Friday, April 29, 2011

Author Study

One of my goals is to avoid whole group lectures. So when I was assigned an author study report for my language arts methods class, I was ashamed at myself for going right to Power Point. Now there actually was a reason: It lets you print great handouts, something we need to provide. Then I started realizing that I would use it for just that reason, a handout. Here is how my "new" presentation will look, and it is something I can modify for use in the classroom.

My two authors are Jan Brett and Barbara Park. Both write engaging children's stories, but in different ways. What I really wanted was for my class to experience this engagement and a Power Point would not do this. To start my presentation, I will first hand out the Power Point slides printed in handout form. My classmates will be able to read through them as I am getting the rest of my presentation ready. Jan Brett includes such beautiful illustrations in her books and to show them to the class, I found a video of someone reading her book, with the illustrations shown full page. While the reading style might not be as engaging, it allows me to show the whole class the illustrations, something I would not be able to do if I read the book and walked the pictures around. The illustrations in the page borders foreshadow events coming up, something else I want to point out. After the video, I will then read the first chapter from Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones and the Stupid, Smelly Bus. Since the engagement comes from the reading of this book, visuals are not as important, and I can read it with expression (something I could not find on the internet!). Then I will ask the class to "vote with their feet", which is where I ask a subjective question such as which author appealed to you more, and the class physically moves itself to different sides of the room depending on their answer.

How would I modify this for a second grade classroom? First, we would have more time, so the author study would last all week and I would read many of the author's books. I would definitely have the class "vote with their feet" as I ask them higher level questions about the books and the authors. I would also let the students anonymously rate each book we read with a 1, 2 or 3 and a reason why on a sticky note. We would have a poster for each book and attach the ratings below it. Using author interviews already posted on their websites, I would have two or more students reenact the interviews for the small groups of classmates. Following that, we could send individual or class letters/emails to the author. I have had students send emails to authors before and have actually had some responses! In the end, I feel I have successfully avoided the dreaded Power Point lecture.


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