Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Science Fiction (by accident) March 31, 2010

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:34 pm
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First Light

Rebecca Stead

middle grade fiction

2007, 336 pages


Pete Hautman

Young Adult

2007, 272 pages

I have to say that I don’t normally gravitate towards science fiction. It was doubly unusual that I would be reading two sci-fi books at once. Both Rash by Pete Hautman and First Light by Rebecca Stead kept me turning those pages. I didn’t know enough about either book ahead of time to know it was going to be science fiction, which, in my case was good because it might have steered me clear of two good reads.

First Light by Rebecca Stead is the author’s first book, published before her Newbery win this year for When You Reach Me. I picked it up at NCTE when I was getting her autograph. I thought the cover was appealing and I liked that the chapters went back and forth between a boy main character and a girl main character. Set in the Arctic Circle, First Light is a compelling science fiction/mystery that started off in a way that I was fooled into thinking it was realistic fiction.

Here’s good old Wikipedia’s definition of Science Fiction:

Science fiction is a genre of fiction. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible withinscientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”.[1] Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possibilities.[2] The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality.

These may include:

  • A setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record
  • A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens[3]
  • Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature[4]
  • Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics, or new technology, such as nanotechnologyfaster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems (e.g., a dystopia, or a situation where organized society has collapsed)[5]

First Light has alternative timeline to history, a different political system and  new discoveries.

Rash is a YA has a future setting (2074), new technology (safety equipment out the wazoo), artificial

intelligence and a whole new political system (the USSA-The United Safer States of America).  About twenty percent of the country is in prision, as anything unsafe is illegal. McDonalds still exists, but it doesn’t sell fast food-french fries are illeagal. You need to have your PSE (Personal Safety Equipment) for gym class, and more. If you take a look at Pete Hautman’s web site, you can see where he drew inspiration for this book.

I had picked it up at SSCO’s book review. I’m a huge Pete Hautman fan and think  his books should not be overlooked.

If you’d asked me last week if I liked the genre of science fiction, I would have told you no-I don’t really care for it. Now after reading these two sci-fi gems, I’m willing to give the genre a whole new look. What a happy surprise for me as a reader.


Poetry UOS Grade 5 Lesson 2 Writing

Filed under: Poetry,units of study,writing workshop — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:55 am
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Writing Lesson 2: Using the Writing Notebook-Creating Poetic Languages and Phrases


• Note cards cut into strips

• Four or five mentor poems of your choice

• Students’ writing notebooks to access “interesting, engaging, or intriguing words and phrases” from Lesson 1

• Lists of words from Skills Block lesson, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, “small words,” endings (optional)

• Overhead samples of words on strips

• Teacher’s writing notebook with pre-written poems or poetic phrases

Intended Learning

• Students use interesting and engaging words to create poems and/or poetic phrases to develop a clearer sense of poetic language.

Big Ideas

• Develop awareness of sounds of words and rhythm of phrases.


This lesson borrows the idea of a magnetic poetry kit, allowing students to experiment with words and phrases to create poetic rhythm, images, mood, and so on.



Remind students that poets select and use words and phrases in ways that create images, mood, rhythm, and emotion.

Select and read four or five phrases or short poems from your mentor poems demonstrating this statement.


Tell students they will write words from their interesting words lists on tickets (i.e., note card strips). Explain that you have also cut word strips from the Skills Block lesson where students listed words representing parts of speech. They will use their words, borrowed words from their partners and classmates, and words from the Skills Block lesson to create poems or poetic phrases.

Tell students they may have seen this idea before: using magnetic words to create poems. Spread out some overhead sample word strips.

Demonstrate how to pull some word strips together to create a poem or poetic phrase inspired by some mentor poems. Explain how when you created a small poem or phrase you really liked, you copied it into your writing notebook.

Hold up your writing notebook to show students where you wrote five or six short poems or poetic phrases created from word strips.

Active Engagement

Students copy interesting words from their writing notebooks onto word strips and cut out ones they prepared from the Skills Block lesson. Allow students about 10 minutes (but no more than 15) for this part of the lesson.

Students may not have time to copy and cut out all of their words, but it is more important to move into the “creating poetic language” phase than having every word on a strip.


Give students guidelines and time limits for copying and cutting out words. Students may borrow words from their partners if needed. Tell students they do not need to copy all words they wrote in their notebooks, only those they especially like.

Let them know, however, everyone needs a minimum of five or six short poems or poetic phrases written in their notebooks by the end of Independent and Small Group Time.

Independent and Small Group Time

Students work independently or with partners to create short poems or poetic phrases.


• Students share with partners some short poems or poetic phrases they created and wrote in their notebooks.

• Several students share out one or two of their favorites with the whole group.


Poetry UOS Fifth Grade Reading Day 2

Filed under: Poetry,reading workshop,units of study — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:52 am
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Reading Lesson 2: Immersing Ourselves in Poetry


• Chart paper to create “Comparing and Contrasting Poetry and Prose” graphic organizer (see end of this lesson)

• Teacher-selected poem for read aloud (see Reading Resources in Unit at a Glance)

• Overhead of example of familiar prose

• Student copies of a few poetry and prose examples

• Students’ “Poetry Pass” graphic organizers from Lesson 1

Intended Learning

• Students learn to verbalize differences and similarities between poetry and prose to deepen their understanding of poetry.

Big Ideas

• Understand elements of poetry, including word choice, rhythm, rhyme, imagery, metaphor, and visual design.


Point out how both poetry and prose “create imagery” or “paint a picture in readers’ minds” and touch readers’ emotions. Point out poetry just accomplishes it with less, yet more powerful language and word choice.


Review yesterday’s discoveries from the “Poetry Pass” by allowing students to look over their graphic organizers and briefly review the “Scan, Snippet” column to recall what they noticed about poetry. Tell them they will use what they noticed yesterday and their prior knowledge of poetry to record similarities and differences between poetry and prose.


Read aloud the poem you chose so students experience the words’ sound and rhythm. After the reading, ask them to think how this poem compares to prose. You may mention a particular piece of prose students are familiar with. Allow students to “Turn and Talk” to partners about their ideas.

Begin a “Comparing and Contrasting Poetry and Prose” graphic organizer (see end of this lesson) on chart paper.

Distribute and take a minute or two to study poetry and prose samples with the class, using samples the class has seen and read before. Think aloud about similarities and/or differences you notice.

Fill in the “Comparing and Contrasting Poetry and Prose” graphic organizer with ideas gathered from the poem and the overhead example of prose. For example, you might say “I noticed poetry has different line lengths, but in prose, the lines go until the end of the page.” Then write those ideas on the organizer.

Also model including ideas similar to both forms of writing, such as “I noticed the poem I read has figurative language such as a simile. We see figurative language in prose also.” Remind students a simile is when authors compare dissimilar two things using like or as. Then write this idea in the “Both” column.

Invite one or two students to share their ideas and add to the organizer. You will refer to the chart to elaborate on ideas presented throughout the lesson, so scaffold their responses to ensure all important ideas are reflected on the organizer, which include visual design of poetry, cadence, rhythm, author’s point

Active Engagement

Students “Turn and Talk” about other similarities and/or differences they notice in the two samples. Ask one or two student pairs to share their findings and record their information on the class organizer.


During independent reading, students copy the “Comparing and Contrasting Poetry and Prose” graphic organizer format into their reading notebooks. Pass out several poetry and prose selections to students to read and use their graphic organizers to chart and record other ideas that the group may not have highlighted.

Independent and Small Group Time

• Students read independently from poetry books and/or teacher-selected poems.

• Confer with individual students and/or provide small group instruction.


•Invite students to share similarities and differences they noticed between prose and poetry that the group did not notice or record earlier.

Comparing and Contrasting Poetry and Prose

Poetry Both Prose
Has line breaks Have similes Lines go to the end of the page.