Posts tagged ‘school’

46. Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards by Serge Bloch

butterflies in my stomach and other school hazardsRetell: It’s the first day of school and the narrator is nervous.  Each person he encounters speaks in confusing idioms.

Topics: first day of school, idioms, school

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Realistic Fiction

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment

My Thoughts: It’s well into August and that means that my mind is beginning to think more and more about the first weeks of school.  I’m on the hunt for engaging books to start the year out well.  I found this cute book a few days ago during a visit to Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon.  Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards not only makes for a good read aloud on the first day of school, but it is also great for introducing idioms.  On each page the main character encounters a person who says an idiom.  Each idiom is illustrated literally.  For example, when his teacher said “he was all ears,” the illustration shows the teacher with giant ears.  If you didn’t want to read this book aloud in one sitting, you could read a page or two each day as a warm-up activity.  You could keep a chart of idioms that the class learns each day.

August 12, 2009 at 12:45 am 1 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

33. The A+ Custodian by Louise Borden

the a+ custodianRetell: John Carillo is the custodian for Dublin Elementary School.  Everyone in the school thinks he is a great custodian.  A few students decide to find a way to appreciate all his hard work.

Topics: custodians, school, hard work,

Units of Study: personal essay, realistic fiction

Tribes: personal best, appreciations/no put-downs, mutual respect

Reading Skills: inference, envsionment

Writing Skills: incorporating tight lists, elaboration, including sensory details

My Thoughts: This is a fabulous book to take out when you feel the class needs to take more responsiblity picking up after themselves.  The A+ Custodian reminds me that I should take more time thoughout the year to appreciate the janitors and custodians at my school.  I love how the author emphasizes how much Mr. Carillo loves and is proud of the students of Dublin Elementary School.  I plan to use this book when collecting ideas for personal essays.  The text is a great example of the strategy, “Writers think of a person in their life and jot down ideas about him/her.”  In fact the author’s note at the beginning itself makes a good mentor text for personal essay.

July 29, 2009 at 4:06 pm Leave a comment

26. Emily’s Art by Peter Catalanotto

emily's artRetell: Emily loves to paint.  She enters her painting of her dog Thor in the school art contest.  After narrowly losing the contest, Emily vows never to paint again.  With her help from her friend Emily realizes that she should continue doing what makes her happy.

Topics: art, contests, friendship, school, painting, self-esteem

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

Tribes: attentive listening, appreciations, personal best

Reading Skills: inference, making connections, interpretation

My Thoughts: I feel like I’m coming across a lot of books about young artists lately (see post on Ish).  I’m a big fan of books with illustrations that not only support the text but enhance it.  At the beginning of the book the illustrations of Emily are vivid and opaque.  However, as soon as she loses the contest, the illustrations of Emily are transparent, conveying the idea that she feels alone and invisible.  Another cool feature about Emily’s Art is how the book begins.  It reminds me of the Harry Potter films.  The story begins with a scene that draws the reader into the story and then like the opening credits in a movie, the title page appears.  I plan on using this book early in the year when we do a lot of community-building.  It’s a great book for showing how far appreciations can go.

July 22, 2009 at 9:09 am Leave a comment

20. Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler

kindness is cooler mrs. rulerRetell: Mrs. Cooler’s class is getting antsy and cranky.  She asks a few misbehaving students to do 10 acts of kindness at home.  The next day during show and tell, others are inspired to do random acts of kindness.  Eventually the project includes acts of kindness at school and throughout the community.

Topics: kindness, school, community, helping, volunteering, 100th day of school

Units of Study: Character, Realistic Fiction

Tribes: appreciations/no putdowns, mutual respect, community building, personal best

Writing Skills: using rhyme and rhythm

My Thoughts: I think I just found my 100th day of school read aloud.  The 100th day of school always creeps up on me and I end up doing a last minute project.  This year, I think I’ll use Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler to launch a Random Acts of Kindness Campaign.  In the book Mrs. Ruler’s class tries to do 100 kind acts at home, school, or in the community.  She puts each act on a paper heart and they have a celebration when they reach 100.  Since the 100th day of school usually falls close to Valentine’s Day, a Kindness Campaign could be a good way to turn a commercialized holiday into one that promotes a good cause.  Thanks Ms. Cuyler.

July 16, 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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