Monday, October 22, 2012

Text structure and creepy fun

My days are rolling together lately, and I feel as if I am saying hello to a long lost friend as I type. I have thought of sitting down to post often in these last few hectic days, and I have even been asked by my hubby if I was going to do my "bloggy thing." It just wasn't meant to be last week for me to share as much as I would have liked, but here I am, finally a quiet moment to be as bloggy as I wish! :)

Let me start with a perfectly creepy seasonal read! Our read aloud at the moment is a quick Native American folktale that I have sneaked in before our next reading unit, and it is one of my all time faves...and no, I don't want to hear about how much I repeat that statement... this REALLY is a FAVORITE! Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac is a reluctant reader transformer! I can promise you that every year I have read this, I have pulled a boy or two (or three) into the magic of reading! Without fail, I have boys looking for more written by Mr. Bruchac. The fact that this title has a strong female lead is not a conversation that I skip with some of my girlie girls either. I have just one more thing to share about this completely awesome and unforgettable folktale. I secretly love that the first chapter creeps out my kiddos. Now, please don't jump to conclusions and think that I am into frightening small children (usually ;). No matter how many ohs and ahs and oh-my-goshes and hows ~ they never, EVER want me to stop. One of these days I am going to record my kiddos as I read this first chapter so that everyone can see their expressions, but more than anything so that everyone can hear and share in all the shouts of NO as I close the first chapter. That is why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reading to my kiddos! 

In between all of our great reading and writing, we have had some fun activities roll our way. It was Fire Safety Week, and our local fire department does an awesome job of teaching our kiddos. Now anyone that knows me knows just how much I begrudgingly give up instructional time, but as much as I hate to loose my time with them, this has always been a great experience for my students. 



Do you remember how I went on and on about how much I love our figurative language study? Our next focus of text structure is pretty close to that. We are about to spend some time drowning in great picture books! Picture book after picture book after picture book! We will step lightly into the study of text structure by looking at fictional picture books, but we will wrap it up with a look at nonfiction text structures and how they compare and contrast. The most important part will be looking at just how understanding the structure of what we are reading will help us understand exactly what the author is trying to share.


Our first look at text structure is one most students are quite familiar with. We look at the linear flow of a story; a movement that takes the story from beginning to end. These books will also help us look back at our "Story Mountain" and look at the elements of plot. 
First of all, it is hard to go wrong with a Bunting Book. There are just so many things I can say that I love about Ms. Eve Bunting. In The Wednesday Surprise we enjoy a sweet surprise that many students find moving. Great look at linear movement in a story and one that we will definitely revisit when we talk about surprise endings.
Another Bunting that I absolutely love is The Memory String. Again, I am starting simple and looking at the linear movement of a story from beginning to end and how the plot of the story progresses throughout. This is also a great share because of all the connections that many students have with it; lots of great reading strategies can be modeled and discussed with this one.

This next one is a masterfully illustrated story based on true events. Gabi Swiatkkowska moves Ms. Schaefer's story (told through the hawk's point of view) so beautifully. Every time I read this, the illustrations pull me right back into the hawk's treacherous journey and rescue, and the photograph and author's note at the end are right up my alley. You know I always love a good author's note! Again, we are looking at the movement from beginning to end without it necessarily being a narrative story  written in first person.

As we step lightly into our look at different structures, I am again focusing on something the kids are familiar with. When we look at circular studies, I will not have to spend to much time as most students are very comfortable with this type of structure. The great and time saving part is that we will be looking back and books we have already shared, My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Grey and The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant!


The next circle story that I will share is another Bunting beauty and absolutely perfect for this time of year! One of my favorite things about Eve Bunting is her choice of such diverse illustrators. One of my colleagues pointed out how completely different most of her books are and not because of her writing style but rather how the illustrators carry her stories. Night of the Gargoyles is illustrated by David Wiesner. Can I say another of my favorites and you still respect me, LOL? He is a master at his craft, and I have been known to purchase a book simply because it has his name on it. I cannot wait to share this fun and lyrical circle story! 

Alright, one last text structure for the night. We will be looking closely at cause/effect with another amazing (dare I say favorite?) illustrator, Steven Kellogg. Both The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble and The Day the Goose Got Loose by Reeve Lindbergh are picture perfect displays of cause and effect. Chaos ensues in both books, and kiddos giggle as we share how many times the effects multiply and yet become the next cause and each continue to build upon the other. So fun and silly! 


I just have to share one more amusing little seasonal read. I can't even tell you just what it is about Pumpkin Town! by Katie McKy that I love so much, but nonetheless, I love it! It could be Pablo Bernasconi's whimsical illustrations or the open-ended loop ending. You just know when we look at loop endings to help us with our own conclusions, this will be a revisit for sure! 

Well friends, the hour grows late and this bloggy girl is growing tired. I have one last thing to share. Sarah, Katie Byrd and I ran - no... walked in very close proximity to complete strangers that I now feel bonded to in some strange way - another 5K this weekend. It was my first time to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I have to say that this was the most moving and rewarding 5K I have done yet. I had a blast with both these girls, and boy was I worn out when we were done. Something about navigating through the massive crowds, and finding pockets, as we called them, to jog here and there. Whew, that would be one of the reasons I did not blog Saturday or Sunday as I tried to recover, but all the same, I CANNOT wait until next year! 

Just look at all those people!

Katie Byrd and myself ~ yes we had enough time to stop
and click a pic as we were in a standstill...think it had
something to do with firetrucks and firefighters...hmmm

 Happy reading my friends....

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  1. First of all, we have the same name which means we should be friends. Secondly, I love your blog! Thirdly, I am so glad you posted about The Skeleton Man!!! I teach 6th grade and have been wondering if I should read it to my kids. I have never read it but heard a ton about the book. I think I am going to order it right now so I can read it for Halloween next week! Thanks for your insight to the book :)


    1. That is so funny because that is exactly what I thought when I saw that your name was Tina.

      You have some pretty great anchors. I meant what I said about sharing ~ thank you! I can't believe you don't have more followers!

      You will love Skeleton Man. Not so much for you, but for the way your kiddos will LOVE it. You should have heard the shouts of NO when I stopped at just the right spot today. We should finish it tomorrow. :) If my fourth graders can handle it; your sixth graders will eat it up!

      So glad to be one of your newest followers!


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