Posts tagged ‘music’

138. Jose! Born to Dance by Susanna Reich

Retell: This is the story of Jose Limon, who left his family to move to New York.  Frustrated by his poor artistic talent he fell in love with dance and worked to become a famous dancer and choreographer.

Topics: dance, war, family, Mexico, immigration, art, music, English, Spanish, death, New York, California

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Social Issues

Tribes: personal best, appreciations/no put-downs, mutual respect

Habits of Mind: persisting

Reading Skills: synthesis, monitoring for sense, envisionment

Writing Skills: using sound effects, zooming in on a small moment

My Thoughts: This text has multiple teaching purposes.  It’s a great text for introducing or reinforcing the habit of mind–persistence.  There are many moments in the story when Jose persists.  He struggles to learn English but persists despite his cruel classmates.  He is determined to become a dancer and shows persistence each day during rehearsal despite sore, aching muscles.  During the read aloud we can hope that students understand that successful people, no matter what their focus, work hard and persist, even when they face adversity.

December 5, 2009 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

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

37. Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief with Rosemary Wells

tallchief america's prima ballerinaRetell: This is an autobiographical story of Maria Tallchief, one of the greatest American-born ballerinas of her time.

Topics: native americans, Osage, Oklahoma, ballet, Westward Expansion, music, interests, biographies, narrative nonfiction

Units of Study: Social Issues, Nonfiction

Tribes: personal best

Reading Skills: inference, determining importance, envisionment

Writing Skills: seeing the world as a writer, using interesting transitional phrases

My Thoughts: This story is great to read when discussing what it means to put your all into something.  Maria Tallchief lived, breathed, and ate music and dance.  She writes about how her teacher told her to live like a dancer “When you sleep, you must sleep like a dancer.  When you stand and wait for the bus, you must wait for the bus like a dancer.”  This particular scene reminds me how we often challenge our students to live like writers.  Perhaps now we can tell students, “When you wait for the bus, you must wait for the bus like a writer–notebook in hand, waiting to collect stories.”

August 2, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

23. Mr. George Baker by Amy Hest

mr. george bakerRetell: Hundred-year-old George Baker and his young neighbor Harry are friends.  Each day they wait for the school bus that brings them both to school.

Topics: friendship, reading, literacy, growing old, learning, music, small moments, friendship

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Social Issues

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference, interpretation

Writing Skills: zooming in on small moments, alliteration, onomatopoeia, using sensory details

My Thoughts: This is a slow-paced story that easily lends itself to teaching small moments.  Though you could also read this book aloud with a social issues lens, the author spends most of the story describing the moments just before going to school.  It would be a good mentor text for paying attention to how authors incorporate sound into their writing.

July 19, 2009 at 9:08 am Leave a comment


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