Posts tagged ‘right to pass’
Retell: During a drought, the Logan family shares water from their well with anyone who needs it, be they white or black. Hammer, the narrator’s brother, finds it difficult to share with the Simms family who have tormented the Logans for being black. After Hammer defends his brother David and beats up Charlie Simms, he and David are forced to work on the Simms’ farm to avoid jail. Hammer, however, never quite manages to swallow his pride and gets involved in another altercation that causes Charlie to take revenge.
Topics: drought, racism, segregation, bullying, fighting, family
Units of Study: Historical Fiction, Talking and Writing About Texts, Social Issues
Tribes: mutual respect, right to pass, appreciations/no put-downs
Habits of Mind: managing impulsivity
Reading Strategies: inference, synthesis, interpretation, envisionment
My Thoughts: I’ve been trying to locate shorter chapter books to read aloud. I’m finding that some of my favorite chapter books are too long to complete before the end of a unit. The Well is short, only 92 pages and can be completed within a month-long unit. I think this could be a great book to read if a class is struggling with the issue of revenge. In this story, Hammer cannot control his temper. The situation is extremely unfair, and you empathize with Hammer for fighting with Charlie. But on the other hand, his decision to take revenge led to his family’s well getting poisoned. It raises the question whether or not it’s better to fight back with violence or fight back in other ways.
Retell: Masako is a Japanese-American who moves to Japan after spending her childhood in America. Adjusting to life in Japan is rough for Masako. She must repeat high school in order to learn Japanese, her classmates call her gaijin (a derogatory word for ‘foreigner’), and she must learn how to be a proper Japanese lady. One day she boards a bus for Osaka and finds work, a companion and a cure for her homesickness.
Topics: English, Japanese-Americans, homesickness, culture shock, matchmaking, individuality
Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Personal Narrative, Memoir
Tribes: right to pass
Habits of Mind: taking responsible risks, thinking flexibly
Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, prediction, empathy
My Thoughts: I especially enjoy Tea With Milk because I have a personal connection to this book. I taught English for three years in a rural village in Japan. I can relate to May and her struggle to get used to sitting on the floor (women are expected to sit on their knees–it’s considered rude to sit cross-legged) and missing comfort foods. When I read this book I thought of my students who often visit the countries where their parents are from and experience an identity crisis similar to the one that May faced. I hope that this book inspires them to write their stories. Though this is technically a personal narrative (the main character was the author’s mother) you could angle this to fit in many different units including the current Character unit. It’s particularly useful for modeling how readers notice subtle changes in a character.
Retell: Allie wants to be a star basketball player like her cousin Gwen. After receiving a brand-new basketball from her father, she gives it a test run at the neighborhood playground. She soon finds out that not everyone is willing to accept a girl on the court.
Topics: basketball, gender issues, friendship
Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts, Realistic Fiction
Tribes: mutual respect, personal best, right to pass
Habits of Mind: persisting
Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, making connections
Writing Skills: planning a story across 2-3 scenes
My Thoughts: This book is a great read aloud for so many different units. It’s a particularly good text to read during the Social Issues unit. It’s nice to read this book before or after reading other books that deal with gender issues such as, William’s Doll, or Oliver Button is a Sissy. It’s a good mentor text for the Realistic Fiction unit because the story takes place across two scenes.
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?
Retell: Amelia is a young girl who collects thoughts, souvenirs, photos and stories in her writer’s notebook. Through the pages of her notebook we learn about Amelia’s friend Leah, her sister Cleo, and the terrible arsonist who destroyed her school.
Topics: writing, birthdays, siblings, friendship, daydreaming, numbers, arson, symbols, partnerships, writer’s notebooks
Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Personal Essay
Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs, right to pass, personal best
Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe
Writing Skills: generating notebook entries, using pictures and objects to inspire writing, writing about ideas, spelling tricky words by writing it in different ways
Thoughts: This is volume 2 in a series of “Amelia” books. I use this each year when we relaunch our writer’s notebooks. The book resembles a composition notebook. There are many ways that it can be used to teach writing skills, but it also stands alone for discussing other issues. For example, Amelia writes about how she is reluctant to show her notebook to her friend Leah. This could be a great time to discuss taking the right to pass. During a Social Issues or Personal Essay unit you could use this book to analyze the issue of school vandalism.
If you have used any books from the “Amelia” series please post your ideas in the comments section.
Retell: 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.
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.