Once upon a time: a Fairy Tale Discussion

Pupils In Class Using Digital Tablet With Teacher

I recently began teaching a novel study with my fourth grade students.  As I was selecting the novel, I was amazed at how many novels make references to fairy tales and folk tales.  In the common core standards, it includes these types of stories in Kindergarten thru Fifth grade.  No wonder!  For second grade, the only fairy tale they refer to is Cinderella.  However, there are other stories you could use with your students.

There are many ways to introduce and encourage students to learn about other cultures using familiar and unfamiliar tales.  Whether you are using it as a stand alone unit or integrating into a novel study, your students will enjoy it. Fairy tales are a great way to engage your students.

1. Read the original version of the Fairy tale.

2. Read a twisted tale.

3. Read a version from an other country.

4. Discuss similarities and differences.

5. Explore other tales and make a list of the versions.

6. Have students write their own twisted tales.

Sample: Little Red Riding Hood

1. Original

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Little Red Riding Hood

**This is a read a loud** in Big Universe. From the publisher, “A classic tale of a little girl who doesn’t heed her mother’s warnings about talking to strangers and ends up in great danger.”

2. Twisted

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Isabel and the Hungry Coyote

From the publisher, “A little girl on her way to Grandma’s house. A basket of goodies. A lurking scoundrel. Sound familiar? Yes, but this time, the Chihuahua Desert of the American southwest is the setting for a spiced-up retelling of the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” story. Spunky Isabel outwits the cunning coyote with self-reliance and daring. Fiery tamales and chili sauce are the villain’s downfall.”

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Little Red Riding Hood

This is a rhyming twist on the tale of Red Riding Hood. All the animals are discovering that food is missing and all they see is a red blur as they try to unravel the mystery of who could be doing this. When they arrive at Little Red’s house they determine it was her and she was feeding wolf pups with the food she had taken because they had no mother. Astonished, because wolves were their enemies, they decide to transport the tiny wolf pups to Yellowstone.

3. Another Country

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Little Ruth Reddingford and the Wolf

From the publisher, “Children are sure to enjoy this lively new rendition of an age-old classic. Little Ruth Reddingford loves visiting her grandmother. So when Grandma can’t pick her up for their weekly visit, Red packs a basketful of goodies and sets off on her own. Taking a shortcut through the woods, she is confronted by menacing bullies. The ensuing adventure takes a surprising twist, as Red discovers the power of her Native American heritage and makes an unusual new friend. Hank Wesselman’s imaginative storytelling and Raquel Abreu’s striking illustrations bring this familiar tale vibrantly to life.”

Your students will not only learn more about this genre, but see how we reference these types of stories in other types of literature including novels.

Sample Connection to Common Core for Second Grade.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.9
Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.

How Schools Can Prepare Students For The Summer Months

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Preparing For Summer In Advance Increases Students’ Information Retention

The spring is an excellent time for schools to prepare for the summer months. Vacation offers students an opportunity to explore their community, engage in outdoor exercise, visit the local library and foster a life-long love of reading!

Have a School-Wide Summer Reading Contest

Educational institutions can cultivate a love of reading by having a summer reading contest! Schools can provide reading logs to children. Students that return the completed log can earn sensational prizes and rewards. Schools can have a reading rewards assemblies and post the names of the students who read the most pages on the reading honor roll in a display case! Top readers can get a certificate of reading achievement.

Send a List of Local Libraries and Museums to Families

Students can expand their content and cultural knowledge by visiting museums in their community. Schools can provide kids and teens with a summer exploration passport and a list of local museums. Children can collect brochures and information from museums, exhibits and events. Places can stamp the passports. Kids can bring the passports and resources to school and share them for summer-show-and-tell!

Utilize Online Programs To Engage Students In Learning During the Summer

Youngsters and teens are tech savvy! Engage the brain by making an online learning a daily activity. Kids of all ages can read online books. They can document these books on these book logs, too! Kids and teens can become math wizards by visiting the Khan Academy online math institute each day.

Foster Writing Skills Through Summer Vacation Logs, Diaries and Letters

Summer lends itself to outdoor excursions, travel, new activities and fond memories. Exciting and engaging experiences can be documented in a diary, travel log or vacation photo book. People like to write about things they can share with others and revisit at a later date.

Put Postcards on The Map

Vacation goers can send postcards and friendly letters to friends, relatives and their school. The school can hang a gigantic map where they can display the postcards from the students and teachers. Kids and adults will love to visit this map! This teaches student important geography skills as well as gives them a reason to write.

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Brilliant Reads

Readers have the opportunity to enjoy these informational, nonfiction and fiction texts. Sharing these books is an excellent way to get students excited about reading. These books offer a great opportunity to enrich student’s vocabulary and content knowledge. Big Universe offers hundreds of titles in many different languages on thousands of topics. Find these informational and engaging texts at www.biguniverse.com.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.57.41 AMThe Twelve Days of Summer

Patterned on the popular carol, The Twelve Days of Summer takes readers on a joyous journey into summer, from the first discovery of three eggs in a sparrow’s nest to the day when those eggs hatch. Readers will pore over the pictures, searching for that fifth bumblebee, that tenth crow, and for the thoughtfully chosen toy that turns up on each page: a parachute with the goatsbeard seeds, a fan with the ruffed grouse. This is a story to delight and engage children and adults alike.

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5 steps to forming a D.E.A.R. habit

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To instill a love of reading is the longest lasting gift a teacher can give students. Those who love to read remain curious and engaged lifelong learners. One way to develop this love and also the habit of regular reading is by including D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read aka Sustained Silent Reading) in the classroom routine.

D.E.A.R. is a time that is meant to nurture a love of reading and the written word and as such, choice of what to read is of utmost importance. Children should be encouraged to read from any genre (yes comics and graphic novels are perfectly acceptable) and even at a lower reading level,  if they wish. The idea is not to use D.E.A.R. to improve a child’s reading level or challenge them; the idea is that students enjoy what they read, look forward to reading and get in the habit of reading.

D.E.A.R. is the practice of pleasure reading.

5 things that make the D.E.A.R. habit a success

  •  Choice – Remember students read what they like!Reading is empowering and having choice of what to read only adds to that sense. During the drop everything and read period all genres or formats should be welcomed. The first step to addressing this is to ensure that the school has a school library full of quality material that is properly staffed. Teachers can then use school library and other materials to create a comprehensive classroom library that is well stocked with reading materials, including newspapers, magazines, leveled books, displays of student work, environmental print, resource books, school computers and software to support a reading program. Providing at least 15 books per pupil is considered optimal for students to have a choice.

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  • Sharing – Sharing gives students a chance to exchange suggestions, ask questions and find new things to read. Make time for students to share what they are reading with their classmates. Take a minute or two at the beginning or end of each session to let students share with their neighbor or perhaps have more formal book circles once every week or so that last for the entire period. Another way to facilitate sharing is by simply walking around and asking “out loud” questions about a book that is being read by one of the students.

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  • Exposure – Keeping a wide variety of books and other reading materials for students to choose from allows them to discover genres and formats that they otherwise may never have considered or thought they would enjoy. Having a wide selection of  books and other materials that the students may not pick up on their own is a good way to pique curiosity about authors, genres and formats that students may have preconceived notions about or be unfamiliar with. It’s also a good way to encourage new lines of thoughts or pose thought provoking questions. And yes, if the titles are selected with thought, students will try new things.

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  • Read aloud – Share favorite stories, poems, or even newspaper or magazine articles that are interesting with the class. Reading out loud is another great way to expose students to a wide variety of genres and writing styles. Use reading selections to spark conversations not only about the content and themes found in the writing but also other literary devices used by the author. Reading out loud to students also supports the practice of listening skills, which is far too often ignored in the older grades outside of the context of lectures.

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  • Modeling – As the saying goes, showing is better than telling; so make sure that students see that the teachers engaged in sustained silent reading time as well.                               Modeling behavior is very important to the success of D.E.A.R. Why expect students to do things teachers aren’t? And just like students, teachers benefit from the time to relax and read something chosen, Introduce even more authors, genres and styles to the classroom by bringing in personal favorites. Surprise your class, bring in that favorite old comic or book of poetry and enjoy!

woman-reading

Big Universe is an amazing resource for programs like D.E.A.R! Big Universe gives teachers and students 24/7 access to a classroom library of thousands of quality books to choose from covering a wide range of genres and full range of reading levels so that everyone can find a “just right” book.  Plus, Big Universe makes it easy for students to keep track of and share what they are reading with others.

Related Big Universe Blog Posts:

Kicking Off I Love to Read Month

Curling Up with a Good Book : Snow day Suggestions

The Importance of Pleasure Reading

Feast on Some Good Reads

Tips for Getting Kids Hooked On Reading…for Life!

Developing Successful Readers

Other Resources

Official D.E.A.R. website

Teaching Students About Current Events-The News, and Online Informational Text

Students Benefit From Learning About World Events

newspaper

The Common Core State Standards require students to read informational text. The news is often a free resource for students. They can find it online or on television. Some local newspapers will even donate free copies for every person in the classroom!

Current Events In The Classroom

Want giggling and wiggling of all age groups? Employ current events in the classroom. The brain loves novelty and the news has novel information each day.

Incorporating current events into the curriculum helps learners to:

  • comprehend the importance of local, and national and world news
  • spark interest in people and events
  • build language and vocabulary
  • practice reading comprehension, critical thinking, and  problem-solving skills
  • utilize close reading, when needed
  • gain oral expression and listening skills
  • read informational text for learning
  • pay attention to the news they see and hear outside of school
  • view the clear and concise style of news writing

Hands-on Learning Using The Newspaper

Ask your students to find examples in their newspapers of the following terms. Kids can use traditional newspapers or online news.

They can make a poster with examples of each.

  • Headlines
  • News stories (world, national, state and local)
  • Business
  • Advertisements
  • Byline columns
  • Editorials
  • Wire photos
  • Reviews (restaurants, movie, book, etc.)
  • Education
  • Local photos
  • Human interest stories

Website For Student News and Media Vocabulary

A source for student news is www.studentnewsdaily.com  

Excerpt and vocabulary list taken from http://www.studentnewsdaily.com/media-vocabulary/

NEWS a report of a recent event; what is reported about a recent event or events
NEWS SERVICES news companies that have their own reporters. They sell their articles to the media.  Associated Press (AP), United Press International (UPI) and Reuters are the top three news services used in the U.S.
THE MEDIA all the means of mass communication (newspapers, TV, radio, websites, magazines)
EDITOR the head of a news organization; person who chooses the articles that will be printed each day
COLUMNIST a person who writes a regular (daily or weekly) article for a newspaper or magazine, such as a political columnist or a sports columnist
REPORTER a person who gathers and reports news for a news organization
JOURNALIST a person who writes articles for a news organization
CORRESPONDENT a person employed by a news organization to gather, report, or contribute news, articles, etc., regularly from a distant place
THE PRESS all the media and agencies that print, broadcast, or gather and transmit news
SOURCE someone who gives a reporter information; a supplier of information
EYEWITNESS a person who sees an occurrence with his own eyes and is able to give a firsthand account of it
OMBUDSMAN /
PUBLIC EDITOR
a neutral individual employed by a news organization to receive, investigate, report on and (in some instances) resolve reader or viewer complaints against a news organization
ARTICLE a story based on the facts
STORY a news article or report
FRONT PAGE the first page of a paper, usually carrying the most important story
FEATURE a special or regular article, usually displayed prominently
COLUMN a regular article or feature in a newspaper or magazine
HEADLINE title of any newspaper article
CAPTION a sentence or phrase under a picture to identify or describe the picture
EDITORIAL article written by the editor giving his opinion on a problem or event
OPINION a person’s thoughts about a particular subject; a subjective point of view
LIBEL a lie that causes damage (misrepresents damagingly)
SLANDER a false report maliciously uttered and tending to injure the reputation of a person
BIAS when an editor or reporter expresses a personal point of view in a news article or in a series of articles
OBJECTIVE not affected by personal feelings or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased
SUBJECTIVE based on personal feelings
PLAGIARIZE to put forth as original to oneself the ideas or words of another
ETHICAL pertaining to or dealing with morals; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct
INTEGRITY soundness or moral character; honesty
CREDIBLE believable; worthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy
NEWS a report of a recent event; what is reported about a recent event or events
NEWS SERVICES news companies that have their own reporters. They sell their articles to the media.  Associated Press (AP), United Press International (UPI) and Reuters are the top three news services used in the U.S.
THE MEDIA all the means of mass communication (newspapers, TV, radio, websites, magazines)
EDITOR the head of a news organization; person who chooses the articles that will be printed each day
COLUMNIST a person who writes a regular (daily or weekly) article for a newspaper or magazine, such as a political columnist or a sports columnist
REPORTER a person who gathers and reports news for a news organization
JOURNALIST a person who writes articles for a news organization
CORRESPONDENT a person employed by a news organization to gather, report, or contribute news, articles, etc., regularly from a distant place
THE PRESS all the media and agencies that print, broadcast, or gather and transmit news
SOURCE someone who gives a reporter information; a supplier of information
EYEWITNESS a person who sees an occurrence with his own eyes and is able to give a firsthand account of it
OMBUDSMAN /
PUBLIC EDITOR
a neutral individual employed by a news organization to receive, investigate, report on and (in some instances) resolve reader or viewer complaints against a news organization
ARTICLE a story based on the facts
STORY a news article or report
FRONT PAGE the first page of a paper, usually carrying the most important story
FEATURE a special or regular article, usually displayed prominently
COLUMN a regular article or feature in a newspaper or magazine
HEADLINE title of any newspaper article
CAPTION a sentence or phrase under a picture to identify or describe the picture
EDITORIAL article written by the editor giving his opinion on a problem or event
OPINION a person’s thoughts about a particular subject; a subjective point of view
LIBEL a lie that causes damage (misrepresents damagingly)
SLANDER a false report maliciously uttered and tending to injure the reputation of a person
BIAS when an editor or reporter expresses a personal point of view in a news article or in a series of articles
OBJECTIVE not affected by personal feelings or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased
SUBJECTIVE based on personal feelings
PLAGIARIZE to put forth as original to oneself the ideas or words of another
ETHICAL pertaining to or dealing with morals; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct
INTEGRITY soundness or moral character; honesty
CREDIBLE believable; worthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy

Use Online Texts To Help Engage Students

computer books

Image courtesy of “Internet Library” by jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Readers have the opportunity to enjoy these informational, nonfiction and fiction texts. Sharing these books is an excellent way to get students excited about reading. These books offer a great opportunity to enrich student’s vocabulary and content knowledge. Big Universe offers hundreds of titles in many different languages on thousands of topics. Find these informational and engaging texts at www.biguniverse.com.

mediumMedia Meltdown: A Graphic Guide Adventure

Pema, Bounce and Jagroop are battling a greedy developer for control of the airwaves. When Karl Reed, Owner of Oasis Developments, tries to force the sale of a local fruit farm—through whatever means necessary—Pema, Bounce and Jagroop decide to expose him through the media. Little do they realize that when it comes to the news and the advertisers who make it possible, the truth is not always part of the story and nothing can be taken at face value. While learning about media consolidation and the power of money over truth, Bounce, Pema and Jagroop decide to take on the developers and the media.

medium-2Built for Success: The Story of CNN

A look at the origins, leaders, growth, and innovations of CNN, the cable news channel that was founded in 1980 and today is one of the world’s leading 24-hour television news networks. 

ONLINE BOOKS AND INSTRUCTIONAL GUIDES

nonfiction books

Educators and parents can utilize these helpful teacher’s guides to help with planning instructional lessons. These content-rich planning guides include engaging ideas to assist with informational text and current events. Online books offer a great opportunity to enrich student’s vocabulary and content knowledge. Big Universe offers hundreds of titles in many different languages on thousands of topics. Find these informational and engaging texts at www.biguniverse.com.

medium-1Using Technology, Information, and Media-Book T

Thirty-six activities and lessons (Lessons 37-72) teach students information literacy, understand how the information is organized, identify the best sources of information for a given need, locate those sources, evaluate the sources critically, and share that information. Includes: Defining Types of Information; Sharing Information; Defining Media; Creating Newsletters; Defining Technology; Blogging. 16 graphic organizers & assessments.

The Common Core State Standards and Citing Evidence From The Text

 

Close Reading Is Important When Citing Evidence From The Text

read conferencesThere is a focus on text-based answers that require students to carefully read and examine the text. Using the Common Core State Standards, the CCSS, we teach students to use closely read to understand complex text.

Students are taught to answer text-dependent questions. Students are required to think about the text and understand what they are reading. When teachers teach close reading they give students skills that help students comprehend text throughout their lifetime.

Explicit instruction in finding evidence in informational texts helps students to become college and career ready.

Close reading gives readers the opportunity to interpret difficult text passages. Students may even read the text at a slower rate to examine the text so that they can better understand it. Readers can highlight important points in the text with a highlighting marker or a light colored crayon. This helps readers to find evidence in the text.

Text Based Questions and Answers

There is a focus on text-based answers that require students to carefully read and examine the text. Using the Common Core State Standards we teach students to closely read to understand complex text.

Use these strategies to help students find evidence in the text is key to student’s academic and career success.

  • Close reading
  • Discussion to help readers analyze the text
  • Sentence stems to help students cite textual evidence
  • Explicit instruction in academic vocabulary
  • Regular practice in reading complex text

How To Browse Prior To Reading

Prior to reading the text:

  •  Browse the content
  •  Scan the text
  • Get a general overview of the text
  • Review important information such as headings, bold text, captions, italics, pictures, icons
  • Note any unfamiliar vocabulary

Important Points About Citing Evidence From The Text

  • It requires regular practice with nonfiction text.
  • Highlighting key points on the text can be used as a scaffold.
  • Making notes on the text can help students to better understand it.

The Common Core State Standards and Citing Textual Evidence

Close reading helps students to find and cite evidence from the text.

Students can answer text-dependent questions using these techniques.

Citing textual evidence helps students to comprehend informational and complex text.

In college and careers, almost all of the text that people encounter is informational text. Students need strategies to unpack the text.

Online Books That Help With Text Comprehension

nonfiction books

Students enjoy reading texts online. Many titles also include quizzes for comprehension. These online books offer a great opportunity to enrich student’s vocabulary and content knowledge. Big Universe offers hundreds of titles in many different languages on thousands of topics. Find these informational and engaging texts at www.biguniverse.com.

thumb@2xFossils

By Sue Byers (author), Justin R Craig (illustrator)

Readers discover how fossils are made and what might be learned from them. There are many opportunities to find detailed evidence within the text and to keep readers engaged.

 

 

For more information about citing evidence from the text read

http://blog.biguniverse.com/2015/03/01/citing-evidenc…mic-vocabulary/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry

girl-reading-poetry

“I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference”, wrote poet Robert Frost in his iconic poem, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” and so to using poetry throughout the curriculum can make all the difference in how students learn and retain their lessons. Unfortunately, the norm for poetry in the classroom is the lone poetry unit tucked neatly into the Language Arts curriculum- sometime in April – during National Poetry Month. The unit emphasis leans heavily towards interpretation, structure and rules of traditional styles like rhyming couplets, quatrains and haiku. And when the unit is over, the poetry is gone as well.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are three areas that can be used to weave poetry throughout the entire curriculum!

Reading and Writing Verse: Poetry in the Language Arts

Reading

Poetry is good for learning to read. Rhymes, rhythms, repetition, intonations, flow and a sense of the imagination all help students become better readers. Whether with native speakers or ELL students, the regular inclusion of poetry in reading lessons has real benefits.

 GigglePoetry_ReadingLessonsAmy Buswell & Bruce Lansky (author), Stephen Carpenter (illustrator)    ISBN: 9781476742946
Amy Buswell and Bruce Lansky’s Giggle Poetry Reading Lessons turn struggling readers into happy readers. Many struggling readers are embarrassed to read aloud. They are often intimidated or bored by texts that conventional programs require them to practice. So, instead of catching up, they fall further behind. Currently 67% of American fourth graders cant read grade-level text. Reading specialist Amy Buswell has spent eight years looking for remediation methods that work. What is needed, Buswell explains, is a program that improves the motivation of struggling readers, because that accounts for 90% of the problem. Four years ago, Buswell came up with a brainstorm. She knew her best readers enjoyed reading Bruce Lansky’s poetry books for pleasure. The more poems they read, the better the reading got. Why not use Lansky’s kid-tested poems as texts struggling readers could practice on to improve their reading using six research-based strategies: choral reading, echo reading, paired reading, repeated reading, sustained silent reading and say it like the character reading. This book is the result of that brainstorm and the resulting collaboration between Buswell and Lansky. It gives teachers and parents everything they need to help children improve their reading: -35 kid-tested poems by Bruce Lansky -35 customized reading lessons by Amy Buswell -35 off-the-wall illustrations by Stephen Carpenter -35 sets of zany performance tips by Bruce Lansky all of which is designed to make the process of reading improvement more like fun than work. What Amy Buswell and Bruce Lansky have created is the most entertaining fluency intervention ever. That’s why it is so successful at overcoming negative attitudes to improve reading skills and scores. Ninety-five percent of participating students made significant improvement in their fluency (reading rate). And average reading scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) for Buswell’s school raised her schools rating to an A for the first time. In 2011, Buswell’s school achieved one of the highest-percentage reading gains in the county. There’s no reason parents can’t get in on the fun, too. Parents will enjoy Lansky’s funny poems and Stephen Carpenters delightful illustrations as much as their children. By reading the poems with their children and encouraging their children to try some of Lansky’s entertaining performance tips (by adding gestures, sound effects, props and finding additional readers: be they friends, family or neighbors), they can dramatically speed up their child’s reading progress (and have lots of fun in the process.)

Writing

Have student’s write poetry to practice for other types of more structured writing by allowing them to more freely expressing themselves. Poetry will also help students to order their thoughts, practice idiom, metaphor, alliteration, assonance and other features of the English language. These exercises are simple; yet can be very freeing and an important creative outlet, especially if the poems are written in prose or one of the simply structured poetry formats like haiku. The assignment can be stretched to cover technology and digital literacy lessons as well by using the writing platform on BigUniverse.com to compose, illustrate, animate and publish students their poetry.

  Big Universe_WritingTab

Poetry in Numbers – Teaching Math

Pairing poetry with math is not necessarily intuitive. Learning math requires number fluency and learning math-specific vocabulary. Use poetry to teach vocabulary and the concepts of mathematics to even the youngest students. For example, share Sort it Out, the rhyming story of a mouse who needs to sort his collection of found objects to help students learn about grouping.

sortitout Sort it Out Barbara Mariconda (author)
Sherry Rogers (illustrator) ISBN: 9781607180302
Packy the Packrat’s mother has had enough! It’s time that he sorts through his ever-growing collection of trinkets and puts them away. Told in rhyme, the text leads the reader to participate in the sorting process by categorizing Packy’s piles of things according to like characteristics and attributes. The story promotes and reinforces analogous thinking–a critical thinking skill in math, science, and life. In the “For Creative Minds” education section at the back of the book, the reader can explore even more attributes and characteristics of objects, including color, size, texture, shape, and material.

Blinded Me With Science – Teaching Science

Sciences comes with specialized vocabularies and methodologies just like math. And just as poetry is great for teaching new ideas in mathematics, it also works when teaching science.  For example whens studying animal habitats; use poetry to teach about different ecosystems. Two great examples of poems to share are the award winning, The Rainforest Grew All Around by Susan K. Mitchell or Deep in the Desert by Rhonda Lucas Donald.  Or help students connect with new science concepts and vocabularies by challenging them to compose poems using the new ideas.

desert Deep in the Desert Rhonda Lucas Donald (author)
Sherry Neidigh (illustrator) ISBN: 9781607181453
Catchy desert twists on traditional children’s songs and poems will have children chiming in about cactuses, camels, and more as they learn about the desert habitat and its flora and fauna. Tarkawara hops on the desert sand instead of a kookaburra sitting in an old gum tree. And teapots aren’t the only things that are short and stout–just look at the javelina’s hooves and snout. Travel the world’s deserts to dig with meerkats, fly with bats, and hiss with Gila monsters! Whether sung or read aloud, Deep in the Desert makes learning about deserts anything but dry.
rainforest The Rainforest Grew All Around by Susan K. Mitchell
SBN: 9781607180173
Imaginations will soar from the forest floor, up through the canopy and back down again, following the circle of life in this clever adaptation of the song “The Green Grass Grew All Around.” The jungle comes alive as children learn about a wide variety of the animals (jaguars, emerald tree boas, leafcutter ants, sloths, poison dart frogs, toucans, and bats) and plants (kapok trees, liana vines, and bromeliads) living in the lush Amazon rainforest. Delve even deeper into the jungle using sidebars and the three-page “For Creative Minds” educational section.

Take a trip on the road less traveled and use poetry throughout the lesson plans.  It will make all the difference.

 

Sweet Resources to Help you Celebrate “Pi” day

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Pi is the mathematical term to describe the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

Pi is 3.14159

You can celebrate pi day on March 14th of any year, but 2015 is extra special. You can start your festivities at 9am. It’s a jammed packed mathematical day!

Ways you can celebrate PI day in your classroom

1. Read math themed books 2. Memorize PI 3. Make a PIE and discuss diameter and why it’s needed
4. Play math related games 5. Do physical activities (walk a combined distance of 3.14) 6. Write a poem about PI

Big Universe Resources

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Archimedes: Ancient Greek Mathematician

From the publisher, “Modern life would be very different without the ideas of brilliant Greek scholar Archimedes. From the simple lever to complicated machines, his work in mathematics, physics, engineering, and astronomy helped to shape the world we live in today. Few thinkers of any time period have had as big an impact on math and science as the genius Archimedes. Learn the story of one of the most important mathematic thinkers of all time in Archimedes: Ancient Greek Mathematician.”

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Leo and the Circles (US)

Gerry Bailey and Felicia Law (author), Mike Phillips (illustrator)  ISBN: 9781909711075   © 2012

For your younger students, learning about circles is a great way to participate in Pi day.

Connections to Common Core

Reason with shapes and their attributes. (Grade 1)

CCSS.Math.Content.1.G.A.1
Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.
CCSS.Math.Content.1.G.A.2
Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.1
CCSS.Math.Content.1.G.A.3
Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, fourths, and quarters, and use the phrases half of, fourth of, and quarter of. Describe the whole as two of, or four of the shares. Understand for these examples that decomposing into more equal shares creates smaller shares.

Know that there are numbers that are not rational, and approximate them by rational numbers. (8th Grade)

CCSS.Math.Content.8.NS.A.1
Know that numbers that are not rational are called irrational. Understand informally that every number has a decimal expansion; for rational numbers show that the decimal expansion repeats eventually, and convert a decimal expansion which repeats eventually into a rational number.
CCSS.Math.Content.8.NS.A.2
Use rational approximations of irrational numbers to compare the size of irrational numbers, locate them approximately on a number line diagram, and estimate the value of expressions (e.g., π2). For example, by truncating the decimal expansion of √2, show that √2 is between 1 and 2, then between 1.4 and 1.5, and explain how to continue on to get better approximations.

Learning from Personal Stories: Biographies in the Classroom

 Biographies

The power of personal stories cannot be denied. Reading biographies helps to provide a human face and a context to ideas, history and concepts outside of students’ personal experience. Unfortunately, biographies are a rarely used resource in the classroom except when introduced as part of genre studies. The variety of biography styles available including popular, historical, children’s, literary, reference, fictional, and even graphic editions also make the genre perfect for multiple learning styles and reading preferences.

Three Ways To Use Biographies In The Classroom

Use in STEM lessons to supplement textbooks

Use biographies to lend context to the history of ideas, concepts and advancements in subjects that are more traditionally taught from textbooks. STEM subjects are a perfect example. Biographies about scientists, mathematicians or those that work in technological fields can help students that are not engaged or struggling in these subjects find a new access point to the subjects. For students who are doing well, reading biographical accounts  add important historical and intellectual context to the lesson and even act as further inspiration. Biographies help students find themselves represented in the context of a subject in a way textbooks do not. This is especially true of students of color and those from underrepresented backgrounds and cultures.

HayatSindi_BrillantBiologist Jill C. Wheeler (author)                                           Hayat Sindi: Brilliant Biochemist

Have students write their own biographies. This works really well at the beginning of the year. Having children write short biographies is not only a good way to gauge their level of writing skills but the stories they share allow the teacher a glimpse into the personal history of the students. Biographies also help the students learn about each other and can expose children to cultures, ideas and families that are different from their own.

With older students who already have practice writing sequential and traditional narrative pieces, try using technology like Big Universe’s writing platform to create personal stories, Incorporating a digital component into the writing exercise will also have students using information in a new ways and help teachers incorporate multiple common core standards into one lesson.

Big Universe_WritingTab

WriteAboutMyLife

Bobbie Aloian (author)

I can write a book about my life     

In this book, children will learn how to write an autobiography, a biography of a family member who has influenced their lives, a memoir of an event or special occasion, or even a creative journal on their possible future lives. Children will learn how to interview people and write and recite narratives. They will learn more about themselves through their wonderful stories.

Sharing Biographies

Biographies are an amazing genre of literature that is valuable resource in teaching. No matter the topic, biographies about the major thinkers, scholars and participants involved help to give the subject a human face. These personal stories provide another access point to the theories, numbers, statistics and facts in whatever subject is being taught and help students gain additional levels of understanding to the material.  Whether teaching children about the past, introducing new ideas and concepts in the STEM curriculum or helping students discover themselves; biographies are an amazing resource for the classroom.

Common Core Connections

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.9
Compare and contrast one author’s presentation of events with that of another (e.g., a memoir written by and a biography on the same person). (Reading)

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.6
With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers. (Writing)

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.3
Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure (Writing)

Resources

eThemes- Writing: Biographies

https://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/997

 Biography Reading & Writing Unit Grade 5: 40 Detailed Lessons with CCSS

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Biography-Reading-Writing-Unit-Grade-5-40-Detailed-Lessons-with-CCSS-425145

Yale University Inspire, Reach and Teach through Biography

http://teachers.yale.edu/curriculum/viewer/initiative_13.03.05_u

Writer’s Workshop: The Biographical Sketch

http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/writers-workshop-biographical-sketch-1039.html

Happy World Read Aloud Day 2015!

big universe device graphic

Less than half of American children are read to each day but just fifteen minutes of reading is enough to build the necessary literacy skills required for success.

In honor of World Read Aloud Day 2015, Big Universe is offering access to our complete library of over 5000 e-books FREE for 30 days:

https://www.biguniverse.com/signup?cc=MARCHSOCIALMEDIA

We are proud to be a part of the worldwide push for better literacy.

Citing Evidence From The Text: Sentence Stems

Comprehension Strategy: Citing Evidence From The Text

Young smiling student using her laptop in a library

Readers should use textual evidence to support answers when reading informational and nonfiction text.

Textual evidence used to support a position when reading and writing. The evidence is gathered from a text. It may include direct quotes and inferences drawn from the text. Educators can provide students with explicit instruction in this researched based strategy. Using sentence stems is an excellent way to practice citing text evidence with students.

How To Use Sentence Stems When Citing Evidence From The Text

  • Teachers should provide direct instruction on the sentence stems. Educators can read a text aloud and demonstrate citing text evidence with the stems.
  • The stems should be visible to the students. They can be charted, listed on a poster, or placed on the overhead or Smartboard.
  • Students should be provided with a copy of the sentence stems.
  • Students can practice using the stems with a text with guided practice. The teacher can monitor their work during this phase to make certain that they are using the stems correctly.
  • As independent practice, kids can work in pairs using the stems to help them cite textual evidence.

Sentence Stems Used To Cite Evidence From The Text

In paragraph _________the narrator states________

Readers can tell that __________________________

This proves__________________

This demonstrates________________

I feel _________because

I think_________because__________

A causal factor was ________ and it is found on page___

An effect was_________

In the text I found____________

An example is_____________

According to the text___________

The picture shows___________

I know_________because____________

The text says__________

For instance__________

One example from the text is___________

Based on the information_________

The graph indicates___________

According to page ______ of the text_______

This incident provides further proof________

One example from the text is_________

The author wrote__________

In the text it states__________

After reading I know____________

On page_____ it states______________

Based on what I read________________

The graphic showed_____________

nonfiction books

Cite Textual Evidence With Online Books

Readers have the opportunity to enjoy these informational and engaging texts. Sharing these books is an excellent way to get students excited about reading. These books offer a great opportunity to enrich student’s vocabulary and content knowledge. Big Universe offers hundreds of titles in many different languages on thousands of topics. Find these informational and engaging texts atwww.biguniverse.com.

mediumFirefighters

Tom Greve (author)

Firefighters are first responders. When someone calls for help, firefighters will often be the first ones to arrive. With more than 350,000 fires in the United States each year, firefighters must be ready at all times of the day and night to protect and save lives, homes, and land from the devastation a fire causes. The rigorous training, dangerous conditions, equipment, and commitment of these brave individuals are all detailed in this book. Next time you hear the roar of a siren, stop and think about these life-saving heroes who protect us every day! This book will allow students to cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

freeclipart appleConnecting To The Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards clearly outline what is expected of students at each grade level, for students in the United States. The Common Core State Standards can be found at www.corestandards.org/

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.1

  • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
  • Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.