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Strategy: Varying Sentence Length (Suspense/Surprise) Book Title: Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam

Affair Author: Patricia Polacco Grade Level: 2-4 Standards: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.3 Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3a Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. Summary: In Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair, Aunt Chip, who has not left her bed in 50 years, stands up to help her nephew, Eli, and his friends learn about the magical stories found in books. When the mayor and the other community members become angry with the children for destroying the dam made of books to rescue them for reading, Aunt Chip and Eli must defend each other. Through the turmoil caused in the community, the children realize the value in reading and begin teaching their parents and grandparents to read. Goals: The students will identify varying sentence lengths in text. I can find where authors use short and long sentences to create suspense, drama, or rhythm. The students will purposefully use varying sentence lengths in their writing. I can use short sentences and long sentences to create suspense and surprise. Preparation: If possible, read Patricia Polaccos Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair a day or two prior to teaching the lesson. Due to the length of the story, it is helpful to read the text in advance so that students can focus on the strategy rather than the plot. Anticipatory Set: Call students together and ask students to summarize Patricia Polaccos Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair. Ask students what details they remember from the text. Tell students that they will learn how to adopt one of the strategies Patricia Polacco uses in her writing to create suspense. Ask students to think about the meaning of suspense. After a few students share their definitions, ask

students to turn and talk about ways authors might create suspense in their writing. Encourage students to think about how they, as authors, create suspense in their own writing. Input: Task Analysis: Tell students that they will investigate how Patricia Polacco creates suspense in Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair. Show book on a document camera so that students can see text. Remind students of the plot preceding the selected passage. Remember when the children removed the book from the dam and the water blew all of the books into the sky? Suddenly all of the books started falling back to the ground, but what was going to happen? First, she uses a really long sentence Sure enough, as the crowd looked skyward, down came a shower of books: fairy tales, classics, dictionaries, encyclopedias, fiction, non-fiction, black books, brown ones, green ones, red ones, leather-bound, canvas-backed, paperbackbooks, book, and more books. Look at the long list! She is really building suspense, what is going to happen now? Lets look at the next sentence. This is a miracle! Ask students to look at the difference between the two sentences. Students should immediately notice the difference in length. Explain that Patricia Polacco uses a really long sentence first, which builds suspense. You have to hold your breath for a really long time as you try to get through the entire list and then all of the sudden, a short sentence! Show students another example. Remember when the children began learning to read? First Polacco uses a long sentence to tell us the books the children read. Pretty soon Aunt Chips house echoed with small voices reading from Aesops Fables and Grimms Fairy Tales, and stories by Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Dickens. Wow! We know all about the stories the children are reading because she lists them all, but do we know what they thought about them? Lets keep reading! Those children couldnt get enough! Polacco uses a much shorter sentence to surprise us and to focus on how much the children liked the books! Show another example. Remember at the end of the story when the parents were worried because they couldnt read? As I read this page, I want you to look for the long sentence. Read the selected page. Then one by one, the townsfolk stepped forward, and one by one, they were joined by their children or grandchildren, a chorus of small voices saying the same thing over and over. 2

That is another long sentence! It seems like it is building to something important. Look at the short sentence to see if there is anything surprising. Ill teach you, Momma. Ill teach you, Papa. Why is it surprising that the children are teaching their parents to read? How does the short sentence help you know that? Tell students you would like their help to add suspense to a story you are writing. Show students that many of the sentences in the story are the same length. Explain that you would like to create a long sentence, and then end with a short sentence to create suspense. I carefully put on my helmet and tightened the strap. I put my foot on the pedal and braced for the start. I waited for the signal until suddenly I heard it! The race was starting! Ask students to identify the climax (the exciting or surprising part of the story). Ask students to identify the suspenseful part of the story, which is the part of the story the author uses to build up the excitement for the surprising ending. Tell students you need help creating a longer, more suspenseful sentence before the surprise ending. Model creating a list of details before the race started. Ask students to assist in brainstorming details (i.e. put on helmet, tighten strap, put food on pedal, etc.). Model using details to form a longer sentence. I carefully put on my helmet, tightened the strap around my chin, set my foot on the pedal, braced for the start, and waited anxiously for the sound of the horn. Read the sentence aloud for the students in one breath emphasizing its length. That sounds like it is building to something, I have to take a big breath to get through the whole sentence! Tell students that you now need a surprise sentence after the suspense. Can you think of any short sentences to surprise the reader? List students responses and ask for students assistance to choose a surprise sentence for the story. Add the surprise sentence to the story (i.e. BANG! We were off!). Read the final story aloud and review the suspense and surprise sentences. Ask students to think about the stories they are currently working on. Tell students to close their eyes and think of any moments in the stories they are creating that they could make more suspenseful. Instruct students to picture themselves in that moment and try to think of some details they could use to write a long sentence before a surprise short sentence. Ask students: What questions do you have? Encourage students to try the Suspense/Surprise strategy in their own writing. Dismiss students to do independent writing. Allow students to share their writing at the end of the writing workshop.

Materials: For each student: Pencil, writers notebook For teacher: Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco, chart paper or white board, suspenseful story without varied sentence lengths to edit with students Modeling: Show students how to identify the suspenseful and surprise elements in writing. Model using a list of details to write a long compound sentence. Demonstrate rereading sentences to check for a long suspenseful sentence and a short surprise sentence. Guided Practice: The teacher will work with students to brainstorm a list of details to create a long, suspenseful compound sentence. Students will practice thinking of surprise sentences and will help the teacher select an appropriate surprise ending. Students will also receive feedback and guided instruction through writing conferences as necessary. Independent Practice: Students will use the Surprise/Sentence strategy in their own writing to practice using varied sentence lengths. Students will practice the strategy during writing workshop. Following writing workshop, students will have the opportunity to share their success using the strategy in suspenseful moments in their stories. Assessment: The teacher will assess students understanding through observation of students contribution to class discussion and writing conferences with students. The teacher will also review students entries in writers notebooks and students shared writing at the closure of writers workshop. Text Information: Polacco, P. (1996). Aunt Chip and the great Triple Creek Dam affair. New York, NY: Philomel. ISBN: 9780399229435 References: Dorfman, L. R., & Cappelli, R. (2007). Mentor texts: Teaching writing through children's literature, K6 (pp. 238-247). Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers. Fletcher, R., & Portalupi, J. (2007). Craft lessons: Teaching writing K-8 (2nd ed., pp. 99). Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.