One of the best ways to teach a skill is with quality literature and the think aloud process. For struggling readers or all readers for that matter, the think aloud process demonstrates with text evidence what students should pay attention to as they read. In this author’s craft lesson, students learn with the examples provided what author’s craft means. The author’s choices of words, characters, actions, and setting all come together to showcase the author’s craft.
This lesson features the book, Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds. The gist of the story is that Nerdy Bird is not like the “cool” birds. He likes video games, playing Wormcraft, and reading. He is feeling excluded when he discovers that there are other nerdy birds just like him.
I love the author’s message in this book. Every child needs to hear it and live it. It is, “Be Yourself, Treat Others with Respect, and Never Exclude Others.” Aaron Reynolds uses author’s craft to carry these themes throughout the plot.
Introducing Nerdy Birdy
To begin this lesson, I planned a schema builder on finding friends. Kids may be surprised to see how much they have in common with each other, and this is the starting point of friendship. By using this schema builder, students will connect with Nerdy Bird and better understand the author’s message. Once this part is complete, it’s time to instroduce the story vocabulary and directly teach author’s craft “look fors”. I used an anchor chart for this, and you can project it for group discussion. A printable copy can be placed in your student’s language arts notebooks.
Explaining and Practicing Author’s Craft
For the “we do” part of this lesson, I suggest that you share the book with stopping points for discussion. If you have an “Elmo” that you can project the book, that would work well as there is reference to the text features of the book. However, you can also walk around with the book or secure multiple copies for small group work. During reading, students will share their thoughts on word choice, illustrations, structure, theme, and connections which all contribute to the author’s craft for the book.
Extending Themes in Nerdy Birdy
Finally, as a summarizer for the lesson, I am used a response page for my students to explain the main idea of the story and evidence. With this part, you can focus on the author’s message and theme as well.
To give you a little background on this book, I am including an interview with the author about the book. You will see why I love it so much. It is sure to be a classic like Stellaluna and Owl Moon.
Meet the Author:
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The full unit includes these pages and more for a total of 39 in all.
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