Monday, November 23, 2015

A Monster Calls

This past school year, I wanted to try to pick some books for Read Alouds that were unusual and fit me and the kids. I was a little frustrated this year, because it's hard to do a Read Aloud EVERY DAY! I mean, there just isn't the time to get everything done. So while I was looking for books to start the year off with, I stumbled upon a unique find: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

What I first noticed was the cover and how it felt intriguing. I wanted to know more about what I was seeing. Then I read the back and it was about a boy who was dealing with his mother's battle with cancer. Talking about hitting me right in the kissah! It felt like something I could connect to. Something timely and intimate for me.

Finally, I looked at the chapters and they were all nicely portioned into manageable sections. So each chapter was the perfect length for a Read Aloud. Add in the gorgeous illustrations that I could put on the SMARTBoard from my Kindle copy of the book and we're in business.

It was the best book I could have selected to really get my kids into what we were doing. We were all so into it and looked forward to reading the chapter each day. I did the monster voice and the Kindergarten Walk when there were pictures to show that didn't show up on the Kindle book. When the book ended, my students were so frantic and full of thoughts and energy, we spent the class period reflecting and having group discussions. It was amazing!

One of my substitutes, who deviates from the lesson plan, looked up the book and noticed it was going to be turned into a movie. Well, the kids were so excited about it. So when my husband linked me the teaser trailer, I KNEW I had to make a lesson out of it. And here we are, the three rough days before Thanksgiving, indulging in critical analysis and reflection of a teaser trailer for a book we spent two months reading!

First I asked my students "If you were to make a trailer for A Monster Calls, what would you make sure was in it to lure the viewer to watch your movie?"  They made a list, making sure not to include any spoilers, but to make it engaging enough.

Then we watched the Trailer (twice, for good measure).

After that the students wrote about how they felt about the trailer (and why), what they were disappointed they didn't get to see (and why), and what they would have added to the trailer (and why). I tell you what, these kids need to be contacted by Hollywood, because some of them even created their own trailer and how it should be laid out. AMAZING!

Now, this was just a teaser, but the kids came up with so many wonderful ideas. Some of the kids were disappointed the trailer did not hint at 12:07 or that his mother had cancer. One of the students even brought up that the trailer made it seem like he was some sort of loner kid and was dealing with friendship issues. They also wanted the trailer to mention the stories or the tales that would be told and they were, all, upset that they didn't get to see the whole monster. Granted, they understood why they weren't going to see the monster.

I was shocked at the level of disappointment, but at the same time, they had such lofty ideas of what they wanted from the trailer. SO! Since it was a teaser, I told them that when the official trailer came out (probably during a holiday movie), we'd review our writing on this and watch that one, too, and discuss it. I'm all about visual literacy and helping the kids to apply their thinking and think deeper.

Loving the passion my classes have developed for Literacy of all sorts and that I'm helping to inspire them. It's been absolutely amazing! They were even planning on having a viewing party next year for the movie. Can't not be excited about that. So we'll see where things lead us.

If you haven't had a chance to read this book, I highly recommend it, because the book itself is absolutely amazing. My kids are concerned that the movie won't be as amazing as the book, but I think that's slightly unfair. I already am excited to see where they go with it.

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