The Cat in the Hat
Today we continued our Thinks You Think unit. It went really well. In fact, it went really, really, really well. We had planned on spending about 30-45 minutes each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as a combined fourth grade. The students, though, would have none of that.
Our lesson today went from 8:30 to 10:30 am.
That’s right: two hours. 120 minutes. Nearly three to four times longer than we had planned. And not because the students weren’t focused or because of disinterest. Oh, no, not at all! In fact, we had all of our fourth graders (plus or minus however were absent, we are talking about 55 students) focused, on task, and discussing the explicit details they could identify in the text.
So, what text was the source of this power meeting of intense 9- and 10-year-olds? There were four, actually. First was The Cat in the Hat, followed by either Green Eggs and Ham, Fox in Socks, or One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. If you had asked me three years ago, when I first started teaching professionally, or even two months ago, when I first started teaching full-time, if I could have a large group of fourth graders deeply interested in reading such simple texts, I probably would have laughed. Not now! These kids are amazing, and they really enjoy what we are doing. (At least, so far!)
We started off with a discussion of what explicit details are, and then took a quick side-trip down the road of figuring out what iconic is. (In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I have a habit of using adult vocabulary with my students and then guiding them to an understanding of what the words mean.) Once we had established what explicit details are, I read The Cat in the Hat to the entire group and guided them in identifying explicit details in the story.
Then we broke the classes into groups and had them work together to read and identify explicit details in their stories. They were given about 25 minutes to find at least 15 explicit details and record them in their Thinks You Think notebooks. Everyone did a great job working and following the expectations. It was awesome! I think that most of the students were surprised by how many details they could find in such simple books; after all, The Cat in the Hat has slightly more than 220 words. Even One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and Fox in Socks have a vast number of explicit details in the text. It’ll be cool to see how they build upon this skill and continue to improve as readers and writers.