Many of my fondest memories of elementary school occurred in my fifth grade classroom. Not only did my teacher constantly expect our best effort, but she made learning fun. When I was moved to fifth grade a few years ago, my goal was to emulate her teaching strategies. Not a day goes by where I don’t think back to how I felt as a student in that classroom and how I want my students to feel – engaged, yet challenged.
One activity that stands out was her read-aloud of The Westing Game. Quickly, this novel became one of my all-time favorite books. I knew that I HAD to teach it in my own classroom. Thanks to Scholastic’s Dollar Deals, I quickly acquired a class set of novels and we got right to work.
There are a lot of characters in this book (over 20!), so it’s important that we keep track of them. We put all their names into a bucket and each student draws one name (if I have more students in my class, a couple of them will double up).
They are then in charge of that character throughout the novel. They keep track of that character’s personality traits, behaviors and possible motives. After each chapter the students report to the rest of the class what they have discovered about their assigned character and adds notes to the character chart.