Monday, July 6, 2015

The Courage of Sarah Noble

Such a perfect Read Aloud for advanced fourth graders or fifth graders. Pair this Newbery Honor book with your study of the native Americans and the colonization of America.

In 54 pages, Alice’s Dalgliesh tells the poignant story of eight-year-old Sarah Noble, who accompanied her father from Westfield, Massachusetts to the wilderness of Connecticut to build a home. As the only one of his daughters who likes to cook, Sarah is chosen for this journey. While her father builds the house, she plays with the Indian children. And when her father returns to Westfield to bring the rest of the family, Sarah lives with Tall John and his family.

It is a short enough story that it can be read quickly, and the story brings home for students the difficulty that families faced as they settled this country. Great discussion can follow as students read about Mr. Noble’s conflicted feelings about leaving Sarah and how Sarah takes what she heard about the Indians and makes her own decisions based on her own experiences.

By fourth and fifth grade, students should have begun to create compound sentences in their writing. Below is an example taken directly from the text which employs the coordinating conjunction FOR. Fourth and fifth graders will have begun to see FOR texts rather than the subordinating conjunction BECAUSE as it is more formal. 

Using REAL examples not only bring students back to the text for discussion (Who is speaking? What made Sarah impatient?), but it also gives credibility to your grammar teaching. Students can be given endless de-contextualized exercises on grammar, but try the following.

Sarah and her father slept in the forest                                there were no settlements nearby.

This is an original sentence that retells an important piece of Dalgliesh's story and directs a student to use the coordinating conjunction FOR. The student clearly identifies two independent clauses and physically places down a card in between. Students can work in groups on this type of activity to generate discussion about the relationship. The example above is part of this activity mat which gives students practice using other conjunctions. 

Students are given this mat and a "pile" of conjunctions cut from the page below.

This story can be followed up by a more in-depth read such as The Sign of the Beaver. Students would have the opportunity to make text-to-text connections and can complete a Comparison/Contrast map.

I hope you feel confident adding this wonderful story to your lessons and introducing the grammar that can authentically go along with it!


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