Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Recognizing and Respecting Differences

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Feb 16, 2017 4:16:00 PM

 

February is Black History Month, which means that your students are reading about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., and other black historical figures. Although it is important for your students to learn about important people who fought for racial equality, their stories can sometimes appear as isolated legends with the beliefs and actions frozen in time. Reading narrative books about individual differenes helps students understand that diversity is still relevant and valued today.

The Kaleidoscope Collection focuses on representing different cultural background and teaching social themes. Kit and Henry Like Different Things, leveled at Guided Reading Level D, follows two brothers that have different hobbies. They like different sports, food, toys, and indoor activities.

For each page, conduct an informal poll to see which students have similar hobbies to Kit and which have similar hobbies to Henry. For example, on page 3, ask students to raise their hand if they prefer riding a bike or a skateboard:

kaleidoscope-collection-kit-and-henry-like-different-things.jpg

Conducting a poll will allow students to visually understand that not all people have the same preferences. Does this fact mean that we can't be friends with people that are different from us? No! "Kit and Henry like different htings. But Kit and Henry like each other" (8).

The Friendship Shell, leveled at Guided Reading Level K, is suitable for upper-elementary school students. Its illustrations feature ethnicallly diverse characters, which can help you relate the discussion back to Black History Month.

Focus on page 4: "'A shell is just a shell,' I said, 'see one and you've seen them all.'" Ask your students if they agree with the narrator's claim. Then, discuss how the narrator's views have transformed by the end of the book. How did the narrator learn to recognize and respect his classmates' differences?
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Both Kit and Henry Like Different Things and The Friendship Shell do not explicitly discuss issues of diversity, but they carry strong messages that value indivdiual differences in hobbies, personalities, and ethnicity. Use these titles to supplement your Black History Month readings!

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Click the images below to learn more about Kaleidoscope Collection, which contains the books featured in this post.

Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet

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Topics: Narrative Text, Kaleidoscope Collection, Diversity

Helping Out During the Holidays

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Dec 16, 2016 1:42:00 PM

 

No matter what holiday you celebrate, one universal truth exists—the holiday season is busy!

Although December can be one of the most exciting times of the year, your students are definitely experiencing the hectic feeling in the air, too. With the cooking, cleaning, and shopping, their parents have very little time to simply sit down with their child and spend quality time. How can you assist your students during this busy but lonely time?

Hameray Publishing’s Kaleidoscope Collection includes a book titled Helping Mom. As the title suggests, the book follows ways in which the child narrator can assist his mother with errands. However, it also offers ways in which the mother can help the child, indicating a reciprocal and mutually productive relationship. Because the book is not explicitly tied around a holiday theme, the book’s subject matter will be accessible to all of your students!

kaleidoscope-collection-helping-mom-2.jpg

Before reading:

  • Do you help out around the house? As a class, discuss the different chores that your students do.
  • What are different chores that your mom and dad do?
  • Introduce the book and explain that you’ll be reading about how a boy helps out around the house.
  • Look at the cover together. What do you think is happening in the picture?

During reading:

  • After every page, take a survey to see how many students have ever helped their parent out with the particular task. For example, on page 4 ask your students, Have you ever helped set the table?

After reading:

  • Have each child think of different ways that they can help their parents at home. Especially encourage them to think in the context of holidays. (Can your student help make latkes, like the boy on page 3? Can your student help by looking after younger siblings, like page 5?) In pairs, have your students share their ideas aloud.
  • On page 7 and 8, the roles are switched—the mother helps the boy with his homework. What are different ways that your parents can help you? Share ideas with the same partner.

Helping Mom can help students understand and cope with the holiday season and their busier-than-ever parents. This book can also be a spectacular book for students to take home for family reading.

Happy holidays, and happy reading!

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Click the image below to download an informational sheet about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which includes the book featured in this blog post.

Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet

 

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Topics: Literature, Narrative Text, Holiday, Kaleidoscope Collection

Teaching Verb Tenses with Narratives

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Dec 8, 2016 3:27:00 PM

Last week, I featured the Zoozoo Animal World Series to teach different verb tenses in the classroom (read the article here). This week, I’ll be presenting ways to incorporate fictional narratives into discussions about time!

Understanding different verb tenses is not only important for grammatical purposes—recognizing temporal word forms is integral to understanding any narrative. The Common Core Standards also expects first-grade students to “use verbs to convey a sense of past, present, and future (e.g., Yesterday I walked home; Today I walk home; Tomorrow I will walk home)” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.1.E).

The Fables and the Real World Series showcases fictional fables that teach universal life lessons. The Milkmaid and Her Pail utilizes all three verb tenses—past, present, and future—in its story. Nevertheless, it remains at Guided Reading Level G and stays accessible to your students! 

Before reading:

  • Introduce the book to your students. Do you think this book is fiction or nonfiction? Why do you think so?
  • Tell them that you’ll be focusing on time and the sequencing of events during today’s reading.

During reading:

Page 2:

  • Discuss the opening phrase “once upon a time.” What is the meaning of this phrase? What does it tell us about when the story takes place?
  • Based on “once upon a time,” do we expect the story to be told in past, present, or future tense? Examine the verb in the sentence to confirm your students’ prediction.

Page 5, 7, and 9:

  • Identify the two different verb tenses on the page. Why does the milkmaid speak in the future tense? (Because she is fantasizing about things that she can buy in the future.)

Page 6 and 8:

  • Identify other words on this page that are related to time. (“Then,” “soon.”)

Page 10:

  • Identify the two different verb tenses on the page. Which word signals that the verb is in future tense? (“Will.”)

fables-milkmaid-and-her-pale-book.jpg

After reading:

  • Return to the farmer’s dialogue on page 3, 15, and 16.
  • What tense does the farmer use when he speaks? (Present tense.)
  • Why does he speak in present tense? Explain that when the farmer was speaking, it was a “now” or a present in which the story was taking place. For your students, though, that “now” was “once upon a time,” and the story has already happened. The story is simply recording what the farmer said in that moment, so it is in present tense. [Note: the concept of relative temporal perceptions is quite abstract and related to “acknowledging differences in the points of view of characters” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.6), so don’t worry about stressing this point.]
  • Examine the second sentence of dialogue on page 3. What tense does the farmer use and why? 

 

Familiarity with different verb tenses serves as a powerful tool for fiction reading. With a keen sensitivity to words that trigger time, students will develop greater comprehension of story timelines and event sequencing. Whether you’ve taught, teach, or will teach verb tenses to your students, The Milkmaid and Her Pail is a great addition to your classroom library!

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Click the image below to download an informational sheet about the Fables and the Real World Series, which includes the book featured in this blog post.

Fables and the Real World More Information

 

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Topics: Common Core, Literature, Narrative Text, First Grade, Fables and the Real World, Verb Tenses

Using Leveled Books to Teach Literature Standards in Second Grade,  Part 1: Narrative Text

Posted by Geraldine Haggard on Nov 5, 2015 3:30:00 PM

GHaggardbiopicThis is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.

The national standards for grade two require the use of the genres of fiction and expository informational texts. In this set of two posts, I use the Story World Real World series, which are paired texts designed for this purpose. The back of each book in the series shows how titles from the series can be paired together to integrate the two types of literature. The purpose of the design of the standards is to develop strategies for reading and scaffolding information from both types of texts. The ability to do this will provide the students with opportunities to develop strategies needed to read and use both fiction and nonfiction as demanded in social studies, science, and other content areas as they study, write, and participate in content subjects in the upper grades.

The two books chosen for this set of posts are The Lion and the Mouse from Story World and Lions from Real World. There are multiple ways to use the books with children with varied independent reading levels.

The labels before each standard begin with "RL.2." and the number of the standard follow. The "RL.2." part means Reading, Literature, Grade 2. The standards are arranged under designated areas of the uses of literature. The standards in this post are based on fiction stories. I’ll go over the informational text standards in Part 2.

KEY IDEAS AND DETAILS

RL.2.1 Ask and answer questions: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW.

The Lion and the Mouse:

  • Who are the characters in the fable?
  • What are some things each character did?
  • What happened to the lion?
  • Where was the lion?
  • When do you think the story happened (daytime, etc.)?
  • Why did the lion change his mind about the mouse?
  • How did the mouse feel when it saw the lion in the net?

Invite children to ask their questions based on the question words. They might quiz each other using questions they write.

RL.2.5 Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning and the ending conclude the action.

The Lion and the Mouse:

Ask the students to read the book title and page 2. Invite them to share questions about what they think will happen in the story. Record these questions for students to review after the story is read. Guide a discussion based on which of their questions were answered by the story. Explain that they used the beginning of the story to ask unanswered questions and after reading they can read/reread the last page to determine the ending of the story. Explain that the story ended, or had a conclusion. What happened between pages 2 and 16 happened between the first and last part of the story.

RL.2.6 Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, concluding by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialog aloud.

The Lion and the Mouse:

Select a subject for which the children can share their points of view. (How they are special? What is their favorite game and why?) Several can share their points of view and the group can talk about how their points of view were different. You can explain that the lion changed his point of view about the mouse. Ask them to think about this as they read. Why did the lion change how he felt about the mouse?

At the beginning of the story (page 2) what point of view did everyone have of the lion? What was the lion's point of view about himself (page 6)? What was baby monkey's point of view about the lion (page 11)? What was the mouse's point of view about himself (page 15)?

After reading, invite the children to reread, speaking as the lion, mouse, or monkey did in the story. What emotions are they sharing as they become one of the animals. How did each animal feel as it spoke?

RL.2.7 Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a digital text to demonstrate the understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

This standard is based on use of computer versions of the story, but can also be taught using the illustration of the book. If students are using computers, they can read versions of the story from the web.

The Lion and the Mouse:

CHARACTERS: Discuss the illustrations on pages 2–6. What do these pictures tell us about the lion as the story begins? Study the picture on pages 7–9. What do these pictures tell us? (Elicit several responses for each question.) Study the pictures on pages 10–14. What do these pictures tell us? What do the pictures on the last two pages tell us?

SETTING: Remind the children that the setting includes where and when the story happened. Where does the story take place? Is the time of the setting day or night? What kind of weather do you think the animals are having? Why? Ask the students to write and share sentences about the setting.

RL.2.9 Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story by different authors.

Visit the school library and check out more versions of the fable The Lion and the Mouse. There are also several websites that contain versions of the fable. You might use a read-aloud and ask the children how the two stories were alike or different.

  • Did the stories have the same characters?
  • Did they end in the same way?
  • Which version did they like the best and why?
  • Was their choice of a favorite based on a difference between the two versions?
  • What were the differences?
Several copies of the story versions could be placed in the class library or used in shared reading groups or at computer centers.

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Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection Series. For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection Series click HERE to return to our website or click the series highlight page to the left below. For more information on the Story World Real World series featured in this post, click here or click the image to the right below.

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Topics: Common Core, Literature, Story World, Narrative Text, Leveled Readers, Geraldine Haggard, Second Grade, Grade Two

Using Literature to Teach About the Seasons—with FREE download!

Posted by Lesley Boatright on May 21, 2015 5:19:00 PM

Lesley_Boatright-150This is a guest post by Lesley Boatright. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts, click here to see her other posts, and click here to read her blog, Practice Makes Perfect.

Every year in the spring, I teach a combined science and social studies unit on seasons.  It coincides with our literature story for the week, and since seasons are covered in both our science and our social studies curriculum in first grade, it's a great way to do some integrated, cross-curricular lessons.

I was looking for a way to spice up my tired old lessons about seasons, so when I came across Santa All Year in the Kaleidoscope Collection, my mind started turning. What a fun way to go through the seasons, talking about changes that happen, how we dress changes, and how our activities change in each season in relation to Santa!  How funny to see Santa in a bathing suit, or raking leaves and playing football!

Santa_All_Year_inside_spreads-5

Santa All Year­­ is a fun, short story to read to the children.  The pictures made my children giggle madly, especially the summer picture with Santa and the elves and the reindeer at the pool. After reading the story, over the course of two days, we worked together to make an anchor chart with a section for each season. I used the premade is/wear/do chart for each season that we filled out, and then I taped all four together to make a large chart.  Each child also got a copy of the is/wear/do chart to fill out and glue into their science notebook for future reference.

Santa_Packet

As a final activity, the children made a “Through the Seasons with Santa” flip booklet.  Each page has a description of a season on it, and a picture of Santa in his underwear!  The children have to read the description then draw the proper clothing on Santa for the season and add details that show what the weather might be like and an activity that is typically done in that season.  A quick glance at their drawings allows me to assess the children's level of understanding of the changes that each season brings, and typical clothing and activities of the season.

I am so glad I found the book Santa All Year­­ to use with my students. Using the story was a fun and fresh approach to introducing the seasons to my students, and it made a great addition to my seasons unit.

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For more information about the series shown in this post, Kaleidoscope Collection, click the image on the left below to download a series information sheet with key features. To download the lesson packet, click the image to the right.

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Topics: Narrative Text, Kaleidoscope Collection, Science, Lesley Boatright, Social Studies

Comparing Literature to Informational Text—with FREE Download!

Posted by Amanda Ross on May 19, 2015 3:30:00 PM

Ross-biopicThis is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, First Grade Garden, for more of her writing.  

It's me again—Amanda from First Grade Garden. I am back today to share with you an idea for comparing literature to informational text.

I love to compare fiction and non-fiction texts with my students. It really gets them looking closer at the texts. We dig deeper into the books to look at specific text features and elements. When I discovered the Story World Real World series, I was so excited! They match up ten common fairy tales with companion non-fiction books. There are three different non-fiction titles to match each fairy tale. I used the books Three Little Pigs and All About Pigs for this activity with my students.

Comparing_Literature-Picture_1-600 

The first day, we read Three Little Pigs, one of my favorite fairy tales! After reading, we discuss the story elements—characters, setting, problem, and solution. We also practice retelling it, sometimes by acting it out or by using finger puppets. 

The next day we read the companion non-fiction book All About Pigs. Before reading, I have the students look closely at the covers of the two books and tell me what they notice. What is similar or different about the two books? While we read the All About Pigs book, we look at all the features as we come across them: table of contents, bold words, labels, index, etc. We discuss the reason for each feature and then discuss whether we noticed it in the Three Little Pigs book or not. Sometimes we go back and check, because that is what good readers do! 

Once we have read and discussed both books, we complete a Venn diagram to compare and contrast them. The students come up with some great ideas! Sometimes I have to prompt them with questions such as “What did you notice about the pictures in both books?” or “Who wrote these books?” Usually, after I ask one question, it sparks a lot of other discussions and observations about the books.

Comparing_Literature-Picture_2-600

You could do this activity with any fairy tale and non-fiction book. In the download below, I have included the headings for the “Three Little Pigs” Venn diagram or just generic “Fiction” and “Non-fiction” headings that can be used with any book! There is also a student recording sheet.

Try this activity out with your favorite fairy tale from the Story World Real World series!

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Amanda Ross is a first grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade, and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but she will be heading back to first grade in September. You can find her over at her teaching blog, First Grade Garden.

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To learn more about Story World Real World, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image to the left below to download information sheets with key featuresTo download the freebie, click the image to the right.

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Literature, Story World, Real World, Narrative Text, Informational Text, Fairy Tales, Amanda Ross

Using Literature As Part of a Bullying Prevention Program—with FREE download!

Posted by Lesley Boatright on May 7, 2015 3:30:00 PM

Lesley_Boatright-150This is a guest post by Lesley Boatright. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts, click here to see her other posts, and click here to read her blog, Practice Makes Perfect.

As part of our curriculum in the school where I teach, we have monthly meetings to discuss bullying and bullying prevention. We start out the year by discussing our school rules and how children should handle the situation if they or someone else is being bullied, including ways to help if they see someone being bullied.


I try to integrate literature as much as possible into these monthly meetings.
A good story, such as Chrysanthemum, really helps the children understand what bullying is and maybe even recognize if they, sophia_and_the_bully_402themselves, are engaging in bullying behavior. So I was very happy to find these two stories from Hameray Publishing that addressed the topic of bullying. I used these stories in two different sessions as an introduction to our monthly meeting.

The first story, Sophia and the Bully, talks about a new girl in school. It addresses the uncomfortableness of being a new child in a school. It also highlights how friends can intervene when they see bullying behaviors happening, which led to our class discussion about what children can do if they see another child being bullied. I had the children write and illustrate to the complete the sentence "If I saw someone being bullied, I would. . ." Their responses led to interesting discussions about why some approaches would be better than others. I did have to point out that beating up a bully was not the best, nor the safest, solution to the problem!

The next month, I read the story Are You a Bully? Now, of course, all the children immediately said NO! This book was particularly effective in showing behaviors that could be considered bullying behaviors. In our school, we are very careful with the tag "bully." There is a clear cut definition of bullying that includes a PATTERN of REPEATED behavior and an imbalance of power. ARE-YOU-A-BULLYSo much of what goes on in the course of a day is not true bullying. But I make it a point to tell a child if they are engaging in bullying behavior because they truly don't see some of their actions in that way.

This story talked about how giggling at someone who doesn't read well, calling someone names, making fun of what someone wears, excluding children, and teasing all can be considered bullying. By the end of the story, most of my children were somewhat shocked to recognize some of their own behaviors in the book. As a follow up, I listed the situations from the book on the board, and asked pairs of children to work together to come up with an alternative, following the format, "Instead of laughing at someone who can't read well, I could . . ." We gathered those papers together and made a class book "Bullying Behavior Is Not Cool."

These are just a few of my ideas of ways to incorporate this bullying literature into my classroom lessons. I'm sure you will come up with many creative ideas as well!

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For more information about the series shown in this post, Kaleidscope Collection, click the image on the left below to download a series information sheet with key features. To download the lesson packet, click the image to the right.

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Topics: Narrative Text, Kaleidoscope Collection, Bullying, Lesley Boatright

Integrating Literature and Science for Sequencing—with FREE download!

Posted by Lesley Boatright on Mar 19, 2015 5:00:00 PM

Lesley_Boatright-150This is a guest post by Lesley Boatright. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts, click here to see her other posts, and click here to read her blog, Practice Makes Perfect.

As part of dental health unit, I made a sequencing activity integrating literature with informational texts by using the fiction story Brush! Brush! Brush! from the Kaleidoscope Collection and Terrific Teeth, an informational text from Story World Real World. We started with Terrific Teeth.

This book teaches children about why different animals have teeth and also about different types of teeth. The children were really interested to learn that herbivores and carnivores have differently shaped teeth. They studied each other's teeth and came to the conclusion that humans have both types of teeth.

After the children reached that conclusion, I continued reading about the teeth of omnivores. They were fascinated by the fact that humans are considered omnivores because we eat both plants and meat. The book then goes on to give other interesting facts about teeth, such as which animal has the biggest teeth and which animal has the most teeth.

5177_Terrific_Teeth_Cover_355 brush_brush_brush_402

After piquing the children's interest with the informational text, we then moved on to taking care of our teeth. First, I had the children brainstorm how they take care of their teeth by working with a partner to draw a picture of something they do to take care of their teeth. Then we used the pictures to sequence their daily dental-care routine. Things that didn't fit into the sequence, like visiting the dentist or limiting sweets, went into an "also" category. Then the children completed a how-to-brush-your-teeth writing and craft project.

Finally, we read Brush! Brush! Brush! and compared our own sequences to the sequence in the story. We found out that we actually know quite a bit about taking care of our teeth!

Boatright-sequencing-teeth

If you would like a copy of the tooth-brushing sequencing packet, you can download it below.

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For more information about the series shown in this post, Kaleidscope Collection and Story World Real World, click the images on the left below to download series information sheets with key features. To download the lesson packet, click the image to the right.

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Topics: Real World, Narrative Text, Informational Text, Kaleidoscope Collection, Lesley Boatright, Sequencing

Using Paired Texts to Meet Common Core ELA Standards—with FREE download!

Posted by Lesley Boatright on Sep 11, 2014 8:21:22 AM

Lesley_Boatright-150This is a guest post by Lesley Boatright, who will be contributing a series of posts over the next few months. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts, click here to see her other posts, and click here to read her blog, Practice Makes Perfect.

Hi! It's Lesley again, with another blog post about using paired texts. I've loved doing this series of blog posts, because it has introduced me to this great series of books, Story World Real World, which pairs fiction and nonfiction books on related topics. The fairy tale fiction books are great to use as a familiar taking-off point for the content of the nonfiction topic.

Through the units I've designed to accompany these books, I've been able to integrate ELA common core standards RL.1, RL.1.3 RL.1.5, and RL.1.7, as well as RI.1.4, RI.1.5, and RI.1.6. You can find the standards written out at many sites online. I use CoreStandards.org.

Today, my fiction focus is on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

This is a fantastic story to use to review the comprehension skill of sequencing. The events of the story happen in a clear-cut sequence that make it easy for the children to summarize the story. Summarizing a story helps the child understand the story because he or she has to wade through the fluff and just get down to the bare bones. If you've ever listened to a six-year-old tell a story, you know how hard that is for him or her to do!

To help out with the sequencing and summarizing, I developed these cards:

Boatright-6-1Boatright-6-2

And this sequence chain:

Boatright-6-3Boatright-6-4Boatright-6-5

After reading the story, the pictures are placed in the sequence chain in the order they happen in the story. Once the pictures are in order, the child can then summarize the story with the help of the pictures.

As an added practice, or as an assessment of sequencing and summarizing, I have two items I can use. I have a printable and a tabbed booklet condensing the story even more into a beginning, middle, and an end. 

You can see how all these activities are a great way to reach the reading literature standards in the common core.

In my next blog post, I will share how I tied Goldilocks and the Three Bears to the nonfiction story Too Hot! Too Cold! Just Right!

Thanks for joining me today! I hope to talk to you again soon.

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Lesley Boatright is an Early Childhood/Elementary Education teacher from Southwestern Pennsylvania. After graduating college, she moved to South Florida, where she taught kindergarten in the Palm Beach County School District for 8 years. After having children, she decided (with her husband) that Florida was too far away from the rest of the family, and she moved back to her hometown, where she took a few years off to spend time with her son. She has been teaching in the parochial school system for 18 years now, first at kindergarten, and currently in a first grade classroom. Lesley has also taught 2nd and 3rd grade Spanish and 4th grade social studies. Visit Lesley at her Facebook page, blog, Pinterest, and on Teachers Pay Teachers to get great teaching ideas.

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For more information about the Story World Real World series shown in this post, click here to visit our website, or click the image on the left below to download a series information sheet with key features. To download the lesson packet, click the image to the right.

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Topics: Story World, Real World, Narrative Text, Lesley Boatright, Fairy Tales

Classic Post: Teaching Retelling Strategies with Leveled Literature—with FREE Download!

Posted by Richard Giso on Jul 29, 2014 10:40:16 AM

Richard Giso 200This is a guest post by Richard Giso, an occasional contributor to our blog. It was originally published in January 2014. Click here to see his other posts! You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

Teaching Retelling Strategies with Leveled Literature

Hello there. It’s Rich from Mr. Giso's Room to Read. Once again, I am thrilled to be back with a chance to share some ideas with you. In the age of the Common Core, there has never been more of an emphasis on challenging our primary readers with more and more informational text, and rightfully so.

This time, however, I’ve decided to bring us back to some good old fiction. That’s right, you heard it correctly—shh! This post is one for the classic characters in children’s literature. Today, we'll look at the complete Mrs. Wishy-Washy set of the Joy Cowley Early Birds series. These texts, which feature a character we all know and love, are perfect for my early readers, as they are leveled C–G using the Fountas and Pinnell text gradient. In this series, we get to make wonderful music with Mr. Wishy-Washy; discover that the farm animals have gobbled up Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s pie; solve the mystery of the missing corn; laugh at the pig, duck, and cow not knowing about reflections in the mirror; and meet a new, most unwelcome addition to the Wishy-Washy family: a hissing cat.

These adorable titles are perfect to use when introducing retelling to your young readers. I suggest you do this by making a “retelling necklace,” an idea I learned from reading Linda Hoyt. First, I always plan to model a new strategy with the whole class, using a big book or a regularly sized text that I can project onto my interactive white board.

After the reading is completed, we do a mini-lesson on what it means to retell the important parts of the story. I make sure to stress that we pick the three most important events. A trick I like to share with the class is to start with thinking about how the story began and how it ended; then, pick one thing you found interesting in the middle. This works great with my first-graders. After showing the class the strategy come the following steps:

1. Select appropriately leveled texts and assign texts to groups based on like reading levels. Texts should be fiction and narrative in structure.

2. Students read their texts with a teacher, with a buddy, or independently.

3. Students use four index cards. On the first one, they record the title of the book, the author and the illustrator. On the remaining cards, they number them 1, 2, and 3.

IMG 3285

4. Then they illustrate, in pencil a key event in the beginning (1), middle (2) and end (3).

5. Students use the illustrations to retell in writing what happened in the story using the graphic organizer.

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6. Students work is edited. Then, the students copy each event on the back of the appropriately numbered illustration (lines side of the index card). Punch holes in each card and tie with ribbon or yarn.

7. Students have a book conference with a buddy who had a different book. They read to each other and retell the story using their necklaces.

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Usually, I have my young ones wear their necklaces throughout the day so that they can retell what they read to various members of the school community. It’s a lot of fun. To get the directions and recording sheet, you can download it at the bottom of this page.

On another note, while using the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books in the Joy Cowley Early Birds series, I discovered how well they lend themselves to the types of higher-order, over-arching questions we need to ask in order to scaffold our young readers’ comprehension. I came up with many follow-up questions that address the theme of the text, text evidence, the author’s craft and some inferences based on knowing the familiar characters. Here are some examples.

In Wishy-Washy Sleep, ask, “What does the illustrator do to show that the cow, pig, and duck are pretending to sleep when called to take a bath?”

In Wishy-Washy Mirror, ask, “What didn’t the animals understand about Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s ‘painting’? Can you find evidence from the text to prove your thinking?”

In Wishy-Washy Mouse, ask, “Why didn’t the animals want to help Mrs. Wishy-Washy? Do you agree with their decision?”

In Wishy-Washy Garden, ask, “Why did the animals misunderstand ‘cleaning up the garden?’”

In Wishy-Washy Corn, ask, “Where did the corn go? What evidence in the text can you find to prove your thoughts?”

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy New Year filled with fun, adventure, learning and, of course, reading. I’m now on Instagram. Follow me at mrgisosroomtoread.

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I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.

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To download the directions and recording sheet for the retelling activity, click the "Making a Story Necklace" image below. For more information about the Joy Cowley Early Birds series of leveled readers, click here to visit our website, or click the image to the right below to download a series highlights sheet.

Story Necklace Worksheet  New Call-to-Action

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Topics: Richard Giso, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley Early Birds, K-2 Literacy, Literature, Narrative Text, Reading Activities

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