Posts filed under ‘poetry’

122. Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen

welcome to the green houseRetell: Jane Yolen poetically compares the rainforest to a green house.

Topics: rainforest, animals, birds, nonfiction poetry

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area, Personal Essay

Habits of Mind: gathering data through all senses

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using repetition, incorporating rhythm and rhyme, using sparkling vocabulary, using alliteration

My Thoughts: A few months ago I received a GrowLab through a DonorsChoose grant.  We received support from an educator at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and created corsage box terrariums.  Students planted cuttings from three different plants that thrive in the rainforest.  I plan on reading this book soon to support our gardening experience.  The text in this book is so vivid that as I read it I can actually feel the humidity of the rainforest.  It’s a great text for teaching students how to interpret metaphors.  At the end of the book, the author writes a message to her readers encouraging us to find out more about saving the rapidly disappearing rainforest.  Though it’s not technically a personal essay, you could use sections of the message as a mentor text.

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November 2, 2009 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment

118. Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor

hawk, I'm your brotherRetell: Rudy Soto yearns to fly.  He climbs up a cliff and captures a young hawk in the hope that he will be able to become brothers with the hawk and thus have a sense of what it means to fly.  Eventually he sets the hawk free and is forever changed.

Topics: hawks, dreams, flying, keeping pets, freedom

Units of Study: Talking and Writing About Texts, Social Issues

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: questioning, inference, interpretation, synthesis

Writing Skills: using alliteration

My Thoughts: Each year the issue of whether or not to get a class pet comes up.  I have mixed feelings about class pets.  I think they can be very useful for studying life cycles and animal habitats, but I don’t like the idea of animals in cages.  I may read this book the next time the issue arises in my classroom.  It will be an essential text during the interpretation unit and could also be an interesting one to read or reread during Social Issues.

When I was looking for images of this book I came across a website with a fantastic resource.  Through the Magic Door is an online bookstore that has put together some fabulous lists of books that may be very useful when making text sets.  Hawk, I’m Your Brother can be found under the list of books that are all about Flying.

October 24, 2009 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

111. Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates by Jonah Winter

roberto clementeRetell: This is the rags-to-riches story of Roberto Clemente.  Not only was he an all-star player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was also a humanitarian who donated a great deal of his earnings to charity.

Topics: baseball, Puerto Rico, racism, poetry

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Social Issues, Content-Area

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Habits of Mind: persisting, thinking flexibly, striving for accuracy

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, envisionment

Writing Skills: including similes, using commas in lists

My Thoughts: I like sports stories that emphasize the athlete’s character rather than just his/her athletic ability.  This is a good book for showing persistence even in the face of adversity.  The book describes how Clemente grew up playing baseball with a glove made out of a coffee-bean sack and baseballs made from old soup cans.  Written in free verse but organized into two line stanzas, this is a great book to read as a model for students writing nonfiction poetry during the Content-Area unit.

October 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

101. Heartland by Diane Siebert

heartlandRetell: A celebration of the Midwest, told in rhyming verse and gorgeous illustrations.

Topics: rural communities, landforms, plains, farming

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment

Writing Skills: creating metaphors,  personification

My Thoughts: At the moment my class is learning how readers interpret maps.  They have difficulty envisioning what places look like.  In their minds, New York State is just one gigantic city.  I plan on reading this book aloud to help my ‘citified’ students envision what rural areas look, feel and sound like.  It will be great to use this as a mentor text in a few months during the Content-Area unit when some students may choose to write nonfiction poetry.

October 6, 2009 at 8:52 pm Leave a comment

99. The Whales by Cynthia Rylant

the whalesRetell: Rylant imagines what whales might be thinking while swimming in the ocean.

Topics: whales, whale songs

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: repetition, alliteration

My Thoughts: Though the Content-Area unit is months away I’m trying to start early in my search for nonfiction poetry.  As a child I loved doing research but I hated having to do research reports.  Within the Content-Area unit students make choices about how they will publish the findings from their research.  They could do a research report but they could also choose to do a speech, an essay or write a poem.  Last year one of my struggling writers, who found essays and fiction writing to be torture, discovered nonfiction poetry.  He became interested in longhouses, researched the topic for a few weeks and wrote a poem several stanzas long.  I feel that I could lift the level of my students’ writing this year if I can get my hands on engaging nonfiction poetry.  The Whales is just the mentor text I’ve been looking for.  I love how she inserts factual information and balances it with descriptive language.  I think it would be great to read this book side by side with an informational text in order to compare each author’s voice.

Do you know of any fantastic nonfiction poetry texts?  Please post your suggestions in the comments section!

October 4, 2009 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

95. If You Are a Hunter of Fossils by Byrd Baylor

if you are a hunger of fossilsRetell: As a child goes hunting for fossils in the Southwest she envisions what the dry world once looked like underwater.

Topics: fossils, trilobites, dinosaurs, ocean, landforms

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe, striving for accuracy and precision

Reading Skills: envisionment, questioning

Writing Skills: using repetition

My Thoughts: One of the many goals of this blog is to discover hidden read aloud gems.  This is one of those books and it just happens to fit with our current Science unit.  I love how the author invites the reader to envision what the world must have been like when today’s mountains were covered by a vast ocean.  This book could also make a good mentor text for students who need help using repetition effectively.  If you decide to have students read and write nonfiction poetry, this book would be a good addition to that unit.

September 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm 1 comment

94. This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie, Paintings by Kathy Jakobsen

this land is your landRetell: Woody Guthrie’s famous song in picture book form.  The book includes a tribute by Pete Seeger and information about Guthrie’s life.

Topics: America, Great Depression, Dust Bowl, traveling, migrant camps

Units of Study: Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts, Personal Essay

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: interpretation, envisionment

My Thoughts: I started a ‘song of the week’ tradition in my classroom this year.  Each day while students enter the classroom and unpack we listen to a song together.  By the end of the song students are expected to have unpacked and come to the rug with their lyrics.  At the end of the week we sing the song together.  This week’s song just happens to be “This Land is Your Land”.  This morning while on my walk I passed by a bookstore which displayed the picture book version of the song in its window.  I was so pleased!  Kathy Jakobsen’s paintings compliment the lyrics well.  (She also illustrated the book, My New York.)  I can’t wait to read this to my students this week.  Seeing the pictures will help them visualize the lyrics of the song.  In the version my students sing there are three verses that are omitted.  This is one of them:

“In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people; By the relief office I seen my people; As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking, Is this land made for you and me?”

It made me wonder why I had never heard these lyrics growing up.  I hope to have a lively whole group discussion after reading this book aloud.  I also plan on revisiting this text during the Personal Essay unit when I’ll ask students to observe the world around them and ask difficult questions.

September 28, 2009 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

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