Sunday, August 9, 2009

More Reading Madness!!!

Day 1
Book Talk for the Wednesday Wars
This book tells the fictional story of Holling Hoodhood’s seventh grade year. The book takes place in 1967, if it weren’t already catastrophe of a year with the Vietnam War in full swing; Holling has problems of his own. First, his teacher Mrs. Baker hates him and is determined to make him read (and like) all works of Shakespeare. Holling is convinced she is out to get him, with her pet rats in tow. Holling feels that he has to be on his best behavior because his success in seventh grade is closely linked with his the success of his father’s business. Join Holling on his journey to learn about himself, maintaining friendships, dodging proverbial bullets, and staying out of trouble (or trying to.) The Wednesday Wars is a Newbery Honor Book, and contains moments that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Pre-reading activity
Introduction: “I’m going to read a series of statements that you have to agree or disagree with. No one is going to judge you based on your response. The idea behind this is to get you thinking about the ideas in this book before we begin reading. If you like, there are times that you will be asked to share a moment where you faced a similar situation. You may share if you wish, but you are certainly not obligated to do so.”

Students will stand in a line in the center of the room, and listen to a series of statements. The statements will take the form of an anticipation guide, and when students agree with the statements they will move to one side of the room. If the disagree, they will move to the other side of the room. Statements include the following:
1. If you have ever faced a situation where you were conflicted about which side to take, move to your right. If not, move to your left. (Everyone comes back to the center after a few seconds of reflection.)
2. If you have ever been bullied, move to your right. If you have not, move to your left.
3. If you have ever been the bully, move to your right. If you have not, move to your left.
4. If you have ever felt a deep respect for another student, for any reason (you don’t have to share the reason) move to your right. If not, move to your left. (Pause for a moment of reflection, and ask anyone if they would like to share.
5. If you have ever had a respect for any adult (teacher, parent, other relative, friend, mentor, tutor, neighbor, etc.) move to your right. If not, move to your left. (Pause for a moment to share.)
6. If you agree with the statement “love and hate are not far apart” move to your right. If not, move to your left. (Pause to take a few defenses from either side.)

Instruct students to go back to their seat and listen as I read aloud the first chapter of THE WEDNESDAY WARS. The idea behind the anticipation guide was to build motivation and get students familiar with what was to come. Ideally, this would be done while introducing a series of books for literature study and students would have the opportunity to choose from several of the books presented.

Read Chapter 1 (September) aloud
Pause and point out the following quotes:
“If you had been listening to my instructions, you should have been able to do this,” said Mrs. Baker, which is sort of like saying that if you’ve ever flicked on a light switch, you should be able to build an atomic reactor.”
Model thinking aloud at this with: “I love this quote because it says so much about how the speaker thinks. It’s so true as well. I love when characters in books tell you what they are thinking this way, because it makes the book seem more realistic to me. Do you agree with the quote? You don’t have to, but tell why or why not.”
“We spent the afternoon with English for You and Me, learning how to diagram sentences—as if there was some reason why anyone in the Western Hemisphere needed to know how to do this.”
Model thinking aloud at this with: “Again, I am getting a sense for how the main character thinks. This makes or breaks a book for me, but it doesn’t have to for you. It all depends on how you read a book. If you are looking for characters, you probably want to pay attention to what the characters say, if you read a book looking for plot, you probably want to look at what they do and how they act.”
“That’s how it is with people who are plotting something awful.”
Model thinking aloud with: “The author chooses to end this month with this statement, leading you to believe the worst and giving the reader a sense of dread for what’s to come next. What about it makes you want to read on? I want to find out what is about to happen to Mrs. Baker’s soldier husband in Vietnam, as well as what Doug Swieteck has up his sleeve. I want to find out why Holling is so nervous. Why do you want to read on? (Take suggestions from students, and write them on a chart. This chart will be referred to later when we answer some of these questions.)
Note: If students seem that they do not want to read on, note that they can probably have more success if they select another book from the selection. Literature studies are rarely successful when students don’t enjoy the book.
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