When we go to the beach we see many beautiful sights. We see the sand, shells, crabs, seaweed, birds flying, beautiful clouds, boats on the water, and even more. BUT if you could go scuba diving and go UNDER the ocean waves, you'd see so much hidden beauty. You'd see many different kinds of fishes, maybe some dolphins, coral, living seaweed, starfish, sea urchins etc.
Think about how the plot of a story is what is easy to see. It is like what you see above the ocean. BUT, when you read a story, there is so much more than just the plot.
Check out the difference below.
This thinking is about plot questions.
We can't have a good story without a plot, so above the ocean is important. But there's nothing hidden - it's pretty obvious.
It's usually about:
Some examples are:
Who was the main character in Stone Fox?
Why did Willy sign up for the race?
Where did Willy live?
Who is Stone Fox?
How much was the prize for winning the race?
How did Willy and Searchlight practice for the race?
What year did the story take place?
This thinking is about something that is not obvious. Like when you stand at the beach you don't see all the treasures under the water. You have to dive inside to actually see it.
It means you are diving deep into the story to understand. The answers are often open-ended because there is more than one correct answer. Two people can have opposite ideas but they can both be correct.
It involves a lot of opinion BUT you still have to be able to support your answer with clues and evidence from the story. So no wild guessing!
It's usually about:
Some examples are:
Why was grandfather giving up?
Why was Willy willing to work so hard to save the farm?
Did Stone Fox have a good reason to hate white people?
Why did Stone Fox hit Willy in the barn?
Is Stone Fox a kind person or a mean person?
What is a good theme for the book Stone Fox?
We don't do a lot of worksheets for reading in room 10.
Assessments are usually formed from student conferences/discussions and post-its that are written while reading literature. At the end of a book, students will take a "Final Thoughts" assessment.
It also is extremely helpful to actually read the same literature book your child is reading. That way you can understand more easily how the post-its were assessed.
It might be helpful to see a range of post-its from poor to amazing.
The examples below are based on Chapter 15 of Island of the Blue Dolphins.
FYI, in this chapter, Karana, who has vowed revenge on the wild dog who killed her brother, shoots him with an arrow but then takes mercy on him and saves his life.
When turning in post-its make careful choices. Some of your post-its are better than others. So don't just grab the first 4 that you see.
Predictions don't work - you already know the answer.
Visualizations don't work for "under the ocean."
Questions only work if you actually try to answer it.
Post it: Karana made a fire at the cave's entrance. Then she waited for the dogs to come out. Three ran out and then 7 more. Finally the leader ran out. Then she shot him.
This is an "above the ocean" comment that just states something that happened in the plot. It is more like a summary of what happened.
Post it: My best thinking happened on page 95.
This actually is the least amount of explaining the thinking. It says thinking happened but doesn't explain what the thinking was. The student may have a great thought but nothing is written about it so it still gets a grade of 1. I tell the students that I can't tell what they are thinking so they have to explain it.
Post it: There were some puppies in the cave. Karana wanted to hold them. She was so lonely she probably thought it would be awesome to have a puppy. Having a cute puppy would make her feel better.
This shows emotions and talks about something that is super interesting. However, there are many interesting things that happen in the plot. That's part of what makes a story so great. But, it isn't actually something that is important. If there were no puppies in the cave, it does not change the story at all. But if Karana had not forgiven the dog and made friends with it, now that would change the story completely.
Post it: Karana shot an arrow at the wild dog who had killed Ramo. She did that because she was so angry with him.
This is better. The first sentence is plot. However, the second sentence refers to the motive of the character. Not much is explained so I call this "a toe in the water" because it starts to get "under the ocean" but then just stops. Again, I tell the students that I can't read their minds so they have to explain what they're thinking.
Post it: Why did Karana not kill the wild dog?
This is definitely a "toe in the water." This is actually a great question. She hated that dog and she had her chance for revenge but she showed mercy. It can lead to some very great ideas that are "under the ocean."
However, it gets a grade of 2 because it is just a question. Any question needs to be followed by some deep thinking. In essence, answer your own question.
Post it: Karana decided to have mercy on the dog.
This is the most important idea in the whole chapter so it is a great beginning! So that sentence is awesome. However, there are no details that EXPLAIN the thinking. I tell the students that if they only write one short sentence, that is a clear clue that it will not get a "green grade."
Post it: Karana had a good reason to kill the dog. After all it killed her brother and she swore to get revenge. So it's surprising that she chooses not to kill it. Maybe she felt like it was lying there so helpless, and it felt wrong to actually kill it.
This has enough written to really understand the student's thoughts about what happened. It is clear that s/he grappled with the deeper idea of motives. Karana had a motive to kill it. But on the other hand she had reasons to show mercy. Also there is an understanding that her change of mind was completely unexpected.
Post it: Karana is angry at the dog who killed her brother. She loved him so much. I would be devastated if something happened to my sibling. And it's even worse because she is now 100% alone on the island! So why did she have mercy and take him home? I'm not sure I could have done that.
This goes deeply into the emotions of the situation. It shows an understanding of how incredibly sad Karana is. It also shows s/he understood this feeling and was experiencing Karana's feelings. A good reader feels like s/he has "jumped into the story" and reacts and relates almost as if it is happening to them.
Post it: Karana was so angry at the wild dog that killed her brother that she vowed she would get revenge. She made weapons and finally got her chance to shoot him. But when she found him so weak and wounded she didn't shoot him again. She even said, "Why I did not send the arrow, I cannot say." Was she somehow feeling pity? It was lying there so helpless.
This is impressive. It recognizes that she had a great reason to finish her revenge and she herself was shocked when she didn't. It tackles the complex thought of why she had a change of heart. It also quotes from the story, which is an advanced way to support your thinking with evidence from the text.
Post it: Karana was filled with mixed feelings. As she stood there and looked at the wounded dog, she wanted to kill her enemy. But it was so helpless. She was confused. She said "If he had gotten up, I would have killed him." Maybe there is no victory in hurting a helpless enemy. Maybe deep inside she hoped that she could make friends with it. She'd seen dogs as friends before.
This goes the extra mile. This response acknowledges that there is a huge conflict of feelings inside of Karana. Also there is an attempt to show possible ideas of what is going through Karana's mind. This takes a LOT of inferring to do. It also quotes from the text to provide evidence. This response also shows the reader has "jumped into the story" and is evening imagining possible answers to such an unexpected ending. There is a logical reason she considers the dog could maybe become a friend.