Posts tagged ‘determining importance’

30. A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

a young people's history of the united statesRetell: Like the title suggests, this is a young people’s version of his famous book, A People’s History of the United States. Together with Rebecca Stefoff, Zinn manages to tell a version of history that attempts to include the perspectives of groups that are usually left out (women, people of color, Native people, children, etc.)

Topics: United States, history, exploration, racism, slavery, colonialism, rights, justice, revolution, war, emancipation, industrialization, immigration, empire, protests, terrorism, resistance, freedom of speech

Units of Study: Content Area, Nonfiction, Social Issues, Personal Essay, Historical Fiction

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: questioning, synthesis, prediction, determining importance, inference, interpretation

Writing Skills: using evidence to support a thesis or main idea, inserting anecdotes and quotations

My Thoughts: I was so thrilled to find this book on the shelves.  I read A People’s History of the United States several years ago and often reread sections before embarking on Social Studies units.  Though I thought this book was going to present a child’s perspective of historical events, Zinn does manage to tuck in a few stories of young people working to make a difference.  For example, he includes the story about how children started the first milll strike in Paterson, New Jersey.  I intend to read aloud exerpts from this book to support and/or challenge what they may be reading in their own nonfiction texts.  This book is also available in two volumes.  Volume I covers Columbus to the Spanish-American War.  Volume II covers World War I to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

July 26, 2009 at 9:07 am 1 comment

24. Owen and Mzee: The Language of Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu

owen and mzeeRetell: This sequel continues the story of Owen and Mzee, the beloved baby hippo and the anti-social tortoise, who were brought together during the aftermath of the tsunami of 2004.

Topics: tsunami, hippos, tortoises, wildlife, preservation, Kenya, friendship, biology, animal habitats, narrative nonfiction, biography

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Personal Essay, Content-Area Reading and Writing

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, determining importance, inference

Writing Skills: using transitional phrases, using quotation marks that note unusual usage

My Thoughts: Be ready for a chorus of “ahhh”s if you choose to read this book aloud to your students.  Every photograph is absolutely adorable.  A lot can be learned from this pair.  I plan to use this book during my Content Area Reading and Writing units.  Owen and Mzee includes both narrative and expository text making it a good teaching text during the Nonfiction unit as well.  One could even use this during a biography unit since it’s telling a life story.

July 20, 2009 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

13. A Dandelion’s Life by John Himmelman (The Nature Upclose Series)

a dandelion's life Retell: John Himmelman tells the life story, from seed to bloom, of the unappreciated dandelion.

Topics: dandelions, flowers, life cycle, narrative nonfiction

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area Reading and Writing

Reading Skills: prediction, determining importance, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: incorporating transitional phrases, including text features

My Thoughts: A Dandelion’s Life is but one of several narrative nonfiction books in the Nature Upclose Series.  After reading this book I had a new appreciation for the dandelion.  This is a decent, simple example of narrative nonfiction that could be used as a mentor text during the Content-Area Reading and Writing unit.  If you’re a fourth grade teacher in New York, you will be pleased with how well this book could align with the Science unit:  Food Chains and Life Cycles.  Our fourth grade team is considering aligning that Science unit with the Content-Area Reading and Writing units, making A Dandelion’s Life a perfect read aloud fit.  The illustrations don’t just exclusively feature the dandelion.  Throughout the narrative butterflies, snakes, fireflies, birds and crickets make appearances.  I can envision readers using the illustrations to envision the habitat of each creature.  I think I’m going to keep my eye out for more books in this series.

July 9, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

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