My first big pile of essays get delivered to my desk tomorrow. Oh joy, oh bliss! Here’s hoping that all the work we did over the last few weeks paid off and I can fly through them with ease 🙂
My students will be shifting gears from non-fiction to fiction, and I will begin with a little bit of gradual release as we study three short stories. The first one is one of my all time favourites: The Singing Silence by Eva-Lis Wuorio (I’d provide a link, if I could, but I can’t find an e-copy). The story is about a wonderful old guy named Vicente, who discovers that true contentment is not found in your pocket book, but in doing what brings you joy. It is just chock full of good messages and I use it as a jumping off point to writing about literature. First I will set a purpose for reading the story: to analyze the character of Vicente and to discover the author’s message. I will direct them to take notes with that purpose in mind and will model the process of close reading with them, using the first few pages of the text.
After they have finished a close read, I will have them turn and talk to a partner. What did they learn? How would they describe Vicente? What evidence would they use to back up their statements. We will discuss their discoveries as a class and then I will model how to write a literary paragraph. We will repeat the process with theme.
Next, I will assign the next story, Saturday Climbing, by WD Valgaardson, another text that deals with finding contentment. Students will get the same instructions: close read, paying attention to character and theme. During the following class, they will work in groups to discuss their notes and then to complete a group paragraph, based on the model we co-created the previous day. Once they are done, they will trade with another group to mark that group’s paragraph with the same rubric I will eventually use to mark the paragraphs they will write on their own. On the way out the door, they will provide me with an exit ticket that will guide my instruction for the next day–what do they still not get?
On the final day of this process, they will be assigned The Spaces Between Stars, by Geeta Kothari, and the task of discovering the theme. The end result will be a good copy paragraph that they will pass in for formative assessment.
I will also be using these stories as mentor texts for the students’ independent reading. We will look at how the characters and themes are developed in the novels they are reading. Also, because all three short stories look at finding contentment in one’s life, my students will journal about what they are learning about happiness as they read.
It’s gonna be a full week!
My process is fully laid out in more detail (but still not short story copies) in this product.