Thursday, 10 October 2013

Mentor Text - Reading "The Pumpkin Runner"

This year I have decided to have a monthly mentor text in my classroom - a story that we will read together and really explore in depth.

I've done guided reading with mentor texts before but I've never really felt like I spend enough time on them. It's always been a rush trying to squeeze in some good reading in between all the other things our curriculum requires. So this year I thought I would take one book a month and schedule literature centers once a week so that I can work with small groups every week on specific skills.

We'll still do our whole class reader but I know my kids will get a lot more out of the small group reading - and some of them really need that time and attention.

This month's pick is "The Pumpkin Runner", by Marsha Diane Arnold.

Find it here

It's a great story based on the true tale of Cliff Young, an Australian sheep farmer who, at the age of 61 in 1983, won the 900 kilometer race from Melbourne to Sydney, beating the record time by nearly two days.

Joshua Summerhayes likes to run, with Yellow Dog trailing behind him. People laugh when he decides to enter the race and they laugh still more when he shows up in overalls, gumboots and with a slice of pumpkin in his hands. The laughter changes to admiration when the oldest runner, supplied along the route with pumpkin energy in the form of Aunt Milly's delicious recipes, shuffles his way to victory - demonstrating kindness, humility and generosity along the way.

In our study of the book we're going to look at the vocabulary (there are some great words!), think about the text in the form of reading response questions, making connections, and making predictions, look at how the author's writing helps us visualize scenes, ask questions, do story sequencing and mapping activities, look at character traits and finally write a book review.

Some of these activities will become my anchor activities for the month; some will be part of our guided reading; some will be morning work - the possibilities are endless and I'll be interested to see how the children approach it all. I have some little people who love to work independently and others who have to be coaxed but the beauty of this is I can differentiate the packs so that everyone gets what they can succeed with.

Some of our worksheets :)

Last week we read the story for the first time and, in groups, tackled the first reading response. I was really pleased with the way my girls discussed the question and they came up with wonderful ideas that we shared as a class. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens as we continue to explore the book - and of course, thinking about what text to use next month.

There are so many wonderful books that the only problem is going to be figuring out which one to use!! :)

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