Friday, May 6, 2011

Penguins, Funny Books, and Patricia Polacco

Week 31

PreK 3, PreK 4, Kindergarten: Funny Book Week #2

There's a Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone
Grover announces that there's a monster on the last page of this book, so we CAN'T turn any pages! But even though he ties pages together and builds walls of wood and then stone, we keep turning anyway. He's so worried and scared, but we can't wait to see the monster at the end of this book! A fun interactive story that keeps everyone on the edge of their seats.

Farmer Duck, by Martin Waddell
Poor Duck lives on a farm with a lazy farmer who makes him do all of the work. He calls out to check on Duck all day long: "How goes the work?" and Duck answers, "Quack!" every time. This oft-repeated exchange gives us a chance to show variety in vocal expression and students love to anticipate it. Expressive watercolor illustrations move the story forward, showing exactly what chores Duck must accomplish. Eventually, Duck gets fed up, so cow, sheep, and hen come to his aid with a plan to get rid of the farmer. A simple engaging story for young children.

Shark vs. Train, by Chris Barton
A great premise: who would "win" a shark or a train? Well, that depends on the situation they're in! In the ocean a shark would swim circles around a sinking train, but on the tracks? The train would zoom past the hot and sweaty shark. Fun cartoony illustrations help make the point that sometimes a winner is only a winner when the conditions are right! For young children, this book works best when we talk about it rather than read straight through.

Grade 1: Guiding Question - How can we tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction?
This week, it's penguins! Which are titles are fiction and which are nonfiction? We're practicing locating text features to see the difference. After reviewing the many penguin books in our library, we read about emperor penguins in particular.

The Emperor Lays an Egg, by Brenda Guiberson
This beautifully illustrated nonfiction text describes the way emperor penguin mates share the burden of chick-care with each other. Several points of interest: These penguins can go for months without eating, their food source is often days or weeks away depending on the thickness of the ice, and their chicks cannot survive the cold until adult feathers grow in so they require constant care. The level of information is appropriate for grades one and up, and is punctuated with "sound effects" of whistling wind, penguin calls, and seal barks.

Grade 2: Guiding Question - What are legends?
We continue our unit about traditional literature by talking about legends. Legends are stories told over time that contain a grain of truth. They are about real people, but the events have become somewhat exaggerated. 

Godiva, by Lynn Cullen
The legend of Lady Godiva is not a common one for elementary-age students, so it makes a great read-aloud and discussion starter. This version is illustrated with realistic paintings. It tells how Lady Godiva asked her husband to lower the town's taxes and he scoffed, saying he would no sooner lower taxes than see her ride naked in the streets. She called his bluff, but the villagers turned away out of respect for her. Discussion points: personal sacrifice and respect.

Grade 3: Guiding Question - How can we make our Dewey section sound interesting to others?
More script-writing this week! We're working on making our Dewey section sound "cool" to other students. This week we realized we might have to pretend a little bit...(let's face it, some Dewey sections ARE more cool than others!)

Grade 4: Guiding Question - What is an "author study"?
Ms Molnar's class is examining picture books by two author/illustrators to compare and contrast the elements of their work. We started this week with two sessions studying Patricia Polocco's books. We split into two groups, each reading one story out loud and taking notes on its elements. Then students worked in pairs with another Polocco book and compared it to the one we read together.

Our note taking sheet is here. Elements are broken into three categories: Illustration, Story, and Author's Craft.

The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polocco
When a family arrives from Russia, the daughter saves her babushka (shawl) even after she has outgrown it.  It becomes part of a quilt that contains the stories of the family's history.  As the quilt is passed down from generation to generation it becomes a symbol of familial connection.  Unique illustration style contrasts the colors of the quilt against black and white pencil drawings of the characters.

My Ol' Man, by Patricia Polocco
Patricia's father is a traveling salesman who sees everything in a positive light. But when the family's hard times turn even harder, they all need something to believe in. He tells Patricia and her brother about a magic rock, a huge boulder with ancient carved lines on it, and says if they visit it often, their luck will change. His upbeat attitude and their willingness to believe in him make the magic happen.  This heart-felt tribute to a great dad reminds us about the importance of sharing our memories.

Grade 5: Guiding Question - What's another fun way to create a poem?

Mr Brown reads students' fridge poems
Some finished found poems from last week
This week's poem is another example of "found" poetry - Fridge Magnets!

This interactive site gives students four topic choices and good high-level vocabulary words to choose from. When they have created a poem, it's easy to print out and title, decorate, and scan onto a web page or put into a poetry folder.

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