Novel Study Workshop and Presentations

In reading this month, 5K has been engaged in, inspired by, and enthralled with our Schooled by Gordon Korman novel study. Schooled is a fantastic realistic fiction story about Capricorn “Cap” Anderson, a 13-year-old boy who has grown up on a commune. When his grandmother, Rain is injured and has to spend time in a hospital and rehabilitation facility to heal, Cap’s world is turned upside-down. Having no other family or friends to stay with, Cap must live with strangers in the “real” world, a world from which Rain has spent her whole life shielding Cap. For the first time, Cap experiences public school, TV, bullies, and many other firsts.

This novel serves as an excellent mentor text which I use to teach previewing and predicting skills, character development, and point of view (to name a few). As this book is character-driven, the culminating activity was to create a character analysis Power Point to be presented to the class. We checked out our school’s laptop computers for the week, learned how to use the Internet to search for images and information, discussed presentation skills, referred to our Reader’s Notebooks, and prepared some pretty incredible Power Point presentations.

Workshop Time

Cody Works Hard on His Presentation

Graci’s Final Presentation

The top question of the week, as we finished up our presentations: “Mrs. Kraus, are we going to get to read another novel, and can we do a Power Point presentation for that?” My answer: “Absolutely, and I’m thinking a podcast may be in order for the next novel study!” Stay tuned…


A Visit from Ruth Ayres

Last week, during our SIP day, Southbury was lucky to have Ruth Ayres, one of the authors of Day by Day, spend the day with us. I was able to observe her in one of our 4th grade classrooms, modeling writer’s workshop. Ruth was fantastic to watch! Her mini-lesson was on integrating dialogue into writing. As she conferred with the students, I was drawn to her personal style, her teaching techniques, and her overall comfortable, yet purposeful, presence in the classroom. The students who met with her gained a great deal of writing knowledge in a short conference time. As I am conferencing with my students my hope is that I will make a difference in my students writing knowledge in a similar manner.

Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres, Authors of Day by Day

Where I felt I learned the most was in the sharing time of the workshop. I was amazed at how many students were able to share during this time. Ruth started by asking, “Would you like to share what you learned today?” The students were encouraged to respond with a, “Yes, thank you.” Then the sharing began…each writer shared what he or she had learned in the conference time with Ruth, and brought the entire lesson full circle, as many of them worked on adding dialogue to their writing. Those who didn’t work on adding dialogue that day still added value to the share time. One boy had trouble finding something to write about because he was “stuck.” Ruth, very cleverly, had him share what he plans to do to get unstuck. Many of his peers related to this as they have all faced that problem at some point in their writing. I loved how the students were able to “teach” their peers during sharing and how Ruth’s differentiated lessons during conferences became something every writer in class benefitted from at this time. WOW! I truly left the classroom encouraged and inspired by what I had seen in action. I can’t wait to try it in my room starting tomorrow!

I was so excited to see that Ruth gave Southbury a “shout out” on her blog Two Writing Teachers! Thank you, Ruth Ayres! You’ve helped open my eyes even more to what writer’s workshop can look like…my students are in for a great year of writing.