Can you READ a movie?

We have gotten into some “actual” school things and we did something in particular that I was especially excited about. Based on some learning I did this summer, I am making it a goal to include more of a variety of text types into our reading work. After all, reading is at its core making meaning from a text, with or without words, and no matter what kind of text. So one of our first “read alouds” was a short called “Pip,” an animated short about a dog who goes to guide dog school. Here it is if you want to watch it, too!

As we “read,” I had given kiddos the job of paying attention to what Pip was feeling, as we would be keeping track of his emotions and how they changed throughout the story. There are several stopping points and we recorded words that described his emotions at the time. I added in additional vocabulary that connected with the words they suggested, and we talked about how they were other ways of saying the same thing. We also made predictions of how or whether we thought his feelings would change as we went through the rest of the video.

At the end, I added another teaching point: the difference between emotions and traits. We discussed how emotions were feelings that could and would change, based on the characters circumstances or mood. Traits are words that describe how the character always is; words that describe their personality or how they tend to act most of the time. This second part was a little tricky at this point, but we will definitely come back to it again and again as we go through the year. Here’s the chart we made together:

In addition to making this chart together to revisit with later texts, it also served as a model for something students will be able to use in their own reading, recording their thinking in their reading journals. Here’s an example of the rough draft thinking of it in my journal as I planned:

It’s not fancy, and is something kiddos can easily copy in their own work!

I was really pleased with how this lesson went, as kiddos were really engaged, and had great ideas to share–many of which I had not thought of when I watched the short! The whole thinking behind using a short first is to get everyone on board and with you from the very beginning. With no text to read, and a short story to hold on to, it’s easy for readers of all levels to join in and contribute an idea. They feel included already and can more easily form a mindset that “Reading in this classroom is for me! I can do it!” Isn’t that what we want for every reader every day?

As we go on, I hope to be able to incorporate more shorts like this one, as well as a wide variety of text to help readers see the possibilities! Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss the next time I tell about it! 🙂

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