The teachers in our district just got finished with a two day cooperative learning training, and boy oh boy was it wonderful!! Intensive!!! But wonderful nonetheless! My favorite part (well, one of MANY favorite parts) was when the presenter shared this book with us. It was so completely wonderful, that it left me spinning with ideas on how to use this very elementary level book at the middle school level. The name of the book is Edward the Emu, by Sheena Knowles. Here is a link to purchase from amazon if your library does not have it:
And I’m telling y’all. If your library doesn’t have it, they need it. NEED. IT. It is such a fun story and lesson that goes with it!! I’ve geared this lesson for 6th grade, but it could easily be adapted for lower grades…. so let’s get started!!
Depending on what grade you teach, this could be anything from making predictions, reading for comprehension, making inferences, and making connections.
- The book Edward the Emu, by Sheena Knowles
- A set of Higher Level Thinking Questions (I have a set that I used while I was in the Reading Intervention Lab that I’m working on putting in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so I will update this when I get them on!)
One class period (~1 hour)
*Show your students the cover of the book, give them the title but do not tell them what it is about.
*Inform students that the author of the book could not finish the story, and has requested help in writing the story. Our presenter today REALLY worked this up. She even went so far as to say that whoever came up with the best story would receive royalties…. forever. for.ev.er.
*So I was sitting there imaging how I was going to spend my millions when she told our team to get started. Our team consisted of four people, we broke into groups of 2 and we each had 30 seconds to share how we were going to craft our New York Times Best Selling Book. I came up with a story about how poor Edward’s egg was switched at birth. Edward the Emu was forced to grow up as an Ostrich and felt totally unaccepted. My partner came up with cute story about how Edward always felt lonely and then finally met a friend who looked like him.
*Time was up, and our presenter starting reading. I do have to say I was a little disappointed I wouldn’t be getting any royalties any time soon… but the book was absolutely delightful. Completely written in a wonderful rhyme scheme, we quickly discovered that Edward lived at a zoo and he was not a very happy emu. Poor Edward continued to hear guests talk about how exciting the other zoo animals were. Edward decided that he just wasn’t going to be an emu anymore. He was going to be a seal….
*Our presenter paused at this point… in the middle of the character dialogue and asked us to make a list of other animals that Edward would be visiting. She asked us to use a “round-robin” where we took turns with our partner and listed as many animals as we could think. After a fair amount of time had passed, she continued reading. By this point, she had a room of 60+ grown adults captivated by a children’s story!!
*But alas poor Edward wanted to be with the snakes…
So she finished up the story, which ended with Edward overhearing a zoo guest comment that the EMU’S are the best animal!!! Edward quickly went back to his zoo home…. only to find that he had been replaced…..
*When she was finished reading, our lovely presenter then asked our team of four to take equal amounts of time and create a plot twist…. something different that could have happened to Edward when he got back to his own little zoo habitat. To get a little movement into the group, the “student” sharing the plot twist stood up to tell about their new ending. One of our “team” members decided that poor Edward went back to his home, only to find that the lions were waiting for him. I decided that Edward would go back to his home and find it closed because the zookeeper had thought he had run away, so Edward decided to try and make it on his own (we may or may not have watched Madagascar lately in our house…. ha!) Our group had such a fun time listening to and telling short little stories.
*When the entire book activities were over, she showed all of the teams how to these story element cards. They really could go with ANY story!! Here’s how they work: (In a group of 4) person 1 holds the cards, person 2 draws and reads the card out loud to person 3, person 3 answers the question, person 4 verifies if the answer is correct by paraphrasing or coaching the previous person to a better answer, and then giving praise. They are almost all higher level thinking questions and I am super excited to use this lesson with my students!!