Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Sweet Mentor Text and a Retelling Freebie

Happy Sunday!

I am linking up with Collaboration Cuties for Must Read Mentor Texts. 
Since the DRA is coming up later this week and the character study unit is coming to a close, I decided to spend a few days this week reviewing how to retell and make connections.  Retelling and connecting are the key comprehension factors on the DRA.  It always frustrates me when a strong decoder is held back levels by poor retellings and connections.  Of course, I want them to comprehend, but the books at the lower levels are way less fun for them, especially when they can read the words in higher ones.  Also, many  parents don't understand the discrepancy because to them reading = reading the words.

Anyhow, now that the last DRA of the year is here, I am determined to not let these things hold my kiddos back.  I've really been pushing and reinforcing how to retell and connect throughout the year in reading workshop, reading groups, and one-on-one conferences.  My kids definitely should know how to retell, but they sometimes get lazy.  So, this week I am going to review and re-model how to retell and connect using the sweet Tomie dePaola book Now One Foot, Now the Other.  This book should be a good one to retell and connect to because it has a meaningful, relatable plot, a clear problem/solution, and strong characters with real names (not just "the boy," "the girl" etc.).

The story is about about a boy named Bobby who has a special relationship with his grandfather, Bob.  Bob and Bobby love building block towers together with the elephant block on top.  They also love remembering when Bob taught Bobby to walk by saying, first one foot, now the other.  One day, Bob has a stroke.  He has to stay in the hospital for a long time and even after he comes home, he does not remember his family and he cannot speak. Bobby is very scared at first, but then bravely tries to help Bob recover his memories and his speech.  Soon, Bobby is building block towers for Bob to help knock down.  Then, in the sweetest role-reversal ever, Bobby teaches Bob how to walk the same way he was taught, "Now one foot, now the other."

Wow, I almost teared up when writing that.  I always get a bit emotional when reading Now One Foot, Now the Other because it is so real.  I know it is probably based on something that really happened in Tomie's life, but almost anyone can relate to this special grandparent-grandchild relationship and the fear that comes when a loved one gets sick.  My mom absolutely loves this touching story because she has a heart for senior citizens.  She actually got teary when she read this book to my class a few weeks ago.

As, you can probably tell, this book is great for teaching connections.  Even though when my mom read the story to the class, it was just for a read aloud, not a lesson, my kids were making really meaningful connections.  It was actually hard to get them to listen to the book because they all wanted to share about their grandparents, people they knew who were sick etc.  When I re-read this to the class tomorrow, I am going to encourage more connections, specifically connections to how the characters are feeling at different points in the story.  I also want them to use more specific language and evidence from the book to explain their connections.  Too often they get stuck just saying, "One time..."  I want them to tell me how/why the book reminded them of that time.  I need to hear because!!!

In addition to having the kids connect to the book, I want to use it to re-model retelling.  After I go, I will have them turn and talk to retell the story to a neighbor.  Then, comes the hardcore practice...reading and retelling to a buddy.  Since I can't always be available to listen and hold each kid accountable for his/her retelling, I created a Retelling Checklist for reading buddies to use to check each other.  You can pick it up for free by clicking either picture below.

My kids have gotten the hang of using checklists in writing, so they shouldn't have too much trouble catching on to how to use this one.  I am going to be sure to encourage students to be good coaches to each other by offering meaningful feedback, rather than harsh criticism.  I hope they will be able to use this checklist to practice and hold each other accountable even when I am stuck DRAing and not able to circulate.

Besides needing it to be quiet when I am assessing, I think it is vital for kids to learn to work independently and cooperatively.  Having them retell and talk about books with each other is more relevant than always having them work with me only.  My hope is that through reading and talking about books with partners and groups throughout the year, my kiddos are learning to love books and they are preparing to all be productive members of book clubs one day.  ;-)

Two more quick things:

Thank you to everyone who linked up with Tricks of the Trade this week.  I learned some great tips for how to create awesome bulletin boards.  If you missed linking up on Thursday, it's not too late.  The current linky will be open until Wednesday. 

After that, it's time for our new focus, which is...
Start thinking about your tricks of the trade for getting your students' attention and minimizing wasted time during transitions.  The linky will be open starting Thursday morning.  We would love to have you share your ideas!

Also, it's not too late to share your creative caption for this crazy picture.  You have until next Friday to make me laugh with your caption for a chance to win a $10 gift card.  All you have to do is a leave a comment with your caption on this post.  I will work with a few objective sources to decide the best caption.  Click the picture to head over and share your caption idea.  

Well, that's it for...WAIT.  I interrupt this blog entry to bring you some breaking news...

I now have...


WOO HOO!!!  

I am so pumped.  I am amazed that that many people care to read what I write.  When I started blogging I never imagined I would make so many friends.  

Now that I am almost to 100, it's time plan my 100 Follower Giveaway!  If you would like to help out with the celebration, please fill out the form below.

Thanks for your help!  I can't wait to celebrate!

Also, please let me know what you think of the retelling checklist(s).  I would love feedback.  Thanks!


  1. Hi Becky~91 followers is great! I clicked to make it 92 for you but realized that I was already following and part of your 91. :) Good luck with reaching 100. I am trying to get to 200, but I know that's quite a stretch from where I am 122. I dream big I guess...:)

    I love Tomie DePaola books, even though I teach big kids. We can all adapt these books to any level if we love them enough. ;)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas to go along with this wonderful book! I have oodles of Tomie DePaola's books, but I do not have this one--will be adding it our collection! Just found you through the mentor text link up, and I am a new follower... :0)

    Sarah @ Hoots N Hollers

  3. I love this book. Such a sweet one. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  4. I have never read this book. It sounds really sweet and is a topic I do not have in my library.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Congratulations of almost making it to 100.

    School Is a Happy Place

  5. Wow! What a sweet book! I love Tomie DePaola but I've never heard of this book! What a great way for students to make connections!!

    Thanks for linking up!
    Collaboration Cuties

  6. I love Tomie DePaola! I haven't ever read this particular book though! I love the retelling sheet; it will be great for Read to Someone. Congrats on almost reaching 100 followers! We just signed up to be a part of your giveaway! :)
    Tamra and Sarah
    First Grade Buddies

  7. I just filled out your form to donate to your giveaway! Don't forget that you're featured on my blog tomorrow!
    :) Dana
    Fun in 1st Grade