Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Week 14

Wonderopolis Website
Shared with Kinder and 2nd Grade
Targeted Skills: Purposes and examples of different kinds of media

At the beginning of last summer I had the privilege of attending a workshop presented by Donalyn Miller--Book Whisperer Extraordinaire. She told us about a website called Wonderopolis, and I have been waiting for the perfect time to introduce it to my students. This was Wonderopolis week!

We focused on the Wonder from last December 25 entitled "Where Do Candy Canes Get Their Shape?" I wanted a Christmas themed topic, and since it's a new Wonder every day, you can search the site to explore past topics. Since the students were focusing on media that they see (read), watch, and hear, we watched the video on how candy canes are made at Disney Land (of course, they are made magically). This was a great review of a "procedural text" or "how to make stuff" from last week. The articles on Wonderopolis are very through, so I summarized some to the facts about candy canes that were included  (I glazed over the religious context since I teach in a public school).  During checkout time, we listened to Christmas music on Pandora and talked about how this is an example of media that we hear. 
The teachers on my campus were so excited to learn about Wonderopolis because it is a great example of interesting expository text. Make sure you click on the different tabs on top of the main article to go deeper into the topic: "Try it out," "Wonder Words" (GREAT for vocabulary development), "Still Wondering?", and "Wonder What's Next?" I especially love the "Wonder What's Next" tab because it gives a hint for the next day's Wonder. It would be a fun way to work on predicting.  Wonderopolis ROCKS, and I will definitely be using it more in the library. It was a perfect way to introduce that all research begins with a wonder.

Lesson Frame:

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas by Melanie Watt
Read to: 1st Grade
Targeted Skills: Characteristics of a functional text; Differences between fiction and nonfiction

This might seem like a stretch for an example functional text, but it really works perfectly. I had to find a way to work the newest Scaredy into my holiday book rotation because my kids are HUGE fans of this OCD Squirrel. 

We first reviewed the characteristics of a functional text that they had learned in their classroom. I shared the book under the Elmo because Scaredy books need to be SEEN as well as heard. I did not read the entire book because it is long, and I had to talk through it and point out things in the pictures because this does not follow a narrative structure. But it is a PERFECT example of a functional text (lists, diagrams, maps, signs, survival tips, directions)--for a squirrel who easily gets stressed out. The kids were able to make the distinction that this book is fiction. We then talked about how we could make it nonfiction by making it about humans rather than a squirrel. I made the suggestion to the teachers to have the kids work on their own "Survival Guides" to give to their parents since adults (and squirrels) seem to get WAY MORE stressed out about the holidays than children do.  

Lesson Frame:

Postcards from Camp by Simms Taback
Read to: 3rd and 4th Grade
Targeted Skills: Summarize the plot; Questioning; Making Inferences; Author's Purpose

This is one of the COOLEST books that I have seen in a long time, and the kids LOVED it. As one of the Texas Bluebonnet selections for 2012, I am projecting this one as the winner at my school. But we will have to wait for the vote in January. This book must be read under the Elmo so that the kids can see the actual postcards and letters. 

The premise of the story is simple, but it's fun for the kids to predict what the card will be about based on the front and also what will the father's response be. Will he give in and come pick up his miserable camper son? The theme of this book is also wonderful for kids to realize. After we finished, I asked the kids WHY did the author write the book this way? Why did he include the actual pieces of mail rather than just tell us the story? "Because it just makes it WAY COOLER like this, Mrs. Bailey!!" I agree. Totes.  
Lesson Frame:

Read to: 6th Grade 
Targeted Skills: Compare the characteristics of fiction and nonfiction; main idea and supporting details

Please see my Week 8 post about this lesson. 

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin A. Ramsey
Shared with 5th Grade via the Bluebonnet Blog

In order to get at least 5 Bluebonnet books read to all of my 3rd--6th graders, I rely on the help of my wonderful teachers. I am trying something new this year. I started a Shaw Bluebonnet blog to make the lessons more intentional and aligned with the curriculum. Therefore, I am not just thrusting a book into the teacher's hands and saying, "Please read this!"  I am looking at the curriculum and giving the book to the teacher when if fits their focus for the week. I have included questions on the blog for them to follow so that teachers can read the book when it is convenient for them and hopefully have a meaningful lesson. I want to make it as easy and helpful as possible for them because they have so much on their plates right now. Since the 5th graders were concentrating on literary nonfiction, this book fits. I will have the 5th graders in to read to them in person after the holiday break.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Week 13

Wonder by RJ Palacio
Suggested Read Aloud for 4th, 5th, & 6th Grade Classes
Targeted Skills: EVERY human needs to read this because reading in school should not just be about skills. Reading can make us better people.

Ever since I first read Wonder back in the summer, I have been on a personal mission to tell everyone that I know to read this book.  It reminds me so much of Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper, which is a book extremely close to my heart.

In typical librarian fashion, I pushed this book into the hands of my upper grade teachers at the beginning of the school year. Two classes have finished reading it (4th & 5th). Three more are currently reading, and I have several who want to start it after the holidays (Mission accomplished!). My teachers have said that they are able to teach so many of the reading skills through this book, so it is not just a "fun" read aloud--it can be tied to instruction, as well.

 I had the privilege of going into the classrooms of the 4th and 5th grade classes who have finished it to have a discussion about this gem of a book. I was so excited to go on their "turf" rather than have them come into the library so that I could relive my days discussing great books in a classroom setting. My students did not disappoint. The discussions with each class were insightful, and I could truly tell that they took the theme of Wonder to heart. We discussed how we can take the book's message (Be kinder than necessary to ALL people) and apply it to our own school. I made pledge cards for each child to sign. I brought black Sharpies, and we discussed that signing our names to this pledge was very serious. The pledge card reads, "I pledge to end bullying in my community, and in my daily life, to be a little kinder than necessary." (Click here to get a version of the pledge. I tweaked it for each kid to sign.)After the holidays, my plan is to make a "Wonder Wall" and display the pledge cards. I hope this generates interest in not just reading Wonder, but in making our school and community kinder because of it.

If you are a classroom teacher reading this blog, please read this book to your students. If you are a librarian, read this book for yourself (if you haven't already), and do that librarian book pusher thing. If you are a human being reading this blog, then read this book. It's not just for kids. It should be required reading for all of humanity.

Wonderful Wonder Resources: 

Wonder Read Aloud Resources--Perfect visual guide to use as a companion while reading aloud
Choose Kind Tumblr--Includes the "Choose Kind" pledge
Wonder Schools--Make reading Wonder a school-wide initiative

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming
Read to: 4th Grade 
Targeted Skills: Review Literary Skills of Character, Conflict, and Theme

I read this book to 3rd grade last week, so please see my post in Week 12 about this lesson.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
Read to: 3rd Grade
Targeted Skills: Review of Plot Elements (sequencing) and Compare and Contrast with the movie version

Ironically, this book was first a movie, which won a 2011 Oscar for best animated short film. I shared the movie with my students last year because it provides a rich, in-depth discussion for the power of books in our lives. (Fabulous for discussing digital media literacy). Of course, we had to read the book version this year. Honestly, I enjoyed the movie more (when does THAT ever happen?), but the book is wonderful, too--just not as magical as the movie version. I read the book in the library, and then the teachers showed the 15 minute clip in the classroom to compare and contrast. Well-worth the time! 

 Lesson Frame

How to Teach a Slug to Read
by Susan Pearson
Read to: 2nd Grade
Targeted Skills: Characteristics of Expository Text; Characteristics of Procedural Texts

I read this to Kinder and 1st Grade last week, so please see my Week 12 lesson post for more details. 

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
Read to Kinder & 1st Grade
Targeted Skills:What makes this book fiction? Look for elements of character, plot, and style; Follow steps of how to draw the pigeon (use app)

I read these books to 2nd grade during week 11, so please see my post about that lesson. However, I only read Duckling this week, and we drew the pigeon using the app. So fun! The kids loved it and could easily determine the "procedure" words that Mo Willems uses.