Make Language an Adventure: Learning Grammar with Picture Books
I am a former grammar hater, certainly as a student, but even as a beginning teacher. I simply didn't see the need to learn about past imperfect participial possessives (I know there's no such thing) and I dreaded the fat grammar book from which we dutifully copied every sentence, underlining or circling the grammar du jour. Why in Math could we do odd or even numbered problems, but never in grammar?
As I continued to teach, however, the need for grammar instruction became apparent. The fact is, teachers and students require a common lexicon when discussing the components of reading and writing. Here are some fantastic resources for making that happen!
Ben Hillman has created four wonderful books which illustrate the magnitude of real life objects by comparing them with more common phenomenon with which students are familiar. How Big Is It?, How Strong Is It?, How Fast Is It?, and How Weird Is It? have quickly become nonfiction must-reads for the upper primary and intermediate school set.
When I picked up A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades, I really intended to just skim it over. After all, I now teach only sixth grade (this book is aimed at teachers of lower elementary grades) and I teach only reading and language arts (whereas this book, at first glance, seemed to be pretty much about science). Well, I read the introduction, and about two hours later discovered that I had read the whole thing from cover to cover. Not just read it, but thoroughly enjoyed it, and couldn’t wait to pass it on to a teacher of those grade levels so that they could put its ideas into action in their classroom.
Social skills, while usually "caught," sometimes need to be taught. The Secret Olivia Told Me is an elegantly simple book which illustrates the way in which a secret, once shared, is a secret no more. Like that old party game Telephone, the secret changes and grows as it spreads from person to person.
How to Teach a Novel is aimed at teachers in grades 3-12 who are using this authentic literature in their classrooms. This blog will attempt to bring you the related web sites, effective and efficient practices, and most current and relevant articles related to the art and science of teaching the novel.
Raina Telgemeier's Smile is about big changes in a young girl's life. No, not those kinds of changes (although as a father to two girls I'll have my share of those awkward moments). We're talking instead about subtler changes, hinted at from the start by the book's cover, which features a brace-clad smiley face.
The Honest-to-Goodness Truthwritten by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Giselle Potter focuses on universal themes including Compassion, Honesty, and Tact. It challenges students to consider, "Honesty is the best policy, but what does that mean? Can anyone think of a time when it might be acceptable to not tell the whole truth?
Recommended Picture Books for Black History Month, Part One
Just in time for Black History Month come three excellent picture books which help teachers discuss the experiences of Black Americans by examining both well- and little-known real life events. My personal favorite of the three titles featured here is Let Them Play. One reason is that it shared a story I hadn't heard before. But what made more of an impression upon me was the reminder that not even children were immune from the racism of 1950s America.