This is a guide to a close reading of this wonderful book, The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm. It was first published in 2014 and immediately made it onto blogs and even the Global Read Aloud. It's about Ellie. Her parents are divorced but cordial and her biggest concern is starting middle school. Then one day, her mother brings home a boy. He's a moody teenager...but something about him is very familiar to Ellie. He's a lot like her crazy grandpa/scientist. Could it be? Some themes to consider while reading this book: science ethics, science, divorce, friendship, aging, family, intergenerational relationships, growth mindset, and stereotypes.
Close reading will be an integral part of teaching with the Common Core. Students need to know how to be analytic when reading texts and poems. I have outlined the components of authentic literacy and what it looks like in the classroom. I formatted the unit as follows. It begins with an explanation of close reading and how to format a lesson. Then, there is a story summary, themes listed and character descriptions. After that, I created focus questions for each chapter. There are explicit gradual release formatted lessons sprinkled throughout. I included a close reading sheet for each of the explicit lessons. You could use the focus questions to create more close reading lessons using the blank templates or for class discussions. At the end, there is a blank sheet for planning and to use with close reading of different chapters. I also included some growth mindset activities, other activities that are appropriate and web links. I hope your students enjoy it as much as my students did.
Awards and Honors for The Fourteenth Goldfish:
Amazon.com Best Books of the Year 2014, Ages 9–12; Booklist Lasting Connections 2014, Science: New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2014, Stories for Older Readers; ALA Notable Books for Children 2015, Middle Readers; VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers 2014
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