Posts tagged ‘character’

16. Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

ishRetell: A young boy loses confidence on his artwork after his brother insults his work.

Topics: art, interests, self esteem, confidence, sibling issues

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction, Launching the Writers Workshop, Character

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: inference, making connections

Writing Skills: using a mixture of dialogue and description

My Thoughts: A friend of mine who is an art teacher once told me that between the ages of 8 and 10 many kids give up artistic pursuits.  Apparently this age group becomes obsessed with making their art look realistic.  Many people, myself included, stopped drawing and painting at this age because they lost confidence in their artistic ability.  Ish is a story that addresses this issue in an adorable way.  During read aloud students can analzye the role of the narrator’s sister who helps encourage him to recognize the beauty in his work.  This book lends itself well to a discussion on personal best.  Later in the book, the young artist starts a writers notebook making this a great book to launch classroom writers notebooks.

July 12, 2009 at 9:10 am Leave a comment

14. There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar

there's a boy in the girls' bathroomRetell: It is easy to dislike Bradley Chalkers.  He beats up other students, lies about everything, and refuses to do his homework.  Bradley’s life begins to change when he meets Carla, the school counselor who inspires him to be a gold star student.

Topics: school, counseling, disagreeing, lying, making excuses, power, trust, friendship, homework, imaginary friends, partnerships, fights, confidence, putdowns, name-calling, safety, sibling issues, self-esteem, rewards, gold stars, asking for help, just right books, love of reading, affirmations, trust

Units of Study: Character, Literary Essay, Talking and Writing about Texts

Tribes: mutual respect, appreciations/no putdowns, right to pass, personal best

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, empathy, making connections, synthesis

My Thoughts: My heart still aches after reading this book.  It’s not a depressing book it’s just that I spent the book fearful that Bradley was going to keep digging himself into holes (not literal holes that’s Sachar’s other book).  As you can see from this post’s tags, there are so many ways that one could use this book during interactive read aloud.  The book lends itself very well to examining character relationships.  Many of the secondary characters make significant changes that affect Bradley.  I think many students will be able to make connections to Bradley’s complex relationship with his sister, Claudia.  Sachar encourages his readers to try and understand the bully rather than demonize him/her.  Bradley reminds me of one of my former students.  I think I’m going to buy this book and send it to him.

July 10, 2009 at 9:00 am 3 comments

11. The Whingdingdilly by Bill Peet

the whingdingdillyRetell: Scamp is tired of being a dog and wishes he was a grand horse.  He runs away and encounters a witch who turns him into a creature called the Whingdingdilly.

Topics: dogs, witches

Units of Study: Fantasy, Character

Tribes: Appreciations/No Putdowns

Reading Skills: inference, prediction, making connections

Writing Skills: using a balance of description and dialogue, using interesting verbs

My Thoughts: I really felt for Scamp in the beginning of this book.  I’m a sucker for dogs who are down in the dumps.  Unfortunately Scamp’s owner, Orvie calls him a “silly old dog” when he catches his dog pretending to be a horse.  Though calling someone ‘silly’ may not be the worst putdown heard at school, I can still see using this book as a way to discuss the damage brought about by insults and putdowns.  Scamp begins to feel better, and his luck begins to change when he hears how much Orvie appreciates him.  The Whingdingdilly also teaches the importance of appreciating ourselves for our strengths rather than putting ourselves down for our faults.  This could also be used as a mentor text during a unit on Fantasy writing.  The story has a few fantastical elements but is mostly based on reality.

July 7, 2009 at 9:23 am Leave a comment

8. The Lucky Star by Judy Young

the lucky starRetell: Ruth, a young girl growing up during The Great Depression, discovers that her school will be closed down before she enters her 5th grade year.  Ruth learns a lesson of perseverance and counting one’s lucky stars.

Topics: The Great Depression, perseverance, family,

Unit of Study: Historical Fiction, Character

Tribes: Personal best

Reading Skills: inference, making connections, prediction

Writing Skills: incorporating setting details, using sensory details

My Thoughts: This book would be a great mentor text during a unit on reading and writing historical fiction.  However, I’m tempted to use this at the beginning of the year when I introduce partner work and independence.  The Lucky Star teaches that smart people persevere through difficult situations.  A closure of a school, or similarly an absence of a teacher or a change in schedule, does not mean that learning stops completely.

July 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

7. Guys Write for Guys Read

guys readRetell: Jon Scieszka edits this fabulous collection of stories, comics, essays, illustrations and vignettes contributed by prominent male authors and illustrators.  Contributors include:  Stephen King, Matt Groening, Jerry Spinelli, Seymour Simon, James Howe, Neil Gaiman, Gary Paulsen and many more.  Royalties from the book are used to support Scieszka’s Guys Read Program.

Topics: boys, family, growing up, reading, writing, art

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Launching the Reading and Writing Workshop, Character, Personal Essay, Content-Area Reading and Writing, Nonfiction, Memoir, Social Issues, Fantasy, Preparing for the ELA

Tribes: Mutual Respect, Personal Best, Appreciations/No Putdowns, Right to Pass

Reading Skills: inference, making connections, interpretation

Writing Skills: writing with voice, zooming in on a small moment, observing the world for stories

My Thoughts: This book is teacher gold!  Guys Write for Guys Read has a plethora of short stories that can be used for mentor texts in almost every Reading and Writing unit.  One of the stories, “Reading Can Be Dangerous” by Tedd Arnold was featured on the 5th grade ELA test last year.  James Howe, author of Bunnicula, writes a personal narrative about getting help from a friend on how to be a boy–a great text for personal essay or discussing gender issues.  Many authors write about how they came to love reading and writing.  Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, writes about how he fell in love with fantasy–great to read when you launch a unit on Fantasy reading and writing.  Patrick Jones, a librarian, writes about how being interested in wrestling inspired him to become a voracious reader.  Many entries include samples of famous authors childhood work alongside their adult work.  For example, Dav Pilkey, author/illustrator of the infamous Captain Underpants series, writes about a comic strip he started when he was 11.  I will probably use this book for almost every unit I teach this year.

If you don’t pick up a copy of this book you must go to Scieska’s website, Guys Read.  The site is dedicated to inspiring more young boys to fall in love with reading.  Mr. Scieszka, you’re my hero.

July 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm 4 comments

4. Neeny Coming, Neeny Going by Karen English

neeny coming, neeny goingRetell: Neeny and her cousin were raised on Daufuskie Island, located off the coast of South Carolina.  Years before, Neeny went back to the mainland to live with her mother.  When Neeny returns to the island, her cousin realizes that Neeny is not the same cousin she grew up with.

Topics: change, family, environmental issues

Units of Study: Social Issues, Character

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: envisionment, prediction, inference, monitoring for sense, interpretation, making connections

Writing Skills: writing with voice

My Thoughts: This is a great book for the Social Issues unit.  I can imagine a juicy discussion about how much the mainland changed Neeny.  Many of my students travel back to their home countries during vacation.  I think they could make a lot of connections to this book.  I can see using this book as a mentor text for showing how authors write with a distinctive voice.

June 30, 2009 at 12:00 pm 2 comments

1. Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Thank You Mr. FalkerRetell: Trisha has a difficulty with reading.  Though admired for her artistic ability, she gets teased at school for being dumb.  That is until her teacher, Mr. Falker, stands up for her and teaches her to read.

Topics: bullying, honoring the different ways we’re smart, family relationships, death of a grandparent, importance of small group instruction

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Character, Social Issues

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best, appreciations/no put-downs

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference,

My Thoughts: This is a read aloud classic.  Since I start every school year off reading this book to my class, I thought it was only proper to start my blog year with one of my favorite read alouds.  Thank You Mr. Falker is one of those books that kids have heard a thousand times but never get tired of it.  I usually refer to this book and reread parts of it in several units throughout the year.

June 27, 2009 at 9:01 am 3 comments

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