April's Chets Creek Book-of-the-month was The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. The strategy that we worked through was asking deeper questions with medium and high cognitive complexity. We met in small groups and then came together with our grade level to write questions for each page of the book. Today Mrs. Ruark read the book to the students, asking them the more complex questions that we had discussed as a group. The idea is that children have to comprehend text by talking about the ideas before they are able to do the work independently on a comprehension assessment. This is a really great book that tells the story of a garden that grows from a railway that is no longer used. The text and illustrations challenge the children to draw inferences and think deeply about the message in the book.
After reading the delightful story and asking questions throughout the text, Tracy showed the children an article that she had read in National Geographic that is based on the real story of an abandoned rail line called the High Line in Manhattan. The city turned this abandoned rail into a walking park with chairs to sit and read, an amphitheatre, and a leisurely strolling path filled with greenery right in the middle of the city. This additional piece gave the children an opportunity to draw conclusions between the two pieces of literature and worked well with the idea that we are working with in writing - that children can use real experiences to base their fictional writing. While we could have pulled one of our laptops to the document camera to share the on-line magazine article, instead Tracy used her personal ipad to quickly pull the story up for the children to see. The site even included a video in elapsed time of someone walking the path! Using the ipad was quick and convenient. We first tried just holding the ipad and showing it like we would a book but quickly realized that the pictures and video showed very well through the document camera! How exciting it would be to have an ipad at our disposal. It was so quick - so convenient! I can see how we would use the Internet so much more often in our lessons and with such great ease! Anyone know where we can find the money for ipads?!