Monday, April 16, 2012

Muggie Maggie

Post from student Nikki  Hunt that shows how she used reading strategies with her own students.

Cleary, B. (1990). Muggie Maggie. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

"We start cursive this week', she said with a gusty sigh that was supposed to impress her parents with the hard work that lay ahead. Instead, they laughed. Maggie was annoyed. Cursive was serious." (Cleary, 1990, p.7) Muggie Maggie is an excellent example of a realistic fiction story you would want to share with students in second/third grade. Now, I realize cursive handwriting isn't as high on the priorities' list of things to teach in upper primary grades (maybe not on the list at all), but in 1990 it was a "huge" deal! You see, I grew up during this time and I can vividly remember learning how to write in cursive handwriting. I thought learning to write in cursive was a groundbreaking moment in my life. Because of this, I immediately connected to Maggie, the main character of Muggie Maggie.

My students have a differing opinion of cursive handwriting than Maggie. They attempt it on a daily basis whether it's labeling their paper, or working on a personal story. As I read the story aloud, I couldn't help but snicker at Maggie's attitude about cursive handwriting, because it reminded me of how I felt about it back in 1993. I can remember feeling as though my writing couldn't get any sloppier, and how I desired to write like Jessica. She had the most beautiful cursive handwriting I had ever seen.

Who is Maggie and what was this story about anyway? Muggie Maggie tells the story about a third grade student obsessed with cursive handwriting (not in a good way either). She doesn't want to write in cursive and she is insistent on that fact, too. She endures conflicts with parents, teachers, fellow classmates, and even the principal before finally succumbing to the importance of learning to write in a different way than she always has. Cleary uses school and Maggie's home as the main settings in the story. Cleary doesn't directly describe the settings, you have to use inferencing skills to identify the settings throughout the story. Cleary also evidences situational realism by describing events that could happen in real life, making this a great example of realistic fiction. For example, Cleary provides a solution to the conflict in the story by describing a job that Maggie's teacher gives her. Maggie ends up becoming the message monitor to help her overcome her dislike for cursive handwriting.

Cleary uses a variety of sentence length to add humor to the story. For example, "This made Maggie even more contrary. 'I'm not going to write cursive, and nobody can make me. So there". (Clearly, 1990, p.9)

When reading this story aloud in the classroom, consider using the Post-It note strategy to note words that caused confusion. My students and I did this as we read to aid with comprehension. For example, we noted the word "indignant". Many of my students had never heard this word, so we discussed its meaning. We also noted some of the symbols from the "Active Reading Bookmark" when we agreed with something, had confusion, or wondered more about something. For example, we wondered why Mrs. Leeper chose Maggie as the message monitor and how that attributed to her change in attitude about cursive handwriting.

Consider these questions:

Why did Mrs. Leeper choose Maggie as the message monitor?
Why do you think Maggie disliked writing in cursive?
Have you ever felt like Maggie about something before? How did you overcome those feelings?

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