Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mentor Text: Oliver Button is a Sissy

Howdy everyone!

Hope you all are having a terrific Tuesday, whether you are on summer vacation or still at school cramming things into kid's brains.  Hehe.

I am linking up to several linky parties today.  Some late, some on time.

First of all, Must Read Mentor Texts with Collaboration Cuties.

As I promised a long time ago, I am going to share another Tomie dePaoloa book, since we are still enjoying our Tomie dePaola Author Study.  

Oliver Button is a Sissy is a great book for so many reasons.  The book tells the story of Oliver who is not like other boys.  He prefers to play jump rope, play in the woods, dress up, and sing, rather than playing sports.  At school, he is made fun of by all of the other boys.  They call him a "sissy" and laugh when a girl defends him.  Even Oliver's father disapproves of his interests and wants him to play sports like the other boys.  Then, Oliver performs at a local talent show, where although he doesn't win, he earns more respect from those who teased him.  

This book is so useful.  It can be used to teach/talk about narrative elements like setting, character, and plot. I am referring to it for our realistic fiction writing unit because it is a strong example of that genre.  The problem gets worse before it gets better.  It has a strong main character etc.

During reading, I have the students get to know Oliver by identifying what he looks like, says, and does at different points in the story.  I also talk about the different settings: woods, school, dance class etc.

Now, I am beginning to use the book to teach inferring.  I learned a cool strategy for teaching inferring last year during a professional development meeting.  To help the students understand the thought process involved, I have them hold out both hands, palms up, as if they are holding something.  I tell them that when they infer, they take their Schema (what they know) in one hand, and then take the Clues (text and pictures in the book) in the other hand.  They put them together to make a new idea that reads between the lines.  This gives them a tangible way to represent their thinking.

This week we have begun practicing by using the familiar skill of identifying character feelings.  As I read excerpts of Oliver Button is a Sissy, I stopped to have the students infer how Oliver was feeling.  They had to hold out one hand and list the clues they saw in the book, e.g. Oliver's smiling, the text says he likes to jump rope and then think hold out the other hand while they think about what they know about feelings before putting their hands together and saying Oliver's feeling.

In case that's confusing, here's an example.

"Oliver is covering his face, he is looking down, the graffiti says he is a sissy.  Based on what I know about how I feel when I make that face and if I was made fun of, I think Oliver feels sad, upset, hurt etc."  Students would hold out one hand, then the other, and then put them together as they said this.  

Naturally, discussing Oliver's traits and feelings leads to a good discussion about accepting people for who they are and not bullying.  Since the students can connect to Oliver's pain from their own bullying experiences and his joy when he is doing something he loves, the message of this story really resonates with them all.

That is the second part of our inferring practice.  We are going to use several Tomie dePaola books to infer the lesson/message of the story.  For example, Oliver Button was written to teach us to accept others for who they are and not to bully.

We are also going to discuss the lessons found in Stagestruck and Strega Nona.

For some more inferring fun, we are singing the cute song, "I Can Make an Inference" as song by Amanda from One Extra Degree.  Her reading strategy posters and songs are so cute and useful.  I love them!  Click the picture to check them out for yourself.

Back to Tomie.  As we read his many different books, we are discussing his unique style as an author and illustrator, how authors' use the same characters in different books, and how author's write stories based on their own life experiences.  To tie this last point together, I am reading aloud Tomie dePaola's autobiography, so that the students can pick out the real life picture book characters and plot lines.  There are actually so many connections that I can barely read a page of the book before the kids start calling out, "That happened in The Art Lesson," "His grandparents are Irish!,"  "I remember Nana Upstairs!" etc. etc.  

As I said in my recent post about this author study, I am trying to be sure to emphasize that a lot of different authors use these techniques, not just Tomie.  So far, the author study has been a great success!

Now for a quick Tried it Tuesday with Fourth Grade Flipper.
This is not school-related, but it relates to the June goals I set here.
As my Heath goal this month, I somewhat pledged to try to learn to run better.  Today, I tried a combination of iPhone apps that actually got me motivated to go.
Nike Plus is awesome because it logs your miles, times your run or walk, calculates your average speed, and shows your route on a map.  The map is also cool because it is color coded to show your speed at different points in the run.  When you are done running, you can log your mood, where you ran, and what shoes you wore.  As an extra bonus, you can link to Facebook, so your friends can cheer you on as your run and see your progress afterwards. 
iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2iPhone Screenshot 4
My sister, who just finished a half marathon, suggested I also try the Couch to 5k program, so I looked it up and found a free app.
C25K is similar to Nike Plus in that it tracks your time, mileage, speed etc.  However, it is different because it is an actual training program.  The program lasts for 2 months with the goal being for you to eventually build enough endurance to run a 5K.  As someone who walks a lot, but can't run to save her life, running for 3 miles sounds like a major feat to me!
Today, I tried the Week 1 Day 1 run, which was really more like a run and walk interval set that went like this:  5 min. warm up walk, 20 minutes alternating between 60 second runs and 90 second walks, then 5 min. cool down.  This is the same routine for the first three workouts.
As of this moment, I am loving both apps.  I am a person who likes/needs to see numbers to stay motivated. That's why I like running on a machine better than outside.  However, after discovering both of these apps that give me lots of numbers, goals, and even encouragement, I am thinking I might be able to conquer my hatred of running.  
If you are a runner I would love some tips for how to get better!
Before I go, here's this week's Tricks of the Trade Thursday topic!
Hope you can join Jessica and me this Thursday!


  1. Hi Becky! I love Oliver Button too! Thanks for the inferring tips...love new ways to help make the strategies more concrete!
    Two Friends In First

  2. I love me some Tomie dePaola! I am so excited to use them this year. Thanks for the ideas! Those apps seem really good too!

  3. I have heard of the Couch to 5K app when people post it on Facebook. I am NOT a runner right now but could totally see myself trying something like this! Something to consider...
    Thanks so much for linking up:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  4. Thanks for the books suggestion and inferencing trick. I have never read this one.
    I tip for you on your running efforts. Run a minute and walk a minute. Gradually increase your running time with intervals of walking recovery. You don't want to make running such a chore that you never want to do it. Summer break is a great time to get into a routine.
    Good Luck.

    School Is a Happy Place

  5. I love Tomie DePaola and I like Oliver Button is a Sissy! I have not heard of Stagestruck. I love the hand motions that you use for inferencing! I think that's a great way to make it real for them!

    I am not a runner. I'm awful at it. My mom does the walk/run intervals. I've tried it and it does help me. But I still don't like to run!

    Thanks for linking up!
    Collaboration Cuties