Sunday, February 27, 2011

Predicting, Tall Tales, and David Wiesner

Week 22
PreK 3 and PreK 4 - Guiding Question: What are some differences in versions of Old Mother Hubbard?
Old Mother Hubbard, by Jane Cabrera, makes the story of Old Mother Hubbard's quest to please her dog seem totally hilarious. The illustrations, done in thick swabs of paint, are bright and lively and give the characters playful expressions. Large-size painted text, one line per page, slows down the poem making this a good read-aloud for hearing students' observations along the way.  

Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, by Laura Rader, uses half-sheet pages to reveal funny surprises in the poem. When we turn the top half of the page, we find the cupboard bare, turn the bottom half and see the dog crying because "the poor dog had none." 

Finally, we read a rather gloomy version: Old Mother Hubbard, A Nursery Rhyme, by David A. Johnson. The illustrations feel old fashioned, suiting the time period of the poem, and the colors are muted to the point of being faded. This version follows the original poem exactly, so the humor is a bit dead pan: "She went to the baker's to buy him some bread, but when she came back, the poor dog was dead!" Although not our favorite, this was a great contrast to show differences among the three.

We also did two activities: Spot the problem in a picture of Old Mother Hubbard, and "Who has the bone?" in which students took turns hiding a bone and having others guess who had it.

Kindergarten - Guiding Question: What does it mean to "predict" events in a story?
Predicting is the same as guessing what will happen, and the act of guessing is more important than whether our guess comes true. Guessing shows that we are actively thinking as we listen or read - this is the key to being good readers! 

Two stories work well for teaching prediction. In The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, by Don Wood, the narrator questions the mouse about what he's doing. We are tempted to answer for the mouse based on our own predictions. When it turns out that the bear doesn't arrive, we have a fun surprise and see that guessing incorrectly doesn't hurt our enjoyment of the story at all! Use of this story was inspired by a lesson plan at Teacher Vision.

The second story, Lost and Found, by Oliver Jeffers, invites us to guess along with the main character about what the stray penguin really wants. The boy guesses that he's lost, but is he?

Grade 1 - Guiding Question: Which illustrator has won the most Caldecott medals? How does he work?
David Wiesner is a master illustrator who has won three gold medals and two silvers. We looked at several of his picture books, examining Tuesday most closely. After "reading" this wordless book, we followed Wiesner's creative process on his website. 

Grade 2 - Guiding Question: What are tall tales?

We learned a new word: hyperbole! We learned that tall tales started with a grain of truth and gradually became more and more exaggerated as they were retold over time. To illustrate the point, we played the old game "telephone" with each person whispering what they heard from the person before...the final saying varying greatly from the original. Likewise, tall tales are full of hyperbole.

We have many tall tales in our library; we read two. John Henry, by Ezra Jack Keats, is a story in free verse with mixed media illustrations. Keats keeps it simple, focusing on the drama of the tunnel's cave-in and the contest of man v. machine, and he stuns us with the Henry's death at the end. This is a good tale to show how some tall tales contain more truth than others. 
In contrast, Kumak's Fish, by Michael Bania, is comical and far-fetched. Kumak uses a special fish hook and catches a fish so large that the entire village has to hold on to the line to keep Kumak from falling in. What a surprise to find that the big fish is actually a long line of fish, each holding on to the other to keep the first one from getting caught!

Grade 3 - Guiding Questions: How does knowing the difference between whole numbers and fractions help us understand shelf order in the Dewey section?
It was Dewey Game time this week with online games to help us put decimals in order, and shelf order cards to put in order, too. I made the shelf order cards from extra spine labels from Follett orders. (Thanks to "Tips and Bright Ideas," a column in LMC magazine for the idea). Some are easy to put in order, some are wickedly hard! Guess which one everybody wanted to try? 
For example...
Easy: 001, 102, 292, 398 
Medium: 398.2, 428.1, 573.7, 741.5, 808.1 
Hard: 509, 513.2, 523.8, 535.6
Wicked Hard: 551.21, 551.43, 551.48, 551.55, 551.6, 551.6911 

Grade 4 - Free library time, Dewey tour, and Historical fiction
Check-out, reading workshop, historical fiction tie-ins using websites via WebPath Express on Destiny (Mrs. M's class), and Dewey tour (Ms. L's class)

Grade 5 - Guiding Question: How can we shorten a URL for citations? 
As students worked with Citation Maker in their classrooms this week, they noticed that some of their URLs for images were exceedingly long! I added google URL Shortener to the grade 5 tab and showed students how to use it to put a shorter URL (web address) into their citation.

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