What fun (with purpose!) we've had playing around with WALTeR (see March 17th post). It's often useful to introduce a new strategy with easy, yet engaging, text. I met Willy and Earl while strolling around Barnes and Noble and was immediately enamored with the two of them and their epic battle over…Bobo, a sock monkey (I Must Have Bobo by Eileen Rosenthal). The book's simple text and illustrations naturally lead readers to all kinds of inferences which can then be supported by utilizing WALTeR. Marc Rosenthal's clever facial expressions and masterfully depicted body language provide perfect fodder for how characters' LOOKS are so very telling (what a devious feline!). Even our sixth graders relished the opportunity to analyze Willy and Earl's character traits and motives (one boy declared, “That was a fun lesson, Ms. Wag.”(it wasn’t me; it was the book). We decided Willy is quite immature (he LOOKs like a 4 year old, he ACTS like a 4 year old (coloring on the floor, playing with blocks, relying on his sock monkey for security while nervously navigating life amid such dangers as insects, dogs, and ominous playground slides), he SOUNDS like a 4 year old (his WORDS: is that a ‘bitey bug?’); though he’s also persistent and determined (he repeatedly must search for Bobo since the cunning Earl keeps stealing him away).We made a three column note page to guide our thinking as we read:header for column 1:Inference, header for column 2: W.A.L.T.eR. (is it the character’s words, actions, looks, thoughts or the responses of others that led you to the inference?), header for column 3: Evidence (go back to the text…specifically which words, actions, looks, thoughts, responses?)
After the laughter, the wondering, the discussion, the evidence-seeking and the defending of inferences, we added three words to our “Vocabulary Hot List” (adversaries, cunning andpersistent) and summed up how WALTeR is a useful tool for expanding and supporting thinking about characters.I left the room missing the times I used to cuddle with my cat (which makes perfect sense if you read the book), then thinking, “Hmmm, I bet those pigeon books would also be entertaining prospects for using WALTeR.”Yep, they are. Spent twenty minutes with one of the books from Mo Willem’s series in our other sixth grade classroom, left thinking, “My three year old sometimes acts like that pigeon!" And, “I’m so glad I met WALTeR!”
I'm a full-time K-6 literacy coach in a Title I school. I've taught for 28 years in different parts of the country. I love learning every day alongside teachers and students. My passion for literacy teaching has led me to write a number of books for teachers on literacy practice, including the picture book series: STELLA WRITES. When I'm not teaching or writing, I love to present, consult and collaborate with other passionate educators across the nation. I'm also 'MOM' to one overly energetic young boy!