The book recounts how the author's grandmother taught her to manage her fear of thunderstorms by learning to tell how far away they were and hurrying to bake a cake before the rain began.
The teacher asked a cluster of questions aimed at helping the children understand that the author is also the narrator. "I wonder who's telling this story? Turn and talk to your buddy," she said.
And then: "Oh, so the character is also the author?"
When the narrator described the "sharp crackling light" that frightened her, Ms. Landahl said: "What is she scared of?"
Hands shot up. "Thunder!" some children called out.
"Well, that's the sound," Ms. Landahl replied. "She can see the light, right?"
There was a momentary pause, and then a girl said: "It's lightning."The article on "New Read-Aloud Strategies" offers a great look at ways to take students deeper into reading. For this kindergarten class, it's done through reading out loud to enjoy the story, then reading again to enjoy more deeply, with attention to how the parts fit together. A video portion of the story shows students talking in pairs to figure out some of the answers and identify the specific part of the story that is the evidence for the answers they choose.
At this age, the goal is to ensure that the young learners can"with prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text."
That's laying a foundation so that in two years they'll be ready to "ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text," and in four years they'll be able to "refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text."
Those three italicized standards are kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade versions of Reading Standard 1 from Kentucky's academic standards, and they are also expectations for those three levels in Nevada, where the EdWeek article found Ms. Landahl and her students studying the book Thundercake.
Parts of Ms. Landahl's teaching plan came from designs shared by teachers across the country and shared through the Read-Aloud Project, jointly sponsored by Student Achievement Partners (based in New York) and the Council of Great City Schools (serving students and schools in urban areas all across the country). In turn, Kentucky teachers from Pikeville to the Jackson Purchase can draw from those resources and contribute their own teaching plans.
It's a great example of how sharing standards can contribute to excellence for individual children in local schools all over the country.