Interactive Read Aloud: How Do Illustrations Add to Our Understanding of the Story?

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This week my third graders and I are taking a deeper look at STORIES, particularly at the clues that illustrations give us about the setting, the characters, and the plot. I was looking for picture books that would generate thoughtful discussion–fortunately we had a book fair last week, so I had several brand spankin new picture books! After reading Mr. Tiger Goes Wild! with the kiddos, it was obvious that this one was a perfect fit for the discussion I wanted.

How Do Illustrations Add to Our Understanding of the Story

Learning Goal: I can explain how illustrations add to what is written in a story.

Key Questions:

What clues do the illustrations give about the characters?

What clues do the illustrations give about the setting?

What clues do the illustrations give about the plot? (Can you make predictions based on the illustrations?)

FYI, these are the ELA Common Core Standards for Reading: Literature that this lesson meets:

1st Grade: RL 1.7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.

2nd Grade: RL 2.7 Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

3rd Grade: RL 3.7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).

We started by talking about our learning goal {I can explain how illustrations add to what is written in a story}.

QUESTION: What clues can we find to help us understand the CHARACTERS, especially Mr. Tiger?Mr. Tiger Goes Wild!Student responses included . . .

  • Mr. Tiger has his eyes open and everyone else has them closed.
  • The colors are dull except for Mr. Tiger.
  • Everyone looks posh.
  • Most of the animals are herbivores (I was so delighted with this observation by several of my students!). Mr. Tiger is different because he is a carnivore. Maybe this makes him more wild.

QUESTION: What clues can we find to help us understand the SETTING?

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild!

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild!We looked at many pictures throughout the book, and made the following observations:

  • He lives in a town or city.
  • It is very dull colored and boring at the beginning.
  • Guesses as to which city it might be included: New York City, Paris, and London. The kids guessed these cities mostly because of the pigeons. 🙂

QUESTION: What clues can we find to help us understand the PLOT?

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild!

The previous page says that Mr. Tiger has a wild idea . . . and then we turn to the picture of Mr. Tiger walking on all fours. No words. Just an illustration showing us what his wild idea was. I read it once without showing the picture (the kids agreed that there was missing information) and then again, this time showing them all the pictures. They understood so much more! (Just the learning moment I was looking for! ZING!)

Then we compared these two illustrations: one of Tiger being wild in the city and one of Tiger being wild in the wilderness. How are they the same? How are they different?

Wild Ideas 1Wild Ideas 2

Reading and talking about this book was a BLAST! The children were riveted. Success! Thanks to Peter Brown and Mr. Tiger.

What kinds of questions do you ask during read aloud?

And the First Category is . . . Picture Books!

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NYPL’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

This project is a perfect blend of two of my favorite things:

1. Lists     2. Reading

Couldn’t be happier 🙂 Let the reading begin!

For an explanation of my ratings, see here.

The LIST begins with picture books for children ages 2 – 6.

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#1: Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack

Image3 Cheers!

Best for young readers and their parents, to be read in LOUD voices!

Join an adventurous frog in this story that uses only TWO letters.

The pictures tell the story–which makes it perfect for visual kids and parents alike.

Cleverly made and joyfully read aloud.

 
 
 
 
 
 

#2: Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka & Mac Barnett

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3 Cheers! A great addition to your at-home library.

This book was clearly designed with boys in mind!

It takes a simple woodland birthday story with mild characters and pastel pictures and transforms it into a rough and tumble delight.

Not only is the story an excellent romp, it also challenges the reader to follow both the underlying story AND the scribbled in bits.

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#3: The Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco

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4 Cheers!

Any book by Patricia Polacco pulls at a certain chord in my heart that is attached to all the nice feelings of being at home and being loved and reading great books with my parents. My dad had shelves full of her books, and we spent hours after school reading them.

So I am already biased toward any story she writes.

The Blessing Cup is great for read aloud and older readers, as the length and vocabulary are more complex.

And what a great story for asking questions, like:

How do families face difficult changes together?

Who acted as a helper in the story? Do we know anyone like that?

What traditions does our family have to create hope in hard times?

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#4: Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

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3 Cheers!

This wordless story will engage even young readers

(although be careful about little hands tearing the lift-the-flap features!)

A treat for all the tiny dancers.

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#5: Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

2 Cheers

2 Cheers

Another wordless book, great for creating words and stories along with the child as you follow the pictures.

Nice photography, nice concept, overall a nice book, but it didn’t particularly grab my attention.

 

 
 
 
 

Find more new favorites here

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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bookandbliss.comI am completely biased, but Valentine’s Day is probably best spent in an elementary school. There’s a party, and LOTS of card giving! Hearts and chocolate and innocence. I love it.

I also love to share stories. Here are a few of our classroom favorites this year:

1. Love, Splat by Rob Scotton. The illustrations are delightful and funny! There is also Splat the Cat: Funny Valentine, an engaging lift the flap book, perfect for younger readers (but not so much for 3rd graders).

2. Happy Valentine’s Day, Dolores by Barbara Samuels. This is a new favorite! I immediately bought my own copy. The story and pictures are very simple, and it was a spot-on tool for teaching character development. We also made a LOT of inferences using the pictures.

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3. Valentine’s Day by Alice K. Flanagan. It was nice to add a NONFICTION book to our Valentine’s Day repertoire. Easily understood and lots of good vocabulary.

4. Valentine Hearts Holiday Poetry by Lee Bennett Hopkins. This I Can Read book is great for students to read on their own once they have heard it read aloud.

5. Arthur’s Valentine by Marc Brown. Classic.

Arthur's Valentine

Share the love! What are your favorite stories?

THE LIST: Upcoming Book Reviews in 2014

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About a month ago, I happened upon a list. A book list. A children’s book list.

Bliss.

At the close of 2013, the New York Public Library released their 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing (you can find it here). Throughout the year I plan to read and share quite a bit from this list!

And thanks to my own nearby public library, I am up to my nose in books!

Each book review will include a rating. Here’s the system:

4 Cheers—THIS IS A GREAT BOOK! MUST READ!

3 Cheers—This is a good book, definitely read it.

2 Cheers—This is an okay book.

1 Cheer—This is an even less okay book.

*cricket* —This  book didn’t make a splash. Spend your time elsewhere.

As you can see, these are rigorous standards. Ahem.

BUT I do have some basic questions that will guide my ratings (there is a method to the madness).

Elements To Consider

  • Can I make personal connections to the story? Is it meaningful?
  • Are the illustrations captivating?
  • Is the language interesting?
  • Is it fun? (Reading to children is nothing if it isn’t fun!)

As always, some books are wonderful because they are light, funny, and a rollicking good time while other books become favorites because they appeal to our artistic taste. Both kinds of favorites are welcome to me!

ReThinking My Classroom: All is Love

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It is about half way through the school year, and what do you think I’ve been hearing about at work day after day? The upcoming Olympic games (so excited!), or good books we’ve read to our kids? NO.  End of year testing. Every day there is a discussion or a training to get us all ready for the brand spankin’ new standardized tests, that no one seems to know anything about yet. Scary.

Testing has been on my mind. A lot. Too much. Am I losing sight of what matters with these kids?

Then I read this blog post from Momastery: Share This With All the Schools, Please

And I stopped. Here is a description of a teacher who GETS IT. She isn’t just teaching math, she is teaching human beings. “All is love.”

And I resolve to think about training good kids instead of training good test takers.

It is not as if this is new. I just need reminders once and awhile. THIS WAS A POWERFUL REMINDER.

We Are KindI am the teacher who has “We Are Kind” posted on the classroom wall in a big frame I painted one summer. We spend the whole first week brainstorming ways to be kind to each other. We giggle and cheer and bond. And then school happens.

February is going to be a VERY busy month for my class. Crammed into the shortest month of the year will be 4 full days of testing, Parent Teacher Conferences, publishing a class book, the Valentine’s Day Party, two art assemblies, several birthdays, and a career day, on top of our regular classroom activities (some of those I am truly PSYCHED about, and some of them I am dreading . . . cough cough testing . . . )

But—being busy is no excuse. If I have time for a load of testing that I don’t believe in, surely I have time for a small and powerful thing that I DO believe in.

I teach in a third grade Dual Immersion classroom, which means I have one group of kids in the morning and another group in the afternoon. I am responsible for 44 little souls. I feel the weight of that responsibility. 

That blog post made me stop immediately and THINK. 

The part about looking for patterns jumped out at me. I can do that. THAT would be powerful for my kids.

 

So I am asking myself these questions:

Which kids are looked over and forgotten? Why?

Which kids are showing bravery? How?

What can I do for them today?

What can I do for them tomorrow?

 

If I can change my classroom in little ways, to help those kids who feel lost, then I might actually accomplish what I set out to do at the beginning of the year: foster kindness.

So I am adding something else into the mix for February and the rest of the year. And I couldn’t be more happy about it 🙂