I Want My Hat Back!

We read I Want My Hat Back today, and here were our initial thoughts:

TEAM BEAR

  •  “Bear! Cause I like being tall and strong!” ~Ivy
  • “Bear because I would be mad too. And if I were a bear, I would eat him.” ~Anthea
  • “I vote for the bear because he got mad because the rabbit took his hat.” ~Alejandra
  • “Team bear because bear wants his hat back and maybe the rabbit knew about the hat but he didn’t want to give it back to the bear.” ~Juan
  • “Team bear because they’re awesome!!! And they’re stronger and faster.” ~Vy
  • “I pick team bear because I would be mad if someone took my hat too and I would want it back.” ~Kyle
  • “I go for team bear. Why? Because they all swim to catch fish.” ~Carlos
  • “I pick team bear because the bear just wanted his hat back and because bears have claws.” ~Frankie
  • “I pick team bear because bears are funny and I like bears so much. But in the book it was funny and the rabbit was too.” ~Vashti
  • I vote for bear because he remembered about his red hat that he knew it was his, he said to the rabbit. That’s why I go for bear because he is smart.” ~Kevin
  • “I want to be on team bunny because it was so funny ’cause bunny had a cool hat. He was just standing there.” ~Jeffrey
  • “Team bear because bears are bigger and better.” ~Antonio (here he included a picture of a bear with his toothy mouth open, saying “BEARS ARE BIGGER AND BETTER”)
  • “I vote for rabbit since he could get revenge in his stomach. Also maybe since rabbits have fur, maybe bear is going to get a hairball. Or rabbit could jump out of bear’s mouth when he put him in his mouth to eat him. Also, rabbit could jump out of bear’s claws or paws. I think bear is a big old jerk because he ate the rabbit just because the rabbit took his hat. If I was bear, I would just say, ‘Can I get my hat back?’ So I’m just saying bear is a big jerk.” ~Eduard
  • Team bear because after the bear ate the rabbit the rabbit was not seen on the book.” ~Vincent

TEAM RABBIT

  • “I am team rabbit because he can get revenge in the bear’s stomach. Also he is like me in a way because he is sarcastic like me and funny. He was like, ‘What hat, I haven’t seen a hat, what are you talking about’ and bear is not that bright because he just noticed that the rabbit has his hat.” ~Thessalonia
  • Team rabbit because if the bear ate him he would go to heaven with God.” ~Xochitl
  • Team rabbit because he had the hat but he didn’t know it was bear’s — probably he found it in the floor. I don’t know why bear ate him.” ~Leonel
  • “I vote for team rabbit because he probably did not know whose hat it was and also he was trying not to let the bear know. It was like he was hiding it. I really liked the way he did that.” ~Arianna
  • I pick team rabbit because he did not even know that he was wearing the hat. Well, he did, but he tried to get away with it!” ~Savanah

You can watch the book trailer here:

Book of the Week: The Three Little Pigs

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!

The Three Little Pigs, by James Marshall

I’ve had this book traveling back and forth from home and school for weeks now, and I suppose it’s high time I featured a lesson for it. Especially because my David Weisner author study has been receiving a number of hits, and because Marshall was featured multiple times in an excellent post about Brian Selznick’s recommended children’s books.

See a video version here:

If you’re looking to go old-school with your traditional stories, you might want to see the minilessons for The Three Billy Goats Gruff. You might also want to rummage around for the James Marshall version of Cinderella that should be in the SFA mentor text bag for Egyptian Cinderella.

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

  • Retell the story. Students might be tempted to retell a story using their own prior knowledge. Talk about the importance of reflecting what the author wrote — yes, prior knowledge is a powerful tool for comprehension, but it’s important in a retell to share what the author wrote using proof from the text.
  • Recognize literary elements (plot). This might be a good book to open a discussion about similar plot patterns found in books. This lesson on The Rule of Three seems pretty rad.
  • Abundant easy reading. Look! It’s a new strategy! Somehow, having this as a menu item seems to validate what reading experts have been saying for a while now: it’s important for kids to read books that are at their instructional level, yes, but the majority of reading should be happening at 98-99% accuracy. Holy cow! Anyway, maybe your students are loathe to give up their favorite stories.  I know my kids can’t be pried away from Geronimo Stilton and Babymouse, and I don’t think it’s my job to do so, as long as they’re also choosing books that do challenge 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!

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Book of the Week: Big, Bad, and a Little Bit Scary

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!

Big, Bad, and a Little Bit Scary, by Wade Zahares

We have two copies of this book, in case you want to develop a team lesson around it. It’s guided reading level P, so it’d be perfect to use as a formative assessment for end-of-3rd-grade standards (Federal Way 3rd graders should be at an instructional level of O-P by June).

Each poem is by a different author, and at least three of the poems meet the cognitive rigor detailed in Common Core Appendix A. I’ve copied “The Alligator,” “The Eel,” and “The Barracuda” into a document for your shared reading pleasure.

"Fall is Flying By"

On an unrelated note, you should definitely take a look at Zahares’ website, which includes a pretty impressive body of work. If I had unlimited funds, I’d get this print for our classroom. They feel like super-color-charged versions of art deco era WPA posters.

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

 

  • Check for understanding. Remind students that although many of the poems are short, it’s still important to pause and make sure they fully understand what was read. One reason this is particularly important is the use of figurative language. If a student reads too quickly and is somewhat familiar with the animal featured, they may assume some qualities, such as “They’ll strip off your flesh like you’d skin a banana” (from Dick King-Smith’s “Strippers”) can be taken literally.
  • Determine and analyze author’s purpose and support with text. November’s literacy focus of the month at Wildwood is author’s purpose, so I’ve been a bit fixated on this skill lately. Each of the poems (particularly the three I shared in the link above) are written in a distinctly different style, each of which seems influenced by the animal that’s the subject of the poems. Talk about the word choice, rhyming patterns, and phrase length in each of the three poems. How did the author’s choices change the mood of each poem?

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: Too Much Noise

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!

Too Much Noise, by Ann McGovern (illustrated by Simms Taback)

You can take a look at this text on Google Books. A video of it is also available below.

You might recognize Taback’s art from his Caldecott-winning Joseph had a Little Overcoat, and this book would pair nicely with it. Taback seems to gravitate toward cumulative stories (see here and here), which could prompt conversations for a good genre study (I know “cumulative stories” isn’t really a genre, so please help me if you know a better label). If you DO have a cumulative story study, make sure you include class favorite Drummer Hoff!

Oooh! Or even better! You could study this book along with fantastic cumulative story The Mitten! Use any version you prefer. I like the original by Alvin Tresselt or the adaptation by Jan Brett (clicking on the afore-linked link will take you to some rad Brett-designed animal masks so you can perform the book).

Here’s a math lesson with the same title as the book, but it’s actually totally unrelated. It aligns nicely to 2nd grade standards, though, so I figured I’d pass it along.

I wonder what it would be like to use this book at the beginning of the year to prompt a conversation about appropriate levels of noise at different times in the classroom.

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

  • Tune in to interesting words. In my vocabulary lessons with my students, we often talk about the idea that “interesting words” don’t necessarily need to be the longest, most unusual words, they can also be short words or any words that are extremely effective. There aren’t any particularly striking words in this text, but the repetition of phrases in the text is important. This might be a good book to connect the strategy of using interesting words to the writing strategy of varying sentence length and structure.
  • Use pictures, illustrations, and diagrams. In a primary or heavily ELL class, discuss how the pictures support students connecting the new word introduced on each page (usually an animal) with an animal addition to the house. I usually use the example of “it’s a lot harder to read the word ‘elephant’ if you’ve never seen an elephant before or heard the word out loud.”

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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Penguin Sweaters

I saw this post in my Google Reader feed tonight and thought of a recent read aloud.

Call for Knitted Sweaters for Penguins Affected by Oil Spill

This reminded me, of course, of Pierre the Penguin, which we read earlier this week in our journey to read all the books nominated for the 2012 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Awards. Wonder what the folks at the California Academy of Sciences think of this fashionable take on their wetsuit?

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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Bigger than a Bread Box

There are a few books you should read RIGHT NOW. One such book is Bigger than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder.

I’m don’t usually dedicate entire blog posts to book reviews because there are plenty of other kid’s lit bloggers who do an excellent job without my meddling, and because I mostly prefer to write about how to use rad books in the classroom. But here’s my GoodReads review:

I opened this book with trepidation. Ever since our friend-of-a-friend introduction, I’d had great respect for Laurel as a person. I fretted about reading her books, though. What if they weren’t quite as awesome as Laurel herself? What would I say? Would it change the way I viewed her? Is it really fair to let an author’s work impact my perception of them as a human being? What about the reviews I’d already been reading? They were GREAT. If I didn’t like the book, would that mean I was missing some sort of sensitivity chip? I pondered this and other lines of thinking much more than I should have.

Good news! Crisis averted! The book is EXCELLENT. The narrative is extremely clean — by which I mean, side stories are awesome and all, but it was refreshing to read an extremely well-written chapter book that only had one main plot line. The characters are real — developed, but not in a tedious, overly wordy way, and the ending was wonderful. I really can’t wait to read more of Laurel’s novels.

I wonder how much of Laurel’s writing style is impacted by her experience as a poet? The clarity and power of her descriptions and imagery definitely seemed to have the concentration of a piece of verse (but again, nothing overly flowery).

I loved that Rebecca didn’t make a big hullabaloo over the magic initially. That response seemed really authentic to me — I imagine that a middle schooler would be pleasantly surprised to find wishes being granted, but definitely more excited rather than dumbstruck.

I’ve donated my copy of Bigger than a Bread Box to the Wildwood library, so if you’re a Federal Way person reading this, you should head down there and pester Ryan and Elisabeth to read it.

P.S. Thanks to the talented and wonderful Jamie G for introducing me to Ms. Snyder. :)

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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CAFE menu board

I’m finally to the point in preparing the classroom where I can afford to take the time to pretty things up a bit. Here’s our reading corner, featuring our CAFE menu.

I think all our decisions in our classroom should be intentional, so here are some thoughts on what you see in the picture:

  • I don’t see a need to have the Daily Five choices themselves written anywhere all giant. As I introduce them, we write the choices on sentence strips and staple them under the daily schedule. After all, we do keep our T charts for expectations posted year-round, so they don’t need to take up much space here.
  • The empty room under the white paper explaining each CAFE category was left there intentionally. My students will post sticky notes with their names under each definition so we know what strategies they’re currently working on.
  • I want as much space as possible for our strategies, so this year I added a second column to accomodate all the comprehension strategies. For the record, I will be adjusting the burgundy paper so both columns are even. :)
  • The crab chair is named Oddvar. He’s from IKEA and I bring him around the classroom with me when I confer.
  • Chart markers are in a plant pot under the phone. I started using the pot after getting frustrated because I could never seem to get baskets and cups to work for my markers.
  • Our Word Collector will be located on the bulletin board to the right of the easel.
  • Do you see our class crests on the lower part of the whiteboard? So exciting!
  • The big “Day 1” on the white board is posted because we have a six-day schedule instead of just a Monday-Friday schedule. Tomorrow, I’ll post my schedule so you can see how I block out my time.

Questions or ideas for improvement? Let me know in the comments or by e-mail!

Book of the Week: Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here

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

Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here, by Jean Craighead George

I suppose this post has a bit of a Christmas in July feel, seeing as how most of the country is crazy-hot and humid. If you need to cool down, you can preview the book here at Google Books. As you’ll learn, winter actually began June 21, according to Grandma’s character.

This book is written in a letter format, and I could see it working well with The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart. I also received a great tip from Ohio teacher Ms. LaCrosse that Jean Craighead George books are a pretty great resource for folks looking to integrate science into their literacy block.

Scholastic has leveling information, and a quick search brings up all sorts of resources connecting this book to the winter solstice.  I plan on using this with our weather unit this fall. There’s a Reading Rainbow episode called Snowy Day: Stories and Poems, and a good supplemental lesson plan with several other suggested books can be found here.

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

Comprehension

  • Check for understanding. If you’ve been teaching students to stop every paragraph or page or so to check for understanding, this could be a good book to help them refine the strategy. The whole book is one letter, so you can’t really stop all the way at the end of the letter (this would be contrast to the multiple letters in The Gardener, because you CAN pause and check for understanding at the end of each letter in that book). But at the same time, if you stopped EVERY page, meaning could actually be LOST because there’s not much text on each page and you’d be pausing in your reading an awful lot.
  • Use text features (titles, headings, captions, graphic features). George has her author’s note right at the front of the book rather than buried at the end. Why do students think she made that choice? The author’s note is brief, clear, and interesting, so copying it for students for a shared read might be a good idea. There’s a master copy of the author’s note already in the book bag if you need it.
  • Use main idea and supporting details to determine importance. About once sentence is on each page, and each section of text is accompanied by a small image. How did the illustrator choose what creature or scene would be featured in that small image? Does it relate to the main idea of the page, or does it illustrate a supporting detail? Maybe break students into pairs and give each pair a different page of the book.

 

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking! You can find this text in the red bookroom bucket labeled realistic fiction or narrative nonfiction.

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

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