Mini Books of Wonder

Mar 24, 2016

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Lisa Silmser

I sold ice to Eskimos today and I couldn't be more tickled by the outcome. The powers of marketing are not lost on me and I see everyday that the way that something is packaged can make a difference. I believe Daniel Pink when he explains that "to sell is human" and as a teacher I am convinced that I must sell learning to all my students. There was some serious marketing going on in room 127 today!

As we are heading into the season of accountability testing, the month of April in Minnesota, I decided to do a final rundown of topics that I might need to review with my students. I'm not someone who gets all out of whack about test prep so hear me when I say that this was not a moment of panic. I was just doing inventory and I found some things I want to reteach or at least provide a bit more practice on in the coming days. My kiddos need a few more opportunities, mostly to build their efficacy and confidence with recognizing multiple main ideas, quoting accurately from a text to support ideas, and summarizing.

I've got plenty of worksheet type activities that I can assign for added practice in this area, but to be honest, there is no fun in that. (Golden Rule: If I'm bored, they are bored.) I needed something that had a bit more sparkle. I needed something that I could sell as new and exciting.

Hurray for the mini book! This oldy-but-goody idea is one that I remember learning as a 4th grader back in the day. One sheet of paper with a few folds and a tiny slice down the middle can magically become a six-paged book with much more power than any worksheet.

I didn't have time to futz with the formatting and make a nice computer document so I opted simply to hand write the pages. I've found that my students actually value the personal quality of something that I've made just for them. It's also good for me to model being less than perfectly perfect sometimes. So, I zipped them through the copier and was in business.

In class, I demonstrated with theatrical flare how to fold and cut and create the mini book. Those 5th graders didn't know what hit them. They were clamoring to quote accurately, note main ideas and summarize the Wonderopolis text of their choice (well, a controlled choice -- I gave them a list of several that we will use again next week when we study nonfiction text structures). I actually had students asking if they could do more than one! Well, I guess you can work harder and longer, and read and write and think more. Bahahaha!

Here is my simple little Mini Book of Wonder for you to try with your students. (It's available in my Resources Folder.) It's nothing fancy, but today at Monroe Elementary we completely sold out. This may need to be the first in a series.

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