Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Seuss’

Class Fourteen – Strategies and Presentation


It was just Franklin and I today. Adam was sick. On Monday we will have to spend a good chunk of time working on the text for A Circle of Friends.

We started with a strategy that was shared in our small group yesterday. It’s called “Somebody, Wanted, But, So” [Click here to see the organizer] It is a great strategy that can be used for a variety of purposes. We used it for summarizing. You start with a character [somebody] who wants something, but there is something in the way of it so this happens. I modeled it using the Lorax {The Lorax [somebody] wanted the Once-ler to stop cutting down truffela trees, but the Once-ler cut them all down, so the Lorax sent all the animals away and then left as well] and then Franklin did it with his own book. I also slipped in a discussion of conflict. The but points right to the conflict that the character is facing. We also used it for prediction with When you Reach Me, we haven’t finished it yet, which leaves the so as a perfect place for prediction. Franklin asked if he could take a blank graphic organizer home with him.

For the celebration next Thursday we’re going to present a video of Franklin’s dramatic reading of Shel Silverstein‘s Falling Up. We did a couple of practice takes today that went pretty well. Then we headed outside to practice the presentation. On the way down I mentioned the poetry warp activity that we had done on day nine (Day Nine – That goes in the Win column!). We talked about how different parts of the poem might be read differently (slower, louder, etc). Outside Franklin read through the poem in different ways. I pointed out lines that I liked his delivery of where he ignored the lack of punctuation and suggested a line where he might pay closer attention to the lack of punctuation and read through to the next line. He made a choice to say the word “Up”, which is repeated, louder and give it more emphasis. I was really pleased with how this went and am excited to work with him on this. He really seemed happy with how it was going too and said so when I asked him. I think that he understands how his delivery changes the feel of the poem and the poetry warp exercise put the choices he can make on the table for him. His presence as he is speaking the lines and the small movements he’s working into the delivery is really coming together and should make for a very entertaining presentation.

It was good to just have Franklin today, it gave me the opportunity to connect with him better. Adam had that chance earlier in the program and I’m glad that I was able to have that chance with Franklin too. Building personal relationships with students, getting to know them and letting them know you, is really important. If they don’t know that you are a sincere, caring, hilarious, knowledgeable, open, willing to learn from them person then you will add that to the challenges of teaching and learning.

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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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