Friday, April 29, 2016

May: Closing the Year One Read-Aloud at a Time

We can’t believe it is almost May and another school year is winding down.  Our kids are getting a bit antsy waiting for summer vacation.  It is getting a little harder to keep them engaged in learning all day long. The one time of day we can count on to keep them captivated is our read-aloud time.  They love listening to, discussing, and writing about the books. This month we chose six wonderful books to close the year.  Each book was carefully selected to ensure that we could meet all the Reading Literature standards during our close reading sessions.  This post contains small previews of only a few activities from each read-aloud. We cover many standards in each three to five day close read.

We paired the classic “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” with a fun modern twist of the fable, “The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot”  by Scott Magoon.  We chose the version by B.G. Hennessy, illustrated by Boris Kulikov, because of its beautiful, comical illustrations and its catchy phrases.  We chose to have students compare and contrast these stories.  To prepare them for this challenging final activity, we will take deep dives into both stories so they will compare the events, details, and illustrations along the way.  First we will fill out (or cut and paste) story mountains to gain an understanding of the plot and key ideas and details in each story.  Then, we will make connections between words and illustrations with one of our favorite graphic organizers.  By the end we are confident our students will be ready to compare and contrast.  As an extension, students will write friendly letters to one of the boys giving advice for the next time he is bored.
Anansi is one of those series that caught us by surprise.  A good friend introduced us to Anansi a few year ago and we can’t believe we taught in classrooms where Anansi wasn’t part of our collection.  These books by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Janet Stevens, are absolutely delightful.  After reading “Anansi and the Talking Melon,” I purchased every single one of the Anansi stories that night on Amazon.  These books are perfect for close reading because of their complexity.  They require multiple revisits for children to fully comprehend and enjoy. “Anansi and the Talking Melon” is a trickster tale where Anansi plays another clever trick on his friends. He sneaks into Elephant’s garden to eat melon.  He eats too much and gets stuck inside. He spends the rest of the story talking from inside the melon, convincing his friends the melon is magic, and plotting his escape. This is a great story for teaching character traits.  We plan on having our students complete a character traits graphic organizer using evidence from the story. Then they will use their organizers to write about one of the characters. 

"Rosie Revere Engineer" is a must have book for every teacher. This new book is perfect for teaching growth mindset and the important part failure plays on the path to success. The story is about a girl named Rosie. Rosie loved to engineer new things until she invents something for her favorite uncle and he laughs at the invention. She stops creating and inventing until her Great-Great-Aunt-Rose comes for a visit and inspires her to start creating again. Rosie's aunt teaches her the importance of failure. We plan to dig into the phrases in this story. The first time you read the story to your class, your students might not understand everything, but after you ask the text dependent questions and complete the unknown phrases graphic organizer, they will have a deep understanding of the text. 

"Diary of a Worm" by Doreen Cronin is a class favorite! The structure of this story is presented as Worm's diary, reflecting a variety of events as seen through the eyes of a worm. The author uses a combination of real and make-believe adventures that draws students in, again and again.  After learning true facts about worms, we plan to use this text to discuss what could and couldn't actually happen to a worm. Students will take time to compare and contrast this story with an informational text on worms.  We will also study the story's structure, then students will write their own Diary of a ____ texts.

Because it's the end of the school year we felt it was necessary to include an end-of-year story. "Last Day Blues" is the perfect way to end our year of read-alouds. If you read "First Day Jitters" at the beginning of the school year, your students will probably remember how nervous Mrs. Hartwell was to begin the school year. "Last Day Blues" takes readers through the emotional roller coaster of the last week of school. The students are concerned that Mrs. Hartwell is going to spend her entire summer missing them, but Mrs. Hartwell is secretly just as excited about summer as they are. This structure makes for a perfect point of view lesson plan. After talking about the point of view of the characters, we plan on discussing how the students in the book talk about what they are going to miss about class and what they are excited to do during the summer. Then, we will have our students write about things they will miss and things they are excited about. 

You can purchase each of these read-alouds and activities at our TPT store. You can also purchase all of them as a May Bundle. 

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