I am writing this unit because of the need for children to become more aware of what is going on inside their heads while they read or their own thinking processes. Many children read books without being aware of their own processes of thought or able to express how they form impressions or come to the conclusions they do. I want students to become aware of what is going on inside of their heads while they read a particular sentence, look at a character in a book, and/or watch a character on T.V. I have heard one too many times from my students, "because" as a means to an end but with that I reply, "But why? How do you know?" Students need to develop certain comprehension strategies, such as inferring, to become better readers. Teaching comprehension strategies effectively have developed over time. As teachers, we no longer have the entire class read the same book and answer the same questions to check for comprehension. A lot of students can read words, and decode their phonetic meaning, but they cannot comprehend the actual story. One of the most frustrating parts about teaching is when a student can read the words on a level fourteen text and a level sixteen and a level eighteen but cannot for the life of them understand what they just read. In the book, Mosaic of Thought, Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmerman discuss the importance of teaching comprehension strategies effectively. They state, "that instruction that actively engages students in asking questions, summarizing and synthesizing text, and identifying important ideas improves comprehension, and that proficient reading involves using more than one strategy at a time" (Keene, p. 27)
This unit will embrace this thinking because there will be a lot of questions asked daily and the students will be very engaged with the Arthur stories by Marc Brown.
This unit will focus on character analysis of characters in the popular series of children's books, Arthur, by Marc Brown. This unit is designed for a second grade class but it could be adapted to first through fourth grade with slight alterations. The students will read stories, listen to the stories on tape, and watch Arthur films. Inferring is a comprehension strategy that is crucial for students to learn. The students will search for clues as to how the character is feeling considering clues ranging from plot events, word choices, dialogue, facial expressions in illustrations, tome of voice in recordings, and facial and body language in video tape adaptations. The students will also be able to use stated or implied evidence to back up their inference.
Arthur stories are terrific for early elementary students to read. Every book teaches the students a lesson, and the characters Marc Brown created, I have noticed, are easy for students to connect to. At the age of seven, students like reading stories with characters that have experiences that they have shared or can "relate" to. Arthur is a boy in the second grade who deals with anxiety from spelling tests, teasing/bullying from other classmates, and an annoying younger sister who always wants to be a part of Arthur's life. The events that happen in these books are easily relatable to by any child in elementary school.