Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Danitra Brown, Class Clown 
By Nikki Grimes
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Danitra Brown, Class Clown is another great mentor text to use at the beginning of the school year as an ‘enjoy the book first as a class read aloud before you use it as a mentor text later in the year’!  It’s fun and it hits the right note with many of the issues that kids contemplate at the beginning of the year: friendships, a new teacher, shyness because of an unusual first name, boy crushes, sitting next to your BFF-talking too much to your BFF- getting separated from your BFF-—to name just a few!

Danitra Brown, Class Clown is yet another wonderful book of poems that reads-like-a-narrative story under the overarching theme of school and friendship by masterful storyteller and poet, Nikki Grimes.

Read as a read aloud, explore the poems and laugh together to build class community. This would be a perfect book to put under the document camera. Read it several times, invite your students to share/read their favorite poems from the story; read your favorites to the class,have students take turns reading different lines, or stanzas.  Enjoy the book together.

Keep the book available for the students to revisit all year.  Bring it out again as a mentor text when it is time for your Poetry writing Unit of Study.  Danitra Brown will be a tremendous mentor text during that writing study. Could your students emulate Grimes style of selecting a ‘through line’ and writing poems in a narrative way to tell a story? Challenging-but possibly the theme idea may be a hook that some students need. 

Dantria Brown would also be an excellent book of poems to help students with fluency work during Reading Workshop.

Book Talk 
Readers meet best friends, Zuri Jackson and Danitra Brown.  Best friends, but very different from each other. Zuri has some insecurities about  many things in life… and Danitra—none!  Danitra is brave, brazen, funny and very loyal to her friend, Zuri.

With a new poem on each page, Grimes takes readers through the first couple of days of school for the girls. Zuri, who loved the previous year’s teacher, is not sure about the new teacher, Miss Volchek.  Danitra encourages her to give the new teacher a chance.

Miss Volchek asks the two best friends (who are sitting next to each other) to stop talking. 
They don’t.

Here’s the poem:
“A World Away
Miss Volchek warned us not to speak.
“Stop chattering , you two.”
But keeping quiet all day was
impossible to do.
Obeying will be easier
beginning with today.
Miss Volchek made Danitra sit
three stinking rows away.”

Through poetry, readers learn that Zuri struggles with math, and Danitra does everything she can to help her friend be successful . Zuri’s mother gets very ill, and Miss Velchek gently comforts Zuri. Zuri has such a beautiful singing voice that she has been given a solo in the school concert. She sings “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” so beautifully, that she feel as if she has.

Climb Ev’ry Mountain
“I have a solo today.
The glee club
is behind me,
lips puckered
round as quarters,
ooh-oohing on cue.
I stand front and center
in an all-school assembly, 
and my mouth opens,
and I’m not sure 
what will come out.
A whimper? A shout?
The right chord
would be nice.
I close my eyes,
soak in the melody,
and drown my doubt.
I sing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”
and I do.”

The end of the story finds us in the middle of the school year. With Danitra’s encouragement—and sometime hocus-pocus—Zuri has worked hard on math and has gotten a good grade on a math test. She has begun to like Miss Velchek and even thinks she might miss her next school year.

End part of the ending poem:
“I’ll sort of miss Miss Volchek.
(You tell her, and you’re dead.)
I can’t imagine next year will be
half as good as now,
but Danitra and I will find a way
to make it great, somehow.”

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Poetry (Narrative)
Reading Workshop Strategies: Fluency, solving words, Connecting, Synthesizing, 
Writing Workshop genres and strategies: Poetry, Personal Narrative, Elaboration,
strong lead, strong female

Nickki Grimes website: http://www.nikkigrimes.com/

E.B. Lewis website: http://eblewis.com/

No comments:

Post a Comment