May 4, 2022 | Ms. Jonker
The fourth graders will complete their study of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor, early next week. This book is a level W, so a little on the advanced end for most fourth graders. For this reason, we’ve read using the support of comprehension guides and audiobooks.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is set in Mississippi during the Depression Era. It is narrated by 10-yr old Cassie Logan, telling the story of her family making a livelihood for themselves. Cassie observes her family assert their dignity and stand up to racism successfully. She observes different perspectives within the larger community about how to proceed in the midst of oppression, racism, and fear, and she forms opinions of her own.
Understanding setting is important in any story, but particularly for understanding historical fiction. During this book study, we’ve focused on writing about setting. Students learned a bit about the historical context of the book, to build background knowledge. Students then learned how to take notes on both physical and emotional setting (the underlying emotions and feelings of the characters in the story). After reading the first couple chapters, they made inferences based on their notes and then wrote paragraphs answering these questions:
“When and where does the Logan family live?”
“What are their surroundings and where do they spend their time?”
“How do the characters feel in their environment?”
“What emotions do you notice in the story so far?”
Another skill we’ve practiced in this book study is leading book clubs. Book clubs are a great opportunity for students to practice leading and listening to one another. Students took turns being discussion leaders, preparing in advance of their book clubs meetings which questions they’d ask their group mates about the book. Students were given examples of open-ended “author and me” questions, and then wrote some of their own.
We will finish this book study looking back at some key events from the book and discussing the different perspectives of the characters on these events. Students have been bringing these sections of the book home to re-read in preparation for this.
We will continue to read books by Mildred Taylor after this study is done! Students will be having book club groups again, but rather than all of us studying and discussing the same book, each group will get a different book to read.