Yesterday, we did a “Virtual Meet and Greet” with a 3rd Grade PLC in a school district in Connecticut. The 3rd grade teachers, special educators and specialists were all on Google Meets, and then Sheila and I joined for 30 minutes as guests. One of the questions that came about was in regard to the book “Officer Buckle and Gloria” by Peggy Rathmann. I love when I get asked about books that I have not previously analyzed, as it gives me the opportunity to showcase the flexibility of SGM®! Here is my analysis below.
I love to use these “seemingly simple” books with older students to have them investigate and talk about complexities within episodic organization and the use of vocabulary words (feelings/thoughts) and also cohesion within sentences as the students strive to discuss the book.
When I read Officer Buckle and Gloria, I had a few thoughts I wanted to share.
First, this narrative structure is a series of cause/effect chains. These are Kick-Offs and Reactions with opportunities to infer Feelings/Thoughts about the officer and the dog.
“Personification” would be an appropriate vocabulary word to teach for the dog’s Character.
The Setting varies from the school to the police station, primarily. There is an ice cream scene as well. Remember that the setting is more than a time and a place: what usually happens there/then is what we want children to be thinking about. In other words, what usually happens at a school, a police station, an ice cream venue, etc.?
As you know, a kick-off signals a possible episode in a story. A kick-off is something that was not expected in the particular setting, but it does not have to be a problem necessarily. In this story, the arrival of Gloria is a kick-off, but it is not a problem per se.
There are four main Kick-Offs in this story. Each one of them lends itself to inference using background knowledge/feelings/thoughts attributed to the characters involved.
In grade three, attention to feeling words such as the six universal feelings of happy, sad, mad, scared, surprised and disgusted and their synonyms is noted in state standards: Common Core State Standard RL.3.3. states: "describe characters in a story (traits, motivations, feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.”
We have enclosed a basic feelings vocabulary bookmark for your use in this area.
Officer Buckle and Gloria also lends itself to the introduction of mental state verbs/thinking verbs such as think, know, remember, realize, etc. I will refer to these verbs within the lesson below. They are noted in state reading standards as well and are focused upon in grade four. CCSS RL.4.3. states: "describe in depth a character, setting or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text” (character’s thoughts, words, actions).
Many students in grade three are aware of the thinking process and welcome these vocabulary words to orally express the thoughts of characters. A thought bubble is used with the Story Grammar Marker® Critical Thinking Triangle® to focus on this aspect of the story.
The Critical Thinking Triangle® (Kick-Off, Feeling, Thought, Plan, and use of cohesive ties to express these components) becomes a focus in itself as students begin to learn how to discuss character motivations, feelings, thoughts and plans!
This book’s narrative structure is not straightforward since Officer Buckle meets obstacles to his performances and so does Gloria in her solo. When analyzing a book for use at school, it is important to take into consideration each character’s perspective. The book is Interactive in its structure since Gloria’s actions are a direct result of Officer Buckle’s words. Thus…they are partners.
Begin by talking about safety rules. Safety Rules are important: List some of the ones that are on Officer Buckle’s bulletin board. (This is information text as a list within a storybook. All storybooks have information within them.) I noticed that Officer Buckle’s safety tips are on a star, similar to his badge. The star, as you know, is our Setting icon and, of course, safety tips are important no matter WHERE you are, WHEN it is, or WHAT the situation occurring may be!
Use the marker, magnets, or stamps to focus children.
#1: The Kick-Off for the Officer is that kids were bored with his rules each time he gave a speech about the importance of safety. The students fall asleep and are bored by the presentations.
- We infer that he feels sad about this and thinks that the talks should be better, but how? He has no real plan to improve but continues to give the talks.
#2: Kick-Off: The police department gets a new puppy named Gloria and Officer Buckle is in charge of her. Naturally, she goes to his safety talks with him.
Feeling: He loves her and is happy that she comes with him to his talks at schools. Letters have come from many students about the performance. They all ask for Gloria to be present.
Thoughts: He thinks that the dog is cute, and it obeys his instructions (unlike the children). Her presence adds to his talk because the children are paying attention, and even clapping!
Plan: His plan is to continue to give the talks with Gloria at his side.
Attempt: He introduces Gloria and says that she obeys his commands.
Attempt: He speaks at over 300 schools with Gloria at his side. (They go for ice cream each time since he is so happy that Gloria is with him.)
Attempt: He agrees to be videotaped for TV at one of the school presentations.
Attempt: He sees himself and Gloria on TV.
Direct Consequence: As a result of the TV coverage, he finds out that Gloria is doing stunts, even imitating his safety verbs/vignettes, while he is talking. Notable is the tack and electricity where her fur/hair looks electrified! These antics are what is making the students behave/participate.
Resolution: He is saddened and disappointed that the dog is really the one communicating with the students. He feels so strongly that he will NOT present anymore! He says: “I am not giving anymore speeches. Nobody looks at me anyway.” (Have children use body language and tone of voice to imitate Officer Buckle.)
#3: Kick-Off: School children and administration ask for Gloria to come to the school anyway.
This is a Kick-Off for Gloria, really, because she is asked to go too, since children love her antics.
Reaction: We are drawn to the illustrations. Gloria sits on stage and does nothing. (We infer that she does not have Officer Buckle with her to say the vocabulary words she needs to hear…[personification]).
NOTE: This Kick-Off #3 is written by the author as a Reactive Sequence (a Kick-Off and Reaction). However, if students infer how the dog must have felt/thought (her memories and knowledge about how she used to do the “show”), we can build an episode with the students:
Setting: at a school without her “partner” Officer Buckle.
Kick-Off: All students are ready for the show.
Feeling: Gloria is looking sad and lonely.
Thought Bubble: She probably remembers that she acts out the verbs of Officer Buckle’s safety tips as he says them. She knows she needs him there for her part of the show to happen. She realizes that she cannot do the show without him.
- These are mental state or thinking words. Provide students with sentence stems:
- Gloria remembers that…
- Gloria knows for a fact that…
- Gloria realizes that….
- Third grade is a great time to introduce the thinking words along with the feeling words. We have a Critical Thinking Triangle in Action! Set of materials to focus on this concept for comprehension/expression.)
Direct Consequence: As a result, she does not do anything AND there is a big accident!
#4 Kick-Off: Officer Buckle hears of the spilled pudding accident and received letters about how Gloria was so different without him as her partner.
Feeling: He feels encouraged by a girl named Claire’s note about how Gloria missed him at the school.
Thought Bubble: He realizes that they are a team.
Plan: to work together again
Lesson Learned: Throughout all of these events, Officer Buckle learned a lesson about teamwork: Always stick with your buddy. I think Gloria agrees!
I hope you’ve received a lot from this analysis and that it helped.
Maryellen Rooney Moreau
Maryellen Rooney Moreau, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is the founder of MindWing Concepts. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Disorders at University of Massachusetts at Amherst as a Commonwealth Honors Scholar, and a Masters of Education in Communication Disorders at Pennsylvania State University. Her forty-year professional career includes school-based SLP, college professor, diagnostician, and Coordinator of Intervention Curriculum and Professional Development for children with language learning disabilities. She designed the Story Grammar Marker® and has been awarded two United States Patents. She has written more than 15 publications and developed more than 60 hands-on tools based on the SGM® methodology. Maryellen was awarded the 2014 Alice H. Garside Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Dyslexia Association, Massachusetts Branch.
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