Sunday, May 5, 2013

What Makes You Say That?

Connect:  I decided to focus on Predictions with my group of 4th grade intervention students as we were concluding a short novel in our Lit Circle.  The premise of the entire novel was the question of whether or not there were occasions in which little white lies MIGHT be appropriate.  The majority of the novel focused on the main character's problem of having dropped her grandmother's favorite necklace down the toilet:  should she just flush it and never tell, or somehow get it out before anyone would know (quite the problem for a 3rd grader...the story does go a little deeper than this!).  Throughout the chapters, the main character is challenged by her twin sister not to tell any lies, which compounds her problem of the necklace.  Anyhow, before the conclusion of the story, I asked my students to write their predictions on a graphic organizer, and then justify their prediction by answering "What makes you say that?"

Extend:  The interesting this about this routine was that each student's prediction was different, but all of their What Makes You Say That comments were the same. This helped me to know that the kids had, in fact, determined the imporatant lesson from the story:  that telling the truth can be the best option, and sometimes keeps you from getting in to trouble.  It was so facinating that each prediction contained individual synthesis of the events in the story and each student's schema from their own personal experiences.  For instance, one student said that Grandma will figure out that the neclace was in the toilet, and be very understanding of the fact that it was an accident (personal experience, perhaps?).  Another prediction was that the girl was
going to reach in and get it out so she wouldn't have to lie, or tell the truth-  a good, conflict-free ending?  And the final prediction was that the girl just tells the truth so that someone ELSE can get it out- sometimes it's best to get help!  All answers to the question of "What makes you say that?" focused around the tenent that the girl decided that however the problem was solved, she had to tell the truth.  My favorite resonse, however, went as far as to state that "in a lot of books that I read, everything turns out all right."  Hilarious!

Challenge:  I think that the more I use this routine, the deeper the kids will get in making inferences.  Although they used a lot of their own background knowledge and the overt facts from the book, the responses were still a little surface.  I think the simplicity of this book lended itself to simple responses, so I might need to use this routine with a text that has a more complex problem and perhaps doesn't come up with all of the answers for the reader.


  1. Thanks for sharing Lynn. I feel like I'm always asking my kids to share what makes them say something, but I love the fact that you had the kids write their thinking down on the simple graphic organizer. Not only does it clarify their thinking, but it sounds like it gave you more insight around their level of understanding. In the future I'm going to have my kids use this routine but have the kids actually write down their thoughts.

  2. I agree with Jamie, I like the simple organizer. I did this routine, but verbally, with my third and fourth graders. Again, you point out that the power in this routine is that you continue to use it and kids will get better at finding inferences in the story. That has really been my "Ah Ha" throughout this process. Thanks!