Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been modeling how to do a close reading at several different grade levels. To close out the series: Close Reading in Fifth Grade using the X level text Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall.
One way to structure close reading questioning is to use the format laid out by the Institute for Learning of the University of Pittsburgh. Under their framework, students read the text selection four times: first, to get the gist; second, to find significant moments or ideas; third, to interpret the ideas in the text; and finally, to analyze the author’s methods (craft). Here’s an example of how to plan out your questions for close reading of the first poem of Under the Mesquite, entitled “the story of us.”
In this excerpt from her 2012 Pura Belpré acceptance speech, Under the Mesquiteauthor Guadalupe Garcia McCall shares how writing the book helped her heal and brought her closer to her father:
My life with my mother was full of love and acceptance. I was blessed to be her daughter, even if for a little while. That’s why I wanted Under the Mesquite to be a true reflection of her nature. I wanted it to do what she did best—to nurture young people’s dreams, to give them the courage and strength to pursue those dreams. Writing Mesquite was both wonderful and painful. For in the process of writing this book, I pulled out and dusted off memories I had set aside, memories I had tucked into deep crevices in my heart, put away for fear of losing them. I am glad they are written down now. My mother lives because this book exists. It is her nurturing spirit that resides in these pages, her wisdom, her love, and I am so happy to be able to share her with you.
We won’t be at the Texas Library Association annual conference this week, but if you’ll be there you can still connect with two fantastic Lee & Low authors!
Don Tate, author of It Jes’ Happened and illustrator of books like Summer Sun Risin’, will be a keynote speaker at the Black Caucus Roundtable (April 19, 8-10AM) and will also appear on the panel “Books, Boys, and Boxing: Motivating Minority Males to Read” (April 19, 2-3:50PM). He will also be signing copies of It Jes’ Happened with Overlooked Books at booth #2629 (April 18, 12-3PM).