Thursday, February 02, 2006


An idea for using this book in the classroom is to use it during the month of February which is "Black History Month". I would attempt to create a small Jackdaw with this book showing pictures and artifacts from both American and Canadian history and their individual treatment of the African American/Canadian people. I am not completely familiar with the Canadian history of the African Canadian people but the American history is well documented. What I do know is that in the Atlantic provinces there is a large population of the African Canadian people and from my understanding, they were treated with disdain as well by the dominate people. I would want to explore this idea fully before making more of a comment, but this is one idea for this book

Frog and Toad are Friends

This is an excellent first novel for young readers by Arnold Lobel. It has been used for a grade 2 or 3 reading level. In the story it tells of a friendship between a frog and a toad and the adventures and misadventures between the two friends.
What is unique about this story is that it can be used as a center piece of a unit on frogs and toads, which is part of the great 2 and 3 curriculum. One can explore real frogs and real toads, their habitat, and their lifecycle. At the same time this story explores the ideas surrounding what makes a good friend and why friendship is important.
Although I have not read the entire series, I am aware there is a number of different Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel. Has anyone else read any of the other books and care to share their thoughts and feelings on any of the books. Please feel free to share.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Reader's Theater Treasury of Stories

This resource book I found in Vancouver. It is by Win and Carl Braun. It is what the title implies with a variety of different levels of stories from grade 2 level to grade 6 or 7. There are 12 stories with a number of different reading parts. There is one story that has 14 reading parts, but most of them have 4 to 8 speaking parts.
Most of the stories are the "classic" stories such as "The Three Bears" or "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg".
This appears to be a good collection to get us started-especially for someone like myself who is never sure where he/she wants to start.

This Little Piggy's Book of Manners

This is a book on manners, framed around the children's poem "This little piggy went to market. this little piggy ..." It talks about manners such as saying please and thank you, eating with your mouth closed, waiting your turn, speaking in appropriate tones amongst other manners. This would be for a pre-kindergarten to grade 1 book. The IRP's would be the social relationships of school.
Although the author, Kathryn Madeline Allen's intentions are good, I really cannot recommend this book. I found the illustrations by Nancy Wolff confusing- they are very bright and very cluttered. There are many characters in the book speaking, which makes the layout even more confusing. I also was offended because the "good pig", the pig with good manners was always the female pig, while the "bad pig" - the pig lacking manners was the male pig. At the end of the story the author refers to the readers in this manner: "At times little piggies will practice good manners (although sometimes they seem to forget them). But if they remember the piggies nearby might say they are pleased to have met them!" I am not sure if the author was saying that the readers are piggies. Not the most flattering opinion.
Does anyone know of any books that do a better job in reminding children about good manners? This could be for any age group.

Literature in the School-article review

This article is very interesting. It has many ideas within it to help us as teachers create a literature friendly classroom. Even ideas that we may have had, such as bringing in historical documents and photographs to help us supplement our teaching has a name -Jackdaws. If we did not know the name for doing this we now do- which will help us in the future because we can search out ideas related to Jackdaws on the internet. I googled the name, and found one site . There are a few pictures and ideas on my first glance through the site. For most of us, we will probably need to go through a variety of different sites to produce an interesting collection of artifacts.
There are other ideas within the article that bare mentioning. I find articles such as this one important because of the type of lay out the author or editor has chosen to use. At a quick glance we can gain ideas for our own classrooms. For example bulletin boards. We don't have to read the entire article to find the mention of bulletin boards, we can quickly look through and find the information. As teachers, time is precious and we may need to gain ideas quickly to help run our classrooms.
I know many of us did not have time to read all the articles for detail, but I urge everyone to glance through this article for some ideas. It's time well spent.

Young Man and the Sea

I have just finished reading this novel, and it is excellent. Not to be confused with the Ernest Hemingway classic "The Old Man and the Sea", this is a story about a 12 year old boy Skiff who must contend with an emotionally drained father (the boy's mother had recently passed away), a rich bully and the rigors of the sea to produce enough money to get the family boat Mary Rose repaired. At first Skiff traps for lobsters, but he will eventaully go after the biggest fish in the sea, the blue fin tuna. I will not tell you what happens, but it is a very good story. It is written from the first person (Skiff's point of view) and so there are some uses of slang in it.
I enjoyed it because of my fasination with boats and the sea- not having sea salt air in Prince George is difficult for me. I feel that if the author would add more detail and richness to the story he could compete with the Hemingway classic (I have not read the Hemingway story but would like to in May).
This story would appeal to many boys because of the problems that Skiff is presented with. He has to use his brains, but also is not afraid to use blunt strength to help solve the obstacles that he is faced.
This story is being used for a grade 5 novel study. I admit that the novel has been assigned as the novel of choice, it is a story that I would not have thought of until my cooperating teacher said this is the story she would like to use.
If you have not read this story and you like the "sea life", please give this story a try.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Number Four, Bobby Orr

This book was written by Mike Leonetti. This story is about a boy, Joey, who breaks his leg while playing hockey. Well recovering from his injury, Joey writes a letter to his hero Bobby Orr, the hockey player. Bobby Orr responds to the boy's letter and sends him tickets to the Stanley cup final. Bobby Orr proceeds to score a goal (there is a famous photograph of this goal being scored, Bobby Orr was "flying through the air" when he shot the puck). Here is a link for the picture. Bobby Orr scoring the goal.
This story can be used with a variety of different age groups, and I have found that the age group of 8-12 year olds respond well to the story.
I have used this story with a number of different classes and situations. If I was going to teach a class about writing letters, I would read this story to them and talk about the qualities of a good letter. I would then have the students write a letter to personal hero of theirs.
I have also used this story with a small group (6 students) of males who were having trouble with reading comprehension. The story appealed to them because it was about hockey, there favorite sport. I was albe to find the famous picture in a book about hockey.
I know that there are other "hockey books" that appeal to young readers as well. "My Leaf Sweater" is one by Mike Leonetti.
Hopefully there will be one about the Vancouver Canucks soon. I know of many young readers who would enjoy reading about the 'nucks.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Only a Pigeon

This is the book I choose to use as my multi-cultural book. It is written by Jane and Christopher Kurtz. This is a story about a young Ethiopian boy who raises pigeons in modern Ethiopia. In the story, the young boy , whose name is Ondu-ahlem goes to school, does chores, and plays with his friends. He is eventually challenged by another boy to see whose favorite pigeon will return to him faster. In the end Ondu-ahlem wins the challenge.
I really enjoyed this story. It is a simple story, but it is written by the Kurtz’s both of whom were of Ethiopian descent. It made the story much more believable. The raising of pigeons is a popular pastime in Ethiopia.
I learned something important in this story. I am use to seeing pictures of starving Ethiopian people. This is still happening in various parts of the African continent, there are also people who are not starving. I do not want it to sound like I believe the problems that Ethiopia had in 1985 have now been solved, they have not. I did learn that there is another part of Ethiopia where people are living their lives as they have done in the past. It should be noted that Ondu-ahlem is living a good life, he is not living a rich life style. It appears from the illustrations in the book that his family is not starving but is also not rich.
I would use this book for grades 3-7. I would use this book if I am discussing current events, or if the class is discussing different lifestyles or the continent of Africa. In terms of current events, the “Live 8” concerts organized by Bono (U2 lead singer) and Bob Geldoff were focused on the canceling of the debts of the developing world. This event took place last summer and so it is still on the minds of many people. This is an important topic that should be discussed with students so they understand that there are some huge problems existing in the world.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Reading Munsch Aloud

Hello all,
I read Robert Munsch's "Pigs" aloud yesterday. I always enjoy reading Mr. Munsch's stories because they can be very funny and if you use your imagination they do teach life lessons. For example in "Pigs", the main character Megan learns that it is always important to listen to your elders. The other part of Munsch's stories that I enjoy is the repetition of wording or phrases. Many of his stories have repetitve wording, which makes listening to the story enjoyable. I also like the fact there is a great deal of humour in his stories-something I believe is very important to some of the stories that we read to children. Some of the stories we read to children should be fun to read. I believe that the stories should be fun to read, just like I enjoy a good piece of literature, but I also enjoy reading Ian Fleming's James Bond series. Both have their place on my bookshelf.
There was one complaint about my story choice- a very valid complaint I might add. Mr. Munsch can use offensive wording such as calling pigs "dumbest animal". I admit I look at Mr. Munsch's stories as somewhat light and fun, but in the future I will be more careful about my choice in his massive story collection. I know there is plenty of choices if I want to read a Robert Munsch story.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Too bad

After class on Monday I realized that we will not have time to discuss the reading "The River" by Gary Paulsen. Of the three books that we read for this class it is my favourite. I enjoyed the pure adventure of the story and was so impressed by the story that I would like to read "The Hatchet" its predessor.
I have always enjoyed camping and this story took camping to an extreme level. I have never been in a situation like this, but as a person who has spent time in the woods camping, hiking and enjoying the quiet, this would be my bad dream.
I can also see growth in Brian, going through this adventure not once but twice. Paulsen does an amazing job writing his second story, and what was intersting to note is that "The River" can be read without having to read the first story. Paulsen lets his readers know what happened in the first book without having to read it first. Not many authors can do this.
Hopefully, in the not so distance future I can read "The Hatchet". Anyone have any comments who has read both stories. Which story was better?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Selecting and Evaluating Children’s Literature- article review

After class on Thursday, and reading the article from the course ware package I am more interested in the evaluation of children’s literature. I would not say this is excitement that I am feeling, simply because I feel that the evaluation process is very difficult. There are so many different concerns when one evaluates children’s literature that one quick read through will not do. What makes good children’s literature? How good is my own personal library?
The answer to the first question requires reading the book, and looking at characteristics that each individual book has. I am now more prepared to take the criteria that we were given and examine the book from the variety of point of views. The ability to answer the questions and examine stories from a variety of point of views is important. The idea from the article that I found most interesting is the idea surrounding the First Nations people. In the article, we should be concerned with whether the First Nations people are included, but we should also be concerned with how they have been included. The First Nations people cannot be seen as savages or “child-like”. The idea of how First Nations people are represented in a story is something we should all be prepared to examine. Are they correctly represented from a cultural point of view? The article uses the example of a person of Navajo descent depicted as a First Nations person living on the plains of Canada or the United States.
I have gone through some of my own children’s books and was amazed to see that much of the books are for white anglo-saxons. I also realize that some of my books are “pulp fiction”, and could not be classified as good children’s literature.
The most difficult concept to deal with in the evaluation of children’s literature is where to begin. There is so much material out there, that it can be seen as overwhelming. I don’t have an answer for this. I am over whelmed by the numbers of books published already (many books we consider classics we should question- for example “The Indian in the Cupboard”), and new publications. I guess all we can do is be prepared to examine the books we use in our upcoming practicum and be prepared to change our minds over time. As beginning teachers we must be prepared to add and delete material as new and better material becomes available. This includes children’s books.