Literature

A Week of 5th Grade Reads

Hello readers!

Again, my apologies for waiting so long to blog, but I have been super busy! The life of a teacher is one that requires more hours than the day can produce!

Over my time subbing in the district that I  grew up in, I have made an agreement with a 5th grade students that I would read some new books that came to our town library.

  1. PAX by Sara Pennypacker
  2. The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein

PAX

A story that isIMG_8666 bittersweet and contains a valuable life lesson, Pax is a story that touches the hearts of all boys and girls in 5th grade. The story begins with Peter, and the heart breaking moment where Peter realizes that his father is taking his pet fox, Pax, back to the wild in hopes to release him back to his natural habitat.. or so that was Peter was told to believe.

Now that Peter’s father has been called back to serve in the war, Peter decides to go find his pet in the wild. Peter embarks on a hard journey where he learns the importance of acceptance, the value of friendships, and the hard life lesson of letting go.

Rating: 4 out of 5!

The Island of Dr. Libris

If you have a 10-12 year old who LOVES fairy tales, this would be the book for them! Sir William , also known as Sir William to Robin Hood and his merry men, regretfully starts his summer in a cabin with his mom with no tv, no internet, and no friends. Once his iPhone breaks, he is forced to discover the secret library of Dr. Libris, which contIMG_8667ains shelves upon shelves of books that would include Hercules, Robin Hood and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When reading these books, Billy discovers a powerful connection between the book, himself, and the Island that is a boat ride away from his mother’s cabin.

This story focuses on the magic of Sir William and his newly found friends as they  venture out to the island to discover a variety of fictional fairy tales that seem to come to life when Billy reads a story. What makes Billy so special? Will he be able to use this Island to save his parents marriage? Can he save himself?

Rating: 3 out of 5!

Until next time!

-Ms. L

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Literture Circle Building 101

Hello readers!

I am just wrapping up my student teaching experience and I have so much to share!

I started my student teaching experience this fall, which is the VERY LAST STEP towards my dream of graduating college with my degree. Of course, I still have a few other things to do to achieve my ultimate goal (have my own classroom), but this was a large accomplishment for me!

My student teaching experience was a total of 16 weeks. I was placed in a Kindergarten classroom for 8 weeks, and then I was moved to a 4th Grade classroom. I had the privilege to work with some great teachers during my experience and I learned SO much by participating, observing and teaching.

That being said…

One of the things that I was able to do in my 4th grade classroom was lead and plan my very own literature circle. When my cooperating teacher had asked me to do it, I was thrilled! I love reading and this was my chance to prove that I know some stuff about reading.

The book that the cooperating teacher and I had choose was Frindle by Andrew Clements.

Of course, this was my very first literature circle so I had things that worked out really well, but I  also had things that I wish I changed.

Here is a list of things that I found effective for my group of 5.

Post-It Notes:

I used post-it notes in multiple things. One of those ways was to have students write down vocabulary words that they didn’t know and find the definitions to teach the group. For every chapter we read, the students had to find one vocabulary word that they didn’t know or thought the group would not know, write it down on a post-it note, use a student dictionary to write the definition of the word, and place it on the poster for the group to view. The book we studied was based on words and using dictionaries so I wanted to include that interactive process as well. Every student also had a different color of post-it note.

Visual Aids:

As you can see, we used a variety of visuals to help with our books study. I made this poster before the literature circle started to not only teach with, but to keep the students and myself on track. The poster also was aligned with what the students were learning in class during those weeks.

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Frindle Poster 4th Grade 2015

 

Final Project:

I wanted the students to have a final project for several reasons. The biggest reason was that it was my form of assessment to see who did benefit from the study and who needed more work. I also wanted students to have something to keep for our time together. Our final project was a interactive profile that included a character list for the main character, a summary, and a page for the students to explain to those who have not read the book why they should read it.

Book Talk:

I did not have enough time to have a lot of book talk with the students, but we did have time to discuss Nick (the main character) and what was happening to him throughout the story everyday for 5 minutes. I wanted the students to have a lot of time reading.

Google Docs:

I had the students use Google Docs for a couple of things. Every student in the school that I was student teaching in has a Google Docs account, so I was able to create my own through the district thanks to our tech guy, and I had students complete tasks online. I would give feedback to each student and they really looked forward to reading those comments the next day. The students really liked it, and they were able to do some quality work for me.

Task Cards:

I used task cards that I found on TeacherPayTeacher during my book talks to encourage students to think deeply into the text. Some books will have discussion questions in the back of the book. I used those as well.

READ:

I didn’t just read to the students during this time. I had the students practice a variety of reading methods such as popcorn reading, silent reading, whisper reading, and partner reading. I had a group of decent readers so this proved to be beneficial.

Of course, the group was not perfect and there are some things I would change:

  • Monitor the post-it note usage: Some of the students that I had got WAY to carried away with the post-its I gave them. I started to monitor when and how many they would need and only give the students that many post-its. For example, if they only needed one post-it for vocabulary, then the student only received one post-it. I should have started that earlier.
  • More time with book talk: I wish I would have given the students more time to discuss and share what they were thinking about the story. The students did not have a lot of time to do this with me. We dedicated 25 minutes to do all of these things.

This was a very quick, easy beginning to developing a literature circle and I I’m very proud of their efforts. Stay tuned to hear about the next book genre we studied during the time I was with them!

Until next time!

Persuasion is Power– Understanding Rhetoric

I recently went to one of my favorite clothing stores to pick out a new dress for my friend’s wedding that is coming up, and me being who I am, I have to make sure that I have the perfect outfit for this specific occasion. When I go to Maurices, I’m usually the one you see taking a few dresses, a couple nice shirts, four or five pairs of pants and maybe a pair of shoes to the dressing room.

I firmly believe in taking as many items as you want into the dressing room–you don’t have to buy all the items you take in, but you can sure try them on for free!

dress-163552_640

After trying on outfit after outfit, I just could not decide what to wear, and if you have never been to Maurices, here are two things that you should know;

  1. You need to go and check it out
  2. The people who work there are very…persuasive.

If you have been to Maurices you will know that it didn’t take long for an associate to come and help me. I couldn’t decide what dress to buy, and I had narrowed my choices down to two. The associate, who was very nice, agreed that I had a tough decision to make, but that she liked both dresses. I explained to her my budget and how much I wanted to spend, and her response to me was something like this;

“Don’t worry, buying both dresses will keep you under your budget with this coupon that you have with you.”

Here is another thing you should also know about Maurices

       3. Always bring coupons.

As you can guess, I bought both dresses….and two shirts…and a new pair of shorts. When I got someone else’s opinion on how I looked when I was wearing these items, I was able to make a decision that benefited both the store and myself.

Sadly, my wallet was the only one who suffered.

DCF 1.0 My experience shopping at Maurices is a mild example of what the Greeks, Romans, and even the Americans in todays generation fear when talking about rhetoric. Starting all the way during the time of the Ancient Greece until now, rhetoric has been viewed as powerful, useful, necessary and dangerous. Rhetoric, defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, has two definitions:

  1. : language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable
  2. : the art or skill of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people

For the longest time, creating a persuasive argument, written or orally delivered was considered a highly desired skill. Even today, despite that there is time dedicated to studying language and grammar in the school systems, most students refer to public speaking, or being a good writer as a skill or talent. One of the first things that I have come to understand about learning language, proper grammar, and being able to create good quality writing involves much more than just skill or talent in the area. Being a good writer, understanding your language and being able to be a “persuader” involves exposure and practice; exposure to the content, and practice, practice, practice.

Like the Greeks who first held this belief, I agree that rhetoric has a large influence of one’s education. From the first couple of weeks in my Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing course, there are a few things that I have learned about writing, language, and rhetoric; CourtGavel

  • The power of public speaking has a large influence on the individual and the society that the individual is a part of.
  • Rhetoric can be both beneficial and dangerous—on one hand it can create an intelligent individual who fights for justice, or it can result in a one who fights for power instead of justice. THE COURTS —->
  • Knowing ones language, the rules of that language (grammar), and understanding rhetoric allows you to develop a deeper understanding of all other areas of study.

Above all of these things that I have learned in the best couple of weeks, I have grasped a better understanding of how rhetoric can shape the individual and a society. This has become one of the biggest things that I have discovered about rhetoric. Referring back to my shopping experience; I didn’t have to buy two dresses or anything at all for that matter. What was the deciding factor for my final purchases at the store results in several things (I really liked both of the dresses), but I probably would not have bought both if the associate who was helping told me that I looked good in both of the items. In other words, the associate told me what I wanted to hear so that I would get two nice dresses, and she would make money for her company.

TGreek philosophershis is how the art of persuasion works. What the Greeks hope to achieve was to have citizens who would deliver persuasive speeches that seek justice and explore moral truth, yet they soon discovered that sometimes that was not the case. Along with teaching language, grammar, public speaking and all other elements that come into educating others about rhetoric, there seems to be this necessary demand for teaching a values system among our students. The question is, how can we do that without causing problems, following state standards, and creating highly literate students?

With hopes of becoming a future elementary teacher, I want my students to not just be familiar with their language and the grammar involved, but to have the rules embedded in their deepest pools of knowledge and long term memory.  I think that the more our students practice getting to know their language, the better they will understand it. Plus, I need to prepare my students for the literature they will read in high school, and how will they be able to read and grow from the literature they read if they do not understand the history of their own language?

At the same time, teachers need to be more creative with the assignments that they are giving students. The typical written book report or essay is not something that promotes writing. Giving students options about how they learn and understand the content only enhances their ability to remember and store that new information in their minds.

Here are a few ideas that I want to use in my classroom;

  • Writing note books
  • Personal journals
  • Personalized Grammar resource book, hand made
  • Memorization games- tests grammar
  • Both oral and written exercises
  • Grammar puzzles and flash cards

Teach your students about rhetoric, about language, about writing and make them see why it is important. Having students who are know how to create a persuasive argument is rewarding to the teacher, unless of course you shop at Maurices and your students work there.

Final tip for your next shopping trip to Maurices:

4. Do not go into Maurices if your students work there and understand rhetoric.

 

The Girl Effect

For my adolescent literature class we are required to read a book titled “Kids of Kabul” by Deborah Ellis. I recently just finished this novel, and I could NOT stop thinking about The Girl Effect.

Hold up, what is The Girl Effect?

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To answer your question, The Girl Effect is a theory based on Education, and how Education can enhance the life of females around the world. Ellis’s book focuses children in Kabul, a small/city in the country of Afghanistan. Along with the ongoing war that has taken its toll on the citizens of Afghanistan, the children are the ones who suffer the most. Lack of education, schools, teachers, and health care result in numerous fatalities, unwanted pregnancies, forced marriages, children serving as soldiers, and those who do manage to survive and leave Afghanistan are illiterate in all senses of the word. Image

The Girl Effect is a theory that the more educated a female (or even a male) can be, the better quality of life they will have. Education is truly the key in saving a child’s life, and preventing horrible things from happening to them. I think that Ellis’s book “Kids of Kabul” demonstrates the power of the girl effect simply by telling the story of kids who had received some sort of education. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way.

I swear by the power of The Girl Effect.

Here is a link to view a video about the girl effect…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e8xgF0JtVg

Here is a website link dedicated to the girl effect

http://www.girleffect.org/

Sex & Violence, Exposing Reality to Young Adult Readers

Image taken from University City Public Library Book Challenge http://ucplbookchallenge.blogspot.com/

Image taken from University City Public Library Book Challenge
http://ucplbookchallenge.blogspot.com/

Carrie Mesrobian’s new book Sex & Violence has been nominated for the 2014 Morris Award,however, there is some debate on the content of the book. Sex, violence, drug use, and poor decision making is included in Mesrobain’s new book along with other young adultbooks that kids are reading. Do we want teens reading this content? Are they mature enough to handle it?

Personally, depending on the maturity of the child, every child is different and handles reality in a different way. Those who deny that their own children are unaware of this stuff by the time they turn 13 (sometimes younger) are oblivious to what is happening in children’s lives.

The fact is, children are being exposed to this, through social media, their friends, their parents, and yes, even books at school.

Does that mean we cease to give these books to kids because of the content? In my opinion, absolutely not.

After listening to Mesrobain’s point of view on the subject of her new book, she makes some excellent points. Whether we like to admit it or not, teenagers, and children as young as 12 if not younger, are being exposed to these things. There is no way to avoid this exposure. However, through books, education, and communication, we can teach both children and teens how to deal with these realities when an adult is not present. Mesrobain makes a great point when she states that reading is a “safe way to approach the problem.” If young adults are aware of the realities of the world, and have knowledge about these issues, they are more likely to make better decisions than those who do not. As a parent, do you trust your child to make the right decision when it comes to avoid drug use? As a sister or brother, do you trust that your young sibling is having protected sex or avoiding sex until later in life? If there is doubt, then there needs to be a change. Teens that have these issues are often the ones that choose not to read books at all; maybe that is the problem. Education is the key to a long happy life, hands down.

Here is a link to what Carrie Mesrobian had to say during her interview with Minnesota NPR

http://www.mprnews.org/story/2013/12/09/daily-circuit-sex-violence?from=dc