We are having a delightful time reading Bridge to Terabitha. Actually it is our discussion that is captivating me. I’m not sure who is enjoying it more, the students or myself. By Friday we completed chapter one. I read aloud as my students listen and think or sketch/draw/paint. We pause to discuss our thoughts as I record our notes under the appropriate 8 Reading Behaviour headings. After which I write up our notes on chart paper as a Mind Map.
We use Synthesizing for the basis of homework the following week. Also students have chosen to independently research responses to our questions especially if the answers will not be found in upcoming chapters and if we will need to go to additional sources to find information.
On Friday, one of my 8-9 year old students Questioned, “Why did the author call it Terabitha?” To which another student drew on Prior Knowledge from the seeing the film and explained how Jess and Leslie came to name their magical kingdom. However, I shared that I had also asked the same question, searched and found answers. I explained that I felt the question was still valid because it was about how the author had come to the name not the characters. Before the weekend had come to an end I received an email with the following response.
The inspiration for the novel draws from a tragic event that occurred in August 1974 when Lisa Hill, the best friend of Paterson's son David, was struck by lightning at a beach and killed. A tree dedicated to the girl who died is planted in memorial outside of Takoma Park Elementary School.
The author got her inspiration from CS Lewis. This is what she said:-
"I thought I made it up. Then I was rereading C. S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and realized there is an island in there called Terebinthia. I was appalled and at first thought I must change the name of my imaginary country; but that was so much work that I decided Leslie Burke would have done the same thing. She read those books and she made up a name of a country something like something she had read. And of course, Lewis got Terebinthia from the terebinth tree in the Bible
I checked and it does appear in the bible. This is what it says about the terabithia tree in the bible:-
Pistacia (terebinth) develops a very deep and extensive root system and therefore remains green even in years of drought. It often sprouts from the stump after being cut, as noted in Isaiah 6:13. Because of its large size and great age, pistacia trees were well-known landmarks and were used as memorials for the dead.
It relates to the story and that is why i can see why she got her inspiration from that, because she was thinking about the little girl who died.
What impressed me was, within this short written response I can find the use of 3 different sources, a range of quotes all tied together with personal thoughts and opinions in the student’s own words. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have done this at 9 years old. It inspires me as a teacher. I have found the PYP is so well designed to support developing these Transdisciplinary Skills in students of which I am grateful and of which I can see the affects daily.
Also today I read Erin Mahollitz's January post on Literature Circles Revisited. I had never thought of the purpose of discussing books in this way but I completely agree. “Secondly, Literature Circles promotes tolerance and respect – it’s part of our multicultural education. When children discuss their various perspectives on a text, they are learning how to appreciate and respect different opinions and insights.” I couldn’t articulate it better myself. In the collective Studying of a Novel students are able to practice being IB Learners. Students can try on perspectives, listen to new points of view, agree, disagree, understand that there are many “rights”, challenge an idea and so on. I read through the IB Learner Profile and I cannot think of one characteristic that isn’t embraced in a Novel Study.