Posts tagged ‘small moments’

22. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

wilfrid gordon mcdonald partridgeRetell: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge enjoys visiting the old people’s home located next door to his house.  He especially loves visiting Miss Nancy.  When his parents tell him that she has lost her memory, Wilfrid searches for items that may help her remember.

Topics: memories, alzheimer’s disease, small moments, friendship, memory loss

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Memoir, Realistic Fiction

Reading Skills: inference, making connections

Writing Skills: keeping a writer’s notebook, using objects to get ideas for notebook entries, writing endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: This is the book that I’m going to read when I introduce the concept that writer’s can get ideas for notebook entries by looking at objects.  Mem Fox is the author of several excellent books for children.  She is an advocate for reading aloud and provides videos, recordings, and tips for reading aloud on her website.  Also included on her site is a “stories behind the stories” section where she discusses her inspiration for each of her books.  Check out her website:  http://www.memfox.com/welcome.html

July 18, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

9. Dogteam by Gary Paulsen

dogteamRetell: A moonlit night inspires the narrator to take his dogs on an exciting night ride.

Topics: dogs, dog sledding

Units of Study: personal narrative, content-area writing

Reading Skills: envisionment

Writing Skills: using active verbs, zooming in on a small moment, incorporating sensory details, adding suspense, inserting commas and semicolons, repetition

My Thoughts: Dogteam reads more like prose.  In addition to including beautiful imagery, Paulsen’s book has many examples of how writers use all senses to describe a moment in time.  Though I would categorize this as a personal narrative, one could also use this as a mentor text for writing nonfiction poetry.

July 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

7. Guys Write for Guys Read

guys readRetell: Jon Scieszka edits this fabulous collection of stories, comics, essays, illustrations and vignettes contributed by prominent male authors and illustrators.  Contributors include:  Stephen King, Matt Groening, Jerry Spinelli, Seymour Simon, James Howe, Neil Gaiman, Gary Paulsen and many more.  Royalties from the book are used to support Scieszka’s Guys Read Program.

Topics: boys, family, growing up, reading, writing, art

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Launching the Reading and Writing Workshop, Character, Personal Essay, Content-Area Reading and Writing, Nonfiction, Memoir, Social Issues, Fantasy, Preparing for the ELA

Tribes: Mutual Respect, Personal Best, Appreciations/No Putdowns, Right to Pass

Reading Skills: inference, making connections, interpretation

Writing Skills: writing with voice, zooming in on a small moment, observing the world for stories

My Thoughts: This book is teacher gold!  Guys Write for Guys Read has a plethora of short stories that can be used for mentor texts in almost every Reading and Writing unit.  One of the stories, “Reading Can Be Dangerous” by Tedd Arnold was featured on the 5th grade ELA test last year.  James Howe, author of Bunnicula, writes a personal narrative about getting help from a friend on how to be a boy–a great text for personal essay or discussing gender issues.  Many authors write about how they came to love reading and writing.  Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, writes about how he fell in love with fantasy–great to read when you launch a unit on Fantasy reading and writing.  Patrick Jones, a librarian, writes about how being interested in wrestling inspired him to become a voracious reader.  Many entries include samples of famous authors childhood work alongside their adult work.  For example, Dav Pilkey, author/illustrator of the infamous Captain Underpants series, writes about a comic strip he started when he was 11.  I will probably use this book for almost every unit I teach this year.

If you don’t pick up a copy of this book you must go to Scieska’s website, Guys Read.  The site is dedicated to inspiring more young boys to fall in love with reading.  Mr. Scieszka, you’re my hero.

July 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm 4 comments

6. The Wall by Eve Bunting

The WallRetell: A father and son visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.  The young son describes what he sees and hears on the day of his visit.

Topics: family, Memorial Day, Vietnam War

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Social Issues

Tribes: Mutual Respect, Right to Pass

Reading Skills: inference, synthesis

Writing Skills: writing sensory details, writing small moments

My Thoughts: The Wall is one of those books that may be difficult to read aloud with a dry eye.  I can see reading this book duing the beginning of the year during the Personal Narrative unit and then rereading it during the Social Issues unit.  I could even reread it yet again right before Memorial Day.  The Wall provides a good example of how a writer can zoom in on a small moment.  The entire book takes place in one location and does not span more than a few hours.  Each line of the book encourages readers to question and infer:  “That couple seems like they’ve lost someone.  Who did they lose?”  You could also reread this book with a Tribes lens.  You could encourage your students to discuss how the boy solved a problem, not by yelling at the crowd of noisy school girls, but by standing next to his reverent father, supporting his moment of silence in a show of solidarity.

July 2, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

3. Uptown by Bryan Collier

uptownRetell: A young boy writes about his observations of Harlem.

Topics: neighborhoods, Harlem, community

Units of Study: Personal Narratives, Geography of New York

Reading Skills: envisionment

Writing Skills: writing small moments, including setting details, writing metaphors and similes

My Thoughts: This beautiful book shows that writers observe the world around them.  Each observation is something that can turn into powerful writing.  I plan on using this book as a mentor text for teaching about metaphors and similes.  Collier writes, “Uptown is a caterpillar.  Well, it’s really the Metro-North train as it eases over the Harlem River.”  Though my students don’t live in Harlem, I’m hoping that reading this book together will show them that they need to share their world with others through writing.  The world needs more books about Sunset Park, Brooklyn!  For 4th grade teachers in New York, I can see using this book during a Geography unit.  Perhaps after reading Uptown, students could locate the landmarks in the book on a subway map.

June 29, 2009 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

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