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!