Tuesday I wrote about how I laid some of the groundwork for studying theme with 4th graders. Yesterday, I described the Theme Project we're working on in Composing Workshop.
This exploration of the idea of Theme is in preparation to write Literary Essays, a genre that depends equally on work in Reading and Writing (or Composing) Workshops, so at the same time that I started spinning the Theme plate in Composing Workshop, I began my first round of Literature Circles in Reading Workshop. I chose titles on a wide range of reading abilities, and all short enough for students to complete in the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. All four books have pretty obvious themes. The choices were:
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Each child has a little folded paper booklet in which they keep track of the characters and character traits, most important events, possible themes, questions, predictions, sketches and such. These booklets have helped guide their first foray into literature circle discussions. I'll be interested to see if they want to continue with something like them in future literature circles.
In read aloud, I decided to do a shared reading of Baby by Patricia MacLachlan. I collected enough copies from the public library so that every child can follow along as I read. This book is complicated enough to make it a perfect pick for shared reading in fourth grade. I can help the students navigate the flashback/memories, notice all the clues in the beginning of the book about something unspoken in the family, and think about the ways MacLachlan uses poetry and songs to reinforce the themes in her story.
Coming up tomorrow: what happens when poetry and music are added to the mix.