Monday, April 15, 2013

Priceless Read Aloud: How to Steal a Dog

Read aloud is the knockout punch in my reading block everyday.  There are several components and next to conferencing with students I think read aloud is my favorite part for several reasons.  First, read aloud is about building our class community and sharing a marvelous book and having conversations is an integral part of community.  Next, I don't kill a read aloud with worksheets. This year I committed to collecting my students reader's notebook (RNB) once a week, so I could continue a personal conversation with my students.  This has been the power punch for me.  I encourage students to write about a prompt that I provide or just write about what they are thinking about the book. I have been amazed at how honest the students are and more importantly I have learned several things about my students that I don't think they would have told me.  Reinforcing the "power of the pencil."  Finally when we complete our book, I have my students write a personal reflection. I blogged about this idea here when we finished Wonder.  

We just finished How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor.  This is on my must read list every year in 5th grade.  Here is my original post from January 29, 2011. Georgina, Toby, Momma, and Mookie teach us so many important life lessons.  The woven themes of giving back, importance of family, "don't judge a book by it's cover" and never giving up are all intertwined throughout the story.  Georgina has so many decisions and the process of her thinking is saved in her writer's notebook which is just an added plus for me. Finally, I asked my students to write their responses, and to say that I was overwhelmed was an understatement. In addition, I suggested to my students to share their thoughts about this book with their parents. Several students chose this option also.  
She sure realized all the life lessons.
LOVE his opening lead!
Conversation between my student and her mom.

Finally, I tweeted out Friday night I was reading my student responses and Barbara O'Connor responded back to me and now I have some very special tweets to share with my students today.  Thanks Barbara for making my Friday night and my students Monday morning.


  1. THIS is priceless! Loved hearing the students' reflections. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I thinkI have just found my next read aloud. I like that How to Steal a Dog has several lessons for my students to learn. This is perfect timing because we just finished reading Wonder.

  3. I used this book as a book club in fourth grade....wonderful discussions! This text and her book, Greetings from Nowhere are two of my favorites! Don't forget about the the Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester! She has so many texts...great for an author tub! :) Barbara O'Connor always develops such strong characters.

    Thanks for sharing the written reflections...always nice to see what other students can do outside of our classrooms.

  4. My kids are in the middle of an author study about Barbara O'Connor. They truly love her writing. We have read Greeting form Nowhere, How to Steal a Dog, and now we are reading The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. We are a 1-1 iPad school so we are integrating many technology enriched project with this book. Students are taking pictures of their dog(s) and then are to write about their dog as their very best friend. In addition, we are working on the character traits of each of the characters in How to Steal a Dog and then creating a word cloud with their descriptions. We are also writing reflections and summaries for each chapter. We are using Glogster to create posters with their favorite O'Connor books. I am loving the life's lessons reflection and believe we are going to do this next. I will surely use these as exemplars for my students to review and enjoy. Thanks for this idea and thanks Mrs. O'Connor for ALL your wonderful books.

    1. Thank you for sharing how you made connections with this post. I would love to see a Glogster link if you want to leave it in the comments.

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