The blog of a teacher educator discussing math, science, poetry, children's literature, and issues related to teaching children and their future teachers.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Monday Poetry Stretch - Natural Forces
Friday, August 26, 2011
STEM Friday - What's for Dinner?
No dainty vegetarian,the vulture rips up carrion.It likes to feast before the worms,which saves us all from stink and germs.
Turkey vultures don't have strong beaks and feet. They can't tear into tough hide and muscle until it's been "tenderized" by decay. A turkey vulture's featherless head and neck may look strange, but skin is easier to clean than feathers after the bird plunges its head into a rotting carcass.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Monday Poetry Stretch - Postcards from Summer
100 New Book Lists from Scholastic
- Biographies and Memoirs
- Families and Social Issues
- Folktales, Myths and Legends
- History and Historical Fiction
- Holidays and Celebrations
- Read Alouds
- Science Fiction and Fantasy
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Best Vocab Lesson Ever!
Check out the article for songs, lyrics, and video clips. You'll find the Beatles, Blink 182, Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie, Paul Simon, Liz Phair, Rihanna, and more. What fun!Lyrics in popular music have been blamed for social ills ranging from drug use to the London riots. But as back-to-school season approaches, it's worth pointing out how Top 40 radio can make people smarter—by teaching them new words.
Poets Via Post
I was struck by the number of poets who chose to use pictures instead of words. Given the time of year, I'm quite drawn to E. Ethelbert Miller's baseball poem.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Inspiration for Neverland to Become Center for Children's Literature
For the teenager James Matthew Barrie, the sloping, terraced garden overlooking a gentle river was an enchanted land where he and his friends became pirates, clambered over walls, built hideouts and scaled trees in the sunshine.
But the back garden of Moat Brae, a late Georgian villa in the rural town of Dumfries, became more than a playground for the aspiring novelist and playwright. Thirty years later, it inspired Neverland, the magical kingdom where Peter Pan and Tinkerbell flew into battle against Captain Hook, an adventure that captured the imaginations of millions of real-life children.
Now, nearly 140 years after JM Barrie played there as a boy, the mansion and gardens are to be transformed into a national centre for children's literature, after the derelict and decaying building and its garden were saved from demolition by a local trust.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Poetry's Most Poignant Lines
Why Science Is Important
Monday, August 15, 2011
For All You Seuss Fans
Nonfiction Monday - Fastest and Slowest
Quick! Before you peak at the cover to the left, what animals come to mind when you think about speed? Which ones stand out as slow?
When my son handed me this book and I saw the cheetah and sloth on the cover, I didn't think there would be much new ground to cover. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the organization of the book and the variety of animals described.
This title in the Animal Opposites series is divided into a series two-page informational sections. It begins with On the Move which provides a brief introduction to types of animal movement. The next section, A Need for Speed, explains why speed is often key to a species survival, whether it be to catch prey or avoid becoming a meal for someone else. Go Slow further explains that some animals use lack of speed for survival as well, moving so slowly that they are more easily camouflaged. Additional sections focus on swimmers, flyers, runners, diggers/burrowers, climbers, slitherers, mini-movers, weird walkers, energy savers, and growers.
The double page spreads are filled with vivid photographs and sidebars that describe animal record breakers or show others in actual size (ruler-included). To get a feel for the book's layout, take a look at these sample pages. While the topics are covered with more breadth than depth, there is an amazing wealth of information and odd factoids that many students will find engaging.
Here are some of the interesting things I learned while reading this book.
- Gentoo penguins are the fastest underwater birds, reaching a speed of 22 miles (36 km) per hour in short bursts.
- One mole can dig 65 feet (20 meters) of tunnel in a single day.
- The Potoo bird spends all day motionless where it positions itself in a tree and mimics a branch.
Overall, this book will appeal to reluctant readers, as well as kids with an interest in animals.
This book was written for Nonfiction Monday. Today's host is Amy O'Quinn. Do stop by and check out the titles being shared this week.
Monday Poetry Stretch - Three Letter Words
What an interesting idea! Here is how the resulting poem begins.John Fuller, in response to a competition challenge, set out to write a poem consisting only of three-letter words. And in order to add to the interest, he decided on a form in which there were three three-letter words per line, and the lines came in groups of three.
by John Fuller
Who are you
You who may
Die one day
Who saw the
Fat bee and
The owl fly
Read the poem in its entirety.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Lev Grossman on Writing
There’s a reason they don’t have reality shows about writers: it’s not visual. There’s nothing to see and not much to tell. When you’re really getting stuff done, you’re just sitting in a chair with a laptop and trying to type fast enough to keep up with the movie in your brain. That’s the glamorous life of the writer for you.
Poetry Friday - On the Beach at Night, Alone
On the Beach at Night, Alone
by Walt Whitman
On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro, singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining—I think a thought of the clef of the universes, and of the future.
A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets, comets, asteroids,
All the substances of the same, and all that is spiritual upon the same,
All distances of place, however wide,
All distances of time—all inanimate forms,
All Souls—all living bodies, though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes—the fishes, the brutes,
All men and women—me also;
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages;
All identities that have existed, or may exist, on this globe, or any globe;
All lives and deaths—all of the past, present, future;
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d, and shall forever span them, and compactly hold them, and enclose them.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Discouraging News on Reading and Math
There is wide variation among state proficiency standards.
- In 2009, using NAEP as common metric, standards for proficient performance in reading and mathematics varied across states in terms of the levels of achievement required. For example, for grade 4 reading, the difference in the level required for proficient performance between the five states with the highest standards and the five with the lowest standards was comparable to the difference between Basic and Proficient performance on NAEP.
- In grade 4 reading, 35 of the 50 states included in the analysis set standards for proficiency (as measured on the NAEP scale) that were lower than the scale score for Basic performance on NAEP and another 15 were in the NAEP Basic range.
- In grade 4 mathematics, 7 of the 50 states included in the analysis set standards for proficiency (as measured on the NAEP scale) that were lower than the Basic performance on NAEP, 42 were in the NAEP Basic range, and one in the Proficient range.
Are you interested in seeing where your state fell in this mix? Here are some graphics of the fourth grade results to help you better understand. Click to enlarge.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Bloom's Digital Taxonomy Pyramid
Author: Samantha Penney, email@example.com)
Even if you don't teach, you'll find something here of interest. As a word lover I'm crazy about Visuwords, Wordnik, and Ninjawords. The visual learner in me loves Creately and Gliffy.
New Blog on Books in the Elementary Classrom
Monday, August 08, 2011
Thinking About Graphic Novels
I can hear graphic novel enthusiasts everywhere groaning as I type—and I’m all-too-familiar with the argument that graphic novels require students to make meaning from pictures, drawing subtle inferences based on what they’re seeing.
But is that REALLY true?
Let’s be honest, y’all: Graphic novels ALREADY take away the need for students to visualize anything while they are reading.
. . .
Will students who are hooked on graphic novels ever be terribly excited about picking up a text where they’ve got to do the imagining on their own again?
Think about it: Can YOU imagine trying to imagine—or wanting to imagine, or seeing a need to imagine—after discovering an entire genre where imagining just isn’t necessary?
Interestingly enough, when I taught a course on Content Area Reading for middle and secondary teachers a number of years ago, I included Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History and a few of Larry Gonick's Cartoon history books. Mind you, this was before the explosion of graphic novels, so the pickings were slim. However, there are so many terrific books today.
Do I agree with Bill Ferriter? HECK NO!
First, let me give you a personal response. I have a ten-year old who spent all of fourth grade reading through the Percy Jackson books. It ignited an interest in all things mythological. He's since read a number of mythology books, most recently Mary Pope Osborne's Favorite Greek Myths and Tales from the Odyssey, Part 1 and Part 2. In the mix of books you'll find the first three titles in George O'Connor's Olympians series. (You can read more about George and his work at Seven Imp.) These graphic novels distill the stories of each Olympian into 80 vibrant, action-packed pages. They have been read and re-read by my son. And honestly, they leave him wanting more, not less.
Okay, now for a more academic response. The graphic novels being published today demand readers engage in the same kinds of skills needed to make sense of more "traditional" literary works. The notion that "real reading" doesn't occur while students interact with the text of a graphic novel is simply false. Sometimes this genre may even require more finely honed skills, as readers are required to make sense of a range of literary devices (think about the complexity of narrative structures in a graphic novel) and vocabulary that can be more advanced than other books written for students of the same age.
Check out the article The Case for Graphic Novels in Education that responds to this issue much more eloquently than I have.
If you are interested in learning more about graphic novels in the classroom, check out these links.
- Teaching Graphic Novels
- Teaching Graphic Novels as Literature
- Graphic Novel Resources
- No Flying, No Tights: A Graphic Novel Review Website
- ALA List Great Graphic Novels for Teens
- Check out the Cybils blog for winners and nominees in the graphic novel category.
Monday Poetry Stretch - Tritina
I have been grappling with the sestina as of late. My attempts have been less than successful, so I've decided to step back and try a simpler form, the tritina.
Helen Frost has a number of worksheets on poetic form on her web site. She suggests starting with the tritina since the sestina is a more difficult form. What a great idea! Here are the nuts and bolts of the form.
10-line poem made of three, 3-line stanzas and a 1-line envoi
There is no rhyme scheme but rather an end word scheme. It is:
A, B, and C (all in the last line/envoi)
Friday, August 05, 2011
Poetry Friday - W.S. Merwin
Thursday, August 04, 2011
What Math Skills in Early Years Are Key to Later Success?
Psychologists at the University of Missouri monitoring a group of 177 elementary students from 12 different elementary schools since kindergarten have identified the math skills students should have in the first grade to have success by the fifth grade. After factoring out intelligence, working memory and other abilities, researchers were able to determine the most critical beginning-of-school math skills.Researchers found that beginning first-graders that understand numbers, the quantities those numbers represent, and low-level arithmetic will have better success in learning mathematics through the end of fifth-grade. They also found that first-graders who understood the number line, how to place numbers on the line, and those with some knowledge of basic facts showed faster growth in math skills than their peers during the next five years.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Reading and ASL
Literacy packets are available for the following titles:
- A Fine Fine School by Sharon Creech
- I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Mary Ann Hoberman
- The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
- Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland
- Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
- Read All About It by Laura & Jenna Bush
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Children's Literature Conference in Virginia
- The conference will be held Saturday, October 15th from 8:00 - 5:00 at he College of William & Mary.
- The cost of the full conference is $100 (breakfast and lunch included).
- The deadline for registration is October 3, 2011 or until the conference is full.
- Pamela Duncan Edwards
- Tommy Greenwald
- Sara Lewis Holmes
- Laurie Krebs
- Ellen Potter (Skype presentation)
- Candice Ransom