The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 11



Click her for Founas and Pinnell PDF on interactive read alouds.

Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable—Nazi-occupied Warsaw—and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young orphan.”

The teacher could model how readers gather information about the overall landscape of the book by flipping through it, glancing through the pages to take note of some formatting and organizational features. Modeling aloud, the teacher notes that the chapters are very short, and some of the chapters are titled. She collects the titles and posts them speculating the timeframe of the book.

Early in the unit, the teacher helps kids situate the text in time and place. She might display a map of Europe to show students the location of Poland in relation to Germany, and to help students understand the time of the war, she might relate the event to their own lives: their great-grandfathers might have fought in World War II. These American soldiers would be in their late 80’s or early 90’s. Another resource for building background knowledge is this link to a documentary produced by HBO and the Holocaust Museum distributed by Teaching Tolerance:

Reading aloud Chapter 1 and 2 is important because sometimes it takes students a while to become accustomed to an author’s style, use of language, and voice. This book has a complicated beginning that might confuse even skillful readers. That’s because Chapter 1 sets up the book’s flashback, Spinelli’s organizational device. The first chapter, called Memory, hints that the narrator is an adult set in the present. The second chapter is a flashback when the narrator is a boy.

Early in the unit, the teacher displays several teaching charts. One is designed to collect students’ vocabulary words (see Table 1).

Another chart, helpful in teaching author’s craft, collects the author’s literary devices (Table 2- next page). These charts are powerful teaching devices especially when filled in by the students. Finally, from the first day on, students make use of their spiral notebooks. At the end of each day’s reading, students write for five minutes or so. They respond in these academic journals, collect textual evidence to prove claims, practice quick writes such as metaphors or imitation poetry, and write about personal small moments (Calkins, 2003).

By: Sheryl Lain

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Table 1