Connecting with Events and Characters

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Objective stories in the same genre on their approaches to similar themes and topics made to characters and events in "How Many Days to America"

Big Idea

Connecting what we know to stories we read helps us to better understand what's happening. The more we share what we have read the more similarities in characters and themes we can find.

Shared Discussion

20 minutes

So by now we have been studying our guided reading book for awhile and students are just beginning to get tired of reading it...but I still have one more purpose for their learning. I want them to build connections with the characters and create personal connections to their decisions and consequences to learn the bigger lessons within them. After we read and review the questions from the previous assignment, I ask students to open to the page where the soldiers were on the shore and dad jumped over the boat without asking anyone if they thought it was a good idea. I then ask them If the family would still have thought it a good idea to leave their homeland if dad died when he made this decision?

Here's how one student responded to the question:


I continued the discussion and had students add onto or disagree with his response. We came to the conclusion that they knew there would be risks involved but really didn't have a choice but to make the same decision to leave.

I ask students if they have ever made a decision to do something and later regretted it because it turned out they got in trouble or had negative consequences for the choice they made? I shared a short story about sneaking out of the house to go a friends house when I was younger and all the trouble I got into because of it. I also shared that I didn't even have fun at her house so that made it even worse.

I have students share both their choices and consequences. I ask - What risks did the family take? What could have gone very wrong? What could have been an even better outcome?

How would these have effected the mood of the story? The characters? The readers?

I share the dedication quote at the beginning of the story and ask again "Who are the "children who came" the author is referring to at the beginning of the story?" How do you feel the author used their stories? I then introduce the concept of realistic fiction and how authors often use factual stories and details in their stories but then also add some narrative fictional elements to make their stories interesting. 

Vocabulary Lesson

5 minutes

This is a review day for vocabulary I cut apart three sets of these words (Vocabulary for word sort) and have student groups categorize them any way they think they should be grouped. We share groupings and reasons for their choices. Here's the word list that I use. I'm checking for understanding of meanings and word relationships to each other to identify students levels of understanding of this lesson's words. You can also give them the words and ask them for meanings, synonyms, or use in sentences to check for this, but categorizing is closer to the Common Core expectations.

I then ask them to identify the word that they would remove from the group because it doesn't relate to the topic of the book. This shows deeper comprehension of word relationships as they relate to the story. 


Take Away Assignment

10 minutes

Ending the book so I want students to evaluate the final pages to think about why the author ended the story in this way and the author's message she wants the readers to learn from the story.

I have them open to page 28 and try to determine the feelings of the people on the ship from the picture clues alone (mom holding on to dad - apprehension, man waving - hopefulness, man with hands together - praying) now I ask them to determine the feelings of the people on the dock from the picture - what does their actions and body language suggest? What character traits would you give them and why Character Traits list - students?

I give them the worksheet How Many Days to America - day 5 and review the questions and expectations together. To help with their completion of this I ask them to share some of the traditions they have on Thanksgiving and why we celebrate this holiday.