Thursday, October 19, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night...

We had a surprise snowstorm here last week. The devastation was something that I had previously thought was no longer possible in this day and age. People in the area are still without power – sleeping to the hum of generators feverishly working to pump water out of basements (the rain hasn’t stopped) and keep freezers cold.

We were lucky. I lost power on Friday and got it back on Monday night. In the meantime, the entire family (sister/brother and spouses, nieces and nephew) camped together at my parents house with a wood stove burning and a two-inch battery driven television providing news updates. Late Saturday – the party moved to my sister’s house when her power returned.

It was inconvenient. It was a tiring. It was cold. But it was also amazing! Petty things no longer mattered – everyone pitched in to carry wood, cook giant meals of rapidly defrosting food, share what they had in flashlights and batteries. And the best part of all? Waking up in the morning to find that my nieces had snuck into bed with me to “snuggle.”

So when I thought about what book to feature this week – there was no doubt it was “The Relatives Came” by Cynthia Rylant. It’s the story of a summer visit by relatives from Virginia. All the joys and pitfalls of having relatives stay for an extended period of time are depicted!! The book is RIPE for text-to-self connections and is a great read aloud for the younger grades. It could certainly help kick the old “What I did last summer” essay up a notch!! For you Traits users, it is also a great example of sentence fluency and I have a lesson posted on the WritingFrameworks wiki based on it.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s just one of those picture books that just might have been written more for the adults than for children.
“When they finally had to leave, they were sad, but not for long. They all knew they would be together” ... forever!


Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought about having your students make disconnections (rather than personal connections, aka: text-to-self connections) to the books you read in class? It's something I'm learning about from reading Stephanie Jones's book Girls, social class, and literacy: What teachers can do to make a difference. It's fascinating since often it's hard for kids to connect to a book. Gosh, I know it's really, really hard to try to get kids to make disconnections, when you've been working so hard to make connections, but I figured I'd mention it.

I like your Blog and linked my Blog to yours! Keep up the great postings!

Melodee said...

I love this book! As a matter of fact, I used it last year during staff development inservice days to model making connections to the primary teachers. I have a copy that I read to my nieces and nephews. My family can relate very much to this story. I love the illustrations as well.

Theresa G said...

Ohhhhhh....I want to know about disconnecting!! How does it work? Are the kids responding? Have you noticed a change in how they interact with text?

Check out NYC Teacher's blog on mentor texts - that's what I'm talking about!!

Shirley said...

Isn't is wonderful that when we're faced with life-changing difficulties , we re-discover those things that are "really" important? A life threatening illness, an accident, the recent Buffalo snow storm--events such as these help us to "see" who and what matters in our lives. Reading Cynthia Rylant's humorous picture book allows us all to remember family times together and the characters and incidents that make our families so unique, and yet so universal. Our families... Sometimes life's mishaps or the reading of a joyful picture book cause us to once again think of what we really value and hold dear.

P.S. I want to know more about disconnecting.

Melodee said...

Theresa if you get any information on disconnecting please let me know. I want to know more about it as well.

SLagana said...


What a beautiful morning. I'm in school at seven and I can write to my hearts content. I realized why I couldn't blog yestersday. I sent IVA the problem and they fixed it. It was a loose wire. Homework table is in this room so the kids use the computers, as they should, but it creates some problems when trying to return to use the computer. This is cool so I think I can handle doing this in the morning. I will blog tomorrow at seven, but I' aware that I need to blog much more. I hope you will extend the date. Even after Saturday I hope we can keep bloging to make up for missed time. I think I needed more instruction in the blogging process before becoming an active blogger. What amazes me is tha that something I hated has turned into something that is growing on me.

I asked the librarian to get the book that you suggest on relatives. What a timely book. I haven't started, but the students are also reading Eleven. Thanks for the information.
I'm so very pleased because I have tested the students I work with and they have progressed. I don't see reading as a major problem at this point. I will see you Sat. Also I will blog tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.

Sue L.