|This Vermont home is like the one I picture for Charlie's new friend John.|
Today's adults looking back fondly at Grade 3 may be surprised at the actions that third graders are expected to take as they read new material in school. This is part of what I see as the improvements we're invited to make in teaching, and therefore also in the books we write for the kids to enjoy: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a teacher-led and state-by-state adopted set of goals to work toward, one after another, so that our graduating high school seniors can tackle life at an adult level. So, here's what third graders need to be doing with the story they're reading (in addition to enjoying it!):
Assess.Today I took great pleasure in reshaping this paragraph to develop text with more depth, including several ideas that Sue contributed:
Develop logical arguments.
But I also paid attention to this passage, weaving back into the text some special terms I'd introduced earlier:Charlie looked way up at that boy’s face and worried. The boy made clown-like faces. He pushed close to John and said more things. John covered his ears. John said No! Charlie got angry. The mean boy was scaring John. Charlie hit the massive boy. Stop! No!
There was water everywhere, with pieces of wood floating in it. It was too dark to see the turbine or the penstock, but the little bit of light flickered on the moving water. Was Old Ben shining a flashlight while he repaired the turbine? No, nobody could fix things in the cellar with this much water, not even Old Ben. The stairs kept shaking. Now Charlie felt scared.And it was also a good day to outline the nonfiction material for the end of the book, where (me being me) I suggested a timeline to organize the information and investigations that readers might add to their experience of the story.
Have you guessed yet from the way the text paragraphs here are written? Charlie is deaf ... at age eight, in about 1956 in Vermont. Things were very different then. I'm enjoying painting in the details, along with things that haven't changed at all, like the chest-quivering sensation of thunder, the comfort of morning pancakes with Grandma, and the satisfaction that comes from being as brave as possible, in a scary situation. Know what I mean?