Monday, April 23, 2012

Hangin' in Brazil with Jaguars

We just wrapped up our literature study on Roland Smith's Jaguar and it was a BLAST! Not only were my students captivated by the story, but they engaged in meaningful discussions about the story. It was an awesome two weeks!

To begin our lit study, I started with a mini lesson on using post it notes. We brainstormed different ways we can use post it notes while reading chapter books. After coming up with a vast list (connections, questions, predictions, etc.), we decided (with my influence) to write a summary after each chapter.

Along with the story, I distributed a packet of comprehension questions and strategies. Each day, or every other day, had a different focus. For example, the first day we discussed questioning. As a group, we brainstormed questions prior to reading Jaguar. Then, I sent them on their merry way. The next day, I had small groups read the assigned chapters and determine story elements. After small groups had time to collaborate, we met together as a group and shared our ideas.

The discussion parts of the day were my favorite! Since I was reading the story with my kids, I was just as into the mystery and drama as they were. Some were begging to read more!! 

Throughout the two weeks, I had students read in small groups, in partners, independently, and I read chapters outloud. I definitely saved the last three chapters as a read aloud. It was so fun to participate WITH my students in the excitement. 

Thanks to my awesome high school teacher friend, Kelley, she helped me with ideas to make my kids "think outside the box". To wrap up our literature study, I gave my kids two different tasks. First, they had to dig deep into character analysis and write a haiku on Jacob, free verse poem about Taw, or create a comic strip detailing Jacob and Doc's relationship. I will admit, they struggled with the comic strip. This is something I would like to try again with a different approach.

As a final task, students were asked to create a new book jacket for Roland Smith's story, Jaguar. Inside the book jacket would contain a summary of the story and a mini bio on Roland Smith (an author my kids have grown to love!!) We can all thank my sweet friend Kelley for this idea as well. :)

I look forward to doing more literature studies similar to this one next year. Have you completed in any lit studies in your room? What types of activities and/or tasks do you assign to your students?

I posted this unit on my TpT account, but if you email me.. I'll send it to you for free! :)

Happy Monday, folks!


  1. OK, wow . . . what a GREAT unit . . . it's like you took them to the jungle . . . you go girl! SO proud of you . . . .such a blessing for them to be under your mentorship and guidance.


    1. You're too sweet!! Your messages always brighten my day! :)

  2. Hi! I am your newest follower:) I would love if you would stop by and visit me...

  3. Thanks for sharing your ideas on the literature study. I LOVE doing novel studies in my room. We usually have the students put together some kind of cool foldable that emphasizes a variety of skills. I'm working on creating another one for my store this week! :-) Have added myself to your followers! :-) 'Swing' on over to my blog o say hi and grab some freebies! Michelle

  4. I absolutely LOVE all of your ideas! This unit looks fabulous! I taught 5th grade last year (my first year of teaching!) and really struggled with how do incorporate book studies with our basal program. Unfortunately, I did not figure it out- but I am bound and determined to do it somehow next year! I would absolutely LOVE it if you would e-mail me your unit, as well as any advice you can give on how you manage to do both in your classroom. My e-mail is Thanks so much!

  5. Hey-

    I don't have anything cute and catchy to add. All I can say is that your stuff looks great. I have spent the last 2 hours going through reading all of your posts. I really like the activities you have planned for this unit and would love a copy. I had not heard of that compic strip website before, but I know I will be using it next year for sure.



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