Posts tagged ‘empathy’
Retell: This is the biography of Cesar Chavez, the leader of the National Farm Workers Association who worked to organize farm workers to rally together and fight for better pay and working conditions.
Topics: family, Cesar Chavez, conflict, drought, California, farming, Spanish, migrant workers, unions, La Causa, strikes, protests, boycotts, farm workers
Units of Study: Nonfiction, Social Issues
Tribes: personal best, mutual respect, appreciations/no put-downs
Habits of Mind: persisting
Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, determining importance, synthesis, empathy
My Thoughts: Back when I taught in California this was required reading–in the Bay Area Cesar Chavez’s birthday is a school holiday. This book could fit into different types of text sets. For example, you could include this book when teaching a unit on the labor unit. You could also choose to read this book as a companion text to Esperanza Rising.
Retell: One evening Rosalinda awakes to find a man stealing lemons from her lemon tree. During the theft, a branch is broken and the tree becomes sick. Rosalinda searches her village for a cure. A mysterious woman helps her cure her sick tree and help a family in need.
Topics: theft, family, community, trees, kindness
Units of Study: Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts
Tribes: personal best, mutual respect
Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly
Reading Skills: empathy, interpretation, inference, monitoring for sense
Writing Skills: using words to describe sound, using interesting verbs, incorporating foreign languages
My Thoughts: This is a text that can be useful for many units and for many purposes. As I was reading this text I immediately noticed the beautiful verbs the author uses. A reader who is unfamiliar with the vocabulary in the text can easily figure out the meaning of the words by thinking about the context. It’s a great text for teaching the strategy of playing ‘fill in the bank’ when solving tricky words.
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.
Retell: Masako is a Japanese-American who moves to Japan after spending her childhood in America. Adjusting to life in Japan is rough for Masako. She must repeat high school in order to learn Japanese, her classmates call her gaijin (a derogatory word for ‘foreigner’), and she must learn how to be a proper Japanese lady. One day she boards a bus for Osaka and finds work, a companion and a cure for her homesickness.
Topics: English, Japanese-Americans, homesickness, culture shock, matchmaking, individuality
Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Personal Narrative, Memoir
Tribes: right to pass
Habits of Mind: taking responsible risks, thinking flexibly
Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, prediction, empathy
My Thoughts: I especially enjoy Tea With Milk because I have a personal connection to this book. I taught English for three years in a rural village in Japan. I can relate to May and her struggle to get used to sitting on the floor (women are expected to sit on their knees–it’s considered rude to sit cross-legged) and missing comfort foods. When I read this book I thought of my students who often visit the countries where their parents are from and experience an identity crisis similar to the one that May faced. I hope that this book inspires them to write their stories. Though this is technically a personal narrative (the main character was the author’s mother) you could angle this to fit in many different units including the current Character unit. It’s particularly useful for modeling how readers notice subtle changes in a character.
Retell: A thief discovers a woman who claims to be the “richest person in the world.” He ransacks her hut but fails to find her gold. He goes on a quest to find the woman and her gold. What he finds instead are people who teach him that being rich has little to do with gold.
Topics: gold, greed, thieves, kindness, hard work, acceptance
Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Talking and Writing about Texts
Tribes: mutual respect
Reading Skills: prediction, interpretation, inference, empathy
Writing Skills: incorporating the rule of three
My Thoughts: I first discovered this story when I went to a Great Books training years ago. I’ve since used it a few times during the Character unit. It is a great text for examining how people can change because of their relationships with other people. It’s a great text to use when you are launching whole class conversation during and after read alouds.
Retell: Sugar and her mama share the same birthday. Sugar enjoys listening to her mother’s stories. She especially misses them now that her mother is in prison. Her mother finds a way to share her stories even from far away.
Topics: mothers, families, prison, stories, birthdays
Units of Study: Social Issues, Personal Narratives, Realistic Fiction
Tribes: attentive listening
Reading Skills: interpretation, questioning, empathy
Writing Skills: writing with a balance of description and reflection, keeping a writers notebook
My Thoughts: This is a moving story about a girl who is dealing with the fact that her mother is imprisoned. There aren’t many published stories like this in the world. It’s a great model to use when you teach your students to write about stories you wish belonged in the world–the ones that show aspects of your life or struggles you are going through. The author never reveals what the mother did to land her in prison which I think is a nice touch. The book isn’t about the mother, but about how much her daughter misses her.
Retell: One Green Apple is the story of Farah, a Muslim immigrant, who struggles to fit in. Despite the language barrier she manages to make friends and participate during the field trip to the apple orchard.
Topics: immigration, language barrier, dupatta, field trips, friendship, Muslim characters
Units of Study: Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts, Realistic Fiction
Tribes: mutual respect, right to pass
Reading Skills: interpretation, inference, empathy
Writing Skills: including metaphors, using sensory details
My Thoughts: I wish I knew about this book last year. I had two students who recently came from China. Other students were having difficulty communicating with them. They got frustrated when the Chinese students didn’t understand their rapid speech. The Chinese students got frustrated when people spoke too loud to them and ‘dumbed material down’. I intend to use this book to address language issues. In the story Farah thinks to herself, “I understand. It’s not that I am stupid. It is just that I am lost in this new place.” I can see using this book as a mentor text for teaching about metaphors. You could discuss Eve Bunting’s decision to make Farah choose a green apple rather than a red apple like the others.