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Wow! September has flown by. Let me catch you up to speed where we are at in Poppy. We have just finished the first quadrant and are closing in on the second quadrant. I am going to take a few steps back and share with you some of my ideas on kicking off Poppy. When we prepare our notebooks for Poppy I like to include a picture of the cover of the book. This is great for the end of the year when students will take their notebooks home. It's like they are truly taking the book with them. I also include a table of contents. This is a skill that is needed across curricula. With my third graders I work really hard to teach them how to be efficient in all things. A Table of contents helps keep their notebook organized and helps them keep up to speed. If a student is gone one day they can catch up easily by copying the charts they have missed.

In my read aloud area I also include a large map of the Dimwood Forest. This is located in the front of the novel also. As Poppy begins her journey in the second quadrant we use a vis-a-vis to trace the journey on the class map. I have learned the students refer to this map often. It is a great comprehension tool. One of my coworkers took the novel to a print shop and had it blown up. I just laminated it so I could reuse it every year.

We are very fortunate for each student to have text in hand. I have taken some extra steps in protecting the books. I have reinforced the spine with book tape for extra support. I have also taken a large ziplock bag for students to keep all of their Poppy materials in. This would include book, notebook, and vocabulary handbook. This also helps save time when read aloud begins. We all love saving time in those transitions right?

In the first quadrant of Poppy we created a character list. Our school district is GLAD certified. I try to incorporate it anywhere possible. For my ELL students I try to use pictures to help with visual imprinting. So on the character list chart I include pictures where possible.

Retell Summaries

At the end of the first quadrant of Poppy we do our retell summary. For my students this is their first experience with a novel using CIA. This is heavily guided. I usually keep students at their seats for this writing activity because it is easier for them to write on hard surface when it is such a long writing piece. When we put together the events in what come first, next, and last it was very helpful to have students with a copied typed up version of the important events. I did require they had the important events list in their notebooks but for most my students it was easier to give them a typed up copy on the day we did the oral retell. In the past I have just done the work with them on the document camera. This year I added the transition words and intro and conclusion as a living document on the wall. Students seemed to have an easier time when it was large and visible to them.

Here is an example of a student’s retell summary. You will notice a little target sticker at the top of the page this is a target. Sarah mentioned target writing in her training. Before we do our first writing piece we create a writing target by generating a list of all the things the best third grade writing would include. We then make this our target for all of our writing pieces. Here is our writing target for this year. The sticker in their notebooks is a reminder. Most of the time when we are doing a writing piece in other subject areas the students will remind each other “remember target writing.” I love that they learn to take ownership for their own expectations of each other.

I can not wait for my next blog on Turn and Talk. This is such a large piece to the success of my students. I will be writing my next blog on how I have learned to use Turn and Talk to keep assessment data on my students. Stay tuned.


Written by Hilary Cullen --- 3rd Grade Teacher