"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." Helen Keller

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Fran Richardson
Welcome to my blog!I'm a teacher in a beautiful, small, rural town. I moved here a few years ago, but I have taught over 20 years in this same small town that is now my home. My experience is in teaching second, third, and fourth grades with one year in sixth grade. I am always reading, learning, and reflecting on what goes on in my classroom. I love the work that I do with the parents, my fellow teachers, and most all-my students.I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.
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Monday, July 18, 2011

My Back To School Best

Last year was the first year I tried this read aloud and comprehension activity, but it will now be a tradition. It really does set the tone for what kind of  deep thinking you are aiming for in a literacy-based classroom.

One of my first read alouds was an old favorite of mine, More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby. I have read this book for years, but last year was when I “got it”!

PLEASE NOTE: In case, you’ve never read the book, I will only refer to the main character as “the boy”. If you want to know why, you may look at the end of this blog. Smile

During the first week, I read the book,  but what was different this year was that I thought of some lessons I wanted to use after reading Angela Bunyi’s blog at Scholastic on Using Symbolism To Deepen Comprehension and the work of Kelly Gallagher. Skeptics be prepared to be amazed.Smile

I read the book aloud with my fourth grade students. Usually we would  just follow up with some writing response to the read aloud, about our goals-blah, blah, blah, but not this time! I went back to the text, and we looked again at the boy in the story catching a frog and reread and discussed using the pictures and the text the boy playing with the frog. I reread those pages, and we talked about how the frog was slippery, wet, and always on the move,  and the boy had to  carefully hold onto this little animal that he wanted.

I asked the children what was the boy hanging onto and wrote that on a t-chart under  the word tangible  ( which we had already talked about). I asked them what the  boy wanted “more than anything else,” and  most easily  my class said “to learn to read, ’” and so they needed a little  more prompting from me . I showed them the man in the book who can read, and the children then understood it was more than just being able to read, the boy wanted to be like the man- not just a reader but an educator! It was being educated that this boy wanted, and he wanted to  share and pass this education on to others! That was his dream or goal. I wrote  the words dreams/ goals under intangible.

I just so happen to have a stuffed animal- a frog in my classroom. I told them that  I was putting the frog where we could see it to remind us of how the boy in the book wanted his education and also to be a teacher, and he had to hold onto those dreams or goals despite the rather bleak situation he was in at the moment. It may be that you can think of a tangible object that can be a class mascot or symbol for your students as well ( a bird, a seed, a book, a rock).

The next several days we read some other books that had a similar theme. Here are some other  children’s book that follow that idea of having a dream or goal for both children and teachers:

The one Angela Bunyi uses in her lesson is:

How great would this book be to get kids thinking deeply and setting goals for themselves?

The funny thing is once you use this reading strategy with your classes, you will never look at books the same. I dare you to reread the book, Everybody Needs A Rock, and see what I mean.

If you want more ideas on using books to have students think deeply, I recommend that you take a look at  Kelly Gallagher. If you are a teacher of third grade or higher, you can adapt his ideas to your lessons. Don’t let the idea that he has high school in his books intimidate you. You can adjust many of his ideas for younger readers.

His book Deeper Reading is a great resource for reading teachers who teach intermediate, middle and high school students.

Note: The boy in the fictional  story More Than Anything Else is educator Booker T. Washington!Smile


Tara said...

Wow! Thanks! I'm gonna have to go book shopping. I haven't read that book and it sounds wonderful!! Thanks for sharing! Love your thoughts:)

4th Grade Frolics

Fran Richardson said...

Thanks, Tara. I just looked at your blog and see that you get that same woozy feeling when you see a new book! I checked out your link to the Year of Reading was amazed. It almost makes me want to go buy an Ipad, but I need to rein myself in on that one!:)

Jodi said...

Thanks for linking up!

Fran Richardson said...

I thought about this lesson and added a little more here at the link below. See who is coming to my class this year.:)

Sophie and Sadie’s Scholarly Site


"I bear the flame that enlightens the world. I fire the imagination. I give might to dreams and wings to the aspirations of men."
- Marva Collins, from her poem, "I Am Excellence."

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