Friday, March 27, 2015

Creative Thinking

I just finished a district staff development class to renew my six hours of gifted training. It was a class centered around the different types of thinking -- creative, conceptual, critical, etc. What was great about the class is though it was geared toward "gifted" students, the concepts can be applied to ALL students.

Our teacher, Russ Weeks, is a lover of picture books and a man after my own heart. (He works with the fabulous Amianne [co-author of this blog] when teaching ABYDOS during the summers.) He used several books during our 2-day class and gave us some other titles to ponder. I can't wait to get copies of these and use them in the classroom!

From Patrick McDonnell:

Each of these titles offer a way to get students thinking differently. They open questions for deeper discussion and new perspectives. We need to help our kids move from facts to concepts and to realize that in life there is rarely ONE right answer. Every student has the capacity to think creatively and critically, we just have to show them the way.Read on!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Winston of Churchill and Global Warming

I love thrift shops! I only say this because that's where I found my latest lesson book.

My husband actually picked it up and wondered if I could use it. I brought it home and showed it to my biology teacher friend who immediately asked it I could read it to her class. Well, of course!

This is a simple story about global warming and what we can do to make a difference. The main character, Winston, is modeled after Winston Churchill and uses some of the lines from the prime minister's best known speeches to inspire the other polar bears. The last page gives some scientific information as well as info on Sir Winston Churchill.

We used this as a review for some critical thinking questions the students were going to answer. After I read the story, I asked students to tell me who the bear was named after, we elaborated on the setting of the story, and we discussed author's purpose. It was an easy, quick lesson.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss

This lesson was an easy one for several reasons. The first is because the teacher came to me with a book and said, "Would you read this to my class?" The second is because she knew exactly what she wanted me to do with it and basically all I had to do was show up! :)

The AP World History classes where beginning a unit on Imperialism and Nationalism heading into the two World Wars. Mrs. Hutchison wanted me to read The Butter Battle Book and talk about nationalism with the students. I've been sick the last two weeks, so I actually purchased the book app for my iPad and used the narrator to read the book aloud to the students via AirServer. This was a great help, not only for my voice, but also for the pesky vocabulary Dr. Seuss likes to use in his books!

Mrs. Hutchison started the discussion by reminding students of what Imperialism is and how it works and then giving them a definition of nationalism. I showed them a book I have in the library, Dr. Seuss Goes to War: the World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodore Seuss Geisel, and discussed what political cartoons are used for, why they are effective and what has happened recently in the news concerning a political cartoon.

I then played the book app and let the students follow along as it read the story to them. The story doesn't really "end." It just stops in the middle of the story. 

First we talked about Dr. Seuss' other stories, how they usually have a moral or lesson to learn. I asked how many had read Green Eggs and Ham and what that story teaches us. The students agreed that Green Eggs and Ham teaches us to try things before we say we don't like them. Then we talked about the moral to the Butter book. Did it have one? Why or why not? What did they think Dr. Seuss was trying to say by writing the book? We talked about what was happening in the world during the writing of the book and how it showed nationalism through its content. I ended by sharing my experiences from traveling abroad and talking about other countries, especially the Czech Republic, and how other countries show patriotism and nationalism.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

I had forgotten how much I liked this book when I was in the elementary school library and just came across it again recently. A couple of my teachers wanted a lesson on overcoming adversity and inferencing and I threw in some Figure 19 stuff as well.

We began by looking at the title and the cover discussing which "towers" they would be talking about and who the man was in the picture. Most of them immediately made the connection to the "twin towers" in New York before 9/11. It made me happy to hear students speak out as I read the story. When it says the main character, Philippe Petit "lay down on the wire," students responded with "No he didn't!" "How could he do that?!" and "Not me!" They were really listening!

When we finished, we talked about author and illustrator purpose. There are two fold out pages inside the book and we discussed the reasoning behind those pages and how they change the look and feel of the story. We then discussed what roadblocks Philippe had to overcome and how each one was accomplished.

After our discussion, we watched this video clip about the movie made about the same man. We discussed differences between what we saw in the short clip and what we had read. Why the author left out some information and why he chose to focus on different parts of the story.

Many students responded that they wanted to watch the movie and see what really happened and get more of the story.

Catching Up

Just because I haven't posted on the blog in a while does not mean I have abandoned my picture book passion.

I started this school year with a focused vision for using picture books--to help students gain more background knowledge in order to help them write the expository  essay on STAAR. I have heard several of the teachers on my campus say that our students struggle with "real-world examples" to include in their essays. I think picture books provide easy, effective exposure to historic people and events to enrich their schema, which will hopefully enhance the details that they use in their essays.

I decided to gather twelve picture books--six for my English I teachers and six for my English II teachers. Each teacher received one book a week to share with her class. I created a Google Doc that had resources that I had compiled for each book. I didn't want the teachers to feel like this was "one more thing" piled on to their plates to have to prepare, so the more resources I could give them the better.  After the teacher shared the book with her class, then she passed it on to the next teacher and received another book. The students kept track of the people that they read about on a foldable, which included three columns that they filled out while they listened: WHO? (Famous Person's Name) WHAT? (What they were known for/accomplishments) WHY? (Why this person matters to you/Personal Connection). Here are the links to the Google Docs:

English I Picture Books

English II Picture Books

English I Books:  (you can click on the image for a link to Goodreads):

English II Books: 

My plan was for the grade levels to trade books, but that has not happened. Honestly, this idea has fizzled out with my teachers. They started it with excitement, and I have had several see it through, but it has been hard for them to fit these books into the curriculum and all of the other things that they have to cover (which is no fault of theirs). They all agree that the students have enjoyed the books and being read to. All of the teachers agree that it has done more good than harm, which is always a plus. We will work to tweak this idea next year, and all of my teachers would like to try it again, which is wonderful! 

I visited several classes during the fall semester to read aloud some of these books, which I always love doing. I like this idea of putting teachers on a book rotation and giving them resources upfront because there is no way that I can read aloud to all of my English I and II classes. This gives students access to read alouds without me having to be the one to do them all of the time. 

Speaking of the importance of reading aloud, please read this important article from The New York Times and share it with your principal and staff. This will help you make the case for reading aloud to older students. 

Total Slacker!

And not in a good way!

Still life of paper stack in office. Photography. Encyclop√¶dia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 21 Jan 2015. 

I call my library club members SLACRs (School & Library Advisory Club Representatives -- not mine, I stole it!) and they love it, but I'm talking about being a real slacker. I have not posted on this blog for almost a's embarrassing! :)

Here's my only defense...I've used several of the same lessons from last year, this why bore you with a repeat?! That's all I've got. My only excuse.

Then I realized I hadn't added the book I DID use differently this year, AND we are about to present at another conference, so I thought I better get on it!

Here's to keeping up in the future...CHEERS!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

TLA Session

Thank you for coming to our TLA session! Here is our Haiku Deck presentation:

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Here is a link to our extensive bibliography of picture books that we have used or want to use in lessons.