Monday, December 22, 2014

Teaching Plot, Subplot and Characterization in Grade 2 through Read Aloud and Writing

In this post I show how to teach plot, subplot and characterization through a multi-day read aloud, using the picture book, City Green. For additional books you can use to teach subplot, see this post: Teaching Multiple Plot Lines with Picture Books.

Text: DiSalvo-Ryan, DyAnne. (1994). City Green. New York: HarperCollins. 

Note: Book Introduction: Instead of introducing the book, begin by sharing a think aloud that you do showing students how you ask questions while reading a text.

Conduct a think aloud in order to demonstrate how to ask questions about a text while reading. Tell the students that their job is to watch and notice what you do and the questions you ask. (Below are example questions. You should pose your own actual questions.As you read, Create a Question Web, so that you model for students what you will be asking them to do independently.

Focusing on RL.2.1: Asking Questions while Reading
  1. “While I read today I’m going to share my questions about City Green, but later I’m going to ask you to share your questions. So listen carefully to how I ask questions and later it will be your turn to pose questions.”
  2. “I’m also thinking that this story is fiction because there are pictures, and it is told like a story. Can someone remind us of the difference between fiction and non-fiction books?”
1. After reading the title:
Question 1: I wonder, who is this little girl?
Question 2: Why does she have so many plants around her?
Question 3: I notice the buildings behind her and the title and think this story takes place in a city.  Could this be a garden in the city? Does she eat the foods we see?

2. After reading page 1:
Question 4: Why isn’t this building standing anymore?
Question 5: Why is Old Man Hammer so mean to the little girl?
Question 6: What city does this girl live in?

Can you turn and tell your partner what you watched me do? What did you notice about the questions I asked?

3. After reading page 6:
Question 7:  Will Old Man Hammer try to stop Marcy from planting her garden?  Might the garden change him?
Question 8: Can Marcy plant a whole garden by herself?
Question 9: Who is going to help her pick up all of the trash?

4. After reading page 9:
Question 10: What is a petition and what is it used for?
Question 11:  Why did Old Man Hammer refuses to sign it and help? What stops him?

5.  After reading page 12:
Question 12: How can Marcy rent a lot of land for only one dollar?
Question 13: What will the garden look like at the end?
  1. Now that I’ve shown you how I ask questions during the story, I’m going to let you all share your questions with me as we finish the book. 
  2. After I read a page I’ll stop and invite you to ask your questions and I’ll record them on our chart. 
(Continue through the book, and allow students to ask questions that are relevant to the story)

Question 14: I asked you when we started the story what the title might mean. [Show cover of book]. Think about the title and the events in the story and then turn and tell your partner what you think this story is mostly about? [RL.2.2; RL.2.7]

Applying What We Have Learned About Asking Questions to Independent Reading
  1. Now that you have generated questions I want you to go back to select a independent reading book that you would like to reread. 
  2. This time, though, I want you to generate questions while you read. Try to think of and record at least 5 questions that you are wondering about while reading. 
  3. To begin, write the title of your book in a circle, and then write the questions that you’re wondering about that relate  to your book. 
  4. Remember to ask questions at the beginning, middle and end of your book. 
  5. After independent reading time, we will share how well we were able to generate questions by showing our question webs to a partner.

2nd Reading/Writing: Writing in Response to Text

from City Green

Show students the story map (on the next page) and ask them to think about the characters, setting, events, problem and solution as you reread, City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan. Explain to the students that there is the main plot and a subplot.  The main plot focuses on Marcy, while the subplot focuses on Old Man hammer and how he changes.

After reading, have partners complete two story maps for City Green: one for the main plot and one for the subplot. (W.2.2)

Main Plot
  1. Have students retell the main plot in a single paragraph.
  2. You may want to provide some of the students with a scaffolded paragraph in order to help them understand what information would be include.
Retell the main plot in a paragraph.

The story City Green is about _____________________________________________. When the city workers ___________________________________________________. Marcy and her neighbors _____________________________________________. Then they___________________________________. Next __________________________. Now _________________________________________.

Sample Paragraph: 
The story City Green is about working together to clean up a messy lot. When the city workers tore down a building it left a lot of rubble. Marcy and her neighbors went to  City Hall to rent the lot for one dollar. Then they cleaned the lot up. Next they planted a garden. Now the people go to the garden to relax and look at the flowers.

Sub Plot (W.2.2)
  1. Invite students retell the subplot in a single paragraph.
  2. You may want to provide some of the students with a scaffolded paragraph in order to help them understand what information would be include.

In the story City Green, Old Man Hammer changes from ____________________ into ________________________.  Old Man Hammer is sad because __________ ___________________________________________________. Next, ____________________________________________. Then, ____________________. _________________________.   Old Man Hammer is happy at the end because __________________________________________________________________.

In the story City Green, Old Man Hammer changes from a grumpy man into a delightful person. Old Man Hammer is sad because his old home was torn down and the lot is grimy.  The neighbors clean the lot up.  Next, Old Man Hammer plants seeds in the garden. Then, Old Man Hammer’s seeds grow. Marcy goes and gets Old Man Hammer and shows him the sunflowers. Old Man Hammer is happy at the end because the lot is clean and pretty. Old Man Hammer comes back every day to relax.

Day 3: Reread Text/Opinion Writing (W.2.1)

Create a character analysis of Marcy with the students using three charts that are similar to the ones below through shared writing.

Step One
  1. Ask students to focus on the character of Marcy.  What is she like (think about her actions)? Unlike Old Man Hammer, Marcy doesn’t undergo change.  She is consistent throughout the story.
  2. Show students the first chart (not with it filled in) and ask them to put their heads together with their partner and to name traits that represent Marcy based on her actions.  Discuss and then list these traits in the column marked, Traits.
  3. Next, tell the students that as you reread the story, they should raise a hand when they hear evidence that supports a trait. Stop reading when students raise their hands indicating evidence. Discuss the evidence so students can explicitly share their opinions.
Step Two
  1. Review the completed first chart with students and then show them the second chart (also undone). Ask students which of the traits is Marcy’s most important trait. Then provide evidence (Sequence of events that prove Marcy is _______.) List these.
Step Three:
  1. Invite students to compose a paragraph that explains which trait they think was Marcy’s most important. They should state their opinion, supply reasons that support their opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

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