Posts tagged ‘inference’

122. Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen

welcome to the green houseRetell: Jane Yolen poetically compares the rainforest to a green house.

Topics: rainforest, animals, birds, nonfiction poetry

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area, Personal Essay

Habits of Mind: gathering data through all senses

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using repetition, incorporating rhythm and rhyme, using sparkling vocabulary, using alliteration

My Thoughts: A few months ago I received a GrowLab through a DonorsChoose grant.  We received support from an educator at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and created corsage box terrariums.  Students planted cuttings from three different plants that thrive in the rainforest.  I plan on reading this book soon to support our gardening experience.  The text in this book is so vivid that as I read it I can actually feel the humidity of the rainforest.  It’s a great text for teaching students how to interpret metaphors.  At the end of the book, the author writes a message to her readers encouraging us to find out more about saving the rapidly disappearing rainforest.  Though it’s not technically a personal essay, you could use sections of the message as a mentor text.

November 2, 2009 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment

120. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

where the wild things areRetell: After Max is sent to bed without supper he imagines traveling to a world where he becomes king of the wild things.  Being a wild things is fun for awhile but he learns that it cannot compare to the comforts of home.

Topics: monsters, mischief, disobedience, imagination, travel, dreams, home

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About texts

Habits of Mind: creating-innovating-imagining

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using repetition, crafting endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: I dressed up as a wild thing for our recent school Halloween parade.  I looked more like a hairy viking than a wild thing, but I get points for trying.  To introduce my costume I read this book aloud.  Many of them had heard it before.  I’m glad I was able to tuck in this classic read aloud before the majority of my students head to the cinema to see the movie.  Upon rereading it, I realized that one has to do a huge amount of envisionment as they read the text.  The illustrations are wonderful, but they don’t reveal all.  When reading this book aloud I recommend using the pages where there is no text to have your students (or your own children) role play and act like Max or the wild things.  You can encourage them to make noise like them, talk like them, move like them and think like them.

November 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm Leave a comment

118. Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor

hawk, I'm your brotherRetell: Rudy Soto yearns to fly.  He climbs up a cliff and captures a young hawk in the hope that he will be able to become brothers with the hawk and thus have a sense of what it means to fly.  Eventually he sets the hawk free and is forever changed.

Topics: hawks, dreams, flying, keeping pets, freedom

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

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: questioning, inference, interpretation, synthesis

Writing Skills: using alliteration

My Thoughts: Each year the issue of whether or not to get a class pet comes up.  I have mixed feelings about class pets.  I think they can be very useful for studying life cycles and animal habitats, but I don’t like the idea of animals in cages.  I may read this book the next time the issue arises in my classroom.  It will be an essential text during the interpretation unit and could also be an interesting one to read or reread during Social Issues.

When I was looking for images of this book I came across a website with a fantastic resource.  Through the Magic Door is an online bookstore that has put together some fabulous lists of books that may be very useful when making text sets.  Hawk, I’m Your Brother can be found under the list of books that are all about Flying.

October 24, 2009 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

115. Tea With Milk by Allen Say

tea with milkRetell: 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.

October 19, 2009 at 8:54 pm Leave a comment

114. The Gold Coin by Alma Flor Ada

the gold coinRetell: 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.

October 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm Leave a comment

112. Allie’s Basketball Dream by Barbara E. Barber

allie's basketball dreamRetell: Allie wants to be a star basketball player like her cousin Gwen.  After receiving a brand-new basketball from her father, she gives it a test run at the neighborhood playground.  She soon finds out that not everyone is willing to accept a girl on the court.

Topics: basketball, gender issues, friendship

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

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best, right to pass

Habits of Mind: persisting

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, making connections

Writing Skills: planning  a story across 2-3 scenes

My Thoughts: This book is a great read aloud for so many different units.  It’s a particularly good text to read during the Social Issues unit.  It’s nice to read this book before or after reading other books that deal with gender issues such as,  William’s Doll,  or Oliver Button is a Sissy.  It’s a good mentor text for the Realistic Fiction unit because the story takes place across two scenes.

October 17, 2009 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment

111. Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates by Jonah Winter

roberto clementeRetell: This is the rags-to-riches story of Roberto Clemente.  Not only was he an all-star player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was also a humanitarian who donated a great deal of his earnings to charity.

Topics: baseball, Puerto Rico, racism, poetry

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Social Issues, Content-Area

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Habits of Mind: persisting, thinking flexibly, striving for accuracy

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, envisionment

Writing Skills: including similes, using commas in lists

My Thoughts: I like sports stories that emphasize the athlete’s character rather than just his/her athletic ability.  This is a good book for showing persistence even in the face of adversity.  The book describes how Clemente grew up playing baseball with a glove made out of a coffee-bean sack and baseballs made from old soup cans.  Written in free verse but organized into two line stanzas, this is a great book to read as a model for students writing nonfiction poetry during the Content-Area unit.

October 17, 2009 at 9:00 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

109. Encounter by Jane Yolen

encounterRetell: An account of Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of the Americas told from the point of view of a Taino boy.

Topics: Christopher Columbus, explorers, gold, Taino, trade, slaves

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Historical Fiction, Content-Area

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: interpretation, envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using figurative language

My Thoughts: Yesterday was Columbus Day and to celebrate, here is one of my favorite Columbus Day read alouds.  Since the story is told from the perspective of a child, students will be able to relate to how powerless the boy feels.  He warns his people not to trust the “strange creatures” that were “spat out of the canoes”, but no one listens to him.  This is a fantastic text for teaching inference.  Yolen takes great care not to use terms that would have been foreign to the Taino people.  Readers must constantly infer what the boy is describing.  For example, Yolen describes beards as “hair growing like bushes on their chins”.  When Columbus claims the island for Spain she describes how people “knelt before their chief and pushed sticks into the sand”.  It’s important to model how readers constantly consult the illustration while reading the text in order to construct meaning.

October 13, 2009 at 7:44 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

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