This is our daily warm up, wherein students work with two or three Latin roots per day. The resource that I use to get my roots is Perfection Learning's Everyday Words from Classic Origins.
Every day, when the students arrive, I have two Latin roots on the SmartBoard. Their job is to generate as many words as they can that contain the roots, and they try to guess what the root means. After I give them about five minutes, we share words and I tell them what the root means.
The students compile these daily activities in their class journals. After every twelve roots, they take a test on the roots themselves and a set of words that contains them.
After watching these great races, I ask the students to give me adjectives to describe Usain Bolt. Eventually, someone says "cocky" or "show off-y" (not a real word, but we get the idea.) Then, I lead them into a discussion of elite athletes and ask, "What is the relationship between the cockiness and the success?" Students have a lot of different opinions about this, so I ask them to speak from personal experience [of course, this allows me to get to know them and how they see themselves outside of school]. We talk about how confidence is key to success.
This brings us to our first-person narrator, Squeaky, in Toni Cade Bambara's story, Raymond's Run.
To guide our reading of the first part of Raymond's Run, I have the students work with a very simple graphic organizer (example in Resources.) I want them to pay attention to the different story elements and to begin to consider how they work together.
While I don't often use recordings of stories in the classroom, my anthology (McDougall-Littell) came with a great recording of this story. The speaker really puts "sass" into the speaker's voice and makes it a lot of fun to read. Since the students are listening and reading along, many find it easy to jot notes as we go along.
The text of this story is in our anthology, but you can find it online here.
An interesting thing to note -- depending on your students, you might mention this before reading or after, when they are working in their graphic organizers -- is that Bambara spends a long time on exposition before anything in the the story happens. Squeaky's voice is so engaging that the reader puts up with this slow accumulation of details.
The students, at the end of the section (which ends right before race day) will feel like they "know" Squeaky and can predict how the story will end.
After reading section one (up to race day), the students can begin (or continue) to fill in what they know in their graphic organizers. Encourage them to only include what is "in" the story. Since they haven't even read to the climax, the plot is fairly undeveloped. This is a good time to review the elements of plot (exposition - rising action - climax - falling action - resolution) and to ask the students "where" they are in the plot. Again, it is important to draw their attention to the length of the exposition and to discuss its purpose in the narrative.
This discussion should lead to some talk of characterization and to the ways that the author controls audience responses (i.e. how the author makes us like a certain character or...not.)
Note: Some students will resist filling in the web because they are not sure what is, ultimately, going to be important. I encourage them to put "?" next to things of which they are not sure. That seems to help.