Book of the Week: A Cool Drink of Water

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

A Cool Drink of Water, by Barbara Kerley

You can see a preview of this book here, through Google Books. The title of the book might be taken from the poem “No No No No” by Maya Angelou, which contains the line used as the title of the collection the poem is featured in, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie. Depending on the students you teach, you might or might not consider the poems in this book appropriate for discussion in your class, but I definitely encourage you to take a look at them. The book was written in 1971, and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1972.

National Geographic and the Smithsonian do a pretty bang-up job of providing high-interest, gorgeous nonfiction texts for students.

The text in this book is very basic, only a few words per page, which would make it perfect for primary read alouds. But the end of the book has individual stories about all of the places featured in the photographs. It would be pretty remarkable to have each page displayed around the room on multicultural night, then have each student be an expert on explaining information from one of the pictures. Wow! If Ms. Koyama puts together a multicultural night for us this year, I’ll TOTALLY do that!

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

  • Compare within and between texts. As mentioned above, have students select a photograph to become an expert on. Randomly have students partner up and give them two minutes to find a similarity and a difference between their subjects’ situations. At the end, debrief and notice if you noticed any common themes.
  • Determine and explain author’s purpose. If students have brainstormed theme ideas, discuss how those are similar to and related to what the author was trying to achieve in writing the book. Often, students will say that a nonfiction author wrote a book “because he/she liked ______” (whatever the book was about — like cats or ponies or tornadoes). But in this case, it seems kind of silly to say the author wrote the book “because she liked water.” Use this example to push students’ thinking further.

  • Skip the word then come back. Before you read the book, put small Post-it notes over some of the words in all capital letters. Often these kinds of activities are done with rhyming words covered up, but the support of the pictures should make the activity doable despite a lack of rhyme.

Example page for "Skip the word and then come back." You could also keep the first and/or last letter of the word uncovered.

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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Book of the Week: Mathematickles!

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Mathematickles!, by Betsy Franco

I feel like I’ve already written a post about this book, but I can’t seem to find a draft anywhere, so I’ll start again.

Poet Betsy Franco has recently received attention for her duo of domesticated animal books. A Curious Collection of Cats received some Caldecott buzz after it was published, and of course you know I’m cat biased, but I didn’t think A Dazzling Display of Dogs was quite as good as a followup.

Anyway, back to Mathematickles. As usual, there are plenty of great math lessons available that tie into this book. For example, you should definitely do this lesson. It has the added benefit of relating math to the seasons, and I plan to use this book to reinforce inverse operations for multiplication/division and solving for a missing addend.

Mathematickles

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

Comprehension

Figurative Language

Literal Language

  • Recognize literary elements (figurative language). The book’s equations sometimes work due to literal language (like 1/2w = v = flying geese) and sometimes due to figurative language (such as raindrops x leaves = pearls on green plates). Due to the limited text in the book, it’d be pretty easy to copy several (dare I say all?) the poems an have students sort for the two elements.

Expand Vocabulary

  • Use dictionaries, thesauruses and glossaries as tools. If some of the math terms or symbols are unfamiliar, students can use the glossaries in the back of their math textbooks. There are plenty of terms also available at the online dictionary MathWords.

Behaviors that Support Reading

  • Read the whole time. As mentioned, this book doesn’t have very much text. So how can students make sure they’re reading the entire time, especially if they have lower-level books with limited words on each page? Brainstorm student ideas and post them in the room.

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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Book of the Week: It’s Catching — Head Lice

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

It’s Catching: Head Lice, by Angela Royston

Look what I discovered in the library office! A book ALL ABOUT LICE! And wait, it gets better! We have THREE COPIES of this book, so an entire grade level team could use it as a mentor text! I can’t wait to hear if this sparks any powerful conversations at collaborations this week. I can’t wait to bring it up at MY collaboration TODAY! Haha.

I ALSO can’t wait to see if we have any of the other books in this series (featuring warts, eczema, etc). Back in our school’s SFA Roots days, this book was originally paired with The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle. (You can watch a video of The Very Quiet Cricket here) I think the pairing of those two books is awesome for several reasons:

  • The discussion of the differences between fiction and nonfiction.
  • Talking about why publishers choose to use photographs or illustrations.
  • Pondering why bugs in some books are seen as cute and in other books it seems like they’re included for the gross factor.
  • Discussing the positive and negative roles insects and bugs play in our lives.

Honestly, this is getting me very excited about our upcoming Insect science unit later this year. WOO!

Can’t get enough sweet books about lice? Check these out! Do you love Rookie Read-About Books? You Have Head Lice! is perfect for you. Interested in a spiritual exploration of lice? Try Head Lice… What Do I Do Now?? Looking to not be limited by lice? Learn more about other icky ailments in Tapeworms, Foot Fungus, Lice, and More: The Yucky Disease Book.

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

  • Practice common sight words and high frequency words. Chances are, students have never read a book on head lice before. Despite this, there are probably plenty of words in the text that they already do know. Talk about the idea that knowing a good number of sight words is particularly important in nonfiction text, where your comprehension energy will probably be spent learning new information.
  • Adjust and apply different reading rates to match text. If sight words aren’t a classwide concern, you might want to take this opportunity to slow down when you learn new information. Chances are, students who go to school are probably familiar with lice in a general way, but model and talk about slowing down and/or pausing when encountering new, surprising, or interesting information.

Behaviors that Support Reading

  • Work quietly. Head lice are pretty gross. Chances are, your students probably had a vocal or physical response to share while you were reading the book. Discuss and brainstorm examples of how students can express their emotions or reactions appropriately while they work independently so they don’t feel stifled, yet they don’t interrupt students around them.

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!

I have been itching my head throughout the entire time I’ve been working on this post, but let me affirm that I have NEVER had head lice. Additionally, HEAD LICE is the reason, ladies and gentlemen of my classroom if you’ve read down this far, that students cannot wear hats at school but teachers can. Students have a tendency to share hats, but teachers usually do not.

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Book of the Week: Rechenka’s Eggs

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Rechenka’s Eggs, by Patricia Polacco

Watch the Reading Rainbow episode for Rechenka’s Eggs:

You can find this book and other texts by Patricia Polacco in the red book box labeled “Favorite Authors.” If you’d like to help expand our school’s collection of Polacco books, you might want to consider helping support this Donors Choose project.

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

Comprehension

 Behaviors That Support Reading

  • Select and read “Good Fit” books. If students like this Polacco story, they might also enjoy one of the dozens of other books she’s written. This might be a good choice for a student who avoids chapter book series, but is ready for more challenging text.

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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Book of the Week: Diary of a Wombat

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Diary of a Wombat, by Jackie French

Didn’t get enough of wombats from One Wooly Wombat? Take a look at this book by Australian author Jackie French. And if that’s still not enough, the author and illustrator also teamed up to write How to Scratch a Wombat.

Writers Workshop Mini-Lessons

  • The text in this book is pretty minimal, but I’d definitely use it in a writing workshop mini-lesson about avoiding bed-to-bed stories. The wombat’s diary entries start out as bed-to-bed stories, but they become more interesting as he adds details from specific moments in the day.
  • Additionally, Diary of a Wombat was based on an actual wombat living under the author’s house, so it’d be a great way of showing students how their personal narrative ideas can be reused for fiction stories.

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

Comprehension

  • Use main idea and supporting details to determine importance. The wombat sleeping is mentioned in every entry, but is the main idea of the text necessarily that wombats sleep a lot? This might be a good lesson to use to refine what the main idea is, because a strategy often used in test prep to determine the main idea is to count the number of sentences in the passage that contain a particular idea.

Fluency

  • Adjust and apply different reading rates to match text. French repeats the beginning and end sentence of every entry for comedic effect. Ask students to look at how including pauses or saying these sentences the same way every time can impact the humor of the passage.

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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Book of the Week: There’s a Zoo in Room 22

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

There’s a Zoo in Room 22, by Judy Sierra

By this point in the year, I thought you might be getting close to exhausting your “beginning-of-the-year-school-story” collection, so here’s another one to use. This text has the added benefit of being a book of poetry, so you can spread out the poems throughout the next few weeks, or even the next few months (there are 26 poems — one for each letter of the alphabet). It’s also excellent for teachers helping students build a poetry anthology to use throughout the year.

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

Accuracy

  • Use beginning and ending sounds. Many of the words that are the rhyming words in the poems are more than one syllable. Talk about how anticipating the word ending can cut your work in half — now you only need to decode the front part of the word.
  • Trade a word / guess a word that makes sense. This really goes along with using beginning and ending sounds, but it adds an additional challenge because most of the words you’re guessing aren’t simple rhymes, but multi-syllable words.

 

Fluency

  • Reread text. These poems don’t have the quick-hit rhyming scheme of Dr. Seuss, so it may take several readings to get the rhythm right. Include these poems in your students’ reading anthologies so they can continue to refine their oral fluency.

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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Book of the Week: Old Shell, New Shell

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Old Shell, New Shell
Old Shell, New Shell: A Coral Reef Take, by Helen Ward

A hermit crab living in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef outgrows his shell and heads out to seek a new one.

This is a mentor text purchased with funds from the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, and stickers with guiding questions have been added throughout the book. It also includes a lesson that focuses on these second grade reading standards:

  • 1.4.3 Problem – Solution
  • 1.5 Text Features

This is a great primary read-aloud because of the sparse text, but there’s also an incredible section in the back of the book for your more advanced or your particularly sea-life-obsessed readers. Every page of the book is annotated in the back with the actual creatures numbered and identified, along with text about the particular part of the ocean featured on each spread.

Hermit Crab

There are a bunch of great supplemental links at Kids’ Wings. Because the link is so short, it could be neat to plan a webquest using this list of sites. Or if you don’t think your students are ready to correctly enter the full web address, you can ask Mrs. Cole to add it as a bookmark in the computer lab. Also, the link mentions using Bill Peet’s Kermit the Hermit as a partner text. I have a copy of this in classroom library bucket 63 if you’d like to use it, just check it out using the check-out binder next to my tech cart.

Kermit the Hermit

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

Comprehension

  • Use prior knowledge to connect with text. Discuss how the previously mentioned webquest changed the way your students looked at the story. Chances are, many of them made comments like, “I saw that!” or “I know what that is!” Discuss how expanding prior knowledge can help them read books in the future.

Accuracy

  • Blend sounds, stretch and read. If you’ve already gone over digraphs with your students and you think you’re ready for blends, this book is a good, authentic place to start for examples with blends both at the beginning or end of words. Look for words like bright, crab, clownfish, spiny, clean, crept, squished, dark, watery, among, very, years.

Behaviors That Support Learning

  • Stay in one place. Often, particularly at the beginning of the year, I’ve noticed students with many picture books in their bags will seek additional texts during independent reading time. This book would be a good one to use to point out how books can be reread repeatedly for different purposes. The student could focus on the structure of the story, the crab’s problem and subsequent solution, or the plethora of facts at the ned of the book

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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Book of the Week: Dear Benjamin Banneker

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Dear Benjamin Banneker, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

You can preview this book on Google Books.

I wanted to highlight this as a book of the week because I know many grade-level teams have planned a unit highlighting interesting and inspiring Americans, and I wanted to make sure we have enough resources to support this unit.

Benjamin Banneker was a freed black man living in the late 1700s who ran a successful tobacco farm, published a successful almanac, and told off a young Thomas Jefferson for his hypocrisy in owning slaves.

Well-known books like this already have a bunch of full lesson plans available online, so there’s no real need for me to redo them. If you’re looking for a more in-depth project, you might want to take a look at:

Additionally, this book used to be an SFA text, so 30 copies are available for use as a shared text. If you use multiple bags of books, please make sure you check out each bag from the bookroom. There’s also an SFA teacher’s guide with vocabulary and comprehension questions.

We have enough of a collection of books by Andrea David Pinkney / Brian Pinkney that you might want to consider an author’s study of their work. See me if you’d like help putting this together!

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

Comprehension

  • Recognize literary elements (theme). Especially if this is part of a larger unit on inspiring Americans, you might want to explore some of these universal themes:

    • Persistence in the face of challenges
    • Standing up for what you believe in
    • A full life is well-rounded and allows you to develop your passions
    • Privilege plays a role in what individual determination can achieve (how would Banneker’s life be different if he hadn’t been born to a freedman? If he had been born closer to the civil war? If he was born in the South during the civil rights movement?)

  • Compare and contrast within and between text. The SFA skill focus for this book is compare and contrast. Please refer to the teachers’ guide in the book bag for more details.

Accuracy

  • Use the pictures… Do the words and pictures match? More complex words like observing, plotted, astronomy, and eclipse make sense in the context of this book. It would also be interesting to use this book with the Astro Adventures science kit, because students would already be primed to be more aware of sky-and-space related terms.

Behaviors that support reading

  • Select and read good-fit book. Benjamin Banneker taught himself astronomy! Amazing. The level of self-motivation he must’ve had is amazing. Our students need to strive to find topics and issues that interest them so they too can be motivated to take a lead role in their own successes. Use this book to reinforce the strategy of IPICK.

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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Book of the Week: Somewhere Today

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Somewhere Today, by Bert Kitchen

Bert Kitchen has illustrated and written a variety of books about interesting animals. Many of the books seem out of print or difficult to find, but I’ll keep nosing through the bookroom to see if we have any others. If not, we have a TON of guided reading book sets about unusual mammals, insects, and birds that would be a good complement to this text. If you’re looking for another mentor text to go along with this, check out the lesson plans posted for A Hummingbird’s Life.

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

Comprehension

  • Determine and analyze author’s purpose and support with text. As you go through the text, keep a running chart with the characteristics each of the animals seem to have in common with each other. At the end of the book, an author’s statement is included, so they can compare their ideas with his intent.

Expand Vocabulary

  • Tune in to interesting words and use new vocabulary in my speaking and writing. It’s exciting to see strong adjectives, strong verbs, AND strong nouns in this text, and it might be useful to do a word sort having students categorize words according to the different forms of speech (which will help make students more comfortable to use them independently). I might suggest these words for a word sort. Adjectives: formidable, devastating, brackish, grating. Verbs: merging, recoils, cruises, emerge. Nouns: mangroves, surface, plumage, fringes.
  • Use prior knowledge and context to predict and confirm meaning. In addition to neat unfamiliar words, the text also uses many words in ways that are different from casual speech. which would be good for conversation or charting, particularly with pictures. Potential words to discuss include: bed, meat (shellfish meat), dense, fringes, recoils, cruises, throw, call.

 

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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Book of the Week: How Animal Babies Stay Safe

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

How Animal Babies Stay Safe, by Mary Ann Fraser

You can see a Google Books preview of this book here.

Author/illustrator Mary Ann Fraser blogs pretty regularly. It’s always neat to see into an illustrator’s process, so you should check it out.

There is a lesson for first graders included with this mentor text. It includes suggested conversation ideas along with page numbers. The question prompts are also included as labels stuck to pages throughout the book. The included lesson focuses on these standards:

  • 1.5 Locates Information
  • 2.1 Comprehends important ideas and details
  • 2.1.2 Summarizes a simple text with guidance
A brief aside: WHY is it that when humans are featured as minor characters in a book about some totally different topic they are almost always straight-haired blonde/brunette white folks? This book was written in 2002. I wish there were more non-white characters in books that weren’t just about “issues.” See rad Michigan educator Colby Sharp’s views on this matter here.

Anyways. This book would work perfectly with The Bird Lady, a Level J guided reading text available in our bookroom. The information section in the back talks about what humans do when animals lose their support system, and Bird Lady is a critter rehabilitator.

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

Comprehension

  • Monitor and Fix Up. If you follow the lesson plan included, you will create a chart showing the different ways animals carry, protect, and provide shelter for their young. You can explain that this graphic organizer can help you monitor your comprehension — if you notice that you haven’t recorded anything in a page or two, there’s a chance that you missed some key information.
  • Recognize and explain cause and effect relationships. The book discusses many different actions that animals take to take care of their babies, all with the effect of keeping them safe. Talk with students about the idea that a cause (i.e. a crocodile putting her babies in her mouth) can also be an effect (A predator had to cause the crocodile to put the babies in her mouth in the first place). At the end of the book, Fraser talks about why it is that animals are so keen to protect their young. This could be used to explore the idea that although there are many smaller causes and effects in the book, they all fit under the overarching idea of protecting young animals.

Expand Vocabulary

  • Use prior knowledge and context to predict and confirm meaning. The lesson plan included in the book bag features a conversation about the word “instinct.”

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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