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Reading Non-Fiction Books Are Not as Horrible as You Might Think! by Lorenza M. (7th grade)

At the beginning of the year, Mrs. Moye announced that our next unit would include reading an informational non-fiction book. I was a little disappointed because in my mind non-fiction meant huge, boring books that my dad likes to read. However, I was proven wrong.

Our first task was to choose the book we wanted to read. We had countless books to pick from that covered a vast variety of topics. I’ve always been interested in medicine and the human body, so I chose The Book of Blood.

In the weeks to come, I became obsessed with my book. I learned more from reading that book than any anatomy lesson I’ve ever had in science. I also made it my life’s goal to tell all my friends and teachers the nastiest facts about blood.

Our final project for the unit, after we finished our books, was to created a presentation about the topic we learned. From watching my peers’ presentation, I learned about plenty of topics I had no knowledge about, and it was super fun sharing what I’d learned with my class.

Reading a non-fiction book taught me never to judge a book by its genre, and neither should you! The book I read for this unit was one of the best and most resourceful books I’ve ever read, and I plan to continue reading non-fiction books even if I don’t have to.

Dos and Don’ts When Picking Out a Book by Clara A. (8th grade)

DOs

  • DO get out of your comfort zone!
    • Reading different genres exposes you to different situations, types of characters, and points of view. Plus, you won’t know if you like a certain genre if you have never tried it.
  • DO ask someone for recommendations.
    • There are many books in the world. You won’t read them all, so ask for help. Your friends probably know great books that you’ve never heard of.
  • DO read the next book of the series as soon as possible.
    • If you read the 2nd book of the series a long time after reading the 1st book, it may be very confusing if you don’t remember the 1st book.

DON’Ts

  • DON’T judge a book by its cover!
    • While the saying may be cliche, it is true. Saying a book is bad because it looks bad is similar to saying a jacket does not keep you warm just because it has a bad design on the front. It just isn’t right!
  • DON’T not read a book just because you don’t know the author.
    • If you don’t read Long Way Down because you don’t know Jason Reynolds, then you are missing out on a great book. And that is just one example. There are many authors you don’t know that have great books.
  • DON’T judge a book by its movie.
    • There are so many great books with horrible movies (ex. City of Ember). Many directors have to change the book’s details, and this ends up making the movie worse than the book! Trust me, books are always better than the movie!

If You Liked… by Tulsi M. and Stanley T. (8th grade)

  • If you like Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, you’ll love The Young Elites by Marie Lu.
  • If you like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, you’ll love Warcross by Marie Lu.
  • If you like Scythe by Neal Shusterman, you’ll love Renegades by Marissa Meyer.
  • If you like Rescued by Eliot Schrefer, you’ll love Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby.
  • If you like Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan, you’ll love Magnus Chase by Rick Riordan.
  • If you like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, you’ll love Dear Martin by Nic Stone.
  • If you like the movie Tarzan, you’ll love Rescued by Eliot Schrefer.
  • If you like the movie 9/11, you’ll love The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner.
  • If you like the T.V. show Steven Universe, you’ll love Upside Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Emily Jenkins, and Lauren Myracle.
  • If you like the T.V. show Star Wars: The Clone Wars, you’ll love Star Wars: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston.

Thank you to my wonderful students, Lorenza, Clara, Tulsi, and Stanley, for sharing your advice!

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In continuing the reflections shared on Friday, here are some students’ reflection posts on taking Advanced Reading with me:

Favorite Activities in Mrs. Moye’s Class by Daniel U. and Ian B. (6th grade)

  • Book Trailers: We made a whole presentation about a book we read and liked. Mrs. Moye gave us recommendations of where to make the presentations and helped us prepare to type our ideas and thoughts about the books. We also added images and music, and we presented it to the class. It was a fun experience making the presentation and watching all of them and learning about new books.
  • In-Class Book Clubs: Mrs. Moye gave us a choice of what book we wanted to read with a group then set up dates for our book club meetings where we talk about the book. In between meetings, we write questions to discuss with our group. This was great because you get to socialize and get to read a great book and discuss it with others.
  • Passion Research Project: We made a presentation about a topic that connected to Rescued, the book we read. We used different websites to get our information that we turn into a presentation with images. Then we presented it to the class who jotted down facts and new things that they learned from each presentation.
  • Affixes: We learned how to use different word parts such as prefixes, suffixes and roots, and how to use them to define unknown words by breaking down words. This makes passages easier because the different meanings of word parts help us understand words that we may not know. When we break them down while reading, we can figure the passage out.
  • Novel Study: We read Rescued by Eliot Schrefer as a class, answered questions about the book, and we did focus questions every week while we were reading. Then we went on a field trip to the Center for Great Apes!

Why I Decided to Stay in Advanced Reading for Three Years by Maria N. (8th grade)

I decided to stay in Mrs. Moye’s class for all three years of middle school because not only is it a great learning experience, but it is also fun. Mrs. Moye’s class has taught me things that I didn’t learn in other classes and that made me feel very smart. Word parts were also a need to know in her class, and they helped so much when I didn’t know a word on tests. Her class was also fun because we got to laugh, smile, and cry over amazing books. I made friends that I will forever be thankful for. I not only made great friends, but these friends like books just like I do. Mrs. Moye gave us many book options that my friends and I could read, including reading the same book if we wanted to or we could read books that are completely different. So many options. I am so thankful for Mrs. Moye’s class.

Why I Decided to Join This Class in 8th Grade by Haruna R. (8th grade)

I decided to join this class because I heard a lot of good things about it. When I heard that it was about reading books, I got more interested in it. I also knew a lot of my friends were in it, and they told me there are so many books to read. When I first came into the class, all I saw was books. I saw so many series that I love, and we got to check out books with no specific due date. Mrs. Moye is very flexible about turning in and grading work. She also makes the class fun. I like to read books as a class and in book clubs. We also had a field trip to The Center for Great Apes which was a great experience, and we could connect the book we read to the field trip. Mrs. Moye has read so many books, so whenever I read a book, I could talk to her about it. I could also ask questions about the book. Mrs. Moye also recommends books and talks about books she has read, so we can read it if we want. There is never a time when I ran out of books to read. Mrs. Moye encourages us to read and tells us about books that she enjoys. We use Goodreads to keep track of what we read and what we want to read. You can discover new books on the website, too, and can even narrow them down by genres. Overall, Mrs. Moye’s reading class has been wonderful, and I will miss it very much!

Why I Didn’t Leave Advanced Reading by Amanda C. (8th grade)

When I saw my schedule the summer before 7th grade, I was so upset to see that I was taking a reading class. I hated reading! It was boring, and there was never any good books to read. When the first day of school rolled around, I was dreading the very though of going to first period. I assumed that I was probably going to get assigned a whole book to finish by the end of the week. The teacher was probably mean, too. But I was wrong. Mrs. Moye turned out to be so sweet and had such a passion for reading. And no, I didn’t have to finish a book by the end of the week. In fact, Mrs. Moye let her students read whatever they wanted. She had a huge classroom library with every kind of book you could think of, including books even SHE hasn’t read yet. We got to do research projects, make book trailers, and we even had a debate unit! I had a lot more fun in her class than I thought I would. And while we did all of these things, the most important thing I did was find a love for reading. By loving to read, my vocabulary has gotten so much larger, and I’ve found some great friends through reading and the class. I’m going to miss walking into Mrs. Moye’s class every morning because her classroom is somewhere I feel safe and joyful. Thanks for everything, Mrs. Moye! <3

Thank you to my wonderful students, Daniel, Ian, Maria, Haruna, and Amanda, for sharing the joy you got from my class! I have the same joy teaching you all! XOXO

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Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You
Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator: James E. Ransome
Published January 2nd, 2018 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Summary: You can be a King. Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall.
You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience.

Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King’s life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford’s poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives. See a class of young students as they begin a school project inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King’s example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world . . . to be a King. 

Praise: 

“While the book is accessible as an inspiring primer on social justice and taking action, it also challenges more sophisticated readers to make connections between the art, the text, Dr. King’s life, the civil rights movement at large, and the continuing struggle to affect change . . .This book is sure to spark discussion and empower readers of all ages.” –  Starred review, School Library Journal

“Thoughtful paintings of moving scenes are paired with brief, motivational reflections that evoke all the sentiment and fervor of the American civil rights movement.” –  Foreword Review

“The book manages to make essential lessons in civic responsibility accessible to the very young reader.” –  Booklist

“The historical scenes, painted in Ransome’s signature thick, saturated style, are infused with a powerful sense of narrative.” –  Publishers Weekly

“The use of rich, realistic paintings with pencil detailing for King’s life contrasts with the brighter, simpler drawings for the contemporary children, giving a physical reminder that his work is ongoing.” –  School Library Connection

ReviewI am so happy that a book like this exists! It makes a beautiful connection between King’s history and how the same concepts can (and should!) drive us today. The book is very young kid friendly and is a great scaffold to talk about Dr. King or about kindness; however, it could also be used with older kids to infer and go deeper into the lyrical language Weatherford uses. I also loved how Ransome’s illustrations changed between King’s biography and the more contemporary school narrative.

P.S. As a teacher and a person who believes in kindness and equity and acceptance and friendship, I am so happy to see conversations like this happening so freely now! My students and I speak about injustice and prejudice and equity so often now when it would have been a stigma just a few years ago to even mention race or other social justice issues. It is important to talk about race in a non-prejudicial way with children to allow them to learn and grown and reflect. Sadly, it has been through horrific injustices that has gotten us to this point, but hopefully with our future generations having these types of conversations starting at such a young age, these injustices will stop.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Have students look at each school spread (or split up the spreads between groups of students) and ask them to connect the ideals happening in the spread with something that King spoke about. This idea can also be used with the King spreads because it does not explicitly state what historical event each spread is representing, so students could look through King’s story and try to match each illustration and words with an event in his life.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What was Dr. King’s dream?
  • What are some ways you can fulfill this dream?
  • Although he was speaking of a much larger issue than a classroom, how can King’s ideals be transferred to how we treat each other in the classroom?
  • What events of King’s life were portrayed in the illustrations?
  • What other ways could you BE A KING?
  • Why do you believe the author wrote this story?
  • What is the author trying to teach the reader?
  • How did the author structure the story to reach her purpose and theme?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Stories of MLK, Jr.’s life, Books (historical fiction or nonfiction) about the Civil Rights MovementEach Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson,

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall 

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Yesterday, I shared some words about my classroom after Parkland and how I am talking with my students about this tragedy because I think it is so important that we as teachers talk with our students about how to deal with the emotions they are feeling about Parkland. Today, I am going to share how my school chose to honor and mourn the Parkland victims.

I was so proud of my school for giving students the option to take part in the National School Walkout today that was organized by Empower, the Women’s March Youth Initiative. Thank you to our Student Government; their sponsor, Ms. Harriss; and our administration for setting up our walkout for today.

At 10:00am today, approximately 1,000 of our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders chose to walkout to mourn the 17 murdered in Parkland and to show solidarity against school violence.

I think any teacher that was worried about students not taking the walkout seriously were greatly surprised with the maturity and solidarity that our students showed. These thousand preteens and young teens were silent as we remembered the lives that were lost and to show we stand with our fellow Eagles of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

After the music that signaled our time to enter the courtyard stopped, our principal and Student Government representatives spoke on the PA system about our purpose:

“The majority of those who died in the Parkland shooting were children, bright teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers and coaches who devoted their lives to helping their children fulfill their dreams.

This evening we will all go home and hug our families a little tighter. But there are families in Parkland who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans, as Eagles, and as fellow students. Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need, to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories, but also in ours.”

-Principal’s speech inspired by and adapted from President Obama’s address about Sandy Hook

Student Government representatives then took over:

“Let us remember the victims…

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, was a student at Stoneman Douglas and a soccer player for Parkland Travel Soccer. Lori Alhadeff, Alyssa’s mother, dropped her daughter off at school and said, “I love you.” When her mother heard about the shooting, she hustled to school, but was too late.

Scott Beigel, 35, was a geography teacher who was killed as he tried to usher students back into his classroom when the shooting broke out. One of his students said that he died saving her. “Mr. Beigel was my hero and he still will forever be my hero. I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom,” she said. “I am alive today because of him.”

Martin Duque Anguiano, 14 was a very funny kid, outgoing, and sometimes really quiet. He was sweet and caring and loved by all his family.

Nicholas Dworet, 17 was killed in the shooting, he had been recruited for the University of Indianapolis swim team and would have been an incoming freshman this fall.

Aaron Feis, 37, an assistant football coach, was killed when he threw himself in front of students to protect them from oncoming bullets. Mr. Feis, suffered a gunshot wound and died after he was rushed into surgery. “He died the same way he lived — he put himself second. He died a hero.”

Jaime Guttenberg, 14 was among the victims, according to a Facebook post by her father, Fred. “My heart is broken. Yesterday, Jennifer Bloom Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school. We lost our daughter and my son Jesse Guttenberg lost his sister.

Chris Hixon, 49 was the school’s athletic director — as an awesome husband, father and American, according to his widow Debra.

Luke Hoyer, 15 was an amazing individual. Always happy, always smiling. His smile was contagious, and so was his laugh.

Cara Loughran, 14 danced at the Drake School of Irish Dance in South Florida. “Cara was a beautiful soul and always had a smile on her face,”

Gina Montalto, 14 was a member of the winter guard on the school’s marching band.

Joaquin Oliver, 17 was born in Venezuela, moved to the United States when he was 3 and became a naturalized citizen in January 2017. His interests included football, basketball, the Venezuelan national soccer team, urban graffiti and hip-hop.

Alaina Petty’s, 14, family said she was vibrant and determined. She had volunteered after Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September. She was a part of the “Helping Hands” program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,and was also a member of the junior ROTC at her school.

Meadow Pollack, 18 had been accepted at Lynn University in Boca Raton. Meadow was a lovely young woman, who was full of energy.

Helena Ramsay, 17 was a smart, kind hearted, and thoughtful person. She was deeply loved and loved others even more so. Though she was some what reserved, she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies, and her soft warm demeanor brought the best out in all who knew her.

Alex Schachter, 14 participated in the school marching band and orchestra, playing baritone and trombone.

Carmen Schentrup, 16 was a National Merit Scholar semifinalist.

Peter Wang, 15 had been a member of the junior ROTC program, Friends said Peter was shot while holding a door open to let fellow classmates get to safety. Thousands of people have signed a White House petition asking for him to be buried with military honors. “His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens.”

We join together today, in this courtyard, to make a promise and a commitment to say NEVER AGAIN.”

-Information for list of victims taken from various CNN articles.

Student Government members then read some responses to the tragedy written by our students. I do not know the specific ones that the SGA chose to read, but here are some of, what I felt were, the most poignant responses our middle school students wrote in reflection of the tragedy:

Fear and guns have no place in schools. No kid should worry about going to school and not coming back. Those kids were just like us, they had their whole lives ahead of them. It is not fair for anyone to take that away. We can’t just sit around and wait for someone to take action, we have to stand up, for us and for those who lost their lives.If not us, then who? We HAVE to be the one we’ve been waiting for. We can never forget what happened, and we need to do everything in our power to not let it happen again. -L.M.

What a tragedy that has happened. School is supposed to be a safe place, but now some people are afraid to go to school. My prayers go out to the families who lost their loved ones that died too soon. This horrible event was so close to us it’s scary. All these shootings are happening it makes me wonder what this world has come to. Instead of just talking about it, we need to do something about it, because this could happen to us. We need to stand up against gun violence, and that is why we walk out today, for the 17 people that died in the Douglas High School shooting. -C.D.

What happened at Parkland High is a terrible tragedy that should’ve never happened. Students go to school to attain a education. Students go to school to hang out with their friends. Some students think of school as their “safe” place. If something bad happened or hard stuff is going on at home, some students go to school to escape that hardship and have some fun. School should be a safe place to go no matter what. You give 10 months of the year to go to this place for 7 hours a day to learn and socialize. You leave your family to come to this place. They will do anything to take care of their children and make sure they are safe. School is a place where they send their children as they believe it is or should be a safe place to go. I believe that the gun violence that has occurred recently needs to change. It is unacceptable. People are brought to the world for a reason and no one deserves to have to face that action that occurred on February 14. I personally knew a few people who went to that school and thankfully survived. Their stories are insane of how they did everything they could in their power to live that day. Gun laws should be stricter as that man should not have attained a gun. Background checks are greatly needed to see why that person needs a gun let along an AR-15. What the students have done so far to try to get stricter gun laws is amazing. Now the government needs to do more. Background checks need to happen. The lives of students, teachers, administrators, literally anyone should matter and no one deserves to have to go through that. -S.K.

This tragedy should not be taken lightly. This was to close to HCMS. We need to take charge of this and not let it happen again. We need to support them in every way possible. Many people lost friends sisters brothers. Gun violence needs to stop. My mom is a Kindergarten Teacher and the day she told me of this shooting she was in tears, She said “I should not have to teach 5 year old’s how to run or hide is someone is trying to shoot them.” I feel no kid or adult should have to go through a tragedy like this. They will have to keep this in their memory for a life time and its not fair for them. We need to speak out and make a change. A school shooting should not even be a possibility or something we have to worry about, Unfortunately it was a reality and it has happened enough that its time to stop and now we need to take a stand and stop this from happening! for Parkland and Hunter’s Creek GO EAGLES!! -A

I’m glad that this has woken us up. This shouldn’t be a problem. This should have never happened. People like this shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun and the fact that these weapons are so easily accessible isn’t helping. We need stricter gun control. Whats more important, the 2nd amendment or our lives? Most gun owners have guns to protect themselves from other guns. So many precious lives have been lost do to guns being in the wrong hands. Pulse, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Virginia Tech, Stoneman Douglas High, the list goes on. It upsets me that there is a list. It seems inhumane to have a list. There shouldn’t be a list. All of these victims should have been alive and living but some psychos ended those lives. Lives we will forever miss.

Young lives.
Ready to thrive.
But instead,
They lay in a hospital bed.
With wrapped up wounds,
They will see the end soon.
One man with a gun
Ended all of their high school fun.
Even though our hearts are filled with sorrow,
Hopefully, it will bring no guns for tomorrow. -S.R.

I’m tired of all this violence on the world, and I feel we need stricter gun laws. There are some people that don’t understand how serious this is, they don’t understand the fact we can lose 17 young lives in only one day. Those people that pull the trigger wouldn’t be able to do it without a gun. This has to stop, all this violence is making the world worse. Today I pray for those who were affected at Parkland and I pray nothing like this keeps happening. -J.A.

The time is now to act on this. It doesn’t take a debate to determine that we should stop selling such dangerous guns. If we don’t, who will? -I.C.

Its sad that kids cant go to school without have to worry about getting killed or injured by other people because of their life problems. I feel sad for these parents who lost their children at school. Where they should be learning not dying. -J.M.

And there were so many more heartfelt, truly emotional responses that I was so proud of our students for writing.

The last two minutes of our walkout were spent listening to “We Are the World” played by our Chamber Orchestra.

When we returned to class, there was no way to easily transition back into the day, so I knew that we had to spend a moment. I was crying, they were crying…no one was going to get any learning at the moment. To help the transition, I took a couple of minutes to just talk about using our sadness to have courage to continue standing up for those who cannot. And to be okay with the sadness and anger they are feeling, but to hold onto it and remember to focus on taking those feelings and making them productive. I then said, “And we get to go on, but let’s cherish every day.”

This was one of the most emotional moments I have ever spent with my students, and the sadness, empathy, and anger that my students feel about this are real. They are the future, everyone, and they don’t like how the present is looking.

#NeverAgain #Enough

Teaching Tuesday on a Wednesday

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Last year was my first year taking part in a mock award when my lunch book club did the Mock Newbery. I loved the process and the conversations, but I really wanted to move to a less stressful book club and make the process more focused and to get more students involved, so I decided to do a mock award with my class; however, I knew that doing the Newbery well is a very long process, so I thought the Caldecott would be interesting to try with middle schoolers. And I was right!

When I decided to do a Mock Caldecott unit, I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I turned to my friends on Twitter who have done Mock Caldecott lessons before. I also turned to good-ole Google. With all of this help and a bit of hard work, I felt pretty good to start.

Choosing Books

To pick books, I completely trusted my PLN and myself, and I chose 20 books that blew them and/or me away. The books were:

A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider by Barbara Herkert, Ill. by Lauren Castillo
After the Fall by Dan Santat
All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, Ill. by Mike Curato
Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus, Ill. by Kadir Nelson
Claymates by Dev Petty, Ill. by Lauren Eldridge
Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee, Ill. by Pascal Lemaitre
Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine, Ill. by Fred Koehler
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
How to Be an Elephant by Katherine Roy
La La La by Kate DiCamillo, Ill. by Jaime Kim
Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin
Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Water by Michael Mahin, Ill. by Evan Turk
Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares
The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, Ill. by The Fan Brothers
The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken
The Rooster Who Would Not be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy, Ill. by Eugene Yelchin
The Wolf, The Duck, & The Mouse by Mac Barnett, Ill.by Jon Klassen
When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano, Ill. by Christian Robinson
Windows by Julia Denos, Ill. By E.B. Goodale
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

Standards and Learning Goals

To justify a Caldecott Unit, I needed to tie it to middle school standards, and I chose to focus on the standards of citing textual evidence to support analysis and presenting claims and findings with relevant evidence. There were also five secondary standards that fit the unit.

LAFS.8.RL.1.1 2 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
LAFS.8.SL.2.4 3 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
LAFS.8.SL.1.1d Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.
LAFS.8.RL.1.2 3 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
LAFS.8.RL.1.3 3 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
LAFS.8.RL.2.5 3 Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
LAFS.8.RL.2.6 3 Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Timeline

After determining the standards, I created a scale to help plan my timeline. I knew I needed to start with the students understanding the Caldecott criteria and end with students presenting claims and evidence supporting their claim.

Level Target Evidence
4 I can do level 3 plus I have appropriate eye contact, volume, and clear pronunciation and can think on my feet during a discussion. Mock Caldecott discussion
3 I can present claims and findings with sound reasoning, relevance, and cite evidence from the text that supports my analysis. Choose which potential winners they believe will be honored and present this claim using evidence from the text.
2 I can cite evidence from a text that supports my analysis (using a set of criteria). Analyze past winners for criteria.

Analyze potential winners for criteria.

1 I understand the criteria I will be using to analyze a text. Caldecott criteria presentation

Example Beekle analysis

The next step, in my Google searching, I found a wonderful Slideshare by librarian Steven Engelfried from Portland, Oregon. Over about 40 minutes in two days we went through all of the criteria. We also talked about some art elements vocabulary that they would need to know and use during the unit (and I found Quizlets on Elements of Art and Art Mediums!)

I’ll be honest, I really didn’t know where to go from here… Luckily, there is an amazing teacher from Illinois named Jessica Lifshitz who teaches 5th grade and wrote such a brilliant post about the Mock Caldecott unit in her classroom, and I finally felt like I could proceed with this unit and do it well–all because of this post! I’ve emailed Jessica to thank her, but I also want to publicly do it here–thank you, Jessica!

The next step was sharing books that already won or were honored for the Caldecott. We started with Beekle by Dan Santat as a whole class. Then, my students, in partners, got to browse a huge pile of Caldecott books, and I asked them to answer for each book: “Why did this book win over the others? How did it meet the Caldecott criteria?” I also had them rotate partners to make sure they were hearing different opinions and voices. Here are some examples of student answers:

Du Iz Tak? I think this book was honored over other picture books in the year it was published because the story is fun and in a made-up language which made us think about what they were talking about and try to translate it to English. She uses lots of space and colors. Some pages there are no words which make the pictures necessary to understand it. The medium she uses are gouache and ink.
Journey This book was honored over the others because the illustrations had such good creativity and were very unique. There was no writing, so you had to rely on the pictures to tell the story. The bird found the girl after she set him free, and led him to a friend. The story has a very good meaning, and a good purpose. It had a variety of contrasting colors, and showed the most important stuff in bright colors. It had a very powerful visual experience. It showed the plot, setting, and characters in illustrations. Her world was bland in the beginning, but after she came into the new world, everything explodes with color.
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub I think that this book was honored because all of the illustrations in the book are very detailed and tell the story without words. If you were to remove the words from the book you would still know what was going because all the pictures are very detailed and have a lot of different colors on every page.
Where the Wild Things Are I think this book was honored by how realistic the illustrations are and for how fun the story is. I love the leading lines the illustrator uses how there are no words over the illustrations giving the book plenty of white space. All the spreads have plenty of  happy colors which for me makes the book very appropriate for kids.
Swimmy The book was drawn with watercolors. The illustrator was very meticulous and detailed when he was painting the pictures. It actually felt like some objects had a texture  that you could feel. It was very entertaining. Younger children would be fascinated with the drawings and would love the story. This was a great book in all aspects.
Interrupting Chicken I think this book was honored because it included other famous stories but with a plot twist. They included little red riding hood and she was on her way to go to her grandma when she met a stranger and the chicken said don’t talk to strangers. Then the story ended so fast. The style of the chicken’s drawing of his own story was like a child’s actual drawing. It was very kiddy and I liked that the story was kind of based off of what the dad was trying to do to the chicken. He kept telling him stories but he never fell asleep. Now the chicken told him a story about his dad not falling asleep but in real life the dad fell asleep before the story ended. The illustrations look like they are painted and the colors are very warm to make the room seem cozy.

Now that they were experts on the criteria and saw example of winners/honors, it was time to jump into our Mock Caldecott titles. To evaluate these books, I had them look specifically at each part of the Caldecott Criteria, and they had to answer how the book fit or didn’t fit the criteria. I set up a pretty clear close reading process for them to follow:

  • First read: Just read the book and enjoy!
  • Second read: Focus on the illustrations. How do they meet Caldecott criteria? What does the author excel at? Use Post-Its to annotate your thoughts.
  • Third read: Focus on the narrative elements of the story. Use Post-Its to annotate your thoughts on how the illustrations enhanced the narrative.

Students started in pairs again then we scaffolded off to working independently. I also had them leave the Post-Its in the books, so the students were seeing thoughts across classes. Students were asked to get to at least ten of the mock books. We did this for over a week to allow them time to read as many as they can and also time to evaluate properly.

At the end of the unit and the Thursday and Friday before the ALA Youth Media Awards, it was time to start making predictions. First, I had them rank the books they read from favorite for the Caldecott to least favorite. Using these predictions, I gave books numerical scores and figured out average scores. I also had students get together in groups of three to five to pick their collaborative four favorite books and awarded bonus points. With all of these scores, I was able determine the winners for each class as well as for all of my classes.

The last thing my students did before finding out who had won was complete a written response answering:

  • What book do you feel best met the Caldecott criteria thus you feel should win?
  • What criteria did it most meet?
  • Share evidence supporting your claims.
    • Use RATE: Restate, Answer, Textual Evidence, Explain/Elaborate!

Some student responses:

  • I think that The Book Of Mistakes should win because it does appeal to kids because it is very colorful, with much space so they can focus on what is important. The rest of the book is white except for the illustrations, which I think is easier for the kids to understand what is important. Also, the illustrator used a lot of artistic medium, with paint, pen, and other things, she made very good illustrations that connected with the story. They really made a visual experience, because if you just had the story, you would not know what was going on at all, and so you had to depend on the pictures to tell the story. I think that this book should win the Mock Caldecott award because I think that it deserves it with beautiful illustrations that have a good meaning and theme, and I think that they really appeal to kids, and so therefore should win the Mock Caldecott Award. The illustrations were very nice, and they tell the characters, and other narrative elements. There was a lot of line, space, colors and other things that made the illustrations very unique among other illustrations by other illustrators. The colors did change depending on many things, and the color choices were very good. I think that The Book Of Mistakes should win the Mock Caldecott Award.
  • I think After the Fall would win the Caldecott. The reasoning in this is because with the amount of detail put into the text more specifically the illustrations. The illustrations in the book show a big part of the story. It shows the sequence of events with the illustrations now that the egg falls then he lives a sad life without being able to climb due to his fear. You can see the emotion and detail with everything he does not like being grey or showing sadness. Then, in the end, he made an invention to be able to fly again a mini plane even with him having bandages and being injured after the fall. He tests it out and then it gets stuck on where he fell he decides to go up and with the pictures you could see how stressed out he was. Then at the end, you can see the light and feathers cracking showing that he is becoming a bird. But that’s not the first reference throughout the book it shows birds on every page giving reference to the end of it. Then you see him fly away into the sky after he hatches. That is why After the Fall will win the Caldecott.
  • The book Little Fox In The Forest is going to win because of its unique illustrations. These illustrations such as when the Little girl lives in a colorless world and brings her colorless fox to show and tell. When the little girl is swinging on the swing she finds the orange fox stealing her colorless stuffed fox . Now the little girl and her best friend is chasing the fox and follows the fox in the forest. Then all the sudden you start to see little experts of color, and then there was a very colorful magical forest. This book was such a good using of artistic medium and a very good visual experience this book definitely deserves to be on top.
  • I think Wolf in the Snow should win the mock Caldecott because of the detail in the illustrations. It has a story in the illustrations which is about a wolf cub and a girl who help each other out. The detail in the wolves and every picture is great, for example, the wolves breath due to the cold environment they are in. This book really appeals to kids because of the illustrations they are showing like when the wolf stares at the girl holding the wolf cub, and it creates a questioning of what will happen next. This book does not need words at all because you can already see the story from the illustrations. This means there is a great visual experience in the book.
  • The book that I think will win the Caldecott is Flashlight Night by Fred Koehler the illustrator of this book. I think this book will win because it tells the story with the imaginations of kids and uses lots of colors and is told amazingly. I think this book appeals to kids because it shows how you imaginations can take you anywhere. The art to make this book was very detail from one illustration to the next. The illustrations work amazing with the story because depending on what the illustration was the story would match up perfectly with it. This are some of the reasons why I think that Flashlight Night should win the Mock Caldecott this year.

Our Winners

The ALA Youth Media Awards

On Monday, February 12th, my classes watch the ALA Youth Media Awards either live or recorded, and it was so much fun to watch their reactions when they saw books they read or their disappointment when their favorites didn’t win. We were so excited to see Grand Canyon and Wolf in the Snow honored with the Caldecott, and the students who put them high on their prediction felt so validated. There were three Caldecott honor books that we hadn’t had in our pile, so we have them coming from the public library, and I promised them that we’d have a conversation on why those titles may have won over the ones that we chose.

This unit was one of my favorite lessons ever, and I was so impressed with my students and the quality of books! Thank you to everyone who helped me make this possible, and I hope that if you are reading this and never done a Mock Caldecott award that you now feel like you could because if I can, you can 🙂 

 

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Love
Author: Matt de la Peña
Illustrator: Loren Long
Published January 9th, 2018

Summary: From Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long comes a story about the strongest bond there is and the diverse and powerful ways it connects us all.

“In the beginning there is light
and two wide-eyed figures standing near the foot of your bed
and the sound of their voices is love.

A cab driver plays love softly on his radio
while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city
and everything smells new, and it smells like life.”

In this heartfelt celebration of love, Matt de la Peña and  illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

Kellee’s Review: I sat here for a long time trying to figure out how to put into words how I feel about this book. I just can’t, but I will try. 

Let me give you some history. At ALAN in 2016, I believe, Matt was a speaker, and he shared how he’d written a poem about love to share with his daughter when the world didn’t seem so loving. Matt’s daughter is approximately Trent’s age and she’s his first just like Trent is, so I completely understood his feelings–the reality that we’ve brought children into this hard world. When Matt read his beautiful words, I cried. It was beautiful. At the end of the poem, he let us know it was going to be a book, and I had very high expectations.

Then at NCTE 2017, I heard that Penguin had a finished copy. I thought that there was no way that the book could live up to what I expected. But then I read it. And I cried again. I, probably rudely, found Matt right away, maybe interrupting a conversation he was having with someone else, to tell him what a beautiful book he and Loren had created. Matt’s poem had been about love, but the book is about LOVE. Love in the sense that every one needs to start thinking about–love between every person. Empathy. Understanding. Tolerance. Unity. Love for all humans.

And as I read it over and over (after I was lucky enough to receive a copy), I couldn’t think of a kid I didn’t want to share it with. I wanted to share it with my son to talk about how much I love him and how he should love all of human kind; I wanted to share it with my friend who is a 2nd grade teacher, so she could share it with all of her students; I wanted to share it with my students, so we can discuss about the love and acceptance found in each spread and each word; and I am so happy to be sharing it here with all of you so that it can be in every person’s life.

Also, please read this amazing article by Matt de la Peña: “Why We Shouldn’t Shield Children from Darkness” from Time and Kate DiCamillo’s follow-up “Why Children’s Books Should Be a Little Bit Sad” where she answers a question de la Peña posed in his article as well as this Twitter thread from Sayantani DasGupta where she explores the need for joy in the darkeness! It truly embodies my parenting and teaching philosophy: that although kids are kids, they are also humans and future adults; life should be about being real and about happiness.

In the end, I want to just thank these two amazing men for writing this phenomenal book that I so feel is needed so badly right now, and thank you for including nothing but truth within it including inclusion of all types of people and children and situations and cultures and races and ethnicities, etc.

Ricki’s Review: I am really looking forward to seeing Matt de la Peña next month during his tour! This book is absolutely stunning, and we will certainly be purchasing many copies to give as baby shower gifts. The entire text simply emanates love. It is honest, poetically, and it treats children as the intelligent people that they are. The illustrations are simply marvelous and the words dance across the page. I simply don’t have the words to share how absolutely beautiful this book is. When I think of this book, I think about a warm, cozy house and two little boys on my lap. And these little boys make me feel love, love, love.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’ll talk about one scene specifically, which happens to be my favorite.

As soon as I saw this scene, I wanted to show it to students and have discussions with them. How does this scene make them feel? Who is the family? What are they watching? What clues did they use to answer these questions?

Then I would add in the word that accompany the scene:

“One day you find your family
nervously huddled around the TV,
but when you asked what happened,
they answer with silence
and shift between you and the screen.”

And I would ask them how these words change the inferences they made about the spread.

Lastly, I would ask them why this stanza would be in a poem about love, how it fits with the theme, and what it represents.

Another idea that I brainstormed with my friend Jennie Smith are:

  • Recreate my experience by sharing the poem first with the circumstances I shared above. Then reread the poem to them but with the illustrations.
    • After the first read, you can also have them make their own illustrations analyzing the words then compare/contrast the choices that Loren Long made with what they did.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why did the author and illustrator include tough scenes in their picture book about love?
  • Which scene represents love the most for you?
  • Which scene are you glad they included?
  • How does the poem differ with and without the illustrations?
  • What different purposes could this poem of love be perfect for?

Flagged Passages: *psst!* Matt may have told me this is (one of) his favorite spreads:

Read This If You Love: Love. (But seriously, read this. Period.)

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“Talking to Kids About the Sixth Mass Extinction”

I think that when most people hear the word ‘extinction,’ dinosaurs come to mind first. But the truth is, billions of species have gone extinct in Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history.

Many of these were background extinctions, a normal part of life on this planet. There have also been five mass extinctions—events that wiped out more than 50 percent of species at one time. Perhaps the most well-known of these is the asteroid that hit the earth 66 million years ago and wiped out those dinosaurs.

What is not well-known, however, is that there is a sixth mass extinction currently underway.

The normal background extinction rate for mammals is one extinction every 100 years. But in the past 100 years, there have been more than 40 extinctions. Looking at all species on Earth, everything from the smallest microbes to the largest mammals, scientists estimate that the current extinction rates are 1,000 to 10,000 higher than normal. But unlike the previous five extinctions, this one is our fault.

We spend a lot of time talking about climate change, but we also need to pay more attention to the species that are dying off because of that and other human-related causes.

It’s time to spread the word. Before I wrote Extinction: What Happened to the Dinosaurs, Mastodons, and Dodo Birds?, there weren’t any books for kids that talked about the sixth extinction or what they can do to help slow this trend. Kids need to know what’s happening to the planet they are inheriting. And they need to be empowered to take action. In some ways, it seems a daunting task to stop extinctions. But history has proven that one person can make a difference in the world, and that together we can do even more.

It’s important to start the discussion with kids and to show them that even at their age, there are things they can do to create positive change. Here are some ideas!

Activity: Start the Discussion

If the scientists’ predictions are right, three out of four species will go extinct over the next few hundred years. What will the world be like? Take students outside so they can get a better understanding of this prediction. Have students list the different species they observe. Encourage them turn over rocks, crawl in a garden, think about what is underground, or look in a tree. Remind them to include insects, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, trees, and plants. Can they find 10? 20?

Once they have a list, ask students to cross out three out of every four of those species on it. For this activity, those crossed off species are the ones that will become extinct.

Questions for discussion:

  • Are the extinct species part of the food chain? What will happen to the other species that rely on that species for food or shelter?
  • What will happen to species when their main predators die off?
  • Can the ecosystem can be healthy, even with those missing species? Why or why not?
  • Can some of the surviving species adapt? What adaptations would they need to survive?

 Activity: Taking Action

Another way to get kids thinking about extinction is to have them think about their own carbon footprint. Start with a discussion of the terms “carbon footprint” and “carbon emissions.” Then, discuss and list the things humans do that require burning fossil fuel. Each of these activities contributes to global warming and ocean acidification, and ultimately to increased extinction rates. But there are things we can do to reduce carbon emissions.

There are many online resources that can help students research this, including NASA’s Climate Kids website (https://climatekids.nasa.gov/), and other carbon footprint calculators. The purpose of the activity is to have students identify their own actions that contribute to carbon emissions and what actions they can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

Questions for discussion:

  • What can you do in your home or community to reduce your carbon footprint?
  • Will making changes in how you live be easy or difficult?
  • Calculate the carbon emission reduction if everyone in the class took one step to reduce their carbon footprint. What would the savings be if each student could also convince three other families to do the same thing? How about if 1,000 families in the community took steps to lower emissions?

Activity: Planning for the Future

Tell students they are a team of engineers for a new town that’s going to be built. All that’s there right now is a mix of prairie and forest. Their job is to make it as green as possible. They must find a way to balance the need of humans and the needs of the environment and the species that live there.

Start by researching what makes a city green. Also, students must consider all the things in a town that people need—homes, schools, food stores, etc. They can even discuss their own town or city as an example of things you want to include (or omit) in the town they design and build. Possible activities include collages, models, dioramas, or drawing. The focus should be on the green details.

Questions for discussion:

  • What was easy about creating a green city? Difficult?
  • What was difficult about balancing the needs of the environment with the needs of people?
  • What can be done in their own town or city to move it towards being more green?

Discussions and research lead to awareness. Awareness leads to action. And action creates change!

Extinction: What Happened to the Dinosaurs, Mastodons, and Dodo Birds? (with 25 Projects)
Published September 15th, 2017 by Nomad Press

About the Book: Have you seen a dodo bird recently? Do you have mastodons playing in your back yard? Not likely—these species are extinct. In Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history, more than 5 billion species have gone extinct, some of them at the same time. In Extinction: What Happened to the Dinosaurs, Mastodons, and Dodo Birds? readers ages 9 to 12 learn about the scientific detective work scientists perform to find the culprit behind mass extinctions, including the present-day, sixth mass extinction.

About the Author: Laura Perdew is an author, writing consultant, and former middle school teacher. She has written more than 15 books for the education market on a wide range of subjects, including the animal rights movement, the history of the toilet, eating local, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. She is a long-time member of the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators. Laura lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Thank you, Laura, for pushing us to start this conversation with our students!

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