Posts tagged ‘envisionment’

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

101. Heartland by Diane Siebert

heartlandRetell: A celebration of the Midwest, told in rhyming verse and gorgeous illustrations.

Topics: rural communities, landforms, plains, farming

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment

Writing Skills: creating metaphors,  personification

My Thoughts: At the moment my class is learning how readers interpret maps.  They have difficulty envisioning what places look like.  In their minds, New York State is just one gigantic city.  I plan on reading this book aloud to help my ‘citified’ students envision what rural areas look, feel and sound like.  It will be great to use this as a mentor text in a few months during the Content-Area unit when some students may choose to write nonfiction poetry.

October 6, 2009 at 8:52 pm Leave a comment

99. The Whales by Cynthia Rylant

the whalesRetell: Rylant imagines what whales might be thinking while swimming in the ocean.

Topics: whales, whale songs

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: repetition, alliteration

My Thoughts: Though the Content-Area unit is months away I’m trying to start early in my search for nonfiction poetry.  As a child I loved doing research but I hated having to do research reports.  Within the Content-Area unit students make choices about how they will publish the findings from their research.  They could do a research report but they could also choose to do a speech, an essay or write a poem.  Last year one of my struggling writers, who found essays and fiction writing to be torture, discovered nonfiction poetry.  He became interested in longhouses, researched the topic for a few weeks and wrote a poem several stanzas long.  I feel that I could lift the level of my students’ writing this year if I can get my hands on engaging nonfiction poetry.  The Whales is just the mentor text I’ve been looking for.  I love how she inserts factual information and balances it with descriptive language.  I think it would be great to read this book side by side with an informational text in order to compare each author’s voice.

Do you know of any fantastic nonfiction poetry texts?  Please post your suggestions in the comments section!

October 4, 2009 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

95. If You Are a Hunter of Fossils by Byrd Baylor

if you are a hunger of fossilsRetell: As a child goes hunting for fossils in the Southwest she envisions what the dry world once looked like underwater.

Topics: fossils, trilobites, dinosaurs, ocean, landforms

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe, striving for accuracy and precision

Reading Skills: envisionment, questioning

Writing Skills: using repetition

My Thoughts: One of the many goals of this blog is to discover hidden read aloud gems.  This is one of those books and it just happens to fit with our current Science unit.  I love how the author invites the reader to envision what the world must have been like when today’s mountains were covered by a vast ocean.  This book could also make a good mentor text for students who need help using repetition effectively.  If you decide to have students read and write nonfiction poetry, this book would be a good addition to that unit.

September 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm 1 comment

94. This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie, Paintings by Kathy Jakobsen

this land is your landRetell: Woody Guthrie’s famous song in picture book form.  The book includes a tribute by Pete Seeger and information about Guthrie’s life.

Topics: America, Great Depression, Dust Bowl, traveling, migrant camps

Units of Study: Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts, Personal Essay

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: interpretation, envisionment

My Thoughts: I started a ‘song of the week’ tradition in my classroom this year.  Each day while students enter the classroom and unpack we listen to a song together.  By the end of the song students are expected to have unpacked and come to the rug with their lyrics.  At the end of the week we sing the song together.  This week’s song just happens to be “This Land is Your Land”.  This morning while on my walk I passed by a bookstore which displayed the picture book version of the song in its window.  I was so pleased!  Kathy Jakobsen’s paintings compliment the lyrics well.  (She also illustrated the book, My New York.)  I can’t wait to read this to my students this week.  Seeing the pictures will help them visualize the lyrics of the song.  In the version my students sing there are three verses that are omitted.  This is one of them:

“In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people; By the relief office I seen my people; As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking, Is this land made for you and me?”

It made me wonder why I had never heard these lyrics growing up.  I hope to have a lively whole group discussion after reading this book aloud.  I also plan on revisiting this text during the Personal Essay unit when I’ll ask students to observe the world around them and ask difficult questions.

September 28, 2009 at 12:34 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

90. Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema

bringing the rain to kapiti plainRetell: In this Nandi folktale a man is worried about the drought that is turning the plains brown and making his cows hungry and dry.  He decides to make an arrow and shoot it into a storm cloud which brings the much needed rain.

Topics: plains, drought, weather, Kenya, folktales

Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly, managing impulsivity

Reading Skills: envisionment, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: incorporating repetition, rhyme and rhythm

Thoughts: Like “The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” and “The House that Jack Built” (also see The House That Crack Built) Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain is a cumulative rhyme.  The words are composed in a way that it’s easy to find a rhythm when you read.  In addition to being a nice Social Studies read aloud, it’s a great text to use with readers who need help with phrasing and parsing.

September 26, 2009 at 10:28 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

83. Fake Out! Animals That Play Tricks by Ginjer L. Clarke (All Aboard Science Reader)

fake outRetell: In this book, readers learn how animals ‘play games’ in order to adapt to their habitat.  In order to survive they play hide-and-seek, play dead, and even play pretend.

Topics: animals, adaptations, habitats, marine life, mammals, mimicry, camouflage

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area

Reading Skills: envisionment, questioning, synthesis, determining importance

Writing Skills: developing voice in expository writing, including conclusions that sum up and release the writer

Thoughts: I’m worried about a boy in my class.  He dropped four reading levels over the summer.  He’s distracted during Reading Workshop and his reading log shows he’s not reading at home.  However, he’s obsessed with the books in the dinosaur bin and carries around a gaming magazine.  He’s a nonfiction reader trapped in a unit of study focused on fiction.  I think of him as I plan my read alouds.  I want to make sure that I’m finding time to tuck in nonfiction read alouds throughout the week, even though we’re not currently in a nonfiction unit.  Fake Out! is a high engagement nonfiction read aloud that just happens to look like a “low level” book.  Reading this book aloud ‘blesses’ this struggling reader’s level and will hopefully make “All Aboard” books cool to read.

September 18, 2009 at 10:40 pm 1 comment

82. Flying Over Brooklyn by Myron Uhlberg

flying over brooklynRetell: On a snowy, winter’s evening a boy dreams of flying over Brooklyn.  He visits many of his favorite places:  Prospect Park, The Brooklyn Bridge and of course, Coney Island.

Topics: Brooklyn, birds-eye view, dreams, flying, imagination, winter

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Memoir

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading skills: envisionment, making connections

Writing Skills: using sensory details, using observation to generate entries, zooming in on small moments

My Thoughts: This book is beautifully written.  I think it will be an excellent book to use as a mentor text for using descriptive language.  When I read this aloud, I plan on pointing out how the author makes you feel the snow and sense the quiet throughout the snowy city.  4th grade teachers in New York may want to read this during a Geography unit.  After reading the book aloud, students could find each place on a map or make their own map based on places visited throughout the text.

September 16, 2009 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

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