No matter how much we try, none of us can do it all; there simply aren’t enough hours in the classroom. So, whenever possible, I try to double-dip — pulling the learning from one area of our work to another.
And that’s exactly my aim in this new column. To feed our students’ book love, we need to prepare book talks. We also know that the mentor-text centered sentence study that we do during Notebook Time often provides some of students’ richest writing experiences. This is exactly where I like to do one of my favorite double-dips: sentence study and book talk in one.
In this column, I’ll pull sentence studies from young adult and middle grades texts — give you a little book talk, show you the sentence study, and walk you through the way you might use it with students today! Let’s get started!
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
A Long Walk to Water combines fiction and non-fiction to tell two stories in Southern Sudan: the fictional story of Nya, an eleven-year-old in 2008 who must walk for 8-10 hours a day to fetch water for her family, and the true story of Salva, and eleven-year-old in 1985 who is forced to flee home because of war and violence and walk to Ethiopia. Each chapter shares a part of Nya’s story and a part of Salva’s story. Students like trying to piece together how these two narratives will speak to one another by the end of the book. A Long Walk to Water tells a simple story but asks big questions: How can we maintain hope and perseverance in the face of the unimaginable? What can one person do to make a difference? What is really needed to live? At it’s heart, it’s a survival story.
I came to this text as the first in our series because A Long Walk to Water is the middle grades selection for the Global Read Aloud this year. Here’s the sentence I worked on with my students: