Slice of Life Day 4: Intertwining Thoughts of Read Alouds Past, Present and Future

Here is my Slice for Tuesday, Day 4 of the Slice of Life Daily Challenge. Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slicing.

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hIntertwined. That was one of our vocabulary words for the week. I wanted students to weave together ideas and think about how the books we have read so far are intertwined. 

We started by looking at the struggles the characters faced: Ivan in the One and Only Ivan, Melody in Out of My Mind and August in Wonder. Did they connect? Were their struggles related? Did the messages in these books intertwine?

I ask….Before we leave Ivan, let’s think back to
Wonder and Out of My Mind.
How might some of the ideas in those books 
intertwine with Ivan?

We jot. We think….

Student voices…

They all don’t have friends.

Yes they do! They all have friends.

Well not a lot.

Yeah, just a few.

Why do you think that is?.


They really don’t fit in.

They’re all are different.

That’s what I mean.

Can you give examples? 

Thinking…Hands pop.

Melody can’t talk and August has a face
that scares people.


What about Ivan?


Yeah… he doesn’t totally fit in at the end
because he wasn’t socialized with other gorillas.
He was raised as a human with diapers.

He isn’t really comfortable
with the other gorillas.
Remember when Kinyani chased him.

Oh yeah. He doesn’t fit either.

What other struggles intertwine?


Ooo! Ooo! 

They all want to protect but they can’t.

Ahhh! That was mine!

Ivan wants to protect Ruby

Melody wants to protect Penny!

Yeah she couldn’t speak to warn her mom!



Jack? in the forest….Hmmm. Maybe.

They all lost someone.

Ivan his family, Melody her fish. August..Daisy..

The thinking and connecting of ideas continues. The connections they make surprise me. Some I anticipated but others not at all.  Tomorrow we move on to thinking about each character’s environment. Do their worlds compare?

The passion for these read alouds is keen. Many carry Wonder in their bags. Reading it on occasion. Independent research has been done on Ivan. Melody has spurred interest in our Special Education students next door.

They have been begging for the new read aloud. I’ve been holding off on the next text reading about the real Ivan.

Today we started A Long Walk to Water. I debated about this one (on Twitter with @erinvarley and @azajacks). I worried the subject, the place, the shifts in narration and time would be too challenging. But I decide to risk it.

The start is tough for some. It doesn’t sweep them off their feet. They have left the high of the last read aloud and they want to start at that same place. It’s ok, I tell myself. The struggle at the beginning of books happens. The work they do to figure it out is necessary. This is what readers need to do in the beginning of books. The wondering, the delaying of understanding, the trust we must have in the author. We trust she will let us know. We must linger in the possibilities of wonder. Students have been trained by the wonderful thinking of authors Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse’s What to Readers Really Do? to wonder and know. They have lots of wonders right now.

After school one student comes up to me and says, I don’t really like this read aloud as much as the others.

I tell her to be patient. It can be slow in the beginning.

Ok she says I trust you, Mrs. Harmatz.

Hope Linda Sue Park and I don’t let her down. Maintaining the magic of read aloud can be a heavy burden to bear..

22 thoughts on “Slice of Life Day 4: Intertwining Thoughts of Read Alouds Past, Present and Future

  1. Maintaining the magic of read aloud can be a heavy burden to bear..

    I love that final sentence and oh so totally agree. The way you put this piece together was perfect. I felt like I was there. Talking about some of my very favorite read alouds. Especially Ivan.

    We were in such a reading stride and I’m feeling stuck on where next to go. Looking for something that’s new for me too.

    • Oh thanks for your thoughts. I am feeling good about the Long Walk to Water in day 2. It really is a change for them, but they are there waiting for the magic. Building faith in books is a part of our work. I also think we teachers have to feel the power of our reads. So lucky to be able to choose where we will take them.

  2. I’m inclined
    to intertwine with you,
    to climb this vine
    you’ve left behind,
    and subtly remind
    myself that here, in this rhyme,
    my mind is stealing words
    and ideas
    for poems I hope will

    • Love your poetry Kevin. I love it when particular words spur my thinking. When I think intertwine I think of this blogging community. Love.

  3. You have reminded me of the magic of a read aloud. As a sixth grade Humanities teacher, this should still be a classroom routine, yet it too often gets dropped off in my quest to ‘get things done.’ Thank you for providing an opportunity to question my practices.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. I know that feeling of getting things done, but read aloud brings so much thinking to the community. I love every minute of it!

  4. Julieanne,
    It will be interesting if students can capture the exact moment when they get “hooked” on “A Long Walk to Water.” Trust yourself. Trust them. It will happen!

    • Fran,
      Today was a hint of better.They said nooo, when we had to stop. A sure sign of we’re getting there. Their wonderings are awesome too. Making connections right off the bat. Excited for tomorrow’s read.

  5. It is hard to find a great book to follow one as wonderful as The One and Only Ivan”. I think you were wise in choosing something radically different. It will be tough getting started for some, and they may not like it as much as they like “Ivan”, but I bet they will like it.

    • Thanks for the support. In retrospect I think you have a good point (though I didn’t realize it at the time). I needed to go in a totally different direction. Day 2 and I feel a little warmth brewing for the book. We’ll see how fast they come to the carpet tomorrow. That’s a sure fire indication of passion.

  6. The thinking you shared, the intertwining of different stories, it’s magical when it happens. I like the think-pause-think- more think.

  7. Wow. Two really great reads! I loved reading The One and Only Ivan (to myself, not my second graders). I also have the Long Walk for Water on my List. Since we are doing a coin challenge next week for the Typhoon in the Philippines I wonder if I could find some read alouds to go along. Any of your recommendations of picture books with really great topics would be welcome!

    • Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment! One picture book comes to mind, (you may know) Fly Away Home. It is is about a father and son who are homeless living in the airport. Beautifully written, difficult but real topic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s