Dragonbreath!

We are starting a new chapter book, having reached the thrilling conclusion of Leepike Ridge.

We’re reading one of our potential Battle of the Books books for next year, Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon.

Here’s one of the first Dragonbreath webisodes on YouTube:

And here’s one for one of the sequels:

###

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!

###

 

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!

###

 

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!

###

New Books for our Classroom Library

I’ll admit that I’ve neglected our classroom library as I’ve been chipping away at all the books that need to be processed for the school bookroom. But the boxes of unused books are just killing me, and so I decided I’d spend a good chunk of time this weekend knocking some of these books out.

This is usually my home base when I process books. I use Toby’s iMac instead of my laptop because I scrunch over less. Plus, I can queue for random dungeons in World of Warcraft.

Stack of books and book pockets. And WOW hidden behind GoodReads.

I try to add books to our library as soon as I receive them, but lately we’ve added a ton of new books. You can see I also enjoy eating pizza and drinking fizzy water while I work.

Books from Wildwood, Mrs. Burn, and Ms. Willard

This doesn’t even really put a dent in all the books I need to go through. My parents are still sending me old books from my childhood.

OMG BOOKS!!! (and my math frameworks binders... I TOLD you I didn't lose them, Ms. Stock!)

After I’ve entered the books into LibraryThing, figured out their AR levels, and made sure they have book pockets and book cards, I set them out in the hallway to be whisked away to school.

Sound book to send back to the science center, books with no AR level, books that need AR tape.

I’m looking to go into Wildwood tomorrow to spruce up our classroom and get these books into book boxes so students can check them out first thing Tuesday morning.

Remember that tomorrow is really supposed to be a day “ON,” rather than a day off, so consider participating in a local service project. I’ll be serving in a public elementary school classroom, and you should totally join me! 🙂 Oh, speaking of public schools, did you notice the Glee folks thanked public school teachers in their acceptance speech?

###

An exciting week so far!

It’s been quite a week for us! On Monday, we discovered A Sick Day for Amos McGee won the Caldecott, and we were expecting that Art and Max would win, Jasmin said. We watched the awards announcement live Monday morning in our classroom!

“We were expecting that Art and Max was going to win, but A Sick Day for Amos McGee won,” Leonel said.

Our mock Caldecott predictions were a mixed bag — we were right that Interrupting Chicken would win an Honor, but Art and Max received nothing.

That day, we reread Interrupting Chicken, Ryan said. Most students said it was as good the second time around, and for some of us, it was our first time.

Chalk came in second place, and we weren’t expecting it to win, we were really impressed because we didn’t think Chalk would come in second place, so we were very excited,” Ra’Seana said.

Another thing we certainly weren’t expecting, Cecilia said, was to hear from Bill Thomson.

Which brings us to Tuesday. We were content with how the Caldecotts turned out, and we had added a few new books to our classroom library — Interrupting Chicken, Dave the Potter, and Chalk.

When Ms. Houghton went to the staff workroom at second recess, however, she was surprised to discover a large envelope. “Bill Thomson” was on the return address. Ms. Houghton could have opened it then, but she waited for her students to return. She even asked Mr. Swartz if her students could go late to their math intervention with Ms. Kliskey, and he agreed.

“Bill Thomson gave us a note, and the whole class was really surprised. We reviewed the book Chalk, and Ms. Houghton cried because she was so excited,” Ra’Seana said.

“It was hand-written,” Esther said of the note.

There was a dinosaur drawn at the bottom, warning “Be careful what you draw,” Xavier said.

“I liked your handwriting, and it’s really neat,” Shi said. “I wish I could take the paper home to show my parents.”

Ms. Houghton said she didn’t think of copying the letter, and she will do so at lunch today.

Another document Ms. Houghton copied Wednesday morning was the Federal Way Mirror newspaper article featuring her class. What a huge surprise!

Ms. Houghton was contacted by Neal McNamara, the education reporter for the Mirror. He interviewed her by phone on Friday afternoon, while Mr. Swartz hung out in her classroom and tried on her safari hat.

“We’ve had a wonderful week,” Ms. Houghton said. “I can’t even begin to imagine what Thursday and Friday have in store for us.” Special thanks to Mr. Swartz for allowing Ms. Houghton’s class to explore literacy in innovative ways.

###

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!

###

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!

###