Thursday, February 02, 2006

Reccommended Reading List
Well if there is one assignment I have been putting off, it has been this one, where I list for you my reccomended reading list! It isn't that I just thought that I would wait until my final blog entry to put it all together, which would give me time to think about books, and perhaps get introduced to a few more. So in no particular order here is the list!!

Book #1
Roald Dahl
This book is about a little orphan girl named Sohpie, who is taken from her bed one night by the Big Friendly Giant and whisked away to the land of the Giants. As the story unravels, the reader will discover that the BFG isn't as scary as he may have started off to be, and in fact he is a very friendly giant. As the story continues the reader will watch as the friendship grows between Sophie and the BFG and the fight that Sophie must win to save the children from the evil monsters.
I think this book would be best suited for grades 3-5. It works with the language arts curriculum where the students can express personal feelings, on stories with small groups, in their writing and in literature circles.

Falling Up
Shel Silverstein
Falling Up is a book filled with short little poems that all children would love. I was first introduced to this book and others when i was doing my volunteer work in Kamloops. I have never seen so many children so eager to engage in poetry. So that is why I think this book could be used right from k-7 when introducing students to poetry. When they are younger it works well because the poems are short and fun, and as they get older, they could write their own poetry. (and on a little side note if anyone is interested they have this book and two other ones at Costco right now! I bought all 3!)

Book # 3 Lizzy's Ups and Downs: Not an Ordinary School Day
Jessica Harper
This book is about a little girl named Lizzy as she tells her mom about her day at school. She tells her mom all the good and bad things that happen during that day. I think this is a great book to use in grades k-2. it ties into language arts and personal planning. One of the irp's for personal planning is to identify feelings. This book shares Lizzy's feelings, her frustrations, her sadness when her friend moves away etc. It would be great to get a discussion going with the class. Some of them will probably have felt those emotions similar to Lizzy but not really aware of they are. With this book it gives the child a chance to relate their own emotions to those of Lizzy.

Book # 4
Magic School Bus Lost in Space
Bruce Degan
This is one of the many tales of Ms. Frizzle and her class going on an adventure. In this book they visit outter space and go to each planet and learn about it. This book ties in with the grade 3 irp's where they explore stars and planets. There is also a 30min video that the students could watch for this as well. I used it during my pracitcum and it was a hit!
The Berenstain Bears and the Bully
Jan and Stan Berenstain
This is one of the many books about the Berenstain Bears. I like these books because they teach morals. In this particular book it is about dealing with a school bully. Sister bear is bullyed at school, and brother tries to go to her rescue until he realizes that the bully is a girl. This book is good for grades k-3 and it fits into both the language arts the personal planning curriculum. It is a good way to teach students about bullying, and the best ways to deal with the situation. I would have a discussion with the class, on how brothers way to go after the bully is not the answer, and then perhaps brainstorm more appropriate ways to deal with a school bully.

Book #6The Balloon Tree
Phoebe Gillman
The Balloon Tree is a fairytale like story about a young girl who loves balloons Her father goes away, and her uncle the Archduke locks her up and pops all of her precious balloons. She heads out on a mission, to find a single balloon tha thas not been popped so that she can signal her father to come. As I have mentioned this before, I read this book for my read aloud. I think that this story would work well with grades k-3 and could be tied into language arts, art, or creative writing.

Maple Moon
Connie Brummel Crook
This book is a Native American legend on where maple syrup came from. For a full description see my multi-cultural assignment. This book could also be used in grades k-3 and would fit in with language arts. There is so much the students can do. It can be tied into a unit on legends, students could write their own legends etc.

Book 8
I thought I was done my list, but then i saw that Maizie had this book on her list and I rememered how much these two books meant to me so I had to come back and add them to my list.

Your Time My Time
Ann Walsh
Your time my time is a great book to use up here in the North, since it is about a girl who lives in Wells BC. She gets tired of the life there. One day when visiting the graveyard in Barkerville she discovers a ring which takes her back in time, during the gold rush. I remember reading this book in grade 5 prior to us coming up north (on a VERY long bus ride) to go to Barkerville. This book could probably be used in grade 4 or 5, and be tied into language arts and social studies, since it explores the time of the Gold Rush.

Another book by Anne Walsh is The Ghost of Soda Creek. This book also takes place in a Cariboo region of BC. Kelly moves here with her father after a family tragic accident. Kelly sees a little girl, who is a ghost. But she is not the only one that see this ghost, David, a univeristy student also sees this little girl. As these two and the other people of the city follow this little girl, Kelly begins to learn a lot about life and love. this ia another great novel for the grade 4 or 5 age level, and can once again be tied into language arts and social studies. (for me this book holds a special memory, because I got to meet Anne Walsh while in Barkerville in grade 5 and she signed my copy of this book)

Selecting and Evaluating Text

Well in my last blog I mentioned how I feel like sometimes I am living in a bubble. Well when it comes to picking literature for the classroom, I think I am still living there! I remember in one of the children lit classes, Cathy brought out all those books and told us to select one. So what did I do, I started looking through the books and chose one that looked appealing to the eye. Then we started brain storming ideas for why people had picked the books we had, some was because it had Canadian content, others was because of the illustrations etc. And then we started looking at the article. To be honest I don't think I ever really gave it a lot of thought when I picked up a book to read to one of my classes. Or maybe I did but I just didn't realize it. But I am now more aware that I have to be careful when selecting books. I never realized how misinterpretted some cultures and races are, and same with gender. I think Lisa made a comment on her blog about how many of the books she has put aside are from her own collection. And that is the same for me. My mom and I have saved all of my books from childhood and she has said for years now that we will save them for my classroom libary. But now it has me wondering if some of those books do well represent race, gender, culture etc. I guess these are just things I will have to be more aware of. Perhaps it is time to pop that bubble I am living in and realize that it isnt' always such a nice world out there. And I have to be critical of how and why I chose the books that I do!!

Social Justice in the Classroom

Well I have had a few weeks now to dwell on this article, and everything that was included. When I first read it, I was first of all very impressed with the way the teacher handled difficult situations, and discussed them with her students. I am sometimes afraid to talk about touchy situations, so this article showed me that sometimes maybe it won't be as bad as I think. For example I rememember as a child a friend of mine in grade five passed away. I remember a counsellor came in to tell us and talk about it briefly and that was it. I think we all could have benefited more if we had a chance to share stories, and our thoughts as these students did. In my little dream world where I live in a bubble, I would never had to deal with anything bad. I lived a pretty good life, my family was full of love and support, so I can not even imagine what some of these children go through. Which is another reason I am sort of afraid to talk to them, because I do not understand. However, in my upcoming practicum I am at a school, where in the words of my teacher "school is their safety". That frightens me in someways, but I think in another it will be a great learning experience. i think literacy is a great way to deal with situations such as death, or fire like in the article. Children like to feel as though they can relate to things. If they hear a story that sounds like their own life, they will pipe up and say that is just like me. It lets them know that they are not alone out there.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The River
Gary Paulsen
Yearling, 1991

Well if I was going to be honest about this book, I think I was prejudice against it from the begining. I remember in grade seven I had to read part of the Hatchet (which this book is the sequal to) and I remember I did not like the story. So when I found out that this book was about the same kid who got lost in the wilderness yet again, I was not keen about reading the book. It took me a very long time to get into it. I think it probably took me a week just to get to chapter 5. Every time I picked it up, I thought of something else I would rather do. Anyway once I let go of my frustrations and just sat down and read it, I realized it actually wasn't that bad. Towards the end, I actually couldn't put it down, the book finally captured my interest! So in the end I guess the book wasn't so bad. It made me realize that when I am selecting books for my students, I have to pick books that will interest both boys and girls. I have to look past what just interests me, and think of my future students. However I have a question for any of you Gary Paulen fans out there. How does this man write so many books about this kid getting stuck in the wilderness? You would think the kid would learn after awhile! But please correct me if I am wrong, I dont' know much about the other books out there. I just know they are all about Brian.
With all that said I think this book could be used in a grade 6 or 7 class, and i think it could work well in a literatrue circles. I was looking at all the suggested examples for lit circles, and I came across one called "Character Connoisseur". Basically what the students would do is think about the characters, their personalities, how they think, how they behave etc. Although Brian is the main character in the story and Derek Holtzer does not have a very large talking role, I thought this would be an interesting discussion. Each student could analyize Brian and what happened in the story. There are questions such as "would you have behaved differently than the character?" I like this question because when I think about what Brian did, I wonder if I would have done the same. I think after barely surviving fifty-four days in the wilderness with nothing but a hatchet, I would be relunctant to go again. And I know that at first Brian was too. But then he decided that by going he would be helping people in the future who may get lost in the wilderness. I don't know if I could put my life at risk again. Perhaps that makes me sound selfish, which I don't mean to be. I am all for helping people, I just dont' know if I could risk my life to that extreme. So I thought that this question would intiate some interesting discussions. I also like the idea of students picking a passage and describing why the chose it.
I just think that the more we can get students to talk about literature the more useful will be. This is why I think literature circles work so well because it gets everyone thinking and talking. Even the shy students may have something to say in a small group. It is different to talk among a small group than it is to speak in front of the whole class. I think literature circles will be a very useful tool in my classroom in the future!!

Maple Moon
Connie Brummel Cooke
Stoddart Publishing Co. Limited, 1997

Maple Moon is a story about a young Missisauga boy named Ride the Winds who has a cripled leg, so he tends to be excluded by the other children. The children often make fun of him and gave him the nick name Limping Leg. Rides the Wind gets frustrated and tired of always being made fun of so he runs away to the forest. Resting against a maple tree he meets a squirrel, who leads him to discover sweet sap from a tree. Rides the Wind brings this "sweet water' to his community who have been starving due to lack of food. With this new discovery he gains the respect of his elders, the chief and the community. The chief gave him a new name Wise Little Raven, and he was nver made fun of again.
For my multi-cultural book I chose this one, which is a piece of historical fiction, or a legend. When I first picked this book, I didn't know anything about it, I could tell it was based on aboriginal characters, so I thought it would be a good choice for the multi-cultural assignment. But once I read the story, it has a lot to it that I thought could be useful to bring into the classroom. Firstly I think this story could be tied into a unit on traditional stories such as legends. This book could also be tied into a lesson on bullying and name calling. The main character Rides the Wind, got made fun of all the time and his feelings were hurt, which caused him to run and hide. This book could teach children about the consequences of making fun of people, it hurts, and no one likes to be made fun of. There may be children who can relate to this if they have been teased or made fun of before.
I thought that the illustrations in this book were beautiful. I feel as though it captured the time that the story was written about. The traditional dress of the aboriginal people was beautiful, and the teepees that they lived in etc. I also liked that the characters had names that meant something to the community and the characeters. For example the main character was given his name because of the sled that his father made for him. I think that a class would also be interested in the history of aboriginal people. As long as a discussion was held afterwards about how that is not the way all aboriginal people live today.
Overall though I really enjoyed this book, and I appreciate the fact that it was written by an aboriginal woman. This way it is not an author trying to percieve what life would have been like. Through her own oral stories, she probably has a good understanding of what times would have been liked and she captures this in her story.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Balloon Tree
Phoebe Gilman
North Winds Press, 1984.

For my read aloud, I decided to read the story The Balloon Tree. For me this has been a favorite in my household for many years. When my sister was younger it was one of her favorite books, so I remember reading it to her or as she got older with her. I talked to her recently and asked her why she loved the book so much and she said it was because of the pictures, and the color. I find it interesting that Phoebe Gilman is the author and the illustrator. I love all her books because her pictures are so vivid, and the colors are so brilliant.
At first I was a little uneasy about doing my read aloud becuase it is never the same reading in front of my peers as it is reading to a group of younger students. But my group was a great "class" and there were no behaviour problems. Unless you count the times when students of Lakewood walked down the hallway and looked at me like I was crazy, which in turn made myself and everyone in my group laugh! One student actually walked by twice, just to see what exactly we were doing! Perhaps I should have asked him if he wanted to join our story time circle.
This story is about a princess named Leora, who loves balloons. Her father is invited to attend a tournament, so he goes, and leaves her uncle, the Archduek in charge. As soon as her father leaves, the Archduke locks her in her bedroom, and plots to take over the kindom. One of the first things he does is destroy all of Leora's balloons, which were her only means of signalling her father. What the archduke does not know is that she has a hidden passage in her room which takes her to the wizard. He tells her that if she can find one unbroken balloon, and plant it under the tree that grows in the courtyard and says the magic word, magic will happen. The rest of the story is Leora's adventure as she looks for that one unbroken balloon, in order to signal her father and fight off the evil Archduke.
I think this book would be appropriate for a grade K-3 age level. It is a fairy tale type story, so it could be tied into a fairy tale unit. Or I thought it could also perhaps be integrated with art, the class could make a balloon tree of some sort. Or for a grade 3 age level, it could be a creative writing assignment and the students could talk about a type of tree that they would want to grow.
I just like this book because it has such brilliant colors, I love the story line and I think the character of Leora is based on one of Gilman's daughters, which I think is an interesting little fact! So you should all check this book out. Or other books by Phoebe Gilman!!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Mina's Spring of Colors
Rachna Gilmore (2000)

During the Christmas break I thought to myself, how easy it would be to read three childrens books and be ahead of the game. Of course with working full time, and then going home to visit family that didn't exactly happen. However, on the very long bus ride home, I decided to pick up one of the books, and the first one I happened to grab out of my bag was Mina's Spring of Colors. I curled up in my seat, and I read the book front to back within an hour. I really enjoyed the book and I didn't want to put it down. I love the way that Rachna was able to capture the character of Mina. She was able to describe a child at that age perfectly, describing their attitudes and how she may have felt. Mina struggles with trying to fit in, and once a year she has everyone wanting to join her to take part in the Holi festivities. I found it interesting that Mina on numerous occassions came across as annoyed or slightly rude with her grandfather and did not let this bother her too much. She reflects on how when she was younger she was so attached to her grandfather and now she can't believe it has only been four months since he moved in when it feels like forever. However as soon as Ashley makes a comment towards her grandfather, Mina all of a sudden become hurt by this comment and very protective of her grandfather. I don't think she was aware that she was probably hurting her grandfather in her own ways, by rolling her eyes at him etc.
I think this book would be a good one to use in the classroom. It teaches students about forgiveness, and acceptance. It also teaches the students about other cultures. I loved reading about the celebration of Holi. It inspires me to try different cultural activities within my own classroom, perhaps on this upcoming practicum. However, I am not sure I would use Holi, since it seems to be a bit messy! But I know that there are other ways that I could incorporate this culture such as something simple as maybe serving the students different types of food.
I also found our literature circles to be very helpful and useful in discussing this book. It was interesting to hear the different passages that the people in my group chose to discuss and reflect on. I know for me there were lots of passages that I was able to relate to my own life. For example no one likes to be made fun of and it hurts. And sometimes it is so easy to want to get revenge, even though that is not always the best strategy. In my group during our literature circle many good questions and discussions came out of it. I don't think that Ashley really meant a lot by her comment. I know sometimes I say things without thinking, and you just don't realize who may be listening, or who you may be hurting. And I think that Mina got so caught up in her idea of revenge, that she lost the real meaning of what Holi is supposed to be. It was discussed in our group, if Nanji had not stepped in, do you think that Mina would have gone through with the plan? it is hard to say. I think that she was so upset and angry she might have continued to go on with it. She just could not let go of her anger. Even her friend forgot about about the plan because she was so overcome with excitement the day of Holi, and Mina got angry with her. I think that students could get a lot out of a discussion like this. And perhaps do a journal entry on how they could relate this book, and some of these situations to their own lives.

Monday, January 09, 2006

When I think back to my reading experience, I can not vividly recall a time when my parents read aloud to me. I am sure that they did, but I remember I did a lot of reading on my own. According to my mom, right from when I was a little girl I was in love with books. I wouldn't go into my crib without my copy of The Poky Little Puppy, and my mom said I always knew to hold the book upright.
I know that my parents encouraged me to read though because I have tonds of books that they bought me. For example with the Babysitter Club series that many other students have mentioned, my dad was always taking me to the bookstore to buy me new ones. I think I came close to having most of the series. But then as I became a better reader, I was able to finish the book in a day, and my parents decided I would be better off getting the books from the library.

Although I don't remember my parents reading to me, I do remember very vividly reading to my younger sisters. There were many times we would play school, I was the teacher and I would read stories to my class. Or with my youngest sister, I would read her a bedtime story. One of her favorites for me to read was called The Monster at the End of this Book" The story stars one of Sesame Streets favorites. Throughout the whole story, he is trying to find ways to stop the reader from turning the page, since there is a monster at the end of the page. I remember my sister liked it best when I would attempt at doing Grovers voice for the story.
Another series I remember reading with the girls was the Berenstein Bear series. I think my parents bought us these books because they each had a little moral in the story. We just liked them because they were fun to read. However, I believe there was one about siblling rivalry and I can only guess my parents bought that one for a reason! Although these books are a bit older I would probably still use them in my class today. They are a fun story that would most likely interest many students, plus it can teach students things such as getting along with siblings, or about eating too much junk food or watching too much tv!

When we made the trip to the library and I was trying to think of one of my favorite books, at first nothing came to mind. I had so many books I liked throughout my childhood. I was always an avid reader. I had decided that I would say one of my favorite books was either James and the Giant Peach, or the BFG both written by Roald Dahl. I remember having them read to me in class, and when I got a bit older I read them both to myself. I know with the BFG I signed it out of the library quite frequently. I am not too sure what it was about that book, I liked so much, I think it might have been the story line.
However, sitting here now, I remember a book I think I liked even more than the Rohald Dahl series. When I was growing up one of my all time favorite books was the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I can't even count the number of times I signed that book out from either the school library or the public library. I remember I would just curl up either in a chair or in bed, and read the book for hours. I loved the idea of the secret garden. There was so much life beyond those walls. Even though I knew how the book ended, and what happened throughout, I always got excited, and couldn't put the book down. Years later when taking a children's literature course, I couldn't have been happier to see that this book was on the reading list. And I still had that feeling of excitement. I remember curling up with the book and not wanting to put it down.
Sometimes when I read a book, I will wish that movie producers would make it into a movie. So when The Secret Garden was released on the big screen I remember being very excited. I did enjoy the movie, but I remember being disappointed with some parts because it was not like the book. But my theory is, the book is always better.
So for those of you who have read this book before I would be interested to hear your thoughts and opinions on it. And those of you who have not I highly reccommened it. It will take you back to wanting to be a little kid again!