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On the completion of this unit students will be able to:

  • Use a text to describe important characters and events in the story.
  • Compare and contrast a book and a movie about Snow White using the book to validate the movie’s interpretation of the story
  • Organize their thoughts and ideas in a logical way in order to write summaries and ideas in an organized fashion.

The pre-assessment should take place before the first lesson, and it will be very informal.  The teacher will ask what the students already know about the story of Snow White.  Have the students read the book? Seen the movie?  Do they know what happens already?  The teacher should get a good feel for how well the students already know the story or what version of it they know.


Lesson 1

  • Lesson Title/Topic: Understanding the Story by Looking at the Details
  • Subject Area: Reading
  • Grade: 4th
  • Time Available: 1 hour


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Objectives– Through these learning activities, the student will be able to:

  • Highlight important events and character descriptions as they read the book.
  • Summarize the story, using the “Somebody Wanted But So” Chart
  • Write an organized summary of Snow White from the chart in paragraph form


1) Show the cover of Snow White and ask: what do you think is going to happen in this book? If they already know the story of Snow White, ask: what scene do you think the picture on the cover is portraying? Is this how you pictured the characters looking?

2) Explain to students what they will be doing by saying: We are going to read a version of Snow White today.  We will do some writing activities to finish up, and then tomorrow we will watch a movie about the same story. You will compare the two so make sure you pay close attention to all story.

3) Have a print out of the words for students, and give each student their own copy.

4) Say to students: You have your own copy to follow along with while we read.  We will read the book twice.  The first time, I just want you to follow along with me. Read the book through once. (Reading through twice may not be necessary if all the students already know the story.  This can be determined by the pre-assessment.  If they are familiar, skip the first reading.)

5) Say: Now as we read, I want you to highlight in pink what you think is important about a character. In green you will highlight important events that happen. Ask if there are any questions about what happened in the story.  See if children can answer the questions the next time they read.

6) Read the book through again. After each page (or a couple pages if there are few words on a page) stop and give students a moment to highlight what they think is important on that page.  Ask students to give you a one or two sentence summary of what happened on that page.

7) When finished reading, ask students if they have any questions. Ask: were your questions from earlier answered this time?

8) Give each student a “Somebody Wanted But So” Chart (found below).  Fill this chart out in class, giving the first one as a model.  Somebody is the queen.  She wanted to be the most beautiful. But Snow White was prettier than her. So she plotted to kill Snow White. Work step by step with the students, filling out as many of these as the students can come up with.  If students get stuck, ask questions to get them thinking and tell them to reference the highlighted parts in their books.

9) When you finish the chart as a class, say: I want you to use the chart to write a paragraph summarizing the story.  Keep the events of the story in order and only include the details that are important to the story.

10) As students are working on the summary, collect their books so that they only use their charts to write the summary.


Look over the highlighted parts of each student’s book.  Make sure that what they highlighted is essential to the characters and the events in the story, and that they didn’t miss anything. This will tell you if they understand the story and are picking up on the main ideas.  Also, read their summaries when they turn them in to make sure their writing is in a logical sequence and they are using complete sentences.


For ELLs, have them put a question mark in the story by words that they do not know.  After the lesson, pull students aside to help them figure out what those words mean before they write their paragraph.

Resources Needed:

  • Snow White: A Tale From the Brothers Grimm, Illustrated by Charles Santore
  • Copies of the book for each student
  • Pink and Green highlighters for each student
  • Somebody Wanted But So chart for each student



Lesson 2

  • Lesson Title/Topic: Comparing book and video version of Snow White
  • Subject Area: Reading
  • Grade: 4th
  • Time Available: An hour and a half slot to watch the movie; then 30 minutes for the lesson


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.7 Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.

Objectives– Through these learning activities, the student will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the book and video versions of the story of Snow White
  • Write a paragraph about the biggest difference from the book to the video in terms of character or plot


1) If there were any major issues with what students highlighted as important from the last lesson, make sure to address those.  It is important that students understand the key points in the story for this next lesson especially.

2) Say to students: We are going to watch a movie of Snow White, but I want you to keep in mind the book we read yesterday.  As you watch, think about how the movie is similar or different than the book.

3) When the video is over, hand out the Venn Diagram Chart. Work on this together with the students.  Ask: What are some things that are different between the book and movie in regards to character and the events that happen?  As students name some things, have them write it down.

4) Ask: what are some of the major things that were the same? Have students write this down on the chart as well.  (It might be a good idea to print the chart on larger paper so students will have more room to write.)

5) Say: Now I want you to circle the event or character that you think is the biggest difference between the two.  What did you write down that you think changed the story the most?

6) After you circle that, I want you to write about why you think this was the biggest difference, and what impact or effect it had on the story.


Listen and observe children as they suggest answers for the Venn Diagram.  Collect students Venn Diagrams and paragraphs that they write.  Use these pieces of writing to determine if the students understood the differences between the book and movie.  The paragraph will also show you if the students understand the effect on the whole story based on the differences.


For students who have trouble writing, have them copy down what other students are writing on the Venn Diagram as you go through it in class.

Resources Needed:

  • 1937 Version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Movie
  • Venn Diagram Chart

The final project for this unit will consist of a picture and writing to go along with it.  Students will pick a scene from the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs video that they think should have been done differently based on the book.   They will illustrate how they think the scene should have looked.  To go along with their illustration, they will write at least one page describing their picture.  In their writing, they will include the following:

  • What part of the story their scene is from
  • Why that scene in the movie should have been different
  • A description of their illustration and why they illustrated the scene the way they did
  • References from the book to explain why their scene is more accurate than the one in the movie using some of the important characteristics and events talked about in Lesson 1

I am over halfway done with fieldwork, and I am starting to focus a lot more on my case study student, Adriana.  Adriana is originally from Mexico and was adopted into an English speaking family when she was in first grade.  Though she has been speaking English for 4 years now, she is still an ELL as she originally spoke Spanish.  Her biggest area of struggle is in comprehension because she just doesn’t know what a lot of words are or what they mean.  I decided to do a Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) with Adriana, and I started out with a second grade level reading.  Even though this is two grades below her, she struggled a lot with this reading.  She scored a 54% with the concept questions which assess her prior knowledge.  This tells me that she was partly familiar with the concepts, but not completely.  While read the 304 word passage, Adriana had 25 miscues, putting her at the lower end of an instructional reading accuracy. She was at an independent level when it came to meaning changing miscues.  This showed me that her fluency is not that bad, but I was very curious as to what she was able to recall from the story.

When I asked her if she could tell me what happened in the story in her own words, she started to complain a little bit.  She knew it was going to be hard and she didn’t want to do it.  She was only able to recall one idea before I told her to tell me anything that she remembered; it didn’t have to be in the same order.  This seemed to help her a little bit, but she still was only able to recall 10 of the 52 ideas in the story.  When asking her questions about the story, she still struggled, often commenting “This is hard” or “Uhh. I don’t know.”  She was only able to answer five questions correctly, putting her at the frustration level for the comprehension section.

Luckily for me, Adriana wanted to do another one.  Despite her frustration she found them fun.  This time, I gave her a first grade level reading.  She seemed to enjoy this one better, partly because it had pictures to go along with it.  Her prior knowledge score was much higher this time, with 78%.  Her miscues were cut in half, having only 12 in a 264 word passage.  This put her toward the higher end of the instructional reader for fluency, much better than the last passage. When it came to recalling events that happened in the story she still struggled, only recalling 13 of 50 ideas.  When I asked her questions about the story, she was able to recall 3 of 6 questions, again putting her at the frustration level for comprehension.

I asked her which story she liked better and she said the second one because it was easier, and she still wanted to read another one.  Adriana is an interesting, though not uncommon, case.  She has a very good fluency level and is able to read the words on the page, but she does not understand what she is reading.  It is hard to determine how to accommodate for this child because you don’t want to give them words that are way too easy for them because they will feel undermined, but if you give them something harder to read, they won’t understand what it is saying.  I have worked on a min-unit built around comprehension which I will post in a few days, and I hope to be able to teach the first lesson to a small group of students.  In this unit I focus on using a lot of visuals and graphic organizers to help with comprehension. I am interested in seeing if Adriana will benefit from these types of strategies.

During this fieldwork visit, I was also able to just talk with Adriana a little bit and interview her.  I learned that she was adopted when she was in first grade and has been at Estabrook since then.  She is not a fan of reading mainly because she comes across big words that she doesn’t know.  She doesn’t mind writing and says that it is a lot better than reading.  When she writes she can take her time and use words that she knows.  She sometimes reads at home when her dad makes her, but she said that her favorite books are The Cat in the Hat and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss.  It is my guess that these books are easier to read because of their rhythm and rhyme so she enjoys them more.

This fieldwork visit was very beneficial for me, and I learned a lot about Adriana from this visit.  There will be more to come in the next two weeks as I finish up my fieldwork and work more with Adriana.

I was interested the part of the chapter that was dealing with strategies for helping students figure out multisyllabic words.  The book suggests to ask questions like “Are there any parts of the word that you can say? Can you say the first part? The next part? Can you put the word together?”  In addition to this, Gunning also recommends covering up the last part of the word so that only the first syllable or first part of the word is showing that children would know.   Then, cover up that part so they can figure out the last part of the word. Finally, have the students put the parts together to form the word.

I have actually found this strategy to be quite useful with struggling readers in particular. My case study child, Adriana, is a perfect example of this.  She in an English Language Learner and often times when she comes across big words that she doesn’t know she reads them as words she is familiar with or words that look the same.  For example, when working on flashcards of pronouncing words, she continuously mixed up the words opposite, opinion, and option.  Time after time she made the same understandable mistakes.  In order to help her see the difference, I covered up everything after the ‘op(p)’.  Then I covered those letters and showed her the difference in the words.  Once she was able to break the word down and see the difference in them, rather than just the similarity, she was able to differentiate the words from one another.  This strategy also worked when she was sounding out words she didn’t know.  By breaking the words into smaller, more manageable chunks, she seemed to be more successful in decoding the word.

Gunning also talked about how it is important to give the child as much guidance as they need, but they eventually have to get to the point where they don’t need a teacher to help them decode.  Adriana is still very dependent on an assistant helping her in decoding, but she also learns very quickly.  Once she decodes a word, she is able to remember it for the next time it comes up in a reading.  This seems like a sign that as time goes on she is going to become less and less dependent on someone helping her decode and will eventually be able to do it herself.

Chapter 8: Strategies

Chapter 8 dealt with some of the many different approaches to teaching reading, writing, decoding, spelling, etc.  I find it hard to focus on just one of these strategies to talk about since they are all so relevant depending on the situation and the child you are working with.  Reading this chapter just opened my eyes to how many different approaches a teacher can take to teach a single concept like phonics.  The text talks about explicit, implicit, pattern, and word building approaches for just teaching phonics.  This chapter seemed overwhelming in a sense because of all these approaches. How do I know what strategy to use? What will be effective? How can I use one strategy for one student, but a completely different strategy for another student?  These were all the questions running through my head while reading the chapter.  I don’t think that I have answers for these questions right now, but at some point I will.

All of these different strategies seem vague and kind of unclear right now.  The reason for this and unknown answers to all the questions that came to mind is probably that I have not actually been in a situation where I need to use these strategies.  It seems to me that once I have a classroom of my own and know the students that I am working with, it will be a lot easier to determine which strategy to use with which child.  Reading this is definitely great exposure to all of these strategies and will be a great reference point later on, but it is hard to get a lot out of it without actually being confronted with a situation in which to apply the strategies, at least for me.

I found Chapter 7 to be very interesting particularly because I could relate to a lot of it from my fieldwork experiences. First of all, the book talks about phonological awareness and English Language Learners.  It says that especially for ELLs you have to help them separate words into sounds so that cat has three separate sounds ([k]+[a]+[t]), and the sounds blend to make words.  While doing fieldwork, I experienced this happening.  Even though I was working with fourth graders, the ELLs were pulled out and working on segmenting sounds in this exact manner.  Building onto this, the book talks about blending words.  It uses the terms ‘onset’ and ‘rime’.  The onset is the beginning consonant(s) of the word, and the rime is the rest of the word.  While observing the ELLs, the teacher was actually using these terms with the children to explain the onsets of sh-, ch-, and th-.

The book also talked a lot about rhyming and playing with sounds to help kids understand and remember sounds and words. By rhyming kids can pick out which part of the word sounds the same so they can recognize which letters form to make which sounds.  Similarly, by playing with sounds, kids can see the small differences in words to help them better understand that different letters will make different sounds.  I saw this happening in my fieldwork the other day, as well.  Students were making rhymes to go with the words that they were focusing on for that week.  They would then have to articulate the difference in the words.  They were also playing with sounds when focusing on their words.  The students would have to say words that sounded similar, but were spelled differently, such as ‘shoe’ and ‘chew’.  They would then have to tell the teacher what was different about the words.  To do this, they would make the ‘ch’ sound or the ‘sh’ sound to articulate the difference.

Reading this chapter, I found it really interesting that I could relate the techniques that the textbook was talking to what was actually happening in the classroom. It helped me to confirm the theories and strategies discussed in the book as actually valid and useful.

Week 2 of Fieldwork

My second week of fieldwork is complete now.  This week was similar to last in that I was involved in basically the same things.  I floated around the classroom working with various groups of students and even some individual students.  One student that I worked with was taking an Accelerated Reader (AR) Test on the computer.  I was surprised that one of the questions was asking about a direct quote from the book.  There were four choices and the student had to pick which of the four quotes were actually in the book.  Even though this may have been a significant quote from the story, I thought that this was very nit-picky and not a good way to assess how well the child comprehended the story.

I also observed students picking out books in the classroom library for a while.  The books are sorted into bins depending on reading level.  A color is assigned to each level, and students know what color bin to pick books from.  I think it is a good idea to have the books sorted by reading level so the students can read a book that is appropriate to them.  However, there can be some drawbacks to this. For one, students are ‘labeled’ by their reading level.  They are labeled at a certain reading level and can only pick those books so they do not have the incentive to challenge themselves. Though the color sorting level is an effective way to individualize for students, it does not seem like the most effective way to challenge students to become better readers.

Some other things that I did were help students to read informational text and answer questions about it.  We read a text about the different kinds of ants and their jobs.  After we read, students had to answer four questions.  I was only working with three students at a time, but when one reader was at a lower level, it seemed as if the other two got frustrated when she tried to read.  They would start to read ahead or give attitude when they were waiting for her to read. I think that the groups that were assigned to me should have been more on the same level in this instance.

Finally, I also began working with a girl named Stasha (pseudonym).  She had to write a short report about Abraham Lincoln.  She had previously read a book about Lincoln, and now had to write a short summary of the important details of his life.  She seemed to remember some details, but not the most important ones. Once she referenced back to the book, she was able to recall some important events.  Another main problem that she was having was spelling. If she didn’t know a word she did one of two things: change the sentence around so she wouldn’t have to use that word or look in her book for the word to copy it.  When I had her sound out a word to spell it, she had difficulty.  For example, when sounding out the word ‘tried’ she spelled it as ‘chried.’  This was very interesting because ‘tr’ and ‘ch’ are both pronounced with your mouth and tongue in the same position so this mistake was very understandable. However, ‘tried’ should be a word that should be easy to spell by fourth grade so this indicated a problem for her.  Because of this, I have narrowed my case study candidate down to Stasha and the girl I talked about in my previous fieldwork post, Adriana.  I hope to start working with one of these girls next week.

I found all of chapter 6 to be very interesting and intriguing. One part that I think is very important is being able to understand the child fully.  Your assessment cannot be fully valid if you do not know the child and his/her background.  Reading what a child wrote or listening to them read cannot be the full assessment.  You have to be able to put that into the context of what background the child is coming from, what the child likes/dislikes, and what the child’s strengths and weaknesses are.  It cannot be a full assessment without taking all of these things into consideration.

In order to get a full assessment of the child, the book suggests that you get a case history of the child. To do this, you would interview the child’s parents about what the child likes to do at home, what their favorite things are to play with, and what ages the child reached developmental stages such as walking, talking, writing, etc.  This way, you as the teacher can have a more thorough understanding of the child which will help you with the assessment process. For instance, if the child is reading at a lower level than they should be, it could be due to the fact that they were not introduced to books at a young age and simply have not had enough experience with books.   On the other hand, if a child is reading way above grade level, it could be because they were always read to at home and they have a ton of books in their house now which they resort to in their free time.

I think that getting a good understanding of the child helps to complete the overall assessment. If they are at a lower level than you wanted, it could very well be an appropriate level for them given their home and family life conditions.  Without knowing about the child, you are just assessing on a very judgmental basis.  When you know the child’s strengths and weaknesses, you can assess what they are improving on and use their strengths to work on their weaknesses. Overall, your assessment will be more well-rounded and more valid when you have a better understanding of who the child is, outside of just reading and writing.

Week 1 of Fieldwork

I began my fieldwork this week in a fourth grade classroom.  This experience was quite different for me for a couple reasons. First, I have been in a Lutheran school all my life, so going into a public school was quite a different atmosphere to get used to.  Second and a more prevalent difference was the structure of the school day.  The day is split up into three main sections.  In the morning is the ‘Math Block’ for an hour and 45 minutes, then specials such as gym, music, and art for 55 minutes.  Then they have an hour and 20 break for lunch and recess.  Then, for an hour and a half in the afternoon is the reading bock to finish the day.  Within the reading block, there are three focus lessons with the last lesson being an informational text such as science.  I will focus on the reading block because that is the purpose of this course.  During the reading block, students follow a ‘Daily 5’ system meaning they read to someone, listen to reading or work on a computer, read to themselves, do word work, or work on writing.  Students are required to do all five of these during the reading block.  Many students are working independently while the teacher calls over a group of students to work with or even a single student.  There are five computers available for students to use.  While I was observing, they used them for a variety of tasks including taking AR tests and doing grammar activities.  About 45 minutes into this block, the teacher suggested that they should start writing if they hadn’t already.

I found this set up to be very interesting. I have never seen the day split up into sections like this.  I do not think that I have enough experience with it to form an opinion yet, but that will come later.  One thing I did notice right away was that this set up gives the teacher ample time to work one on one with students to individualize their instruction a bit more.  All the students seem to know what to do and get right to their work.  Some students are more motivated than others, though, just like in every classroom.

My participation in the classroom was quite different and a bit unexpected, especially on the first day.  As soon as I got there, the teacher had me observe a child.  He was doing some word and grammar work on the computer so I got to see how those programs work.  Basically, there was a summary and examples of what synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms were.  At the end, he could take a quiz about what he just learned.  I also had some students read to me who were ELLs and struggled a bit with reading. It gave them good practice to read aloud to someone and learn to pronounce the words correctly, too.  After this, the teacher explained the science lesson that she was going to do.  She was splitting up the class into groups and gave me 7 students, half of whom were ELLs and the other half was struggling readers/writers.  This kind of took me by surprise because not only did I have to teach the lesson to this group, but I also had to incorporate the fact that all of them were struggling with reading.  Even though this was a bit nerve-racking at first, I thought it was great experience to just jump right into things.  On the second day I was there, I worked for a short time with a small group of students on reading and writing fables.  After that, I worked with one girl in particular who is an ELL and is struggling with comprehending what she reads and then putting her thoughts onto paper.  We read a fable together and then she had to answer a question about it. She was such a joy to work with because I could tell that she was trying so hard, and she even said a couple times “This is really tough!”  But we worked together through it and when she got done writing, I could tell she was really proud with her work.  I really enjoyed working with her, and I’m hoping to continue working with her throughout my time there to see how she grows.

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