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When you talk to a 10-year-old about a book, the child will most often give you a rundown that includes a string of "And then...and then...and then..." How can you help students pick out the important
parts of a story?
At the beginning of the year, I help students talk about books in terms of who
is doing what
, and how
. It begins with students listing the "5Ws and H". Students then turn the lists into sentences and paragraphs.
Start with picture books so that all students feel successful right away. Many picture books have complex plots - most 10-year-olds can be challenged to find the deeper themes behind stories. For example, you might say "I know Pink and Say
is about a young Glory Roader helping a fellow Union soldier who is wounded. But what is the story really
Students demonstrate understanding through the creation of a podcast that I call a "Bookcast." Examples of bookcasts are posted on my class blog
. Note that podcast quality increases throughout the year as we evaluate the use of sound layers.
Similar podcasts can be finished in three 45-minute class sessions. Objectives are as follows:
As the year progresses, students will make podcasts about novels. The podcasts will be longer, with students picking out the "5Ws and H" from various parts of the book. Students will also include a detailed analysis of characters as they demonstrate increased understanding of character motivations and themes. Finally, end-of-year podcasts will include a read-aloud part where students will demonstrate fluency and expression.