A Hummingbird’s Life

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

A Hummingbird’s Life, by John Himmelman

I’ve been slowly processing the old mentor texts from the SFA Roots series, and I’m pretty excited to add these to our bookroom for several reasons:

  • Many of them are light on the text, making them perfect for primary read alouds.
  • Most sets have three or more copies, so an entire grade level team can plan their read alouds collaboratively if they so choose!
  • Quite a few of the books have a “sister text” pairing fiction with nonfiction, another powerful planning tool.

If you’re looking to celebrate the arrival of spring with a study of nature and/or of poetry, this website is a good place to start for some hummingbird-inspired poems.

There are no lesson plans included with this book. There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:

Comprehension

  • Use text features. Despite being narrative nonfiction and being such a basic book (its AR readability level is 2.3), A Hummingbird’s Life is chock-full of text features. There’s an info box at the front giving background information on the Ruby-throated hummingbird, a glossary, and an About the Author section.
  • Use main idea and supporting details to determine importance. Another great benefit of this text being so short is that you can copy the entire book onto a piece of chart paper, project it using document I’ve typed here, or give each student their own copy to mark what they believe are the main ideas.

Accuracy

  • Trade a word / guess a word that makes sense. Many primary science units (at least in our school district) are about animals, habitats, and ecosystems. Talk with students about how their familiarity with new vocabulary they’ve learned in their science unit can help them read accurately.

Behaviors that Support Reading

  • Increase Stamina. Because of the limited amount of text in this book, this might be a good book for young primary students to practice making it all the way through a read aloud without needing a body break.

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcomed! Please leave a comment if you’ve found this helpful!

The Huckabuck Family

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

The Huckabuck Family, by Carl Sandburg

I believe this book is taken from Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories. You can read tons of the stories online here. Read more about Carl Sandburg here.

I have a special part in my heart for David Small, the illustrator of this book. Small, who also wrote the excellent books Imogene’s Antlers and That Book Woman, is pretty amazing at writing books about folks who live around the time of the Great Depression and usually spend most of their days in a rural setting. He also had a pretty insane childhood, which you can read more about in his autobiographical graphic novel Stitches.

 

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcomed! Please leave a comment if you’ve found this helpful!

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One Woolly Wombat

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

One Woolly Wombat, by Rod Trinca and Kerry Argent

Counting books are great. Austrailian counting books with adorable Australian animals are even greater. Especially if that counting book goes all the way up to 14 instead of the standard ten. You can find this book in the red “Math” bucket in the bookroom.

The numbers in this book are written out in word form, rather than in standard form. This might be helpful for second and third grade teachers working with their students on spelling the numbers correctly.

One Woolly Wombat is a recent addition to our mentor texts in the bookroom, so if it meets your needs, make sure you stop by room 301 and thank Anne and Tin for putting the most recent book order together!

There are no lesson plans included with this book. There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:

Comprehension

  • Determine and analyze author’s purpose and support with text. This is so much more than a counting book. It introduces students to Australian wildlife, shows them the word forms of their favorite one-digit numbers, familiarizes them with Australian slang, and entertains them with animals in silly situations. By the way, if you want to learn more about unique Australian animals, check out this fantastic web site.

Accuracy

  • Use the pictures.. Do the words and pictures match? This could be an important lesson on a time when this strategy can fail. If a student doesn’t know what a echidna is, looking at a picture of one won’t help them decode the word. This is a great opportunity to talk about what to do when one reading strategy isn’t working. This is also an opportunity to encourage students to read widely and engage adults in conversation — the more words they’ve heard orally, the better they’ll get at decoding them in their reading.
  • Blend sounds; stretch and reread. There are plenty of blends and digraphs in this book, both at the onset of words and in the middle. There’s not much text, so it would be relatively painless to type the text into a Word document and then project it onto a screen. I’ve typed the text for you here: One Wooly Wombat . If you project the document onto a whiteboard (or SmartBoard), you can then highlight or circle all the blends and digraphs.

Fluency

  • Practice common sight words and high-frequency words. I imagine it must get a bit tiresome in the primary world to use the same twenty or so numbers each year. If the text in this book isn’t at your students’ reading level, perhaps they can at least practice finding and writing the number words they see.

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcomed! Please leave a comment if you’ve found this helpful!

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Stickeen

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

Stickeen, by John Muir, as retold by Donnell Rubay

John Muir was a pretty neat guy. This book is told as narrative nonfiction, from John Muir’s point of view. I believe it’s taken right from his journals, but retold by Rubay. This would make an excellent mentor text for a biography unit, particularly for talking about what makes a story narrative nonfiction. (It’s told in such a way that it has a plot, just like a fiction story.)

If your students are working on biographies, there are a TON of great biographies at many different levels in the Benchmark series. Log in to www.librarything.com and look for the tag of “biographies.”

There are also several good book titles at the back of the book for further reading.

John Muir started the Sierra Club, which has a bunch of biographical information at its website.

You can learn more about Muir’s hometown of Dunbar, in Scotland, here. If you want pictures of Dunbar, contact me and let me know. It was one of my favorite places that I visited in Scotland.

Stickeen comes with a pretty high-level lesson about inferences, figurative language, and similes. Please leave this lesson in the book bag, as it is the master copy. The lesson suggests pairing the book with Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows. Both of those books are former SFA books, so 4th and 5th teachers should have 4-5 copies in each classroom if you wanted to use them in a shared reading.

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:

Comprehension

  • Predict what will happen; use text to confirm. It would be interesting to see if students think that Stickeen will start out being John Muir’s best friend — so many books are written with canine pals, that this might be the case. If they do think they will start off with a strong bond, question them throughout the text as to how their prediction might shift or change.
  • Recognize literary elements (plot, setting, theme). As mentioned above, because this is a narrative nonfiction, it can still be used to discuss the importance of plot and setting. Additionally, the included lesson plan touches on the theme of determination.

Fluency

  • Adjust and apply different reading rates to match text. Although students are often advised to read fact-heavy nonfiction books in second gear (1st gear: memorizing, 2nd gear: absorbing facts, 3rd gear: reading as fast as one would speak, 4th gear: skimming), you could talk with your students about why it matches the narrative flow of the book to read it in 3rd gear, but to make sure to stop frequently to check for understanding.

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!

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Flicker Flash

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

Flicker Flash, by Joan Bransfield Graham

We have two copies of this mentor text, so this would be a great book for a team to take on! You can find the bag in the red poetry bucket in the bookroom.

Shape poems are covered pretty extensively in children’s literature. If you use this text, you might also want to check out Love that Dog by Sharon Creech and A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco.

What’s neat about these poems is that they fill a niche in children’s poetry. They’re not too adorable or rhyme-y, but they’re not completely silly or gut-busting. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to scan in a page from the book because of copyright permissions, so you’ll need to trust me.

If you’re reading the Battle of the Books book The Maze of Bones, chances are you’ve been learning about Ben Franklin to build up your background knowledge. There’s a great poem called “Lightning Bolt” that would be a perfect starting place for a conversation about the myth of Ben Franklin, the kite, and the key.

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:

Accuracy

  • Blend sounds; stretch and reread. There are tons of digraphs and blends in the poems. Copying a page or two of these poems would make a great shared reading to pull apart and highlight.
  • Trade a word / guess a word that makes sense. Rhyming texts are a great place to start encouraging students to make informed guesses as to what a sensible word could be.

Expand Vocabulary

  • Use pictures, illustrations, and diagrams. If you’re not sure what’s going on in the poem, chances are, the shape of the poem itself will help students figure it out.
  • Use prior knowledge and context to predict and confirm meaning. If your science kit deals with light, the seasons, or space, you might want to use this to link your science lesson to your literacy block.

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcomed! Please leave a comment if you’ve found this helpful!

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Up North at the Cabin

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

Up North at the Cabin, by Marsha Wilson Chall

This book is a featured text in Strategies that Work by Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey. There are several copies available for checkout in room 301 if you’d like to see detailed lesson plans around this book. If I’m feeling particularly energetic, I’ll see if I can copy the passage from Strategies that Work and add it to the book bag.

You can find a copy of this mentor text in the red “realistic fiction” bucket in the bookroom.

If you’re introducing your students to Caldecott winners, a good companion for this book might be Robert McCloskey’s Time of Wonder, which is about a child’s summer in Maine. (read the New York Times’ obituary of McCloskey here)

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:

Comprehension

  • Make a picture or mental image. There’s a lesson plan on visualization included in the book bag. Please return it, as this is the master copy.
  • Compare and contrast within and between text. This would be a good time to introduce Time of Wonder, mentioned above. For contrast, you might want to try The Snowy Day, which takes place in an urban setting during the opposite season, and is perhaps a familiar text for students already.

Behaviors that Support Reading

  • Increase stamina. This book works fine when broken into chunks, so it would be a nice fit for a lesson at the beginning of the year (or right after a break!) when you need to shorten your whole group lessons.

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcomed! Please leave a comment if you’ve found this helpful!

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Jalapeno Bagels

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

Jalapeno Bagels. By Natasha Wing

You can find a copy of this book in the red Multicultural Fiction bucket in the bookroom.

No lesson plans are included with the book, but if you visit this site and click “Lesson Overview,” Kathryn Felten shares her ideas.

Learn more about the author at her Web site. You can even set up a Skype conversation with her!

If you’d like to see some vocabulary and comprehension PowerPoint presentations related to Jalapeno Bagels, check out this site.

If you’d like to study the vocabulary in this book, a virtual stack of flashcards is available here.

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:

Comprehension

  • Use prior knowledge to connect with the text. I have decidedly mixed feelings about this book. I like that it highlights a multiracial family based on an actual family in California. But I don’t know how I feel about some pieces that could be seen as caricatures or stereotypes (Does the Dad really need to wear owlish glasses and have full facial hair?). Wildwood has a pretty significant Hispanic population. I think it’d be interesting to see how our students feel about the portrayal of the Mom. Are they pumped because a Mexican-American family is featured? Or do they find the depth of the characters lacking? What are their experiences?
  • Summarize text, include sequence of main events. This book is short and simple enough that it would be a good resource for a lesson explaining the differences between retelling and summarizing.

Expand Vocabulary

  • Use dictionaries, thesauruses and glossaries as tools. Jalapeno Bagels has a multilingual glossary in the back. Talk with students about the fact that fiction books that contain multicultural or international components often contain supplemental material in the back. This could be particularly useful for intermediate students who have gotten out of the habit of doing picture walks before reading.

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!

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My Grandma, Major League Slugger

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

My Grandma, Major League Slugger. By Dan Greenburg

You can find a teacher copy of this book and the Targeted Treasure Hunt for it in the red Silly Book mentor text bucket in the bookroom. We have a complete set of lesson plans left over from our SFA book set, which might be useful for comprehension questions and vocabulary lessons. We also have 29 student copies, separated into book sets of six each and filed under Guided Reading level M.

The SFA suggested instructional goal is “questioning II,” which involves asking questions that can be proven in the text as well as asking higher level questions. There isn’t a CAFE menu in the bag yet, as I am writing this post during Snowpocalypse 2010 and I don’t have access to the copy machine.

If you’re using this in a unit on families, we also have book sets on grandmas for Fountas and Pinnell levels D and E (DRA 5 and 8), and a billion books on families. I’m sure there are many others that would fit into the category — I’ve only searched for books with grandma or families in the title or subject tags.

Additionally, you might also want to take the unit in the direction of women  making breakthroughs in baseball.

There was an all-women’s minor league baseball team that played in the 1990’s? They were neat.

Finally, Jim Trelease has some great sports read-aloud suggestions at his Web site (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!

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The Three Pigs

Our first Bookroom Book of the week is David Wiesner’s The Three Pigs. You can find it in the red Fables and Fairy Tales bin in the bookroom.

This book won the 2002 Caldecott award, and you can find out more about it from David Wiesner’s Web site here. You can even read his 2002 acceptance speech here.

The bag includes a lesson connected with Washington state EALRs 2.1.3: Connects previous experience and knowledge when reading. and 2.2.1 Finds similarities and differences in texts. Pages in the texts are marked with labels for suggested comprehension questions.

As with most of our bookroom books, you can find a CAFE menu highlighted in the bag. I saw several routes that lessons could take — please highlight others with your ideas! If you’d like a copy of the CAFE menu aligned to Washington state standards, one should be laminated and attached to the side of the bookshelf immediately inside the bookroom door.

Potential mini-lessons:

  • Retell the story (you could also have students make a plot grid where they compare and contrast the different versions of The Three Little Pigs. A great blackline master for book comparison is available on Appendix p. 30 in Guiding Readers and Writers by Fountas and Pinnell)
  • Use prior knowledge to connect with text
  • Recognize literary elements (genre, plot, problem/resolution, theme)
  • Reread text (particularly if students are reading several different versions of The Three Little Pigs)
  • Practice high-frequency words (and phrases — if you see a fairy tale that starts with “Once,” chances are you know that it will begin with “Once upon a time.” That’s how good readers can start reading in phrases instead of word-by-word.)

You can see how I used The Three Pigs as part of my David Wiesner author study here (to be posted Monday, 11/22/10).

When we read fairy tales or fables in class, my students inevitably ask, “But who wrote it FIRST?” They are often completely perplexed to discover there isn’t THE FIRST Aesop’s Fables or THE FIRST Cinderella that they can put their hands on. That’s why I think this site is so fantastic. It shows several “original versions” of The Three Little Pigs from across the globe.

You can also take the Fractured Fairy Tales route. Sometimes bookstores understand my brain so well that it’s scary. Here are Barnes and Noble’s suggestions.

Hope this was helpful! Let me know if any of these resources were useful in your class.

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