Unfamiliar Words and What do They Mean?

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SWBAT read the psalm that is in Chapter 10 of Number the Stars and interpret why the author used it and why it is important to understanding the story.

Big Idea

Like poetry, a psalm can be difficult to understand. In this lesson, students will read and infer why the author used it and what it's purpose in the story is.

The Psalm

10 minutes

In chapter 10, the author uses Psalm 147:4 to give insight to the title that was chosen of for the book. Our protagonist, Annemarie, is confused in the story and I start by having students find the psalm and reading it to themselves. I ask them if any of them are confused by the words? I also ask if anyone can determine what type of tricky writing this is most like. I am going to try to get the to connect the psalm to poetry. 

Most of the class states they are confused by the words, and so I ask them to go back through and annotate and write down their first thoughts in the form of notes. I remind them that they might need to read it a few times to try to understand. I also let them know that this is tricky and that I will help them understand in the discussion, but they need to be ready to share their ideas and thinking. 

Four Square Discussion

15 minutes

I now ask the class to get out their white board and divide it into fourths to create four squares. In each square we will discuss the psalm in parts and how it relates to our story. I read the psalm out loud and then ask if any of the words caught their attention. The class points out the last line where it speaks about numbering the stars. I ask them why this stood out to them. They explain that it is the name of our story, and this leads us right into our discussion.

In the first box, I ask them to now tell me where our story and author came up with the name of the book. I give students time to write that the title came from the psalm that the author felt related to the story they were telling. 

For box two I ask them to write about Annemarie's reaction to hearing the psalm. To do this I reread the rest of the page after the psalm that contains Annemarie's confusion and the want she had to be brave despite her situation. I than ask the students to tell me about Annemarie's reaction to not being able to number all the stars. I have them write notes on what we discussed.


Final Connections

5 minutes

Before we move to the next boxes I want to discuss with the class the psalm some more. I bring their attention to the words scattered. I ask them to tell me what the definition of the word is. I then ask if the word scattered could explain anything happening in the book. I have to help them connect, but we finally determine that the Jews are being scattered because they are trying to avoid the Nazis. I then ask them to connect our characters to broken spirit. We talk about Ellen's family being broken apart and the fear they feel. When we finally discuss numbering the stars the class realizes that this has to do with the Jews and the families that support them. I do lead them to this conclusion through prompting and adding to their thoughts. 

In the third box, I ask them to write about how the title is relevant to the story now that we have read the psalm. The connections I am looking for are related to the stars representing the Jews and their struggle. 

The last box I ask them to determine why the author might have chosen this for the title. I remind them that this is an opinion, but they need to include evidence to give their opinion strength.