Posts tagged ‘making connections’

150. Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini

Retell:  Gritch the Witch wakes up one morning with an intense craving for ‘piggie pie’. When she discovers that she is missing the main ingredient she heads to Old MacDonald’s Farm where she meets some crafty pigs.

Topics: witches, pigs, nursery rhymes, cultural literacy, Old MacDonald, wolves, Wizard of Oz

Units of Study:  Fairy Tales, Fantasy

Habits of Mind:  Persisting, Thinking Flexibly

Reading Skills:  Understanding humor, catching cultural references

Writing Skills:  Writing commas in a list, Including alliteration, Using sentence variety

Thoughts:  I can see reading this book during a study of fairy tales and folk tales.  To thoroughly understand the story, students need to have a good understanding of the song “Old Macdonald”, the movie The Wizard of Oz as well as the role of the wolf in fairy tales.  Though this book may be geared to children under 8, this could be a good book to read for older children when teaching readers to analyze cultural references.  The “Spy vs. Spy” endings makes the story.

July 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

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.

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

142. Heroes of the Revolution by David A. Adler

Retell: Heroes of the Revolution presents the stories of 12 people who risked their lives for American independence.

Topics: heroes, spies, bravery, independence, war, revolution, Ethan Allen, Crispus Attucks, Lydia Darragh, Nathan Hale, Molly Pitcher, Thomas Jefferson, John Paul Jones, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, Haym Salomon, Deborah Sampson, George Washington

Units: Content Area, Nonfiction

Habits of Mind: persisting, thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: interpretation, determining importance, synthesis

My Thoughts: What makes this a great read aloud is that the stories of each hero are quite short.  They make both great read aloud and shared reading texts.  Adler attempts to include stories from people other than just the white male heroes.  Throughout the book you not only learn about what made each person important but each story tells the origin of famous quotes associated with the Revolution.  You will hear the origin of such famous quotes as: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” “Times that try men’s souls,” “I have not yet begun to fight!”

January 18, 2010 at 1:05 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

121. Vote! by Eileen Christelow

voteRetell: This book combines narrative and non-narrative text to describe how and why people vote.

Topics: voting, majority, mayors, elections, democracy, voting age, protests, marches, political parties, media, campaigns, taxes

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, determining importance, synthesis, making connections

My Thoughts: Tomorrow is election day.  My students have the day off and they have no idea why.  Unlike last year’s election day, the buzz around tomorrow’s election is quiet.  Nevertheless, days off from school can be good teaching moments and a great time to tuck in a read aloud.  Vote provides a nice, kid-friendly introduction to the world of voting.  The text in the white space explains how voting works.  Within the illustrations, speech and thought bubbles support a narrative thread:  Chris Smith is running against Bill Brown for mayor and Smith’s family (including the family dog) all participate in the campaign.  You may choose to read all of the non-narrative text and then pick and choose which speech bubbles are the most important to highlight.

If you choose to read this book (or others about voting) please add your comments in the space below.

November 2, 2009 at 8:28 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

97. A Family Guide to House Monsters by Stanislov Marijanovic

a family guide to house monstersRetell: This book explains many things including:  why we look in the mirror, why we spill things and why we are afraid of the dark.  It turns out we can blame everything on house monsters.

Topics: monsters, behavior, forgetfulness, laziness, vanity, clumsiness

Units of Study: Fantasy

Tribes: personal best

Habits of Mind: finding humor

Reading Skills: making connections, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: using alliteration

My Thoughts: I thought I was feeling exhausted from the hectic day.  It turns out I’m being followed by Doze-A-Log, the house monster of fatigue.  One of the great things about doing this blog is that I’ve been receiving gifts of books.  (Thanks Jess!)  Just last week I had a reading celebration where students brought in artifacts that represent a positive reading moment.  I’m so thankful to the people in my life who are sharing their favorite reading moments with me.  Keep sending recommendations!

This book may be difficult to obtain, but I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy.  It has many teaching purposes.  It could be a great mentor text during the Fantasy unit for developing quirky characters.  Each monster’s name is either a play-on-words or contains a Greek or Latin root that is connected to the monster’s behavior.  What a wonderful addition to word work!  With my more advanced students I plan on having them read a monster’s name and make a prediction about its behavior based on information from the word itself.  We’ll then read the text together and discuss if there are other words that may be connected to the word.  For example, I may show students the name, “Instantania”.  I would expect that they could recognize “instant” and guess that the monster is impatient.  We may then brainstorm other words with that base, (instantly, instantaneous, etc.)

October 1, 2009 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

89. Mrs. Morgan’s Lawn by Barney Saltzberg

mrs morgan's lawnRetell: Mrs. Morgan does not tolerate anyone or anything treading on her lawn.  Whenever a ball lands on her lawn she confiscates it and it is never seen again.  After some encouragement from his parents, Mrs. Morgan’s neighbor decides to confront her and ask for his ball back.  Even when he asks her nicely Mrs. Morgan refuses to return his ball.  After a few weeks he notices that Mrs. Morgan’s lawn is looking unkempt.  He rakes up leaves for her and discovers that kindness can often change people’s minds.

Topics: kindness, problem-solving

Units of Study: Character, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: taking responsible risks

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation

My Thoughts: I like to read this story when students start having conflicts with each other.  Giving “I-Messages” solves many of these conflicts but sometimes something more is needed to solve a problem.  Creating peace often starts by attempting to understand the person you have a conflict with.  In this story, the neighbor changes from thinking Mrs. Morgan is mean to understanding how she feels about her lawn and eventually helps her, despite the fact that she has not been kind in return.  When I read this out loud to my class last year, a student pointed out that “sometimes bullies act mean because they don’t feel that people are nice to them.”  She was talking about a particular bully in the class who had been absent during the read aloud.  She suggested to the class that they should say nice things to the student and compliment him when he did something well.

September 24, 2009 at 6:39 pm Leave a 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

74. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

first day jittersRetell: Sarah Hartwell is nervous about going to her new school.  She hides under the covers while Mr. Hartwell urges her to get out of bed.  Luckily the students, the principal and the staff are friendly to Sarah and she eventually feels ready for the first day of school.  It’s a good thing because Sarah isn’t a kid–she’s the teacher.

Topics: first day of school, nervousness, teachers

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction,

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best, attentive listening

Habits of Mind: perseverance

Reading Skills: making connections, making predictions

Thoughts: I can’t believe tomorrow is the first day of school!   I’m surprised by my own first day jitters.  Last year I looped with my class.  The night before the first day of school I remember feeling more relaxed because I already knew my students.  Tomorrow I will be starting with a new batch of 4th grade learners.  Though I’m not starting at a new school like Sarah Hartwell, I still feel anxious.  I can only imagine how my students feel.  I hope that after reading this book tomorrow my students will think of ways to help each other fight the first day jitters.

Welcome back to school everyone!

September 8, 2009 at 8:33 pm 1 comment

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