Engage Your Students in Earth Day

Every April, we come together to recognize Earth Day, and this year, Earth Day falls on Tuesday, April 22nd. Whether you are organizing a Go Green campaign at your school, inviting students to adopt an endangered animal, or simply reading a few environmental books in your classroom, there is a way for everyone to get involved with Earth Day! Use the Big Universe e-books below to engage your students in the celebration.

Earth Day e-Books for Grades K-2:

Cleaning Our SchoolCleaningSchool
by Suzanne Barchers
ISBN: 9780743908764

A big, summer storm left the school in this book a mess! The students, parents, and other volunteers worked to clean it up. They make teams to pick up aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and glass. After everything is cleaned up, they use graphs to show how much of each item they collected. They take these items to be recycled. They use the money they earn to help build a new playground. What does your school need, and how can you help? 32pp.

A Mountain of TrashMountainTrash
by Loren I. Charles

Have you ever wondered where your trash goes after it is picked up? Did you know that leaves and grass are a type of trash called yard waste? The answers to these questions and more can be found in this book. Discover the many ways addition can be used to learn about trash. 32pp.

 

Recycle, Reduce, ReuseRRR
by Suzanne Barchers

The students in this book want to protect the environment. The students use graphs to show the many ways they can reduce, reuse, and recycle. They can reduce the amount water they use. They can reuse paper. But it is recycling that really gets them excited. The students bring in old cans and bottles. They use a graph to find out how much money they can earn. They will use the money they earn for an Earth Day party. Do you want to join them? 32pp.

Nature Recycles–How About You?NatureRecycles
by Michelle Lord (author), Cathy Morrison (illustrator)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781607186397

From sea urchins in the Atlantic Ocean to bandicoots on the Australian savanna, animals recycle all over the world. Explore how different animals in different habitats use recycled material to build homes, protect themselves, and get food. This fascinating collection of animal facts will teach readers about the importance of recycling and inspire them to take part in protecting and conserving the environment by recycling in their own way.

Molly’s Organic FarmMollys
by Carol L. Malnor and Trina Hunner (authors), Trina Hunner (illustrator)       © 2012
ISBN: 9781584692294   AR: Book Level 2.9  / Points 0.0

Whoosh . . . the wind blows open a creaky gate. Inquisitive and mischievous, a homeless little cat scampers through – and suddenly finds herself in the wondrous world of an organic farm! Affectionately named “Molly” by the farmers who discover her, she romps, naps, and hunts among the vegetables. Seen through Molly’s eyes, the reader discovers the interplay of nature that grows wholesome food. But what will happen to Molly when winter comes? Based on a true story, Molly will touch children’s hearts while introducing them to plants and the key elements of growing food organically. Standards-based science concepts and activities at the end of the book expand the message of the story.

Earth Day e-Books for Grades 3-5:

Growing Good FoodGrowing
by Anne Flounders (author)       © 2014
ISBN: 9781939656315   AR: / Points 1.0  / Quiz 163181

Have you thought about where your food comes from? Do you know the difference between organic and nonorganic foods, and is organic always a more healthful choice? Some farmers have opened their farms to the local community to help grow and pick crops. In this book, you’ll read why community-supported agriculture is growing fast and how the choices you make at the grocery store can make a big difference in Earth’s health as well as your own. Book features: Table of Contents; Glossary; For More Information including books and web sites; Index; photos and captions; charts and graphs; source notes.

Reducing WasteReducing
by Anne Flounders (author)       © 2014
ISBN: 9781939656346   AR: / Points 0.5  / Quiz 163186

You know the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. But what does it really mean and why is it important to cut back on waste? Each year, businesses and homes in the United States throw away enough garbage to equal 251 million elephants. Where would we keep that many elephants? More to the point, where does all that garbage go? Discover why waste is creating problems for Earth and how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle now. Book features: Table of Contents; Glossary; For More Information including books and web sites; Index; photos and captions; charts and graphs; source notes.

Earth Day e-Books for Grades 6-8:

Our Footprint on EarthFootprint
by Jeanne Sturm       © 2010
ISBN: 9781606944080   AR: Book Level 6.4  / Points 0.5  / Quiz 132422  / Interest Level MG

Learn about the impact that humans have on the Earth, its environment, and how to reduce the damage.

 

Farmed OutFarmedOut
by Christy Goerzen (author)       © 2011
ISBN: 9781554699100   AR: Book Level 3.8  / Points 2.0  / Quiz 146753  / Interest Level MG

Maddie has big-city dreams, and this summer she’s found her chance to visit New York. An art magazine is holding a portrait painting contest, and the first prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to the Big Apple. Maddie plans to win, but her mother has different plans for her: a mother-daughter adventure in organic farming. Maddie is furious. How will she find an inspiring subject for her portrait amid the goat poop and chickens? And worse, her new age mother’s attempts at pig reiki are an embarrassment. But Maddie befriends the farmer’s daughter, Anna, and between dodging her mother and doing her chores, she finds the perfect subject for the portrait contest.

Earth Day e-Books for High School:

Global Warming RL 6GlobalWarming
by Saddleback Educational Publishing (author)       © 2009
ISBN: 9781602916777

Features include: Reading level 3 books are Fountas-Pinnell level O, P, and Q; reading level 6 books are Fountas-Pinnell level W. Scientific terms are defined in context. Identical dramatic four-color covers (back cover band identifies books that are lower level). Teacher’s Guides with reproducible activities allow students to work from either text. Glossary defines difficult terms. “Did You Know?” sections contain interesting facts. End-of-book “Facts & Figures” section summarizes critical information. The index takes students directly to topics of interest.

Go Organic RL 6GoOrganic
by Saddleback Educational Publishing (author)       © 2009
ISBN: 9781602916784

Features include: Reading level 3 books are Fountas-Pinnell level O, P, and Q; reading level 6 books are Fountas-Pinnell level W. Scientific terms are defined in context. Identical dramatic four-color covers (back cover band identifies books that are lower level). Teacher’s Guides with reproducible activities allow students to work from either text. Glossary defines difficult terms. “Did You Know?” sections contain interesting facts. End-of-book “Facts & Figures” section summarizes critical information. The index takes students directly to topics of interest.

Earth Day in the Classroom:

How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day in your classroom? Which books are  you excited to read?

April Showers

April is traditionally a rainy month; after all, “April showers bring May flowers,” right? Weather can be a bit tricky this time of year as the clash of warm and cold climates creates unexpected storms and showers. Engage younger students in books about April rainstorms and involve older students in learning about weather systems and atmospheric forces at work in our day to day forecasts. Include the Big Universe e-books here in your study of weather!

Weather e-Books for Grades K-2:

A RainstormARainstorm
by Kathy Gleason (author), Sou Saetern (illustrator)       © 2012
ISBN: 9781620468081

In this story, readers can use the illustrations and text to make predictions about the experiences of the main character. The detailed illustrations support English language learners.

 

Wellington’s Rainy DayWellington
by Carolyn Beck (author), Brooke Kerrigan (illustrator)       © 2011
ISBN: 9781554692859   AR: / Quiz 143815

It’s a rainy day. Wellington is down in the dumps and can’t resist the smell of his master’s freshly made meatloaf. While his master snoozes, Welly devours every last bite. After he hides the empty pan, he eats the contents of the garbage can too. Honey, a sneaky kitty and Wellington’s archenemy, threatens to tell on him. Welly’s tummy begins to churn and out comes everything he has gobbled down. What a mess! But in this lively, rhyming picturebook, things have a way of turning out better than expected for Welly, and just this once he escapes being blamed for the missing meatloaf.

Cinnamon & the April ShowerCinnamon

by Amy Crane Johnson (author), Robb Mommaerts (illustrator)
ISBN: 9781621671541

It’s spring! The forest is full of newborn animals and plants. An April shower frightens Cinnamon, her new cub, and their woodland friends. Solomon Raven explains the importance of rain for animal and forest survival. Follow Solomon Raven and all the woodland creatures throughout the seasons in all the books in the series.

Weather e-Books for Grades 3-5:

Inside the Water CycleInsideWater
by William B. Rice

The water cycle is like a circle—it has no beginning and no end. When the sun heats ocean water, it evaporates and forms clouds in the sky. When these particles get big enough, they can fall to Earth as precipitation in the form of rain, sleet, snow, or hail. When water hits the ground, it can change to liquid, soak into the ground, or run off and form streams or rivers. But it always makes its way back to the ocean, where the cycle begins again.

Climate and WeatherClimateWeather
by Carla Mooney (author)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781618103857

From basic information about air pressure to cloud formations, this book goes on to explain violent weather conditions and how to prepare for them. Also talks about the Earth’s changing weather patterns and climates and what role we play in those changes.

Weather e-Books for 6-8 & Beyond:

WeatherWeather
by Michael Contreras (author), Rae Mendiola (illustrator)       © 2012
ISBN: 9781620461808

Graphic features are prominent in this book so readers can interpret maps and other weather graphics. The first half of the book describes atmospheric forces that affect weather while the second half depicts a fictional television newscast about severe weather.

Deadly StormsDeadlyStorms
by Ann Weil (author)       © 2012
ISBN: 9781612476315

This series of nonfiction readers will grab a student’s interest from the very first page! Designed with struggling readers in mind, these riveting 64-page softcover books offer short chapters on significant disasters. Each chapter is its own mini-book, which includes a timeline, key terms, and interesting facts. Fascinating black and white photographs keep the pages turning. A bibliography encourages further topical reading. Disasters are inherently frightening, riveting, and involving. Grabbed straight from the headlines, these disasters leave tragedy, destruction, and years of anguish: Cyclones, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, The Perfect Storm, Hurricane Katrina, and more.

Engage Students in the Masters

Golf enthusiasts and fans will flock in droves this week to Augusta, Georgia, home of Augusta National and the annual Masters golf tournament. Once there fans will watch players battle for the top spot in the leader board as they try their chance at winning the coveted green jacket.  While the tournament itself only lasts four days, fans have a chance to view the practice rounds both in person and on t.v. throughout the course of the week; it is officially a full week’s worth of golf!

Sports-loving students will certainly know this week and the tradition behind it. And if they don’t, use it as an opportunity to engage your reluctant readers in reading about something that might pique their interests.

Golf e-Books for Grades 3-5:

Golfgolf3-5
by Ray McClellan       © 2011
ISBN: 9781600144615   AR: Book Level 3.5  / Points 0.5  / Quiz 139002  / Interest Level LG

Great golfers mainly get eagles and birdies, meaning they shoot under par! This book introduces young readers to the game of golf. It explains the sport’s basic rules, necessary equipment, early beginnings, and how to train to qualify for the professional tour.

Tiger Woods: Famous GolferTiger
by Sarah Tieck (author)       © 2009
ISBN: 9781617858451   AR: / Points 0.5

Tiger Woods is one of the world’s most talented golfers! This book introduces his childhood, family, educational background, rise to fame, and future plans. Readers will learn how Tiger’s early talent and drive led him to win amateur honors, before becoming a professional golfer with the PGA. Also covered are Tiger’s PGA victories and recognitions, as well as his personal life and societal contributions, including the Tiger Woods Learning Center and the Tiger Woods Foundation. Colorful graphics, oversized photographs, and short, engaging sentences draw in reluctant readers. Buddy Books is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.

Golf e-books for Grades 6-8:

GolfGolf6-8
by Brian Howell (author)       © 2012
ISBN: 9781614787136   AR: / Points 1.0

Best Sport Ever: Golf takes readers from the beginnings of golf to present day with a focus on the legends, the amazing stories, and the unique characteristics that makes the sport great. Discover the early games of golf, the equipment used in the game then and now, the thrill of the first hole-in-one, and the achievements of Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Walter Hagen, Mickey Wright, and so many others in this amazing overview of the Best Sport Ever: Golf! Through colorful descriptions, a glossary, additional resources, engaging sidebars that go “beyond the basics” into advanced skills and health benefits, and more, the Best Sport Ever series is a can’t miss for today’s sports fan. SportsZone is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.

MastersMasters
by Brian Howell (author)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781624010026   AR: / Points 1.0

The Masters is one of Sports’ Greatest Championships! Since the first Masters in 1934, hundreds of thousands of people have attended the three-day tournament. Now, young readers can learn about the tournament’s history, the famous golfers, the spectacular drives, and the future of the sport from in their library. Informative sidebars add to the high impact photographs and easy-to-read text, bringing Sports’ Greatest Championships to readers of all ages. SportsZone is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.

Golf in the Classroom

How will you incorporate these e-books into your classroom?

Writing Prompt: The Cool Things Shelves

writing prompts for 2014.037

Celebrating National Letter Writing Month

Bring out the paper, pencils, envelopes, and stamps because April marks National Letter Writing month! The art of letter writing is certainly fading, but teaching students the power of written word is still a vital part of our role as teachers. Dedicate a time to discuss with students some of the powerful writers in history and have them practice letter writing on their own. Students can write a letter to an especially influential teacher, a foreign pen pal, or even their best friend in another class. The possibilities for letters are endless!

E-Books to Celebrate National Letter Writing Month in Grades K-2

The Summer of the Marco PoloMarcoPolo
by Lynn Manuel (author), Kasia Charko (illustrator)       © 2007
ISBN: 9781551438870   AR: / Quiz 123821

In the summer of 1883 a famous clipper ship ran aground off the coast of Prince Edward Island near the home of a young girl named Lucy Maud Montgomery. Lucy Maud, who became one of Canada’s most beloved writers, wrote about the grand adventure in her journals and reflected on it years later in her notebooks. The town of Cavendish was transformed by the presence of the crew, and the ship’s captain stayed with Lucy Maud and her strait-laced grandparents. Lynn Manuel has taken Lucy Maud’s memories and shaped them into a story that will transfix and enchant readers.

Writers Then and NowWritersThen&Now
by Kathleen C. Null Petersen

Throughout history, people have recorded ideas and important events in their lives and communities. Methods of writing have changed greatly over the years. Today, computers make a writer’s job much easier and enable people to write and publish more material than ever before.

E-Books to Celebrate National Letter Writing Month in Grades 3-6

Early America: Abigail AdamsAbigailAdams
by Jill K. Mulhall

Abigail lived during times which were much more difficult for women than today. Despite this fact, Abigail Adams traveled, believed in women’s rights, and experienced the American Revolution. A devoted wife, mother, and American patriot, Abigail influenced history by helping her husband, John, make important decisions.

 

Thomas JeffersonTJ
by Heidi M.D. Elston (author)       © 2009
ISBN: 9781617851124   AR: / Points 1.0

The United States president preserves, protects, and defends the U.S. Constitution. Each president’s term influences events in America and around the world for years to come. This biography introduces young readers to the life of Thomas Jefferson, beginning with his childhood in Shadwell, Virginia. Information about Jefferson’s education at the College of William and Mary and his early career as a lawyer is discussed. In addition, his family and personal life, as well as his retirement years at Monticello spent founding the University of Virginia are highlighted. Easy-to-read text details Jefferson’s political career as a Virginia legislator, a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, the chief author of the Declaration of Independence, governor of Virginia, minister to France, the first U.S. secretary of state, and vice president. Finally, students will explore key events from Democratic-Republican president Jefferson’s administration, including the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Beautiful graphics showcase the primary source documents and photographs. A timeline, fast facts, and sidebars help put essential information at students’ fingertips. In addition, a quick-reference chart provides easy access to facts about every U.S. president. Checkerboard Library is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.

Phillis WheatleyPhillisWheatley1
by Sneed B. Collard Iii (author)       © 2010
ISBN: 9780761445036

It’s not easy to find biographies that truly appeal to very young readers. Perhaps it’s because they take a special talent to write! What’s needed is an author who can distill a lot of complicated facts into clear, simple concepts, add a touch of warmth and humor, and create a story that a little kid won’t want to put down. Add to the mix some lovely child-friendly art set in a framework of pastels and that’s Benchmark’s American Heroes. These charming titles, all carefully researched and well documented, will fire the imaginations of young readers and help set them on a lifelong path to learning.

Early America: Phillis WheatleyPhillisWheatley2
by Emily R. Smith

Phillis Wheatley was the first black person in America to have a book published, opening the door for other black writers and female authors. She was kidnapped and brought to the colonies as a child and served as a slave to a family in Boston. Phillis learned to read and write at a young age.

National Letter Writing Month in the Classroom

How will you discuss written correspondence in your classroom? What strategies do you have? We’d love to hear more!

Engage Students in Baseball’s Opening Day

Take me out to the ballgame because it’s Opening Day! Cracker jacks, popcorn, and hotdogs are aplenty and with the start of baseball season, spring is officially here. Sports fanatics, athletes, and fans will gather at stadiums across the nation for exhibition games and home openers slated to begin today. Get your students involved in baseball fever with these Big Universe e-books!

Baseball E-Books for K-2:

Playing BaseballPlayingBaseball
by Rebecca Gauthier (author), Mehran Herad (illustrator)       © 2012
ISBN: 9781620468074

Readers can make connections between the emotions of the main character and their own experiences. Engaging illustrations exemplify vocabulary such as “mitt” and “swung.”

Baseball
by Holly Karapetkova       © 2010
ISBN: 1595151885   AR: Book Level 5.2  / Points 0.5  / Quiz 80644  / Interest Level LG

Young readers will learn about baseball through simple sentences and highly supportive pictures.

Baseball E-Books for 3-5:

History of BaseballHistoryofBaseball
by Dona Herweck Rice
ISBN: 9780743989640

Batter up and explore the comprehensive history of America’s favorite pastime—baseball! This fun book features baseball’s timeline, which follows the evolution of the baseball official rules through time. Also addressed are the first African American and Women’s baseball leagues. Photos will keep readers engaged and vocabulary related to the game and its history is provided.

Science at Work in Baseball
by Richard Hantula (author)       © 2012
ISBN: 9781608707324

Readers learn how scientific principles come into play with sports.

Baseball E-Books for 6-8:

Baseball: The Great American Game: The Story of the New York YankeesYankees
by Michael E. Goodman (author)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781566600194

The history of the New York Yankees professional baseball team from its inaugural 1903 season to today, spotlighting the team’s greatest players and most memorable moments.

Baseball: The Great American Game: The Story of the Los Angeles Dodgers
by Nate LeBoutillier (author)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781566600156

The history of the Los Angeles Dodgers professional baseball team from its inaugural 1890 season in Brooklyn to today, spotlighting the team’s greatest players and most memorable moments.

Baseball: The Great American Game: The Story of the Atlanta BravesBraves
by Michael E. Goodman (author)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781566600026

The history of the Atlanta Braves professional baseball team from its inaugural 1876 season in Boston to today, spotlighting the team’s greatest players and most memorable moments.

Baseball: The Great American Game: The Story of the Boston Red Sox
by Michael E. Goodman (author)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781566600040

The history of the Boston Red Sox professional baseball team from its inaugural 1901 season to today, spotlighting the team’s greatest players and most memorable moments.

Baseball: The Great American Game: The Story of the Chicago CubsCubs
by Sara Gilbert (author)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781566600057   AR: / Points 0.0  / Quiz 0

The history of the Chicago Cubs professional baseball team from its inaugural 1876 season to today, spotlighting the team’s greatest players and most memorable moments.

 

Teacher’s Note: There are countless Baseball: The Great American Game books. Find one for your local home team!

Baseball in the Classroom

Does your city gather support around your local baseball team? How will you incorporate baseball and Opening Day into your reading curriculum?

Writing Prompt: Superman April Fool’s Day

writing prompts for 2014.036

Lesson Idea: Diary of a Pet Turkey

As a gifted teacher, I am always looking for ways to stretch my own mind, as well as the minds of my students. But, if I’m being honest, it’s sometimes difficult to manage to do that while keeping them motivated, interested, and engaged. Plus, I want to be excited about what I am teaching, too!

A few weeks ago, we began studying the book Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The historical fiction novel surrounds three unlikely friends during the strikes and tragedies of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  Going into this book, I knew it would be a prime opportunity to discuss the concept of “symbols” with my sixth graders. Students documented symbols throughout the novel and ultimately chose one to stick with. This is where Big Universe’s Diary of a Pet Turkey comes in.

I read the picture book about Magic Marker the pet turkey to the class as a whole group using my projector. We discussed the features of the book noting that the turkey is telling the story (a great way to insert a mini-lesson about point of view), and that the book adds facts about turkeys throughout it. For example, when Magic Marker flies, she can’t go very far. On that same page, there is a fact about turkeys’ abilities to fly. We then applied this same concept to our Uprising symbols.

Students created “Diary of a Symbol” picture books inspired by Diary of a Pet Turkey. Their books contained a creatively written story from the point of view of their chosen symbol, but also included factual information about the Triangle Fire and immigrant life during the 1900s. The books turned out beautifully!

Uprising2

 (diary of blood)

Uprising2_

(diary of money)

Remember that older kids adore picture books just as much as younger students, and there are plenty of ways to incorporate them into your classroom instruction. How can you use Diary of a Pet Turkey with your own students?

E-Books to Engage Your Students in March Madness

March Madness is in full swing. As underdog teams compete against the best of the best, the entire event becomes more and more newsworthy by the play. Students are bound to be glued to the televisions with their families and friends as the basketball drama unfolds over the next few weeks. Use this current event as a way to get your reluctant readers excited and inspired by basketball. Big Universe offers several options for readers of all ages!

Basketball e-Books for Grades 3-5

Basketballbasketball
by Ray McClellan       © 2010
ISBN: 9781600142796   AR: Book Level 3.9  / Points 0.5  / Quiz 131699  / Interest Level LG

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world. Players must dribble, jump, defend, and shoot their way to victory. Children will learn the history, rules, and equipment needed to play this fast-paced sport.

Basketball e-Books for Grades 6-8

Long Shotlongshot
by Timothy Tocher (author)       © 2001
ISBN: 9780689843310

When 11-year-old Laurie Bird Preston learns her dad has accepted a new job in another town, she’s disappointed and angry. Not only will Laurie have to leave her best friend, Christy, and her position on the middle-school basketball team, but she’ll also have to make new friends in a new school and play for a new basketball team. Timothy Tocher’s compelling series of sports books for girls ages 6-13 deal with sports action on the field and emotional issues off the field.

Science at Work in Basketballscienceatwork
by Richard Hantula (author)       © 2012
ISBN: 9781608707331

Readers learn how scientific principles come into play with sports.

 

Basketballbasketballolder
by Drew Silverman (author)       © 2012
ISBN: 9781614787112   AR: / Points 1.0

Best Sport Ever: Basketball takes readers from the beginnings of basketball to present day with a focus on the legends, the amazing stories, and the unique characteristics that make the sport great. Discover the game Dr. James Naismith invented in 1891, the equipment used in the game then and now, the thrill of the first slam dunk, and the achievements of Michael Jordan, Jumping Joe” Fulks, Babe Didrikson, the Dream Team, and so many others in this amazing overview of the Best Sport Ever: Basketball! Through colorful descriptions, a glossary, additional resources, engaging sidebars that go “beyond the basics” into advanced skills and health benefits, and more, the Best Sport Ever series is a can’t miss for today’s sports fan. SportsZone is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.

Basketball e-Books for High School

The Easy Wayeasyway
by Eleanor Robins (author)       © 2011
ISBN: 9781602919556

Meet the students of Carter High- they are a diverse group of teens from a variety of backgrounds. Each paperback book features a character embroiled in a typical high school dilemma. Topics are involving and pertinent to young adult readers: romance, sports, friendship, exams, work, family. In just 48-pages, even your least motivated readers can easily finish. Laine is the best shooter on the girls’ basketball team, but she only wants to do what she’s good at. Laine doesn’t want to work hard at sports or school. Laine is fortunate to have three friends who help her understand the value of working hard to achieve your goals.

A Second Shotsecondshot
by Alex Kuskowski (author)       © 2011
ISBN: 9781612472508

Finding the “right book” for struggling learners is essential to build both confidence and proficiency. Reading supports must be seamless, so that struggling readers are not stigmatized. The District 13 series does just that—written using carefully chosen vocabulary and simple sentences, the novels offer compelling teen stories about characters that interest young adult readers. Using sports as a backdrop, these edgy and mature titles confront issues that are of great importance to urban teens, especially teenaged boys: Coming of age, dating, fitting in, friendships, drugs, self-esteem, and school. Straightforward plots move readers through the 48-pages of text quickly and efficiently with satisfying resolutions. Synopsis: Wallace was worried. This was nothing like at his old school. He wasn’t giving up basketball. Not for bullies. Not for anyone. He messed up at his old school. This was his last shot. He’d just have to watch his back.

Falling Out of PlaceFalling
by M.G. Higgins (author)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781612476643

Gabby Herrera is not like her perfect sister, Celia—straight-A student, obedient, responsible. Her parents don’t get it. They don’t get er C-average report card. Her love for basketball. “The three of them think anything is possible if you just try hard enough. Well, I’ve tried. It’s not possible.” She can’t be who she is unless she is just like them. And if she’s not like them, she’s not a real person. She’s a broken person. A broken Herrera. And that is unacceptable.

Basketball in the Classroom

I always loved to do Sweet 16 brackets with my kids and our class’s favorite books. It was always a fun and friendly competition. How are you having fun with March Madness in your classroom?

Preparing for Standardized Tests

As spring break approaches and the school year comes to a close, students and teachers across the nation begin to prepare for testing season. Testing season is the time of year in which students and teachers alike start reviewing everything from content knowledge to test-taking strategies. Number two pencils abound, and there are scantrons aplenty. While students are definitely used to this week of tireless thinking, giving them the right tools they need to succeed can only improve their comfort with the material.

Big Universe offers a number of test preparation materials as well as brain break picture books to help ease testing anxiety. Use the test prep manuals with your students yet calm their fears with a picture book fit for kids of all ages.

The Big TestBigTest
by Julie Danneberg (author), Judy Love (illustrator) (illustrator)       © 2011
ISBN: 9781580893619   AR: Book Level 3.1  / Quiz 144023

Mrs. Hartwell is preparing her class to take the Big Test. Knowing they have studied and are well-prepared, she helps the students practice how to sit quietly, fill in the bubbles, and follow the directions. She even instructs them on proper morning-of-the-test nutrition. As her students grow increasingly anxious about the Big Test, Mrs. Hartwell realizes she has to teach the most valuable test-taking skill of all: learning to relax!

Teaching Note: I especially love the idea of reading this book with big kids the day before their exams. Give them an opportunity to discuss their qualms with the test or simply pacify their concerns with a light-hearted read like this. It’s a perfect addition for whole-group discussion.

Standardized Test Prep 1TestPrep1
by Frishman Co. (author)       © 2003
ISBN: 9781602915084

The reproducible activities in this series prepare students to take assessments in reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies. The exercises have tips on how to approach various types of problems and provide step-by-step examples, helping the anxious test-taker gain confidence. Easier activities in the first title lead to more challenging activities in the second. The Enhanced eBook edition available gives you the freedom to cut and paste any portion of the text into your own document; to project the eBook contents on a whiteboard; and more! Topics Include: multiple meaning words, prefixes, main idea, predicting outcomes, area, volume, mass, ecosystems, energy, and more…

Standardized Test Prep 2TestPrep2
by Frishman Co. (author)       © 2003
ISBN: 9781602915091

The reproducible activities in this series prepare students to take assessments in reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies. The exercises have tips on how to approach various types of problems and provide step-by-step examples, helping the anxious test-taker gain confidence. Easier activities in the first title lead to more challenging activities in the second. The Enhanced eBook edition available gives you the freedom to cut and paste any portion of the text into your own document; to project the eBook contents on a whiteboard; and more! Topics Include: using context clues, plot summary, making inferences, combining sentences, correcting fragments, estimation, operations, and more…

Preparing for Standardized Tests in the Classroom

What are some ways that you prepare your students for state and national standardized tests? What do you find helps to calm their fears?

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