Thursday, November 1, 2007
Foreshadowing Days Two and Three
With Halloween last night, I didn't have an opportunity to reflect on yesterday's lesson. We once again reviewed foreshadowing and what it involved. We talked about the fact that foreshadowing can be very in-your-face and obvious, and that in some situations it can be more subtle.
Such is the case in "Harriet You'll Drive Me Wild" (just so everyone knows, I KNOW you're supposed to underline titles, I'm still trying to figure out how to do so). The book opens with, "Harriet Harris was a pesky child. She didn't mean to be, she just was." With that bit of foreshadowing, we are led through a typical day in the Harris household; a day in which Harriet finds herself in one jam after another, from spilling her juice at breakfast to dripping paint on the carpet, to pulling off the table cloth at lunch. Harriet's mother doesn't like to yell (so says the story) but when Harriet was supposed to be napping and instead tore open her pillow, thereby releasing "thousands of feathers" everywhere, she snaps. The text reads, "There was a terrible silence."
How's that for foreshadowing? I paused there and had the children predict what was going to happen next. Most of them said, "Her mom's gonna yell!" And, they were correct. The book ends with Harriet and her mom apologizing to each other and them picking up the feathers. As I read yesterday, I would point out the instances of foreshadowing because they were so subtle.
After the story was finished, we had a discussion about foreshadowing. We discussed all the places it was and how foreshadowing helps move the story along. I asked each child to then apply this idea to their writings.
As with the previous day, we had a quick review about foreshadowing, and discussed the fact foreshadowing involves providing clues for the reader as to what is going to happen next in the story. We also talked about how foreshadowing can be both overt and subtle. I told the kids today that this story had very subtle foreshadowing, that it was there, but I wasn't going to point it out. It was going to be their job to identify the foreshadowing in the story.
"Swan in Love" is the story of a swan that falls in love with a swan-shaped boat named Dora. Although he is ridiculed by the other animals, and although they tell him to find another swan to love, he is true to his one true love. The seasons pass and swan gets older. In fact, one passage reads, "The winters were colder than Swan remembered. He found he was stiffer and slower than he used to be." Eventually, Dora is no longer sea-worthy and she and Swan move die. However, the death is never actually spelled-out, nor is it particularly sad.
When I had finished the story, I had the children reflect on the story and discuss in groups where the foreshadowing was. They identified a number of passages, including the two I felt were most important--the one with Swan noticing the cold of winter, the other describing how Dora was aging.
Through our discussion, the kids figured out that every story has some sort of foreshadowing. We also talked about the ways author's can use foreshadowing to throw you off the scent, so to speak. Many children made some nice observations, one said that "The Westing Game" (one of my favorite mysteries as a child!) was full of foreshadowing and red herrings. It was great!
The kids are still very enthusiastic about their writings, but are concerned because foreshadowing is a difficult device to use (according to them). I have reassured them we will be studying foreshadowing for another week and that their writings are just fine. :o)