January 2, 2014

Cleaning and a Candy Summary!

I don’t even know where to begin this New Year, not a clue.  I feel like I’ve been in a blur of cleaning, hosting, cleaning, being really, really sick for a day, and cleaning again. I mean, how many times can you clean, right??!!  There was the pre-hosting cleaning, the post hosting cleaning interrupted by the terrible stomach virus I had, the general cleaning, and, then, the take it all down cleaning!  I haven’t yet mentioned how much I HATE cleaning!  I even did a clean up on my iPhone, where I was quickly reminded I had taken loads of pictures of things going on in my class and haven’t written one blog post about any of it!  I decided today was the day. (Especially since I had some dental work and I’m now in a different kind of blur where I can’t clean!  Should I follow that with a woot-I’m not sure I should!)

We have finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!  Yes, we have!  I don’t know whether to be happy or sad on that one, since I was getting so much out of it.  The good news is... it is now our mentor text.  I can refer to it whenever I need to, and I will!  I have a whole idea of how I’m going to target theme, and it revolves around Charlie and our new reading!  I did decide there needed to be a little fun around Christmas and what is better fun than candy!  So here’s what we did!

I designed this fun activity to revisit summary.  We had been working on it on and off, and we need to start hitting it harder.  I am truly the believer that writing about reading solidifies the learning and thinking that takes place.  I don’t believe that the worksheets provided by readers do a good job of this.  They are about the skill, not about the story. Anyway, I had begun to think about a way that would make writing a summary of a favorite chapter from the book a little more fun and follow the same ideas as the spider summary from earlier in the year.  I really felt the kids needed this step-by-step practice again-and I found it in candy!  Candy-of course!  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is all about the candy!  I decided that the kids would be able to outline the paragraph on pieces of candy and, then, organize them in a way that would let them actually manipulate the pieces as they went.  

First, I let the kids pick their favorite chapter.  My teaching partner, Lisa, did it differently.  She had volunteers identify the chapter they would write about, taking it off of the choice list for others.  It can be done either way!  Once they identified the chapter, they had to REREAD the chapter, no matter how recently they read it!  I set the purpose of reading to be that they had to gather the information they needed first, without writing anything down.  Once they did this, then they used the book to fill in the candy pieces before doing any cutting! 

Once they finished writing and cutting out the pieces, then they wrote their summary on notebook paper.  They stacked their cut out candy in order, helping them to write the summary as they went.  This was really, really key.  Many of my students are still in this very concrete stage with summary writing. 

Upon completion of the summary, they then received the summary paper from me.  They wrote out their summary, glued it onto a large piece of construction paper, and then glued the candy, in order, around the summary.  Completed project with a fun, fun look!  They really enjoyed doing it too!

(This is how they looked hanging in the hall.  The large candy pieces were a cause and effect activity we did.  I made them 20+ years ago!)

The one thing I discovered from this is that they are unaware of how a plot diagram works.  I redesigned this activity to include a plot diagram to guide student thinking the next time I do this.  In fact, even though we won’t be dealing with candy again, I will be printing out the plot diagram and hanging it in my room.  As I’ve said, this book becomes our mentor text, and referring back to this activity will connect it in a deeper, more meaningful way. 

So, in honor of the New Year, I am offering this as a freebie for the rest of today (1/2/14) and tomorrow (1/3/14)! Please remember to leave feedback for this product!   It can be used with any candy book, such as the Chocolate Touch or the upcoming release of The Candy Crush.  How can you think of using this activity in your class?

And, just for the record, during the writing of this post I did end up cleaning-loaded the dishwasher and started it!  Help me now! 

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