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Back to School. Reading Strategies. The Pumpkin Box. Making Predictions.

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back to school

Back to School

Reading Strategies

The Pumpkin Box

making predictions
Making Predictions
  • A prediction is a guess about what will happen in the future. You can learn to make smart guesses about what will happen next in a story. You can also guess what characters would do or say the next time they are in the same situation.
use clues in the story to predict guess what will happen
Use clues in the story to predict (guess) what will happen.

To make a smart guess about what will happen next:

  • Think about information that you already know from real life. Use what you know about events and actions from your own life.
  • Look at the events that already happened in the story. The next event in a story will most likely have something to do with what already happened.
  • Look at how the characters feel. People do different things when they are happy, sad, angry, or scared.
  • Look for a pattern. Characters will probably do the same thing each time they are faced with the same problem or task.
  • See if the characters have learned a lesson. If characters get in trouble for doing something bad, they will probably behave better in the future.
  • Imagine what would have happened if the story were different. What would the characters have done if one event in the story had been different?

REMEMBER: A good prediction is what will most likely happen next. It is not what you wish would happen next.

give it a try
Give It a Try!

When Barney got home from school, he saw that the gate to the backyard was open. He was worried because his dog, Spot, was supposed to be in the backyard. He ran into the yard and called Spot’s name. His heart sank when his dog did not come running. Spot was not home.      Barney felt like crying, but he sprang into action. He went into the house and dropped his backpack in the living room. Then, he grabbed a leash and some of Spot’s favorite treats. He tried to think about where Spot might have gone.Question: What will Barney most likely do next?


You may have lost a pet before. Even if you never had a pet, you should know that the first thing to do when you lose something is go looking for it. Also, look at the events in the last paragraph. Barney grabs some supplies and thinks about where Spot might have gone. You can use Barney’s actions to guess what he will do next.

Oliver was in charge while his mom went to the store. He knew that she would only be gone for about 15 minutes, but he liked being in charge. It felt like he had no rules.     Oliver saw his soccer ball in the corner of the living room. He kicked it at his little brother, Ivan.     “Mom says we can’t play ball in the house,” Ivan said.     “Mom’s not here,” Oliver said.     Ivan picked up the ball and threw it at Oliver. Oliver reached out, but the ball slipped through his fingers. It crashed into the lamp on the table behind him. He stared at the broken pieces as he heard his mom’s car pull into the garage.     “Mom will ground you for sure,” Ivan said just before he ran off. Question: As a result of what happened in the passage, Oliver will probably _____?


Oliver learned a lesson in this story. He broke the rules, and something bad happened that got him in trouble. Oliver probably will not make the same mistake again.

our mountain mishap
Our Mountain Mishap

Ashanta and I had just reached an elevation of 7,000 feet when, to our dismay, we discovered that we were out of water. To many people, 7,000 feet is nothing but a medium-sized hill. For Ashanta and me, though, it felt like we were hiking halfway to Saturn. Being from New Orleans, a city—oh—ten feet below sea level, our bodies were not prepared for the altitude on this mountain in northern New Mexico. Namely, we were worried about the two D's: dizziness and dehydration. The dizziness was under control (though Ashanta was acting a little funny!), but the dehydration was cause for concern. Dehydration creates all sorts of problems, from headaches to fainting. Headaches are unpleasant, but fainting on a mountain is downright dangerous. Nobody wants to become a mountain lion's lunch.     I know what you're thinking. "They weren't prepared," you're saying, but we certainly were! Around 6,000 feet, Ashanta took a tumble that resulted in our water bottle being partially crushed. It looked fine, but about a thousand feet later, Ashanta noticed that her back had become unusually wet. "That's odd," she said. "People usually don't get sweaty in this dry air." Well, she was right. It wasn't sweat. It was the water bottle slowly emptying from a newly-acquired crack on the bottom. So maybe we weren't as prepared as we thought. Bringing only one water bottle was a big mistake. Even though we longed to reach the top of the mountain, we knew there was only one thing we could do in our situation.

1. What will Ashanta and the narrator most likely do the next time they climb a mountain?

A. They will get too sweaty to climb.

B. They will bring plenty of extra water.

C. They will stay closer to New Orleans. D. They will climb a smaller mountain.

2. The reader can predict that Ashanta and the narrator will probably …

A. call home to New Orleans for help.

B. buy water on the mountain.

C. go back down the mountain.

D. set up tents to stay for the night.

3. What would most likely have happened if the narrator and Ashanta had reached the top of the mountain without noticing the water bottle leak?

A. They would have looked for mountain lions.

B. They would have climbed the mountain again.

C. They would have gotten sick without water.

D. They would have been scared of heights.

using context
Using Context
  • Being able to understand vocabulary words is important, but sometimes you might not be able to understand all of the words that you read. Most of the time, the other words in the paragraph can help you figure out the meaning of the words you do not know. These "helper words" are called context clues.
look for these things when you use context clues
Look for these things when you use context clues:
  • Punctuation marks help. A comma or dash may show you some information about the new word.
  • Example:When Max finished with the painting, he was a little upset that it didn't look the way he envisioned it when he started—in his mind, it was much better. Key words, such as "or" and "that is," may give you a hint to a definition.
  • Example:Denise signed for the package inadvertently, or by mistake. Read the entire passage. A word can make sense after you read the entire paragraph or passage.
  • Example:My grandmother and I are very close to each other despite our different personalities. My grandmother is a somber person. I would never call her cheerful.
adapted from the conch bearer by chitra banerjee divakaruni
adapted fromThe Conch Bearerby ChitraBanerjeeDivakaruni
  • 1           It was dark by the time Anand got off work, and he was very angry. Haru was supposed to let him go by 4 P.M., but he often kept Anand longer. Today he had said that Anand had not wiped the tables properly. He made him do them all over again.
  • 2           Now Anand was going to be late for the market! Today was payday, and he had promised his mother that he would stop at the vegetable bazaar. For days now they'd had nothing to eat except potatoes and white radish boiled with rice. He was tired of it. He had hoped to get a bunch of fresh, crisp spinach or some beans. But by now most of the vendors would be gone. If only I had the power to run my hands over the tables and make them new and glistening! he thought. But no, if I knew how to work that kind of changing magic, I'd start with Haru's black heart.
1. In paragraph 2, the word vendors is closest in meaning to the word

A. buyers.

B. cleaners.

C. workers.

D. sellers.

3. In the story, Anand "promised his mother that he would stop at the vegetable bazaar." What is a bazaar?

A. a place where a person can find work

B. a market where a person buys food

C. a fancy restaurant

D. a room with rows of tables

4. In paragraph 1, the word properly means

A. quickly

B. quietly

C. correctly

D. warmly

generating questions
Generating Questions
  • When you read, you will make connections between the text and your knowledge about the world. Think about how a subject is similar to other subjects you know about.
Wyatt Earp

He was born Wyatt Berry Strapp Earp in Monmouth, Illinois, on March 19, 1848. He stood over six feet tall and was blonde and blue eyed. He was a neat dresser. He never left his house without a coat and a tie. He was the West's most celebrated lawman.His first law-related job was as a constable in Lamar, Missouri, in 1870. He left Lamar in 1871 and traveled to Kansas.Wyatt Earp became a marshal in Wichita, Kansas, on April 21, 1875. He earned his reputation in Wichita as a fearless lawman. He once faced down a mob of nearly 50 armed cowboys. He did this without firing a single shot.Wichita was the ending place for cattle drives that came from Texas. Cattle boomtowns were noisy and dangerous. Drunken and armed cowboys would come to town to celebrate the end of long cattle drives. They often caused trouble.In 1878, Earp moved on to Dodge City, Kansas, another booming cow town. He became a city marshal. Here, he met Bat Masterson and John "Doc" Holliday. Bat Masterson described Wyatt as a man without fear. He also described him as "a loyal friend and an equally dangerous enemy."Earp traveled to Tombstone, Arizona, in December of 1879. It was here that Earp forever became an American legend. His brothers Virgil, Morgan, James, and Warren joined him here. Virgil was the town marshal in 1880. Wyatt worked at the Oriental Saloon. He also filled in occasionally as Virgil's deputy.The shootout at the O.K. Corral happened in Tombstone on October 26, 1881. The fight was between the Earp brothers against the Clantons and the McLaurys. Virgil deputized Wyatt and Doc Holliday just before the gunfight.All told, 30 shots were fired in 30 seconds. At the end, the two McLaurys and Billy Clanton were dead. Virgil and Morgan Earp were both wounded. Even though only three men were killed, this shootout is regarded as the most famous gunfight in the history of the West.Wyatt Earp died on January 13, 1929. Since then, there have been numerous books and movies about his life. Though most of these stories showed him to be a great hero, others tried to shame his reputation. Today, the facts about Wyatt Earp's life are less important than his legendary image. One thing's for sure: Wyatt Earp became a larger-than-life figure of the American West.

1. Which question might paragraph 4 answer?

A. What year did Wyatt Earp become a marshal in Wichita, Kansas?

B. What was Wichita like during the cattle boom days of the West?

C. What town did Wyatt Earp meet his close friend Doc Holliday?

D. What saloon did Wyatt Earp work when he moved to Tombstone?

2. Which question would be important to answer in a report about this topic?
  • What would Wyatt Earp do and say if he were alive today?

B. What famous event helped make Wyatt Earp a legend?

C. What other famous lawmen lived in the state of Kansas?

D. What other famous outlaws lived in the state of Arizona?

3. Which question does paragraph 2 answer?
  • What made Wyatt Earp famous as a lawman?

B. How did Wyatt Earp become a famous lawman?

C. Why is Wyatt Earp a celebrated lawman?

D. Where did Wyatt Earp first become a lawman?

4. What question does paragraph 1 answer?
  • Who was the most famous lawman in the world?

B. Who was the most famous lawman of the West?

C. Who was the most famous outlaw of the West?

D. Who was the most famous outlaw in the world?

5. What question does the final paragraph answer?
  • How could Wyatt Earp have had such an effect on America?

B. Should Americans really look up to a man like Wyatt Earp?

C. What influence has Wyatt Earp had as an American legend?

D. Would Wyatt Earp's fame be hurt if people really knew him?

author s purpose
Author’s Purpose
  • It is important for you to be able to understand the many reasons that a writer produces a piece of work.
some reasons for writing
Some Reasons for Writing

Describe - Some writing describes something or how to do something. For example, the directions that come with a new toy have the purpose of describing how to put the toy together.Inform - Some writing has the purpose of informing. Most news articles in the newspaper are written to inform. A biography (a book written about the life of a person) usually has the purpose of informing the reader about the person's life.Persuade - Some writing is written for the purpose of persuasion. A good example of persuasive writing is the writing found in advertisements. Advertisements are designed to persuade you to buy a certain product. Speeches by politicians are also examples of persuasive writing.Narrate - Narration has the purpose of telling a story. The narrator relates a series of events.Entertain - Some writing has the purpose of entertaining. The comic strips in the newspaper are there to entertain the readers with humor. A mystery novel and a fairy tale are also good examples of writing that has the purpose of entertaining.

Weekend freeze warnings were issued Friday. The warnings were for most of the state. Vegetable growers were advised to make plans to protect their crops. Community shelters were prepared for a rush of people looking for a warm place to stay.The purpose of the selection above is to

A. persuade the reader to leave the state.

B. express an opinion about the cold weather.

C. entertain the reader with an imaginary story.

D. inform the reader about the freeze warning.

 In 1947, Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was the first black player on a Major League Baseball team. He could hit, run, steal bases, and play second base. What was the author's purpose in writing the passage above?

A. to entertain the reader with a funny story

B. to persuade the reader to learn baseball

C. to express strong feelings about sports

D. to inform the reader about a baseball player

3. Which of these is most likely written to entertain?

A. a notebook of a sixth grader

B. a short story about a little boy

C. a textbook of English literature

D. a cookbook of vegetarian recipes

Jade is a professional newspaper journalist and writes for a local newspaper. What is Jade's purpose when writing a news story?

A. to narrate a story about superheroes in the world

B. to persuade the reader to write for the newspaper

C. to inform the reader about real events and people

D. to express an opinion about life and the universe

What was J. K. Rowling's purpose for writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a book about a boy with magic powers?

A. to teach the science behind a sorcerer's stones

B. to inform the reader about the power of magic

C. to convince the reader that the story is true

D. to entertain the reader with a made-up story

identifying plot
Identifying Plot
  • Every story you read has a plot of some kind. The plot is what happens in the story, the main actions that carry the story along and keep you interested. It is also the order of events.
Even though every story is different, most plots have the following:
  • Conflict—The conflict is the problem that has to be taken care of in the story. A conflict can be between characters or between characters and nature.Examples: Greg needs to outrun Frank in a race to win back his car.A tornado is approaching, and Suzy has to find a way to safety.
  • Resolution—The resolution is what happens to solve the problem or conflict in a story. The story usually ends when the main conflict is solved.Examples: A teenager doesn’t have the money he needs to buy the car he wants (conflict), so he gets a job at a restaurant and saves until he finally has enough (resolution).A young girl is failing her math class (conflict), so her grandfather tutors her until she passes her class (resolution).
  • Cause and Effect—Cause and effect takes place when one thing makes something else happen. The thing that happens is the effect, and the reason it happens is the cause. Without cause and effect, things would happen in stories for no reason at all, and the events wouldn’t make sense. Examples: A group of hikers get caught in a blizzard (cause), so they have to build a shelter to wait out the storm (effect). Eliza is hungry (cause), so she makes herself a sandwich to eat (effect).
Five Elements of a Plot Line

Exposition—An exposition usually starts the story. Expositions describe the situation before any action starts. The purpose of expositions is to give the reader important background information. This information can be presented through dialogue or description. It lets the reader better understand the actions in the story. This is where the characters, the setting, and the main conflict are usually described. A conflict is a struggle or problem that a character has to solve. Rising action—The rising action is a series of events that lead to the climax. These events help build up the excitement in the story. Building up the excitement makes the reader want to know what is going to happen next. The rising action usually shows the main character in a struggle of some sort. He or she experiences problems and hurdles. It also describes what the character does to try to solve his or her problem.Climax—The climax happens at the very peak of the story. It is the most exciting moment in the story. At this point, the character usually deals with the main conflict for the last time. The climax is also the turning point in the story. After this peak, things either get better or worse for the character.Falling action—The falling action happens right after the climax. Here, the action starts to calm down. The characters react to what happens in the climax. The effects of the climax are described. This leads the reader to the conclusion of the story. Resolution—The resolution is the conclusion of the story. It ties together the whole story and brings it to a close. It explains how the conflict is solved and what happens to the characters after the story ends.

Trappedby T. C. Henderson

     “Considering that this is the third time we’ve passed this statue, would you be willing to admit that we’re lost now, Juan?”     “How many times do I have to tell you, Dominic? We are not lost! In fact, I think we’re closer to getting out of this secret room than before,” Juan responded.     “I don’t think ‘lost’ is the right word to use,” a voice said from the darkness. “You’re exactly where you’ve been for the past hour and a half—wandering around in the dark.”     Juan looked at Dominic with fear in his eyes. “Did you hear that, or am I imagining things?”     “I know you’re not afraid, Mr. Explorer! It was your idea to come down that hidden passage in the first place,” Dominic rolled his eyes. “That voice sounds familiar. Tierra, is that you?”     “Yep,” she said as she walked toward the boys. “I followed you guys when you left the boring group tour.”     “You weren’t thrilled with all that detailed scientific information about ancient Egypt?” Dominic said.     “Why listen to tales about Egyptian mysteries when we can find our own?” Tierra replied.     “Uh, guys. We don’t really have time to chat. It’s getting dark now. I’m ready to go,” Juan said. “Do you have an idea of how we can get out of here, Tierra?”     “You’re not afraid of the dark are you, Juan?” Dominic teased before turning to Tierra. “Juan does have a point. If we don’t get out of here before the sun goes down, it will be too dark to see anything.”     “While you two were walking around in circles, I was able to find a map of the museum,” Tierra said. “If I am correct, all we need to do is head to the other side of the statue. We’ll find a trap door there.”     “Let’s go!” Juan said as he sprinted away.     “I don’t think Juan likes it in here very much,” Dominic explained.     “Maybe it’s all the cobwebs,” Tierra laughed.     “Tierra, you were right. There is a doorknob right here. We’re saved!” Juan said.     “Good! Now let’s get out of here,” Tierra said turning the knob.     “I wonder if anyone noticed that we were missing,” Dominic said as they crawled out of the room.

How is the conflict in this story resolved? In other words, how do the kids get out of danger?

A. The rest of the class knows where Tierra, Juan, and Dominic are.

B. Tierra gets the kids to calm down, and they sit and wait for help.

C. The teacher notices the kids are missing and comes to find them.

D. Tierra finds a door, and the kids crawl through the hole to safety.

What is the cause of the danger the kids in this story are in?

A. There is not enough space inside the room for them to all fit.

B. Juan and Tierra are so scared that they can't think straight.

C. Juan suggests they go down a secret passageway.

D. There is too much yelling for anyone to hear anything.

Which of the following best describes the plot of this story?

A. Dominic, Juan, and Tierra are on a class field trip and get bored listening to facts about ancient Egypt. They use the sun to escape the tour.

B. Dominic, Juan, and Tierra are on a class field trip and get trapped when they take a secret passageway. They escape the room through a trap door.

C. Dominic, Juan, and Tierra decide to make their own history by running away from their

D. Dominic and Juan are saved when Tierra appears in the darkness. They escape the class trip but get bored with the tour guide. The sun goes down.

What is the main problem or conflict in this story?

A. Dominic, Juan, and Tierra get trapped in a secret room while on a field trip.

B. Dominic, Juan, and Tierra are yelling at each other and trying to pick fights.

C. Tierra and Juan think studying ancient Egypt is boring.

D. Dominic likes to wander around after the school closes. Write your response here:

Which of the following is the climax of the story?

A. Tierra says she has been following Juan and Dominic.

B. Tierra and Dominic hide in the dark in order to scare Juan.

C. Dominic and Juan find a hidden passageway on the tour.

D. Tierra, Dominic, Juan escape through the trap door.