Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back to School Mentor Text Linky

We are linking up with Collaboration Cuties for their Sunday mentor text link up.  The topic this week is texts for back to school, and we have some great things to share...

The 3 Be's (Courtney)

In my classroom, students learn the first few days of school what I expect out of them throughout the school year.  I do this using the 3 "Be's" (this goes with my Bee themed classroom as well:). The 3 "Be's" are; Be Ready, Be Responsible, and Be Respectful.  When introducing each "Be" I read a text and then we discuss further what the expectation means while completing an anchor chart.

Be Ready

The students learn that one of the expectations about being ready is having ears ready to listen. This book is great because it's about a bunny that has big, beautiful ears, but he can't quite understand what people are saying to him because he doesn't listen very we.....this then gets him into trouble! I love all of Helen Lester's books and find that just about all of them have a great lesson.

Be Responsible

This fun book tells about Officer Buckle who tries his best to teach students how to be more responsible and safe but isn't very effective in his presentations until he receives his helper, Gloria the dog. The students begin to listen more intently to Officer Buckle's messages because Gloria is entertaining them behind his back. They realize together they are an effective team and everyone benefits from their working together.

Be Respectful

I always save the Be Respectful expectation til the end. This is the hardest for my second graders to really grasp, but I love using Miss Nelson is Missing because at the beginning of the story when the students are awful to Miss Nelson, we stop and talk about how this is disrespectful and ways they can respect Miss Nelson. I also always tell the kids that Miss Swamp may come to our classroom if ever needed:)

A Kid Favorite--One of Mine, too! (Sarah)

Every year, since I started teaching almost 20 years ago, I have read Charlie the Caterpillar, written by Dom Deluise, to my students at the beginning of the year.  I remember stumbling upon this picture book when it was first published in 1993.  I was taken first by the "warm and fuzzy" illustrations and immediately fell in love with the story.  Not to mention, having seen the author in movies growing up, I can hear his "voice" every time I read it aloud.  

Synopsis: Charlie, a young caterpillar, tries to find some friends who will play with him. Unfortunately, all he encounters are other characters who judge him based on his looks. They refuse to let him join and tell him it is because he is ugly. Charlie becomes sad and decides to nap alone in his warm cocoon. He is not aware that he will be undergoing an important change. Later, Charlie wakes up to a wonderful surprise - he is now a butterfly! Only now that he is beautiful, do the other characters want to be his friend. Remembering how he felt when others made fun of him and left him out, Charlie befriends a sad caterpillar and teaches her about the true meaning of friendship.

There are several ways I use the book at the beginning of the school year.  

First, it provides for great lessons about respect, the inclusion of others, and being proud of who you are.  After reading the story aloud, the students immediately talk about how mean the supporting characters are to Charlie and how he begins to feel ugly. Their discussions are truly heartfelt as they are able to imagine how they would feel if they were Charlie.  We create an anchor chart with a list of all of the lessons we learn from Charlie's experiences.  

Second, we revisit the story when learning about characters and how what they do and say tell us about them (character traits/inference).  I pull excerpts from the text and project them in SmartNotebook, and we create a T-chart that lists Charlie's words and actions.  We then talk about what character traits can be used to describe Charlie.

Third, I pull out the book again and share my experiences of seeing the author on TV and in movies, and how when I read the story it is as if I can "hear" the author's voice.  I can "hear" his expression and enthusiasm, and "feel" his personality come through in the words he has written on the page.  This then becomes a great lesson about what voice is in writing--quite a difficult concept to get across to students. 

While this text is an oldie, it's a goodie! It has always been a kid favorite--one that is referenced throughout the year.  In fact, when I ask students about their favorite read alouds of the year, this is one that is ALWAYS mentioned. 

Check out more great back to school mentor texts over at Collaboration Cuties

Have a fabulous and fun-filled week!


  1. I love all those books, too! Great way to tie them to your expectations...will be thinking of good matches to our core values. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love Listen Buddy. I've never heard of Charlie the Caterpillar but totally remember Dom Deluise from my childhood. I love the sound of that one, hope I can find a copy!

  3. I read most of those books to my kids too. Charlie is such a great story, huh? What a wonderful message kids learn from it.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  4. Oh wow! All of these great texts! How will I ever get all of these in?? I definitely need Listen Buddy! And I think Stacia has Charlie the Caterpillar, or I've seen it somewhere! I need to find that book...I hope it's not out of print!!!! Thank you so much for telling how you use all of these!!

    Collaboration Cuties

    1. You are in luck! Charlie is still out there... :0)

      Have a great week--

  5. It's really hard to choose just one isn't it?
    I have and love your top three recommendations, but I do not have Charlie the Caterpillar. I'll have to see if I can find it. I love stories about acceptance.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    School Is a Happy Place

  6. I'm loving the Listen Bunny book!! Perfect for the start of the year!! Thanks for sharing so many great ideas!
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

  7. Love how you have a book for each of your 3B's! Great way to intro rules and expectations at the beginning of the year!

    :) Tamra and Sarah
    First Grade Buddies

  8. I love your 3 Be's-such a cute and relevant idea! Thanks for sharing Charlie the Caterpillar-new to me!!!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  9. Thanks for sharing. I have never read Listen Buddy, but I love Helen Lester (especially Tacky the Penguin) so I will definitely have to check it out. Looks perfect for back to school :)

    Carolina Teacher

  10. Love, love Listen Buddy! It is such a fantastic book to encourage listening skills. I love to make buddies with my class where I give them directions on how to tear paper into rabbits. They always turn out super funny and cute! The cool thing is they have to really LISTEN like buddy to make them:)
    The Schroeder Page