Friday, February 5, 2021

Story Mapping with Mentor Text, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Have you ever had that moment when you read a book for the very first time not knowing at all what to expect, and absolutely love it! This is what happened to me when I read Joseph Had A Little Overcoat.

 I love this book just for fun...I'll get to that, but also for story mapping; specifically sequencing and retelling. The illustrations are creative and playful in such a way that connects the reader instantly!
The descriptive language and the illustrations provide those visuals to help the reader connect in meaningful ways as the story progresses.

Visual & Descriptive Progressions

Joseph starts off wearing an overcoat which, from looking at the cover page, is old and worn. Instead of getting rid of it he decided to make something new from it. This progression continues until he is left with a button...which he loses. Just when the reader thinks ALL is lost, Joseph decided to make a book about it! The lesson - you can always make something out of nothing!

As the reader goes through the story each time, Joseph makes something new from the original overcoat. The new item essentially becomes part of his everyday life. When reading for the first comes the fun, there is a little cut-out of the new item he makes creatively hidden within the illustrations. When the page is turned, it becomes part of the new illustration. Students love this! It's so much fun to have students guess what he will make next. Students begin to look for the cut-out clues and the excitement builds with the turn of each page. 

Here's the progression:

  • overcoat to jacket
  • jacket to vest
  • vest to scarf
  • scarf to necktie
  • necktie to handkerchief
  • handkerchief to button 
  • button to book
For my English Language Learners, I use every opportunity to bring in realia. Bringing in the items (overcoat, jacket, vest, scarf, necktie, handkerchief, button) help to reinforce language skills and vocabulary words. These items can also help with retelling. 

Here are some graphic organizers I created to use along with this book. Click on the image to grab your copy free!

I, of course, love to read this book aloud which I always do for the 1st and 2nd read, but we finish up by watching this adorable animated read-aloud. The voices are perfect and the background noises and commentary always crack me up.

We wrap it all up with this fun song that goes with the book! 

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I always do.

I am so excited to be a part of this blog hop with an amazing group of educators. We are providing 20 lessons with freebies each featuring different books. We are also holding a raffle with the chance to win the featured books plus $150 in gift cards! See below for all the blog links and link to the raffle.

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

How to Reinforce Comprehension Through Visualization


Visualization is the ability to create a picture in ones head through the words we read or hear. Good readers use this skill in order to comprehend what they read and hear. I am going to share one of my favorite books I use to teach visualization. This beautifully written book by Vera B. Williams can be used for many comprehension skills but today I will focus on visualization.


I always introduce visualization by asking my students if they like to go the movies or watch movies. The answer is always a very excited, yes. Hands dart up immediately because they are ready to tell you about their favorite movie or a movie they watched recently or a time they went to the movies. They are excited at the very mention of movie because then of course there's always someone who raises their hand to ask if the class can watch a movie together. Am I right?! Ah, the life of an elementary school teacher. So the excitement is built and I burst all of their bubbles by saying that I prefer to READ because when I read, the movie plays in my head! I like to give examples of this by telling a story about something near and dear to me. Every year I do this, my story changes and I literally just go with a story that's fresh in my memory. I use rich descriptive words and accentuate every little detail. I also like to make my story a little suspenseful to keep them on the edge of their seats of course. One of my favorites starts like this...Last night heard a thump. It was not a very loud thump but it was loud enough to wake me up and interrupt my dream. It was a thump that made my heart start to beat faster than normal. My eyes were wide awake and my body froze. I wanted to pull my soft, cozy blanket right up over my head. My story, (cough-throat clear) or should I say acting continues until I know they are hooked by my story. Next I ask questions such as: What did I do after I heard the noise?  How do you think I felt? What details did you hear that made you think that? We go on and I bring home my point of how a good story makes your have these amazing details in your head just like a movie does, but the most amazing thing is that it's not a movie at all-it's in your head. Here is an important detail that I always do when telling my Oscar-worthy story. I am very careful to leave off at a part that makes them want to hear more. This is so, so, very important! They will always ask, "And then what happened." I always respond with, "Oh, do you want to hear more. Isn't this just like going to the movies?" The most awesome thing is, that every time you open a book, it's like going to the movies. In fact, it's even better because you have the best imagination that can make to story even better than a movie can. 

Using Visualization to Build Comprehension

I constantly use this phrase to bring home comprehension skills. I always say, "Good readers always ___." Students want to be good readers. Some have a negative experience with reading and of course you will have those who claim not not like to read at all. If you can hook a student with enjoying stories, even if it's just listening to a story, you are beginning to connect the enjoyment of hearing a story to reading one themselves. They just need to know how. They need the skills. Those struggling readers want to know the secret to becoming a better reader, because it's always those students who want to learn to read so desperately. So when you tell students, good readers do this very thing. They are going to listen. They want to be a good reader. Tell you students, good readers visualize what they read in their heads, just like a movie. When students are able to visualize what they read, they are able to remember what they read and are able to ask and answer questions along the way. You see, it's all connected! This goes back to my very suspenseful docudrama story I tell my students to hook them. Students will be able to answer questions and I guarantee they will come up with questions on their own. This is the connection and how visualization builds comprehension. It is key. It is vital!

Reading Without Showing the Pictures

I like to read A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams to teach visualization. On the first read, I read it aloud without showing the pictures. I even keep the cover hidden so I can get their true visualizations of the text without the influence of the illustrations. I explain that we are going to visualize what the author is saying and we are going to picture what is happening inside our heads. If you know this story, you know how beautifully written it is. I like to take advantage of this and use this book to teach visualization. 

After Reading Resources

These activities can be done during or after the story. 

Text Visualization

This is one of the reasons I don't show the pictures on the first read. I like to do this activity to teach visualization. Remember to keep the cover hidden as well to keep the illustrations from influencing their own thoughts. I like to take a little descriptive piece of text and have students illustrate it. I like to see how my students preferences show up in their own chair because of course something wonderful and beautiful can look different to everyone. My favorite part is comparing everyone's chair at the end and then of course finally revealing what the chair looks like in the story. You see, it's all about that hook, building excitement and creating a buzz that gets students excited about reading. 

Create Your Own Chair

This one is so fun for students because they get to be so creative with this one. I like to tell them to imagine they had that jar full of coins from working hard and they get to spend it on the most comfy chair they can imagine. A good tip for your writers is to design their chair first, then come in with the description. These are always fun to see!

Partner Visualization Activity

I like to let my students have fun with this one. Students partner up, then switch. Each partner will get a sheet and write a description. When each partner is finished with their description, they exchange papers, read their partners description...visualize it in their head, then color in the chair to match the written description. They get to show what's inside their head!

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I hope you can use some of these resources in your classroom. Remember the key to fostering a love of reading is showing students your love of reading. This comes from building a true enjoyment of reading and it begins with a hook. How will you hook your readers today?

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Write All About It

Picture it...You are in the middle of an amazing lesson that you spent 3 prep-periods preparing. Students are engaged, everyone is paying attention. You ask a question and see lots of eager hands dart up. You call on the most eager, bright-eyed wiggle worm you see because it looks like they will explode if you don't call on them. When you do, you immediately regret it because instead of answering your question, they can't wait to tell you about something that has absolutely nothing to do with the lesson.

Students love talking about things they are interested in and passionate about. If they enjoy talking about a topic, they will love writing about it. This is my attempt to tap into what students are interested in and allow them to write about it. The following pages are a combination of graphic organizers, writing templates and journal pages that cover topics students love all designed to get students excited about writing.

As teachers, we are faced with countless distractions every single day. How many times do you catch a student with a toy in their pocket or held tight in their little hand. I love when Kiddos are so excited and passionate about something that they want to take it with them everywhere they go. The best part is when you simply ask, "What is that?" Those two words can spark a no turning back conversation. You can finish your cup of coffee, take attendance, check your email, even leave the room, and the kiddo is still standing there talking about this little treasure in their hand. This is exactly why I created these journal pages.

These pages are versatile and can be used in so many ways. Check out how I use them in my classroom and recommendations on how you can use them in yours.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Tips for a Great Read Aloud

A day in the life of a teacher...ideas hit you at random times. The amazing thing about teachers is that almost anything can inspire a great lesson. Inspiration hit me when my librarian handed me a book and said, "You've gotta read this." I don't think he knows my weakness for children's books and even more, brand new children's books...I want them all!


Sunday, November 25, 2018

My New Blog!

I'm Jessica. I am late to this blogging/social media party, but I'm here! 
I am taking my passion for teaching to the next level. I love to plan and create lessons that get my students excited about learning and hope to share all of it here on my blog.