Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Tale Dark and Grimm

A Tale Dark and Grimm, written by Adam Gidwitz, is my latest read aloud. We are in the midst of reading it in my fourth grade class. This year, I have 11 boys and 6 girls. It is challenging to select meaningful read alouds that captivate the entire class. I had never read Grimm's fairy tales before, but this one is based on the Grimm's fairy tales. Adam Gidwitz based the novel on the extended story of Hansel and Gretel. (Disclaimer: It can be a bit gory...I have altered some content while reading aloud so I don't give any teeny tiny fourth graders nightmares...)

Anyway, my kiddos are loving it. Like, really excited about our read aloud time. I should say, my little friends are quite dependent this year. Our writing block used to be comprised of a mini lesson and time to work on writing. I tried that this year, like I have for the past 6 years, and found the majority of my kiddos staring at the ceiling and "thinking" for 20 minutes. NOT PRODUCTIVE. So, I combined the read aloud with the writing. We read a chapter daily, and students respond to short response questions, focusing on STEAL and SPIT sentence starters (Steal your sentence starter from the question and spit it out in your response.) I leave the book out, or sometimes photocopy pages, so kiddos can look back. If they finish early, they have the option of free writing (10 minutes, usually) or working on vocabulary crosswords with challenging words from the read aloud we are currently reading. This is working better for me. I don't feel like I'm chasing my students during free writing, scolding them for just sitting there, staring, aimlessly wondering about how to waste time until lunch.

Back to A Tale DArk and Grimm. Exciting. It also inspired many of my students to read the real Grimm's fairy tales. Click on the link below to see the full student packet with questions on each chapter at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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