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Monster calls and dragon dictation

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I used Dragon Dictation, an app available for iPad and iPhone and iPod, to record my obnservations about A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness.

I used Dragon Dictation, an app available for iPad and iPhone and iPod, to record my obnservations about A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness.

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  • 1. An Experiment: Using Dragon Dictation while Reading A Monster Calls<br />Note I am not changing how the app recorded my observations. There are some errors, of course, but I do think it captured the heart of what I was attempting to do. You will notice that punctuation is not a strong suit of this app. However, think of the lesson waiting when kids do this.<br />This is an annotation of my reading of Patrick Nessus (Ness’) a monster calls (A Monster Calls). I decided to use Dragon Dictation to show how simple it can be to have students annotate as they're reading without having to really pause to write down anything to reflect you really won't interrupt their reading nearly as much as they use an app such as Dragon dictation.<br />Patrick Ness wrote this book based on an idea of Shavon Dowd who sadly past way too soon in her career. This would've been her fifth book a monster calls what Patrick did was take the idea and go with it run with it. Make it his own and that is what he asks readers to do in the forward go run with it. Make it your own. <br />And so we come to chapter 1 of the monster calls a monster showed up just after midnight as they do certainly an auspicious beginning what kind of monster will this be what will it do to change the life of our main character is name is Connor. The black and white illustrations by illustrator Jim K certainly do a great deal to enhance knowing the mystery but the threat that seems inherent in the story.<br />There's almost a paradox in the language at least in the opening chapter as Connors observing the monster as he comes together from the Yew tree in his backyard you have references to words like mighty but not terrifying or scary and we learn that month that Connor has seen worse monsters or at least envisioned worse.<br />I'm going to shift now on my annotation from annotating as I'm reading the chapter to annotating as I finish reading the chapter. By the way it's probably important as your annotating text in teaching kids to annotate text to pay attention to chapter titles when authors go beyond Chapter 1 Chapter 2 to give you a title chances are there something significant about the words that they selected to have those chapters.<br />So in chapter 2 we confirm that there something wrong with Connors mom We see suspicions about it in chapter 1 and chapter 2 and she's undergoing chemotherapy. We also get some sort of validation for the monster that formed from the Yew tree and Chapter 1 since Connor finds his floor littered with you leaves which he buries in the bottom of the rubbish. One other thing to note in chapter 2 is that in the middle of the narrative suddenly there's a double page spread but it's nothing but the black and white illustration by Jim Kay showing feet of the monster canopy were going to see other glimpses throughout the chapters.<br />For chapter 3 we could start annotations by examining the title of the chapter which is simply school and asking students to provide some guesses or conclusions some implication some generalizations and inferences about what they think might happen as Connor goes to school are considering what has happened the night before his bedroom with the monster calling is real or what's happening in his life with his mother suffering from cancer. So what do we learn and chapter 3 and how does that create more of an air of mystery or perhaps define a little bit more the monster with him Connor is wrestling. we do learn the Connors being bullied at school that there's a student who picks on him almost as if he knows the Connors more vulnerable could just be part of the monster that Connor is seeing at night.<br />So chapter 4 is called life writing which as English teacher I would translate into auto biography I'm wondering if we are going to get some more of Connor’s back story in this chapter. One of things you notice in the chapter called life stories is another reference to railroad tracks that we've seen before so probably need to look for that to appear again and see what kind of role it plays in the story.<br />In the chapter called three stories Connor has another encounter with the monster it says that Connor want something from him and not the other way around<br />Note that when the monster talks to Connor in appears as italicized type without" around it<br />Stories chase and bite and hunt. The monster wants to tell Connor three stories noticed the archetypal motif of the magic number<br />Connor's grandmother and even the monster tree are trying tell Connor the truth about his mother and the state of her health that he doesn't want to listen.<br />The tree begins to tell Connor the first of the three tails long ago the monster said before this was a town with roads and trains and cars was the Green Place trees covered every hill and bordered every pass a sheeted every stream and protected every house for their warehouse is here even then made of stone and earth this was a kingdom what we're hearing here is part of the oral tradition we're hearing once upon a time we're hearing the way things used to be. We're hearing the way things ought to be<br />An interesting activity for a monster calls might be to take the double page spread illustrations project them for the kids and let them kind of give a summary of what they think the entire book will be about would be interesting to see how much the pictures tell the students and of course you can also my students to do a summary by simply reading the titles of the different chapters to see if they can somehow put together a summary of the book is well<br />In the chapter called understanding Connor learns a little something about a bully also if you take a look at the art work done by Jim K it is a fairly realistic picture of last seemed to be the school with the fence surrounding it and a bird perching is interesting to look at the tiny details to see what you can see in these different illustrations<br />Connor's father comes to visit he's lived in America so long that he seems very foreign to Connor and seems disconnected from his own son and certainly doesn't see Connor coming to live with him and America should something happen to his mother because I have to ask yourself at this point why is the father visiting what purposes they're behind this visit is there something going on for the others not quite revealing to us<br />Some of the illustrations look a little bit like Steven Gammell<br />From dragon dictation. It would be a simple step then to create voice threats for students for example I could either use one of my phrases during imitation and use that as the beginning of the voice text for students or to put students in grapes each one of them would conduct their own voice thread and the others in the group would contribute to it and lots of different ways to use it. I'll try to figure some examples.<br />We need to look at what corner learns with each of details that the tree tells him in both tails Connor is always surprised at the turn of events why is that what is the tree trying to tell him<br />On page 109 the tree tells Connor belief is half of all healing. I wonder what kind of message that is for Connor given the situation which is mother finds herself?<br />Page 111. What does it mean when Connor joins the monster and destroying the Parsonage as he loses his temper as he loses his thought process as he loses his civility and begins to destroy everything that existed in the Parsonage? Why is Connor acting the way he is what is it that drives him to join in the destruction<br />I wonder if as we read aloud a book like a monster calls we could have students with Dragon dictation on their phones on their desks some iPad on the computer wherever we want half and they can quietly asked questions make predictions do this kinds of things that that are not necessarily annotating but nonetheless responding to the text as we're reading out loud. I wonder if we can do that without creating mayhem<br />The destruction at the Parsonage and Connors subsequent distraction of his grandmothers house is almost biblical in the way that it's told he reminds me somewhat of the readings from Palm Sunday from the passion I wonder if that is intentional or if that is something I'm reading into it because of who I am about my background is and isn't it interesting that the next chapter is called destruction since that's what we've already seen happened in the previous chapter<br />The double page spread that is in the middle of the chapter called destruction is incredible and again it's one where you have to look carefully to see what it is actually that you're looking at in this black and white world that Jim Kay has created<br />What is the nightmare the Connor keeps having that awakens him makes him scream in the middle of the night he talks about horror it talks about falling it talks about terrible things that happen at the end<br />Page 134 on Connor's father talks about stories not always having happy endings and Connor stops to think about it but the monsters talking about but stories were wild wild animals and when often directions you couldn't expect<br />In the illustration of the monster sitting down notes that on the facing page there's a rabbit in a weather vane.<br />The bully can no longer see Connor he truly is invisible and this happens at school the clock ticks ever to 1207 and suddenly during the day we have the monster appear with a story for Connor the third story<br />Note that the illustrations that surround the first two pages of the third tale page 146 and 147 done in black-and-white again are actually fingerprints and as the monster begins to tell the story about the invisible boy it is now the bully who is been  treating Connor badly who is the target of the monster. So Connor has been using the tree already he's used it to destroy his grandmother sitting room he's using it now to take care of the bully at school with a be anything left of the tree to help his mother<br />Connor wants to be punished he feels the need to be punished and he is upset that he is not punished in school for beating up Harry<br />That scene with Connor and his mother at the hospital when she talks about fact that the treatment isn't working reminds me very much of the movie with Debra Winger when she has the same discussion with her kids and she's dying of cancer as well. Wish I could record the name of the movie but I can't.<br />It was impossible to stop and make a comment as Connor is relating the truth to the Yewtree I suspect it may not be as difficult for kids unless they  too have had to deal  with the death of a loved one<br />Another ladder connection would be the magicians elephant by Katie Camillo the savage by David almond brushing mom's hair by Andrea cheng<br />On page 192 we come to the heart of the story is the tree tells Connor you do not write your life with words the monster said you write it with actions what you think it's not important it is only important what you do<br />And ultimately what we see in the book are the stages of loss. Anger denial depression bargaining acceptance it's all there is Polident Connor finding a way to accept what's going to happen and then letting go without letting go<br />