Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reaching for Sun

There are so many ways in which we all are different 
Let's learn about it through poetry...

In Reaching For the Sun, Josie is a girl who knows all about being different. She has a mom who is always busy with school and work and is never really around, a bossy grandmother who has raised her from childhood, a father who she has never even met, and a disability that prevents her from having any friends, because most kids her age think she's weird or just a "sped." But one day a boy named Jordan moves in behind her family's farm in the new mansions and she has a friend for the first time that she can remember. Josie takes us through a year in her life, and in free-verse poetry tells us of her struggles in school, at home, not wanting to go to her clinic and everything in between. Tracie Vaughn Zimmer's fast paced poems take us through the year at lightning speed and leave us wanting to read more about Josie.

United Cerebral Palsy: This site is the leading advocacy site for those with Cerebral Palsy. There is a lot of important information about cerebral palsy to be found here.
What is cerebral palsy?: This section of the UCP site offers a lot of basic but important information about cerebral palsy.

Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach Reaching for the Sun, as well as about cerebral palsy...

Web Resources:
  • Reading Guide: This blog has great comprehension questions, discussion questions, activities, charts, etc all to help teach Reaching for Sun. It also includes extension activities for across the curriculum. Another feature of the blog is charts to dissect the poems within the novel.
  • Teaching About Cerebral Palsy: Here are some suggestions for teaching students about cerebral palsy. The suggestions even include other books that would be helpful for students to read or hear during a read aloud. These are suggestions that could easily be implemented into a lesson plan on Reaching for Sun or integrated into a lesson on cerebral palsy in general.

Key Vocabulary: I found these free-verse poems to have very reader friendly vocabulary, but there were a few words that may need to be pre-taught. Also, there were many names of flowers throughout the book, I am not including these in my list of vocabulary words, but you may want to include them if you are teaching this book across the curriculum, for example, the science of gardening.
Words I picked out: whirligig, cerebral palsy, crochet, tilled, beakers, unfurling, dollops, occupational therapist, speech therapist, metronome, stewardess, croissant, akimbo, genus, phylum, species, boll weevil, algae, Chaplin, python, caustic, sanitation, Formica, organic, chintz, fandangled

Across the Curriculum: This book is great for tying to Science and Art.
  • Science: use this book as an extension on a plant or gardening unit/lesson
  • Science: use this book as an extension when teaching about disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy or Autism
  • Art: Teach students how to crochet
  • Art: Create a lesson/activity on homemade gifts.

Before Reading: Before reading, create a KWL to find out what students know and want to learn about cerebral palsy. You could also discover what students know using an anticipation guide, asking students questions to see what they know about cerebral palsy. You also may want to find out what students know and want to learn about free-verse poetry, or poetry in general.

During Reading: Have students get into discussion groups after they read each "season" of the novel. Have the students discuss how they would feel in Josie's position. Also have them discuss the complications having cerebral palsy would cause as a student, such as what everyday things that are taken for granted would be more difficult.

After Reading/Writing: Have students write a free-verse poem about an event that has happened to them over the pats few weeks, like Josie does in Reaching for Sun.

Zimmer, T. V. (2007). Reaching for Sun. New York: Bloomsbury Usa Children's Books.
2008 Schneider Family Book Award Winner

Happy Reading (&Running) =)

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