Schema: teachers, fifth grade
Text-to-Self Connections: many students will identify with one of the seven characters
Text-to-Text Connections: Jessica refers to many great books that she is reading throughout the book. Students will relate to some of the titles. Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars is about a girl and her mentally handicapped brother, Charlie. In this book, the students form a bond with a special needs class in their school.
The book is written from the point of view of seven different students in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class. Mr. Terupt is a first year teacher. Use the characterization chart for each character to analyze their traits as you read through the book. I think it would be fun to purchase seven additional copies of the book and let seven students take on the role of each of the seven characters in a reader’s theater. The seven student types are ones that students will connect with such as:
Peter who begins the story and is one who likes to play around;
Jessica, a new girl who is new to the area, whose parents are divorcing because the father found another woman;
Luke, a very intelligent boy, who consistently tries to achieve;
Alexia, a mean and devious girl;
Jeffrey, a quiet boy with a secret about how he had a younger brother who died, even though his parents had him to use his stem cells, and now deals with the depression of his mother;
Danielle, an over weight girl with parents who are extremely conservative;
Anna, a very shy girl whose mother is very young and had her while still a teenager.
Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different student.
The book is sequenced by months beginning with September and going through the school year.
Cause and Effect: One of the kids actions has a serious effect on Mr. Terupt, and the second half of the book is devoted to how each student deals with this effect.
Drawing Conclusions: Many opportunities can be found to discuss what conclusions you draw about each of the kids before you find out why they are the way they are from what you learn about their home lives as you read through the book. The text makes you think about being negative towards kids because of their behaviors and comments before you understand why they are behaving this way. Students will relate to these circumstances for many perspectives.
Voice: Include “voice” in the characterization of each character. Their voice reveals their emotions. Read some of the text aloud and have students tell you whose voice they hear. Have them write something that sounds like the voice of each character.
Math: Mr. Terupt designs a math game to help students practice addition that Luke uses throughout the story.