Beyond-the-Book Inquiry in Reader’s Workshop

The other day I used the book The Composition by Antonio Skarmeta to teach a reading strategies lesson. This is a gripping story about a boy who is living under a dictatorship and is asked by the government to write an essay about what his family does at night.  He knows that his family is against the government and if he tells the truth, his father could get taken away.

I projected the book on my document camera and modeled using a Facts/Questions/Responses chart to leave tracks of my thinking.  My students followed along with their own chart on a clipboard and recorded their own thinking as we went.

At the end of our lesson I had students identify lingering questions about the book. This is the chart that we created.  Afterward, I had students talk through which questions were about the text and could probably only answer by inferring or predicting and which questions could be answered through research.

Our Lingering Questions about the Composition

I marked questions that students knew they could research with a green flag.  I marked questions that students thought they could research if they had a little more information or could talk to the author with an orange flag.  Then, we identified some keywords that we might use in a search engine to find answers.  Lastly, I asked for student volunteers who would look up the information and report back to the class.

I found that this lesson was really enriching for my students.  They didn’t have a wide range of background knowledge on a dictatorship and they were very interested in learning more.  The quality of their responses was rich and meaningful and I think that speaks to the quality of the text.  Give them thought provoking books that will provoke thoughts!

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One Response to Beyond-the-Book Inquiry in Reader’s Workshop

  1. Nancy B. says:

    Thanks for sharing this book. It sounds like a great resource and it’s now on my wish list.

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