Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mysteries and Chronicles...

So the book fair has rolled into our media center at school, and well, most would guess that I would be super excited. I mean books, books, and more books and all! The truth is that as much as I love perusing the shelves to see all the new books I can put my hands on, usually I tend to get a little on the jealous side as the book fair in the media center means less points for our class. Yes, I know - how petty, but you don't think that I buy those thousands and thousands of books in my room all by my little ol' self do you?! 

No worries though! I completely forgive the book fair this year! I have already set a small box aside - no judging allowed here! But really...the pièce de résistance (did you read that with a French accent because I typed it with a French accent ;) any~who...the pièce de résistance of the book fair this year is one Mr. Chris Van Allsburg. Holy Moly! I feel as if I have been living under a rock. Why did I not know all about The Chronicles of Harris Burdick? I loved The Mysteries of Harris Burdick! Chronicles was released in October of 2011, so having just now having set my greedy paws upon it, I feel a little behind the times. 

I am giggling now as I type this, but I swear to you it was like a light from above shone down on this book, guiding me straight to it. My sharp intake of breath probably startled everyone around me. I grabbed that book up and looked for the closest person to share with. Quickly walking (because no running in the hallways at school lol) I made a beeline for the lounge looking for a kindred soul to share my excitement in the release of a followup text for The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. All I found were looks of amusement as teachers tried hard to be as excited (or care even) as much as I did. Finally, our GT teacher walked in the lounge for a snack, and I cornered her. Yes, she had read The Mysteries...I couldn't get her to the media center quick enough! Seeing her excitement, I knew I found a kindred soul. 

The introduction to The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. 

Chris Van Allsburg is beyond amazing in his illustrating. I have had his portfolio addition of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick framed in my room for years.

Over the years I have had many students create wonderful stories using these illustrations! Now, I can share The Chronicles of Harris Burdick as a followup to their own writing, and we can read what some pretty famous authors envisioned as they created stories from his illustrations.

I promise you I smiled ear-to-ear forever that afternoon. Just look how powerful sharing something you are passionate about can be! I want the same for my kiddos! 

That leads me to the next great find, and interestingly enough, yet another reason I forgive the book fair from taking points from us this year, wink wink. Our media specialist received one copy of Steven Layne's book Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers. Whew! What a mouthful of a title, but just what I want for every kiddo that steps through my door. As of right now, I have not completely finished it, but I have enjoyed what I have read so far! Reminds me a lot of The Book Whisperer.

Here is a peek at my kiddos as they enjoy their own passion for reading and writing. I love watching them as they spread out around the room and enjoy a good book! Students are reading, responding to reading, or writing during this time. Most days only a few students have to be redirected, and my most favorite sound in the world has to be the groans and sighs as I tell students it is time to clean up and pack up! Most students want to stay right where they are, reading and writing! LOVE THAT!



Now we have had a hit whirlwind pace as we have tackled sensory detail and figurative language. All of if has been leading us to writing our own narrative story, and we start planning and writing our own personal experiences Monday! We have already shared many narratives as we have studied the craft of writing, and now we will go back and dig deep looking at these narratives.





Just look at all of the exceptional narratives we have already shared. The Silver Swan and The Orange Shoes both made me tear up. So moving! Because we have already spent some time with these texts, bringing them back out and revisiting them will allow us to look at what makes a narrative "a narrative" without taking up to much time. This will also allow us to read and enjoy a few more selections... Sister Anne's Hands by Marybeth Lorbiecki is a sweet and touching story of acceptance, so although our main focus is looking at the narrative structure of the text, we will not miss out on the opportunity to talk about the theme of the story as well. Just about anything written by Patricia Polacco makes an excellent narrative pieces worth sharing! When Lightning Comes in a Jar is beautifully written and illustrated. I love sharing this story because of the connections we can make with Fireflies! by Julie Brinkloe, another sweet narrative that is easily connected to by most kids. In all honesty, I am sure when I pull out Polacco's narrative, most of my kiddos will be almost as familiar with it. She is such a favorite of third grade, but I can't help but to share her stories again!


As we continue to share and revisit personal narratives, we will begin planning and drafting our own. When we begin, it will be important for us to look at narrowing our topic. Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee and The Screaming Mean Machine by Joy Cowley are two of my favorite ways to do this! I tell my kids to think small, but write big!                    

We have done a lot of gathering seed ideas and studying author's craft, leading up to our first narratives. We should be thoroughly prepared. "Should" being the key word, lol. 

We are still working just as diligently in our reading as we build stamina. Here is a quick summarizing strategy that I shared with my kiddos this past week. I saw it online a number of years ago, so I wish I knew who to give credit to. I am also really loving the "Someone, who, but, then, so" organizer all over Pinterest right now. I shared that with my kiddos as well, and they picked up both very easily. Most of our reading lessons will come from our writing mentors this week. We will continue, always, to look at theme, but we will also touch on story elements. We will even further look at breaking down plot elements and refer not only to our mentor texts but to our read aloud as well.

One of our fun little read alouds this week, because you always need one just for fun, was Chicken Big by Keith Graves. Great hyperbole to wrap up our figurative language study! The smallest chicken had us all cracking up! We made lots of fun predictions with this one, too! 
Last week was the first week for us to actually have assigned homework, so I enjoyed sharing this little beauty! Greatest Homework Excuse Book Ever by the fourth grade students of Sycolin Creek Elementary was a perfect discussion board for what it means to be responsible for your own actions. This was also an easy discussion in theme.
Just look at all those mentor texts! Wow! Lots of reading! far ~ just wait ~ more to come!
What would the love of reading be without sharing! 
Seems that I have been pretty long-winded tonight ladies and gents. I am guessing that if you have made it this far, I am lucky, and it would behoove me to wrap it up. :)

So on that note, have an awesome week all, and of course....Happy Reading!

Follow on Bloglovin


  1. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing! You have some amazing ideas. I love using picture books, and you have introduced me to a few more that I must get!

    Teaching Fourth

  2. I would love to know more about your two walls that you have pictured!


    1. Kelly,

      Thank you :)

      The two walls are something that I originally saw on Mrs. Newingham's Third Grade Class Site. They are revamped a bit, but basically the same. One wall, just outside my classroom door, that both of my classes post book recommendations to their peers. The other wall is where we post a picture of the cover of every book we read under the theme we think it falls under. By the end of the year, the entire wall will be covered. It is also just outside my classroom door, but because we are departmentalized and we have only two literacy teachers on our hallway, we both use it. All fourth grade students can walk by daily, remembering all of the books we have shared. Mine are sure to point out if a new book cover goes up and I haven't read it yet. :)