Search This Blog

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Questioning to Author's Purpose with the Orphan Trains

I had a brainstorm last night and it all started when I read, 'A Train to Somewhere' by Eve Bunting. I was planning on reading that and 'The Stranger' by Chris Van Allsburg to decide which I would use to launch a mini-unit on questioning - not many teachers on my grade level are into strategy instruction and are ready to start teaching the reading skills that are tested on our state test (FCAT 2.0) since I strongly believe in the importance of strategy instruction I have decided to spend Monday and Tuesday on a strategy and the rest of the week on a skill - my goal is to blend them together seamlessly!  Well, I never made it to reading 'The Stranger' because I became obsessed with the topic of the orphan trains.

Thank goodness for the internet, because my curiosity turned into a Saturday night of research (yes, I do realize how sad it sounds after I type this, but I had fun!) I read stories about actual orphans, saw pictures, and even read newspaper articles, and saw a want add (yep, a want add for coming to see the children, much like an add for a shoe sale). And then the light bulb rang out in my head!!!!

I could use all this text to teach author's purpose!!! What a way to blend questioning and author's purpose by starting with a topic that sparks our interest as we ask questions and learn about it by researching the topic through different points of view / different genres too and discuss their purpose.

As soon as the public library opens today, I will be at the door, there are so many more books on this topic that I hope will get my students reading something different - real history vs. The Wimpy Kid??? I'll let you know what happens!!!!!!!

Here was my favorite website about the orphan trains:

One orphan's story that caught my attention on the website above was Lee Nailing - his story is an emotional one and I can't wait to share it with my students!!!!!!

I will post more about my lessons and how it went next weekend! Have a great week!


  1. You should check out the PBS The American Experience series videos from the library. There are, I believe, two videos and Lee Nailing is in one of them. Bawled my eyes out. Good luck!!

  2. I did get the video but I can't watch it tonight because I forgot to unlock it at the library - excited to hear that Lee Nailing is on the video! Thanks!

  3. Stay strong with the strategy instruction. I am also a 3rd grade teacher under the "weight" of FCAT 2.0 . . . I think what we must remember is that while we live and die by our test results our job is t teach our students. I am excited to follow your blog!

  4. Thanks! And so true what you said, I am making a commitment to do what is best - creating thoughtful readers that enjoy reading :-)