Posts tagged ‘family’

136. Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

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.

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November 29, 2009 at 12:46 pm Leave a comment

135. Presidential Pets by Laura Driscoll

Retell: A history of presidents and their beloved pets.

Topics: pets, presidents, fun, friendship, dogs, Obama, Bo, family

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area

Reading Skills: synthesis, making connections, interpretation

Writing Skills: developing voice in nonfiction

My Thoughts: I picked this book up a few days ago at our school’s book fair.  I have a lot of animal lovers in my class who only read nonfiction about animals.  This book combines an interest in animals with an interest in presidential history and current events.  It’s a nice book for demonstrating how readers can often get distracted by seductive details but must work constantly to think about what the author is trying to say about the topic.

November 23, 2009 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

133. The Well by Mildred D. Taylor

Retell: During a drought, the Logan family shares water from their well with anyone who needs it, be they white or black.  Hammer, the narrator’s brother, finds it difficult to share with the Simms family who have tormented the Logans for being black.  After Hammer defends his brother David and beats up Charlie Simms, he and David are forced to work on the Simms’ farm to avoid jail.  Hammer, however, never quite manages to swallow his pride and gets involved in another altercation that causes Charlie to take revenge.

Topics: drought, racism, segregation, bullying, fighting, family

Units of Study: Historical Fiction, Talking and Writing About Texts, Social Issues

Tribes: mutual respect, right to pass, appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: managing impulsivity

Reading Strategies: inference, synthesis, interpretation, envisionment

My Thoughts: I’ve been trying to locate shorter chapter books to read aloud.  I’m finding that some of my favorite chapter books are too long to complete before the end of a unit. The Well is short, only 92 pages and can be completed within a month-long unit.  I think this could be a great book to read if a class is struggling with the issue of revenge.  In this story, Hammer cannot control his temper.  The situation is extremely unfair, and you empathize with Hammer for fighting with Charlie.  But on the other hand, his decision to take revenge led to his family’s well getting poisoned.  It raises the question whether or not it’s better to fight back with violence or fight back in other ways.

November 21, 2009 at 9:47 pm Leave a comment

125. Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine

under the lemon moonRetell: 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.

November 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

124. A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting

a picnic in octoberRetell: Each year Tony’s family boards the ferry to Liberty Island at grandma’s insistence.  They brave the crowds and the cold to celebrate a special birthday.

Topics: New York, family, Statue of Liberty, grandparents, immigration

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

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: prediction, envisionment, inference, questioning

My Thoughts: This book is typically read during an Immigration unit.  However I don’t think I can wait that long to read this book.  A scene that stuck out for me was the part when Tony helps a young woman who pulls on his jacket, worried that the last boat has left.  Apparently no one has been able to help her because she doesn’t speak English.  Tony is patient with her and through gestures explains that another boat is on the way.  When reading this aloud, I plan on emphasizing this moment and hope it will spark a meaningful discussion about how we can help students who have limited English skills.

This is a great text for modeling expression.  Each character has a distinctive personality which may come out best if the reader creates voices for each character.  For example, Rosa talks in “a reading kind of way” and should sound official (or as we say in conferences “like a teacher”).  Mike seems a bit mischievous and should sound like it.

November 3, 2009 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

116. “Could Be Worse!” by James Stevenson

could be worseRetell: Day in, day out Grandpa always says the same thing:  “Could be worse.”  One day Grandpa tells his grandchildren about a wacky adventure he had the night before.  At the end of the rambling story his grandchildren surprise him by delivering his favorite phrase.

Topics: imagination, grandparents, family

Units of Study: Fantasy, Realistic Fiction

Habits of Mind: Creating-imagining-innovating

Writing Skills: storytelling

My Thoughts: This month our TC staff developer (Colleen Cruz) will be working with the upper grades on planning interactive read alouds.  She reiterated that interactive read aloud is THE most important part of the school day and should never be cut out.  She also mentioned that teachers should try and tuck in different kinds of read alouds throughout the day whenever possible.  This has inspired me to find quick, fun texts that I can read during transitions or during times when kids are riled up. 

“Could Be Worse!” is a cute, short read aloud that can be used to connect to the storytelling work that students are doing during Writing.  I think I’m going to read this next week as students get in line.  The next day, I could work in fluency practice by having students say the grandkids’ line while I say Grandpa’s lines and on the next day vice versa.

October 20, 2009 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

110. Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone

peppe the lamplighterRetell: Peppe and his family live in a tenement on Mulberry Street.  Though he is just a boy, he must find work to help support his family.  After several attempts, he finally finds a job as a lamplighter.  His Papa imagines a better world for him in America.  He becomes upset with Peppe for taking such a menial job.  Though he loves his job, Peppe decides to take a break from it one evening in an effort to please his father.   Later that evening both Peppe and his father discover that being the lamplighter isn’t such a bad deal after all

Topics: tenements, New York, child labor, lamplighters, family, perspectives, work

Units of Study: Historical Fiction, Social Issues, Talking and Writing about Texts

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs

Reading Skills: inference, envisionment, interpretation

Writing Skills: using the ‘rule of three’, angling a story

My Thoughts: What I love about this text, is that it’s short, but inspires the reader to do a lot of good thinking.  It’s a fabulous text for Reading and Writing Workshop as well as Social Studies.  Using the illustrations, students can envision what New York tenement life was like during the 1800s.  Though my students are currently writing Realistic Fiction, I’m planning on reading a section of this book tomorrow to a small group of students.  I’m going to teach them how authors often incorporate the ‘rule of three’ when crafting stories (“The Three Little Pigs”, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”).  In the beginning of the story, Peppe attempts to find a job.  The author could have chosen to describe the effort in a figurative way.  Instead, she decided to give three examples of where he looked for work:  the butcher, the bar, and the candy maker.

October 14, 2009 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

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