Smelly Socks

March 4, 2009

A colleague of mine (thanks, Jenni) introduced me to this fun, lyrical book – a narrative in rhyme – called Timothy Cox will Not Change His Socks by Robert Kinerk.  Stephen Gammell paints adorable cartoon yet life-like characters that will capture your students’ attention.  As the smell of Tim’s socks degenerates, a yellowish-lime green color emulates from the socks.  I cannot help wrinkling up my nose.

Robert Kinerk shows the determination of Timothy.  Tim decided to see what would happen “if I went a whole month without changing my socks.”  Timothy shares his adventure with Walt, his dachshund, his friend.  Walt does not always agree with his owner’s decision, but he still remains faithful.  As the stench from the socks escalates, his classmates and townspeople cannot stand the “tainted air“.  One student said today during the reading, “How can his dog stand the smell if no one else can?”  Interesting.

The text lends itself to a class discussion on keeping your word.  I can see some debates happening as well as to whether Timothy should follow the rules set by others.  The book ends with a lesson: 

Though it’s right and it’s good that you follow things through,  resist the temptation or waste your ambition on some sort of silly or trivial mission.

The wise thing to do is to think and to plan — which I didn’t do.  But I’m sure that you can!”

Savorings for reading and in writing for Timothy Cox Will Not Change His Socks:

  • Repeating line – “Timothy, Timothy, Timothy Cox, won’t yo consider, please, changing your socks?”
  • Passage of time – key points are highlighted on different days throughout the month; “Timmy’s socks the next morning smelled slightly like glue.
  • Illustration clues – the number mentioned in the text is painted somewhere in the illustration
  • Onomatopoeia – “The ‘copter propellers went whup-whup-whup-whup!”
  • Inference/ internal thinking – “Walter was helping Tim carry his cot, and it can’t be repeated — the things that dog thought!”
  • Word choice – grotesque, barrage,tainted, deterred
  • Ending – learning a lesson

Slice of Life 4: The Creativity of a Young Child

March 4, 2009

Slice of Life Challenge hosted by TwoWritingTeachers

I have been working alongside a fellow literacy coach this week.  She’s a breath of fresh air.  I love being a learner  as a teacher and sharpening my skills as coach.  Today, I learned that the creativity of a young child can sharpen me more.

My friend, Miss Hamman, reintroduced herself to a kindergartner; we’ll call him Tyler.  Tyler is reading at a high level for a kindergartner.  Our goal was to see what strategies he was using when decoding new words and where to take him next.  As my friend introduced herself, she and Tyler had a casual conversation.

The conversation lead to Tyler writing her name.  “I tell my students that you can see two words – ham and man – so it makes it easy to spell.  Can you try that?”  Tyler did and then added, “HAMMAN – super hero.”

“Super hero?  Wow.  I’ve never been called a super hero, ” Miss Hamman replied to Tyler.  I was wondering where super hero came from.  Had he been reading a Superman book?

“You know.  You’re a super hero –  Ham Man – a man who shoots out ham,” Tyler matter-a-factly stated.  He then proceeded to make motions with his hands as an imaginary weapon shooting out hams.

It took me a moment to process what he had just said.  Ham Man.  A man who shoots out ham – who would have thought that?  Only a young child full of creativity and in a supportive learning environment.  An environment that promotes risk-taking and thinking beyond the literal.  An environment that applauds creativity.  A classroom.