Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Important Book

Our comprehension strategy for the past few weeks has been topic, main idea, and details. Typically I have read non-fiction books and then discussed topic, main idea and details by making an anchor chart with the class. After several rounds of this the kids kind of understood T, MI and D ... but I didn't think it was a deep enough understanding.

So this year another first grade teacher introduced me to The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. This book was PERFECT and after a week of working with it, my class has a much better understanding of why we need to understand T, MI and D when reading and writing.

Here's what I did:

Day 1: We read The Important Book. I found this website that talks about The Important Book in the framework of the 6-Trait Writing philosophy. The Important Book works for T, MI, and D because it uses a specific, repetitive framework on each page, so it is easy to point out the pattern and then show students how they can write like Margaret Wise Brown.  On Monday, I read the book, pointing out the patterned language on each page and then we looked at this poster together:
On the first day this chart was blank. I just copied "The important thing about _______ is ___________." Then I laminated it so we could use it all week.

Day 2: We re-read some of our favorite pages in The Important Book and reviewed how the most important part of the book is the main idea and the author gets to decide what that is! Then the author gives us details about the topic, but reminds us that despite those details there is one thing that is the MOST important thing about the topic. Together I showed the class a bag of candy and we filled in the important poster using candy as our topic. Students talked with their carpet partners about the most important thing about candy and then some other things that could be used as details. Then we came back together and filled in the poster as a class (see above picture).  After filling in the poster together, each child went back to their seats and illustrated one detail about candy. I typed up the important page we wrote together on the carpet and then I laminated their writing and  put the pages together to make a class book, "The Important Book about Candy."

Day 3: I read their class book to them. They love listening to books they make themselves, even though some of the pages had the same ideas! After reviewing topic, main idea, and details as presented in The Important Book, I told the students they would each be writing a page of an important book, but instead of candy, these pages would be about themselves. I modeled how my page may look:

The most important thing about Mrs. Z is that she is a teacher. It is true she has blonde hair. She has a dog. She also loves to run. But the most important thing about Mrs. Z is that she is a teacher.

After brainstorming with their carpet partner, each child went back to their seat and filled out this pre-writing page from the 6-Trait website.

Day 4: After continuing to conference with students about their pre-writing from yesterday, students re-wrote their important book page on writing paper. Most of my conferences were about showing students how to pick out the most important thing about themselves and then writing REALLY great details. We are still working on the final draft and once I compile the book this coming week I will share pictures!

I loved teaching topic, main idea and details this week and I will definitely use this mini-unit again next year!

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