Posts tagged ‘problem-solving’

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

43. A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech

a fine fine schoolRetell: Mr. Keene is a principal who loves his school.  He loves it so much that he gradually increases the amount of days students and teachers come to school.  He learns that it’s impossible to have a ‘fine, fine school’ without balance between studying and play.

Topics: school, siblings, principals, problem-solving, authority

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

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: taking responsible risks

Reading Skills: interpretation, inference

Writing Skills: using repetition

My Thoughts: This may be a nice book to read aloud during test time.  It will remind everyone that school isn’t the only place where learning happens.  I think I may read this book when I want to discuss respectful and powerful ways to solve problems.  The main character, Tillie is patient when her school year keeps increasing.  However, when she’s had enough she doesn’t melt down.  She goes to the principal, calmly states her case, and ends up changing his mind.  A Fine, Fine School illustrates the importance of (respectfully) challenging authority.  I hope after reading this book, my students will have the courage to (respectfully) challenge me.

August 8, 2009 at 3:40 pm Leave a comment

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


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