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September 16, 2015

Getting to Know Your Students through Read Alouds

By Kriscia Cabral
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    I always want to start the year by getting to thoroughly know my students. One of the ways I achieve this is simply by watching how they work alone and with others. So, especially at this time of year I try to plan a variety of tasks that require students to personalize their work and make it their own. This is when I see their personalities shine brightly. This year I've chosen three read-aloud books that I’ve paired with three activities, which offer opportunities for everyone to get to know each other better in their own personal way.

     

     

    Who is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel

    This book shares the story of Melvin Bubble through the eyes of his family, his best friend, his dog, and a few other fictitious characters who in some way are connected to Melvin’s life. I love this book especially for its use of perspective and point of view in writing.

    After Reading:

    • We discuss the characters that shared about Melvin in the story.

    • We brainstorm a list of characters that might have something to say about us.

    • Students are given a template of the last page in the book (where Melvin talks about himself) and then are asked to use the template to talk about themselves.

    • The template prompts students to write their name, how old they are, how tall they are (turns into a mini-lesson on measurement), who they love, what they do not like, and something they can share that happened to them last year.

    • Once the template is complete, I have students partner up and share their “Melvin Bubble” stories.

     

    *I’ve extended the task by having students take at least two of the characters they shared about in their story (mom, dad, dog, best friend, etc.) and write about themselves from that person's perspective.

    It’s so interesting to see how they perceive themselves from others’ eyes.

    Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg

    This is a story about mistakes and how wondrous they can become. Beautiful Oops! is an interactive book that takes spilled ink, ripped paper, a smudge or a smear and turns them into beautiful pieces of art. This is a great story for a mindset discussion and looking at creative opportunities when things don’t go as we planned them.

    I saw this idea on the Beautiful Oops! website.

     

    Before Reading:

    • I took paint and splattered it on different pieces of paper. Every splatter I made was different.

    • After the paint dried, I had students select one splatter and write their name on the back.

    • I collected them and then read the story.

    • Once I was done, I passed back each “beautiful oops” and had students create from there.

    Students were allowed to use watercolors, markers, crayons, and colored pencils as they called on their creativity to turn a splatter into something wonderful.

    Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

    This book shares the story of a little mouse who believes her name is perfect, until the first day of school. When she tells others what her name is, she gets teased and loses the confidence she once had in her name. By the end of the story, Chrysanthemum has dealt with bullying, built her self-confidence, and learned that she was right all along: her name is perfect.

    I use this story as an opportunity for students to write about their names. It is one of the first writing tasks that we complete in our writer’s notebooks. Students first tell a neighbor what they know about their name. (Do they go by a nickname? Is their name a family name? What do they love about their name?)

    Once students have gotten the opportunity to discuss, I invite them to take what they have said and put it down on paper. (I always try to start a writing activity with verbal sharing. For many students the excitement comes when they can express their thoughts out loud. Once they get the words out of their head through their mouth, it is easier for them to repeat the process on paper).

    I prompt students to find a place in the room to write — a place where they are comfortable and ready for writing. I usually count down as it gives those who need a kick-start a little boost and an open invitation to start writing! As students finish, I allow for free writing time and set up an “Author’s Chair” sign-up for those who want to share with the class what they wrote.

    I love sharing favorite stories with students. I also love how so many of the stories shared can be used to help students make connections with their learning. The best part is that every task comes out so different because each student creates something that speaks to them.

    What books do you use to get to know your students better? I’d love to add to my list! Please share in the comment section below.

    Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter and Pinterest!

    Thank you for reading.

    I always want to start the year by getting to thoroughly know my students. One of the ways I achieve this is simply by watching how they work alone and with others. So, especially at this time of year I try to plan a variety of tasks that require students to personalize their work and make it their own. This is when I see their personalities shine brightly. This year I've chosen three read-aloud books that I’ve paired with three activities, which offer opportunities for everyone to get to know each other better in their own personal way.

     

     

    Who is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel

    This book shares the story of Melvin Bubble through the eyes of his family, his best friend, his dog, and a few other fictitious characters who in some way are connected to Melvin’s life. I love this book especially for its use of perspective and point of view in writing.

    After Reading:

    • We discuss the characters that shared about Melvin in the story.

    • We brainstorm a list of characters that might have something to say about us.

    • Students are given a template of the last page in the book (where Melvin talks about himself) and then are asked to use the template to talk about themselves.

    • The template prompts students to write their name, how old they are, how tall they are (turns into a mini-lesson on measurement), who they love, what they do not like, and something they can share that happened to them last year.

    • Once the template is complete, I have students partner up and share their “Melvin Bubble” stories.

     

    *I’ve extended the task by having students take at least two of the characters they shared about in their story (mom, dad, dog, best friend, etc.) and write about themselves from that person's perspective.

    It’s so interesting to see how they perceive themselves from others’ eyes.

    Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg

    This is a story about mistakes and how wondrous they can become. Beautiful Oops! is an interactive book that takes spilled ink, ripped paper, a smudge or a smear and turns them into beautiful pieces of art. This is a great story for a mindset discussion and looking at creative opportunities when things don’t go as we planned them.

    I saw this idea on the Beautiful Oops! website.

     

    Before Reading:

    • I took paint and splattered it on different pieces of paper. Every splatter I made was different.

    • After the paint dried, I had students select one splatter and write their name on the back.

    • I collected them and then read the story.

    • Once I was done, I passed back each “beautiful oops” and had students create from there.

    Students were allowed to use watercolors, markers, crayons, and colored pencils as they called on their creativity to turn a splatter into something wonderful.

    Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

    This book shares the story of a little mouse who believes her name is perfect, until the first day of school. When she tells others what her name is, she gets teased and loses the confidence she once had in her name. By the end of the story, Chrysanthemum has dealt with bullying, built her self-confidence, and learned that she was right all along: her name is perfect.

    I use this story as an opportunity for students to write about their names. It is one of the first writing tasks that we complete in our writer’s notebooks. Students first tell a neighbor what they know about their name. (Do they go by a nickname? Is their name a family name? What do they love about their name?)

    Once students have gotten the opportunity to discuss, I invite them to take what they have said and put it down on paper. (I always try to start a writing activity with verbal sharing. For many students the excitement comes when they can express their thoughts out loud. Once they get the words out of their head through their mouth, it is easier for them to repeat the process on paper).

    I prompt students to find a place in the room to write — a place where they are comfortable and ready for writing. I usually count down as it gives those who need a kick-start a little boost and an open invitation to start writing! As students finish, I allow for free writing time and set up an “Author’s Chair” sign-up for those who want to share with the class what they wrote.

    I love sharing favorite stories with students. I also love how so many of the stories shared can be used to help students make connections with their learning. The best part is that every task comes out so different because each student creates something that speaks to them.

    What books do you use to get to know your students better? I’d love to add to my list! Please share in the comment section below.

    Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter and Pinterest!

    Thank you for reading.

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