“There is creative reading as well as creative writing” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
By the end of the 3rd grade / end of the 4th grade students should be reading to learn, not learning to read. But there are still going to be those students that need extra support in decoding words. For those students, the fastest most effective way to become a better reader is to read! Only the reader can tell if they can actually read the words and comprehend what they are reading. The sad truth is that many of America’s young readers are taking in bits of garbage in the form of one page reading comprehension sheets and selections from books and regurgitating facts on reading comprehension tests.
Drill and kill reading comprehension programs are not what is going to solve America’s reading deficiency. Pairing your students with highly engaging narratives is the best way to cultivate the readers of tomorrow. When I plop my beach chair in the sand I don’t read one chapter from a Nicholas Spark’s book, I voraciously consume the whole book and by the end I am usually in tears. A reader must have experience with novels that are worthwhile and resonate within the reader’s heart and soul. Want to hook a “non-reader”? Find out what he or she likes to do on the weekend or movies he or she likes to watch and find a book that involves the same type of materials.
To identify students that are already addicted to reading and those that are going to need a little encouragement and guidance, my class reads Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. The students love to listen as the plot unfolds through Fudge’s temper tantrums and Peter’s internal conflict of wondering whether his family actually cares about him or just his brother. During this novel, I usually teach point of view and how to analyze a character. Usually the students compare and contrast themselves and Peter, and identify parts in the book that they can relate to their lives.
Now, with Common Core in mind, I am striving to stay within the four corners of a novel. This year my students created Popplets using Popplet Lite to analyze Fudge or Peter. They were required to pick out 3 specific character traits that the character possesses and give direct quotations from the text to support the character trait they chose. The students were extremely excited to create their popplets.
Popplet lite is a very easy app to use (even kindergardeners at my school work with this app) that allows students to organize thoughts, facts, or evidence on a topic. A student creates an original “popple”. Then, they can attach as many additional “popples” as they would like. They can add text, photos, and change color within each popple. I had to remind my students about our FACTS, PHOTOS, FUN expectation because as soon as they found out they could change colors within the app they didn’t want to pull out the supportive evidence (facts) from the text all they wanted to do was color code their projects.
When the students first started they would give the character trait and then explain from their minds why the character is babyish, responsible, or caring. I had to remind them that I needed an actual quote from the book, not a reason from their mind. One student included both her thoughts and support from the novel. Our next goal is to use quotations appropriately to quote a piece of evidence because as one of my gems pointed out, “Isn’t it plagiarism if we take quotes directly from the book?”
I look forward to using popplet lite to continue to show evidence of facts we know from a piece of text. I know this app will be very useful as begin analyzing non-fiction text in the near future!
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