Posts tagged ‘voice’

135. Presidential Pets by Laura Driscoll

Retell: A history of presidents and their beloved pets.

Topics: pets, presidents, fun, friendship, dogs, Obama, Bo, family

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area

Reading Skills: synthesis, making connections, interpretation

Writing Skills: developing voice in nonfiction

My Thoughts: I picked this book up a few days ago at our school’s book fair.  I have a lot of animal lovers in my class who only read nonfiction about animals.  This book combines an interest in animals with an interest in presidential history and current events.  It’s a nice book for demonstrating how readers can often get distracted by seductive details but must work constantly to think about what the author is trying to say about the topic.

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November 23, 2009 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

100. Should There Be Zoos? A Persuasive Text by Tony Stead with Judy Ballester and her fourth grade class

should there be zoosRetell: A collection of persuasive, well-researched essays that explore whether or not we should have zoos.  The anthology includes a glossary and a description of the process they went through to write the book.

Topics: zoos, persuasive text, arguments, endangered species, reintroduction

Units of Study: Content-Area, Personal Essay

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: thinking and communicating with clarity and precision

Writing Skills: defining a word within a sentence, incorporating precise vocabulary, developing a persuasive voice

My Thoughts: Though the unit is a month away, my school’s literacy coach and I are beginning to collect mentor texts for the personal essay unit.  Here is a text that you could use for either Personal Essay or Content-Area writing.  The essays not only make good mentor texts but the description of the writing process is important to share with students as they embark on an essay unit.  The authors included ten steps to writing a persuasive text.  I’m particularly found of number eight: “After doing lots of reading, observing, and note-taking, we put our new information into our arguments to make them stronger.  We constantly conferenced with our teachers.”

October 6, 2009 at 8:30 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

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

4. Neeny Coming, Neeny Going by Karen English

neeny coming, neeny goingRetell: Neeny and her cousin were raised on Daufuskie Island, located off the coast of South Carolina.  Years before, Neeny went back to the mainland to live with her mother.  When Neeny returns to the island, her cousin realizes that Neeny is not the same cousin she grew up with.

Topics: change, family, environmental issues

Units of Study: Social Issues, Character

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: envisionment, prediction, inference, monitoring for sense, interpretation, making connections

Writing Skills: writing with voice

My Thoughts: This is a great book for the Social Issues unit.  I can imagine a juicy discussion about how much the mainland changed Neeny.  Many of my students travel back to their home countries during vacation.  I think they could make a lot of connections to this book.  I can see using this book as a mentor text for showing how authors write with a distinctive voice.

June 30, 2009 at 12:00 pm 2 comments


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