Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Levels of Love: Looking Closely at the LOVE Shown Between Characters

Do you smell that? Breathe in, my friends, because I think there might be a little love in the air, and it's getting stronger by the day. As Valentine's Day approaches, or any fun holiday for that matter, I try to ride the wave of student excitement with some timely activities that are still engaging and thought-provoking.

I'm Michael, and I teach third grade in Indiana. It is so cool to be part of this rockin' blog! I blog over at "The Thinker Builder," which you can check out HERE. I love using and creating resources that get students thinking deeply, particularly when it comes to reading.

Here's something I did this week with my kids, which you might want to try too, especially with Valentine's Day coming soon. I've started calling it "Levels of Love," and it's all about finding examples of love shown between the characters in the texts that we are reading.

I started by gathering students around and creating an anchor chart with them, where we divided LOVE into two categories: Shallow Love and Deep Love. After eye-rolls from some of my tough-guy boys, we got down to business, identifying the differences between Shallow Love and Deep Love and recording these in the chart. This was an important step, so we spent some quality time on the anchor chart.

For example, Shallow Love is often shown just to look good, or is selfish or short-lived, or based on appearances only. But Deep Love is genuine, lasting, and much more about inner beauty.

Next, I pulled out a couple of recent read alouds to show students some good examples, especially of Deep Love. Shiloh was the first novel I read aloud to my class this year, so we talked about Marty's love for Shiloh, and how it was so deep because he was willing to do anything for that  dog.

After some modeling, we settled down to read a version of The Ugly Duckling. I treated this similar to a 'close read.' I first read the whole story aloud to the class so that we all had a common understanding of the entire story. Then we went back and pulled out certain pieces of the story to reread. These excerpts were what we used to analyze the relationships and interactions between characters, like between the mother duck and her ugly duckling.

What I wasn't expecting was the amount of careful thinking, anchored in the text, that ensued. Students were even interpreting the 'love situations' differently at times--some saw Shallow Love, while others saw Deep Love. Sometimes the discussion got a bit heated! After we hashed out our thoughts, students recorded their thinking.

It was fun to see my students so invested in defending their opinions. And I'll bet you'll never guess who was speaking out the most... Yep, the same tough-guy boys, who at the beginning of the lesson were rolling their eyes at the very mention of the word "love," were now telling the class just how deep a mother duck's love can be for an ugly little duckling! Oh man, I couldn't help but smile.

We've now started tracking great examples of Deep Love that we find in other stories we read.

Next week, I'm planning to do another "Levels of Love" close read with The Frog Prince. I'm hoping my kids will LOVE it just as deeply!

If you are interested, my "Levels of Love" materials are in my TpT store. Just click on the image above

What other books can you think of that show great examples of Deep Love? Shallow Love? Thanks for spending some time with me!


  1. What an absolutely fantastic idea! I love how you tackled such a deep concept through a very accessible activity. Thanks for such a great idea. I'm going to use it for Valentines day.

  2. Hi Teri! So glad you can use it! Enjoy!

  3. I love this idea...deeply!! You are such a wonderful teacher Michael. Your kiddos are lucky!!