If you are interested in downloading the entire unit, you can purchase it for $6.00 on TpT. It includes fluency passages, anchor chart titles and headings, reader response activities, photographs, examples, lesson plans and class book templates. My kiddos ate this unit up with a spoon. Of course, there are a few things that I made and can't sell because I used clip art from Lettering Delight. I also have documents I have created from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and Ben's Dream that I can't include because I used Google images and illustrations from one of the books. If you would like a free copy of the story starters for The Mysteries of Harris Burdick or the landmarks from Ben's Dream, simply leave your email and I will send them on their way.
When I decided to embark on a Chris Van Allsburg Author Study, I honestly thought that the Internet would be brimming with ideas. Perhaps it is, and I wasn't lucky enough to stumble on those sites, but I came up pretty empty-handed. Houghton Mifflin had pretty decent teaching guides that helped give me a starting point for my unit. I also gained a few ideas from A-Z Teacher Stuff's forums, but ultimately, I had to create a TON of resources from scratch. I hope that these ideas can help give someone else a jumping-off point! I'd love to hear any ideas or lessons that you have tried in the past too!
This is just a sampling of what we did this during this three week unit. Of course, we have spent time studying Chris Van Allsburg to understand the man behind the stories. We are tying the Author Study into both Reading Workshop with a focus on inferring and Writing Workshop to enhance our personal narratives. We began by reading The Z Was Zapped. We decided that we didn't want so many bad things to happen to the letters, so we created a new version to work on alliteration and keep the letters safe. We called it, "The Z Was Zonked". Check out a few samples below!
We worked on inferring with Just a Dream, and then discussed showing not telling in our stories. We worked on creating believable characters that can change and evolve. We created a matrix to compare the story elements in some of Chris Van Allsburg's books. Then, we read Ben's Dream the following day. We had to use our schema to determine which famous landmarks were present in the book. Then, we created a flow chart showing where Ben traveled to in his "dream". Afterward, the class was broken up into three groups for a Map It activity. They drew maps to show where Ben traveled in the proper sequence. I have never seen them so excited... and because I am tricky... they now know ten famous landmarks too! (As you can see, we briefly compared and contrasted the two stories with a Venn Diagram as well.)
We read Jumanji. We discussed Van Allsburg use of precise "strong" verbs. First, they read an excerpt of lifted text and highlighted the verbs they found. I had made a copy of the story and taped it together like a scroll. They sat on both sides of the story, and the class worked together to highlight all of the verbs they found in the story. We found that Van Allsburg used a TON of strong verbs! We discussed how using action is another way to "show not tell", then we created an anchor chart of strong vs. weak verbs before I sent them off to write.
|Students chose a mystery from "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick to write about!|
|My lines are really wobbly. Please don't judge! Bahahaha!|
|The cards were used as part of an inferring emotion game!|
|Teach kids to infer with "trash"!|
|Mind Maps- Making T-T Connections to The Wreck of the Zephyr|
|Inferring with Vermeer: Art Detectives!|
|The Mysteries of Harris Burdick|