Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No Talking

Who knew silence could be so difficult?

The fifth graders of Laketon Elementary School in Andrew Clements' No Talking were known for their extreme amounts of talking since they were in kindergarten. They were deemed the "unshushables." They were disruptive and rude in class and were so loud at lunch and on the bus that the noise was unbearable. In addition to these not so flattering traits, the fifth graders had still not gotten over the cooties phenomenon and needless to say the boys and girls DID NOT get along. When Dave reads about Ghandi and his vow of not speaking in order to think more clearly, Dave decides to try it. In his silence he becomes irriated at the amount of talking, especially that coming from the girls. So, he challenges Lynsey, saying the boys can stay quieter than the girls. She accepts the challenge on behalf of the girls, and the no talking competition is on...
Here are the rules:
  • No Talking!
  • Talking is ONLY allowed in response to a teacher, but only 3 word answers are acceptable.
  • No talking at home, not even in response to parents.
  • Each illegal word is a point.
  • Whoever has more points after the set 48 hours (boys or girls) loses.
  • If the girls win, Dave must walk around with an "L" written on his fordhead. Same goes for Lynsey if the boys win.
Who can stay the quietest? Read to find out!

Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you with this novel...

Web Resources:
  • Reading Group Guide: This website offers a list of reading group questions as well as extension activities to go along with No Talking. You have the opportunity to actually buy the book here, but I would not recommend it as you can find it much less expensive on other sites.
  • Dave and Lynsey Voki: This website uses to create Dave and Lynsey. The characters explain the novel in a very engaging way. This could be a wonderful initiation to the reading of No Talking.

Vocabulary: Here are some words I found while reading that you may want to preteach: recruits, re-enlist, tolerance, ignorant, contractions, commotion, vandalism, disorderly, courteous, cope, chaos, possessed, unauthorized, quantities, corridor, jinx, preliminary, theory, divide and conquer, skirmish, moody, alert, disruptive, rascal, ringleaders, intercepted, stereotypes, faculty, discrimination, solitary confinement, daze, truce, deliberately, conservation, logical, ruckus, civil disobedience, haiku, wits, enlightening, stratospheric, tumult

Before Reading: After introducing this novel, have students write down a prediction stating who they think will win the contest and why.

During Reading: Have a book discussion(s) using the 3 word rule from No Talking.This way students can experience how difficult it is to use only 3 words as well as how important it is to really think about what they are saying when they only have 3 words to say it in.

After Reading/Writing: Writing Prompt: Write a persuasive essay stating who you think should have won the no talking contest since both Dave and Lynsey gave important speeches that added more illegal words than any other student had spoken to the overall tallies.

Clements, A. (2009). No Talking. New York: Atheneum.

Happy Reading (&Running) =)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

 Because one day Greg will be rich and famous...

I found myself incredibly happy that I chose Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney as my next children's novel to read. With a movie out based off the novel and elementary students talking about it non-stop, it was about time I cracked it open.
Greg is a typical middle school student, but how typical is it for a boy to be writing a "journal" definitely NOT a "diary" about the things that happen to him on a day to day basis? Greg is a small, "wimpy" kid who finds it foolish to have to go to school along side guys who are 5 times his size and have to shave every day. His antics will have you laughing out loud. He is constantly trying to find a way to raise his standings on the popularity stage where he has estimated himself being about 52nd or 53rd most popular in his class. When we first meet Greg's best friend Rowley, Rowley is more like 150th most popular.  Greg's plans to rise up in the popularity standards are constantly backfiring and when it seems to be Rowley who is rising in the ranks, their friendship is tested. The cartoon drawings that are included within the journal/diary add to the hilarity of Greg's stories and leave you wanting more. It's a good thing Kinney has written 3 other books in the series, with another coming out next month, because I know at least I can't get enough!

The Wimpy Kid Website

Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this novel...

Web Resources:
  • Enrichment Activities: This site offers some activities that a student could do as a book project, for an extension or even just for fun.
  • Comic Creator: I also featured this comic generator in my blog on The Popularity Papers. This is a fun way for students to start their own comic journal like Greg's journal.
Vocabulary: I found the vocabulary in this novel to be fairly easy as well as many of the words can be decoded using context clues. However, here are some words that may need to be pre-taught: ambush, anonymous, audition, bandit, campaign, chaperone, contributor, culprit, dismantle, embroidered, expectations, fabrications, gimmicks, humiliate, immortal, ironic, lecture, legitimate, logic, perk, promotion, psyched, refund, regimen, resolution, sarcastic, sod, soprano, taunt, treasurer

Before Reading: Ask students to predict what kind of character traits Greg will have based on the title Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The implications of the word diary and wimpy may have students coming up with all kinds of ideas about Greg and what he will be like throughout his story.

During Reading: Have students take note of events that happen to Greg that they can relate to. They can use these notes after reading for a writing prompt/essay.

After Reading/Writing:
  •  Have students use their notes on events they can relate to that they took while reading for this activity. Using these notes have students write a compare/contrast writing prompt about one of the events they could relate to and how they related to it. Encourage students to point out the similarities and differences between Greg's event and their own.
  • Ask students to write a journal using comic pictures or the comic generator from readwritethink (link above) in the style of Greg, keeping track of events that have happened over a week's time (or longer if you choose).
In case you didn't know, there's a movie that goes along with this book. It doesn't follow the book exactly, but what movie does? I found it hysterical and have watched it more than once! Check it out!
    Kinney, J. (2007). Diary of a Wimpy Kid. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.

    Happy Reading (&Running) =)

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    On My Honor

    The hardest thing one could ever have to live with...

    Joel and Tony are best friends who live right across the street from each other. Tony is always daring Joel to undertake dangerous feats and today it is to climb a dangerous cliff called Starved Rock. Joel doesn't want to go there, but when his plan of getting his dad to say no to the two biking there fails, he is forced to go along with Tony's not so brilliant idea. When Tony decides to challenge Joel to a swimming contest in a river that they are not allowed to swim in, during their bike ride, Joel sees it as the perfect opportunity to get out of the dangerous rock climbing expedition. Even though he knows Tony is not a good swimmer, the two swim a race that ends tragically. Joel may never be able to forgive himself for agreeing to this race. Marion Dane Bauer does an amazing job in On My Honor, keeping the reader at the edge of their seats, hoping that the tragedy somehow will turn around.

    Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this novel...

    Web Resources:
    • Lessons: This site offers a variety of lesson ideas/plans as well as activities to use with On My Honor. Some of the lessons include comprehension/discussion questions, others include extensions to losing loved ones.
    • Reading Guide:  This book review blog, Wild Geese Guides (also featured in my Reaching for Sun blog) offers discussion questions for before reading, questions for during reading to go along with each chapter, comprehension questions, discussion questions and projects to go along with On My Honor.

    Vocabulary: Here are some words that may need to be pre-taught: absorbing, agitated, awkward, barrage, betrayed, bleating, bluffs, clammy, convulsed, crested, dam, deceptively, dense, dispel, eddied, elasticized, embankment, engrossed, erratic, exasperation, exuberance, fishtailed, frazzled, fretted, gawk, gingerly, glowering, guffaw, haphazardly, honor, hurtled, indistinct, inflection, interval, jaunt, jubilant, meadowlark, momentum, murmur, nonchalance, obscuring, quivering, relishing, reverberated, reverently, rigid, scorcher, scornfully, silhouetted, simultaneously, skeptical, slog, solemnly, spewing, stance, supplication, tentatively, underbrush
    Since there are a great number of words that may need explanation or pre-teaching before students can fully understand this novel, you will have to be choosy in which words you think are most important and/or which words you think your students are less likely to discover meaning through context clues.


    Before Reading: Have small group or whole group discussions on the meaning of "honor" as well as "peer pressure" as these two themes are very prevalent in On My Honor. It will be important for students to have an understanding of these themes before reading.

    During Reading: After the tragedy occurs in the novel, have students discuss in small groups how they would react to such an incident. Also have them predict what they think Joel will do in the end of the novel to deal with the situation emotionally. This would be a good time to tie in any part of the lesson that involves grieving a loved one if you have chosen to include this with teaching On My Honor.

    After Reading/Writing:
    • Ask students to think of a time when they lost something very special to them. It can be something as small as losing a toy or something as big as losing a family member or friend. Have the students write a journal entry where they talk about how they felt and how they reacted, comparing these feelings and reactions to those of Joel in On My Honor.
    • Have students take on the persona of Joel and write Tony a letter. In doing this activity, students will be able to extend their comprehension of the novel as well as infer some of the feelings Joel probably had that were not explicitly stated in the novel.

    Bauer, M. D. (1987). On My Honor. New York: Yearling.
    Newbery Honor Book

    Happy Reading (&Running) =)

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    The Voice that Challenged a Nation

    A struggle for civil rights through singing...

    Russell Freedman takes the reader through the life of Marian Anderson in the biography entitled The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights. Marian's story teaches the reader not only about the civil rights struggle for African Americans, including civil rights vocabulary, but also teaches us musical terms to help us better understand Marian's singing career. Freedman brings Marian to life for the reader, accentuating characteristics the reader can relate to. Everyone knows what it is like to feel left out and Freedman is able to bring that to the surface for every reader but at the same time drive home the seriousness of segregation, discrimination and racism that was present in the time when Marian was full blown into her singing career. Marian Anderson is not one of the first African Americans you hear about when you study the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, however her story is quite a remarkable one that could easily be used as an extension or even a focal point of a unit on Civil Rights.

    Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this book or teach about Marian Anderson in your classroom...

    Web Resources:
    • The Marian Anderson Historical Society: This website offers further information on Marian Anderson as well as a foundation that has been set up in her honor. For uses in the classroom, you will find many pictures of Marian Anderson as well as files of music so your students can listen to her sing.
    • Online Bibliography: An extensive online bibliography can serve as an extension to  The Voice That Challenged a Nation.

    Vocabulary: I found a lot of different genres of vocabulary that could be taught in connection to this biography. Genres I will include are: civil rights/government, music, pre-teach words.
    Civil Rights/Government: Daughters of the American Revolution, Lincoln Memorial, Consitituation Hall, patriotic, prejudice, discrimination, Jim Crow laws, segregation, controversy, petition, bigotry, Gettysburg Address, marshal, decreed
    Music: vocal range, timbre, contralto, tenor, soprano, handbills, repertory, arias, gala concert, audition, nuances, lieder, linguistic, National Symphony Orchestra, Washington Opera Company, impresario, phonograph, forte, impresario
    Pre-Teach: imperious, credentials, impetus, reputable, languished, brocade, patrons, prominent, incendiary, resignation, furor, architect, itinerary, annihilation

    Across the Curriculum:
    • Marian Anderson Lessons: This website offers 9 different lesson plans connected with Marian Anderson. These could be used to connect  across the curriculum being that some are music lessons and others are social studies lessons. You may want to look through all of the lessons and pick out the best ideas and activities to make your own optimal lesson about Marian Anderson to tie into The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights.
    • Music: have students study the musical vocabulary in this book and listen to recordings by Marian Anderson. Students may respond to the music in written form, or for students who enjoy performing music encourage them to perform a song for the class that Marian Anderson had performed in the past such as "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands" or "My Country Tis of Thee." See lesson link above for further ideas.
    • Social Studies: tie this book into a lesson about Civil Rights. Marian Anderson's biography will offer a story that most students will probably never have heard that differs from the typically taught Civil Rights leaders. See lesson link above.
    Before Reading: Give students an anticipation guide that asks multiple choice or true/false questions about the Civil Rights Movement. By gauging how much the students already know about the Civil Rights movement, you can make a better judgment as to how much you need to pre-teach important vocabulary associated with this biography.

    During Reading: While students are reading, or while you are reading to students, have comprehension questions prepared so that at certain points, maybe after each chapter, students can discuss in small groups what has happened so far in Marian's life. Being that this book is about Marian's life and is therefore sequential a type of flow chart graphic organizer may be helpful to students during reading as well.

    After Reading/Writing: Ask students to chose a time in the biography when Marian was rejected because of the color of her skin. Have students write a journal entry either in the perspective of Marian expanding on how they infer she must have felt or have students connect Marian's experience to a time they felt left out, comparing and contrasting the two events. The point of both of these types of journal entries is for students to develop empathy for African Americans in the times during and before the Civil Rights Movement.

    Freedman, R. (2004). The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights. New York: Clarion Books.
    Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award

    Happy Reading (&Running) =)

    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) =)

    Albert Einstein

    From the Giants of Science series...

    Albert Einstein by Katleen Krull, presents the story of Einstein in a reader friendly way, great for students in upper elementary grade classes. Krull informs the reader of Einstein's life and attempts to summarize some of Einstein's very confusing theories such as that of relativity. The reader finds that Einstein was much more than a genius. He was a son, a husband, a father, a friend. He struggled to make ends meat at times and was a famous and rich scientist at other times. He was a scientist of physics, a worker in a patent office, a political pacifist and also a Jew who had to run from Germany. His story told by Kathleen Krull opens up one's eyes to many different sides of Einstein that one normally would not think of.

    Teachers: here are some resources and ideas to teach this book and about Einstein...

    Web Resources:
    • Einstein Links: This website has a wealth of links about Albert Einstein. Any of these sites could be helpful for a lesson about Albert Einstein depending on the depth and breadth of the lesson or unit. One link includes a science site with tons of activities for kids relating to Albert Einstein. Another site gives some explanations of his most famous theories. These two sites are just the tip of the iceberg, and these sites can be useful for grades 4-12.
    • Presentation: This website is a Prezi presentation. It goes over the basic known facts about Einstein and could be used as an initiation to a unit or lesson about Albert Einstein. It could even be played in a class as students are entering in an upper elementary school classroom where the students switch classes for certain subjects. 
    Key Vocabulary: There are a lot of content area words that students will probably not understand. In many instances, Krull explains the words, but in other instances, it is assumed that the reader already has the vocabulary. It will be important for this novel to know what your students do and do not know as far as tier 3 content area words. Here are some words I picked out that may need to be pretaught. However, I strongly reccomend reading this biography before your students because there may be other words your students need help on.
    My words: Cubism, atonal, stream of consciousness, physics, reclusive, phenomena, rapture, deductive, relativity, intellectual, diplomatically, quirky, autism, echolalia, compulsory, dynamos, boisterous, diligence, solace, bohemians, bravado, doctoral dissertation, cloister, patent, synchronicity, illegitimate, photoelectric affect, quanta, quantum theory, theory of special relativity, fathom, rheumatism, counter intuitive manifesto, Nobel Prize, maverick, schizophrenia, ambivalent, pacifist, Nobel laureate, psychoanalysis

    Before Reading: An anticipation guide would be extremely helpful for teaching this novel. Questions to ask would involve tier 3 content area words such as physics or even theory of special relativity. Most of Einstein's life is defined by big, scientific terms and the amount that your students know about these terms will shape your teaching.

    During Reading: Have students write down questions they have while reading this novel. These questions could end up being a great post reading activity where you could have your students do research to answer one of the questions they have about Einstein and/or one of his theories.

    After Reading/Writing: After reading have students write a persuasive essay in which they convince the audience which one of Einstein's discoveries was the most important.

    Across the Curriculum:
    Science: Students can research one of Einstein's discoveries and then share as a class in order to learn more about Einstein as well as the discoveries/inventions.

    Krull, K. (2009). Albert Einstein (Giants of Science). New York: Viking Juvenile.

    Happy Reading (& Running) =)

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    The Popularity Papers

    What does it take to be popular?
    Graphic Novels are fun to read! 
    Lydia and Julie want more than anything to figure out what it is that makes certain girls popular, and other girls like themselves anything but popular. They decide the only way to figure it all out is to observe the popular girls, do experiments testing their observations, and after a lot of experiments, they will finally find what makes certain girls... popular. Lydia wants to be a theater star but is constantly beat out by Jane, one of the popular girls. Julie on the other hand is shy but goes along with her friend Lydia for the project, providing neat handwriting and awesome artwork. They record their observations and experiments in this journal entitled: The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang actually written by Amy Ignatow, although the way this graphic novel is presented, you would swear it was written by the two girls in 5th grade! 

    If you remember reading and loving the Amelia's Notebook series by Marissa Moss, you will find this book just as witty and awesome for adolescent girls and preteens.

    A page from the graphic novel so you can get the idea of how much this looks like a real journal written by two 5th grade girls:

    Teachers: Resources and ideas to aide you in teaching The Popularity Papers...

     Web Resources:
    • Comic Generator: This site from readwritethink is a comic generator. You may choose to have students write their own short graphic novel/comic in response to The Popularity Papers. Some students may choose to do their comic strip/graphic novel response using this interactive. 
    • Graphic Novel Guide for Teachers & Librarians: Not sure about teaching a graphic novel in the classroom? Not sure exactly what constitutes as a graphic novel? Well, if I can't convince you that The Popularity Papers (& other graphic novels) can be used in the classroom, maybe this article from Scholastic will help to convince you =) 

    Key Vocabulary: I found this book to be very reader friendly with not very many difficult words that are not explained to the reader by Lydia or Julie. However, here are a few words I found that may need to be pre-taught or may need their definitions expanded on despite Lydia or Julie's explanations:  ogle, skein, basting, revolution, baroness, Norse, haiku, vintage, scarab, infirmary, eskrima, mutual, campaign, sanctum, dyslexic, garb, counterculture, mancala 
    Before Reading: Make a KWL chart with students to find out what students know about the graphic novel genre and what they want to know about graphic novels. It is not a common place for students to read graphic novels in school, but you may find students know a lot about graphic novels because they read them at home.

    During Reading: Before Lydia and Julie do any of their experiments, write down what you predict will happen when the girls go through with the experiment.

    After Reading/Writing
    • Choose one of the "coolest people you know" like Lydia and Julie do at the end of their notebook. Write a persuasive essay in which you explain to the audience why this person deserves the title of one of the coolest people you know.
    • Use the comic creator link above, or pencils and paper to make your own short graphic novel about an incident that happened at school or in response to The Popularity Papers.
    • Finish the KWL chart with what students have learned about graphic novels through reading The Popularity Papers.
    • Write a haiku like Julie did, in response to The Popularity Papers choosing a topic such as: who is the most popular character in the novel? What experiment did you like the best? Will Lydia and Julie end up being popular in Junior High? Or any other response you can think of.

    Ignatow, A. (2010). The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang. New York: Amulet Books.

    Happy Reading (& Running) =)

    Ramona Quimby, Age 8

    "Being a member of the Quimby family in the third grade is harder than Ramona had expected." An age 8 classic...

    The same Ramona you will fall in love with (or maybe you already have) through Ramona the Pest, Ramona and her Father and other Beverly Cleary books is here to once again make us laugh and relate to all the embarrassing incidents we have been through. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 focuses on the beginning of a new year of school, 3rd grade. Ramona helps us to realize that not all families are perfect, and not everything will always go the way you may have planned. As a third grader, everything seems to depend on Ramona this year, yet she still is determined to enjoy third grade despite the responsibilities she now has. But between having to get along with Willa Jean Kemp after school, being made fun of by Danny the Yard Ape, fighting with her parents at home and the infamous throw-up incident in school, Ramona feels like everything is her fault and third grade is not going to be anything like she had hoped. However, Ramona eventually finds a bright side to all the little hiccups along the way in third grade. 

    Teachers: As always, here are some resources & ideas to help you out... 

    Web Resources:
    • Ramona Lessons: This website offers 10 different "lessons" to go with Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Most of the "lessons" are really a bunch of different activities, so I would suggest pulling out bits and pieces of various "lessons" to add to your teaching. A lot of the activities will help to extend your students' comprehension and vocabulary for this story. Some of these activities even connect across content areas (i.e. hard boiled egg lesson for Science). I would look through all the lessons and pick and choose as to which you think would be most beneficial to your students and which activities would align with your objectives for your students in reading this book. Note: Some of the links in the lesson pages are dead links, but the dead links are not necessary for a successful lesson or activity.
    • Beverly Cleary: This is Beverly Cleary's website. It contains mostly fun extension activities as well as information about Beverly Cleary. The site has a section about each of the characters in Beverly Cleary's books as well as some games and quizzes about the characters. This would be a great site to put on the favorites of any classroom computers and if students earn the privilege of computer time, they can visit this site to learn more about Beverly Cleary and her children's novel characters. 
      Key Vocabulary Words: A list of vocabulary words for each chapter can be found in the first web resource listed. Depending on the need of your students some of these words may need to be pre-taught, while other students may be encouraged to look up the words they don't know in a dictionary while they are reading.

    Before Reading: Tell the students that in Ramona Quimby, Age 8, there will be a focus on Ramona's first day of the 3rd grade. Ask students to write a journal entry about their most recent first day of school, putting in as many details as they can remember. This journal can be referred to after they read about Ramona's first day of 3rd grade and the students can then compare and contrast their day to Ramona's.

    During Reading: Have students take note of events in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 that they can relate to. They may choose an event such as having the flu, or embarrassing themselves in class, or being picked on. This list that they will have at the end of reading can be used as a post reading activity where the students will write a journal entry comparing their memory to the event Ramona went through.

    After Reading/Extension: Beverly Cleary has written many other books about Ramona which include: Beezus and Ramona, Ramona and her Father, Ramona and her Mother, Ramona Forever, Ramona the Brave, Ramona the Pest, and Ramona's World. As an extension activity, especially for any students who really enjoyed Ramona Quimby, Age 8: encourage students to read another one of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary and then write a journal entry or create a compare/contrast chart to discuss the similarities and differences between the books, focusing on a character that appears in both books. Ramona would be a good choice as she is the main character, but it may also be interesting to compare Beezus or one of Ramona's parents. Students should take note on the ages of the characters in each book and keep in mind that the differences may be due to the character's age. In a text-to-self connection, students may also choose to address how they are different now than they were when they were younger.

    Cleary, B. (1992). Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (Avon Camelot Books). New York: HarperTrophy. (Original work published 1982)
    1982 Newbery Honor Award

    Happy Reading (& Running) =)

    Bridge to Terabithia

    A secret world all of their own, a forest full of fantasy...

     Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is a great fantasy story that any student with an imagination will enjoy. Jesse Aarons only cares about being the best runner of the fifth grade when Leslie Burke moves in and embarrasses him by beating him in a race at recess. Despite his embarrassment, the two become great friends, as she lives right next door to him. They find a secret area of the woods near their houses and build a world of their own where he is the king and she is the queen. She changes his life in many ways especially with a tragedy occurs forcing Jesse to grow up and invite his sister to keep the secret world going when he is too old to pretend.

    Teachers: here are some resources & ideas to help you teach this novel...

    Web Resources:
    • Extension Activities: This website includes extension activities from The activities involve various writing prompts to further students' comprehension of the novel. 
    • Comprehension & Vocabulary: This website offers comprehension questions, additional vocab from each chapter as well as a few extension questions. This website is very basic but it does half the work for you, especially if your students are seperated into different reading groups and only part of the class is reading this book. With the help of this website you are saved the time of coming up with most of the comprehension questions for this group.
    • Study Guide: This study/reading guide is a 22 page PDF file with worksheets and ideas for pre, during and after reading activities. There is way more than you would ever need to teach this book, I would suggest finding the BEST pre, during and after reading activities to suite your students.
    Key Vocabulary: While reading I made note of some words that may need to be pre-taught.
    grit, shebang, cud, peculiar, nauseatingly, muddled, hippie, autoharp, bongs, suburbs, pandemonium, hypocritical, proverbial, rumpus, ominously, bosomy, gully, enchanted, regally, siege, tyrants, dictators, tacky, moony, parapets, crimson, beige, dregs, realm, bureau,


    Before Reading/Writing: Have you ever had a secret place of your own for just you, or for you and a friend? Write a journal entry about it. If you never have had a secret place of your own, write a journal entry telling the audience what it would look like, where it would be, etc.

    During Reading: Go to the Study Guide link above and scroll down to page 10. I think this during reading activity is the most helpful for students. It is a compare and contrast of the 2 settings of the book: Lark Creek and Terebithia. Making these comparisons while reading will help students to better understand the secret world Jesse and Leslie create.

    After Reading/Extension Activity: Leslie gives Jesse the Narnia series to read. Read one of the books and write a compare/contrast explaining the similarities and differences between the fantasy world of Narnia and the fantasy world of Terabithia.

    If you haven't already, check out the movie version of this book! I thought the movie was fantastic, and you get to see even more of the secret world than your imagination could have cooked up (but of course, read the book first!!!)

    Paterson, K. (2005). Bridge to Terabithia. New York: HarperTrophy. (Original work published 1977)
    1978 Newbery Medal winner

    Happy Reading (& Running) =)

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    The Wanderer

    A journey across the Atlantic... Sailboats Galore...

    The Wanderer by Sharon Creech takes the reader on a journey across the Atlantic ocean on a sailboat with thirteen year old Sophie, her 3 uncles and her cousins Cody and Brian. The story is presented through Sophie and Cody's journals they write during the trip. They journey towards England where Bompie, the cousins' grandfather and uncles' father. The novel takes you through Sophie's journey of finding herself as she comes to grips with her adoption and her past life. Despite a lot of bickering between the crew and some misunderstandings, they happily reach their destination having all learned about each other and become much closer.

    Teachers: Here are some resources & ideas to use with this book...

    Web Resources:
    • Extension Activities: This website has extension activities to use with this book such as mapping out the journey, naming boats, writing a Bompie story and more.
    • Sailing for Kids: This website has 5 lessons about Sailboats for kids. There is A LOT of information on this site and you will have to pick and choose based on how much time you have to use to teach students about sailboats to help them learn the lingo of sailing and some of the science behind it.
    Key Vocabulary:  words I picked out while reading that may need to be pre-taught...
    temptress, exotic, safari, satellite, galley, rudder, keel, bilge, varnish, marina, orphan, dinghy, harbor, mast, sanctuary, cockpit, dolt, sextant, bludgeon, winch, immaculate, caulk, capricious, fortress, decrepit, putz, trestle, baptism, jinx, berserk, phosphorescent, gargantuan, autohelm, grommets, outhaul, gimbals, foredeck, halyard, bosun, perpendicular, trysail, jackstays, lingo, bilge, aft, mizzen, gale, mariner, careening

    Before Reading: Pre-teach students some information on sailing so that they learn some of the vocabulary that they will encounter about sailing while reading The Wanderer. The second web resource will be useful for teaching students about sailing if you choose to do so.

    During Reading: Ask students to write journal entries every few chapters pretending that they are on the sailboat with Sophie, her cousins and uncles. Ask the students to write down what their reaction to the events in the chapters. Also ask students to predict interactions they would have with the other characters on the boat.

    After Reading/Writing: As a post reading activity, students could write a journal in the perspective of Brian or one of the uncles since their perspectives were not seen in the novel. Only Sophie and Cody's perspectives were shown and it would be a very interesting and fun activity to write a few journal entries on what another character felt about a part of The Wanderer.

    Across the Curriculum:
    Science: Use this novel to expand students' knowledge of boating and the ocean.

    Creech, S. (2000). The Wanderer. New York: Scholastic.
    2001 Newbery Honor Award

    Happy Reading (& Running) =)

      Devil's Arithmetic

       This isn't your typical Holocaust Story...

      The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen is a unique historical fiction about the Holocaust. Hannah doesn't want to go to her family's Seder gathering. She is embarrassed and irritated by her family and doesn't understand why her best friend Rosemary gets to eat jellybeans and other treats when she does not. Hannah does not understand her family's past and why it is important to continue the old traditions. But when she is asked to open the door for the prophet Elijah, she finds herself transported to a Polish village in 1942. She has no understanding of how she got there, and when she is dragged off to a concentration camp, she is forced to forget her past (or is it her future?) and try to live, like some of her family members had.

      Teachers: Here are some resources & ideas for this novel...

      Web Resources:
      • Holocaust Remembrance Day: This website provides a fabulous interactive that discusses and teachers students about the holocaust. In each section there are journal entries for students to fill out and additional activities at the end of the interactive.
      • Background Knowledge: This site has a bunch of links to sources such as the one above and many others that will help to build students' background knowledge of the holocaust.

      Key Vocabulary: These words may need to be pre-taught, many are connected to Jewish culture: unleavened, Passover, Seder, Haggadah, Yiddish, bris, gutteral, steerage, yahrzeit, matzoh, kosher, rabbi, Sabbath, shadchan, shtetl, Torah, slovens, privy, plaits, yarmulkes, rendar, schnorrers, yeshivah, kiezmar, badchan, shul, dour, synagogue, billeted, desecrate, crematoria, bissel, impudent, runnels, vehemence, amphitheater, mikvah, shorn, ingrate, elusive, preamble, raucous, midden, ominously, sonorous, shtetl, portents, stacatto

      Before Reading: Make a KWL chart to find out what students know and want to know about the Holocaust through reading The Devil's Arithmetic. By discovering what students already know, you can help clear up any misconceptions the students may have. Also, you will discover what students want to know which will be helpful for any extension activities you choose to implement during or after reading.

      After Reading/Writing:
      • Fill in the L section of the KWL so students can visually see what they have all learned. 
      • Have students write a journal entry taking the role of one of the characters from the novel. They should express how they felt in the camp, some details about what happened and what types of work they had to do they may also choose to predict what happened to the character after Hannah returns back to her real life. 
      Across the Curriculum:
      Social Studies/History: This book can be used in conjunction with a social studies lesson about the Holocaust.

        Yolen, J. (1988). The Devil's Arithmetic. New York: Scholastic Inc.
        1989 National Jewish Book Award

        Happy Reading (& Running) =)
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