Posts tagged ‘appreciations/no put-downs’

126. Strong to the Hoop by John Coy

strong to the hoopRetell: James has always wanted to play basketball on the main court.  Knowing that he’s too young and too small, he practices on the side court.  One day a player gets injured and he volunteers to play.  Though he misses shots and fouls other players, he gains his courage and ends up winning the game.

Topics: basketball, courage, playground, body image, boys

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction, Personal Narrative

Tribes: personal best, appreciations/no put-downs

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: incorporating similes, alliteration, using commas to list action, balancing internal thinking, action and dialogue

My Thoughts: This book was hiding on my read aloud shelf in my classroom.  I forgot all about it and now I’m kicking myself for not reading it to my class during our recent Realistic Fiction unit.  This is a fantastic small moment mentor text.  The events of the story are few:  a boy practices, enters a game, struggles, and wins.  However through a balance of internal thinking, small action and dialogue, the author creates a suspenseful, meaningful story.

November 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm Leave a comment

110. Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone

peppe the lamplighterRetell: Peppe and his family live in a tenement on Mulberry Street.  Though he is just a boy, he must find work to help support his family.  After several attempts, he finally finds a job as a lamplighter.  His Papa imagines a better world for him in America.  He becomes upset with Peppe for taking such a menial job.  Though he loves his job, Peppe decides to take a break from it one evening in an effort to please his father.   Later that evening both Peppe and his father discover that being the lamplighter isn’t such a bad deal after all

Topics: tenements, New York, child labor, lamplighters, family, perspectives, work

Units of Study: Historical Fiction, Social Issues, Talking and Writing about Texts

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs

Reading Skills: inference, envisionment, interpretation

Writing Skills: using the ‘rule of three’, angling a story

My Thoughts: What I love about this text, is that it’s short, but inspires the reader to do a lot of good thinking.  It’s a fabulous text for Reading and Writing Workshop as well as Social Studies.  Using the illustrations, students can envision what New York tenement life was like during the 1800s.  Though my students are currently writing Realistic Fiction, I’m planning on reading a section of this book tomorrow to a small group of students.  I’m going to teach them how authors often incorporate the ‘rule of three’ when crafting stories (“The Three Little Pigs”, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”).  In the beginning of the story, Peppe attempts to find a job.  The author could have chosen to describe the effort in a figurative way.  Instead, she decided to give three examples of where he looked for work:  the butcher, the bar, and the candy maker.

October 14, 2009 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

96. Jim and the Beanstalk by Raymond Briggs

jim and the beanstalkRetell: Jim discovers a mysterious vine outside of his window one day.  He follows it up and up and encounters a giant.  This giant however is not very ferocious.  He has lost his sight, his teeth and his hair.  With Jim’s help the giant acquires glasses, dentures and a wig.

Topics: curiosity, measurement, fairy tales, act of kindness

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: mutual respect, appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: striving for accuracy and precision

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, prediction, interpretation

Writing Skills: incorporating the rule of three

My Thoughts: This can be filed under “stories with a twist”.  (See The Paper Bag Princess post).  This is a spoof/sequel to the story, “Jack and the Beanstalk”.  In this story, the main character is nice to the giant, drastically changing the moral of the story.  It would be interesting to plan a mini read aloud where you read twisted fairy tales.  With older kids, it may be great to use twisted fairy tales to work on interpretation.  Students could examine questions such as:  How does the moral of the story change when the characters act differently?  Why do you think the author chose to rewrite the famous fairy tale?  What was he/she trying to teach?

September 30, 2009 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

92. Butterflies for Kiri by Cathryn Falwell

butterflies for kiriRetell: Kiri loves to paint and draw.  When her Auntie Lu sends her a package of origami paper, Kiri begins teaching herself how to fold a paper butterfly.  She gets to a point where her corners are supposed to match up and tears her paper.  She attempts the butterfly the next day but she is scared that she will tear one of her beautiful papers.  Through practice and persistence Kiri eventually folds a successful butterfly.

Topics: origami, art, paper, diagrams, how-to

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction

Tribes: personal best, appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: persisting, striving for accuracy, creating-innovating-imagining, thinking flexibly, managing impulsivity, taking responsible risks, remaining open to continuous learning

Writing Skills: including similes, making several drafts before publishing

My Thoughts: I wish I had known about this book years ago when I started a paper crane project with my fourth graders.  We read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, folded 1,000 paper cranes, and sent them to a school in Japan who delivered our cranes to the peace memorial in Hiroshima.  When I had started the project, I didn’t realize how difficult paper crane folding would be for that age.  Some students were able to pick it up quickly while others got really frustrated with the process.  Kiri teaches us how to deal with frustration.  She took a break from the project, practiced with other materials, and tackled the project with new energy.  Throughout this book many ‘habits of mind’ are presented.  Even if you don’t plan on doing origami with your class, it’s great to read during the revising process of any Writing unit.

September 27, 2009 at 8:05 pm 1 comment

81. The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales

the tequila wormRetell: Sophia is an intelligent, hardworking girl from McAllen, Texas.  When she receives a scholarship for a boarding school 400 miles, she must learn to live in two different worlds.  She longs to explore and be accepted by the people at St. Lukes, but she also wishes to be a good comadre and participate in her family’s traditions.

Topics: overcrowding, barrios, family, traditions, Mexican-Americans, friendship, ambition, choices, siblings, Day of the Dead, boarding school, scholarships

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

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly, thinking interdependently

Reading Skills: inference, synthesis, interpretation, envisionment

Writing Skills: bringing out the heart of a story

Thoughts: Though I believe this book is probably most appropriate for middle school students, I wouldn’t hesitate reading sections of this book to my fourth graders.   There are great examples of how writers collect stories from their lives and how people become the change they want see in the world.  I love Canales’ description of the various rituals and traditions of Sofia’s family.  The relationship between Sofia and Berta is interesting.  They made very different choices.  Sofia chose to move far away and attend college.  Berta married young, stayed in her hometown and had two children.  Readers could have an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of both characters’ choices.

September 15, 2009 at 8:42 pm Leave a comment

79. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

officer buckle and gloriaRetell: Officer Buckle often visits Napville School to give presentations about safety.  Unfortunately, most people do not listen to his advice.  As a result, the accident rate is very high.  When Officer Buckle partners with a show-stealing police dog named Gloria, suddenly his audience sit up and pay attention.

Topics: safety, assemblies, dogs, police

Units of Study: Character, Realistic Fiction

Tribes: attentive listening, appreciations/no put-downs

Reading Skills: reading bold and italicized words

Thoughts: Each year I try and use read alouds to review the agreements of our school.  (These are Tribes agreements plus one we call ‘personal best’.)  It seems that there are many books about mutual respect, but not very many about attentive listening.  Officer Buckle and Gloria is a read aloud I’ve been using for the past two years.  The illustrations are great for showing two types of audiences:  an audience who does not listen and one that shows they are listening.  It also shows how people feel when they are not listened to.  There are many bold and italicized words throughout the book.  When reading the book aloud you may want to ask students to pay attention to how your voice changes when you come across bold and italicized words.

September 14, 2009 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

78. Amelia Writes Again by Marissa Moss

amelia writes againRetell: Amelia is a young girl who collects thoughts, souvenirs, photos and stories in her writer’s notebook.  Through the pages of her notebook we learn about Amelia’s friend Leah, her sister Cleo, and the terrible arsonist who destroyed her school.

Topics: writing, birthdays, siblings, friendship, daydreaming, numbers, arson, symbols, partnerships, writer’s notebooks

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Personal Essay

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs, right to pass, personal best

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Writing Skills: generating notebook entries, using pictures and objects to inspire writing, writing about ideas, spelling tricky words by writing it in different ways

Thoughts: This is volume 2 in a series of “Amelia” books.  I use this each year when we relaunch our writer’s notebooks.  The book resembles a composition notebook.  There are many ways that it can be used to teach writing skills, but it also stands alone for discussing other issues.  For example, Amelia writes about how she is reluctant to show her notebook to her friend Leah.  This could be a great time to discuss taking the right to pass.  During a Social Issues or Personal Essay unit you could use this book to analyze the issue of school vandalism.

If  you have used any books from the “Amelia” series please post your ideas in the comments section.

September 12, 2009 at 8:53 pm 1 comment

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