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thing. It may be a whimsical situation, an ab-
surd event, a play upon words. Train children
to recognize nonsense, not to laugh simply be-
cause some one else laughs.
73



SOME SPECIAL METHODS

The short story

The charm of the short story is its simplicity,
its rapid movement, the ease with which the
point is reached. The danger is th at the teacher
will c onsider the jJojnUyajo^ bvio us tEatshe wflT
not testthe children tasee itjthey understand it.

The informational selection

The use of the informational selection may
lead to observation of things not previously seen,
it may verify previous observations, or it may
open the way for discussion of persons and condi-
tions. Seldom will it prove appropriate for oral
reading, except as a sentence or paragraph is read
to make a point. Lessons from newspapers and
magazines fall largely under this type. Essential
parts, clearness of wording, relation to the life of
the pupils, — these suggest the character of the
discussions. Give opportunity to report on ob-
servation s and experiments which are the out-
growthoi^such lessons. Encourage children to
bring these topics up for discussion at home and
call for reports of such discussions._ Train for the
open-minded attitude, for ^gracious recognition
of a verification which shows one's error. "You
seeT was mistaken," may show a moral victory.
There may be differences of opinion, not of fact.

79



READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES

The drama

Conciseness and directness characterize the
dramatization printed in true dramatic form.
This is a fine test of the mastery which pupils have
acquired over the essentials of time, place, char-
acters, plot. The brevity of the directions may
tempt the teacher to give too much explanation,
the possibilities of dramatic movement and char-
acter portrayal may lea d her to sub stitute her
interpretation for thatof the children. The chil-
dren's own work is what counts most.

The long story

The wise division of this type of story into its
main parts, with careful study of the essentials
in each part, will help the children to get the
large values from each story, as well as help them
toward establishing good study habits.

Discussion should center upon the characters,
how they look, what they do, what they say,
what characteristics they show; the main events,
who take part in them, why, what results occur;
the time of each event, the place. Find the sen-
tences which are most important, key sentences
upon whose interpretation the understanding of
the story depends. In this way the ideas of the
story become clear, the vocabulary is used natu-
80



SOME SPECIAL METHODS

rally, new words appear in their context, the
foundation is laid for intelligent and therefore
expressive oral reading.

In this discussion have the pupil read from the
text the word, the word group, or the sentence
from which he gained his point. Accept no des-
ultory statements; be sure that the pupil follows
the thought that he is reading to a definite end.

Dramatization is a natural outgrowtji of most
of these stories, but it comes at the close of study
rather than, as in the preceding type, at the
beginning.

"The long story or poem, peddled out in small
instalments, is an artistic and pedagogical absurd-
ity."

Types based upon character of work
The study recitation

The cooperation of class and teacher to dis-
cover the main thought of a selection, the large
parts into which it is divided, the various means
the author uses in building up a delightful whole,
emphasizing essentials, enjoying bits which make
an especial appeal — this is a study recitation.
The teacher needs to keep i n min d that s he i s
developing,^, method of study; at times she will
make the pupil conscious of this also.



READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES

The thought whole is in the teacher's mind
and helps her in directing the thought of the class.
Mastery over form is likely to come in large
measure during such work. The teacher uses the
vocabulary of the author, at times she requires
pupils to point to or read orally phrases or sen-
tences which express the specific thought called
for; the very fact that meaning is in control gives
added power to the process of word recognition.

The silent reading lesson

Here each pupil follows his own rate of speed
in getting the message of the author, satisfies
himself as to its meaning, realizes the compan-
ionship of the author. The teacher needs to as-
sure herself that the pupil is really thinking as he
reads, at times needs to challenge his mastery of
a situation, again must direct him toward essen-
tials. Questions may be assigned to direct the
silent reading, pupils may be at liberty to rise
and read choice snatches to the teacher and any
classmates who wish to listen; in early grades
they may act out in pantomime the sentences
read silently. Bodily movements, facial expres-
sions, the avidity with which new lessons are
attacked, are good tests of what the pupil is gain-
ing from these silent reading lessons.
82



SOME SPECIAL METHODS

The appreciation lesson

Certain poems need to be presented to the
pupils first by the teacher's oral reading, so that
the music and rhythm may be given as well as
the thought. Books and short stories of high
value, beyond the pupils' ability unless brought
to them through the ear, also belong here. Ideals
of oral reading are helped by these lessons, and
a fine realization comes of the companionship to
be found in books. The teacher mnsr_appreciate
thp aspQpsihilitjz °f rhoosmgjhis material wisely
and of jeadiiLgiLappreciatively. At times those
in the community who are specializing in reading
will be glad to read to the children.

The dramatic reading

Emphasis on oral reading when the thought is
understood and the whole series of situations is in
mind, assures a degree of finish in oral reading
limited only by the capabilities of teacher and
class. In this place movement must be brought
out by the voice; in another place, emotion, per-
haps of elemental passions, as joy, hatred, anger,
fear; perhaps of more delicate emotions, gener-
osity, self-control, loyalty. Delight comes with
the ability to control the voice so as to represent
different characters. There is need for develop-

V 8 3



READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES

ing a method of criticism by the class which shall
hold the readers to increasingly higher standards.
Oral reading of poems calls for attention to
rhythm, rhyme, well-chosen words, as well as to
appreciation of the thought.

The dramatization

Whether pupils eventually memorize the parts
and give a dramatization for a special audience,
with simple costumes and staging, or whether
they only work out the dramatization in their
own classroom, reading their lines from the book,
the essential character of the dramatic presenta-
tion is the same. Each pupil by action, speech,
or posture must convey his own interpretation of
the character he is representing; together these
characters must present the total situation, mak-
ing the main thought so clear that no one can
escape it. Attention to enunciation, pronuncia-
tion, and voice quality is important, for every
member of the audience should hear witjijtfise.

The drill, including the sight-reading lessen

Carefully planned word and phrase drills (see
p. 52) need to be given steadily in all grades. Not
more than ten or fifteen minute periods should be
given to such drills. Several types of drill may
well be given in such a period.
84



SOME SPECIAL METHODS

Every class needs training, also, in sight read-
ing, not of material difficult in vocabulary and
challenging thought too seriously, but of simple
tales written in simple language. Let the new
supplementary readers from a lower grade be
used, each child selecting a story and reading it
to the class. Much of the supplementary reading
selected for a grade may be easy enough for this
work.

The presentation of individual and group readings

Material from the home libraries, chapters of
books too long for classwork, may be assigned to
individual pupils or groups to present to the class.
These contributions may be read orally, or partly
told and partly read. The teacher will need to
hold pupils to worthy preparation for such les-
sons, parents may help by hearing the work read
at home before it is presented at school. The fact
that this material is new to the class assures an in-
terested audience to lend motive to the reading.

For a more extended analysis of the larger pur-
poses and types of literature suitable for elemen-
tary schools, the reader is referred to Chubb, 1 for
•a discussion of the types of lessons to Earhart. 2

1 Chubb's The Teaching of English, pp. 87-88, 143-47.

2 Earhart's Types of Teaching.

85



READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES

Planning a series of lessons

A selection will frequently call for a series of
lessons of different types in order to insure the
pupils' receiving due value from reading it; again
a single lesson may be sufficient. Andersen's The
Constant Tin Soldier may well begin with a study
recitation in which the main situations are discov-
ered, the characters discussed, movements and
postures illustrated, and the climax appreciated.
A second lesson may be in dramatic oral reading,
especial attention being given to key sentences
and conversational parts. A third lesson may con-
sist in dramatizing, care being taken to have the
class do the necessary planning and give helpful
criticism. The Walrus and the Carpenter needs to
De read first by the teacher, the absurdity being
brought out and enjoyed by all. A second lesson
may be a study recitation lesson if the teacher can
guide the children in discovering more nonsense.
Some oral reading of individual stanzas may be
done in this lesson, but only to bring out the fun.A

"Our methods will have to be fixed and yet
flexible. We must have general plans of treat-
ment; and yet these must always be guarded as
subject to revision and as needing adaptation
according to the class we are teaching. There are
86



SOME SPECIAL METHODS

to be six lessons on this work; ten on that. Let
the scope of these and of each of them be defi-
nitely worked out.

"There is no mechanism in this precision and
planning. It is a condition of the highest kind of
success. It is all in the interest of the spirit that
giveth life. 'Ah!' we heard a young painter ex-
claim in the presence of a lovely piece of work by
an elder, 'have you ever seen him at it? See! he.
just daubs a thumb ful of paint on the canvas and
works with it, plays with it, until it just sings']
and that is what we are after in our craft too : To
take just a few lines or many of a master, and
thumb them and Up them until they 'sing,' and
sing on, and recurringly sing. But to make either
a great canvas or a great poem so sing, involves
much dainty, bold, deliberative, patient work.
We must plan, and yet the fire of feeling and
admiration must survive and burn through
our planning. But we insist on the defmiteness
of plan; on the elaboration that is itself true
artistry."



K



READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES

Suggestive Lesson Plans

Plan for an informational selection to be given as a
study recitation

THE CROW 1



The crow has fine manners. He always has the
walk and air of a lord of the soil.

One morning I put out some fresh meat upon the
snow near my window. Soon a crow came and carried
it off, and alighted with it upon the ground.

While he was eating of it, another crow came and,
alighting a few yards away, slowly walked up to
within a few feet of this fellow and stopped.

I expected to see a struggle over the food. Nothing
of the kind happened, however. The feeding crow
stopped eating, looked at the other for a moment,
made a gesture or two, and flew away. Then the
second crow went up to the food and began to eat.
Soon the first crow came back, and then each of the
crows seized a portion of the food and flew away with
it. Their respect and good will for each other seemed
perfect.

II

The crow will quickly discover anything that looks
like a trap or snare set to catch him, but it takes him
a long time to decide whether it is a snare or not.

1 From The Riverside Third Reader. Copyright, 191 1, by
Houghton Mifflin Company. A specimen page from the Reader
is here inserted.

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SOME SPECIAL METHODS

I sometimes place meat for the crows on the snow
in front of my study window. There were two crows
that came to expect something there every day.
Once, however, I hung a piece of meat by a string
from a branch of the tree, just over the spot where
I usually placed the food. A crow soon discovered it,
and came into the tree to see what it meant. He felt
sure that the meat was a trap to catch him.

He looked at it from every near branch. He
pecked and pried. He flew to the ground, and walked
about and looked at it from all sides.

Then he took a long walk, going away as if in hope
of hitting upon some clew. Then he came to the tree
again and tried first one eye, then the other, upon it;
then he looked at the ground; then he went away and
came back; then his fellow came, and they both
squinted and looked at it, and then disappeared.

Chickadees and woodpeckers would alight upon
the meat and peck it swinging in the wind, but the
crows were afraid.

Two days passed thus: every morning the two
crows came and looked at the meat from all points
in the tree, and then went away.

The third day I placed a large bone on the snow
beneath the meat. Soon one of the crows appeared
in the tree, and bent his eye upon the tempting bone.
But, after looking at it for half an hour, and after
coming several times within a few feet of it on the
ground, he seemed to think that there was no con-
nection between it and the piece of meat hanging by

the string.

89



READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES

So, finally, he walked up to it and fell to pecking
it, flickering his wings all the time as a sign of his
watchfulness. And, every little while, he would turn
up his eye to the piece of meat in the air above.

Soon the other crow came and alighted on a low
branch of the tree. The feeding crow looked up at
him a moment, and then flew up to his side, as if to
give him a turn at the bone. But the second crow
refused to run the risk. He soon went away, and his
friend followed him.

Then I placed the bone in one of the main forks of
the tree, but the crows kept at a safe distance from it.
Then I put it back on the ground, but they grew
more and more afraid of it.

Finally, a dog carried off the bone, and the crow
stopped visiting the tree.

John Burroughs {adapted).

Teacher's aims —

To have the pupils enjoy the author's observa-
tions of crows.

To train pupils to find the ideas presented to
prove a point.

Pupils' aims —

To find whether crows are interesting birds to
watch.

To learn whether the author is a good guide in
bird study, t

90



SOME SPECIAL METHODS

The teacher's part The child's part

Here is Mr. Burroughs's ac- He has watched them, fed

count of the crow. How has he them, thought about them,
learned about crows?



Read some sentences which
show that he has watched them.

Care needs to be taken that the
sentences read really answer the
question. The first sentence
might be read, but is incomplete,
— the meat might have been put
out for some other purpose.

Have several pupils read sen-
tences which tell.



"One morning I put out some
fresh meat upon the snow near
my study window. Soon a crow
came and carried it off, and
alighted with it upon the ground."

"I sometimes place meat for
the crows on the snow, in front of
my study window."



How much of this account deals
with crows which Mr. Burroughs
has really seen?

What did Mr. Burroughs learn
by watching the crows? Find the
first sentence which tells.



Read quickly, but silently, the
entire selection, then express
judgment.

"The crow has fine manners."



Do you believe this? How does He watched the first crow share
Mr. Burroughs prove it to you. the food with the second.

How much of the account is All of part I. A pupil reads
used to prove that crows have orally the first sentence and the
good manners? last.

Indicates on blackboard with
some help from pupils: —

The Crow's Manners
"The crow has fine



seemed perfect."

(Page 230.)

What else did the author "The crow will quickly dis-
learn about crows by watching cover anything that looks like a

91



READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES

them? Read the sentence which trap or snare set to catch him,
tells. but it takes him a long time to

decide whether it is a snare or

not."

How long did the author watch Three days or more. We do not
to find this true? know when the dog carried off

the bone and the crows stopped
visiting the tree.

What behavior of the crows Children may tell or may read
seemed to show that they were specific sentences,
afraid?

Was this a trap? Prove your No.
point. Only a piece of meat hung by a

string.

Other birds pecked at it and
swung upon it.

Was the bone a trap? Prove it. No.

One crow pecked at it.
The dog carried it away.

What did the crow think?
Prove it. (This involves the
whole question as to what we
may infer from the behavior
of animals as to their thinking.
Let the pupils know that this is
not yet decided.)

Would you like to watch crows He is kind to them; sees inter-
alone? with Mr. Burroughs? esting things; thinks about what
Why? he sees.

Indicate on blackboard: —

The Crow's Belief in Traps
"The crow will quickly dis-
cover stopped visiting the

tree." ,

(Pages 231-33.)

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SOME SPECIAL METHODS

Plan for a short story to be given as a silent
reading lesson

THE BURIED TREASURE 1

Antonius Pinto was the possessor of an olive
orchard, and also of three stalwart but lazy sons.

Antonius tended his olive trees with but little help
from his sons. Any morning before the sun grew hot,
he could be found up on the hillside, propping the
young trees or pruning the old ones; or digging about
the roots, loosening and stirring the soil; or, in har-
vest time, with a score of neighbors to help him,
plucking the firm, round fruit.

And any afternoon, toward sundown, he could be
found on the hillside, resting in the orchard shade.
Here he would lie and gaze across the hills of his
beloved Italy — across to where the blue of the dis-
tant mountains met the blue of the sky. Slowly his
eyes would wander back over hills gray-green with
olive trees, to a nearer hill slope where, in the midst
of its vineyards, the monastery stood. He could hear
the vesper bell calling the monks to prayer.

"Now will they rest from their labors," he would
say to himself, thinking how, early and late, the
monks had been working in the vineyards. Only
constant care — turning the soil and pruning the
vines — had made the monastery grapes the finest
in all Italy.

1 From The Riverside Fourth Reader. Copyright, 1912, by
Houghton Mifflin Company. A specimen page from the Reader
is here inserted.

93



READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES

Then Antonius would look at his own hillside, at
the old trees with their gnarled and twisted branches,
that had borne fruit so many years; and he would
sigh to think that he was growing old and could no
longer give them all the care they needed.

"Ah, yes," he would say with a shake of his head,
"if my sons would but work as I have done, what a
yield there would be from this olive slope!"

There came a time when Antonius no longer
worked among his olive trees, a time when he, too,
could rest — the long, long rest — from his labors.

His three sons gathered to hear the reading of his
will. " I bequeath to my sons my olive orchard and
equal shares in the treasure that lies buried therein"
— so it was written. The three sons stared at one
another in astonishment.

"Treasure! Treasure buried in the orchard! " they
exclaimed excitedly. "If we set others to digging
there, our treasure may be found and stolen from us.
No, we must work in the orchard ourselves until we
find it."

So the sons divided the orchard into three parts
and began to work as they had never worked before.
From tree to tree they went, digging carefully around
the roots of each, and even in the spaces between the
rows, until they had upturned the soil of the whole
orchard. But no treasure could they find.

That year, however, a strange thing happened.
The olive trees bore so heavily that it was necessary
to support the limbs. Never was such a harvest of

94



SOME SPECIAL METHODS

olives seen before! The three sons sold them at a
good price, and the third that each received seemed
to him a fortune in itself.

As they were dividing the money, taking each his
share, one of them said suddenly, —

"Verily, our digging has brought us treasure! Our
father was very wise."

And year after year they dug in the orchard, as
their father had done before them. And year after
year the orchard yielded its treasure.

An Italian Folk Tale.

Teacher'' s aims —

To help the pupils to an intelligent enjoyment
of the story.

To test their ability to get the thought and to
relate it to their own experiences.

Caution — A silent reading lesson is not a
preparation for oral reading, it should be com-
plete in itself.

Pupils 1 aim —
To enjoy a story.

The teacher's part The child's part

Write questions on blackboard, Read the story. Read the


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Online LibraryFrances JenkinsReading in the primary grades → online text (page 5 of 7)