Last month, we shared two book selections published this year, Love by Matt De La Pena and They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki (Two Summer Books [and More] with Feelings!). This week, I wanted to share a book published in 1990, Alaska’s Three Bears, written by Shelly Gill and illustrated by Shannon Cartwright.
Maryellen recommended this book at a workshop I attended many years ago, and I found so many uses for it when our second, third, fourth, and fifth graders began to explore narrative and expository text structures. Pictured below is a page from the book.
As you can see, there is both a story and expository information presented. The book is one that can be used with a variety of goals/objectives in mind, during whole-group and/or small-group instruction, and with a wide span of grade levels.
Before I begin to share some ideas for the book, I am often asked if I review the SGM® components and text structures before beginning my daily whole group lessons. YES! I always began each lesson reviewing narrative and expository structures depending on the grade level and expectations. Pictured is a third-grade review.
As an example, I would ask: “Who can tell me the two types of texts we have been talking about? “ (Write Narrative (Story) and Expository (Information) on whiteboard). I would then elicit responses to the following: “Who can name all the parts of the narrative?” “Who can name the types of expository text we have been reviewing?” (This, of course, will vary depending on your groups). As a student(s) responds, I would add magnetic pieces to the board. I used many variations, including:
From simple to complex, this type of review takes but a few moments and establishes a routine before stating the lesson objective to students.
Below are a few ideas for Alaska’s Three Bears from some of the various lessons I presented. Many of these lessons were completed over a series of days. You may expand upon/change to suit your student needs.
1. Introducing the book…Show a map of Alaska and point out the geography of the state. There are videos available online that would give students facts about Alaska, as well as so many beautiful books, including Alaska by Shelly Gill.
OR introduce the book by showing a short video on bears…this one may interest you.
Explain that Alaska’s Three Bears contains both a story and information on three types of bears that are found in Alaska. Show a sample page. Read the story. Share the informational pieces with the students.
2. Map out the story with the students using the pictures to guide the outline; a sample of a possible map is below.
3. Retell the story using the SGM® and then explain that we can expand on the Planned Actions as follows:
4. Review the story using the visual above and point out that we learned some information about the three bears through what they each said and about the differences in what they thought was home, and that this added to our retelling of the story. We tuned into what the bears said and thought but we can also use other parts of the story presented to add more details.
Example:The bears arrived at a place where the land meets the frozen sea. The brown bear thought it was too lonely there and the black bear said it was too cold, but the white, polar bear, with his short, sharp claws, saw seals. He said, “This place is just right.”
5. This is a great selection to discuss the changes in settings. Display the Setting icon and setting locations.
6. Using the chart (#4) again, add to the chart/lists as you read the expository section of the book. You could use a different color marker to emphasize the two different types of texts.
7. Use the Descriptive Map you have available and ask students to use the list of information (#6) and organize the information into 5 categories: Physical Appearance, Habitat, Food/Eating, Young, Special Characteristics. You may also give students other resources to use (books, videos, etc) and do the same process. Notice we are going from notes (#6) to organizing notes (#7). The follow-up activity, of course, could involve a writing activity to describe the animal or orally sharing the information found. Check out this previous blog for a concrete example: Writing Expository Informational Descriptive Map to Paragraphs.
8. Display the expository text structures on the whiteboard. Share a sentence from the story…read it to the students and then write it on the whiteboard. Have students look for keywords that help identify the text structure in the sentence (Circle the words). Ask for someone to identify the text type.
This activity was modeled after one presented in The “Core” of the Core manual, pages 87-97. This book is full of practical activities you can implement immediately in your classroom.
9. Have another board handy to talk about how bears are alike using the information presented in the expository section of the book.
10. Finally, place this book in the library corner in your classroom. I can tell you from personal experience that it will be enjoyed many more times!
The above activities show the flexibility of the SGM® for both narrative and expository texts. I especially enjoyed using Alaska’s Three Bears as I traveled from class to class in grades K-5 and appreciated the fact that this book could be used with a variety of grade levels (2-5) as it helped to support a number of my objectives as a Language Arts Teacher.
Check out other books by Shelly Gill and books illustrated by Shannon Cartwright.
Sheila Zagula works with MindWing Concepts in product development, drawing on her expertise and talents as well as many years of implementing the Story Grammar Marker® and related materials. Her teaching career spans thirty-eight years, most recently as literacy coach in the Westfield Massachusetts Public School System. Sheila has experience as an early childhood educator, a teacher of children with special needs, and a collaborative instructor within an inclusion framework serving children in grades K-5.