Posts tagged ‘personal best’

111. Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates by Jonah Winter

roberto clementeRetell: This is the rags-to-riches story of Roberto Clemente.  Not only was he an all-star player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was also a humanitarian who donated a great deal of his earnings to charity.

Topics: baseball, Puerto Rico, racism, poetry

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Social Issues, Content-Area

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Habits of Mind: persisting, thinking flexibly, striving for accuracy

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, envisionment

Writing Skills: including similes, using commas in lists

My Thoughts: I like sports stories that emphasize the athlete’s character rather than just his/her athletic ability.  This is a good book for showing persistence even in the face of adversity.  The book describes how Clemente grew up playing baseball with a glove made out of a coffee-bean sack and baseballs made from old soup cans.  Written in free verse but organized into two line stanzas, this is a great book to read as a model for students writing nonfiction poetry during the Content-Area unit.

October 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

105. Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, Every Punctuation Mark Counts! by Lynne Truss

twenty-odd ducksRetell: Lynne Truss presents illustrated examples of how the meaning of a sentence changes when a writer makes poor choices about punctuation.

Topics: punctuation

Units of Study: Any Writing  unit

Tribes: personal best

Habits of Mind: thinking and communicating with clarity and precision

My Thoughts: This is the companion to her book, Eats, Shoots and Leaves. This book, however doesn’t just focus on commas.  When students started to edit their personal narratives during our last Writing unit, I taught a lesson about how writers make important choices about end punctuation (for more fabulous lessons about teaching grammar and punctuation consult The Power of Grammar).  I plan on reading this book in a few weeks when I review this concept with students.  I hope this inspires students to experiment with punctuation.

October 11, 2009 at 9:12 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

92. Butterflies for Kiri by Cathryn Falwell

butterflies for kiriRetell: Kiri loves to paint and draw.  When her Auntie Lu sends her a package of origami paper, Kiri begins teaching herself how to fold a paper butterfly.  She gets to a point where her corners are supposed to match up and tears her paper.  She attempts the butterfly the next day but she is scared that she will tear one of her beautiful papers.  Through practice and persistence Kiri eventually folds a successful butterfly.

Topics: origami, art, paper, diagrams, how-to

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction

Tribes: personal best, appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: persisting, striving for accuracy, creating-innovating-imagining, thinking flexibly, managing impulsivity, taking responsible risks, remaining open to continuous learning

Writing Skills: including similes, making several drafts before publishing

My Thoughts: I wish I had known about this book years ago when I started a paper crane project with my fourth graders.  We read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, folded 1,000 paper cranes, and sent them to a school in Japan who delivered our cranes to the peace memorial in Hiroshima.  When I had started the project, I didn’t realize how difficult paper crane folding would be for that age.  Some students were able to pick it up quickly while others got really frustrated with the process.  Kiri teaches us how to deal with frustration.  She took a break from the project, practiced with other materials, and tackled the project with new energy.  Throughout this book many ‘habits of mind’ are presented.  Even if you don’t plan on doing origami with your class, it’s great to read during the revising process of any Writing unit.

September 27, 2009 at 8:05 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

78. Amelia Writes Again by Marissa Moss

amelia writes againRetell: Amelia is a young girl who collects thoughts, souvenirs, photos and stories in her writer’s notebook.  Through the pages of her notebook we learn about Amelia’s friend Leah, her sister Cleo, and the terrible arsonist who destroyed her school.

Topics: writing, birthdays, siblings, friendship, daydreaming, numbers, arson, symbols, partnerships, writer’s notebooks

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Personal Essay

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

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Writing Skills: generating notebook entries, using pictures and objects to inspire writing, writing about ideas, spelling tricky words by writing it in different ways

Thoughts: This is volume 2 in a series of “Amelia” books.  I use this each year when we relaunch our writer’s notebooks.  The book resembles a composition notebook.  There are many ways that it can be used to teach writing skills, but it also stands alone for discussing other issues.  For example, Amelia writes about how she is reluctant to show her notebook to her friend Leah.  This could be a great time to discuss taking the right to pass.  During a Social Issues or Personal Essay unit you could use this book to analyze the issue of school vandalism.

If  you have used any books from the “Amelia” series please post your ideas in the comments section.

September 12, 2009 at 8:53 pm 1 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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