Ever get that sickening feeling when you have to be out of the classroom for more than a day at a time? Your lessons have been going well, things are clicking with students, and then in the middle of a unit you have to be out for one reason or another? You’ve arranged for a substitute, but don’t know if they have any background in your content area?
About two weeks into my fiction unit, I was scheduled to be out for several days to attend a conference. At that point, students had learned enough to be familiar with fiction elements, but definitely hadn’t mastered them yet. While I was thrilled to attend my conference, I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of leaving my kids with little instruction for the better part of a week.
So I decided to create a packet that accompanied a well-loved picture book that was easy to follow and reviewed the concepts we had covered so far. I made sure to include a little extra dialogue on each day’s assignment page so that students received clear directions no matter what. The lessons that follow were written as my directions for a substitute. The text we’re using is The Paper Bag Princess (Munsch, R. (1986). The paper bag princess. Toronto, Ontario: Annick Press, Ltd.
Ask students to pull out their work packets and sit with their reading partners in the meeting area. Spend a couple of minutes reviewing the work you completed yesterday on character traits. Tell students that today you will focus on point of view. Ask students to turn and tell their partner what they remember about our point of view work from last week. After they finish sharing, read the two paragraphs at the top of page three in their packets.
Explain to students that as you read the story, you will stop four times and ask them to consider what each of the characters is thinking at that point. Tell students, “Turn to your partner and decide who will talk about Elizabeth’s point of view and who will focus on Ronald’s point of view.” Allow a few moments for students to choose roles and then begin reading the story aloud
Please stop after the following points. When you stop, ask students to turn to their partners and discuss what each character is thinking or feeling at that point. The partner who chose to focus on Elizabeth should talk about how she is thinking or feeling while the other partner will talk about Ronald’s side of the story.
- after the dragon burns the castle and takes Ronald away
- after Elizabeth tracks the dragon to find Ronald
- after Elizabeth enters the cave to save Ronald
- at the end of the book (to recap that character’s view of the entire story)
Ask students to look back to page three in their packets. Have a few students share their ideas about Elizabeth’s thoughts and feelings during the four stopping points in the story. Then, use those to write a brief summary of the story from Elizabeth’s point of view. Remind students that a summary is not a complete retelling of a story, but a re-cap of the most important parts. If students focus on the events that happened before the stopping points, then they should have a fairly complete summary.
Have partners return to their work area. They will complete the same work, but this time from Ronald’s point of view. When they finish, they should then write a summary from their point of view. This may be difficult for students; please walk the room and offer support when needed. This summary shouldn’t include the thoughts and feelings of either character, but should be written from an observer’s point of view.
To close the lesson, ask students to share their work at their tables. If you found examples of excellent thinking while walking the room earlier, please share these with the entire class. When finished, ask students to place their work packets in the “R” section of their binders for use tomorrow.