Friday, October 21, 2016

big jumps

Last year at NCTE, the author-illustrator Jon Klassen spoke about a certain scene in a certain book which thrillingly broke open a memory pod in my brain.  It was the moment in "The Wish Sack," the third story of Benjamin Elkin's 1958 masterpiece The Big Jump, in which Ben (a young hero of approximately medieval times) finds that he has wished himself right onto the bed of the sleeping bad King in his black palace!

Oh, how I loved this book!  I searched for a copy of this out-of-print book and ordered it, and after reliving many deep experiences of learning (about reading and about how the world works) from it, I put it in my class library.  And then a few weeks ago I put it in the Book Box of my student Natan.



On Tuesday Natan was among the first to do Book Sharing at our class meeting time, and so we conferred about a good choice.  To my great satisfaction, he chose The Big Jump, but not the copy from the classroom library--he loved it so much he had found and bought and brought his own!  He chose to read aloud precisely the same passage from "The Wish Sack" that Jon Klassen had mentioned in his speech, and others in the class who have read The Big Jump jumped in to say how easy to read and how exciting this book is.

But that wasn't all.  On Tuesday night Natan made another big jump.  He arrived at school with a homemade stapled book that also included 3 stories--about Pokemon training.  His sense of humor and wide vocabulary made each little story very effective,  and of course I acknowledged that.   So (with writing time in school currently filled with a research project about nutrition), Natan went home and added a proper cover, a "tabel of contants" and three more stories! On Wednesday morning he tried to GIVE this book to me, so I taught him about dedications and he kept the book, now dedicated to me.

The next big jump came later that morning during our discussion of choosing books responsibly and wisely.  I departed a bit from The Big Orange Splot, which turns out to be the perfect book for learning the I PICK model for independent reading, and I extended the concept to self-selected writing projects.  I read Natan's Pokemon book to the class as an example--and during the discussion Natan let us know that the idea to make a book with more than one story had come from his repeated readings of The Big Jump.

Suddenly--right on time, really--in one of those aha! waves that happen in classrooms, the Diamond Miners realized that what you read is connected to what you write, and (with Ms. Mordhorst's help) that what you write is probably the most important work you do in school.  The houses of The Big Orange Splot are the metaphor and, as Mr. Plumbean says, "My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams."

And they're off, to make books that look like all their dreams!  That very day there was a flurry of independent paper folding and stacking and stapling and writing and drawing  when center work was completed, and next week I will start replacing some of my Word Work Centers with Self-Selected Writing, so that eventually every child will enjoy two writing sessions every day--one structured, coached Teacher-Selected Writing time and one independent, autonomous choice writing time.  And then I will have to establish more sharing opportunities!  (And then I will have to get to work on my own Big Jump book with Benjamin Elkin as my mentor.)

I really love Big Jumps.  : )  And here's an unexpected bonus video....



The round-up today is with Tricia--I think!--at The Miss Rumphius Effect.  Jump on over for some big reading!

10 comments:

  1. Wow. What an impressive week, Mrs. Mordhorst!

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  2. I had an assignment in library school years ago that involved rereading a beloved childhood book and seeing if it stands up to the test of time, and there are some books from our childhood that we might have completely forgotten about until they suddenly appear in our memories, and we enjoy them just as much now as we did then!

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  3. It's like the fire of writing has been lit in your classroom. It must be so gratifying to you to see the kids 'get it,' like these have. I'd say you've done a fabulous job!

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  4. I want every student to have what your class has! Also huge excitement and congratulations to Natan, for his fabulous, first (?) book.

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  5. You, Natan, and The Big Jump give me goosebumps. =)

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  6. One of my childhood favorites was a book that I think may have been a school "reader." All I can remember, though, is it was about Nebuchadnezzah who "could not sneezah." I can't imagine how I would have read that name, but someone must have told it to me. I think my love of wordplay may have been solidified with that line!

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  7. I just LOVE those aha moments, and the way they spread around the room! Nice job!

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  8. Heidi, what a wonderful, wonderful time with your entire class. I'm so happy for you and pleased for your second graders. Love the video you embedded with Jon Klassen reading. I have a favorite book from childhood I've been keeping my eye out for. I just might try to order it and use it as a prompt for my own writing. Thank you for such an energy filled and positive post. Have another great week!

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  9. How cool that one of your childhood favorites is now one of Natan's favorites--and that it inspired his stories! One of my favorites in 2nd or 3rd grade was a Scholastic book of silly poems. The one I remember is: "I eat my peas with honey/I've done it all my life/it do taste kind of funny/but it keeps them on my knife." Still trying to write like that!

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  10. I love that, my house "looks like all my dreams" -- I feel inspired to draw a house, too.

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