Posts tagged ‘determining importance’

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

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

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

93. Who Pooped in the Zoo? Exploring the Weirdest, Wackiest, Grossest and Most Surprising Facts About Zoo Poop by Caroline Patterson

who pooped in the zooRetell: This book is filled with interesting facts about poop.  It discusses how animals use poop for food, defense, communication, and shelter.

Topics: poop, feces, animals, digestion, bacteria, camouflage

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, determining importance, envisionment

Thoughts: I’ve been chuckling all evening, calling out disgusting facts to my family.  “Hey!  Did you know that a grizzly bear doesn’t poop when he hibernates?  When a grizzly bear wakes up in the Spring its poop is as big as a baseball bat!”  This book is great for demonstrating how readers of nonfiction make a plan before they read the text.  Each section of the book contains blurbs with interesting facts about poop, glossaries and supplemental information.  Readers can choose to read the blurbs first and then read the entire section or vice versa.  A great read before going to the zoo or before you dissect owl pellets.

September 27, 2009 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

91. What’s So Bad About Gasoline? Fossil Fuels and What They Do by Anne Rockwell

what's so bad about gasolineRetell: This book explains how gasoline is made and describes its role in global warming.

Topics: gasoline, carbon emissions, global warming, petroleum, coal

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

Habits: Thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: questioning, determining importance, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: using repetition to make a thesis stronger, using supporting reasons and examples to support a thesis

My Thoughts: I mentioned before that my students are currently studying earth movements (how mountains are made, volcanoes, etc).  Next week students will examine fossils found in rocks.  This book could be a nice extension of the fossil investigation.  It blew my mind years ago when I learned that petroleum is made from decomposed fossils.  When we are in the Personal Essay unit I plan on rereading parts of this text to show how the writer weaves in her opinions and supports them with facts.

The beginning of the book explains how petroleum is made and how it has been used throughout history.  Throughout this section the phrase, “They still didn’t use much” repeats.  The author argues that gasoline and other petroleum products are not inherently evil.  After all, the reason why we still have forests and whales is connected to the invention of distilled petroleum.  I like how the book ends with the question, “What ways can you think of to help?”  After the read aloud students could brainstorm ways to use less gasoline.

September 26, 2009 at 11:33 am Leave a comment

88. Volcanoes by Seymour Simon

volcanoesRetell: The title pretty much speaks for itself.  Seymour Simon explains how volcanoes form and why some volcanoes are not as destructive as others.

Topics: volcanoes, magma, lava, Mount St. Helens, Mt. Shasta, plates, Mt. Hood, Surtsey, legends

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area

Reading Skills: determining importance, envisionment, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: supporting a thesis with reasons and examples, including similes in nonfiction writing

My Thoughts: The photographs in Simon’s books draw me in and I find myself becoming interested in subjects I had never cared about before.  Volcanoes is another great nonfiction title that could support the Earth Movements unit.  (See post #87.)  Unlike many nonfiction books for kids, this book doesn’t organize the information into friendly headings.  It’s a great way to model how readers organize expository text, creating our own mental headings and subheadings.

September 23, 2009 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

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