Posts tagged ‘content-area’

121. Vote! by Eileen Christelow

voteRetell: This book combines narrative and non-narrative text to describe how and why people vote.

Topics: voting, majority, mayors, elections, democracy, voting age, protests, marches, political parties, media, campaigns, taxes

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, determining importance, synthesis, making connections

My Thoughts: Tomorrow is election day.  My students have the day off and they have no idea why.  Unlike last year’s election day, the buzz around tomorrow’s election is quiet.  Nevertheless, days off from school can be good teaching moments and a great time to tuck in a read aloud.  Vote provides a nice, kid-friendly introduction to the world of voting.  The text in the white space explains how voting works.  Within the illustrations, speech and thought bubbles support a narrative thread:  Chris Smith is running against Bill Brown for mayor and Smith’s family (including the family dog) all participate in the campaign.  You may choose to read all of the non-narrative text and then pick and choose which speech bubbles are the most important to highlight.

If you choose to read this book (or others about voting) please add your comments in the space below.

November 2, 2009 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

119. Full Count: A Baseball Number Book by Brad Herzog

full countRetell: A numerical version of his alphabet book H is for Home Run.

Topics: baseball, numbers, Hall of Fame, Women’s League, tee ball, bat boys, Yogi Berra, Joe Nuxhall, Jackie Robinson, Little League, multiplication

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area

Writing Skills: incorporating rhyme and rhythm

My Thoughts: I now have yet another genre to think about when we get to the Content-Area unit:  Number Books.  This is one number book that fourth graders will find to be quite interesting.  Full Count follows the same format as its alphabet companion book–a rhyming poem accompanies a more detailed expository explanation of the content behind the rhyme.  This book has an added bonus of having illustrations that can support a unit on multiplication.  The illustration for 25, shows five groups of five baseball bats.  The illustration for 50, shows 10 groups of five jerseys.  If you use the TERC math curriculum you may want to use this book for the Ten-Minute Math activity, Quick Images.

October 26, 2009 at 8:14 pm Leave a comment

117. Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize by Kathy-Jo Wargin

alfred nobelTopics: Alfred Nobel, Nobel Peace Prize, nitroglycerin, death, literature, art, dynamite, peace, legacy

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits of Mind: persisting, gathering data through all senses, striving for accuracy and precision, questioning and posing problems, applying past knowledge to new situations

Reading Skills: prediction, synthesis, determining importance, interpretation, empathy

My Thoughts: With the announcement of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Barack Obama, you may want to take the opportunity to discuss the history of the prize itself.  It’s a great text for discussing the Habits of Mind.  The illustrations are quite large and are particularly vivid–perfect for classroom read alouds.

October 22, 2009 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

113. They Came from the Bronx: How the Buffalo Were Saved from Extinction by Neil Waldman

they came from the bronxRetell: Told from two perspectives, this book describes how the American Bison Society reintroduced a small herd of bison.

Topics: buffalo, Bronx Zoo, conservation, Native Americans, Comanche Indians, westward expansion, wildlife introduction

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: envisionment, monitoring for sense

My Thoughts: This book combines narrative and non-narrative text.  The book begins with a Comanche woman telling her grandson about the days when buffalo roamed the land.  On the next page the author describes how 2,000 miles a way trains with mysterious creatures leave the gates of the Bronx Zoo.  While reading this book it would be great to have a map of the United States displayed so students could see the route the buffalo traveled.

October 17, 2009 at 10:48 pm 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

109. Encounter by Jane Yolen

encounterRetell: An account of Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of the Americas told from the point of view of a Taino boy.

Topics: Christopher Columbus, explorers, gold, Taino, trade, slaves

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Historical Fiction, Content-Area

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: interpretation, envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using figurative language

My Thoughts: Yesterday was Columbus Day and to celebrate, here is one of my favorite Columbus Day read alouds.  Since the story is told from the perspective of a child, students will be able to relate to how powerless the boy feels.  He warns his people not to trust the “strange creatures” that were “spat out of the canoes”, but no one listens to him.  This is a fantastic text for teaching inference.  Yolen takes great care not to use terms that would have been foreign to the Taino people.  Readers must constantly infer what the boy is describing.  For example, Yolen describes beards as “hair growing like bushes on their chins”.  When Columbus claims the island for Spain she describes how people “knelt before their chief and pushed sticks into the sand”.  It’s important to model how readers constantly consult the illustration while reading the text in order to construct meaning.

October 13, 2009 at 7:44 pm Leave a comment

108. Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs by Patricia Lauber

who eats whatRetell: This book explains how energy flows within food chains and food webs.  It also describes the importance of plant life.

Topics: food chains, food webs, interconnectedness, plants, animals, endangered species, ecology

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: envisionment, determining importance, interpretation, reading text features

Writing Skills: including diagrams to illustrate an idea

My Thoughts: Though our food chain unit is a few months away, I’m on the search for future read alouds.  This is a great, straight-forward text for introducing food chains and food webs.  I like the diagrams throughout the text.  This would be a great text to read to introduce the idea of a diagram.  After reading the text aloud, students could make food webs of their breakfast or lunch that day.

October 12, 2009 at 12:11 pm Leave a comment

107. Volcanoes by Franklyn M. Branley

volcanoes branleyRetell: Branley describes how volcanoes form and how geologists constantly pay attention to their activity.

Topics: volcanoes, eruptions, earthquakes, geologists, earth movements

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: envisionment, monitoring for sense

My Thoughts: While reading this book I was reminded of work I did last year.  Some colleagues and I examined level K and L books in order to investigate why readers struggle at those levels.  We noticed that books at this level usually have illustrations that convey information about part of the text.  Proficient readers understand that the illustration supports what the text says.  Struggling readers will form their mental picture of what’s going on from the illustration and not from the text.   We discovered that it was important to teach readers to not rely completely on the illustration, but to envision what’s not in the illustration.  Volcanoes is a great read aloud for modeling this strategy.  For example, when Branley describes the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the illustration shows the volcano erupting in the background of a lively city; the readers must envision the city being buried.  If we don’t model this thinking during the read aloud, students may miss vital pieces of information.  Prompts I like to use during read aloud to push this thinking are:

  • “What’s missing from the illustration?”
  • “What would you add to the illustration?”
  • “Where would you put that idea in the illustration?”
  • “Paint the illustration in the air.  Think about what you would include.”

October 11, 2009 at 10:37 pm Leave a comment

106. H is for Home Run: A Baseball Alphabet by Brad Herzog

h is for home runRetell: Brad Herzog celebrates the A to Zs of baseball.

Topics: baseball, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: envisionment, determining importance

Writing Skills: using alliteration, using dashes, crafting rhyme

My Thoughts: I normally don’t use alphabet books very much throughout the course of the year.  This book inspires me to change my mind.  This book is more sophisticated than your average alphabet book.  Each page has both a rhyming description of an aspect of baseball and a more detailed description in the sidebar.  I’m considering proposing alphabet books as a way to publish Content-Area pieces.  During Social Studies students could make alphabet books as a way to assess their understanding of the content of a unit.

Often I’m scrambling to find read alouds that fit within one of our units of study.  However, sometimes it’s nice to read something that will connect with a current event or a current class interest.  For those who want to celebrate the upcoming World Series, H is for Home Run is a good choice.

October 11, 2009 at 9:48 pm 1 comment

103. Steam, Smoke, and Steel: Back in Time with Trains by Patrick O’Brien

steam, smoke,and steelRetell: This is a history of trains told from the perspective of a boy who comes from a long line of engineers.

Topics: trains, generations, generators, steam engines, family

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: envisionment, monitoring for sense, determining importance, reading diagrams

My Thoughts: Though I probably won’t have time to teach a unit on industrialization this year, I think I will just have to insert this book into my read aloud plans anyway.  Though my class isn’t studying trains at the moment, we are doing a unit in Math called, “Ages and Timelines”.  During the introduction to the unit, students had a difficult time understanding the concept of a ‘great-great grandparent’.  Steam, Smoke and Steel could be a book to help them understand this concept.  The main character comes from a family of train engineers.  As he looks back on his family’s history, the reader learns about trains from the past.  His father drives a modern locomotive.  His grandfather drove a diesel-electric locomotive.  His great-grandmother drove a steam locomotive…you get the point.

Yesterday I attended a Social Studies workshop at Teacher’s College, and I’ve become very excited about time lines (I should probably get out more).  In their workshop, Shana Frazin and Kathleen Tolan suggested that teachers should have moveable time lines in their classrooms.  Students and teachers can add important events and visuals to the time line.  After reading Steam, Smoke and Steel I think I may post pictures of the trains and the characters (the boy, the father, the grandfather, the great-grandmother, the great-great grandfather, etc.) in the book on the timeline.  Doing this I think will help enrich students’ understanding of generations and time periods.

Now I just have to find space in my classroom…

October 10, 2009 at 2:32 pm Leave a comment

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