by Sara Pennypacker
Imagine the sky empty of birds. Based on the true story of China’s war against sparrows, which were eating the crops.
Writing Skill 1: I generate ideas in a variety of ways.
Writing Skill 5: I carefully choose the most effective words to express my ideas.
Writing Skill 6: I choose the tone and point of view that suit my writing purpose.
Writing Skill 7: I use my personal style to make my writing unique.
(1) Complete the Question/Answer Relationships Reading Activity prior to performing the following activities.
(2) On a white board/screen, write words selected from the story (e.g. sparrow, famine, firecracker, enemies, pigeon, raindrops).
(3) Tell students that the words come from the text of the book that will be read aloud to them. Ask students to generate a list of questions (“I wonder …”) and predictions (“I think …”) based on the words as pre-thinking for the story.
(4) Have students meet in groups of three to share their questions and predictions. Gather ideas from students through a quick sharing out (“whip around”).
(6) Ask students to record “Right There,” “Think and Search,” and “On My Own” questions on the Graphic Organizer as they listen to the book being read aloud.
(7) At one or two places in the story, stop reading and have students share their questions with a partner. Gather and record on the white board some student-generated questions from each category as examples, to scaffold instruction/learning.
(8) Ask students to record answers to as many of their own questions as possible, and while they do so, to reflect on the type of question and whether or not it is in the correct category on the Graphic Organizer. Encourage students to move questions from one category to another or to rewrite/add questions throughout the process.
(9) Have students meet again in groups after reading the entire book. They should move to a different partner to discuss each type of question, e.g. Inside-Outside Circles. Have them first share and discuss “Right There” questions and answers, then “Think and Search” and finally “On My Own” questions and answers.
(10) Have students select one of the emotions expressed in the story to complete the Visceral Poems writing activity. The poem could be a reflection of the emotion as it is experienced in the story from the point of view of one of the characters, or a personal expression/interpretation of an emotion from the story. Provide students with the Editing Etiquette 2 – 3-2-1 Peer Conference Sheet to use for peer responses.