image from books.simonandschuster.ca

Here’s the text from this page, in case it’s hard to read in the illustration:

After all, what could be more fun than gathering a few hundred pigs together for a grand parade, and then watching them proudly march together in perfect formation down the finest boulevard from your hometown?

Based on this illustration and text, a pig parade sounds like a ton of fun!

The only problem is, a pig parade is a terrible idea:

image from http://www.indiebound.org

This tongue-in-cheek book by Michael Ian Black follows a pretty straightforward persuasive structure:

  • The introduction acknowledges opposing viewpoints (a pig parade seems like a great idea, right?), then states a thesis (which students immediately noticed was the same as the title of the book)
  • Pages after that present five reasons why a pig parade is a terrible idea, with plenty of supporting details and examples
  • A conclusion summarizes the reasons, then suggests an alternative (A panda parade would be fantastic!)

The premise of this book is completely ridiculous! But after we read it together and did a quick summary on the board, the kids realized that all of the reasons Black provides are actually quite logical–pigs can’t march, they don’t wear uniforms, they wouldn’t play parade music, they don’t care about floats, and they are unable to hold giant balloons.

Armed with a structure and some guidelines, our second grade classes used A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea as a mentor text for our own class books. Mrs. Hart’s classes had recently researched tigers and snakes, so their book is called A Tiger Parade is a Terrible Idea. Mr. Harrison’s class recently learned about snakes, too, and used that as the topic for their book. Mrs. Favors’ class voted on which animal they would write about, and the top choice was chipmunks!

In each class, we spent time brainstorming tons of reasons why our animals would make a terrible parade, and as students shared their reasons, I recorded them on the board.

The following week, each student was assigned a page in our class book to write and illustrate. Students drew slips of paper from my hand as they went to the tables, and on each slip I had typed one of the reasons we had brainstormed earlier.

Since the reasons on our lists were only about a sentence, we talked about ways we could add more detail so that each page was very descriptive.

Looking back at our mentor text, we saw some great examples of how to do this:

Even if you were able to find enough majorette uniforms for all of your pigs (which is a very difficult job in and of itself), just try getting those hundreds of pigs to put them on. They will not do it.

…while pig hooves are good for digging up wild mushrooms, when it comes to holding giant parade balloons, they are simply not up to the job.

We also needed a cover, an introduction, and a conclusion, so three students were responsible for these pages. I gave the introduction and conclusion writers a short template to help them structure their conclusion similarly to to the one in the book, but of course they were allowed to improvise.

And here are our finished stories! I think you’ll agree that our 2nd graders are very persuasive. 🙂

Update: When I shared this blog post on Twitter, I was so excited to receive a reply from Michael Ian Black! I’ll be sharing his response with my 2nd graders this week, and I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to learn that the author of A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea has read their books. (Not to mention the possibility of a panda parade sequel, which they would LOVE to read!)

My twitter conversation with author Michael Ian Black. How cool!
My Twitter conversation with author Michael Ian Black. How cool!

PS – Our 3rd grade students are finishing up a similar project using animals that they have been researching, so stay tuned for more kids’ opinions on animal parades!

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