Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Silent Tea Party: A Pre-Reading Activity

I'M BACK!!!!!  It's been a crazy month with LOTS going on but I'm back now!  I was saying to my mom and a co-worker yesterday that I feel like I'm doggy paddling through this year, barely keeping my head above water sometimes...  My mom's reply, "At least your head's above water and not under!"  Always the optimist mom :o)  Must be where I get it from and thank goodness, otherwise I would not have made it this far in life y'all!

On to why we're really here!  I found this amazing pre-reading activity around midnight (because I'm the QUEEN of finding amazing lessons at midnight the night before I want to do them) and knew I had to create it for our new novel we're reading, Holes by Louis Sachar.  It's called a Silent Tea Party and requires students to read different quotes from the novel you'll be reading and, using those quotes, students must analyze and infer answers to pre-reading questions about the novel.  I was amazed by some of the student's insight and answers!

Students travel around the room and "meet" other people in class by shaking their hand.  The first handshake indicates that they would like to swap quotes.  The second handshake says, "Here is your quote back.  Thank you for letting me look at it!"  I tell them that there is NO talking because I want to know what THEY think about their new quote, not what their partner thought.  I came up with 20 different quotes so that no two students had the same quote.  As students read the quotes, they need to figure out which question the quote will help them answer.  They will write down their answer and what quote helped them to come up with that answer.  Here the video that I got the idea from!  She also explains it WAY better than I ever could, lol.

I created one for my Holes Literature Unit that is in creation as we speak/read and will be available soon but here is a little example of what my students answered when they did this activity.

From this quote alone:

My students answered part of this question:

With these different outlooks:
  • All said it was a boy because it said "his last day"
  • One student said he was 9-10.  This was very telling because when I asked him why he thought that, he said "because he's in school."  It was interesting to see that he thought a main character could only go as high in age as he was.
  • Another student said he was probably in middle school because he has a "math teacher."  In elementary school you just have a teacher, but in middle school you start to get specific subject teachers.  I had never thought about it that way!
  • Then I told them my thoughts on that particular quote.  I asked my students (fifth graders) to raise their hand if they had learned about ratios yet in school.  No one raised their hand.  They then realized if they hadn't learned about ratios yet, then our main character must be older than fifth grade but still in school so younger than 18.
I absolutely LOVED this as a pre-reading activity because it front loads students with background information going into the novel and requires them to analyze and synthesize new information.  I also like that it can be used for ANY novel.  Once my kids got the hang of how to answer the questions using text-based evidence, they started to see more possibilities than what they had originally answered.  The video talks about using this for complex text but I noticed that you can make a simpler text complex just with this activity alone!

Sorry I have been away for so long but I am glad to be back!  I really appreciate you all sticking by me and the wonderful words of encouragement and wisdom from everyone, especially some of my BBB's, you know who you are!  Without y'all this wouldn't be possible.  So thank you and until next time... Which won't be in another month, I PROMISE!


  1. This is a great inferencing activity and a great pre-reading activity! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I was just looking at your blog the other day wondering if I missed your blog posts. You always have great ideas! Glad your back!

    Rosie's Rambles

  3. Thank you for sharing this. Very cool. I watched the video, and I can see how I can use this activity with my fourth graders.

    Enjoy the rest of the week!

    Fit to be Fourth
    Follow me on Bloglovin

  4. awesome activity - Thanks for sharing!! I read holes to my class earlier in the year and they loved it.
    The E-Z Class

  5. What a great idea! Good to hear from you again!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  6. Glad you're back and WOW what a great activity!! I will be doing this with a few books this year I think!!