Sunday, February 21, 2016

Comparing and Contrasting with Kevin Henkes

One of my favorite authors is Kevin Henkes.  His characters are funny and relatable for students while dealing with common issues.  My students love realizing that some characters appear in multiple books.  His books are useful for teaching many skills, but I especially love using them to teach students comparing and contrasting.

I taught this two part lesson with my third graders and focused on theme for the first lesson.  (If you teach younger students you could look at story elements or beginning/middle/end.)  We used Storyline Online to watch Chester's Way during our first lesson.  I was so excited to find this story on SAG's website, and even more excited when I saw that they have Katie Leclerc doing American Sign Language interpretation with this story!  I took sign language in college and enjoyed it, so this was a fun addition.

I've noticed my students have a difficult time locking onto the difference between theme and lesson in a story.  I gave a few examples of lesson and theme to help them see the connections and difference between the two concepts.  We looked at how students need to look at what the characters say and do as well as how they change throughout the story to find the theme.

As we read the story we kept track of events and characters to help us track those changes.  At the end, we discussed with partners what the lesson would be first, then used that lesson to help us find the theme of the story. Students were able to find more than one lesson or theme for the story, which led to a good discussion on how we can get different things out of a story.

The next time students came to me for library I read aloud Julius, Baby of the World.  I chose this book for several reasons.  It has characters from Chester's Way, which allows them to compare and contrast the same character in different stories.  In both stories the main character does not get along with another character until the end of the book.  The two books have enough similarities and differences to make them perfect for this standard.  We began by reviewing how to identify the theme of a book and reminding our neighbors of the events in Chester's Way.  At the end of the lesson, I had students get into groups of three to complete a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the stories.  Students did well with this lesson and they definitely felt more comfortable with theme the second time around.

What's your favorite Kevin Henke's book and how do you use it in your classroom?  Until next time, happy reading!

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