NSCS 4th Grade Literacy Circles – Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

The fourth graders on the Lynn Campus of NSCS are studying the beloved novel Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. The two-time Newbury Medalist and New York Times Best Seller is sure to touch the hearts of our young readers over the next few weeks. The story follows Opal, a ten year old girl who has moved to Naomi, Florida with her preacher father. The fourth graders will learn how Opal enters a supermarket, named Winn Dixie, only to exit with a dog.  She befriends the dog who she aptly names after the store. The story sweetly follows a summer of the pair making new friends and learning about her mother. The students are sure to learn many life lessons about friendship and forgiveness during the daily literacy circles.

Ms. Ceteras, our new fourth grade teacher, has worked hard to find interesting and interactive ways to have the students connect with the story and the characters in her literacy circles. Here are just a few of the many examples of her lessons on this cherished novel.

  • Whole group reading
  • Literature circle roles (questioner, discussion leaders, connector, summarizer)
  • Comprehension and Discussion Questions
  • Partner Reading
  • Games to reinforce vocabulary
  • Settings of story
  • Compare and contrasting
  • Cause and effect
  • Conflict
  • Character Development
  • Making predictions of the text
  • Themes in the book
  • Lessons learned from the book

One fun activity that the students enjoyed was brainstorming on sticky notes the internal and external character traits of the main characters in the book. Ms. Ceteras began the lesson by teaching students the difference between internal (what’s in your heart and are observed by getting to know someone) and external (visible with just your eyes) characteristics. She then gave the students three pink stickies and three blue stickies. They were to write her internal characteristics on the pink stickies, and her external characteristics on the blue stickies as a practice before applying the skill to the characters in the book. Some internal characteristics were “nice,” “caring,” “fun,” and  “helpful,” while some of the external characteristics were “blue eyes,” “wears glasses,” “blonde hair,” and “short.” They quickly grasped the concept. The students LOVED the activity. The interactive brainstorm really helped the idea stick in their minds for when they applied it to our novel study and the main character Opal the next day.