Book of the Week: No Problem

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!

No Problem, by Eileen Browne

You can see a preview of No Problem on Google Books.

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

  • Make a picture or mental image. Part of the trouble the characters in No Problem run into is that they’ve never seen the contraption they’re supposed to be building. Talk with students about how they’re being alert in their readerly lives so they can continue to build their schema, which is particularly critical for our students in poverty.
  • Ask questions throughout the reading process. The author and illustrator made some deliberate choices in how they placed text in this book. It reminds me of the way David Wiesner shows movement over three panels in a row. Why did the author/illustrator make these choices? I’ve been thinking that some of the panels make the text look like an instruction manual, but I wonder what students think?
  • Use text features (titles, headings, captions, graphic features). Related to the mini-lesson above, you could discuss the position of text in a fiction book versus a nonfiction piece, such as an instruction manual. Here’s an excerpt of a Flip Camera instruction guide to use as a comparison. A copy of this is included in the No Problem book bag. Not satisfied with that example? Head over to Manuals Online until you find exactly what you’re looking for.

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: 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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3rd Grade Geometry Unit Practice

After the positive reception from my students about our Uno’s Garden review activity for estimation and multiplication, I decided to create a similar activity to practice the skills from our geometry unit.

You can see our district power standards here. I’ve modeled the activity directly from the state standards, though, because there are a few holes. Also, looking to the future, here are the geometry Common Core standards. I linked each of the problems to Barbara Kerley’s great biography, What to do About Alice?

We’d been reading So You Want to be President, and I remembered this image from Kerley’s book:

The couch! We could find the perimeter of the couch! So I developed a set of six questions related to the book, posted them around the room, and had students move from question to question at their own pace. Because we’re a 2nd/3rd grade class, there are questions at a variety of difficulty and depth of knowledge to permit everyone some successes.

You can see the questions and my answer booklet below (I always print it on special paper because students have told me it makes the activity feel more like a quest or a scavenger hunt rather than just skills practice).

WATdoALICE

Please let me know if you found this lesson useful! I’ve found it to be a much better alternative to a straight-up assessment.

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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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: 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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