The sixth grade class is listening to the book, Bamboo People, by Mitali Perkins. The emphasis in this unit is on growing "purposeful talk" as Maria Nichols defines it in her book, Comprehension Through Conversation. The students are using their reading journals to write about many of the big ideas of the book such as identity, courage, belonging, kindness, confidence, friendship and hope.
Using Wilson's innovation room as a backdrop, students are visually posting their thoughts and impressions on the immersion wall. Then, they break out into small and large groups for discussion. Their journals are the springboard to spark conversation.
Says language arts teacher, Laurie Finkenkeller, "The students are learning to say meaningful things grounded in the text to push the classes' construction of meaning. They are also learning to listen with intent and to negotiate meaning through conversations that are deep and rich. Their 'talk' has grown so much that they could hold their own in any adult book discussion."
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