Monday, August 11, 2008

Author Study - Jan Brett and Jackie French

At the end of last week I concluded a 3-week author study on US author/illustrator Jan Brett. There were similarities to the author study I ran with my New York City kindergarten class, but as always, I made a few adaptations. Whilst in New York, I had much easier access to all of Jan Brett's books, and could even get multiple copies of some for use in small reading groups. Here in Australia, I can't access her books, but I have much better computer access and so have made better use of Jan Brett's website. I really enjoyed using her resources on the Smart Board in my classroom. I really recommend her site to teachers - particularly those in the US - as she does absolutely everything she can to share her work with children. There are great Newsnotes that show how the stories took shape, regular newsletters (in audio format) for children to hear what she is up to and be inspired, and even video snippets where Jan Brett takes children step-by-step through how she draws her characters.

So, having said all that, this week we began an author study of an Australian author - Jackie French. In many of Jackie French's books, the main characters are animals, and more specifically Australian native animals. Jackie French has a particular interest in wombats. So today we began with one of Jackie French's wombat books - Smudge. And prior to reading, we thought of all the things we know about wombats and listed these on a fish-bone chart under the headings: food, characteristics, appearance and habitat. As it was, my students had a great prior knowledge as their starting point. I found some really great internet resources to expose students to wombats visually. Flickr had this great set about Wally the Wombat, and You Tube has some videos of wombats in action. I particularly liked this one about a wombat getting comfortable. Later in the week we are going to read Diary of a Wombat, and then my students are going to take turns to take home a stuffed-toy wombat and write in his diary. I think (and hope) that they will be very excited about this idea.

I'm now a big fan of using author studies in the classroom to motivate students to read and inspire their writing. (And I had fun finding all the web resources about wombats!)

Update: I now have a way of making some teaching materials available to you. These are for use in the classroom, not for commercial purposes. Please contact me for further information. I am happy to email worksheets that are not compatible with Google Docs.
Jan Brett Author Study Overview
Jackie French Author Study Overview
Jackie French Worksheets: My Facts About Wombats

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I'm developing an author study about Jackie French and will soon be posting it on my blog at
    Best wishes


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