Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Harry Potter - Chapter One - The Boy Who Lived

I had to take a deep breath before uttering those words - The Boy Who Lived. I could go on and on about the amazing storytelling ability of JK Rowling and amaze over the subtleties she thought out from the very beginning. But this isn't about my love for her writing. It's about the students.

They all cracked open the cover of their brand new books and turned to chapter one, page one of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And we began... As we savored every word there were many gasps and "Oohs" as they recognized important details Ms. Rowling sprinkled throughout the book that would become major plot points later on. Now this is why I wanted to do this unit. The literary comprehension is catching on. They are seeing how an author establishes character traits and builds up backstory without giving everything away from the start.

The writing activity is flowing so naturally from our reading. They have been so enamored with their wands they can't seem to put them down. So asking them to think how this wand came to be was so easy. We spent one day on collecting details about how our wands looks, feel, and even smell. We brainstormed a list of woods to choose from and delved into magical creatures that might have donated an item to the wand's making. My class is pretty creative already with personal narrative writing, but this is the first time this year I've delved into the fantasy realm with them and they are blowing me away. Their stories are sequenced naturally and include details from their plans. Plus they are having fun with them and want me to read each one before they finish.

Normally I tell them I won't read the whole thing until they turn in their Final Drafts, only the section they feel fits in with that days lessons. But these are too fun not to read as they develop. To keep them quiet and working I've taken to playing the audio version of the book read by the amazing Jim Dale (another donorschoose item!) while they write.

During the day when I find a free moment or two, I find myself throwing in some wand lessons. Of course we started with

1.) ONLY point your wands away from people
2.) Keep your wands to yourself, this includes hitting, poking, or touching other people's stuff
3.) Keep your wand in a safe place. If it ends up on the floor, don't be surprised if someone steps on it.

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