Oobleck and Actively Engaged Third Graders


After a very fun and engaging read with Hastings 3rd gradersJust as it always is, it was an invigorating pleasure reading Dr. Seuss’s Bartholomew and the Oobleck on Monday with Hastings third graders in Tom Salvemini’s class joined with students from Julia Horowitz’s class. The best thing about it is seeing and hearing how uniquely engaged the students are year to year.

Here’s what I mean. I’ll start off asking how many in the class already know the story. Usually only a handful have read or had it read to them. And I’ll ask someone who hasn’t read the story what they think it will be about. This year a girl sitting close to me said she thought it would be about “some stuff called oobleck that would fall from above and stick to people”. Great!

Then I read the story – and have fun with it. The students listen closely – and actively. I can see it in their eyes.

After reading, we talk. “First, what about that prediction we heard before I read the story?” Everyone happily agreed that prediction came true, which made the girl up front glow with a confident smile.

“All right, how about reading itself: did anyone hear me make any mistakes when I read just now?” I usually get the same response. Most of the students say “no”, but then I hear one or two voices float a barely audible “yes”. “Exactly! I did make mistakes – not on purpose. But mistakes happen. Now what’s a good thing to do when you read something wrong or get confused when you read?” Hands fly in the air, and every time I hear the same well learned answer, “Stop and reread.” Yes!

“How ’bout the story itself? What’s it really about?” Not so many hands fly, but this time when I called on someone randomly, I heard this beautifully clear answer, “It’s about how it’s important to say you’re sorry when you do something wrong”. Great!

We’ll talk about what the story means to the students, how they thought it was told, whether it was fiction or non-fiction, and more. And when we finish talking, the excitement of the whole event changes direction to hands on action as the students actually conduct a science experiment to make the oobleck they just read about. Talk about full-circle and multi-sensory engaged learning.  It’s happening. It’s alive. Thanks very much, Hastings, for the experience!


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