Wednesday, October 13, 2010
One of our goals in working with young readers is to teach them how to activate their background knowledge before they read so they can connect more easily with the text. One way we do this is through the use of circle maps. Before reading, we identify a theme, place it in the inner circle, and ask students to react by discussing what they know about the theme. In the photograph on the left, before reading Knuffle Bunny Too we talked about the feelings you have when something is lost. I wrote down student replies in the outer circle. I asked students to think about these feelings as we read the book. I interrupted the reading of the book only one time to remind students that we were thinking about Trixie's feelings and how they connected to what we had discussed before reading. It's a bit of a tight rope walk in that you want students to think, but not be weighed down with the task so as not to enjoy the story. After reading, we talked about how Trixie reacted in the story to having the wrong Knuffle Bunny. I think making a circle map helps students recall the story and empathize with the main character. On the right is a circle map we created before reading Big Mama's. Both of these texts are excellent mentor texts for helping students connect with text. A circle map is a pretty simple organizer to use for teaching students to think about what they are reading.