"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tried and True or Surprising and New?

I have heard the phrase "tried and true" multiple times in the span of a few days.  It is one of those idioms that needs context to understand the meaning, is it "good" to be "tried and true" and therefore an expected positive experience or "bad" and therefore a staid unpleasant experience?  Is the opposite of "tried and true" "surprising and new?"  These are the things I ponder at night.

With the words "tried and true" cycling through my brain, I collected my materials for my 3rd grade lesson.  It is still Picture Book Month, so as a follow up to last week's VoiceThread, I decided to create a whole class Wordle reflecting on why they (the students) like picture books.  (Hang in there, the Wordles are at the end...or feel free to skip right to them.)

What to read to get their creative juices flowing?  Tried and true or surprising and new?

I opted for tried and true and pulled The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith off the shelf.  I knew most of my students would have read this book at some point or that I likely had read it with some of them in the past. (As an aside, I don't teach every grade and there are years when I switch grades, hence the "likely had read it...")

I thoroughly enjoy reading this book.  I love the humor and the play on words, and I can bring in some fun vocal characterizations.  So, I am reading along with my tried and true book having a great time and get to one particular line (about three quarters of the way through the book) where the wolf, who is looking for a cup of sugar, says (of the porcine occupant of the house) "what a pig."  As I spoke these words, I heard a few chuckles.  I asked one of them to explain why she had laughed and she explained, "Well, its funny because it has two meanings.  The wolf is saying that the pig is hoarding the sugar and not sharing and also the pig is a pig, so he's saying what he is."  Exactly.  Being a language lover, we then had a fun discussion about double entendres. 

In the flash of an eye (or sound of a chuckle!) we had gone from tried and true to surprising and new.  I've answered my own question, "Can something be tried and true and surprising and new?"  Yes, indeed.  

This same experience played itself out over all three classes. And something else occurred, we experienced a wonderful example of why picture books are important and why we should never stop reading them.  I have read this book with younger students and they always find it funny, but here were 3rd graders really starting to hear the puns and word play.  What a great reminder that we should revisit great literature and that books often get better with age. hmmmm...books get better with age....I already have an idea for my next post!

And for the Wordles?  Here's why my 3rd graders like to read picture books:

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3


  1. Thank you! I have really been enjoying working with the program. The students love it!