Mice and Beans: A Story Within A Story

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SWBAT ask and answer questions to analyze why the author wrote one of her stories, Mice and Beans.

Big Idea

We can use our memories and our imagination to write stories. Weaving the fictional with family traditions can result in a humorous tale.


7 minutes

Context and Overview:

The story of Stirring Up Memories by Pam Munoz Ryan is a complex text. One of the standards we need to teach is to have students read more complex text as the year progresses (RI.2.10). This is a complex text because there are different layers of meaning. I am having my students reread the section, Finding An Idea to help them understand why the author wrote her book, Mice and Beans

Instead of reading the story in the anthology, I am having the students read the story with just the words. The students have a copy of the story and will be highlighting as they search for particular information.

After we finish reading, I will gather the students on the carpet for Socratic Seminar. 

Lastly, students will get an opportunity to write about why the author wrote Mice and Beans.

Opening Activity:

On the rug, I start by sharing the objective, "I can ask and answer questions to better understand a text."

Then, I ask the students, why writers write?

I give them 10 seconds of think time, before I ask them to turn to their partner and pair share with each other. Then, students share their ideas. A student shares writers write to inform us. I transcribe their responses on a circle map.

Rereading Part of the Selection

25 minutes

Today, instead of reading from the anthology, the students have a sheet with the entire autobiography of Stirring Up Memories to reread the section of "Finding an Idea." I want to show how the story looks without the photos, illustrations and captions and give them the opportunity to highlight the details the author provides to describe her grandmother's kitchen--which she used as inspiration to write the story, Mice & Beans.

I am asking students text dependent questions specifically to have them think about why the author was inspired to write Mice & Beans. I stop to analyze a specific paragraph that gets at the heart of what we discussing today.

Some of these questions will also touch upon particular vocabulary words such as memories, familiar, and imagination because they offer glimpses into her grandmother's past. To help them understand these words, we will be using the vocabulary strategy of context clues.

As with previous lessons in this unit, I wrote more questions than I used in the reading of this section. I made sure to use 2-3 questions per page so that I could finish the section. Questions need to meet the objective and keep in mind the engagement of the students. I generally ask the ones that seem to address the potential areas of confusion in the text that may come up.

Socratic Seminar

10 minutes
Today, for Socratic Seminar these are the questions we will be discussing:
  1. What are memories?
  2. What Are Some of The Author's Favorite Memories?
  3. Why Does She Write Mice & Beans? (What inspires her?)

To start Socratic Seminar, I review with them the purpose for this process. Then, I proceed to review the rules for participation. I expect all students to pay attention, listen, and be ready to answer if I choose to call on them. I have two charts posted in my room that my students can reference if they need to.

When students are done speaking they invite other students to respond by simply saying, "I hand off to..."

When I feel the students have said all that they need to say about one question, I ask the next question. I am including a document that explains in detail the process of Socratic Seminar in my classroom.


Independent Writing

15 minutes

Now that I have given my students the opportunity to read and discuss why the author wrote Mice and Beans, I am asking to explain with evidence from the text why the author comes to write Mice and Beans? I am curious to how they will use the evidence in supporting their reasons as to why the author wrote Mice & Beans. Here are some examples of their writing:

Her Grandmother Inspired Her

Her Grandmother Liked To Cook

She Uses Her Imagination

She Cares About Her Family

As they write, I walk around and monitor their work and give them support. Some students need direction to start. Others need spelling support, others need to remind them to use proper printing, and others will need redirection with how to find the evidence they need to answer the question.