Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Author Study - Mem Fox

We just began a new author study on the work of Mem Fox. This has been really exciting as I have found myself building on different skills to the earlier author studies. I'm also seeing a much deeper understanding of authors and illustrators and an interest in exploring new books.

We began with Mem Fox's most famous story – “Possum Magic”, and I was fortunate enough to be able to get access to a Big Book version of the text. I also managed to find a DVD of Mem Fox reading the story (and also “Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge”). On the first day we just read the book and discussed what we liked about it. On the second day we watched the video and then did some map work using the Smart Board and a worksheet I created. My students pieced together a map of Australia and then labeled the states. I then asked the class to find the places that Grandma Poss and Hush visited, and draw the path that they travelled. On a blank map they drew the foods they ate at the places they visited. I was impressed by how much they picked up.

On Mem Fox’s website, she outlines how to read a book aloud with expression. I found it interesting, and have been encouraging my students to use some of her suggestions. In particular, I pointed out that Mem Fox pays close attention to the end of her stories and wants the reader to draw it out to enjoy it more fully. I read “Koala Lou” with one of my guided reading groups, and demonstrated how Mem Fox would stretch out the words on the last page. I've also been re-reading my favourite parts with the class, so they can experience my enjoyment of the way the text is created.

Today I read “Sophie” as part of our unit of work on The Way We Were. It is a great illustration of the circle of life and the changes we go through. After reading this, the kids made a timeline of their lives so far.

One of my favourite moments was when one of the girls pointed out that “Sophie” tied in with both the Integrated Studies and our Author Study. This made me realize that my class now pays attention to who the author of the book is (even before I mention it). Another student also pointed out that they had read another book illustrated by Craig Smith – “Cats” a recent book week nomination.

It’s exciting to see students developing this interest in authors and illustrators. I set up a mini Eric Carle and Lauren Childs sections on my class bookshelf so they can begin their own author studies during independent reading time - we'll see how that goes...

1 comment:

I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please don't be shy...