Learning tools that inspire hearts and nourish minds.

1. Read - How to Read Closely

Often we are asked, "Do I have to read the book to utilize Blackbird & Company Integrated Literature and Writing Guides?" Our response is a resounding, "No, you don't have to read the book, you get to read the book."

Creating a tradition of close reading and responding to books alongside your students has profound results. When we dare to embrace the truth that a great multitude of the language arts standards are met while doing the work of digging into and responding to literature, basing the language arts program on books makes sense.

Our goal is to empower teachers to become mentors, free from the confines of a tedious and often frustrating language arts schedule that sacrifices the golden opportunity to nourish and nurture the child’s heart. Blackbird & Company’s Discovery Method provides a systematic framework for students to independently analyze and respond to great stories.

Preparation for the teacher utilizing Blackbird & Company literature guides is simple: Read and discuss books with your students.

The key to assessment is equally simple: Read the books that your students will be exploring.

As you read, keep in mind that you will be leading your students on an expedition through the story. Every story was once an idea in the mind of a writer. Take note of the way the author accomplished this great task of crafting and point out what you discover to your students. You don’t have to point out everything, show them the markers and let them roam the territory. You will challenge your students to unpack the riches of the story and to gather writing tools as you point out common mechanical and stylistic examples along the journey.

As you read, tag examples of the following to share with your students: Words – Point out words that are striking to you and encourage your students to do the same.

Rhythm – Point out how writers vary sentence length and syntax to develop cadence.

Sound – Even writers of prose craft sound into their work. Point out examples of alliteration, assonance, consonance, and rhyme.

Device – Highlight metaphor, simile, irony, hyperbole, imagery, and so on.

Themes – Begin to expose your students to the broader themes that the story presents—friendship, courage, loneliness, and so on.

Symbols – Help your students begin to spot symbols, the dove might symbolize for peace, or the, spring might symbolize a new beginning, or that the color blue might symbolize sorrow.

Mood – Help your students to consider mood at various points in the story.

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