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Monday Morning Ready01.27.2017
Jumpstart Your Week!

Not long before E.B. White started writing his classic children's story "Charlotte's Web" about a spider called Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur, he had an encounter that seems to have deeply affected him. In a 1947 essay for the Atlantic Monthly, he describes several days and nights spent with an ailing pig.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Charlotte's Web is a book about the friendship between a spider and a pig. What's your favorite book about friendship? Why is that book your favorite?

Grade 5-6

According to the article, E.B. White's eyes were opened as a child when he became aware "that animals were actors themselves, living their own busy lives, not merely background characters in his own little drama." Stop everything and observe the world around you. What do you notice that you never noticed before?

Grade 7-8

E.B. White based Charlotte's Web on his real-life experiences with a pig. What real-life experiences have you had that would make a good children's book? Describe how you could weave those experiences into a plot about love and friendship.

Grade 9-10

According to the article, E.B. White once said, "All I ever hope to say in books is that I love the world." He did this through the personification of animals. Name another author that writes about love of the world. What subject and/or technique does this author use to express this message to readers?

LESSON PLAN
Analyze a Poem or Short Story

PROCESS:

  1. Select an age-appropriate poem or short story about friendship and love. Inform students that they will analyze this written work to determine how the author used words to tell a story about friendship and love.
  2. Have students examine the title. Explain that the title often provides clues that tell what a poem or story is about. Challenge students to identify any clues in this title that indicate that this is a poem or story about friendship and love.
  3. Instruct students to read the poem or story. Have them write a brief summary explaining why they think it was about friendship and love. 
  4. Point out that in order to truly understand something, particularly something that may have hidden meanings, it helps to read it more than once. Give students time to read the poem or story one or two more times. As they do, encourage them to look beyond the literal meaning of words and phrases. Challenge them to identify hidden clues, such as metaphors or sensory language, that help express the author's message about friendship and love.
  5. Based upon their findings, instruct students to write a brief review about the poem or short story. In their reviews, instruct students to identify what they think the author was thinking about when he or she wrote the poem or short story. Challenge them to explain how the author could have expressed these same feelings in a different way.

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their reviews with the class. Compare and contrast their responses. When differences of opinion occur, examine how the reader's own experiences may have influenced his or her interpretation about the meaning of the poem or short story.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:    

Grades 3-4:
Prior to conducting this activity, select an age-appropriate poem or short story for students to assess. Then conduct the activity as a class. Instruct students to identify specific adjectives, adverbs and action words that helped them identify the author's message. Challenge them to explain how context helped them distinguish between the literal and nonliteral meanings of words and phrases as they read. Encourage them to provide examples of how their own real-life experiences helped them understand what the author was saying about friendship and love.

Grades 5-6:
Prior to conducting this activity, select an age-appropriate poem or short story for students to assess. Then have students read and discuss the poem or short story in small groups. Instruct students to identify relationships in the text-such as cause/effect, part/whole or item/whole-that helped them identify the author's message. Challenge them to explain how context helped them interpret figurative language as they read. Encourage them to provide examples of how their own real-life experiences helped them understand what the author was saying about friendship and love.

Grades 7-8:
Prior to conducting this activity, select an age-appropriate poem or short story for students to assess. Then have students read and discuss the poem or short story in pairs. Instruct partners to identify connotations or relationships between words that helped them identify the author's message. Encourage them to explain how context helped them interpret figurative language as they read. Challenge them to identify specific phrases that helped them understand what the author was thinking when he or she wrote this poem or short story about friendship and love.

Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to select an age-appropriate poem or short story about friendship and love. Then have each student in the group read and assess the poem or short story on their own. After students have written their reviews, have groups rejoin so members can discuss their interpretations of the written work. Challenge students' to provide detailed examples for how the author could have expressed his or her feelings about friendship and love differently.

SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
Valentine’s Day from Smithsonian Folkways
The concept of love has inspired many artists to write songs, whether about newfound love or heartbreak. Invite students to enjoy this Smithsonian Folkways collection, which features love-themed folk songs from around the world.

Ten Out-of-the-Ordinary Valentine’s Day Customs
Valentine’s Day hasn’t always been about roses and candy. Read this Smithsonian article to learn how the holiday’s customs have evolved throughout time.

The 60th Anniversary of Charlotte’s Web: Charlotte and the Museum
Read this article to learn about the connection between E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web and the American Museum of Natural History.

Welcome to Our Classroom
Transitions can be tough for new students who join a class after the first day of school. Use this teacher-created lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to have existing students create a “new student brochure.” The brochure will introduce new students and their families to the classroom and help them understand daily routines.

Tea for Two
Use this activity from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to help elementary and middle school students examine how certain items can link family and friends together in unique and interesting ways. An adapted version of the activity for those instructing high school students is also available.

People Don’t Make More Friends, They Just Replace Their Old Ones
We each have a limited capacity for maintaining friendships. Read this Smithsonian article to learn why a team of researchers says that in order to make new friends, we have to let one go.
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