303. As a middle school teacher in a predominantly minority school in Los Angeles (75% Hispanic, 24% Black, 1% others) I find it difficult to help my students, MOST OF THEM Re-designated English Learners and Speakers of Non-standard Dialects of English, to read through a complete literary piece, such as Karen Cushman's "Catherine, Called Birdy."  Any ideas?



I am glad to share with you the vocabulary and several sample summaries and lessons based on that book.

To help students understand the story, I ALWAYS introduce the vocabulary --with LOTS and LOTS of visuals-- first.   I also ALWAYS play the audio tapes that accompany the story.  It is MOST important that students have oral models of what they read silently during class.

AFTER previewing pictures and many other visuals relating to what they will read, we listen to the oral version of the story on tapes while we read silently along.   Usually, I "pause" the tapes to explain or clarify points of interest as we read.

I also try to make the story relevant to the world TODAY.   For example, we have been very fortunate that, as we were reading the story, the Pope visited Mexico to canonize Saint Juan Diego.   Even today, there is a push to canonize Pope John Paul II.  We talk about the very ancient names mentioned in the story, as the many saints are introduced in Catherine's diaries.

We talk about diets, and why so many foods familiar to us today are NOT mentioned in the story.   Homework assignments may include drawings of beautiful scenes described in the book, such as Catherine's dream "wedding." We compare diseases, ailments, infirmities.   We talk about remedies and superstitions.

Above all, we try to solve the murder mystery presented in the story.   WHO KILLED "SHAGGY BEARD"?   Why?
Hope these ideas help you!!!

Click here to view Integrated Unit #20 on "CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY," By Karen Cushman.





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