Posts Tagged ‘Education’
Dawn Publications is dedicated to inspiring in children a deeper understanding and appreciation for all life on Earth. We aim to help parents and teachers encourage children to bond with the Earth in a relationship of love, respect, and intelligent cooperation, through the books we publish and the educational materials we offer online. Dawn Publications offers books that are perfect for early readers, elementary and middle school students. Most books have been leveled and meet the core English and Science standards. The catalogue from Dawn Publications features books for children and young adults ages 3-16.
We had the chance to sit down with Sandy Philpott, Director of Marketing at Dawn Publications in the latest blog for our Big Universe Publisher Spotlight series.
Big Universe: We’d love to hear about what you’re doing at your company. What are some of the most popular items that you’ve published in the last three years?
Sandy Philpott: Dawn Publications has been connecting children and nature since 1979. Our books catch the attention of children and excite them about discovering the wonders of the natural world. With beautiful illustrations and engaging text, these titles introduce a wide range of natural science, from the Arctic to the rainforest, from honeybees to whales, from the water cycle to the food chain, from the mystery of migration to the magnificence of metamorphosis. Plus for older children there are biographies of environmental heroes, and an award-winning book on the science behind climate change. One of the most popular items published in the past 3 years is In the Tree, Honey Bees not only as core curriculum in schools but also for adults who are becoming more aware of Bees importance.
Big Universe: In looking at the current front list and the upcoming season, are there any specific themes that you’ve focused on in the catalogue?
Sandy Philpott: Most of our themes are focused on nature, animals and our interconnectedness. However, these past few seasons have been dedicated to gardening and healthy eating. Most people recognize that we have a problem in this country with children’s eating habits. So how do we go about convincing children and their parents that eating healthier is worth the effort? Books like What’s in the Garden? , Jo MacDonald Had a Garden and Molly’s Organic Farm can be part of the solution.
Big Universe: Do you have a personal favorite from the current catalog that isn’t getting lots of ‘buzz’? What is it about that book that sets it apart for you?
Amy’s Light is one of my favorite books. It’s realistic digital art taken from real photographs of the author/illustrators daughter, Amy and the beautiful poetic style with which he tells the story is what sets it apart. The book trailer will give you a real flavor for the book.
Big Universe: What is the book that has been the biggest surprise to you (can be a sleeper, new series that has gone like wildfire, a book that was the cover but not as popular as others, etc.)?
Sandy Philpott: Gobble, Gobble which was released the Fall of 2011 was a real surprise. It outsold every other book that season and ended a recession year on a high
Big Universe: What’s next for your company? Are there changes coming in the following year? Do you have any new series or product lines that you’d like to share with us?
Sandy Philpott: The biggest shift for Dawn Publications is our transition from doing only print books to more and more digital ebooks and apps. Our award-winning and ever popular “Over In” series will have a new book added to the collection this Fall called “Over in a River” – making this book #6 in the series. We will also be working with digital illustrators to create some realistic artwork for books such as Noisy Frog Sing-Along coming Fall of 2013 and Meadow Mouse coming Spring of 2014. These books will work well for translating into ebooks and interactive Apps.
You can view all of the titles from Dawn Publications that are available on Big Universe here.
Graphic organizers are an excellent tool not only for visual learners who struggle with information that is presented in an entirely written form, but also to encourage new ways of thinking in typical students. This is especially the case in writing assignments, where some children are easily frustrated trying to come up with ideas that fit within a given topic. Graphic organizers remove a lot of the words involved in pre-writing and aid in the connection of ideas to text.
The Meet Tadd F. organizer focuses on having students slow down or “downshift” and add details into their writing. The acronym stands for Thoughts, Action, Description, Dialogue, and Feelings. By keeping a small sheet with this acronym at their desk or at home for use with homework assignments, a student can remember not only to add information, but to go back and revise their work.
T = Thoughts
What are you thinking? Or, what is your character thinking?
A = Action
What’s happening in your story? What is the main point?
D = Description
What are you seeing, hearing, feeling, and/or smelling? This requires 2-3 sentences to fully describe the scene.
D = Dialogue
Say something, have a character say something, or have a conversation between characters.
F = Feelings
What are you feeling, or what is your character feeling?
Posted on January 23, 2013 by Marni McNiff in Classroom Ideas, Literacy, Writing.
Tags: brainstorming, brainstorming map, edchat, Education, graphic organizers, k12, Literacy, pre-writing, story ideas, story map, storyboard, storyboarding
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“Writer’s Block” isn’t a term reserved for professional writers. Starting at a blank piece of paper (or computer screen) is daunting for many, especially young writers who may lack confidence in their writing skills. For some, just settling on topic to write about is an obstacle, for others, retrieving relevant details is harder.
Starting with pre-writing activities will provide your students an opportunity to experiment with writing topics and details, within a flexible framework. An important part of generating ideas is not evaluating the ideas as good or bad. As we know, bad ideas can lead to really good ideas, and we want our students to feel good about contributing ideas and allowing them to grow.
Mapping is a graphic organizer used to brainstorm ideas before writing or researching. They facilitate idea development and help students to organize and prioritize details. Here is a sample brainstorm map: http://yourway.net/printables/mind-map-template.pdf
Here’s some suggestions from Big Universe to help your students figure out where to start (topic) and brainstorm details that will become the backbone of their own story.
Creating Your Brainstorming Map
You can begin this as a whole class discussion, using a board or overhead device to illustrate the technique and then ask them to choose a new topic to brainstorm about individually. Here are a few sample topics to get you started:
- Whole Class Discussion: Animals
- Begin with a type of animal in the center of your brainstorming map. Let’s use bears as an example.
- Next, ask your students think about the animal and share details that they may know about bears. Write down suggestions and if they need help, ask them to create some 5 W and H questions:
What does it eat? Where does it live? What color is it? Has the student seen the animal at home or in a zoo?
- As your students fill in the map with everything that comes to mind regarding the animal, remember, this is not a time to evaluate (“that’s a great detail!”) or reject ideas (“we wrote something similar already”). Accept all ideas without judgment because your students will get the opportunity to choose the most relevant and interesting details for themselves.
- After brainstorming is completed, ask your students to group “like” items (and you can use different colored pen/chalk to do this for them).
- Individual Mapping Exercise: Weather
- You can hand out pre-printed, but blank, maps and ask students to work individually. Ask them to begin with one aspect of weather and put that inside the center of the map. Students may choose a weather event, like a tornado or hurricane, or even something as simple as a sunny day. Ask students to share their topics to serve as an example for their classmates.
- Then ask your students expand on their topic. Have they lived in an area with tornadoes or that has had a hurricane? Is there a particular sunny day they’d like to write about? Students should list details on their map as they come to mind.
After your students create their brainstorming map, it’s time to put it into action. Using their map, have the students come up with their story idea that can be supported with the details in the map. Will it be a fictional story about a bear living in a park? Will it be a real-life story about when a tornado hit the area?
A Visual Pre-Writing Activity: Storyboarding
Pre-writing is the next step in the plan to create a story. For young students, it’s important to focus on the three main points of the story: the beginning, middle, and end. Have your students divide a piece of paper into three sections and label them beginning, middle, and end.
Students can then use the sections to draw pictures of their story. A simple story for grades K-2 might have three pictures, while older students can create a story board with more elaborate sections.
Using this type of graphic organizer to draw out the visual story helps students prepare an outline of what is to come. It also can serve as a basis for book illustrations for students entering the Big Universe Writing contest. By creating a picture in their mind and translating it to paper, helps students to visual the story sequence—the logical order that things are going to happen within a story.
You’re Ready to Begin!
After your students have created their story map and pre-writing graphic organizer, they are ready to begin writing their story. With the writing tools available from Big Universe, their books or writing assignments will be ready in no time.
Responding to literature is something that I, like many other teachers, try to get students to do; however, staring at a piece of blank white paper and trying to think of words to effectively express the many ideas floating around in their minds can be intimidating to most students.
Students automatically think there is a definite right and wrong answer to any question posed by the teacher, and they want to make sure they come up with the correct one, which limits their willingness to try anything new.
In an attempt to change this way of thinking, I came across a way to challenge students of any reading level to visually respond to literature. The use of colors and shapes rather than words or direct drawings seems to be a more comfortable way for students to represent their ideas and feeling, even if they don’t feel very artistic.
Eve Bunting is one of my favorite authors and I like how her story The Wednesday Surprise is written, so I decided to attempt to have students respond visually to this story. Ms. Bunting has the reader expecting the grandmother helping her granddaughter learn to read, but the reader is surprised when at the end of the story, it turns out the granddaughter is the one helping the grandmother learn to read. Following my reading aloud the story, the students and I discussed various ways the book made us feel.
Remembering how the same feeling could be represented in different ways, I led a class discussion on what colors students thought could be used for which feelings. When a student suggested a color, I asked questions to have them justify their answer and attempt to make a personal connection. Following the discussion, students were given time to respond to the story.
As I walked around the room, I observed various levels of concentration. Some students knew exactly what they wanted to do and got started right away, while others appeared to be thinking through the story to see what they could create. As most students were finishing their responses, I asked them to turn the paper over and provide me with their reasons behind the colors, shapes, or symbols used to respond to the story.
As students shared their ideas, I was pleased to discover students seemed to feel like it was OK to use a different color or symbol than the person beside them to represent the same emotion.
Most of the research and articles I have read about using this strategy discuss how it can be beneficial to help students who may struggle with reading, but I had good results with students of all reading levels.
So why don’t you find a book here on Big Universe to share with students and ask them to respond to it … using words or colors ….
Photo Credit: MarcelGermain via Compfight cc
Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.
~Henry L. Doherty
Catching up on my reading is one of my favorite things to do in that “lull” between the holidays and the kiddo’s return to school. In November and December I don’t even try to do any professional reading. The days – and thus my brain – are too crowded. What I do, instead, is add articles of interest and learning to my virtual library on Scoop.It.
Once we got past the coming of the end of the world, writers’ focus turned to learning in this digital age. Topics covered everything from what makes a good digital media diet for kids to learning behaviors and strategies. I am hoping that you will find some interesting tidbits in this list. The annotations and opions are my own.
The world is getting smaller and flatter. Learners want to own their learning very early and can do that by unpacking the [common core] standards with their teachers. It is time to bring back inquiry and encourage questions that have no right answers. ~ author
Adopting the idea that personalized learning is an umbrella as you begin reading really helps solidify the concepts in this article. The emphasis is on sharing: between / among teachers, from student to teacher, and among students themselves. Technology is a medium of learning, but the article makes it clear there is a lot more to it than that.
Dr. Fry has let me know that the graph is copyright free, but one cannot alter the graph or directions and still call it the Fry Readability Graph. Thank you to Dr. Fry for letting me know teachers can use the graph, copyright free! ~ Kathy Schrock
In addition to providing step-by-step directions on how to use Fry’s Readability Graph (pictured left), Kathy has links to several other tools (websites and software) for measuring the readability / reading level of a book. She also links to several databases of leveled books for kids.
source: Wikimedia Commons
Because their brains are still developing and malleable, frequent exposure by so-called digital natives to technology is actually wiring the brain in ways very different than in previous generations. ~ Jim Taylor, Ph.D.
Dr. Taylor’s article is both enlightening and frightening. Yes, technology can be good and help (e.g., video games and spatial development). He makes an excellent argument that our brains are always evolving. Still, the affect the physiological development of our kids’ brains is pretty startling. To think that it has an inverse impact on their development is a “wow” for me.
There is a certain logic to the idea that students can become better critical thinkers by completing writing assignments. Writing forces you to organize your thoughts. Writing encourages you to try different ideas and combinations of ideas. Writing encourages you to select your words carefully. Writing holds the promise (and the threat) of a permanent record of your thoughts, and thus offers the motivation to order them carefully. ~ Daniel Willingham
The source of interest for Willingham’s article is Atlantic writer Peg Tyre’s story “The Writing Revolution.” Willingham’s story hones in the value of teaching writing, and makes concrete the link (or ripple effect) between learning to write and other critical cognitive functions like reading and thinking.
I recently discovered a new-to-me community called Quib.ly, and one of the first questions I discovered was “Can technology help with children’s literacy?” There is only one answer to the question so far, and the focus is on the value of online writing and publishing tools. This, from a study by Dr. Christina Clarke, Head of Research at the UK National Literacy Trust:
… children who use online publishing tools such as social media platforms and blogging services enjoy writing more than those who don’t (57% vs 40% respectively).
Good news for a new year! Teachers – how are you using technology for literacy in your classrooms? Share your suggestions in the comments.
Your teacher and your favorite athlete switch lives (but not bodies) for a day. Explain what happens.
Common Core Connection:
Writing Anchor Standard 3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
Posted on October 17, 2012 by Laura Pizzirusso in Literacy.
Tags: children's authors, e-learning, Education, family literacy, Lesson Plans, Literacy, multicultural theme, Reading, Reading Comprehension, subject, theme, theme and subject, writing
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A common misconception – and sometimes even a challenge even for seasoned readers – is differentiating between a written work’s theme and subject. In order to help students understand a literary work’s theme, teachers must first make sure that the students understand what the subject is.
Early reading fiction usually keeps the subject simple. For example in We Share One World, the subject is about all children, from all nations, sharing one Earth. The author, Jane Hoffelt, throughout the story’s words and beautifully illustrated depictions of children of the world, crafts a theme, or reinforces an opinion or message of multicultural peace.
Young readers need to gain the important skill of differenting between the topic (subject) and author’s theme (opinion). We as educators — and parents — must present subject and theme not as one-in-the-same but instead as related concepts, in order to increase critical thinking skills for young readers.
SUBJECT VS THEME
(topic) (Author’s opinion or main point)
For the younger children who are trying to grasp the subject, asking them, “What is the author saying?” is too abstract. One concrete approach is to ask “What details did the author provide?” For example, every page in We Share One World supports a multicultural theme of living in peace. The author reinforces her opinion (theme) through the book’s words (children all sing songs, play with friends, go explore nature) and Marty Husted’s illustrations of Asian, Africa, Arabian, and other children happily living indigenously and within a multicultural community. The author shows readers that as many nationalities and races share the physical world (air, land and sea), we also share universal traits – and living in peace is the central message.
More advanced fiction, however, may include a variety of subjects, and the theme about one of those subjects may not be so straightforward and, many times, even difficult to discern. Readers must dig deeper to understand what an author is saying about the subject – and not impose their own set of values and opinions onto an author’s work. It is important for teachers to communicate to students that a reader’s personal views may not be implicit in a work of literature, and may even be contrary to it. Also an author’s theme is not always a universal truth, it is merely one’s opinion. Knowing this is a cornerstone to critical thinking skills applied to reading comprehension.
What has worked for my students in literature-based writing classes is helping them separate the subject from the theme by setting up a rubric, drawing the line between both (see below). Fact gets a narrow column, whereas the author’s opinion about that subject gets a much larger column. When the theme is complex, sometimes we work on the third column (listing details) second – and can glean the theme after the details are in place. And this segways neatly as the basis of a theme-based essay assignment.
|Fiction Subject (topic)
||Author’s Theme (Opinion):
||List details, examples, character actions (support theme):
“‘If only there could be an invention’, I said impulsively, ‘that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.’” – Daphne du Maurier.
What memory would you bottle up? How often would you open it? Describe the memory and the moment of uncorking in vivid detail.
Common Core Connection:
Writing Anchor Standard 2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
Posted on August 27, 2012 by Luke Neff in Classroom Ideas, Literacy, Writing.
Tags: common core, Education, explanation, narrative, opinion, quote, school, writing, Writing Prompt
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Writing Prompt: Frank Portman “There’s always a bit of suspense about the particular way in which a given school year will get off to a bad start.” What do you think of this quote? Do you think there’s some truth to it? Or do you think it’s maybe just true for the one unlucky kid in Frank Portman’s story? Do you start your school year wondering about the unique, strange, and even interesting ways it might not go perfectly? Do you have some examples of bad starts to the school year? Story option: tell a story (true or fictional) involving a particularly bad start to the school year.
Common Core Connection:
- Writing Anchor Standard 1: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.
- Writing Anchor Standard 3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
Writing Prompt: Tell this story: One of the hardest parts about being a time-traveling history detective is finding somewhere to plug in your laptop, which meant they really didn’t have much time to finish recording their notes about what they had just witnessed.
Common Core Connection: Writing Anchor Standard 3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.