Posts tagged ‘grandparents’

149. Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka

Retell:  The subtitle says it all:  “Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka.”

Topics: boys, brothers, growing up, catholic school, rough-housing, adventure, reading, family

Units of Study:  Memoir, Personal Narrative, Nonfiction

Tribes:  Mutual Respect, Appreciations/No Put-Downs

Habits of Mind:  Finding Humor

Reading Skills:  Understanding figurative language and humor

Writing Skills:  Balancing dialogue with description and inner thinking, including prologues

Thoughts:  This is a must-read for any teacher who plans on doing a Personal Narrative or Memoir unit.  Most stories are short (1-3 pages), hilarious and at times disgusting.  I personally love the story entitled, “Car Trip,” a story about brothers in the back of a car reacting to a cat puking.  Many of the stories end with a reflection making them ideal mentor texts if you’re teaching Memoir. One story, “Random Reading” may be useful during a Nonfiction unit.  In this story he talks about enjoying the diagrams found within the pages of the Golden Book Encyclopedia series.   Jon Scieszka writes particularly with boy readers and writers in mind.  If you haven’t already, check out his website called Guys Read.

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August 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm Leave a comment

146. When I Was Young In the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

Retell: Rylant beautifully recalls her childhood where she swam in swimming holes and sat on porch swings.

Topics: grandparents, family, rural communities, childhood, country

Units of Study: Memoir, Personal Narrative

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation

Writing Skills: writing commas in lists, including poignant details

My Thoughts: This is a read aloud classic that I have rediscovered.  My class has just started collecting ideas for their memoirs.  I read this book out loud the other day.  Though half the class had read it previously, there were no groans when I showed the cover and read the title.  During a “turn-and-talk” I over heard one student convincing her partner that the author was trying to show how special rural life can be.  She said, “In the city, you are never allowed to go outside by yourself.  But in this book the girl was allowed to go to the swimming hole all by herself.  I think this book might be about freedom.”  I had never actually read this book in that way before.  I love it when my students make me see a book in a new light.

Read this book when you need the room to go to a peaceful, sentimental silence.

May 9, 2010 at 4:12 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

71. The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco

the bee treeRetell: When Mary Ellen becomes bored of reading her grampa takes her on a hunt for a bee tree.  People from the community join them as they run through the Michigan countryside chasing bees.  By the end of the bee tree chase Mary Ellen learns that there are many similarities between chasing knowledge through the pages of a book and chasing bees.

Topics: reading, outdoors, adventure, grandparents, community, knowledge

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction, Personal Narrative, Authoring an Independent Reading Life

Tribes: personal best

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, interpretation

My Thoughts: I like reading this book at the beginning of the year when we author our own independent reading lives.  I think this year I want to keep referring back to the book when we have particularly juicy conversations.  When students ask interesting, provocative questions I could refer to them as ‘honey questions’.  I need to make a banner with Grampa’s words:  “[Adventure, knowledge and wisdom] do not come easily.  You have to pursue them.  Just like we ran after the bees to find their tree, so you must also chase these things through the pages of a book!”

September 5, 2009 at 9:07 pm Leave a comment

19. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

those shoesRetell: It seems like everyone in school has a pair of black high tops with white stripes–everyone but Jeremy.  Jeremy’s grandmother only has enough money for a pair of boots.  When they spot a pair of “those shoes” at a thrift shop, Jeremy buys them with his own money, only to find out that they’re too small.  He is then faced with a difficult decision–does he keep his blister-causing shoes or give them to a friend.

Topics: shoes, needs and wants, fads, money, grandparents, decisions, friendship, generosity

Units of Study: Character,  Talking and Writing About Texts, Literary Essay, Realistic Fiction, Social Issues

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best, community building

Reading Skills: inference, prediction, making connections

Writing Skills: using dashes, transitional phrases, incorporating a balance of dialogue and summary

My Thoughts: My fabulous student teacher introduced this book to me last year.  Every year it seems there is some sort of expensive fad:  Tech decks, sidekicks, iphones, sneakers, smencils.  My heart breaks when I think about the students who are being teased just because they don’t have the latest fad.  Those Shoes is a book to address this issue.  It is an ideal book to read aloud to discuss the differences between need and want.  I can see reading this book aloud during a Social Issues unit.  I could also see using this as a text to analyze during a literary essay unit.

July 15, 2009 at 9:00 am 1 comment

17. Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

Grandfather's JourneyRetell: Allen Say tells the story of how his grandfather made a home in both a village in Japan and in a city in America.

Topics: grandparents, journeys, San Francisco, Japan, World War II, California, travelling, home, being homesick, family

Units of Study: Memoir, Social Issues

Reading Skills: envisionment, interpretation, inference, making connections

Writing Skills: adding setting details, developing the heart of a story, including reflection, including endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: I think I have a soft spot in my heart for this book because I too get homesick for more than one place.  Allen Say’s illustrations remind me of faded photographs and automatically put me into a reflective, sentimental mood.  This is a perfect text to use during the Memoir unit.  Though it starts out as a story about his grandfather, it ends up being more about the author himself.

July 13, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

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