Oooohhh! I'm fired up. I did a little Google search looking for sites having to do with teaching ELA to fourth graders. I found an article that was really very good. It focus was on teaching theme. Theme can be challenge to teach to fourth graders and as the article states, the confusion between theme and main idea is real. I loved this article because I was READY to read it. It was just the thing to get me thinking about the literature I teach and and how I can really capitalize on the rich novels I've selected. I loved the author's ideas when it comes to helping my students to select independent reading on the same theme as our whole class novel or read aloud.
(Confession: There was a brief moment when I allowed my self to go all, "Woe is me, our basal reader is chock full of crap literature so having rich conversations around this shared text will be nearly impossible." Then as I've been reminded before, I remembered that the program is a resource. Even though the trainers told us that the reading/writing handbook was the backbone of the program, I could put more emphasis on using the anthology where more real literature exists. The reading/writing handbook mostly contains fiction, non-fiction, and poetry written by committee to teach specific skills and strategies while incorporating 8 specific vocabulary words. The anthology contains better literature and some pieces are actual excerpts pulled from books written by real authors. My conclusion: I can do this!)
I'd really like to go back to a reader's notebook where students are responding, in writing, to the literature we read. These notebooks would provide students with a place where they could simply react to what they've read. In addition, they'll provide a place for students to write about theme and what they're noticing and what they're wondering. Finally, these notebooks will provide a place for students to answer text dependent questions. I know this is not rocket science or truly innovative but the idea has me excited to teach literature and has sparked some ideas around using Wonders alongside the novels I love.
The article I read was also awesome as it linked to some other really good articles. Looking for a little inspiration like me? Here are links to the articles:
11 Essential Tips for Teaching Theme in Language Arts
The Text Says What? Intro To Text Dependent Questions