Monday, December 5, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I'm a first grade teacher. But I can't help myself... I love so many young adult titles! I am truly a member of the #nerdybookclub. While I can't share these books with my little friends, I can share my thoughts here!

So let me just get this out of the way... I loved Divergent. More than the Hunger Games trilogy. There, I said it. Yes, I craved more when I finished reading the Hunger Games book. I couldn't wait to download Catching Fire. And I was curious how the trilogy would end in Mockingjay. Looking back, I realize that I enjoyed reading those books because they were so different than anything I'd read before. Much like the Twilight series, I questioned whether or not I would like them. And I did love Twilight and Hunger Games.

When I read Divergent last Wednesday, I literally couldn't put it down. It only took me a few hours to devour the book. The whole idea of a society based in the Chicago area, which is no longer the Chicago I know, was hard to imagine. What would it be like if the familiar landmarks were no longer recognizable? Or maybe they are recognizable, but they no longer serve the same purpose as they do now. Places like the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier and the Sears Willis Tower. Wild.

Then there is the whole concept of belonging to a faction. And there are only five of them. If you don't belong, you are then deemed Divergent. I couldn't help but think that I'd be divergent... although I loved the adventure of the Dauntless faction. How could one choose to leave behind the family they know and love?

After I finished, I realized just how much I struggled with the whole premis of the Hunger Games, which I think most readers would struggle with. It was very dark... and definitely sad. While I also struggled with the premis of the factions and a dystopian society in Divergent, it carried all of the action without so much of the sadness of the Hunger Games.

I'm so curious to get ahold of Insurgent to see if my initial reactions hold true. I can't believe I have to wait until May!

~Komos :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Following their lead...

As my friend Cathy taught me, it's important to honor our students' voices. Through the years, I've also learned the importance of following their lead! I thought of Cathy today as I worked with a small group during our Team Read time. While I struggle philosophically with the concept of this program, it gives me an opportunity to spend a solid 25 minutes with one group of readers from my classroom.

My group of four first graders read the book The Giant and The Frippit (from Rigby) on Wednesday (with my substitute, as I was at a meeting.) So, as I sit down at the table, one little friend asks if we're going to read the book the way the sub made them read. Unsure of what she meant, I asked for clarification. She carefully explained how she read a page, then friend two reads the next page, followed by friend three reading a page, then friend number four... and then they started all over. "I didn't even get to read the whole book! And I really wanted to hear my voice when I read the part that said, 'BUT HE DID!'." My other little friends chimed in and explained how horrible it was that they had to wait their turn. In their minds, what made it even worse was that she made them read it that way again, but they started with a different person (so they all read a different page that time.) They were quite concerned with how they were going to practice reading if they only got to read one page! By this point, I was glowing. I could hear my voice, my lessons coming through in what they were telling me.

After explaining that some teachers used to do that "Round Robin" style of reading, we talked about why it was better when we all read the book ourselves. Then friend two says (with all of the attitude a first grader can muster,) "Yeah, and we didn't even get to talk about what a frippit is!" Friend three asks if we can just Google it and find out. Meanwhile, discussion began on what we think a frippit is. Turns out, we think it's a combination of bear, rabbit, monkey, lion, and human. After we came up with an answer to that question, the conversation turned to what the group wanted to do with the story. There was a lot of interest in acting out the story, so I asked what that might look like. Friend three tells me they'd read the "talking parts" in their best giant and frippit voices... and uses his best giant voice to explain this to me. As we started running out of time, we decided to save this for tomorrow's Team Read time. Before we could leave...

Friend number one drops the biggest surprise. She tells me she's been thinking about how this story reminds her of I Want My Hat Back. (spoiler alert!!!!) I immediately see where she's going but ask her to explain it to us. "Well, you see, the frippit makes a bad choice and steals from the giant. But the giant helps the frippit and forgives him for stealing. And then they're friends. Not like the bear, who eats the rabbit when he knows the rabbit stole his hat." Oh, how I love that Hat Back book!

Today was a proud day for me. I don't always have to ask the questions or provide the answers. Shoot, I don't always have to provide the lesson! Hearing my readers have these engaging, question-filled conversations shows me that they are becoming thoughtful, deep readers. What more could a teacher ask for? :)

~Komos :)