Category Archives: Reading

A study of character

In English we are looking at analyzing characters.  A reader is required to infer in order to understand the charcters (and people in real life) using evidence from the character’s behaviour and the reader’s own schema (background experience).


Our inquiry has involved looking a photographs of people and making inferences about them.  Since photos are static in time, we can’t use clues such as behavioiur and actions, language (what they say), thoughts (like in a narrative), or how they relate to others.  That leaves very few clues to any inividual characteristics yet we makes inference just the same based on physical characteristics and perhaps some action that we can see.  We decided that we use clues about group traits and individual traits to analyze and evaluate people and characters in texts.


Group Traits might include:

Race, sex, class, stereotypes (jock, goth, etc.), profession, age, etc.

Individual traits include:

Courageous, intelligent, kind, rational, proung, arrogant, loyal, etc.


We talked about how we infer these traits based on clues in the text and our schema.  We make assumptions about people and characters based on these inferences.  We read short passages about a variety of characters and watched some episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (the show has exaggerated characters).  The students recorded their observations and inferences about the characters in their thinking books and then we had a class discussion about each of the characters.  It’s pretty interesting that we all came to very similar conclusions based on the evidence and our background knowledge.  Perhaps culture plays a role here?


Our next step was to look at an open answer / short answer type question about a character and analyze it using the Ontario Achiement Chart.  That will be the topic of a future post.


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Wordy Nerdery – Morphology & Etymology

I borrowed the titles of this post from a blog of the same title about word study using inquiry.

We are in the beginning stages of our inquiry, looking at prefixes, suffixes and base words.  I assign some words and the students try to figure out the base word and then find its etymology (history – which language it originates from).  The groups then find other words that share the same base and create a word matrix which clearly demarcates the different parts of the work.  My hope it to get to the level of word knowledge that we can do inquiry like the Wordy Nerdys do!


Here is some of our work so far.

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Another way to increase our vocabulary is to read daily.


and here we are reading!

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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Read to Self, Reading, Word Work


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Book Reports – Fun Ones!!!!

Both the fives and fours are doing book reports.  The fives are doing book trailers and the fours are doing dodecahedron reports!

First the grade fours:

I found this awesome idea on Teaching by the Sea, another teacher’s blog which led me to yet another blog and the printables, created by  Mr. Hughes who blogs at An Educator’s Life, which I bought from the online store Teachers Pay Teachers.  Please link to Teaching by the Sea to look at finished projects, they are beautiful!  I will post photos of our when we are done.

Grade fives:

Today we watched several book trailers to discover what made them effective.  We watched the trailer for Wonder many times because it is such a good example.  Here is what we came up with:

Success Criteria for excellent book trailers:

  • interesting font
  • relevant text
  • appropriate & catchy music
  • the film clips or photos matched the narration or the text
  • they used pathos – appealed to our emotions
  • highlighted the settings from the book
  • highlighted characters from the book
  • used special effects like slow motion, transitions, camera angles, etc.
  • built suspense about what might happen in the book
  • showed the cover and author

Once again, here is the trailer for Wonder:


Here is another site called Slime Kids where we saw many excellent trailers that were created by students. There are many different ways to create a good trailer!  This is going to be fun!

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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Reading


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Both the grade fours and fives are learning about inferring while reading.  Ms. Schinkel has started to teach them about this critical reading strategy.

She began by having the students read short vignettes that were one side of a telephone conversation.  The class had to infer what the conversation was about using the clues in the text and their background knowledge.  In one conversation they were going to McDonald’s for lunch and a big clue was “Big Mac” so we discussed how that might not be in some people’s background knowledge and if you didn’t know that a Big Mac came from McDonald’s you wouldn’t be able to infer what the they were talking about.

The next day Ms. Schinkel read them the book “Fly Away Home” by Eve Bunting.  It is a story about a boy and his dad who live in an airport.  She stopped to ask the class what they were inferring as she read.  You can see she used pink sticky notes to record her own inferences.  Going forward, the class will be using pink sticky notes to note inferences they make in their own reading.


photo (2)

photo (3)

photo (5)

At the end of the story the students recognized the symbolism of the bird representing freedom and hope for the boy and his dad and use inferring to predict that they would find a home.



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Elements of a Short Story

The grade 5s are studying the elements of a short story (or any narrative).  The 4s will begin this soon also.  We started by watching this short rap video on YouTube:

After watching the rap we made this anchor chart, there will be more anchor charts to follow on each element.



We discussed setting as being time and place and identified the settings of several well known stories and films such as The Wizard of Oz, The Hunger Games, and Cinderella.  Then we looked more closely at plot development:




and created our own plot mountain using the Cinderella.


plot mountain


The students then made their own plot mountains using the book Teammates.  We had some debate about whether the climax was when Jackie made the Dodgers team or when Pee Wee Reese walked over to Jackie and put his arm around him.


The grade 5 students are now beginning to plan for writing a narrative story.  We are in the pre-writing stage of brainstorming and story mapping.

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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Narrative, Reading, Writing


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