Posts tagged ‘power’

127. The War Between the Vowels and the Consonants by Priscilla Turner

the war between the vowels and the consonantsRetell: The snooty vowels and the rough and tumble consonants have never gotten along with each other.  After a few letters begin to fight with each other, war breaks out between the vowels and the consonants.  When chaos, in the form of squiggly lines, rolls into town the vowels and consonants must work together to defeat it.

Topics: letters, vowels, consonants, war, cooperation, fighting, cliques, power

Units of Study: Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: thinking interdependently

Reading Skills: interpretation

My Thoughts: When I previewed this text I assumed I was going to learn about how vowel sounds are really strong and influence other vowel sounds.  In reality this book is not really about letters at all–it’s about class and cooperation between the classes.  The vowels represent the upper class–there are few of them and they are snooty.  The consonants represent the lower-middle class– the undignified commoners.  They distrust each other, go to war and then eventually must learn how to work together.  I can see reading this in my class in order to have a discussion about cliques within the class and within the grade.  It could be read again when we study industrialization and analyze the struggles between the rich and the poor.

November 8, 2009 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment

98. The Bus Ride by William Miller

the bus rideRetell: William Miller recreates the story of Rosa Parks and imagines what would have happened if a young girl refused to give up her seat.

Topics: taking a stand, segregation, laws, civil disobedience, bravery, boycotts, power

Units of Study: Social Issues, Historical Fiction, Character

Tribes: right to pass

Habits of Mind: taking responsible risks

Reading Skills: interpretation, prediction

Writing Skills: balancing description, reflection and dialogue

My Thoughts: When I read this book I thought back to a unit our fifth grade teachers did last year that was focused on power.  Students looked at power structures in the classroom, in school and at home.  Students looked at times when they were powerless and times when they had the power.  When reading this book it would be interesting to discuss the question, “Who has the power?”  This story inspires children to think about what risks they would be willing to take.  Imagine if an entire classroom decided to boycott McDonalds because they disagreed with how the company targets children.  Or what would happen if a classroom decided to boycott toys made in places that use child labor?

October 4, 2009 at 11:08 am Leave a comment

80. Three Samurai Cats: A Story From Japan by Eric A. Kimmel

three samurai catsRetell: Many years ago, in a castle in Ancient Japan, there lived a powerful lord with a terrible rat problem.  He tried everything in his power to chase the rat away, but the rat would not leave.  He asked the senior monk to send his strongest samurais to defeat the rat.  Both of them were thwarted.  Finally, the senior monk sent his oldest and wisest samurai to the castle.  He beat the rat with his ultimate weapon–patience.

Units of Study: Talking and Writing About Texts

Topics: Japan, rats, power, patience, samurais, monks, bullies

Habits of Mind: persisting, thinking flexibly, managing impulsivity

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, interpretation

Writing Skills: incorporating the rule of three

Thoughts: When I read this book I immediately thought of those situations where we want to fight back.  When someone insults us we want to think of a better insult to ‘squash’ that person.  How often do we see students try and assert power over another with a put-down, a push, a punch?  This book is great for discussing how bullies are truly defeated.

September 14, 2009 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

58. Riding the Tiger by Eve Bunting

riding the tigerRetell: Danny, a new boy in town, is invited to ride on the back of a tiger.  When he notices the fear in the eyes of passersby he tries to get off of the tiger.  He soon realizes that once you get on the tiger it’s difficult to get off.

Topics: danger, choices, excitement, gangs, influence, power, respect, fear, peer pressure

Units of Study: Talking and Writing about Texts, Social Issues

Tribes: right to pass, mutual respect

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, envisionment

Writing Skills: using dialogue, incorporating metaphors in to a story

My Thoughts: As the school year approaches I am thinking about the books that I will want to read during the first few weeks of school.  During the first two weeks of school I like to read books that lend themselves well to teaching the five agreements of our school (These agreements are based on Tribes.  Our school added a fifth agreement–‘personal best’)  Riding the Tiger is an excellent book for teaching about the ‘right to pass’.  From the beginning of the story Danny doesn’t feel comfortable accepting a ride from the tiger without first asking his mom for permission.  He accepts the ride anyway and becomes increasingly more conflicted about the ride.  He eventually takes the ‘right to pass’ when he finally gets off the tiger and helps a man who has fallen down.  This book will certainly inspire discussion about peer pressure and gang recruitment.  When introducing this book you will want to set students up to do deep interpretation work.  Some students may not realize that the tiger is metaphorical.

August 23, 2009 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

31. The Greatest Power by Demi

the greatest powerRetell: Emperor Ping, the boy emperor of China, appreciates honesty and harmony.  He wants to appoint an honest and wise prime minister so he decides to hold a contest.  The child who can think of the greatest power in the world will become the next prime minister.  Children far and wide prepare presentations for the emperor.  A young girl named Sing sits by a lotus pond and comes up with an answer that is quite different from the rest.

Topics: technology, beauty, military, power, money, life, life cycle, China

Units of Study: Talking and Writing About Texts, Content Area

Tribes: personal best, appreciations/no put downs

Reading Skills: interpretation, prediction

Writing Skills: repetition

My Thoughts: Fifth grade teachers at my school do this great unit on power.  They examine power structures at home, in the neighborhood, in the classroom, at school, and so on.  The Greatest Power could be a great companion to that unit.  It will spark discussions about what makes a powerful group or a powerful nation.  I could also see this book being used during a unit on the life cycle.  Sing after sitting by apond and contemplating a lotus flower is fascinated by its life cycle.  She determines that life is the greatest power on earth.

July 27, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

14. There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar

there's a boy in the girls' bathroomRetell: It is easy to dislike Bradley Chalkers.  He beats up other students, lies about everything, and refuses to do his homework.  Bradley’s life begins to change when he meets Carla, the school counselor who inspires him to be a gold star student.

Topics: school, counseling, disagreeing, lying, making excuses, power, trust, friendship, homework, imaginary friends, partnerships, fights, confidence, putdowns, name-calling, safety, sibling issues, self-esteem, rewards, gold stars, asking for help, just right books, love of reading, affirmations, trust

Units of Study: Character, Literary Essay, Talking and Writing about Texts

Tribes: mutual respect, appreciations/no putdowns, right to pass, personal best

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, empathy, making connections, synthesis

My Thoughts: My heart still aches after reading this book.  It’s not a depressing book it’s just that I spent the book fearful that Bradley was going to keep digging himself into holes (not literal holes that’s Sachar’s other book).  As you can see from this post’s tags, there are so many ways that one could use this book during interactive read aloud.  The book lends itself very well to examining character relationships.  Many of the secondary characters make significant changes that affect Bradley.  I think many students will be able to make connections to Bradley’s complex relationship with his sister, Claudia.  Sachar encourages his readers to try and understand the bully rather than demonize him/her.  Bradley reminds me of one of my former students.  I think I’m going to buy this book and send it to him.

July 10, 2009 at 9:00 am 3 comments


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