Posts tagged ‘poetry’

67. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

love that dogRetell: “I don’t want to because boys don’t write poetry.  Girls do.”  Jack reluctantly keeps a poetry journal.  With encouragement from his teacher he begins to write about his dog.  By using famous poems as mentor texts, Jack learns to be a prolific poet.

Topics: poetry, school, pets, loss, writer’s block

Units of Study: Independent Writing Projects, Poetry, Social Issues, Character

Tribes: personal best

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

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, making connections

Writing Skills: using mentor texts to improve writing

My Thoughts: This is one of my favorite books by Sharon Creech.  She captures the voice of a young writer so well.  I consider this a read aloud though I often use it as a text for doing shared reading.  Since each entry is dated, one could conceivably read the pages on or close to the dates in the book–a read aloud that lasts all year long.  In the back of the book are poems by:  Walter Dean Meyers, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost and Valerie Worth.  You could use the poems for shared reading at the same time you read the book aloud.

September 1, 2009 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

64. What a Day it Was at School! by Jack Prelutsky

what a day it was at schoolRetell: A collection of silly school poems on topics such as:  homework, field trips and farting.

Topics: school, homework, field trips, libraries, food chain, history, poetry, partnerships

Units of Study: Fantasy, Authoring an Independent Reading Life

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Writing Skills: incorporating rhythm and rhyme

My Thoughts: The poems in this collection are very, very silly–perfect for those ‘just for fun’ read alouds I mentioned yesterday.  I think I’ll read, “I Made a Noise This Morning” (a poem about a student farting in class) when my students need a quick laugh.  Though this collection is probably more suitable for younger grades, a few of the poems could be good hooks for mini-lessons or project launches.  I’m planning on sending home more independent project ideas in Science and Writing.  When I launch this project I may read Prelutsky’s “Homework” which describes a gooey experiment that didn’t go as planned.  There is a cute poem entitled, “A Classmate Named Tim,” that I think I’ll use when introducing partnerships.

August 29, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

49. Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin by Susan Goldman Rubin

fireflies in the darkRetell: Learn about the amazing life of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, who taught art to children in the Terezin Camp during the Holocaust.  The book includes several photos, drawings, paintings and writings from her students, many of whom did not survive.

Topics: art, holocaust, ghetto, Terezin, Nazis, school, poetry, drama, resiliency

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Nonfiction, Content Area Reading and Writing, Social Issues

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Habits of Mind: persisting, thinking flexibly, creating-imagining-innovating, thinking interdependently, remaining open to continuous learning

Reading Skills: envisionment, determining importance, interpretation, inference

Writing Skills: launching writers notebook, zooming in on small moments

My Thoughts: One can learn many lessons from this book.  I am impressed by Dicker-Brandeis’ devotion to learning.  When she discovered that she would be sent to Terezin she chose not to bring items for herself, but art supplies for the children she knew would be in the camp.  Through art her students were able to both escape and record the horrors around them.  Though I don’t plan on teaching a unit about the Holocaust this year, I may choose to read a portion of this book when emphasizing how writers notebooks can be powerful places to record our memories, our thoughts and our struggles.  It is important for our students to realize that their experiences, just like those recorded at Terezin, are important and should be recorded.

August 14, 2009 at 9:20 am Leave a comment

47. The House That Crack Built by Clark Taylor

the house that crack builtRetell: A serious poem, told in cumulative verse, detailing the many lives affected by crack.

Topics: crack, drug abuse, responsibility

Units of Study: Social Issues

Tribes: right to pass

Reading Skills: interpretation, inference, questioning, making connections

Writing Skills: using rhythm and rhyme

My Thoughts: This is an intense book.  I’m trying to decide if I will read it aloud to my students this year or not.  On one hand I think it’s important to have realistic discussions about drugs with elementary school students, but on the other hand I have to be aware that this book may be too heavy for some students.  If I do decide to read it aloud this year I think it could be a great for the Social Issues unit.  Chronicle Books has a great reading guide for the book which provides questions appropriate for both elementary and middle school aged children.

August 13, 2009 at 1:19 am 1 comment

41. Shanghai Messenger by Andrea Cheng

shanghai messengerRetell: Xiao Mei is invited by her uncle to visit China.  At first she is reluctant to travel by herself and once she arrives she finds the new setting lonely and disorienting.  She eventually adjusts and begins to appreciate her extended Chinese family.

Topics: Chinese, China, poetry, family, mixed-race, language barrier, traveling, homesickness

Units of Study: Character, Personal Narrative, Social Issues

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs

Reading Skills: interpretation, inference, envisionment, making connections

Writing Skills: incoporating foreign languages, zooming in on small moments, including sensory details

My Thoughts: I love how this story is told as a series of free verse poems.  I plan on reading this book aloud when I teach how writers zoom in on small moments.  Each poem is a small moment from her trip.  It can be a good mentor text for writers who want to write about a vacation and are tempted to write about the entire vacation.  Cheng incorporates Chinese vocabulary throughout the story.  She even includes a Chinese glossary with a pronunciation guide which will aid readers when they attempt to read it aloud.  It’s also a good book to read when studying character change.  In the beginning, Xiao Mei is afraid to go to China by herself and thinks she will never adjust to life in China.  By the end she develops into a grown-up girl who is both completely American and completely Chinese.

August 6, 2009 at 9:10 am Leave a comment

38. Ling Cho and His Three Friends by V.J. Pacilio

ling cho and his three friendsRetell: Ling Cho is a successful farmer.  He feels sorry for his three friends who do not share his success.  He thinks of a way to help his friends without making them feel bad.  Unfortunately things do not go as planned.  His friends learn that it is more wise to ask for help than to take advantage of people.

Topics: harvest, farming, China, asking for help, honesty, friendship

Units of Study: Folk Tales, Talking and Writing About Texts, Social Issues, Poetry

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, envisionment

Writing Skills: using rhyme and rhythm,  incorporating alliteration

My Thoughts: This beautiful book teaches an interesting lesson on asking for help.  It also seems to caution against involving friends in business matters.  Ling Cho does a favor for his friends by asking them to sell his bumper crop of wheat at market.  They were supposed to split the profits.  However, each friend ended up keeping the profits or keeping the wheat.  The story is told in rhyming verse making it an engaging read.

August 3, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

36. You Can’t Go to School Naked! by Dianne Billstrom

you can't go to school nakedRetell: Parents try to convince their young son to put on clothes for his first day of school.  They manage to come to an interesting compromise.

Topics: clothes, consequences, individuality, decisions

Units of Study: Poetry

Tribes: right to pass

Writing Skills: using rhythm and rhyme

My Thoughts: This is a really cute ‘fun read.’  I can see using this during a discussion about rules and how they are usually implemented for a reason.  “If you went to school naked when the sun’s overhead, you would get a sunburn and turn very RED!”  It also addresses the idea of having the right to pass (even having the right to pass on wearing clothes) but that each decision we make has consequences.

August 1, 2009 at 9:01 am Leave a comment

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