Book IntroductionI searched online and found this fantastic book introduction. Why reinvent the wheel when there's already something fantastic out there to use? Credit goes to Upper St. Claire High School for sharing this powerpoint online. It gives basic information about the author, book accolades, genre, setting, and a pre-reading activity. Plus, there's a link to the movie trailer. It will get your readers hooked!
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas PPT Book IntroductionBefore reading, I showed students a powerpoint with photos and information that answer the question, "What is the Holocaust?" This will be a new topic for most elementary students, so I wanted to make sure they had background information before we began reading. There are tons of slide shows and powerpoint presentations online that you can use to develop background knowledge of the Holocaust. Many of them show primary source photos and maps so students can use authentic resources to gain a deeper connection to the topic. You can choose the resource that is appropriate for your grade level.
Holocaust Background Knowledge
While reading the novel with students, I incorporate mini-lessons that teach readers how to navigate historical ficiton. During the mini-lesson, students utilize "turn and talk" time to discuss parts of the book with their peers. This is the time the kids do their "big thinking" as they grapple with ideas from the book, discuss character motivations, and make predictions. We had some phenomenal conversations about the characters and the theme of the book during this time.
When I read aloud novels with students, I always make notes in my books. I keep one copy, just for me. I like to highlight, underline, make anecdotes, and write questions to remember. Some teachers like to use sticky notes, but for me, sticky notes just get in the way. After we're done with the novel, I just tuck the book away on my teacher bookshelf for the next time I use it with students.
Here are some examples of anchor charts suggested by Lucy Calkins Reading Workshop to use with historical fiction.
Interactive Read AloudsThere's a plethora of books associated with this topic. A few of my favorites are Irena's Jar of Secrets by Marcia Vaughn and The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco. Click on the links below to see how I implemented these lessons.
Here are some other great book titles you can use to teach students about the Holocaust.
Click on the link below to get descriptions of the books:
- Big Idea Timelines: When reading novels together, students keep a big idea timeline in their reader's notebook. It helps them keep track of main ideas in each chapter.
- Reading Responses: After reading a chapter, or group of chapters, students respond to various questions in their reader's notebook.
- Visual Notetaking: Students express their ideas about the book using words and pictures.
Click on the link below to learn more about visual notetaking and see more examples.
After we completed the book, students discussed questions with a group. Again, grand conversations occurred. Students even made some text-to-text connections with the novel we previously read. They connected the symbolism of the "river" in Esperanza Rising to the symbolism of the "fence" in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Great connection! After students discussed with their groups, we shared ideas during a whole group discussion. Students were then given time to formulate their own written answers on an end-of-the-book discussion sheet.
In addition to using discussion sheet questions and daily work such as reader's notebooks, I created a comprehension test with short answer questions for students.
To wrap up the unit, I invited students and their families to come to a 5th Grade Movie Night featuring The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Students had been clamoring to see the movie all throughout the novel study. A movie night is a great way to get families involved and you're not using valuable instruction time to watch a movie in its entirety. If I were to show it in class, it would have taken three days of instruction time. Students are very motivated by a multi-media approach and loved comparing the novel to the movie. As expected, the majority of students preferred the novel to the movie. Yay! This is what every reading teacher loves to hear!
Click on the link to check out more ideas for another novel study using Esperanza Rising.