For my classes that needed an extra dose of gossip/rumors, I got to pull out Trudy Ludwig’s Trouble Talk. I’d been a little hesitant to use it before because all of the characters are female, but I think some of its themes apply to boys as well. In the future, I think this could even be a great opener to the THINK Before You Speak unit as a whole. I can’t rave enough about Trudy Ludwig’s books. Can’t. Get. Enough of them.
While reading, I stopped and asked:
- Infer the plot based off the cover and title.
- What does she mean by “big mouth”? Does she mean she literally has a big mouth?
- Was she really doing Keisha a favor?
- Why do you think Keisha stopped hanging out with Maya whenever Bailey was around?
- Is Hua’s crush any of Bailey’s business? Why is Bailey butting in then?
- Bailey spread the rumor about Hua to get back at her. Why do you think Bailey spread the rumor about Maya? (*we discuss this more in depth later but I like to prime their brains)
- Have any of you ever been in that situation before? Where you heard mean or hurtful things said about one of your friends?
- ***And lots more depending on what activity I did next.
My 4th grade homerooms vary in regards to their physical arrangement, so I used two different activities to follow up, depending on the class.
For rooms with spread out desks or rows (and that do well with movement and can manage voice levels!), we played “Ask-Ask-Switch” with these task discussion cards. On three of the cards, I put a star and a number*. When we were done, I collected the cards but asked the students with a starred cards to hold onto them. We gathered in a circle and had a class discussion about those three questions – questions I thought the group needed to talk about more deeply.
I write the number with a permanent marker on laminated cards. To remove, I color over it with dry erase marker and erase. This lets me customize the cards for each class/cohort.
For classes seated in table groups (and/or that need more structure), I tried out a new activity that I called “Write Around” with them. I picked the four most important discussion questions about the story and about gossip/rumors in general and made sheets for each of them with spots for four different answers. Each student in the table group received a different question and they wrote their responses until I told them to rotate. The sheets rotated clockwise and students read their new question, read the prior students’ answers, and then added their own responses. After four rounds, each student had answered each question.
For both activities, we closed by gathering round the carpet and discussing their responses. My hope was that students would find their peers’ responses more compelling than their own and would share out about them – but most students stuck closely to their own ideas! After talking through the motivations behind gossiping, how to earn back trust, and what to do when stuck between friends, we went around the circle and each student named 1 thing they could talk about with their classmates besides other people. A personal fave?
“You could talk about bacon!”
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