Last month, I shared a vision of comprehension work I can imagine, spanning and strengthening readers across grade levels. Earlier this month, I was tasked with providing professional development for our district’s first grade teachers. We have recently implemented an updated version of a popular reading assessment. Part of the updates include more consistent comprehension questions that ask students to make connections to the text. “Can you think of a time you had an experience like the character in the book?” This work can sometimes be tricky. For instance, a common first grade text has kids reading about a little boy whose parents give him a bad haircut. Most kids, who haven’t had a bad haircut, really struggle with this piece of the assessment.
This has had me thinking about the comprehension work we can do to teach kids how to do this bigger thinking work. I again, came back to the story mountain. When I presented to our first grade teams, I read a beautiful story called Pip and Egg by Alex Latimer and David Litchfield. This story is about two friends that start out very similar, but grow into two very different beings. Through all of the changes life hands them, their friendship remains true. The gorgeous illustrations and the big life lesson, make this a great story to share with kids of all ages and would even be a great gift for a grownup friend.
After reading the story to the room full of teachers, we build a story mountain together and then plotted the different characters feelings. We talked about what this work could look like with students during read aloud time.
I then shared this graphic with teachers:
To layer into this read aloud work, you could easily ask students to think of a connection they might have to this story. We could work with students to learn that they can make connections to the events and experiences of the characters, or times we had feelings similar to the characters’, or even to the big themes and lessons learned in the story. We’re excited to see where this work will take us next!