Sunday, November 9, 2008

Using Lynn Plourde as our mentor!

Last week, every day of the week, my students were greeted with a wrapped gift sitting on the chalk rail. Every morning they came in excited to see who would unwrap the gift, what the title of the book would be, and who would be the newest character we would be introduced to?

My students were very excited, I had learned of this author when I had coffee with a friend at Starbucks. Cathy, from becoming, had mentioned these books as being perfect for study an author as a mentor. She was right!

Lynn Plourde has published many titles that you have probably seen. The books we opened were from her series about a teacher, Mrs. Shephard and her crafty students. They get into a lot of mischief, and they are centered around real events that happen at school. Here are the titles we opened this week:

Teacher Appreciation Day

Book Fair Day

Science Fair Day

School Picture Day

Pajama Day

After we opened four of the books, on Thursday, I sent home a secret letter with each child. Inside was an invitation to wear their jammies to school on Friday. I mentioned that it was in honor of our last Lynn Plourde book.

Friday morning dawned and I arrived at school and hoped they were as thrilled about being in their jammies as I was. We hugged and giggled about each other's jammies. We talked about our adorable slippers, and then during our morning meeting we read the last of our series. It was a celebration that I didn't expect. We became one again as a community, we again enjoyed books, and we are anticipating this week's mentor lessons.

During writer's workshop we didn't even discuss the literary elements of Lynn Plourde's work. We discussed our own literary elements, things we have discovered about one another. I have a student who has been mimicking Kate DiCamillo in his own work because we have been reading The Tale of Desperaux. I used Lester Laminack as a mentor in one of my pieces and I wanted my students to see my end result. We also read Peter Reynolds' book The Dot. We noticed things about using books as our mentors.

Today I went to my main branch library, after checking out a gazillion books by Lynn Plourde I came home and brainstormed some things that I want my kids to notice about her work. Here is my current list:

1. Magical words of three

2. Sound words

3. Words placed weirdly on the page and in different colors. I have two people I know this will impress!

4. Characters have names used to describe their personalities

5. Mrs. Shephard, the setting, problems at school- they always reoccur in those series books

6. Clever use of elipses

7. Ms. Plourde loves alliteration

8. The story always seems to lead back to familiar phrases

9. Verbs in synonyms

While I realize that my students won't find all of these things within the pages, they will see some of these things very useful. I can't wait to see their growth! Here is an interesting quote I found in my teacher ideas notebook about this unit of study. Not sure where I got it but I am still going to use it with my students. Here it is:

What can I learn from this that I might try in my writing?

Caption: This is a beautiful book about a dump man who takes care of the town dump. He refuses to throw away books. He lends then out, gives them away, but all must promise not to throw them away. Through the storyline we discover that he himself can not read! Imagine, a person who can not read cherishing books so much, a lesson for early readers!

1 comment:

Cathy said...

DUDE...great minds alike! We just started and did pajama day on Friday too! My kids loved it! I have four more of her books where she uses made up words and rhyming. Check out her website...she has advice for kids. Brings up planning too...another great step in writing.