Thank you to Jamie Goldschmidt for sharing her reflection on deepening her own understanding while using Peel The Fruit routine. All Oakland County professional staff are encouraged to send me submissions. Don’t wait to be asked. As you read this reflection, notice the deepening of understanding for both students and teacher. Think about your own experiences in using the routines and how you might share them with all of us. And, don’t forget to leave a reply for Jamie.
Be Not Afraid…
Kindergarten, Way Elementary School
Peel the Fruit…Peel the Fruit…Peel the Fruit. I have heard a lot about the Peel the Fruit routine this year. We used it in our Project Zero Perspectives Memphis presentation and my principal and VT coordinator have favorable feelings for that routine. I never “got it,” and didn’t think my kids would get it either. So I have been going along my merry kindergarten way, not giving Peel the Fruit a single thought.
Fast forward to February. My observation was coming up and I am always looking to bump things up when my principal comes to call. I have also been wondering how to deepen Making Meaning and move away from the script in the manual. My students seemed bored with the Making Meaning routine and I felt that their thinking had fallen into a rut with this program. So, I did a little digging to see if Peel the Fruit might be the answer.
I perused the Bemis Elementary website and the classroom websites of the Bemis staff I follow on Twitter. Wouldn’t you know a first grade Bemis teacher used Peel the Fruit for science understanding. Hmmm…I thought. If Peel the Fruit was able to demonstrate first grade understanding, why not kindergarten?
I took a closer look at the routine. I thought the layers of this routine would complement Making Meaning nicely, as it goes from Observing and Describing a piece of literature on the peel, to Building Explanations, Forming Conclusions and Wondering in the meat of the fruit, and finally, Capturing the Heart of the story in the core of the apple.
I chose the book Corduroy, by Don Freeman. With Making Meaning, each book is read twice, with comprehension and thinking inquiries built into the lesson. I thought Peel the Fruit would be a nice extension of the thinking that Making Meaning was looking for, and offer opportunities for me to name the thinking moves the children might make.
As I was introducing Corduroy, the next book in the Making Meaning program, I also introduced the types of thinking I was looking for. I told the children I wanted them to listen to the story and think about their wonderings and any connections they could make. They knew I would be looking for their thinking at the conclusion of the story.
After the initial reading of Corduroy, I asked the children to Observe and Describe what they noticed in the story. Among the responses I received were girl, money, policeman, ears poking out of covers and a variety of toy names of Corduroy’s shelf mates. When I went to the middle of the apple, I told the children I was looking for their Wonderings, Connections, and any Explanations they could build. These are a few of the responses:
- A palace would have more rooms (build explanations)
- Arvin has been shopping at a big store (connection)
- A mountain and an escalator both go up diagonally (connection and explanation)
- Goldie has five bears (connection)
- Gabby has a bear at her house (connection)
- Carson has a favorite stuffed bear (connection)
At this point the children were getting antsy so I needed to close the experience. The children were told we would revisit their thinking after Corduroy was read the second time.
I was happy to have some time to reflect on the first reading of Corduroy. I was pleased with the thinking that had been shared. I noticed that I had responses from children I rarely hear from. How exciting! I think that the organization of the routine, going from concrete to abstract thinking, might have helped. I am also pleased to note that I have a child certified in Speech and Language who offered his thinking TWICE. I also noticed there were some great thinkers who chose not to share their thinking. Interesting. Was it because other children were participating? Did they not feel comfortable with the way the routine was structured? Was the fact that we started out with observing and describing not engaging enough for my higher level thinkers?
The children seemed very adept at observing and describing and making connections. I noticed, however, that the children hadn’t given evidence for their thinking and explanations, something I wanted to address. I thought if I modeled giving evidence that the children might better understand what I was expecting.
The next day I gathered the children and reviewed the types of thinking I was looking for and then re-read Corduroy. I asked if anyone had anything to add to the peel. No responses. I thought as much as they had given plenty of observations the day before. Before asking children for their thinking in the meat of the fruit, I gave an example of my thinking about A Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats and evidence to support it. We then went back to Corduroy. I am pleased to say that these are examples of thinking I received on Day 2:
- If the girl didn’t have enough money she couldn’t buy Corduroy (explanation with evidence)
- If it took Lisa longer to save up money, Corduroy would stay on the shelf longer (explanation with evidence)
- If the watchman went up the escalator instead of down, he might not have found Corduroy (explanation with evidence)
- Lisa said this was his home (forming conclusions)
- Corduroy found a home (forming conclusions)
When Casey stated that Corduroy had found a home, I asked the class to talk about why it took so long for Corduroy to find a home. We talked about his missing button and that he looked old. I then asked them to talk about who deserves a home. Casey, right away, said that everyone deserves a home. I labeled that Capturing the Heart of the story and asked if anyone else had thoughts on the heart of the story. Goldie stated everyone should have a friend, but that was it.
The difference in the meat of the fruit between the first and second day was revealing. Connections came rather easily to the children after one reading of the story because the students have been asked to make connections since the first week of school. I also think re-reading the book a second time helped deepen comprehension of the story, thus making reasoning with evidence and forming conclusions easier.
I’m so glad I took the risk and tried this routine. I have learned, once again, to not be afraid to try something new. I also learned to be cognizant of the layers of each routine and provide something for my concrete thinkers as well as my higher level thinkers. Now I am wondering where else Peel the Fruit could help deepen understanding. Stay tuned!