I absolutely LOVE this book. It captures the emotions of Alexander and his brothers in every nuance of words and the illustrations support the text with every pen stroke. Sharing this piece of rich literature with students is a pleasure. Using it as a tool to teach my students to read deeply and connect with text is an natural outcome of my own connection with the story.
I call students to the rug. I introduce them to the book with the same words as above. "I LOVE THIS BOOK." And I tell them why.
It feels real. As I read, keep the questions good readers ask themselves in your head - and ask those questions. But most of all, listen to this little boy's experience, and notice how you feel about him. What kind of boy is he? And what about his brothers?"
(The Great Questions mini poster is on my whiteboard, right behind my head when I read.) See resource.
I read the book. I don't do the "overkill" examination of every page for author's craft and purpose. I do think aloud, and share my emotions evoked by each of Alexander's tribulations. I "get into" the story in front of and with the kids!
When I have finished the story and I close the book I give that little satisfied sigh, and this time an exasperated sigh, for Alexander and his bus tokens.
I ask the students what they thought about Alexander. I let them react to the book, telling what they think before I steer the conversation to the key details in the text. First I ask them to close their eyes and when they can say ONE SENTENCE that captures what Alexander's main problem is to raise their hand.
After at least one student is successful in answering something along the lines of Alexander can't hang onto his money, we continue the discussion.
I tell the students we are going to play a game called inside/outside circles to remember the key details in the story.
Who is the story about? Who else? Who else? What is the big problem? What is one of the first problems? What's another problem? Where does the story happen? When does the story happen?
After the circle has moved through all partner combinations I ask some deeper level text dependent questions:
Outer circle, tell your inside partner Why is Alexander fined by his dad? How do you know?
Outer circle move to the right... Inner circle partner tell your new partner Where did his money go? How much money did he start with?
Remember text dependent questions are an integral part of the CCSS. I found a great quick read about formulating text dependent questions here.
I ask the students to sit down. Putting the page about Friendly Market under the doc camera I tell the students I would like them to answer the same kind of questions we've been talking about, but this time I would like them to write their answers. They have a choice between:
Why do you think Alexander said that Friendly's Market wasn't very friendly?
or.. after showing the next page as well,
Why do you think Alexander told his grandma and grandpa to come back soon?
These questions require students dig into the text and draw conclusions.
I remind them to rephrase the question into an answer... I have written the frame "I think Alexander said that Friendly's Market wasn't very friendly because....
"I think Alexander told his grandma and grandpa to come back soon because..."
at the bottom of the answer page. I want the students to answer a text dependent questions in writing so I give them an answer with the page and a question about the text and picture.
The text from the book is NOT on the page, and I tell the students they need to support their "because" with words or pictures from the book. I leave the book under the doc camera, open to the Friendly Market page, and I turn to the good-bye scene frequently. Each time I read the text. This is supporting my students to help them see how to connect inference to their writing with out actually dictating answers.
I call my most challenged writers to the meeting table, and help them complete their sentences with some verbal support of how they were going to finish it.
After 10 minutes, or when the students have completed their sentences, I ask them to bring their papers back to the carpet.
I ask them to read their answer to their six o'clock partner. (Clock Partner Explanation.wmv). If they are not finished writing, they may tell their answer to their partner and complete their written answer with their family for homework.
I circulate on the carpet listening to the students as I staple on a note to families on their work, explaining that we are starting a new unit in math about counting money, and that I will be extending our study of money to reading time too. I included two choices of notes in the resources. Because I am trying to familiarize my families with the idea of the CCSS, I will use the long note.