Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Intermediate Age Students- Read Aloud Books January 2, 2009

I had a very productive and fun day with my friend and literacy guru, Carol.  We started at our favorite Cover to Cover to peruse new books and ended up having a working lunch to talk about writing workshop in the primary grades.  

ctc_exterior_3_2005While at Cover to Cover, Carol and I were able to fulfill one of my school year goals of having a short list of common read-alouds for each grade level at the intermediate school. We have both read a lot over the years and also had the expert staff at Cover to Cover to help us. We aimed to have two “classic/Newbery*” for each grade level and two “newer” read alouds. We also tried to take into account gender, ethnicity, etc.  

Here is what we came up with:

4th Grade:ctc_interior132

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli   *

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson *

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford (review)

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look (review) (I think Moxy Maxwell  and Alvin Ho really complement each other)

Hate That Cat/Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (review) (You can’t have one without the other!)

5th:

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck *

Missing May by Cynthia Rylant *

Along Came a Spider by James Preller

Science Fair by Dave Barry 

6th:

One-Eyed Cat by Norma Fox *

The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis *

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (review)

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

 

I’m going to try to tackle Along Came a Spider by the middle of next week when I give them to the different grade levels.  That way I will have read each grade level’s “classics/Newbery” and at least one of the newer titles. Science Fair and The Girl Who Could Fly will be put at the top of the To Be Read pile.

Yeah! Happy Reading for all our students and teachers.

Thank you Carol! I hope to post a link to your new blog before the end of the month! 

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First Grade Authors November 7, 2008

Click to play 1st Grade Blog Post

I had the privilege of accompanying a group of first-grade teachers to visit another another elementary school’s Writing Workshop. Below I’ve pasted the information I got from my friend, and literacy guru, Carol, about what to expect during the visit. Carol is a retired educator from the district we went to visit.

The teachers are all experienced teachers and have worked as a team for seveal years. Their writing workshop is based on the work of Lucy Calkins and influenced by the work done at the Manhattan New School in New York City which the three teachers visited a couple of years ago.

Each writing session begins with a mini-lesson, which is followed by a student writing time, and then concludes with sharing/author’s chair. The teachers have been going through student writing folders at this time to decide what to teach and reteach before progress reports go home next week. The lessons you see on Thursday will probably come from this review of folders. Lessons the teachers and students have worked on this year include: “special moments”/personal narrative writing; content components (main idea, details and descriptive words); making sure each student’s writing has clear meaning; and the idea of ‘how do I know this piece is done’ or ‘when I am done, I have really just begun’.
They have also focued on spelling high frequency words correctly, capitals, and punctuation.

We will divide you into groups of two and you will rotate through each of the three classrooms. At the conclusion of the writing workshop time, the students have recess and the teachers will have time to talk with you and answer any questions. They are also happy to share their email addresses so you could contact them if you have further questions.

If you have time, we could stop for a quick lunch and talk about what you saw in the classrooms, any questions you have, and what ideas you might take back and try in your own setting.

 

Mentor Texts: Author Loreen Leedy October 5, 2008

Crazy Like a Fox: A Simile Story by Loreen Leedy is the newest book by this very fun author. I first became familiar with Leedy while using her book Postcards from Pluto as a mentor text (way back before I even knew what they were) for writing our own postcards and books about the planets when that was part of my science curriculum.  Since then I have had the opportunity to meet her at the now defunct The Ohio State University Children’s Literature Conference (boy I miss that opportunity to see so many great authors) and she has now written around thirty books.

While I have been unable to continue using Postcards from Pluto in science, it is still a great mentor for that type of short, fictional/nonfictional writing.

 I also am a big fan of Leedy’s Penny books, Mapping Penny’s World and Measuring Penny.Both texts fit into the current fourth grade curriculum-measurement, map skills, and are also great read alouds. 

The newest Leedy book, Crazy Like a Fox, starts with a great, child friendly explanation of what a simile is. In Ohio this is always a tested topic, and also one that can be difficult for teachers to help students have a working understanding of, especially as they need to also know idiom, metaphor, etc.

The story progresses as the main characters Rufus and Babette chase after each other until they run into a surprise party for Babette. Each page includes not just the similes that described what Rufus and Babette are doing, but also has little asides as other minor characters comment on Rufus and Babette, all spoken in similes. The book also includes a nice section at the end about creating your own simile story that teachers will find helpful and students will have fun participating. 

If you are trying to teach similes, idioms and metaphors, check out Punished by David Lubar. This short little chapter book is a great read-aloud and chronicles a boy’s attempt to earn back his ability to speak without it all coming out as puns.