If you haven't met Gooney Bird Greene yet, you are missing out!
Gooney Bird Greene is a freckle-faced, red-headed girl who is absolutely as unique as her name. Throughout the book, Gooney tells absolutely true stories to her second grade classroom (though they seem far from the truth at first). Your students will be excited to hear about a second grader who moves to town from China, goes on a flying carpet ride, directs a symphony orchestra, and spends a little time in jail. Boys and girls will simply adore the stories Gooney has to tell (and be inspired to write stories of their own).
This is the first chapter book read aloud I use with my second graders each year. Not only does it lend itself to reviewing basic story elements, but it's great for delving into character traits and writer's workshop topics, too!
Before school even starts I print and prep all the materials I will use with this read aloud (most of them come from my Gooney Bird Greene pack):
As I mentioned, one of our big areas of focus in September is identifying story elements (characters, setting, problem, solution) and retelling a story (beginning, middle, end) both orally and in writing.
I start the year off by talking about character traits. I try to help kids expand beyond nice, kind, fun, etc. These character trait-ing cards sure come in handy!
"Hmm....Gooney Bird just told her teacher she wants a desk right smack in the middle of the room. (flipping through the cards) That seems kind of demanding to me. Demanding means you are asking for a lot of attention or you say things to get what you want. Yes, I think Gooney Bird is demanding. Let me add that to our chart."
We also stop and focus on comprehension after each chapter (or set of chapters). Our focus is on retelling what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story. I have this anchor chart up and ready to go (it's just a larger version of the one you can find here):
After we're done reading the chapter, I'll do a think-aloud of what just happened (beg-mid-end). I'll have students give a thumbs up, thumbs sideways, or thumbs down as a check-in to see if they agree. Every once in awhile my kids are just super agreeable, so I'll throw in some random detail that isn't important into my retell to see if they still agree.
I also want my students to practice answering comprehension questions. Since I primarily use this chapter book as a read aloud, I will cut the questions into strips, place the appropriate chapters into a container, and have students pull a question and answer it:
However, there have been a few top-notch classes that are ready to start writing answers to comprehension questions, so I have used the printables with my kiddos to check their comprehension in written form.
I also love to do making words activities with my students. Since I group the comprehension questions into chapter banks, sometimes we have a little extra time until we review the comprehension questions. That's when I refer my students to a pocket chart with letter cards in it. Then we work on finding a handful of smaller words at a time. I record the words as we go. The letter cards can be found here. The recording sheet can be found here.
After we have finished reading, it's time to put our knowledge of Gooney Bird to work. Do you remember the character trait-ing cards I mentioned? These certainly come in handy when it's time to write our acrostic poem for Gooney Bird:
Then I start referring back to Gooney's stories to guide students into story ideas for writing.
Click on any of these pictures to check out the resources mentioned above: