Posts tagged ‘mutual respect’

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

102. How Have I Grown? by Mary Reid

How Have I GrownRetell: A kindergartner reflects on how much she has grown.

Topics: kindergarten, growing up, babies, sharing

Units of Study: Authoring an Independent Reading Life, (This could be used during the editing process of any unit of study.)

Tribes: mutual respect, attentive listening

Writing Skills: using past tense

My Thoughts: I almost dismissed this book as being too young to be used in a fourth grade classroom.  Though I probably wouldn’t read it aloud to the entire class, I would read it to a small group of writers who struggle with past tense.  When the main character is looking back to her life as a baby and as a “little kid”, she uses only past tense verbs:  “I wore diapers.  I took two naps…Sometimes I had a hard time.”  When she reflects on her current behavior she uses present tense verbs:  “I can make up stories!  I can listen to my friends tell stories, too.”  This book has inspired me to dig deep into the libraries of my lower-grade colleagues to search for more grammar read alouds.

October 10, 2009 at 12:05 pm Leave a comment

100. Should There Be Zoos? A Persuasive Text by Tony Stead with Judy Ballester and her fourth grade class

should there be zoosRetell: A collection of persuasive, well-researched essays that explore whether or not we should have zoos.  The anthology includes a glossary and a description of the process they went through to write the book.

Topics: zoos, persuasive text, arguments, endangered species, reintroduction

Units of Study: Content-Area, Personal Essay

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: thinking and communicating with clarity and precision

Writing Skills: defining a word within a sentence, incorporating precise vocabulary, developing a persuasive voice

My Thoughts: Though the unit is a month away, my school’s literacy coach and I are beginning to collect mentor texts for the personal essay unit.  Here is a text that you could use for either Personal Essay or Content-Area writing.  The essays not only make good mentor texts but the description of the writing process is important to share with students as they embark on an essay unit.  The authors included ten steps to writing a persuasive text.  I’m particularly found of number eight: “After doing lots of reading, observing, and note-taking, we put our new information into our arguments to make them stronger.  We constantly conferenced with our teachers.”

October 6, 2009 at 8:30 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

94. This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie, Paintings by Kathy Jakobsen

this land is your landRetell: Woody Guthrie’s famous song in picture book form.  The book includes a tribute by Pete Seeger and information about Guthrie’s life.

Topics: America, Great Depression, Dust Bowl, traveling, migrant camps

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

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: interpretation, envisionment

My Thoughts: I started a ‘song of the week’ tradition in my classroom this year.  Each day while students enter the classroom and unpack we listen to a song together.  By the end of the song students are expected to have unpacked and come to the rug with their lyrics.  At the end of the week we sing the song together.  This week’s song just happens to be “This Land is Your Land”.  This morning while on my walk I passed by a bookstore which displayed the picture book version of the song in its window.  I was so pleased!  Kathy Jakobsen’s paintings compliment the lyrics well.  (She also illustrated the book, My New York.)  I can’t wait to read this to my students this week.  Seeing the pictures will help them visualize the lyrics of the song.  In the version my students sing there are three verses that are omitted.  This is one of them:

“In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people; By the relief office I seen my people; As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking, Is this land made for you and me?”

It made me wonder why I had never heard these lyrics growing up.  I hope to have a lively whole group discussion after reading this book aloud.  I also plan on revisiting this text during the Personal Essay unit when I’ll ask students to observe the world around them and ask difficult questions.

September 28, 2009 at 12:34 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

85. Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey

kat kongRetell: Explorers from Mousopolis land on an uncharted island where they meet the terrifying “beast” Kat Kong.  They bring him back to Mousopolis in order to seek fame and fortune.  When Kat Kong escapes his shackles, citizens are terrified.

Topics: cats, mice, greed, exploration, monsters, humor, puns

Units of Study: Fantasy

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: finding humor

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense

My Thoughts: This is the adorable sequel to Pilkey’s book, Dogzilla. Similar to the style of Dogzilla, Kat Kong includes ‘cheesy’ puns and idioms, all related to cats.  For example, when Kat Kong ravages the city the butcher cries, “The cat’s got my tongue!”  I plan to read this book aloud when I want to focus on the reading skill monitoring for sense.  I find that many books written for upper elementary students are highly engaging, but can also be really confusing.  Many of my students are English Language Learners and often don’t understand when an author slips in a joke.  Using Kat Kong as an a model could remind students to seek out humor throughout their reading.

September 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm 1 comment

84. Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco

chicken sundayRetell: Easter is around the corner and Miss Eula wants a new hat to wear to church.  Her grandchildren and her young neighbor decide to ask Mr. Kodinski if they could work at his hat shop to earn extra money.  On the way to his shop, he mistakes the children for vandals.  They come up with an interesting way to earn back his trust as well as earn enough money for a new hat.

Topics: reputation, hats, chutzpah, Easter, vandalism, gifts, Holocaust survivors

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

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly, creating-imagining-innovating, persisting

Reading Skills: questioning, inference

Writing Skills: zooming in on small moments, repeating powerful lines

My Thoughts: If you follow this blog daily, you’re sick of seeing entries about Patricia Polacco.  I can’t help it.  I love her work.  Since I’m currently in the Personal Narrative mindset, her work naturally comes to mind.  The illustrations in this book can be powerful teaching tools.  Throughout Chicken Sunday, real photographs appear in the background.  This shows that Polacco thinks about significant people in her life and then writes stories about them. I love how Mr. Kodinski’s story can be inferred through the illustrations.  Previously, Miss Eula alluded to the fact that he wanted a peaceful life after suffering so much.  The text never states specifically why he had a difficult life.  The illustrations give you the information.  Tattooed on Mr. Kodinski’s arm are six blue numbers, revealing that he survived the concentration camps.  This book shows students how readers can reread a text and peal a different layer of meaning with each reading.

September 18, 2009 at 11:15 pm Leave a comment

76. My Best Friend by Mary Ann Rodman

my best friendRetell: Lily spends each Wednesday at the neighborhood pool.  She has decided that Tamika will be her best friend.  Tamika however does not seem interested in being Lily’s friend.  Lily tries many things to win over Tamika.  She tries to dress the same and she shares her popsicles with her but to no avail.  Lily eventually becomes friends with Keesha who doesn’t need to be impressed.

Topics: summer, pools, friendship, popularity

Units: Character, Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts

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

Reading Skills: prediction, interpretation

Writing Skills: balancing dialogue with reflection and description

My Thoughts: This book does a great job of addressing the issue of popularity.  Every year I see students going out of their way to impress others who don’t give them the time of day.  It could be an interesting book to use when discussing the ‘right to pass’.  Though Tamika should have been nicer to Lily, she has the right to pass on her offer of friendship.

Thanks again Beth for another great read aloud.

September 11, 2009 at 11:26 pm Leave a comment

75. 14 Cows For America by Carmen Agra Deedy

14 cows for americaRetell: To the Maasai people the cow is life.  In June 2002 Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah returned to his Kenyan village with a tragic story from New York.  Kimeli presented a cow for blessing, in honor of those who died during the attacks of September 11th.  13 others offered their own cows for blessing.  The cows remain in Kenya but they continue to be a symbol of hope and compassion to people around the world.

Topics: September 11th, Maasai, Kenya, compassion, cows, hope

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

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference, monitoring for sense

Thoughts: The tone of my classroom during this short first week of school has been so positive.  Students are making new friends, and seem excited about school.  I now approach planning my read aloud for the third day of school which happens to also be September 11th.  It feels weird to start a discussion about tragedy and terrorism on the third day of school.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time discussing frightening details of that day but on the other hand I don’t want to ignore the day altogether.  I’ve decided to read 14 Cows For America because it focuses more on the idea of compassion rather than tragedy.  I’m hoping that the last line of the book will prompt an interesting discussion:  “Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort.”

Thanks Beth for recommending this fabulous read aloud!

September 10, 2009 at 9:05 pm Leave a comment

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