Tag Archives: read alouds

Getting Students to Think Outside the Box

We are always looking for ways to get students to think outside the box and to expand on their thoughts.  My gifted education supervisor gave us the book, Making Thinking Visible, in hopes that we’d use some of the routines in the classroom.  I’ll be the first to say that I immediately thought of this as just ANOTHER thing to do, but quickly changed my mind when I opened this book.

Screen shot 2014-11-17 at 8.14.12 PMI’m not much of a reader, so I randomly picked what I thought was  one of the shortest routines and started reading.  This was a routine called, Step-Inside.  This allows students to step inside the shoes of a character or object from a book, passage, picture, or poem.  This is a wonderful routine to use when you want students to open up their thinking and look at things from a different point of view.

I used this with my first graders.  We were already in the middle of a study on the book, Charlotte’s Web, and Step Inside worked perfectly.  I gave my students some academic choice by allowing them to choose if they wanted to “step inside” Zuckerman’s barn as Wilbur or as Charlotte.  At this point they were given Post-It notes with the chosen name to use for answering the proposed questions.

  • What does Charlotte/Wilbur see, feel, notice in the barn?
  • What might she/he know, understand, or believe?  Why?
  • What might she/he are deeply about?
  • What might she/he wonder about or question?

StepInside

Notice the keyword is “might” in each question.  This is because we don’t truly know what anyone or anything else is feeling.

After all the questions were answered we went back through each question and discussed the student responses.  This thinking routine helps students explore perspectives and develop empathy.

Our next step is to use what we learned from this thinking routine and create a writing piece from the point of view  as our chosen character.  They, of course, will be writing in first person.  The sentence starters I will be giving them are:

  • Hello there, I’m Wilbur______________________________.
  • Salutations, I’m Charlotte __________________________.

This activity really requires students to think outside the box and look at things from a different perspective.  So far, I’ve been really impressed with the depth my first graders have gone to really “become” their character.  I can only imagine how they will grow the more we explore this thinking routine.

Have you used any Visible Thinking Routines in your classroom?

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Favorite Thanksgiving Read Alouds

Thanksgiving is the holiday that seems to get overlooked a lot. We just finished all the fun Halloween books and we are getting all our winter and Christmas books ready. Don’t forget that there are some great Thanksgiving books that your students will love!

Thanksgiving_colorgraphics by A Sketchy Guy

One of my favorite read alouds is  Thanksgiving at the Tappletons by  Eileen Spinelli.

This is a story about all the trouble that come along with fixing Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey goes sliding out the door and the other holiday foods get ruined in humorous ways. So what do the Tappletons do? They eat a nontraditional meal for dinner.

I really like the older version of the story with people instead of wolves. After reading the book we would make No Bake Pumpkin Pies. I would put the recipe on the overhead and the students would copy it for their recipe book. Click on the title for the recipe.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting  is a fun story about having a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

Mr. Moose goes out looking for a turkey to have for Thanksgiving dinner. The rest of Mr. Moose’s friends come along for the journey. Mr. Moose finds Turkey and brings him home for dinner. After getting to the Moose’s home, Turkey realizes he is a guest and not the dinner.

If you are looking for nonfiction books there are some great ones to share with your students.

Thanksgiving by Gail Gibbons is a nonfiction book that gives facts about Thanksgiving. There are facts about the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Gibbons also describes traditions we have with Thanksgiving.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Anderson is about Sarah Hale and her persistent pursuit in making Thanksgiving a national holiday. It took her 38 years of letter writing to get Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday. This is an easy book to read for young students.

I have created a turkey story map that you can use with the fiction stories. Click on the image below to get a copy of the story map. If you like this activity, I also have a Thanksgiving Turkey Unit that includes this story map and other turkey activities.

turkey map_Page_1Let me know what your favorite Thanksgiving story is.

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