I recently had the chance to share a work in progress with the 3rd grade and 5th grade at MTSE, and I’m glad I did! When I shared my almost-completed picture book, Bare Feet, with Mrs. Anderson’s 3rd grade class, they listened with rapt attention and were very engaged. One of the students yelled out a word that he expected in one spot, and it was different than what I had, but it was a better word choice, so I have changed it. The students had many astute observations about what was going on in the story and how the character was feeling.
I also had a chance to ask a group of 5th graders about a particular page that I was having a difficult time finalizing the text. I read the story to the class and asked them how they would write that page – since it is a children’s book, the text on that page is only two sentences. I was surprised and pleased that the students worked to incorporate elements from the overall story into the page, and some of them used a grammar point that we have been studying, coordinating conjunctions, as a way to provide variation in one of the repeating sentences.
Seeing students think and react to an original text tells me that they have a huge capacity for critical thinking and interpretation. I look forward to bringing more opportunities for this kind of thinking into the classroom.
Sheila McMahon, Teacher, MTCS Board Member and author