Welcome to the seventh 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 Pearl Verses the World, Looking Up, Toppling, Do Not Forget Australia, Snowy’s Christmas and The Floatingest Frog.
This week, continuing my focus on verse novels, I am focusing on my third verse novel, Roses are Blue.
Using Roses are Blue in a Year Four Classroom
Published by Walker Books, 2014
ISBN: 9781922244376 (Paperback)
Format 112 page Paperback, RRP $16.99
Blurb: “I have not got used to my new mum, even though I love her (I absolutely love her), but I miss my happy, painting, dancing, gardening, smiling mum.” Amber Rose and her family are dealing with tragedy and change. Her mum is different, her home is different and she has even had to start at a new school. Amidst all that change, Amber finds it is still possible to find hope.
Sally’s Recommended Grade Levels: Year 2 – Adult, but these suggestions focus on Year 4.
- Coping with Change
- Mothers Day
- Empathy and Compassion
Publisher teaching notes available HERE
Year 4 English
- Discuss literary experiences with others, sharing responses and expressing a point of view (ACELT1603).
- Before reading: set up individual journals OR a special section is students’ writing journals. Ask students to write about their favourite book, or at least a book they have read recently. Why did they like it? Class discussion: what makes a good book. Create a chart with children’s responses and display in room, to be added to during this unit of work, and revisited.
- During reading: after reading each section, have students write about their responses to the story so far. Although you could provide questions for guidance, if possible allow students to write about any aspect of the story that appeals to them. After each writing session, allow time for group/class discussion, encouraging links to students’ own experiences.
- After reading: revisit the chart. In groups, students to discuss whether they thought Roses are Blue met their criteria for a good book. Why/Why not? Groups to report back, and discuss as class. (There should be no ‘right’ answers, but the focus should be on providing reasons for their stance, whether positive or negative)
- After this discussion, again give time for students to write about their response to the book in their journals.
- Discuss how authors and illustrators make stories exciting, moving and absorbing and hold readers’ interest by using various techniques, for example character development and plot tension (ACELT 1605).
- Use metalanguage to describe the effects of ideas, text structures and language features of literary texts (ACELT 1604).
- 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. Discuss findings.
- During and/or after reading, analyse key scenes, for example:
- Stop after reading pages 7-9 (opening pages) and have students predict what might make Amber’s mum so different. Then read p. 10. Discuss students’ reactions to the revelation, and have them write about their responses in their journal (see above). After reading, discuss why the novel might have started this way – with Mum’s condition not revealed until the fourth page, and the reasons for it revealed gradually. Did this create interest? Did it highlight different aspects of Amber’s emotions?
- Reread pp 36-39. Give each group a copy of the pages and ask them to look for repetition. Which words are repeated? Which phrases? What is the effect?
- Read p. 47 and compare what we learn here about Mum with what we learnt on pp 36-39. Discuss: does this contradict what Amber has told us? Why do you think Amber calls this a ‘confession’? Journal writing/discussion: Are mums (or dads) supposed to be perfect?
- Analyse the characters of Leroy Jamieson and Lola Jones. Groups to draw up a table listing what they learn from each one about the book. Report back and build a class list. Discuss: How are the two similar? How are they different? Do you think Sally Murphy deliberately gave them similar names? Why?
- Create literary texts that explore students’ own experiences and imagining (ACELT1607).
- Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts containing key information and supporting details for a widening range of audiences, demonstrating increasing control over text structures and language features(ACELY1694).
- Re-read and edit for meaning by adding, deleting or moving words or word groups to improve content and structure (ACELY1695).
- Use a range of software including wordprocessing programs to construct, edit and publish written text, and select, edit and place visual, print and audio elements (ACELY1697).
- Use the poem on page 10 as a mentor text for students to create their own poem about their own mum or another family member. It could even be themselves or a pet. As well as ‘different’, you could suggest other adjectives such as ‘special’, ‘wonderful’ , ‘silly’.
- Rewrite one of the scenes in the book from the point of view of one of the other characters: Mum, Leroy, Saffron, Dad, Aunty Fi, Lola etc. Encourage children to have a go at doing this as a free verse poem – again they could use the scene as a mentor text.
- If Mum could talk, what would she say? This might be a wonderful opportunity to work on speech and thought bubbles, with students drawing Mum and showing some of her thoughts.
- Any or all three of these creative exercises can be revised, edited and published for class display, or as class book, or in writing portfolios.
Other suggestions for using Roses are Blue in your classroom include:
- Create invitations to a Mother’s Day tea, as Amber’s class do. Or to any other class event, real or imagined.
- The blue rose has been the aim of many plant breeders. Have students research whether blue roses exist, and report on this. And/or build a list of other blue flowers.
- Craft: create paper roses, using this tutorial, or any other.
- 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)
- PearlVerses the World, by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Heather Potter
- Toppling, by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Rhian Nest James
- Motormouth, by Sherryl Clark
- Farm Kid, by Sherryl cCark
- Bully on the Bus, by Kathryn Apel
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 Roses are Blue.
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.