Welcome to the fifth edition of Teacher Tuesday, where I match one of my books to a year level, and offer some activities for sharing the book in the classroom. In previous weeks I shared activities for Looking Up, Do Not Forget Australia, Snowy’s Christmas and The Floatingest Frog.
This week, per a request from a year 5 teacher, I am focusing on my verse novel, Pearl Verses the World.
Using Pearl Verses the World in a Year Five Classroom
Published by Walker Books, 2009
ISBN: 9781921150937 (Paperback)
Format 80 page Paperback, RRP $14.95
Blurb: At school, Pearl feels as though she is in a group of one. Her teacher wants her to write poems that rhyme but Pearl’s poems don’t. At home, however, Pearl feels safe and loved, but her grandmother is slowly fading, and so are Mum and Pearl.
Sally’s Recommended Grade Levels: Year 2- Adult, but these suggestions focus on Year 5.
- Empathy and Compassion
Publisher teaching notes available HERE.
More wonderful teaching ideas HERE.
Year 5 English
The following ideas can be used separately, choosing just those which fit your classroom needs. However, this unit offers an opportunity for regular journal writing activities. As such, setting up a special writing book (or section of an existing daily writing book) for each child before reading begins, and then using it throughout reading could add an extra dimension to a novel study.
- Understand how texts vary in purpose, structure and topic as well as the degree of formality (ACELA1504)
- Clarify understanding of content as it unfolds in formal and informal situations, connecting ideas to students’ own experiences and present and justify a point of view (ACELY 1699)
- Journal writing. In the days/weeks before introducing the book, have students write on one or more of the following questions: What kinds of books do you like to read? Do you like reading poetry? What does it mean to be lonely? After each journal writing activity, provide opportunities for sharing in groups or in class discussion.
- Show students the cover of the book. Discuss reactions to the title, the front cover illustrations and the blurb. The blurb includes the word ‘poignant’. Discuss what this might mean. Journal writing: Make a prediction. What do you think Pearl Verses the World might be about?
- Read pages 7 to 11, finishing with “Which made her poor teacher go hurl.” Discuss what has happened so far. Why is Pearl lonely? How does she feel about poetry? Does poetry have to rhyme? The last five lines are a limerick. Discuss whether that part rhymes. Who is speaking/writing the limerick?
- Journal writing: Pearl is in a group of one. Do you belong to any groups at school? Do you think your own class has groups?
- Read pages 11 to 17. Recap events. Discuss the revelations about what is happening at home. Focus on what we now know about Pearl’s life. Encourage connections to children’s own lives re family structures, illness, loneliness, but also the happy stuff like spinning.
- Journal Writing: Which part of Pearl’s story so far do your feel reflects your own life? How does that make you feel? Pearl loves spinning. What is your favourite movement: running/jumping/skipping/standing still? Write about that movement and how it makes you feel.
- Read pages 18 to 26. Recap events. Discuss, again encouraging responses and connections to students’ lives and experiences. Explore Pearl’s relationship with Prudence Jones and with Mitchell Mason. Other areas to highlight in discussion include the swimming and library scenes. Discuss how Pearl feels about poetry. In groups or as a class discuss what makes a poem, building on earlier discussion.
- Journal writing: Do you like poetry/ Why/why not? What kinds of poetry? What makes a good book? Write about your favourite book.
- Read pages 27 to 35. These are some difficult pages so, before reading, have students ready their journals and writing materials. Tell them that, after you have read the pages you want them to write their responses in their journals FIRST and then discuss them after. After reading the pages, repeat the instruction. Give time to write about how they feel about what is happening to Granny, Pearl and Mum. After writing, group of class discussion about what has happened.
- Repeat this process for pages 37 -50, 51-64 and 65 to 73.
- Read pages 74 to 74. Discuss ending. Discuss: Is this a happy ending, or not? Could it have ended differently? How did students feel about the ending?
- Journal writing: Do stories need to have happy endings? Why/Why not. Write a new scene, either changing the ending, or showing a scene in Pearl’s life a month/year after the story ends.
- Present a point of viewabout particular literary texts using appropriate metalanguage, and reflecting on the viewpoints of others(ACELT1609)
- Use metalanguageto describe the effects of ideas, text structures and language features on particular audience (ACELT 1795)
- Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations for defined audiences and purposes incorporating accurate and sequenced content and multimodal elements (ACELY1700)
- During reading introduce students to the terms ‘free verse’ and ‘verse novel’. After reading use groups to establish similarities and differences between verse novels and prose novels.
- In groups, students to decide which form they prefer and prepare a presentation to class explaining why.
- As a follow up, brainstorm arguments from both sides.(In my ideal world, class would arrive at the realisation that one form is not better than another, but offer different strengths). Discuss whether pearl verses the World might have been as effective written in prose.
- Journal writing: Rewrite a scene in prose. Write a book review of Pearl verses the World.
- Understand, interpret and experiment with sound devicesand imagery, including simile, metaphor and personification, in narratives, shape poetry, songs, anthems and odes (ACELT1611)
- Createliterary texts that experiment with structures, ideas and stylistic features of selected authors (ACELT1798)
- Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive print and multimodal texts, choosing textstructures, language features, images and sound appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY 1704)
- Either during reading or after, examine the limerick on p. 11, and limericks from other sources. Us a worksheet like this one HERE to establish how limericks work. Focus on rhyme patterns, rhythm patterns and content before having students create limericks of their own.
- During or after reading revise or introduce devices including simile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia, repetition, tricolon. Use examples from the book, or have students identify them in the book. Experiment with ach form either in journals or on worksheets or display boards. If you have space on yoru pin up boards, have places where students can write examples of each device on strips of paper or stickynotes and build up a bank of examples.
- Examine the elements of free verse poetry (this link here is a simple starting point). Write lots of poems: there are many great lesson ideas on this site, from Australian poets.
- Have students create a class poetry book OR individual chapbooks
Other suggestions for using Pearl verses the world in your classroom include:
- Pearl Verses the World can be used as a springboard to building empathy, and to understand differences between sympathy and empathy, outside of the literacy classroom.
- Pearl Verses the World is wonderful for reading aloud. Use an extract in the drama classroom for students to memorise and perform.
- Email the author (that’s me!) Your students can write to me through this website, and share their responses or ask questions.
Related Books (these are all verse novels)
- Roses are Blue, by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Gabriel Evans
- Toppling, by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Rhian Nest James
- On Track, by Kathryn Apel
- Sixth Grade Style Queen (Not), by Sherryl Clark
- Star Jumps, by Lorraine Marwood
- Do Wrong Ron, by Steven herrick
Mostly, I’d love to remind you that while I love to see my books used in classrooms, I also love to see kids just enjoying them. Reading a book should be pleasurable – whether it’s being used in the classroom or not. So allow your students to enjoy reading Pearl Verses the World.
If you find this useful, or have any suggestions or comments, do leave a comment. And, if there is a particular book or year level or topic that you would like covered in a future edition of Teacher Tuesday, let me know.