Tag Archives: Picture book

Rethinking Use

For the last couple of days, my teaching partner and I have been busy planning for the first week of school.  With a multiage class of first, second, and third graders, we have a wide span of age and school experience to take into account…and our older students have been in class with us for the last year or two.  That means we are always figuring out new ways to build community and academic skills, encouraging student engagement and building collaboration and problem solving.

We love using picture books to launch student thinking…and students love to be read to!  Today’s planning conversation involved many books, what role they might serve, and how we might use them as we start the school year.  Last year we read a book by Jerry Pallotta called How Will I Get to School This Year? which we used to get our students started with writing opinions.  We used this simple picture book to ask our students to come up with reasons and evidence to support their opinions about how they would want to travel to school.  Which would be better, a grizzly bear or a butterfly?

At the end of the school year when we came across another Pallotta book in the series, Who Will Be My Teacher This Year, we set it aside for potential use this fall.  And when we read it again this year to think about how we might use it, it initially fell a bit short of our expectations. And then we started thinking…

Something we want our students to begin when they come back next week is to help us reorganize our classroom library to better serve their needs.  We have lots and lots of books–but they don’t seem as accessible as we would like.  And we would love to have our students more actively recommending books to each other.  As we thought this reorganizational task through, we worried that some of our more accomplished readers might be dismissive of some of the easier to read choices in the library.

So…how might we use this Pallotta book to model how a seemingly simple book might actually be more than you see at first glance.  When we took a closer look at this book we noticed that in addition to the fairly simple text and some silly associations between teachers and animals, there are also a lot of idioms used.  Attention to these would change the way a reader looks at the book.  We also considered how our students might pick a page where the connection between the animal and the teacher action is tenuous (the alligator teaching students to be “green”–as in environmentally aware–is one example) and revise it.

We found ourselves reading and reconsidering picture books from a variety of perspectives in our planning today.  I know that our thinking today will inform the way we set our students up to revamp our classroom library.  I can’t wait to see all the ways they approach books when charged with this important task of making our classroom library work for them!

How have you rethought your use of and approach to a book you use with students?  What’s a favorite book you can’t wait to share?

10 Picture Books on August 10th

I’ve done a couple of recent posts about mentor texts I use in my classroom and recently I noticed a challenge by some other teachers about a Picture Book 10 for 10 Challenge.  #pb10for10  Their invitation is to share ten picture books you can’t live without on August 10th.  So today is August 10th…and my picture books are all in my classroom.

I had almost abandoned the idea of sharing my picture book favorites since I don’t have easy access to them today.  But then I spent the morning with my SDAWP colleagues at UCSD thinking about complex texts–both reading and writing–which led me to think about the ways I use texts in combination in the classroom.  So I started thinking about some of favorite picture books for the classroom…and how I often layer books to create more complexity and deeper meaning with my students.  These books come from the top of head (with the help of the web to sort out the actual titles and authors)…you don’t get pictures or excerpts…just what I can remember!

photo

I’ll start with a few that I used with my students to examine abstract concepts.  Most of them use the idea of color in different and interesting ways.

1.  The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor:  This book is a gem (like most of the others by this author).  I love the way she describes colors using senses other than sight.  I wish I had my book handy to include an excerpt!  Read it — you won’t be disappointed!

2.  The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin:  This book, all in black in white, is gorgeous!  The use of texture and Braille add a fresh dimension to this book…and reinforces the need to use powerful sensory language in descriptions.

3.  The Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao:  This book describes the experience of a blind girl as she travels in the New York subway system.  Imagination takes the girl on a powerful journey. What do you experience when you aren’t able to see?

4.  The Colors of Us by Karen Katz:  This books offers way to describe the colors of our skin in beautiful and appreciative ways.

5.  What Does Peace Feel Like? by Vladimir Rudunsky:  This book is a collection of similes and metaphors from students describing peace–helping to bring some concreteness to this big and abstract concept.

6.  If… by Sarah Perry:  This books takes a fanciful journey into the imagination and invites students to imagine if worms had wheels and other fanciful and surrealistic ideas.

And I also love books that are about math and nature.  Two more favorites that I used this past year to support my students’ understanding of the Fibonacci sequence and its appearance in the natural world.

7.  Wild Fibonacci: Nature’s Secret Code Revealed by Joy N. Hulme:  This book explores the appearance of Fibonacci numbers in the natural world–mostly focusing on the spiral.

8.  Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by  Joyce Sidman:  This book is another look at Fibonacci’s sequence and spirals using spectacular illustrations.

And to round out my ten, two other books I purchased this summer and intend to use with students this year.

9.  One Hen by Katie Smith Milway:  A book about micro loans and how small investments can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

And one more math and science focused book

10.  Dave’s Down-to-Earth Rock Shop by Stuart J. Murphy;  This book combines geology and classification as the characters devise new ways to sort and display their rock collection.

I look forward to seeing what picture books other people love.  I’m always looking for new books to inspire my students’ thinking and to help them understand complex concepts.  I’m especially interested in those hidden treasures that somehow don’t get the attention of the large bookstore chains…and yet have wonderful content, language, and illustrations.  What picture books do you love?

Mini Book Review: The Boy Who Loved Math

I’m always on the lookout for new books to use in my classroom.  Not the ordinary books that are on display in every bookstore chain, but books written in interesting ways about interesting topics.  A lot of the books I choose are non-fiction or based on true lives or true events.

I recently came across The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos, a biography of  a mathematician from Hungary who died in 1996.  I had never heard of Paul Erdos–and yet, he seems to be quite well known in math circles.  Two of my favorite things about this short, rich picture book are the emphasis on Paul’s passion for math–I can’t imagine what his life would have been like if he had been born into a family that didn’t appreciate his single-minded passion for math!–and the illustrator’s ample and strategic use of math concepts and theories into the illustrations.

math

This is a book I will read many more times before I bring it into my classroom–and I know my students will pore over the illustrations once they get a chance to take a closer look.  I’m already curious about harmonic primes and amicable numbers.  I love when a picture book piques my learning!

the boy who loved math

What books have you come across that you can’t wait to share?