Thursday, September 26, 2013

Friendship and Connections

We are nearing the end of the third week of school, and almost into a new month. Time is flying!

This week has been rough for me personally. My dog, Angie, passed away on Wednesday, just a few days shy of her 15th birthday. The day we brought her home when she was just 8 weeks old was one of the best days of my life, and it will be difficult to come back to my parent's home and not see her waiting for me in the foyer as I walk in the front door :(

Each year, my students hear about Angie. I always have her picture up by my desk, and am constantly telling them stories about her.


Even though I didn't tell my students about Angie, I wanted to honor her in some way in my classroom (even if I was the only one aware of this)....keep reading to see what I did :)

 The past couple of weeks, I have been teaching my students about making connections to our reading. 

We began with making text-to-self connections. I modeled the "stop and jot" strategy as I read My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Polacco. The students got the hang of it pretty quickly, and were jotting down connections in their reading notebooks that they had to Trisha and the relationship she has with her brother. The next day, I modeled using a venn diagram to make text-to-self connections while reading Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber. On one circle, I wrote Ira's name. On the other circle, I wrote my name. In the guessed it! What Ira and I have in common! 

My students practiced using the venn diagram in partners. I gave each partnership a picture book to read together. They did an excellent job recording what was different about the main characters from themselves, as well as the things that were similar. I was so impressed!

As many of you know, I have been reading The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School as our read-aloud book. The story follows a class of children and their teacher, Mr. Jupiter. Each chapter is a take on an Aesop's fable. To practice making text-to-text connections, I decided to re-read the chapter "Dance, Stanford, Dance!" which is based on the moral from the fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper": It is wise to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow. After re-reading the chapter from Fabled Fourth Graders out loud, I gave partners a copy of "The Ant and the Grasshopper" and a text-to-text connection worksheet.

We came together as a class to share some of our connections: 

Finally, it came time to make some text-to-world connections. This is where my "Angie Tribute" came in. I decided to do a read-aloud of The Two Bobbies, a true (and incredibly emotional) story of a dog and cat who, through their unique friendship, survived Hurricane Katrina after their owners evacuated New Orleans. Angie was such a good friend to people and other animals, I knew she would love this story!

 I decided that before I read the story I would ask the kids about hurricanes:

Not surprisingly, they had a lot of information to share! With so many hurricanes threatening the northeast in recent years, many of my students have prepared for one and/or watched newscasts with their families. After we brainstormed, I read the story. Throughout the story, my students would notice that the author was describing many of the things about hurricanes that they had added to the chart, like flooding, boarding up windows, and community helpers coming to the rescue for people (and animals!)

On that theme, I plan on ending the week (and our unit on making connections) with Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. I want to reinforce to my students how important it is to make connections, whether that means to their reading, in helping other people, or to our very special, animal friends.

RIP Angie. I love and miss you. 

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you were able to incorporate your own emotional connection to Angie through reading The Two Bobbies. The bond between us and our pets is SO strong. The impact that Angie had on our lives was profound indeed.


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