Sunday, 15 February 2015

Just like Dobbie!

Our library borrowing time is Friday right after lunch. I'm pretty transparent in my reasons: we're all tired by the end of the week and most of the kiddos are hot and bothered after running around like mad-men during their lunch break.  We all benefit from sitting down and relaxing over a shared picture book. My love of picture books is well known (here and at school) and so it makes sense to harness that obsession passion to help us through an otherwise challenging afternoon.

Sometimes we pick something topical and chat over the connections we can make between it and our other learning.  Other times a student will slip a book into my hand and give me a quick nod or a shy smile that makes it all but impossible to say no to them. If there's something on the 'new books' shelf that catches my eye I throw caution in the wind and read a book to the class before previewing it. (I figure that if our teacher librarian has chosen it for the school it can't be horrendous!) My favourite is  when we read old favourites and share text-to-text connections we've made over our time together.

It's a bit early in the year for any 'old' favourites with this class but my loopers (a term my husband coined this morning because he's tired of hearing me distinguish between my old kids - the ones who've come with me this year, and my new kids) have been pretty vocal in reminding me of some of last year's favourites.  I read one on Friday because it happened to also be one of my all time favourites, and we studied it during our  'author study' so I wanted to see what my loopers came up with during the discussion.

And boy was I amazed. They lead the discussion. They discussed Margaret Wild's craft in this book and linked it to others; they talked about the relationship between the text and the illustrations; they helped the younger students draw inferences and find evidence in the text or their own schema to support them. I sat in shock delight.

In case that wasn't brilliant enough?  Toward the end of the discussion, one of my loopers who struggled a little last year piped up with,
"And right at the end, I think Little Humpty talks about himself in the third person doesn't he? Just like Dobbie does in Harry Potter?"  Words failed me. Well, that's a lie. Words never fail me. I grinned. Like a cheshire cat. And asked her to explain why the author may have done that.
"Well, my little brother talks like that sometimes, so maybe Margaret [yes, they referred to the author by first name!] to remind us that Little Humpty is a kid?"
Yes. Yes indeed.

I sometimes worry that in a year 6/7 class I rely on picture books too much, but then consider all the novels, poems, graphic novels and non-fiction books we also use.  And I think of examples like the one I've just described. We read this book, in part, probably half a dozen times last year. Individual students poured over it many more times. It is familiar to my loopers in a way that a novel couldn't be, and that allowed for my student to make her connections.

Picture books. Gotta love 'em right?

This relates to the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers...
Standard 1 Know the students and how they learn
Standard 2 Know the content and how to teach it
Standard 3 Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning

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