Posts tagged ‘personal essay’

32. Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

team moonRetell: Thimmesh tells the story of the Apollo 11 mission.  It includes several quotes, interviews and amazing photographs from the moon landing.

Topics: moon landing, space, Apollo 11, teamwork, goals, problem-solving, perseverance

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area, Personal Essay

Tribes: attentive listening, mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference, interpretation, determining importance

Writing Skills: using descriptive language, inserting quotations, using dashes, using ellipses

My Thoughts: To commemorate its 40th anniversary I plan to read at least one book about the moon landing this year.  What I love about this particular book is its emphasis on teamwork.  As the title suggests, Apollo 11 was successful because of the dilligence of several hundred-thousand people working together in teams trying to accomplish one goal.  It’s a dense book so I can see reading only a few sections at a time.  This could be used as a rich mentor text for writing nonfiction.  Thimmesh writes with excitement and enthusiasm making the text very engaging.

July 28, 2009 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

30. A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

a young people's history of the united statesRetell: Like the title suggests, this is a young people’s version of his famous book, A People’s History of the United States. Together with Rebecca Stefoff, Zinn manages to tell a version of history that attempts to include the perspectives of groups that are usually left out (women, people of color, Native people, children, etc.)

Topics: United States, history, exploration, racism, slavery, colonialism, rights, justice, revolution, war, emancipation, industrialization, immigration, empire, protests, terrorism, resistance, freedom of speech

Units of Study: Content Area, Nonfiction, Social Issues, Personal Essay, Historical Fiction

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: questioning, synthesis, prediction, determining importance, inference, interpretation

Writing Skills: using evidence to support a thesis or main idea, inserting anecdotes and quotations

My Thoughts: I was so thrilled to find this book on the shelves.  I read A People’s History of the United States several years ago and often reread sections before embarking on Social Studies units.  Though I thought this book was going to present a child’s perspective of historical events, Zinn does manage to tuck in a few stories of young people working to make a difference.  For example, he includes the story about how children started the first milll strike in Paterson, New Jersey.  I intend to read aloud exerpts from this book to support and/or challenge what they may be reading in their own nonfiction texts.  This book is also available in two volumes.  Volume I covers Columbus to the Spanish-American War.  Volume II covers World War I to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

July 26, 2009 at 9:07 am 1 comment

24. Owen and Mzee: The Language of Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu

owen and mzeeRetell: This sequel continues the story of Owen and Mzee, the beloved baby hippo and the anti-social tortoise, who were brought together during the aftermath of the tsunami of 2004.

Topics: tsunami, hippos, tortoises, wildlife, preservation, Kenya, friendship, biology, animal habitats, narrative nonfiction, biography

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Personal Essay, Content-Area Reading and Writing

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, determining importance, inference

Writing Skills: using transitional phrases, using quotation marks that note unusual usage

My Thoughts: Be ready for a chorus of “ahhh”s if you choose to read this book aloud to your students.  Every photograph is absolutely adorable.  A lot can be learned from this pair.  I plan to use this book during my Content Area Reading and Writing units.  Owen and Mzee includes both narrative and expository text making it a good teaching text during the Nonfiction unit as well.  One could even use this during a biography unit since it’s telling a life story.

July 20, 2009 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

7. Guys Write for Guys Read

guys readRetell: Jon Scieszka edits this fabulous collection of stories, comics, essays, illustrations and vignettes contributed by prominent male authors and illustrators.  Contributors include:  Stephen King, Matt Groening, Jerry Spinelli, Seymour Simon, James Howe, Neil Gaiman, Gary Paulsen and many more.  Royalties from the book are used to support Scieszka’s Guys Read Program.

Topics: boys, family, growing up, reading, writing, art

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Launching the Reading and Writing Workshop, Character, Personal Essay, Content-Area Reading and Writing, Nonfiction, Memoir, Social Issues, Fantasy, Preparing for the ELA

Tribes: Mutual Respect, Personal Best, Appreciations/No Putdowns, Right to Pass

Reading Skills: inference, making connections, interpretation

Writing Skills: writing with voice, zooming in on a small moment, observing the world for stories

My Thoughts: This book is teacher gold!  Guys Write for Guys Read has a plethora of short stories that can be used for mentor texts in almost every Reading and Writing unit.  One of the stories, “Reading Can Be Dangerous” by Tedd Arnold was featured on the 5th grade ELA test last year.  James Howe, author of Bunnicula, writes a personal narrative about getting help from a friend on how to be a boy–a great text for personal essay or discussing gender issues.  Many authors write about how they came to love reading and writing.  Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, writes about how he fell in love with fantasy–great to read when you launch a unit on Fantasy reading and writing.  Patrick Jones, a librarian, writes about how being interested in wrestling inspired him to become a voracious reader.  Many entries include samples of famous authors childhood work alongside their adult work.  For example, Dav Pilkey, author/illustrator of the infamous Captain Underpants series, writes about a comic strip he started when he was 11.  I will probably use this book for almost every unit I teach this year.

If you don’t pick up a copy of this book you must go to Scieska’s website, Guys Read.  The site is dedicated to inspiring more young boys to fall in love with reading.  Mr. Scieszka, you’re my hero.

July 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm 4 comments

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