Monday, April 4, 2011

All they could say was "WOW"!

It's time again for new standard based bulletin boards at Chets Creek and the first grade boards highlight many of the Kevin Henkes activities that have claimed the hearts and minds of our children this nine weeks. I'll highlight several of the boards in the posts to come because each is different in its focus.
The bulletin board above shows many of the activities that students enjoyed as they built to the final product for this author study, a response to the Kevin Henkes' stories. The top border includes pictures that the children drew of their favorite Kevin Henkes character. (Owen won by a landslide!) The side and bottom borders are pictures the students drew of Lilly's movie star glasses! The first activity on this board highlights the graphic organizer that the children learned to use to identify each of the story elements in Kevin Henkes' books. They worked with a partner to identify characters, setting, problem, events and solution. These are the same story elements, of course, that can be found in any fiction, narrative text so the next step was to have students use the same graphic organizer to identify the story elements in a "just right" book from their individual reading bin. Students completed this activity in their Reading Response Notebooks during Readers' Workshop. The overarching goal of these two activities was to have students know what to expect from a fictional story and to have an outline to write their own story.

A new activity this year was to take what was learned about the elements of a narrative story and combine that with an adventure using a favorite Kevin Henkes character. Students loved writing these short small moment pieces that were written much like Kevin Henkes' board books from his Box of Treats. Each of Henkes' board books feature a single character in a small moment around a holiday. Jesse's book about Wendell at Busch Gardens uses Jesse's knowledge about the character Wendell and his own background knowledge about Busch Gardens as the setting and puts the character in the problem of finding the roller coaster. Students delighted in designing these new problems for their favorite Kevin Henkes characters. First graders love Kevin Henkes' stories because they can identify with the characters and themes. It is no surprise that they love dividing into small groups to learn their individual lines as they read scripts for Readers' Theatre. They really worked at using expression when they spoke and also practiced their lines so they knew all the words and knew right when they come in for their lines. This activity worked on fluency. The children spent two weeks of Readers' Workshop working on three different scripts. They were able to present each "play" to the class. This activity is a popular extension activity for this unit.
One of the things that first graders learn to do to deepen their comprehension is to compare and contrast. They make connections across characters and across books of a single author. To have the children begin thinking about comparing and contrasting we had them compare and contrast themselves with a Kevin Henkes character. They love his little mice characters because they are so much like the people that they know and by comparison, there is no character that they know better than themselves!
Then of course, the final element featured on this board is the response which is a retelling. This sample also includes the rubric that is given to students to help them decide when their writing is good enough and they have met the elements of a response. Although I have only included Nevin's response opening, this is the complete response.

You should read the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes because it's about mean girls who become good friends.

When Chrysanthemum was a baby she loved her name so so much. she would say it in he bathroom mirror, "chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum" and she was jaunty about her first day of school but there was a problem. People were picking on her name. Ha Ha. You have a long name." Then the children met the Music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. the children began to make fun of Chrysanthemum again. The music teacher said,"If I have a baby, I'll name it Chrysanthemum." Chrysanthemum's whiskers stood straight out. Her tail stood straight out. "Really?" said Chrysanthemum. Now all the girls wanted to be a flower.

I think you would like the book Chrysanthemum because it is a really good book.

All in all, these are just a few of the experiences that children enjoyed as they dove deeply into Kevin Henkes' books to embrace comprehension of narrative test. The title is taken from Mr. Slingers' statement in Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, "All they could say was 'WOW!'"

Addendum 4/29/2011: Chets Creek give an award each time bulletin boards go up for the best boards.  This is the commentary from our SBBB winner!
Congratulations Tracy Ruark and dayle timmons! Your Kevin Henkes author study bulletin board has earned the "Primary Purple Cow Bulletin Board of the Month"! The board includes a look into both reading and writing lessons and student products from parts of the unit. They highlighted graphic organizers based on story elements which they had students apply not only in pairs to a Kevin Henkes' book but also to the student's independent reading books, as well. Additionally they spotlight a student's Response to Literature with rubric, a comparing and contrasting characters activity that deepens comprehension, a creative story, and a Readers' Theatre lesson with Henkes' book, Owen. The border is adorned with student artwork including a drawing of each student's favorite character and colored glasses artifacts. The personalization is second to none with student pictures and puppets of the characters, too. Truly this is a unique board that you won't want to miss especially because you get a glimpse into an author study, Great work!

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