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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
Authors: Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth
Illustrator: Ekua Holmes
Published March 14th, 2017 by Candlewick Press

Summary: Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award–winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.

A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree offer a glorious, lyrical ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder.

Review: This anthology is beautiful. Alexander, Colderley, and Wentworth beautifully pay homage to each poet. Their tribute poems are impeccably written and not only do the poems follow the style of the poet but also teach us about the lives of the poet. And Holmes’s artwork pushes the book to another level. I also adored the diversity of the poets, as well as the types of poems, chosen.

And Out of Wonder can definitely be a perfect mentor text for a poetry unit, and I can definitely see it being paired with Love That Dog to expand what Creech started.

Teaching Guide with Prereading Activities, Discussion Questions, and Classroom Extensions (by teacher Mary Lee Hahn): 

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech; Poetry by any of the poets honored in the book: Naomi Shihab Nye, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Bashō, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, Walter Dean Myers, Emily Dickinson, Terrance Hayes, Billy Collins, Pablo Neruda, Judith Wright, Mary Oliver, Cwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, William Carlos Williams, Okot p’Bitek, Chief Dan George, Rumi, or Maya Angelou

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nfpb2017

Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

And don’t forget to celebrate EARTH DAY on the 22nd!

Animal Ark
Created by and Photographer: Joel Sartore
Poet: Kwame Alexander
Published February 14th, 2017 by National Geographic Society

About the Book: National Geographic Kids proudly announces the release of Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures, a picture book for children ages 4-8 written by Newbery Medal-winning author Kwame Alexander and featuring photographs by acclaimed National Geographic Fellow and photographer Joel Sartore. Animal Ark pairs Alexander’s uplifting poetry and prose with more than 100 of Sartore’s most compelling images of the world’s species to create a book for children that highlights the importance of conservation and the beauty of the animal kingdom.

Animal Ark is inspired by the National Geographic Photo Ark, a multiyear effort with Sartore and the National Geographic Society to document every species in captivity—inspiring people not just to care, but also to help protect these animals for future generations. To date, Sartore has completed portraits of more than 6,000 species, photographed on either a plain black or white background. No matter its size, each animal is treated with the same amount of affection and respect. The results are portraits that are not just stunningly beautiful, but also intimate and moving.

The companion adult book, National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals (National Geographic Books)—with a foreword by Harrison Ford—also showcases Sartore’s animal portraits: from tiny to mammoth, from the Florida grasshopper sparrow to the greater one-horned rhinoceros. In 2017, National Geographic Photo Ark exhibitions are opening at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the Dallas Zoo, and the Cincinnati Zoo. Learn more at NatGeoPhotoArk.org and join the conversation on social media with #SaveTogether.

About Joel Sartore: Joel Sartore is a photographer, speaker, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic fellow, regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and founder of the National Geographic Photo Ark.  In addition to the work he has done for National Geographic, Sartore has contributed to Audubon magazine, Time, Life, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, the Smithsonian magazine and numerous book projects.  His next book for adults, National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals  will be released in March 2017.

About Kwame Alexander: Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times bestselling author of 21 books, including The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children. His other recent works include Booked, Surf’s Up, and He Said, She Said. He is the founder of Book-in-a-Day, a student-run publishing program that has created more than 3,000 student authors in 75 schools; and LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy project that builds libraries, trains teachers, and empowers children through literature. In 2015, Kwame served as Bank Street College of Education’s first writer-in-residence.

Book Trailer: 

My Review: I am in love with all of these animals! Do you see how cute they are?!?! And I love the message that Joel Sartore, National Geographic Kids, and Kwame Alexander are spreading with this text: “At its heart, the Photo Ark was born out of necessity… I  started to see that people weren’t paying much attention to the fate of all the others species we share this planet with. Without action, and soon, I worried that many animals could go extinct. The Photo Ark is my answer to this. By introducing the entire world to thoughts of photographs of [animals], I hope we can get everyone following, liking, tweeting, and even talking about this wondrous world of ours.” -Joel Sartore. I care deeply for all living things, and I have the same fear that Sartore has–that too many people are so caught up in their own little worlds that they aren’t focusing on the big world around us. The continual denial of climate change, the recent possible elimination of many of the EPA’s environmental protections, and so many other things makes the possibilities of us ruining our Earth even closer to reality 🙁

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Animal Ark has writing and science opportunities for the classroom. First, the theme of the book works beautifully within a science unit about endangered animals. Mix the text with the website What is Missing? by Maya Lin, and there are so many opportunities to discuss conservation and sustainability. Kwame Alexander’s poetry also gives an opportunity for poetry writing. In the Author’s Note, National Geographic shares information about haiku. Although all of Kwame’s poetry does not fit the traditional haiku format and we wouldn’t recommend it for a haiku mentor text, it shows how poets can take a traditional format and embrace yet manipulate it for their purpose.

Discussion Questions: Which animal would you like to learn more about?; What can humans do to help save these animals?; What is the theme of Animal Ark? What is the author/photographer trying to teach us?

Flagged Passages: 

Photography Outtakes!

Read This If You Love: National Geographic texts about animals, Poetry anthologies about nature including Water is Water by Miranda Paul, Books about making a difference like Dare to Dream…Change the World by Jill Corcoran & Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thomson

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing copes for review!**

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Pig the Pug
Author: Aaron Blabey
Published: July 1, 2014 by Scholastic

A Guest Review by Rebecca Welch

Summary: Pig is a greedy dog and does not want to share his toys with his housemate, Trevor. Trevor thinks it would be a great idea if him and Pig shared toys because then they would be able to play together. Pig does not give in and gathers all of his toys so Trevor can’t get to them. A mishap occurs that makes pig realize the importance of sharing and friendship.

Review: This book is great for any elementary school classroom! I absolutely loved it and thought that the message at the end was applicable to any group of young children. The rhyming makes the book great for a fun read aloud and the illustrations are fantastic. There was also a bit of humor. I highly recommend this picture book.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be great to teach rhyming because each page rhymes. You could talk about the moral of a story and use it as a segway to students’ writing about a time where they learned an important lesson (moral). You could have students determine the meaning of the idiom “flip a wig” by the using context clues and then study other common idioms afterwards. In addition, you could introduce character traits and determine the traits of Pig and Trevor. You can also practice making predictions by predicting what will happen to Pig. It would also be a great classroom discussion facilitator on sharing and the importance of friendship.

Discussion Questions: How do you think Trevor may be feeling when Pig won’t share his toys?; What does it mean to be greedy or selfish?; What do you predict will happen to Pig?; Can we think of any times that we have been greedy or selfish?; What does “flip a wig mean”?; What is the moral of this story?

Flagged Passage: “I know what your game is, you want me to SHARE! But I’ll never do that! I won’t and I swear!” (p. 7).

Read This If You Loved: Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by Stacy McAnulty

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer
Author and Illustrator: Fiona Robinson
Published August 2nd, 2016 by Abrams Books

Summary: Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young, and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron’s “mad” love of poetry. But Ada remained fascinated with her father and considered mathematics “poetical science.” Via her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage, she became involved in “programming” his Analytical Engine, a precursor to the computer, thus becoming the world’s first computer programmer. This picture book biography of Ada Lovelace is a portrait of a woman who saw the potential for numbers to make art.

Teaching Guide with Discussion Questions and Activities: 

Ada’s Ideas: The Story of ADA LOVELACE, the World’s First Computer Programmer

Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young, and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron’s “mad” love of poetry. But Ada remained fascinated with her father and considered mathematics “poetical science.” Via her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage, she became involved in “programming” his Analytical Engine, a precursor to the computer, thus becoming the world’s first computer programmer. This picture book biography of Ada Lovelace is a portrait of a woman who saw the potential for numbers to make art.

Note about this guide and Ada’s Ideas

Ada Lovelace was a mathematician far ahead of her time. Because of this, much of the math included in Ada’s Ideas are quite complex. Because of this, Ada’s Ideas could be used for a wide range of students from early-elementary, focusing on Ada’s impact on math, to college, focusing on her use of complex math to write the first computer programs. Within this guide, you will find activities and discussion questions that primarily focus on its use in elementary and middle classrooms, but this does not limit it to these grade levels.

Vocabulary

These vocabulary words can be found throughout the book (in the order they are listed). Use these words as a starting point for a vocabulary study with Ada’s Ideas. Research shows that reading and discussing vocabulary within the context of reading is one of the most effective ways to learn vocabulary.

Despaired     |     Era     |    Defy     |    Reckless     |    Parallelogram     |    Influence     |    Steady     |    Whirred     |    Clanked     |    Newly Harnessed     |    Mechanical     |    Affectionate     |    Carrier Pigeon     |    Confined     |    Poetical expression     |    Aside     |    Eligible     |    Thrust     |     Regimented     |    Re-ignited     |    Potential     |    Orient     |    Corresponding     |    Loom     |    Thereby     |    Algorithm     |    Compute     |    Potential     |    Foresaw     |    Impact     |    Stunned     |    Envision

Activities: Use these activities to extend student learning with Ada’s Ideas.

Ana’s Parents

  • Ana’s parents are both well-renowned and intelligent; however, they are both very different.
  • Get to know George Byron
    • Have your students read the first stanza of “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron. Analyze the stanza with them and discuss: How is Lord Byron describing the subject of his poem? Does it fit your idea of “Romantic” as Lord Byron was considered a leading figure in the Romantic Movement of poetry.
      • She walks in beauty, like the night
        Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
        And all that’s best of dark and bright
        Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
        Thus mellowed to that tender light
        Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
  • Get to know Anne Isabella Byron
    • Lady Byron was wealthy and educated. She was tutored by a Cambridge University professor as a child and found she excelled at mathematics. Discuss with your students: How did Lady Byron’s fascination of mathematics influence Ana’s life? Do you think her life would have been the same if her mother had not been a mathematician herself?

Nature vs. Nurture

  • Discuss with your students the idea of nature vs. nurture.
  • Lord and Lady Byron worked hard to separate Lord Byron from Ada to try and limit her poetical and imaginative behavior; however, Ada still ended up with quite the imagination. What does this show us about nature vs. nurture? Was Ada’s mother able to change how she was going to grow up by separating her from her father, or did it not matter since she is biologically his daughter?
  • Have your students break into two sides and research the ideas of nature vs. nurture then debate whether a person’s DNA decides their development or if experiences and environment can change the development.
    • Extension: Move the debate to Ada’s situation instead of a generic debate about the idea.

Industrial Revolution

  • The Industrial Revolution was possible because of the engineers, scientists, and mathematicians who put theory into practice. These new exciting feats of engineering and science included the first reliable steam engine, the cotton gin, telegraph, dynamite, vaccines, telephone, light bulb, airplane, and automobile.
  • Individually, in partners, or in groups, assign a different Industrial Revolution invention and look at how it was created, how it changed the world, and how it changed science/math/engineering then present their findings to the class.
  • After learning more about the Industrial Revolution, tie it back to Ada Lovelace’s life by discussing if the class believes that Ada’s accomplishments could have happened during a different time in history.

Influence

  • Ada Lovelace’s findings are largely said to be the first computer program. Her programs, in conjunction with Babbage’s hardware, were a theory over a century before the first computers were invented in the United States and England. Even though she was not part of the actual invention and start of computer science, she influenced much of modern computer science. Use the information below as the starting point for a research paper/project or discussion.
  • Some of the ways Ada has influenced computer science are:
    • Mill made by Babbage’s son
      • Charles Babbage’s son made the part of the analytical engine called the mill which carried out numerical operations.
    • Alan Turing
      • Babbage and Lovelace’s analytical engine was the original “drum” computer though Turing is often portrayed as the inventor of the idea.
    • John Graham-Cumming
      • Graham-Cumming is a British programmer who is working to bring the analytical engine, known as Plan 28, to realization.
    • Some ways Ada has been commemorated:
      • ADA: a standardized computer language used by the US Department of Defense
        • A computer language that appeared for the first time in 1980 and is still used today.
      • Ada Lovelace Day
        • Ada Lovelace Day was founded in 2011 and aims to share female pioneers in STEM fields. Ada Lovelace Day is the second Tuesday of October.

Discussion Questions: Use these questions as whole class discussions, reading check-ins, or as writing prompts with Ada’s Ideas. The discussion questions are written as if they are being asked to a student.

  • Ada’s schedule as an 8-year-old was very intense. Compare and contrast your current schooling schedule to what Ada was expected to do daily.
    • How many hours did she spend on each subject? How long do you spend?
    • Do you feel like what was expected of her was too high of expectations or fair?
  • How did Ada’s contraction of measles change her life?
  • Why did the author choose to cover Ada’s comforter in geometric shapes on the page when she is suffering with measles?
  • Ada surrounded herself with some very intelligent and influential people including Mary Fairfax Somerville, nominated to be jointly the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society; Charles Dickens, one of the greatest novelist of the Victorian era; Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing; and Charles Babbage. How do you think having these historical figures as her friends helped influence her focus and trajectory in life?
  • The mentorship of Charles Babbage changed Ada’s life as well as the trajectory of computer science. How did Ada influence Charles’s work and vice versa? Do you think either could have accomplished what they did without each other?
    • Compare their work to modern technologies: Ada’s work ended up influencing the creations of ____, and Mr. Babbage’s work ended up influencing the creations of ____.
  • How did Joseph-Marie Jacquard’s loom influence Ada’s idea of the program for the Analytical Engine?
  • The author’s note about Bernoulli Numbers states that Ada chose them as “beautiful examples” of the complexity of the Analytical Engine. Elaborate on this statement: Why would Ada choose something so complicated as the first program she wrote for the Analytical Engine?
  • The illustrations of Ada’s Ideas are Japanese watercolor pieces cut out and rearranged at different depths to achieve 3-D artwork then photographed. How does this artwork fit Ada’s story? Would another type of illustrations have been able to capture Ada’s ideas and personality as well?

Common Core Standards: English Language Arts

Examples of English Language Arts Common Core Anchor Standards that can be met by extending Ada’s Ideas with the above discussion questions/activities.

  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2
    Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3
    Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4
    Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5
    Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7
    Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9
    Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Computer Science Teachers Association Standards

  • Computational Thinking: Grades K-3, #4: The student will be able to recognize that software is created to control computer operations.
  • Computational Thinking: Grades K-6, #6: The student will be able to understand the connections between computer science and other fields.
  • Computational Thinking: Grades 6-9, #3: The student will be able to define an algorithm as a sequence of instructions that can be processed by a computer.
  • Computing Practice and Programming: Grades K-3, #5: The student will be able to identify jobs that use computing and technology.
  • Computing Practice and Programming: Grades 6-9, #7: The student will be able to identify interdisciplinary careers that are enhanced by computer science.
  • Computers and Communication Devices: Grades 6-9, #3: The student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between hardware and software.
  • Computers and Communication Devices: Grade 6-9, #4: The student will be able to use developmentally appropriate, accurate terminology when communicating about technology.
  • Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts: Grade 6-9, #2: The student will be able to demonstrate the knowledge of changes in information technologies over time and the effects those changes have had on education, the workplace, and society.

Author/Illustrator

Fiona Robinson is originally from the north of England she now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is an author and illustrator of books for children including Whale Shines, What Animals Really Look Like, and Ada’s Ideas. What Animals Really Like received the 2012 Irma Black Award, and Bank Street named it one of the 2012 Best Children’s Books. She has been praised by Publishers Weekly for her “humor tinged with heart,” and her work has been honored by the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Her favorite things include drawing, reading, drinking tea and telling her stories to children. She doesn’t like loud noises or clapping and often reads newspapers and magazines back to front. When she was in elementary school her teachers called her Little Leonardo, and she’s forever thankful for their support and that of her fabulous family in England too.

Resources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_Lovelace

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/11285007/Ada-Lovelace-paved-the-way-for-Alan-Turings-more-celebrated-codebreaking-a-century-before-he-was-born.html

http://findingada.com/

https://plus.maths.org/content/ada-lovelace-visions-today

The teaching guide can also be viewed at: https://www.scribd.com/document/341092371/Ada-s-Ideas-Teaching-Guide# or http://www.abramsbooks.com/academic-resources/teaching-guides/

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Who Wins? 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner!
Created by Clay Swartz
Illustrated by Tom Booth
Published July 12th, 2016 by Workman Publishing Company

Summary: Who would rock the mic at karaoke night? Abraham “The Great Emancipator” Lincoln or Jane “Lady Persuasion” Austen? How about a hot dog eating contest between Harry “Mr. Magic” Houdini and Mary “Mother of Frankenstein” Shelley? What about a pie contest? A staring contest? And who has a better chance of sneaking into Area 51, Isaac “Gravity Guy” Newton or Sacagawea aka “The Pathfinder”?

In Who Wins?: History, you decide the winner in over 50 head-to-head challenges between 100 of history’s most illustrious characters. But choosing the victor isn’t arbitrary. Readers must justify their answers using each of the historical figures’ six 0-10 category rankings in bravery, leadership, artistry, wealth, wisdom, and fitness; as well as facts from short biographies.

As funny as it is informative, the book is uniquely formatted so readers can match up each and every character in any of the head-to-head battles. History has never been so much fun!

Review (from 10/26/16): Who Wins? is informative, funny, and so cleverly formatted that it is going to be a star in homes and classrooms. I love how the book gives each historical figure a nickname (either one they already were given, like Satchmo, or made up, like Gravity Guru for Isaac Newton) to add a bit of humor to the book; however, still makes sure to include a plethora of information about each figure including a bio then 3 little-known facts. Each head-to-head situation also helps guide your decision by giving some example questions to think about. Let’s look at a head-to-head, so you can really see how clever it is!

In My Classroom: Whenever I begin a debate unit, I always start with a mini-debate, and I wanted this year’s to include Who Wins? because I thought it was such an awesome class resource (and my students were slightly obsessed with the book). To start, I randomly picked a male and a female historical figure from each side of the Who Wins? book for each class. I didn’t choose the middle activity yet because I wanted my students to get to know their historical figures before I gave them the rest of the topic for the debate. For two days, the students researched their figures and tried to learn as much about them as possible. We talked about making sure to not just list dates but to get to know them as a person: their strengths, their weaknesses, their personality, their education, etc. Finally, on day three, I randomly revealed the rest of the debate topic and randomly put each class into two groups. We ended up with:

Who wins WRESTLEMANIA? Queen Elizabeth I or Genghis Khan?
Who wins LIVING IN 10,000 BC? Harriet Tubman or Ramses II?
Who wins CELEBRITY JEOPARDY? Nelson Mandela or Marie Curie?

Each group then made a Google Doc that they could collaborate on, and they focuses on preparing their argument, possible counterarguments, and rebuttals to the counter argument. They could research more now that they knew the topic, and I shared Who Wins? information with them as well (see photo above).

Then, after a couple of days of collaboration, we had our mini-debate. The most successful was the Queen Elizabeth I vs. Genghis Khan because they not only researched their historical figure, but they also researched Wrestlemania which allowed the debate go to a whole different level than my other two periods. The Nelson Mandela vs. Marie Curie debate had the opposite problem: they didn’t research Jeopardy at all which made for the debate never really having a clear winner because they were just debating who was smarter. The Ramses II vs. Harriet Tubman went well though the Harriet Tubman side never pulled out their best argument: she primarily lived on the run in the wilderness! In the end, Wrestlemania was a tie; Ramses II would survive better in 10,000 BC; and Marie Curie would win Jeopardy.

Some Students’ Collaborative Notes: Here are some examples of the collaborative notes some groups put together when preparing for the mini-debate. These are not examples of the initial research notes they took on their historical figures.

Genghis Khan

Harriet Tubman: 

Marie Curie:

Second Debate Using Who Wins?For our second debate, I did things a little bit differently. Instead of giving them the historical person first, for each class, I randomly chose the center tile (the topic) and we ended up with: Rap Battle, Ironman World Championship, and Summiting Everest. I then let the students, within their groups, go through their side of the book to find the person they wanted for their side of the debate.

They used their prior knowledge, the bios, and the stats for each person to try to pick the best for the debate. Our people ended up being:

Who Wins a Rap Battle: Muhammad Ali vs. Sojourner Truth?
Who Wins the Ironman World Championship: Jim Thorpe vs. Mildred Ella Didrikson?
Who Wins at Summiting Everest: Ernest Shackleton vs. Alexander the Great?

This time around, students were much more invested in their historical figure and with the topic already chosen, they could narrow down their research. Also, they realized how important it was to research the topic. Students also were given 2 extra days to research this time though given the same amount of time (2 days) to collaborate.

Once we got to the debates, I made a decision I was so happy about: Students were not allowed to have their iPads with them. They could have 1 Post-it note (front only) with any specifics that were tough to remember (years, prices, times, etc.), but that was it. And the debates went so much better! Students knew their stuff, and the debates were so intense, detailed, and close!

In the end, we’re still not sure who would be most successful at summiting Everest, Shackelton or Alexander the Great; Jim Thorpe is more likely to win the Ironman World Championship; and Muhammad Ali would win a rap battle vs. Sojourner Truth.

Final Assessment: As a final cumulative assessment, I asked my students to write me an argumentative paragraph stating why they felt their historical figure would be more successful than the other. Students were asked to have multiple reasons why with evidence to support their claim.

Examples from the Shackleton vs. Alexander the Great debate: 

Reflection: Using Who Wins?, I was able to create a standards-based unit that allowed students to not only debate, research, and read informational texts, but work collaboratively, think outside the box, and cite evidence to support their claims. I know the students learned from it as well, and they asked to do another, so I know they enjoyed it. They also now realize that learning just dates or facts about a person isn’t thorough research, it is important to know both sides of an argument so you can have a rebuttal, and that you need to research all aspects of a debate to ensure you are arguing for the right reasons. Overall, I call this a win!

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice
Author: Susanna Reich
Illustrator: Adam Gustavson
Foreword by Peter Yarrow
Published March 21st, 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Summary: Inspired by the rhythms of American folk music, this moving account of Pete Seeger’s life celebrates his legacy, showing kids of every generation that no cause is too small and no obstacle too large if, together, you stand up and sing!

Pete Seeger was born with music in his bones. Coming of age during the Great Depression, Pete saw poverty and adversity that would forever shape his worldview, but it wasn’t until he received his first banjo that he found his way to change the world. It was plucking banjo strings and singing folk songs that showed Pete how music had the incredible power to bring people together.

Using this gift throughout his life, Pete encouraged others to rally behind causes that mattered–fighting for Civil Rights, ending the Vietnam War, or cleaning up the Hudson River. For Pete, no challenge was too great, and what started out as a love for music turned into a lifetime of activism and change. His greatest talent–and greatest passion–would become an unforgettable part of American history.

Praise: 

“Gustavson’s mixed-media illustrations highlight Seeger’s modest upbringing and down-to-earth persona, pairing lushly illustrated scenes of him traveling and performing with rough, loose sketches . . . An intimate look at a pivotal American figure.” –  Publisher’s Weekly

“The ‘We Shall Overcome’ songwriter’s legacy spans decades, and this will surely help a new generation understand his fervor and still-relevant message.” –  Booklist

“Gustavson’s realistic art supports the admiring tone. . . . A solid introduction.” –  School Library Journal

Review: I grew up with parents who loved Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Van Morrison, and Neil Young, so I have definitely heard of Pete Seeger. I knew that he was influenced by Woody Guthrie just as Bob Dylan was (I once wrote a paper about Walt Whitman being the origin of American folk music because of his influence on Woody Guthrie). But I did not have any idea of Seeger’s influence on the social issues that I learned about in this picture book. Though Reich is clear in her Author’s Note that the picture book bio is just a snippit of his life, what she does cover shows me what an impact Seeger had in so many different social issues throughout his life. This story gave me hope. It showed me that music and people who care can definitely make a difference. That someone like Pete Seeger, someone of privilege, can join forces with the oppressed and fight against injustice. That music and poetry and words can make a difference.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Pete Seeger’s story intertwines with many parts of history that are taught. It would be interesting to read Pete’s story when studying the 60s and see how he was influential throughout the different social issues in the 60s. I think it would also be fascinating to listen to Pete’s music while reading the book and discussing how the poetry that he turned into music reflected the feelings of those fighting oppression during this time.

Discussion Questions: How did Pete use music to unite people fighting for a cause?; How is Pete’s use of folk music like Martin Luther King Jr.’s use of speeches and words to fight?; Why did Pete not enjoy fame?

Flagged Passages: “In 1955 Pete was called into court by some congressmen who didn’t think he was a loyal American. Pete refused to answer their questions in the way they wanted. The threat of prison would hang over his head for the next seven years.

Meanwhile the civil rights movement was picking up steam. On a trip to Tennessee in 1957, Pete introduced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the song ‘We Shall Overcome.’

‘That song really sticks with you, doesn’t it?’ Dr. King said.

‘We Shall Overcome’ spread throughout the country. In churches and community halls, at civil rights gatherings and protest marches, people stood arm in arm, their voices forming a bond of home and determination.”

“We Shall Overcome” by Pete Seeger

Read This If You Love: Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, When Bob Met Woody by Gary Golio, Blood Brothers by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil WallaceThe March Against Fear by Ann BausumBoycott Blues by Andrea Davis Pinkey

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Because of Mr. Terupt
Author: Rob Buyea
Published October 12, 2010 by Delacorte

A Guest Review by Julia Kipphut

Summary: Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class at Snow Hill School is comprised of various types of students, some including: a new student, a popular girl, a bully, and a troublemaker. Their teacher, Mr. Terupt who is passionate and energetic, strives to engage his students and instill a sense of community amongst his class. Unfortunately, one day, a snowball fight goes awry and leaves Mr. Terupt in a coma. His class is rattled and must learn to work together, be kind, and hope for Mr. Terupt’s recovery.

Review: This book includes a variety of characters, each owning their own identity and personality. Each chapter is written from a different character’s perspective, making for a fluid and interesting read. They are relatable for children and allow them to recognize themselves in each character. Each character evolves in the story and shows tremendous growth, proving the rich development of the people in this book. The message of community and forgiveness is nicely intertwined in the story and proves that it is always better to choose kindness. The theme of this book is positive and motivational. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Because of Mr. Terupt serves as a great reader aloud for upper elementary school students. 4th and 5th graders who are struggling with their identity and place in a classroom community can learn the importance of compassion. Students can learn to embrace individual differences for a common goal or outcome, mirroring the characters in this book. Additionally, this book allows students to study character development throughout the story; each character evolves- allowing for effective classroom discussion.

Because of each character of this book is written from a different character’s perspective, students are able to study point of view and consider the influence each chapter has on the story as a whole. Students are able to learn about each character in depth and can even use literature circles to each study a character for analysis.

Discussion Questions: How might the story be different if the snowball accident did not happen?; What do you think the author’s purpose or message was for this story?; Why do you think the author chose to write this story from different characters points of views? Do you think this was effective?

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Loved: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper; Wonder by R. J. Palacio

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Thank you, Julia!

RickiSig