Finally finished The Westing Game

Well, we finally finished The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Let me just start by saying that in the beginning I almost gave up on this as a read aloud! Now I am so glad we stuck with it!!!! 🙂

Here are the things that have to be considered:

1. It is very difficult to follow-I have ordered a class set of this book so that every student has a copy in their hands. Also, I introduced it by having them fill out a predict-o-gram with words/terms that are in the book. We periodically revisited this sheet and made changes when necessary. I also gave them a character sheet and as we read through the book I had them write things down when we were introduced to a character or given more information.

2. There are 40 chapters in this book-I did not start this book as soon as I should have so we really crunched some chapters together toward the end.

3. It is very difficult to follow-Did I say this already? 🙂 I should have taken some time throughout the year to introduce some things so they would be more easily understood as they came up in the book-stock market(definitely!!!!), chess, not sure what else but these are 2 biggies!!!!!!

At first I was frustrated along with the kids because there were so many characters to keep straight, and the way the book is written the scenes keep jumping (quickly). BUT-WE ENDED UP LOVING THIS BOOK!!!!! We finished it today-some of my girls (avid readers) did NOT want the book to end!!!!!

I will definitely keep this on my read aloud list and put it at the end of the year again-BUT will build up to it all year!!!

How to Read Aloud

I only wish that I had been reading aloud to my 6th graders ALL year EVERY day! I love it, they love it, and I just wonder if it would have helped them with their own reading aloud. I am only on the 3rd novel with them: 1st was How to Eat Fried Worms; 2nd was Walk Two Moons; now I am reading The Westing Game. My goal for next year is to read 1 chapter each day for the entire 180 days. Of course, next year I am also going to begin doing reading and writing mini-lessons so I will also be reading picture books, articles, excerpts from novels, etc to them a lot. I know that I will only be able to add maybe 1 more novel (complete novel) to the mix because of time constraints, and I’m wondering which one I am going to choose. The 1st one this year was FUNNY, the 2nd one was SAD, and the 3rd one is a MYSTERY(and it is very hard for them to follow!!). 🙂

I am thinking about adding one of these: Freak the Mighty, Maniac Magee, Number the Stars, something that makes them feel and think and wonder!

Anyway, I consider myself a very good reader in all sorts of ways-especially reading aloud. I have always been an avid reader of books (I LOVE TO READ). I taught Kindergarten for 6 years so I read aloud A LOT! And my 6th graders love the read aloud! 🙂 So I found these tips on reading aloud and making it magical on  Mem Fox‘s website. Read and listen for yourself!

Demonstrative Adjectives

I introduced the concept of demonstrative adjectives today-I think they are catching onto this easily. But how come we STILL have problems with basic parts of speech????? Since this is my 1st year teaching 6th grade I don’t know if all 6th graders are not knowledgeable about the 8 basic parts of speech or just this class. I wish I knew what to do to help them with it-what’s bad is that parts of speech are not even in my course of study for 6th grade english so I don’t want to spend gobs of time on it, but they are the foundation for everything else in english. What to do?????

I do know that they need to learn more english “stuff” in context, I’m just not sure how or when to do that. I want to spend more time writing with them because that is an area that has been left behind this year with all of the reading that we do. But I’m not real sure how many have made tons of progress in their reading even with the amount of time we have spent on it! I do wish I had more 6th grade teachers at my school to talk with about reading, english, spelling, and writing and the right way to teach all of this. Is it from the countless workbooks that we are given?? Nobody in our school district does workshop methods-we were told to implement small group reading instruction this year in 4th-5th-6th grade but I’m not sure how many teachers are actually doing that. I tried it about 7-10 times this year and the kids really loved it, but of course I couldn’t get to everything that I was supposed to do so something gets left out.

I know that one problem/weakness that I have is trying to do too much-surely nobody else has that problem??? 🙂 I want to be an effective teacher and deliver effective instruction-I think sometimes I just skim the surface and don’t have time to really dig deep! I am currently reading 2 books- R5 in Your Classroom-A Guide to Differentiating Independent Reading and Developing Avid Readers by  Michelle J. Kelley and Nicki Clausen-Grace  and The Cafe book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (The Sisters). These are excellent books, and I’m thinking I want to try and implement a combination of the 2 methods into my classroom, but not quite sure how to do that!!!

This was my schedule for the day (and we rushed!!!).

1. Partner read “The Pasture” poem by Robert Frost. Briefly discuss.

2. English-Introduce demonstrative adjectives-Workbook page and study guide sheet. We worked with partners, groups, and independently.

3. Introduced 5 high frequency words-They wrote them and sorted them.

4. Practice reader’s theater

5. Scott Foresman Reading Textbook-I read aloud the read aloud story-we discussed. They worked in groups to develop the concept web.

6. We read almost 1 whole chapter in “The Westing Game” and discussed.

7. I introduced acrostic poetry and showed an example. (They got a little excited about this!)

8. I reveiwed the comprehension strategy-MAKING CONNECTIONS-We read our choice books independently and kept a tally of when we were able to make a connection.

Whew!!!! 🙂 We worked the entire time-they stayed engaged. But we didn’t get to read our choice books for the length of time that I was wanting to-we only read for about 10 minutes! I just wish I had more time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!