Teaching in a socioeconomic disadvantaged area one of my concerns, and opinion I have expressed numerous times, is at the primary level we do not do enough read-alouds with our students. When I was first introduced to the common core reading standards one of the first things I noticed was the time devoted to read-alouds. Finally, I said to myself, someone gets it. The main reason why I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up was because my Third grade teacher read to us every day after lunch, which motivated me to want to learn to read. Two books that stand out are Charlotte’s Web and Little House in the Big Woods. As my teacher read, I remember pretending to be playing with Laura and Mary, or talking to Wilber in the barn, and being upset when my teacher finished the chapter and had us take out our math books. That is when I decided I wanted to learn to read. After I learned to read and truly grew to love reading and learning from reading, I dedicated myself to teaching. Children love to be read to, helping them identify with the character and the events in the story motivate them to want to read independently.
Common Core Connection:
As a teacher one life-long goal I have for my students is the love of reading. What better way to instill a love of reading in my students then by having them relate to the main character and events in the story. Using CCR.3 (Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text) we can help students relate events in their lives to the ‘life’ of a literary character. In this lesson I focused on RL.1.3 (Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details) because I wanted my students to listen for ways they could relate to the character, her dreams, and her adventures.
After spending two days reading and comparing information in informational texts about snails, on day three of this lesson series my intent in this lesson is to introduce my students to the snail Clementine and relate how even though Clementine is a snail, she is very much like my students. One of the reasons why I chose Clementine, by Sebastian Loth, is not only is she a snail, but she is adventurous like my students.
I began today’s lesson by reminding my students for the past two days we had been reading and learning about snails. I then gave them a moment to think about and partner share some of the new things they learned about snails. When they were finished I used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup ) to select three students to share some new facts about snails. When they finished sharing I told them it sounded like they learned a lot about snails. I then introduced Clementine (Introducing Clementine) and explained that today we were going to read a different kind of story. “This story is still about a snail, however, it is a literary story” I said. I further explained a literary story has many genres, it is a type of book we read for fun, pleasure, entertainment, or excitement. I then asked them, “What do children like to do”? After a moment of letting them call out I asked them, “Would you like to go to the moon”? My students responded by clapping and calling out ‘yes’. I began the lesson by stating: “Well, if you do then you are like a snail named Clementine! She is smart, she is brave and adventurous, and she wants to visit the moon- just like all of you”!
Before I actually started to read I stated: “Yesterday we read to learn about snails, however reading can also be fun if you pretend to be the main character. As I am reading listen to and look at pictures that show how Clementine is like you”. I continued by telling my little ones that, “as I read think about these questions ...":
I then passed the Identifying with the Character Graphic Organizer to my students and displayed it on Promethean board, explaining that as I read; we will fill in the top part of the graphic organizer together and they will finish the bottom part on their own.
I began reading Clementine, stopping on the first page I asked, “How did Clementine get her name”? As hands when up I selected a student whose response was, ‘She is orange like a orange’. “Orange like an orange” I repeated. “Where does it say she is orange like an orange” I asked. This time several students called, ‘From the picture’. I explained that a Clementine is a type of orange. I then modeled to write ‘after an orange’ on their graphic organizers. When they finished I had them re-read the remaining two questions on the graphic organizer and directed them to raise their hand when they heard or saw an answer for either question. I continued reading, and I know ‘bad teacher’, sometimes to make a point that what I just read answered one of the questions on the graphic organizer I would repeat it, or say something like, “Listen to what I am about to read”. I continued reading, stopping whenever a student raised his/her hand to state what and why we needed to add about Clementine that answered how she was smart and adventurous. As my students made their comments, I wrote them on the Promethean board so all students would be able to finish.
When I finished reading I directed my students to read from their graphic organizer how Clementine was smart and how she was adventurous. I modeled: ‘Clementine was smart because ___’. I know we had just completed this activity together, however I wanted them to practice saying a complete sentence when asked a question about what they just read.
When they were finished reading I called on two students to share out loud how Clementine was smart, brave, and adventurous.
I instructed my students to look at the second half of their graphic organizer and pointed out that this part was for them to fill in on their own because it is about them. I further explained they would use this graphic organizer to write in their journals how they are like Clementine.
I modeled the first section by saying: “Clementine got her name because she was orange like the fruit. I got my name because I am named after my Grandmother and Uncle. So I am going to write that. Do you know how you got your name”? All my students raised their hand, and I knew they all wanted/needed to share how they got their names. We went around the room and each child shared. As they shared I encouraged them to write how they got their names on their paper. When we finished sharing how we got our names I set the timer for ten minutes so they could quietly finish the graphic organizer on their own.
This complete sample Identifying with the Main Character is from my third highest reading group. The student in Comparing Self to Main Character has a clear understanding of how he and Clementine are alike.
After ten minutes I gave my students the directions to their journal which was to state how Clementine got her name, and state how they got their names. They were also to compare how they were smart and adventurous like Clementine.
I use journal writing almost every day to give my students practice expressing what they learned in written form. I believe writing is one of the best ways to help children demonstrate that they understand what they learned.
This is the prompt I wrote for my less independent students:
Clementine is named Clementine because ___. I am named ___ because ___. Clementine is smart because ____. I am smart because ___. I am like Clementine because ___.
For a sticker my students told three things about Clementine that made her unique.