Posts tagged ‘questioning’

124. A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting

a picnic in octoberRetell: Each year Tony’s family boards the ferry to Liberty Island at grandma’s insistence.  They brave the crowds and the cold to celebrate a special birthday.

Topics: New York, family, Statue of Liberty, grandparents, immigration

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

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: prediction, envisionment, inference, questioning

My Thoughts: This book is typically read during an Immigration unit.  However I don’t think I can wait that long to read this book.  A scene that stuck out for me was the part when Tony helps a young woman who pulls on his jacket, worried that the last boat has left.  Apparently no one has been able to help her because she doesn’t speak English.  Tony is patient with her and through gestures explains that another boat is on the way.  When reading this aloud, I plan on emphasizing this moment and hope it will spark a meaningful discussion about how we can help students who have limited English skills.

This is a great text for modeling expression.  Each character has a distinctive personality which may come out best if the reader creates voices for each character.  For example, Rosa talks in “a reading kind of way” and should sound official (or as we say in conferences “like a teacher”).  Mike seems a bit mischievous and should sound like it.

November 3, 2009 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

123. Urban Roosts: Where Birds Nest in the City by Barbara Bush

urban roostsRetell: Barbara Bush zooms in on gothic building structures, bridge towers and overpasses to describe the adaptations of birds who thrive in urban areas.

Topics: birds, pigeons, urban areas, cities, habitats, migration, camouflage, adaptation, roosts, crows, shelter

Units of Study: Content-Area, Nonfiction

Reading Skills: envisionment, questioning, determining importance, synthesis

My Thoughts: I’m currently looking for books that will support the current Nonfiction unit.  I considered reading this book immediately, but I think I’m going to save it for our Content-Area unit.  During that unit we’ll be studying Food Chains and Habitats in Science making this book a perfect fit.  Urban Roosts is a book that will encourage urban readers to reconsider the common pigeon, finch or crow–a great book for modeling envisionment in nonfiction.

November 3, 2009 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

118. Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor

hawk, I'm your brotherRetell: Rudy Soto yearns to fly.  He climbs up a cliff and captures a young hawk in the hope that he will be able to become brothers with the hawk and thus have a sense of what it means to fly.  Eventually he sets the hawk free and is forever changed.

Topics: hawks, dreams, flying, keeping pets, freedom

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

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: questioning, inference, interpretation, synthesis

Writing Skills: using alliteration

My Thoughts: Each year the issue of whether or not to get a class pet comes up.  I have mixed feelings about class pets.  I think they can be very useful for studying life cycles and animal habitats, but I don’t like the idea of animals in cages.  I may read this book the next time the issue arises in my classroom.  It will be an essential text during the interpretation unit and could also be an interesting one to read or reread during Social Issues.

When I was looking for images of this book I came across a website with a fantastic resource.  Through the Magic Door is an online bookstore that has put together some fabulous lists of books that may be very useful when making text sets.  Hawk, I’m Your Brother can be found under the list of books that are all about Flying.

October 24, 2009 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

95. If You Are a Hunter of Fossils by Byrd Baylor

if you are a hunger of fossilsRetell: As a child goes hunting for fossils in the Southwest she envisions what the dry world once looked like underwater.

Topics: fossils, trilobites, dinosaurs, ocean, landforms

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe, striving for accuracy and precision

Reading Skills: envisionment, questioning

Writing Skills: using repetition

My Thoughts: One of the many goals of this blog is to discover hidden read aloud gems.  This is one of those books and it just happens to fit with our current Science unit.  I love how the author invites the reader to envision what the world must have been like when today’s mountains were covered by a vast ocean.  This book could also make a good mentor text for students who need help using repetition effectively.  If you decide to have students read and write nonfiction poetry, this book would be a good addition to that unit.

September 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm 1 comment

91. What’s So Bad About Gasoline? Fossil Fuels and What They Do by Anne Rockwell

what's so bad about gasolineRetell: This book explains how gasoline is made and describes its role in global warming.

Topics: gasoline, carbon emissions, global warming, petroleum, coal

Units of Study: Personal Essay, Nonfiction, Content-Area

Habits: Thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: questioning, determining importance, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: using repetition to make a thesis stronger, using supporting reasons and examples to support a thesis

My Thoughts: I mentioned before that my students are currently studying earth movements (how mountains are made, volcanoes, etc).  Next week students will examine fossils found in rocks.  This book could be a nice extension of the fossil investigation.  It blew my mind years ago when I learned that petroleum is made from decomposed fossils.  When we are in the Personal Essay unit I plan on rereading parts of this text to show how the writer weaves in her opinions and supports them with facts.

The beginning of the book explains how petroleum is made and how it has been used throughout history.  Throughout this section the phrase, “They still didn’t use much” repeats.  The author argues that gasoline and other petroleum products are not inherently evil.  After all, the reason why we still have forests and whales is connected to the invention of distilled petroleum.  I like how the book ends with the question, “What ways can you think of to help?”  After the read aloud students could brainstorm ways to use less gasoline.

September 26, 2009 at 11:33 am Leave a 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

83. Fake Out! Animals That Play Tricks by Ginjer L. Clarke (All Aboard Science Reader)

fake outRetell: In this book, readers learn how animals ‘play games’ in order to adapt to their habitat.  In order to survive they play hide-and-seek, play dead, and even play pretend.

Topics: animals, adaptations, habitats, marine life, mammals, mimicry, camouflage

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area

Reading Skills: envisionment, questioning, synthesis, determining importance

Writing Skills: developing voice in expository writing, including conclusions that sum up and release the writer

Thoughts: I’m worried about a boy in my class.  He dropped four reading levels over the summer.  He’s distracted during Reading Workshop and his reading log shows he’s not reading at home.  However, he’s obsessed with the books in the dinosaur bin and carries around a gaming magazine.  He’s a nonfiction reader trapped in a unit of study focused on fiction.  I think of him as I plan my read alouds.  I want to make sure that I’m finding time to tuck in nonfiction read alouds throughout the week, even though we’re not currently in a nonfiction unit.  Fake Out! is a high engagement nonfiction read aloud that just happens to look like a “low level” book.  Reading this book aloud ‘blesses’ this struggling reader’s level and will hopefully make “All Aboard” books cool to read.

September 18, 2009 at 10:40 pm 1 comment

55. The Bumblebee Queen by April Pulley Sayre

the bumblebee queenRetell: This book describes the life cycle of a bumblebee queen.

Topics: bumblebees, life cycles, habitats, pollination

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area Reading and Writing

Reading Skills: envisionment, questioning, determining importance

Writing Skills: using commas to separate clauses

My Thoughts: I like how this book is structured.  It has two threads–a narrative thread and an expository thread.  In bold letters the text tells a story about the amazing work of a bumblebee queen.  On every other page or so there are fact bubbles that give more detailed information about bumblebees.  I plan on using this book when we do our Content Area unit which will focus on life cycles and habitats.

August 20, 2009 at 9:42 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

42. River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River by Hudson Talbott

river of dreamsRetell: A beautifully illustrated history of the Hudson River.

Topics: Hudson River, New York, Native Americans, Henry Hudson, dreamers, Dutch, explorers, British, American Revolution, Robert Fulton, Erie Canal, trade, Hudson River School Painters, Industrial Revolution, environment, Franny Reese, pollution, immigration

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Social Issues, Content Area

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: envisionment, determining importance, questioning, synthesis

Writing Skills: including expository text features

My Thoughts: My eyes grew wide when I spotted this book in Barnes and Noble this afternoon.  This book is treasure for New York 4th grade teachers who will be embarking on a year-long study of New York history.  A timeline painted in the shape of the Hudson River winds throughout the book noting historic events including:  the American Revolution, the commercial success of Fulton’s steamboat, the opening of the Erie Canal, and the Scenic Hudson Decision.  I think I may read this book in September when we discuss what we will be learning in Social Studies this year.  When we get to a new unit, I think I’ll reread corresponding sections of River of Dreams.  Talbott also highlights writers and artists who were inspired by the Hudson River such as Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper and the Hudson River School Painters.  This is a great book to use when discussing trade and industry.  There is a beautiful painting in the book that shows the Hudson River bursting with steamboats and schooners–“America’s first superhighway.”  I like how the story includes the environmental impact of industrial pollution and the story ends with a strong message–it’s up to us to protect the beauty of this river.

August 7, 2009 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

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