Standards and Objective
Create engaging audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate fluid reading at an understandable pace; add visual displays when appropriate to emphasize or enhance certain facts or details.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1) by Jeff Kinney
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series starts with a disclaimer. Greg doesn’t want to keep a diary at all. In fact, he wanted to have a journal, and did not want to write about “his feelings.” However, as you listen to the first chapters of the book, you realize as he documents the events of his life, he is addressing his frustration, embarrassment, impatience, disappointment, and sometimes, minor victories. Listen to the first chapter and try to pinpoint Greg’s tone. Would you ever retell a story of an embarrassing moment in your week? For whom would you play the recording?
Play: Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Chapter 1.
The author uses a second approach in his story telling than just narration. He actually creates story panels and adds comic book style illustrations. In the audiobook, we hear Greg’s frustration and confusion through the storyteller’s voice. The author uses diction (word choice) to express this, but he also has the diary-keeper incorporate doodles into his work to help us see what he is thinking.
Using one of the comic book templates, create a journal entry like Greg’s, but from your own point of view. For each of five school days, create a new journal entry, but instead of writing a long narrative, create another page. Remember you don’t need to have the same layout every day. By the end of the week, develop a title for your body of work, such as “Diary of an Awesome Kid,” and read your diary/journal entries into a digital recorder to create your own audiobook. You can select your own topics, as long as they are appropriate for school, or select one or more of the issues below, straight out of Greg’s life.
- Dinosaurs, what every third grader should know.
- Video Game reviews. What do you like?
- Selecting comic books to suit your style.
- Things that make dads scream. A detailed list.
- The Outdoors. What is so great about it?
- Hand me downs are getting me down.
- Siblings, older or younger. Which is worse?
- When your friend embarrasses you.
- Who is to say what is “on grade level”
- Girls and attention-What NOT to do.
- Hanging vs. Playing. What is the difference?
The audiobook version of the diary should include a description of what was drawn and any text that they included. Students may also choose to include the date or a title for the theme of that day. Each student’s reading of the text they created should be fluid and free from hesitations. Show students how to re-record their audiobooks if they make an error or experience an interruption during the process. If students combine the reading of the text they wrote with spontaneous speech to describe their journal entry, that is acceptable, but they should read what they wrote in a clear and fluent manner. Each file can be saved and uploaded to a school server or burned onto a CD for later review, or added to later in the school year to compare both experiences and reading/speaking styles.
Extensions and Variations
Some students may take to creating comic book strips right away but others are more comfortable writing prose. Include a few tips, such as writing the words you want a comic book character to say before drawing a word bubble around the sentences, in case you have more to say than you planned in a small space. A cartoon can also use a lot of text and simpler illustrations. Students may need to look at samples of comic strips or comic books for a model. Calvin and Hobbs books are accessible for students in this age group. Garfield comics are popular across a variety of grades and ages.
Each Diary of A Wimpy Kid book in the series is 217 pages long.
About the Common Core
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) lay out very specific listening requirements, by grade, as part of a dedicated strand for speaking and listening skills. The standards specify the use of ‘other media’ within the standards, e.g., “CCSS.ELA-Literacy 3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.”
Listening is placed on equal footing with reading, writing and speaking. And for those tempted to just pair audio with visual text, that approach is common and valid with emerging readers, but not what the standards intend.
The CCSS also requires students to comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school. Audio books can act as an important scaffold that allows students to read above their actual reading level.
Learn more at www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy.