The kids began our new reading unit by learning how to collect information about the main character in their series books. We focused significantly on the question, "What kinds of trouble does the main character encounter and how do they respond to that trouble?". The kids then pushed themselves to "have a thought" about what this information told them about the character.
We first practiced this skill together using the book, Days with Frog and Toad. In the first chapter of the book, Frog arrives at Toad's house, only to find that the house is a disaster and Toad is in his nice, warm bed. Frog suggests that Toad get up and clean his house. Toad responds by saying, "I'll do it tomorrow," and promptly pulls the covers back over his head. The kids shared that the problem is that Toad's house is a mess. He responded to the problem by saying he'd clean it up later and then went back to sleep. The kids then pushed themselves to "have a thought" about Toad, concluding that Toad seems a bit lazy, and even a bit irresponsible!
The kids have worked to apply this new skill to their own series books and have begun "book club discussions," talking to peers about the opinions they are forming about characters. I have been absolutely amazed with the level of comprehension from these second graders!! The kids are discovering that when they slow down their reading (read closely), they discover lots of new information about their character that they did not notice initially.
Our current writing unit aligns quite nicely with the reading unit. The children are working on drafting letters to their peers about the characters they have met in their books. They are learning to formulate opinions and use details and examples from the text to support their claims. They have also learned how to write about their favorite parts, providing reasons explaining why it is their favorite. Once the kids complete a letter, they tuck it inside an envelope, and place the envelope inside the book where the "character lives." The book is then placed back into our classroom library, ready for classmates to enjoy when they book shop during Reader's Workshop. I have been thrilled to see the level of engagement in this activity! It absolutely warms my heart to see the kids quickly trying to take a peek in our classroom library at newly added letters throughout our day.
Our Reading Anchor Chart - Series Books
Sharing our opinions and thoughts about the characters in our books and providing evidence to support our thinking.
Letters in our classroom library just waiting to be read!