Get That Chickadee Feeling
Review of BOOMer Rules
As always, my students are very motivated and extremely excited to offer their thoughts and opinions. As and educator, I am always thrilled to explore the academic potential of new texts.
The character Boomer was accessible to all of my students. "Frogs are in"....so I am told by my students and although this character may currently connect to a marketing fad and 'are in', his message is never "out", and this point was clearly made as we explored the latest text. Because we have worked together with the author on other book projects, I decided to stretch beyond the literacy component and include some cross-curricular connections. As I am a music and fine art graduate, this text connected strongly to my 'schema'.
On the first day of reading, I asked the children to visualize or create mental images as I read. This text was really effective for this skilll. Through thinking aloud, children created a variety of images. They visualized Boomer's appearance and his habitat. Students giggled at the mental images created when Boomer used his tongue to throw back plastic bottles or hang onto the boy's boat. Students recorded their most vivid visualization and we discussed why everyone's pictures were different...a key point I wanted to address in the synthesis of ideas.
The second day, we created tableau. I enjoy using this technique to enhance student's visualizatins and understanding of the characters reactions or situations in the text. As a group, I chose secton 10-11, freezing on the reactions of the girls and boys as they heard Boomer's first message, "My home is not a dump." Section 14-15 provided a wonderful way to dramatize the boy's fishing activities and their frantic paddling. I wish I could have captured their 'frozen' poses for you to enjoy! Later, I provided some individual tableau cards pulled out of your text, where students acted out a 'mystery' section. Students enjoyed debating and discussing the scene, encouraged 'actors' to have greater connection to each character's feelings through additional subltle acting inclusions, and orally identified and shared the significance of the scene. This was a powerful tool for helping reader's connect to the character's feelings and reactions.
On the third day of reading, I did a lesson on synthesis...understanding the big message of the story. I used the analogy taken from Debi Miller's text, Reading with Meaning. She describes how readers change their ideas as they read through a text and demonstrates this visually as an idea (which is like a stone) thrown into the water. As time passes, ideas change (ripples are created). As I always try to make my thinking visible, I recorded my thoughts on chart paper and outwardly verbalized my thoughts. Students were encouraged to record their initial thoughts about the message of Boomer's Famous Song and then record their changes of thought (ripples) as the story progressed. The children clearly understood Boomer's message. These are also included in this package.
On the fourth day, I wanted to connect that message to an art lesson I had seen somewhere in my travels. The art lesson uses a coffee filter to create the earth with a 'marker bleed'. Hands were stamped and added as the watchful, helpful keepers of our world. It was a very nice artisitic way to remind children that we all have a 'hand' in keeping our world clean.
Finally, on the fifth day, I wanted to incorporate 3D sculpture. Using McDonald's French fry containers (which, I might add, did not come easily); we created a 3D, paper mache frog. Boomer. If I had more time, I was intending on collectively creating a Boomer River Rap (which would use all of the wonderful phonemic skills we have been working on), which would go home in Boomer's large, mached mouth. I think the possibilities are rather endless which makes this a strong, versatile text to use in language, art, and science strands.
Karen Dozois is an outstanding, well-respected literature teacher for the Waterloo RDSBd.