Class Eleven – “Click”

Today we started with a discussion of Characterization. We made a list of all the ways we can learn about a character.

  • The book can describe or tell us about the character
  • What the character says
  • What the character does
  • What others say about the character
  • The thoughts of the character
    Cover of "The Lorax (Classic Seuss)"

    Cover of The Lorax (Classic Seuss)

Then I read Dr. Seuss‘, The Lorax (one of my favorites) and I asked Franklin and Adam to stop me when we learned something about the character. Each of them stopped me once but then seemed a bit sleepy so I started asking them questions [Why don’t we ever see the Oncler’s face? What does it mean to be described as “mossy”? What kind of ‘person’ is the Oncler?]. Franklin came up with some very imaginative answers that left Adam and I laughing.

It was about a thousand degrees today so I tried to keep us outside as much as possible. We went out and Franklin SSR’ed and Adam and I started looking at A Circle of Friends, by Giora Carmi. This is a wordless picture book. My goal was to have the students look at the pictures and come up with the story but also to explain their choices. Adam had heard of “Inferring” but didn’t know what it was. I described it as taking the information provided and making an educated guess. We started through the book and on each page I placed a sticky note bearing what Adam said was happening. There is a picture of a man sleeping on a bench, he said it was a homeless man, when I asked him “Why?” he provided all the clues that the picture provided – I pointed out that he had just inferred, and in fact he does it all the time without knowing what it’s called. Later I did this same activity with Franklin (without showing him Adam’s work). I skipped the discussion on Inference. My reasoning is that Franklin was already a little antsy and I didn’t want to lose him with the conversation so we dove into the book. His story was similar to what Adam came up with, but he provided more depth. He talked more about the feelings of the characters and was outraged that the man wasted crumbs of muffin on birds.

My goal is to have the boys work collaboratively to come up with text for A Circle of Friends. To talk about the relationship between text and words we began to read Owl Moon. Before we started I told them the purpose for reading and talked about how the picture won’t contain everything mentioned in words and the words won’t contain everything pictured, but together they create a larger image and meaning. As I read we talked about what was pictured, either in images or words, and what was included in the words or images that did not appear in the other. I referred back often to our project of adding text; I really wanted to make the point that the images don’t limit the text and visa-versa. As a lover of language and photography (and photographer)  this relationship is fascinating to me and something on which I could spend a great deal of time.

Today went really well. I didn’t feel rushed this morning when I was setting up and getting ready. Everything flowed together very nicely. We ate cupcakes and sang Happy Birthday to another student. The hectic feeling of planning and execution has passed and everything seems to have clicked. I don’t know if it will feel that way tomorrow but I will bask in it today. The boys are comfortable with me, each other, and what we’re doing and that comfort level is a big part of the feeling I got today. I felt that the inference discussion connected particularly with Adam and the text-image relationship concept made an impact on Franklin. Of course the proof will be tomorrow when we continue the work and see what they remember.


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