read chapter books I am going to open up the time periods and they will be able to choose from titles set during the Great Depression, World War I and II, Vietnam War, The Civil Rights Movements, and other historical time periods.
But for now, they will read the first book I assign to them. After reading the first book and completing the various learning tasks assigned, they will be able to choose their next two to three books from the picture book list on their own. I am offering choice to increase the level of engagement. It makes the structuring of the book talks more complicated because I am not in control of who is reading what book. Because of this, sometimes book club members might all be reading the same book and sometimes a club discussion might have members who are reading different books- but by incorporating discussion roles and sentence stem discussion starters it will all work out.
Students will be able to discuss the historical context and how that affects the characters lives and decisions regardless of the book they are reading. Actually, it might even make the discussions richer. Also, an additional positive outcome of having students discuss different books will be enticement to students to read a book they have heard about from one of their peers.
I will start the mini-lesson by reviewing the Schedule for Historical Fiction Workshop with book clubs. Next, I will explicitly demonstrate how to find clues in a mentor text to determine the who, when, and where of a historical fiction text. In the first lesson in this unit, I touched on how the setting is very important to understand because it is almost like a character. The setting- the place and time- in historical fiction colors everything so significantly- how people act, what they say to each other, how they dress.
Because of the significance of setting on the lives of the characters, I will demonstrate how to determine the when, where and the who in the story January's Sparrow.
Initially I was going to demonstrate this strategy using the picture book Henry's Freedom Box, but I decided to use a harder level picture book with more words per page, denser plot, and a longer story. I needed to show kids that sometimes these answers are hidden in the text and do not jump out at you, but rather you as a reader have to read intentionally for this information. Using the back cover, the flap inside the book, the author's notes at the end of the book are all good places a reader can use to understand the setting and time period in historical fiction.
First, I will demo how to ret up RRN with title of book and date, and I will label three post-its:
and place these on the page to Set up my notebook page with post-its. Then I will begin reading to the students demonstrating the skill of reading with a purpose of finding out about the setting and characters. I will be looking for this information right away in the beginning of the book because authors set the readers up to be successful by getting this information to the reader right away.
I will demonstrate during mini-lesson how to create post-its (page 1) and add supporting details on the post-it and then add my personal reflection to the side of the post-it.
I will continue reading and writing post-it notes until I have answered the three questions related to who is the story about, when does the story take place and where.
Dismiss students one book club at a time to get their books and sit down. They will begin reading with their Reading Response notebooks open. Remind students that they are post-iting the Who, When and Where in their books. They will write a main idea sentence about each. They will read for supporting details for each. The purpose of this activity for every student to understand the setting and characters in the beginning of their books. As an extra support, I demonstrated how to use the small size post-its, cut into thirds or halves, to label characters in illustrations. This will prompt students to look carefully at the illustrations and literally attach a name to a face.
My purpose for this activity is two-pronged. First to understand setting and main characters, and secondly, to develop the discussion aspect of book talks. The task of determining who, when, and where is relatively simple intentionally. I want students to bring a clear understanding of these three things to their book club. This is my way of scaffolding their discussions. The topics they will be discussing (Who, When, and Where) is not the challenging part of today's lesson. Instead, the challenging aspect of the lesson will be learning the routines of taking turns reading their post-its, listening to each other, and then sharing a second time their thinking about each post-it.
Students will also be held to convening quickly and quietly in their book clubs gathering spots. The focus for the first few days will be on students following the agreed upon routines and norms.
After 25 minutes, I will ring the Tibetan Bell and students will gather with their book club members. They will discuss the Who, When and Where of their different stories.
Adults in the room will monitor and coach students on these skills. Students are encouraged to use the classroom maps to check their understanding of where the stories take place.
After 15-20 minutes, students will return to their desks to finish the workshop by writing their thoughts.
Today I told students they could write about their books or about their personal experiences in book clubs.
I showed some students how to cut up little post-its to label characters in the pictures.
This is a good strategy for kids that are slow to get engaged with a book...gives them something kinesthetic to do that is focused on what I want them to learn. Then on the following day...I can push in to the work they did as they are telling me about the plot of the book.