Friday, December 2, 2011

Marty McGuire - a 2nd grade unit

Earlier this year two second grade teachers asked me if I would be willing to take their higher level kids and do something with them, they wanted me to do something with reading and they were looking at my readers theater unit that I do with some gifted fourth graders and they wanted me to do something like that.  I decided that since these groups were small I could do a book group and add extras into it.  I meet with each group once a week for about 45 minutes.  The first book I decided to do was Marty McGuire by Kate Messner. it was the PERFECT choice on so many levels and both the boys and the girls in the group LOVED the book - they have not stopped asking me WHEN the new books is coming out - I have a feeling I will have to have the new book - Marty McGuire Digs Worms on preorder for these guys!

Here is an outline of what I did each week with the students.  I used the AWESOME discussion guide from Kate and Scholastic to guide my planning of this unit.  Where it says "discussion questions" below, I used the questions from this guide. The other great thing about Scholastic is, they released this book as both a paperback and hardcover at the same time - there is no way I could have purchased 17 copies of the book in hardcover, but could do it in paperback! I assigned chapters for them to read every week, but they could always read as much as they wanted to, I had some kids finished with the book by the second week!

Marty McGuire Book Study Unit

Week one: Introduce the book and the author, look at Kate Messner’s website. Give the kids bookmarks I created.

Week two: Use discussion questions for chapter 1-3 and also read a picture book version of Princess and the Frog.

Week three: Use discussion questions for chapters 4-6, use the databases (our school subscription to World Book Kids and PebbleGo) and National Geographic site to gather information on frogs. This is where I was hoping to bring in a live frog, but catching a bull frog seemed much easier for Marty then it was for me!

Week four: Use discussion questions for chapter 7-9 and talk about improve and do an improve exercise (this website has some good improv exercises for kids). Introduce what reader’s theater is and give them their parts for the readers theater. We used a reader’s theater from the book: Fairy Tales Reader’s Theater by Margaret Allen from Creative Teaching Press we used the reader’s theater To Kiss a Frog
Week Five: Use discussion questions for chapters 10-12 and practice readers theater

Week six: Use discussion questions for chapters 13 & 14 and practice readers theater (we were hoping to do a Skype visit with author Kate Messner but we had a compatibility issue, she was so willing to connect with my students, but I couldn’t figure it out this time, going to try harder next time to come up with an activity that we can connect with Kate!

Week seven: Perform the reader’s theater to classmates and start writing, as a group, a book trailer for Marty McGuire (show examples of book trailers to them before we started).

Week eight: Create the book trailer – the students drew pictures illustrating the book and we used those illustrations plus some video and audio recording I took to create the book trailer. I created the final product this time, but might have the students try their hand at it next time.

Here are the finished book trailers:

Next up we will be doing a unit using Mr. Poppers Penguins starting in January.


lewisgrade5 said...

Hi Kathy, thanks for another GREAT post! I appreciate your awesome blog! I have a question about your reference source question of the week that you have mentioned in previous entries. Would you be able to share any information on how you run that? THank you!!!
Jennifer Lewis

Anonymous said...

I love this! I'm looking for ways librarians can work to build literacy, other than just promoting a love of reading. I can really see adapting this to work in my 7-12 school and I'm sure my teachers would be willing work with me on this.

John Michael Cummings said...

re: book review request by award-winning author

Dear Kathy,

I'm an award-winning author with a new book of fiction out this fall. Ugly To Start With is a series of thirteen interrelated stories about childhood published by West Virginia University Press.

Can I interest you in reviewing it?

If you write me back at, I can email you a PDF of my book. If you require a bound copy, please ask, and I will forward your reply to my publisher. Or you can write directly to Abby Freeland at:

My publisher, I should add, can also offer your readers a free excerpt of my book through a link from your blog to my publisher's website:

Here’s what Jacob Appel, celebrated author of
Dyads and The Vermin Episode, says about my new collection: "In Ugly to Start With, set in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Cummings tackles the challenges of boyhood adventure and family conflict in a taut, crystalline style that captures the triumphs and tribulations of small-town life. He has a gift for transcending the particular experiences to his characters to capture the universal truths of human affection and suffering--emotional truths that the members of his audience will recognize from their own experiences of childhood and adolescence.”

My short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Twice I have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. My short story "The Scratchboard Project" received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007.

I am also the author of the nationally acclaimed coming-of-age novel The Night I Freed John Brown (Philomel Books, Penguin Group, 2009), winner of The Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers (Grades 7-12) and one of ten books recommended by USA TODAY.

For more information about me, please visit:

Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing back from you.


John Michael Cummings

a to z library said...

Great ideas. I am going to share this with my 2nd grade teachers that are using this book for a read-a-loud.


Amy said...

These are wonderful! You can see how much the children love the books by the way their faces light up when they are talking about the characters! Thanks for sharing!

MoreThingsJapanese said...

It's great to see kids getting exposed to great stories, and also getting a chance to think and talk about them. Keep up the good work!
More Things Japanese

Cari Young said...

Kathy, thanks for sharing your Marty McGuire plans. I'm getting ready to start the very same book club after buying paperbacks from our book fair. Did you know that Kate Messner does free Skype author visits? That's what we're gonna finish our book club with!
~Cari Young
Library Centers Blog

Sonya said...

Hey there! Surprise ... I nominated you for an award. Come on over to to check it out. There are some crazy rules for accepting it. And quite honestly, you won't hurt my feelings at all if you choose not to follow through by naming five other bloggers. I just thought that I would take this opportunity to showcase some fellow elementary school bloggers. Happy Sunday!