Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Matt and his Summary

So yesterday we took a trip to Houston...lots of fun car visit some great friends. We had a good time catching up, and it was weird to be back. We have only been gone three months, but it seems like a lot longer. There were pangs of missing people, and reminiscing (ooh, spelling?) on fun times...but as we drove in our driveway last night, we talked about how it felt good to be home.

I wanted to focus on Matt's reading goal, which was to finish the mystery book he is reading for a book report. The report requires him to summarize the book, so I had given him post its and some instructions on a strategy to try.

I had him use one color post it to summarize each chapter when he came to the end of it. The second color post it was to be used to incorporate all the information he'd read so far into an ongoing cumulative summary of the book.

At first he wasn't sure what the difference was. So I explained that the chapter has its own events, but then those events blend with the other chapters to form a bigger picture. Like a puzzle...each section of the puzzle has an item, but those items go together to make the whole puzzle. That would actually be a great idea to do in the classroom or at home. Make a puzzle, and explain the analogy like that -- wow. I love coming up with ideas like that -- I bet someone somewhere already thought of that, but I am going to believe that I am so smart and creative that I came up with it...

Anyhow, we worked on the first couple chapters together. It was great to use a mystery, because it has a structure that makes it easy to do. The first chapter introduced characters, setting -- the second introduced the problem, the mystery to be solved. So when we did the summary as a whole at the end of the second chapter, I showed him how, instead of the detail of the characters as the focus (X character is a teenage girl living on Main street and friends with Y, who lives in the new house across the street -- ch. 1) or the mystery (they discover that there is a strange noise in the new house's attic and find a book that claims there is a ghost living there - ch.2), they are incorporated together...for example, X character and Y character are having to find out where the ghost is in attic of the new house. There is the summary. The first few chapters aren't too hard because there isn't too much will get trickier as more comes into play, and in mysteries, authors throw in "red herrings" to throw readers off -- so I will have to show him more then.

But so far, he is loving it. He read about five chapters on the ride yesterday, and at the end of them he kept mentioning how much he really was glad I showed him how to do it because it is organizing his thinking. "It is making sense and I am not thinking about a bunch of things all mixed up in my mind. I am thinking about how it all goes together, and it's all written down so my report will be so easy!"

I love it. Summary is easy...wouldn't every teacher love to hear their students say that!

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