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Welcome to Show me the BOOKS! A blog about literature for elementary school students. All posts include a summary, a citation, and teaching suggestions along with websites for lesson extension or references. Please explore and comment!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli is a story of courage in standing up for what you believe in. Palmer LaRue is about to turn ten years old and in his community, that means he's ready to become a wringer at the annual Family Fest. However, this is not his dream. He does not want to become a pigeon wringer what so ever. Throughout the story he struggles with acceptance by a group of boys who claim to be his friends, but who Palmer realizes, will not respect him if he doesn't become a Wringer. Palmer is faced with a test in which he has to decide whether he stands up for what he believes in, or conforms because he wants to be part of a group of friends. Palmer also faces the pressure of continuing a tradition among the men in his family. It's up to Palmer to make his choice, and to choose wisely.

Spinelli, Jerry. Wringer. New York: HarperTeen, 2004. Print.
Teaching Suggestions for Wringer
  • Before reading, introduce the text by having students brainstorm what a Wringer is. Once their brains are thinking up enough examples, explain to students what a Wringer is. Introduce the vocabulary associated with the text: wringer, sharpshooter, carcass, misery, traitor, violence, machine gunner, etc. 
  • During reading, have students complete a character analysis on Palmer's character. Provide an organizer or format to scaffold student's analysis. Ask students: what challenges is Palmer facing? Is he changing who he is to feel included? How is Palmer reacting to the situation? etc. Establish personal connections from students to the text by asking (when appropriate): do you like pigeons? Could you picture having a pigeon as a pet? What associations can you make from pigeons? How would you take care of a pigeon? Would you tell your parents?
  • After reading, review the story (whole class) by a quick retelling using the character analysis to guide discussion. Discuss Palmer and what made him be/act the way he did. Why didn't he just come right out and say he didn't want to be a wringer? What challenges did he face because of it? Could Palmer have easily changed what was coming, if so how? After whole class discussion have students individually reflect on these questions in their reader's journal.
Supplemental Websites for Wringer 
Both websites linked above are informational resources on pigeons! Students can research fun facts about pigeons and maybe change their minds of how they feel about them!

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