Posts tagged ‘money’

40. Rent Party Jazz by William Miller

rent party jazzRetell: Sonny is worried.  His mom just lost her job at the fish market and is worried that they may not make rent.  Sonny meets the musician Smilin’ Jack who comes up with a solution that turns out to be both profitable and entertaining.

Topics: New Orleans, rent, money, jazz, parties, music, community

Units of Study: Social Issues, Historical Fiction

Tribes: personal best, attentive listening

Reading Skills: envisionment, interpretation

Writing Skills: using commas to tuck in details

My Thoughts: Great books teach us something new.  Rent Party Jazz not only tells a story of Sonny and his family, but tells the story of the origin of rent parties throughout African-American communities in the South.  The book will be great to read when your class needs to be reminded of the power a strong, supportive community.  Even something as bleak as not being able to pay rent can be conquered when people work together.

August 5, 2009 at 9:22 am Leave a comment

31. The Greatest Power by Demi

the greatest powerRetell: Emperor Ping, the boy emperor of China, appreciates honesty and harmony.  He wants to appoint an honest and wise prime minister so he decides to hold a contest.  The child who can think of the greatest power in the world will become the next prime minister.  Children far and wide prepare presentations for the emperor.  A young girl named Sing sits by a lotus pond and comes up with an answer that is quite different from the rest.

Topics: technology, beauty, military, power, money, life, life cycle, China

Units of Study: Talking and Writing About Texts, Content Area

Tribes: personal best, appreciations/no put downs

Reading Skills: interpretation, prediction

Writing Skills: repetition

My Thoughts: Fifth grade teachers at my school do this great unit on power.  They examine power structures at home, in the neighborhood, in the classroom, at school, and so on.  The Greatest Power could be a great companion to that unit.  It will spark discussions about what makes a powerful group or a powerful nation.  I could also see this book being used during a unit on the life cycle.  Sing after sitting by apond and contemplating a lotus flower is fascinated by its life cycle.  She determines that life is the greatest power on earth.

July 27, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

21. The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake

the skin I'm inRetell: Every day students tease Maleeka Madison.  Whether it be her good grades, her homemade clothes or her dark skin, it seems like the world is against Maleeka.  She does others’ homework in exchange for friendship.  That is until Miss Saunders, a new teacher from the business world, challenges Maleeka to think for herself.

Topics: self-esteem, confidence, body image, race, middle school, peer pressure, money issues, assault, clothing, status, taking a stand, arson, bullying

Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Historical Fiction (Writing), Literary Essay, Talking and Writing About Books

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

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, synthesis, making connections

Writing Skills: keeping journals, writing poetry

My Thoughts: This is a fantastic text to read aloud in a middle school classroom.  I’m not sure that I would read the text as a whole to everyone in an upper elementary grade classroom.  I would encourage certain fifth grade book clubs to read and discuss this book.  I plan to read certain sections from this book.  For example, Maleeka keeps a journal which she writes from the perspective of an African girl aboard a slave ship.  There are several scenes throughout the book where Maleeka’s historical fiction writing parallel’s her own life.  This would be a great way to show how writers of historical fiction create characters who struggle with similar issues to their own.  This is an excellent cautionary tale detailing what can happen if you refuse to let others force you into situations that you know are wrong.

July 17, 2009 at 9:00 am 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


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