Posts tagged ‘monitoring for sense’

113. They Came from the Bronx: How the Buffalo Were Saved from Extinction by Neil Waldman

they came from the bronxRetell: Told from two perspectives, this book describes how the American Bison Society reintroduced a small herd of bison.

Topics: buffalo, Bronx Zoo, conservation, Native Americans, Comanche Indians, westward expansion, wildlife introduction

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: envisionment, monitoring for sense

My Thoughts: This book combines narrative and non-narrative text.  The book begins with a Comanche woman telling her grandson about the days when buffalo roamed the land.  On the next page the author describes how 2,000 miles a way trains with mysterious creatures leave the gates of the Bronx Zoo.  While reading this book it would be great to have a map of the United States displayed so students could see the route the buffalo traveled.

October 17, 2009 at 10:48 pm Leave a comment

107. Volcanoes by Franklyn M. Branley

volcanoes branleyRetell: Branley describes how volcanoes form and how geologists constantly pay attention to their activity.

Topics: volcanoes, eruptions, earthquakes, geologists, earth movements

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: envisionment, monitoring for sense

My Thoughts: While reading this book I was reminded of work I did last year.  Some colleagues and I examined level K and L books in order to investigate why readers struggle at those levels.  We noticed that books at this level usually have illustrations that convey information about part of the text.  Proficient readers understand that the illustration supports what the text says.  Struggling readers will form their mental picture of what’s going on from the illustration and not from the text.   We discovered that it was important to teach readers to not rely completely on the illustration, but to envision what’s not in the illustration.  Volcanoes is a great read aloud for modeling this strategy.  For example, when Branley describes the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the illustration shows the volcano erupting in the background of a lively city; the readers must envision the city being buried.  If we don’t model this thinking during the read aloud, students may miss vital pieces of information.  Prompts I like to use during read aloud to push this thinking are:

  • “What’s missing from the illustration?”
  • “What would you add to the illustration?”
  • “Where would you put that idea in the illustration?”
  • “Paint the illustration in the air.  Think about what you would include.”

October 11, 2009 at 10:37 pm Leave a comment

104. Postcards from a War by Vanita Oelschlager

postcards from a warRetell: Brian’s mom is in the Air Force.  Brian is sad that she has gone away to war.  To console him, Brian’s grandfather talks about the time his own father fought in World War II.  While he was in Manila he would send letters and postcards to his family to make them feel better.  Brian soon receives digital letters from his mom and begins to feel more connected.

Topics: family, communication, war, World War II, letters, reconstruction, military

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction, Personal Narratives, Memoir

Reading Skills: envisionment, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: writing from another person’s perspective, quoting written material, using photos to inspire notebook entries

My Thoughts: I highly recommend this text for any teacher who may have a student with a family member in the military.  This is a particularly powerful read aloud for Writing.  The text shows how important writing is and how writing can connect a family.  The author includes authentic photographs that were sent by her father during World War II.  It would be great to read this book to students who struggle with generating ideas.  I can imagine this book inspiring young writers to go home and look through family photos in order to generate ideas for personal narratives, memoirs or even realistic fiction.

October 11, 2009 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

103. Steam, Smoke, and Steel: Back in Time with Trains by Patrick O’Brien

steam, smoke,and steelRetell: This is a history of trains told from the perspective of a boy who comes from a long line of engineers.

Topics: trains, generations, generators, steam engines, family

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: envisionment, monitoring for sense, determining importance, reading diagrams

My Thoughts: Though I probably won’t have time to teach a unit on industrialization this year, I think I will just have to insert this book into my read aloud plans anyway.  Though my class isn’t studying trains at the moment, we are doing a unit in Math called, “Ages and Timelines”.  During the introduction to the unit, students had a difficult time understanding the concept of a ‘great-great grandparent’.  Steam, Smoke and Steel could be a book to help them understand this concept.  The main character comes from a family of train engineers.  As he looks back on his family’s history, the reader learns about trains from the past.  His father drives a modern locomotive.  His grandfather drove a diesel-electric locomotive.  His great-grandmother drove a steam locomotive…you get the point.

Yesterday I attended a Social Studies workshop at Teacher’s College, and I’ve become very excited about time lines (I should probably get out more).  In their workshop, Shana Frazin and Kathleen Tolan suggested that teachers should have moveable time lines in their classrooms.  Students and teachers can add important events and visuals to the time line.  After reading Steam, Smoke and Steel I think I may post pictures of the trains and the characters (the boy, the father, the grandfather, the great-grandmother, the great-great grandfather, etc.) in the book on the timeline.  Doing this I think will help enrich students’ understanding of generations and time periods.

Now I just have to find space in my classroom…

October 10, 2009 at 2:32 pm Leave a comment

101. Heartland by Diane Siebert

heartlandRetell: A celebration of the Midwest, told in rhyming verse and gorgeous illustrations.

Topics: rural communities, landforms, plains, farming

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment

Writing Skills: creating metaphors,  personification

My Thoughts: At the moment my class is learning how readers interpret maps.  They have difficulty envisioning what places look like.  In their minds, New York State is just one gigantic city.  I plan on reading this book aloud to help my ‘citified’ students envision what rural areas look, feel and sound like.  It will be great to use this as a mentor text in a few months during the Content-Area unit when some students may choose to write nonfiction poetry.

October 6, 2009 at 8:52 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

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

96. Jim and the Beanstalk by Raymond Briggs

jim and the beanstalkRetell: Jim discovers a mysterious vine outside of his window one day.  He follows it up and up and encounters a giant.  This giant however is not very ferocious.  He has lost his sight, his teeth and his hair.  With Jim’s help the giant acquires glasses, dentures and a wig.

Topics: curiosity, measurement, fairy tales, act of kindness

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: mutual respect, appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: striving for accuracy and precision

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, prediction, interpretation

Writing Skills: incorporating the rule of three

My Thoughts: This can be filed under “stories with a twist”.  (See The Paper Bag Princess post).  This is a spoof/sequel to the story, “Jack and the Beanstalk”.  In this story, the main character is nice to the giant, drastically changing the moral of the story.  It would be interesting to plan a mini read aloud where you read twisted fairy tales.  With older kids, it may be great to use twisted fairy tales to work on interpretation.  Students could examine questions such as:  How does the moral of the story change when the characters act differently?  Why do you think the author chose to rewrite the famous fairy tale?  What was he/she trying to teach?

September 30, 2009 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

93. Who Pooped in the Zoo? Exploring the Weirdest, Wackiest, Grossest and Most Surprising Facts About Zoo Poop by Caroline Patterson

who pooped in the zooRetell: This book is filled with interesting facts about poop.  It discusses how animals use poop for food, defense, communication, and shelter.

Topics: poop, feces, animals, digestion, bacteria, camouflage

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, determining importance, envisionment

Thoughts: I’ve been chuckling all evening, calling out disgusting facts to my family.  “Hey!  Did you know that a grizzly bear doesn’t poop when he hibernates?  When a grizzly bear wakes up in the Spring its poop is as big as a baseball bat!”  This book is great for demonstrating how readers of nonfiction make a plan before they read the text.  Each section of the book contains blurbs with interesting facts about poop, glossaries and supplemental information.  Readers can choose to read the blurbs first and then read the entire section or vice versa.  A great read before going to the zoo or before you dissect owl pellets.

September 27, 2009 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

91. What’s So Bad About Gasoline? Fossil Fuels and What They Do by Anne Rockwell

what's so bad about gasolineRetell: This book explains how gasoline is made and describes its role in global warming.

Topics: gasoline, carbon emissions, global warming, petroleum, coal

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

Habits: Thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: questioning, determining importance, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: using repetition to make a thesis stronger, using supporting reasons and examples to support a thesis

My Thoughts: I mentioned before that my students are currently studying earth movements (how mountains are made, volcanoes, etc).  Next week students will examine fossils found in rocks.  This book could be a nice extension of the fossil investigation.  It blew my mind years ago when I learned that petroleum is made from decomposed fossils.  When we are in the Personal Essay unit I plan on rereading parts of this text to show how the writer weaves in her opinions and supports them with facts.

The beginning of the book explains how petroleum is made and how it has been used throughout history.  Throughout this section the phrase, “They still didn’t use much” repeats.  The author argues that gasoline and other petroleum products are not inherently evil.  After all, the reason why we still have forests and whales is connected to the invention of distilled petroleum.  I like how the book ends with the question, “What ways can you think of to help?”  After the read aloud students could brainstorm ways to use less gasoline.

September 26, 2009 at 11:33 am Leave a comment

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