Today for guided reading I chose a story about chess, as a way to support my girls who were interested in it last week. (Read previous blog post here, Read the story I am discussing, here).
In the story, one girl is being taught how to play chess by her 'expert' sister. As we read along, I used real chess pieces to visually support their learning and help them make connections.
On page 12, (second photo) the main character uses words like 'horse' and 'castle', and her expert sister corrects her with the right words - rook and knight. At this point, I would bring out a rook and knight and we would talk about why Miri would of called them horse/castle, was she really wrong to call it that, what was its 'proper' name etc. This continued throughout the story.. (e.g. pawn, bishop, king). This allowed students to match the word from the story with a physical thing right in front of them, something they could touch and hold and connect with.
After we read, I pulled out the chess board and the students helped me put out all the pieces in the right places. We split the group in half, forming two teams (one for each side of the chess board). As the story described how the different pieces moved, we practised doing this with the right piece, on the real chessboard so the students could connect the word that described the action, with the real action (e.g. they didn't know what diagonally meant for the bishop, so I showed them).
Then, we started a real game! I tried my best to stay out of the game, and be an observer. Both of the two groups I did this with showed a real understanding of the 'strategy' the story talks about that you need to play chess, thinking a few moves ahead, remembering the end goal of capturing the king.
When the bell went for morning tea, the group was still playing and was sad to leave!
I felt that the students really connected with what they had read, more so than any other story we have read this term, and by having a more abstract kind of follow up activity, they were excited for a change of routine. By the end of it, they had learnt new words and phrases from the book, but had also cemented their understanding of the events in the story by exploring those events themselves!
Kia kaha kids!