Saturday, December 30, 2006

Help Struggling Readers and the Voracious Ones, Too

Blockbuster Plots line of plot tools designed primarily for writers helps all students become more proficient in the following standards:

California Language Arts Content Standards


R2.0 Reading Comprehension (Focus on Informational Materials)
Structural Features of Informational Materials
R2.1 Understand and analyze the differences in structure and purpose between various categories of informational materials
R2.3 Analyze text that uses the cause-and-effect organizational pattern
R3.0 Literary Response and Analysis
Structural Features of Literature
R3.1 Articulate the expressed purposes and characteristics of different forms of prose
(e.g., short story, novel, novella, essay)

Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
R3.2 Identify events that advance the plot and determine how each event explains past or present action(s) or foreshadows future action(s)
R3.3 Analyze characterization as delineated through a character's thoughts, words, speech patterns, and actions; the narrator's description; and the thoughts, words, and actions of other characters
R3.4 Identify and analyze recurring themes across works (e.g., the value of bravery, loyalty, and friendship; the effects of loneliness)
R3.5 Contrast points of view (e.g., first and third person, limited and omniscient, subjective and objective) in narrative text and explain how they affect the overall theme of the work

Literary Criticism
R3.6 Analyze a range of responses to a literary work and determine the extent to which the literary elements in the work shaped those responses

W2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)

W 2.1 Write fictional or autobiographical narratives:
a. Develop a standard plot line (having a beginning, conflict, rising action, climax, and denouement) and point of view
b. Develop complex major and minor characters and a definite setting
c. Use a range of appropriate strategies (e.g., dialogue; suspense; naming of specific narrative action, including movement, gestures, and expressions)

W2.2 Write responses to literature:
a. Develop interpretations exhibiting careful reading, understanding, and insight
b. Organize interpretations around several clear ideas, premises, or images from the literary work
c. Justify interpretations through sustained use of examples and textual evidence

W2.5 Write summaries of reading materials
a. Include the main ideas and most significant details
b. Use the student's own words, except for quotations
c. Reflect underlying meaning, not just the superficial details

BLOCKBUSTER PLOTS line of plot tools use texts from the

California Department of Education Recommended Literature
Reading and Language Arts

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
English-Language Arts/Writing/History/Social Science

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
English-Language Arts/Writing/History/Social Science

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
History/Social Science

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
History/Social Science


The Scene Tracker template is a visual tool that allows readers to actually “see” what authors do on the scene level to create
depth and meaning to stories. Readers who learn the elements of scene will discover the essence of plot. This understanding in turn gives students skills that will enable them to become better creative writers themselves.

Readers who can “see” (visual) the information with the help of charts, and fill in the templates themselves (kinesthetic), do better than simply hearing the information (auditory) only. Once readers know how a book works, they hunger not only to read more, but also to create their own piece of writing magic.


“The children and the staff had the best time imaginable. The astonishing look of accomplishment on the kids’ faces is a wonderful testament of your gift to teach children. Thanks again, Martha, for making a difference in the lives of our children.”
Mark Forrest, Recreation Director, Santa Clara County Children’s Shelter, temporary placement facility for abused, neglected and abandoned children.

Nominated for the 2005 CALTAC Award by the Los Gatos Public Library Board for extending the popular Young Writers Workshop to children and youths living at the County Children’s Shelter in her community, Martha Alderson helps readers and writers alike deepen their relationship to books and achieve more enjoyment and pleasure in the reading and writing experience.

“Martha Alderson helped me understand and love to read and write. Even when I was only 8, and was nervous, she made it fun, easy, and exciting. Thank you, Martha, for your special talents.”
Julianna, 11 years old

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