Posts tagged ‘talking and writing about texts’

120. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

where the wild things areRetell: After Max is sent to bed without supper he imagines traveling to a world where he becomes king of the wild things.  Being a wild things is fun for awhile but he learns that it cannot compare to the comforts of home.

Topics: monsters, mischief, disobedience, imagination, travel, dreams, home

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About texts

Habits of Mind: creating-innovating-imagining

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using repetition, crafting endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: I dressed up as a wild thing for our recent school Halloween parade.  I looked more like a hairy viking than a wild thing, but I get points for trying.  To introduce my costume I read this book aloud.  Many of them had heard it before.  I’m glad I was able to tuck in this classic read aloud before the majority of my students head to the cinema to see the movie.  Upon rereading it, I realized that one has to do a huge amount of envisionment as they read the text.  The illustrations are wonderful, but they don’t reveal all.  When reading this book aloud I recommend using the pages where there is no text to have your students (or your own children) role play and act like Max or the wild things.  You can encourage them to make noise like them, talk like them, move like them and think like them.

November 1, 2009 at 9:55 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

114. The Gold Coin by Alma Flor Ada

the gold coinRetell: A thief discovers a woman who claims to be the “richest person in the world.”  He ransacks her hut but fails to find her gold.  He goes on a quest to find the woman and her gold. What he finds instead are people who teach him that being rich has little to do with gold.

Topics: gold, greed, thieves, kindness, hard work, acceptance

Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Talking and Writing about Texts

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: prediction, interpretation, inference, empathy

Writing Skills: incorporating the rule of three

My Thoughts: I first discovered this story when I went to a Great Books training years ago.  I’ve since used it a few times during the Character unit.  It is a great text for examining how people can change because of their relationships with other people.  It’s a great text to use when you are launching whole class conversation during and after read alouds.

October 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm Leave a comment

112. Allie’s Basketball Dream by Barbara E. Barber

allie's basketball dreamRetell: 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.

October 17, 2009 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment

110. Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone

peppe the lamplighterRetell: Peppe and his family live in a tenement on Mulberry Street.  Though he is just a boy, he must find work to help support his family.  After several attempts, he finally finds a job as a lamplighter.  His Papa imagines a better world for him in America.  He becomes upset with Peppe for taking such a menial job.  Though he loves his job, Peppe decides to take a break from it one evening in an effort to please his father.   Later that evening both Peppe and his father discover that being the lamplighter isn’t such a bad deal after all

Topics: tenements, New York, child labor, lamplighters, family, perspectives, work

Units of Study: Historical Fiction, Social Issues, Talking and Writing about Texts

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs

Reading Skills: inference, envisionment, interpretation

Writing Skills: using the ‘rule of three’, angling a story

My Thoughts: What I love about this text, is that it’s short, but inspires the reader to do a lot of good thinking.  It’s a fabulous text for Reading and Writing Workshop as well as Social Studies.  Using the illustrations, students can envision what New York tenement life was like during the 1800s.  Though my students are currently writing Realistic Fiction, I’m planning on reading a section of this book tomorrow to a small group of students.  I’m going to teach them how authors often incorporate the ‘rule of three’ when crafting stories (“The Three Little Pigs”, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”).  In the beginning of the story, Peppe attempts to find a job.  The author could have chosen to describe the effort in a figurative way.  Instead, she decided to give three examples of where he looked for work:  the butcher, the bar, and the candy maker.

October 14, 2009 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

96. Jim and the Beanstalk by Raymond Briggs

jim and the beanstalkRetell: Jim discovers a mysterious vine outside of his window one day.  He follows it up and up and encounters a giant.  This giant however is not very ferocious.  He has lost his sight, his teeth and his hair.  With Jim’s help the giant acquires glasses, dentures and a wig.

Topics: curiosity, measurement, fairy tales, act of kindness

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: mutual respect, appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: striving for accuracy and precision

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, prediction, interpretation

Writing Skills: incorporating the rule of three

My Thoughts: This can be filed under “stories with a twist”.  (See The Paper Bag Princess post).  This is a spoof/sequel to the story, “Jack and the Beanstalk”.  In this story, the main character is nice to the giant, drastically changing the moral of the story.  It would be interesting to plan a mini read aloud where you read twisted fairy tales.  With older kids, it may be great to use twisted fairy tales to work on interpretation.  Students could examine questions such as:  How does the moral of the story change when the characters act differently?  Why do you think the author chose to rewrite the famous fairy tale?  What was he/she trying to teach?

September 30, 2009 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

94. This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie, Paintings by Kathy Jakobsen

this land is your landRetell: Woody Guthrie’s famous song in picture book form.  The book includes a tribute by Pete Seeger and information about Guthrie’s life.

Topics: America, Great Depression, Dust Bowl, traveling, migrant camps

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

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: interpretation, envisionment

My Thoughts: I started a ‘song of the week’ tradition in my classroom this year.  Each day while students enter the classroom and unpack we listen to a song together.  By the end of the song students are expected to have unpacked and come to the rug with their lyrics.  At the end of the week we sing the song together.  This week’s song just happens to be “This Land is Your Land”.  This morning while on my walk I passed by a bookstore which displayed the picture book version of the song in its window.  I was so pleased!  Kathy Jakobsen’s paintings compliment the lyrics well.  (She also illustrated the book, My New York.)  I can’t wait to read this to my students this week.  Seeing the pictures will help them visualize the lyrics of the song.  In the version my students sing there are three verses that are omitted.  This is one of them:

“In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people; By the relief office I seen my people; As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking, Is this land made for you and me?”

It made me wonder why I had never heard these lyrics growing up.  I hope to have a lively whole group discussion after reading this book aloud.  I also plan on revisiting this text during the Personal Essay unit when I’ll ask students to observe the world around them and ask difficult questions.

September 28, 2009 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

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

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

81. The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales

the tequila wormRetell: Sophia is an intelligent, hardworking girl from McAllen, Texas.  When she receives a scholarship for a boarding school 400 miles, she must learn to live in two different worlds.  She longs to explore and be accepted by the people at St. Lukes, but she also wishes to be a good comadre and participate in her family’s traditions.

Topics: overcrowding, barrios, family, traditions, Mexican-Americans, friendship, ambition, choices, siblings, Day of the Dead, boarding school, scholarships

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

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly, thinking interdependently

Reading Skills: inference, synthesis, interpretation, envisionment

Writing Skills: bringing out the heart of a story

Thoughts: Though I believe this book is probably most appropriate for middle school students, I wouldn’t hesitate reading sections of this book to my fourth graders.   There are great examples of how writers collect stories from their lives and how people become the change they want see in the world.  I love Canales’ description of the various rituals and traditions of Sofia’s family.  The relationship between Sofia and Berta is interesting.  They made very different choices.  Sofia chose to move far away and attend college.  Berta married young, stayed in her hometown and had two children.  Readers could have an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of both characters’ choices.

September 15, 2009 at 8:42 pm Leave a comment

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