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Can you believe it is November already?! Where has the time gone? 
I thought I’d pop in today and share our little author study with you this week.
Cynthia Rylant author study

I fell in love with Cynthia Rylant’s work about 5 years ago when I was introduced to her “Mr. Putter and Tabby” books through my reading series.  I had heard of her , “Henry and Mudge” series, but hadn’t really put much thought into her writing until after I read the first book in the “Mr. Putter and Tabby” series.

For years in second grade, I looked forward to our little study of the “Mr. Putter and Tabby” series. It was a perfect extension for teaching friendship.

So I knew I wanted to bring that love up to third grade. But I had to grow it up, somehow…
I had to make it “big kid” friendly. Let’s be honest… most of her books are perfect for emergent readers… not my BIG third graders.

So… I came up with the idea of doing an author study! Most of Ms. Rylants books are easy to read, so we could read LOTS of her books during the week AND she has LOTS of different types of books so interest levels and reading levels could be easily matched!

And can I just say… the kiddos LOVED it! Like seriously people, L.O.V.E.D it.

Mr. Putter and Tabby

To start off the week, I had the kiddos do a quick write in their Reading Response Journals on why they thought authors write and where they thought author’s got their ideas from.

I loved hearing their ideas. Most of them were on the right path…  authors used their imagination and wrote for kids to enjoy their stories (I’ll take that!)

So then we dived into Cynthia Rylant and some of her stories. We read the first book in her “Henry and Mudge” series and then I had students do a quick retell using a story map. You can grab the story map we used for FREE here in my TpT Store…

Next, we read the first “Mr. Putter and Tabby” book. We started looking closely at both book series and verbally discussed the similarities with our shoulder partners. I almost LEPT for joy when a few of my kiddos found the friendship connection and the types of friends Cynthia liked to write about! (More on that in a minute!) After their little chat, I sent students back to their seats to write about the similarities and differences using this graphic organizer.

We also learned about Cynthia Rylant’s childhood using a few video resources on our IPads. I had the kiddos scan some QR codes to watch a few videos on her. 
Ipads in the classroom
We loved this one from BrainPopJr. 

 We continued our comparisons in center time as well. Here, you can see my aspiring font creator compared “In Puddle Trouble” and “Walk the Dog”… Oh that Zeke!

Since my kiddos so quickly picked up on how Cynthia Rylant likes to write about friendship, we began writing our own stories about our special friends using my “We’re Besties” writing craft. (You can check that out here in my TpT Store.) 
writing process
After brainstorming about our best friend, we got to writing an expository piece about our special bud. We gathered inspiration from Ms. Rylant, by making sure we shared how we met our special friend and gave specific details about what we like to do together. 
Once students edited with the teacher, they re-wrote their writing. We then had one final check over using the self assessing rubric. (To read more about rubrics and writing, check out this post!)  
using rubric to monitor writing
By the end of the week, we were ready to publish our finished writing and illustrate pictures of our friends! 
friendship writings
They turned out great! 

writings on friendship
By the end of our author study, we had delved into so many of Ms. Rylant’s books! 
I just want to take a moment and discuss how this author study made differentiated my reading lessons soooo easy! Having so many varied materials available for my kiddos made matching interest and reading level a breeze! Literally, I am all differentiating centers, lessons, even independent work and the kiddos are just thinking they are just reading any ol’ Cythia Rylant book! #teacherscore
The best part was the kiddos were actually making connections as to why the author wrote a certain story. Like when we read, “When I Was Young in the Mountains” the kiddos totally got that she wrote that story as a reflection on her childhood experiences with her grandparents in West Virginia. 
They also picked up on that Ms. Rylant likes to write about animals, friendships, and growing up in the mountains and country.  Another little tid-bit one of my smarty pants picked up on… That Ms. Rylant likes to write in simple shortend sentences that often mimic poems (even if it’s not a poem). Hey kiddo: Even Mrs. Langton didn’t pick up on that one on her first few readings! #proudteachermoment! 
As a closing activity, I wanted the kiddos to have a student led discussion on a book of their choice.
student led discussion cards
Each table group picked out one Cynthia Rylant book to read together…

They were seriously soooo cute -I mean- responsible! Making sure everyone could see the pictures.

It seemed like the ” Henry and Mudge” and “Mr. Putter and Tabby” books were a crowd pleaser!

After students finished reading their stories, I pass out a few specifically chosen discussion cards from my “Give Em Something to Talk About” pack.
student led discussion cards
Each kiddo shared their answer with the group, then moved on to the other card. It was such a great way to keep the kiddos talking about books without me having to do all the prompting! 
And that was our author study! Are there any awesome authors you like to study? 

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4 Responses

  1. I adore Cynthia Rylant, and I also own EVERY SINGLE RESOURCE you listed in this post! How would you scale this down if you were back with 2nd graders?

    1. Hey Michelle!

      I love that you have everything in this post! This would be so easy to scale down with 2nd graders! I would just model a WHOLE lot more and do a lot of "thinking aloud". For example, after reading two text, I had the kiddos compare the two stories on their own. For 2nd grade, I would do a class collaboration of comparison using an interactive anchor chart. I would also limit the number of books you shared. Too much reading can overwhelm emergent readers with too much information. I'd probably just read one Henry and Mudge, One Mr. Putter and Tabby and a few of her mountain stories. I would use these as your basis for comparison and scaffold the thinking. Hope this helps! It was such a great unit and the kiddos were TOTALLY into it!

  2. Leigh, It looks like none of the pictures are showing up in your Cynthia Rylant author study. Can't want to see them! Great site!!

    1. Hello Rachel! I'm looking at this post right now and I am not having an issue with the pics? Are you viewing this at school? I know sometimes schools limit pictures with their security settings. Thanks for stopping by!

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Hi, I'm Leigh.

The Applicious Teacher is all about creating hands-on and engaging lessons that align with the standards while still having time for your life. This is your place for ideas, tips, and resources for the REAL teacher!

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