Posts tagged ‘exploration’

85. Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey

kat kongRetell: Explorers from Mousopolis land on an uncharted island where they meet the terrifying “beast” Kat Kong.  They bring him back to Mousopolis in order to seek fame and fortune.  When Kat Kong escapes his shackles, citizens are terrified.

Topics: cats, mice, greed, exploration, monsters, humor, puns

Units of Study: Fantasy

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: finding humor

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense

My Thoughts: This is the adorable sequel to Pilkey’s book, Dogzilla. Similar to the style of Dogzilla, Kat Kong includes ‘cheesy’ puns and idioms, all related to cats.  For example, when Kat Kong ravages the city the butcher cries, “The cat’s got my tongue!”  I plan to read this book aloud when I want to focus on the reading skill monitoring for sense.  I find that many books written for upper elementary students are highly engaging, but can also be really confusing.  Many of my students are English Language Learners and often don’t understand when an author slips in a joke.  Using Kat Kong as an a model could remind students to seek out humor throughout their reading.

September 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm 1 comment

42. River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River by Hudson Talbott

river of dreamsRetell: A beautifully illustrated history of the Hudson River.

Topics: Hudson River, New York, Native Americans, Henry Hudson, dreamers, Dutch, explorers, British, American Revolution, Robert Fulton, Erie Canal, trade, Hudson River School Painters, Industrial Revolution, environment, Franny Reese, pollution, immigration

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Social Issues, Content Area

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: envisionment, determining importance, questioning, synthesis

Writing Skills: including expository text features

My Thoughts: My eyes grew wide when I spotted this book in Barnes and Noble this afternoon.  This book is treasure for New York 4th grade teachers who will be embarking on a year-long study of New York history.  A timeline painted in the shape of the Hudson River winds throughout the book noting historic events including:  the American Revolution, the commercial success of Fulton’s steamboat, the opening of the Erie Canal, and the Scenic Hudson Decision.  I think I may read this book in September when we discuss what we will be learning in Social Studies this year.  When we get to a new unit, I think I’ll reread corresponding sections of River of Dreams.  Talbott also highlights writers and artists who were inspired by the Hudson River such as Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper and the Hudson River School Painters.  This is a great book to use when discussing trade and industry.  There is a beautiful painting in the book that shows the Hudson River bursting with steamboats and schooners–“America’s first superhighway.”  I like how the story includes the environmental impact of industrial pollution and the story ends with a strong message–it’s up to us to protect the beauty of this river.

August 7, 2009 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

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


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