I’m planning on doing a much better job working with literacy this year. I want to find various texts—stories, songs, reports, novels, etc.—and backwards plan from them the phrases, making us be able to access a wider range of things. If I’m going to be having a literacy based curriculum, I need to have a good amount of reading going on. Klar!
I got a lot better at making up stories out of the key phrases, but the thing I struggled the most with at the end of last year was the actual reading of the story. Granted, the books I had available for levels one and two weren’t high literature, but in the video study group I participated in there was a lot of good suggestions about how to get through those books. Carla in particular was very diligent about finding a lot of ideas from literature that are real winners. As I never got around to posting those at the time, I’d like to feature several of them here as a series of blog posts. Basically, what do you do to make reading a novel more interactive? How do you go about making your own Teacher’s Treasure Chest to pick and choose from?
One of the easy “low hanging fruit” ideas that Carla found regards presents. Once the main characters are pretty well established, a good discussion day topic (in between reading chapters) would be “What presents should you give to each character?” I got to thinking about the recent discussion here about creating flawed characters to draw the students in (making sure to juxtapose your “perfect” students with the flawed characters—hat tip to Erin there). OK, so your characters are flawed. What gift can you give them that can help compensate for that flaw?
If your main character is a bit scatterbrained (I’m thinking of Thomas from Geld oder Liebe) does he need an iPad to help him coordinate things better? Or would playing with all the Apps make things worse? If the Tiger in O Wie Schön ist Panama is always afraid of everything, do you give him a bodyguard? A security blanket? A water pistol? Going through all of the ideas the class generates could be a fun exercise. Then that would set you up for later in the novel when the characters’ flaws come up again, and you could have a nice brain break talking about how they could sure use that iPad now, or what they would do in this situation with a favorite gift.
I was even thinking of this exercise for my classes in conjunction with the German tradition of St. Nikolaus and Knecht Ruprecht/Krampus. Basically it’s Saint Nick as the good cop, and his dirty friend as the bad cop who gives the kids coal (or worse) if they’re bad. I remember the part in Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where Father Christmas shows up and gives everybody a gift to move the plot along. We could have a recurring practice where Nikolaus and Krampus show up in every novel we read to help people out and/or give them a hard time. That would be a fun twist to drop in December, at least.