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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.

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

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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!

The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power
Author: Ann Bausum
Published January 3rd, 2017 by National Geographic Society

Summary: James Meredith’s 1966 march in Mississippi began as one man’s peaceful protest for voter registration and became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. It brought together leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, who formed an unlikely alliance that resulted in the Black Power movement, which ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.

The retelling of Meredith’s story opens on the day of his assassination attempt and goes back in time to recount the moments leading up to that event and its aftermath. Readers learn about the powerful figures and emerging leaders who joined the over 200-mile walk that became known as the “March Against Fear.”

Thoughtfully presented by award-winning author Ann Bausum, this book helps readers understand the complex issues of fear, injustice, and the challenges of change. It is a history lesson that’s as important and relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

About the Author: Ann Bausum writes about U.S. history for young people, and she has published eight titles with National Geographic Children’s Books including, most recently, Marching to the Mountaintop (2012) and Unraveling Freedom (2010). Ann’s books consistently earn prominent national recognition. Denied, Detained, Deported (2009) was named the 2010 Carter G. Woodson Book Award winner at the secondary school level from the National Council for the Social Studies. Muckrakers (2007) earned the Golden Kite Award as best nonfiction book of the year from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Freedom Riders (2006) gained Sibert Honor designation from the American Library Association and With Courage and Cloth (2004) received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award as the year’s best book on social justice issues for older readers. In addition, Ann has written about the nation’s chief executives and their spouses—Our Country’s Presidents (2013, 4th edition) and Our Country’s First Ladies (2007)—as well as the intrepid explorer Roy Chapman Andrews (Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs, 2000).

Review: Ann Bausum’s text is a suspenseful story of the last Civil Rights march from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS told in chronological order with captioned photographs that help the reader feel like they are present at the time of this march and the social, racial tension that filled America. I am having a very hard time reviewing this book, not because I don’t have nice things to say, but because this timely story is tough because although it is history, it seems like we haven’t come far from where the story takes place (which is terrifying).

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I believe that now is the most important time to teach resilience to our children as rights of many people are being threatened. Much of this education can come from conversation and amazing fictional stories, but I think it is vital to teach the history of diverse people within our nation that fought for rights. Children need to learn about women’s history, Black American history, Native American/American Indian history, Asian American history, LBGTQIA history, Irish American history, Jewish history, and so many more–all diverse populations that were prejudiced against and fought. Ann Bausum’s text (and her bibliography!) is a must-read in this education of our future.

Discussion Questions: Why was this march the last of the Civil Rights Movement?; This book is being called “timely” by many reviewers. Why do you think that timely is being used to describe the book?; Why would Bausum choose this march as the topic of her book?; How do the photographs and quotes throughout the book change the experience of reading the text?

Flagged Passages: “A cornerstone of this social justice movement became the willingness of people to put their lives on the line in the fight for change, much as Meredith had done during the integration of Ole Miss. Volunteers in the movement countered the violence of segregationists with tremendous acts of courage. They stood their ground peacefully in the midst of racist attacks, confident that love was a more powerful emotion than hate. Year after year, they persevered, whether it meant walking to work instead of riding segregated buses during the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and 1956, or braving violent mobs during the freedom rides of 1961, or enduring police attacks with high-pressure fire hoses during the Birmingham campaign of 196.

Such efforts drew on what movement leaders called the power of nonviolence. Some viewed nonviolence as a strategy, a series of tactics that forced reluctant foes to submit to change; others saw it was a way of life. For nonviolence to work, people had to be willing to remain peaceful, but determined, in the face of any level of violence. They had to outmaneuver their violent oppressors and step in and complete a protest whether their comrades had been arrested, injured, or even killed.” (p. 12-13)

Read This If You Love: To learn about the history of Civil Rights Movement

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

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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!

Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem
Author: Patricia Newman
Published by January 1st, 2017 by Millbrook Press

Summary: Marine biologist Brent Hughes didn’t think sea otters and sea grass had much in common. But his research at Elkhorn Slough, an estuary on Monterey Bay in northern California, revealed a new and surprising connection between the two. The scientist expected this estuary to be overrun with algae due to the fertilizer runoff from surrounding fields. But it wasn’t. Why?

Review: As someone who struggled with biology when in school, I love narrative nonfiction about nature because it helps me fill in education gaps. Sea Otter Heroes looks at trophic cascade (cause and effect relationships within a food chain) and how it affects an ecosystem–so interesting! This information along with the beautiful photographs make this book a scientific journey.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Patricia Newman’s books (Plastics, Ahoy! and Ebola included) are made for classrooms. This text includes not only the cause-effect relationship between otters and sea grass, but also has experiments, information about careers, a glossary, and an afterword about rethinking our relationship with nature giving the reader real ways they can make a difference. This book would be perfect to use in a life science unit or class.

Discussion Questions: What is the “critical link between” sea otters and flowering sea grass?; Finding the link was an accident, what was Brent Hughes studying when he found the connection? What was the proof that the connection existed?; How does the Elkhorn Slough exist?; What are Hughes’s 7 steps to think like a scientist? Observe nature and go through the 7 steps yourself.; What part did sea hares play in Brett Hughes’s experiment?; What is a trophic cascade?; How are what was discovered about the otters similar to the situations with wolves and sperm whales Newman shared?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Scientists in the Field books, National Geographic and Animal Planet books about animals 

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**Thank you to Lerner and Patricia for providing a copy for review!**

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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!

Also, I’d like to thank Sarah Brannen for making such a beautiful piece of artwork for our weekly nonfiction link up. It is perfect for illustrating why nonfiction is so important!

dining-with-dinosaurs

Dining with Dinosaurs: A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching
Author: Hannah Bonner
Published September 20th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

Summary: Sure you know T-Rex was the meat-eating king and brontosaurus munched on leaves, but what else was on the dino dining menu during the Mesozoic era?

Meet the ‘vores: carnivores, piscivores, herbivores, insectivores, “trashivores,” “sunivores,” and omnivores like us.

Readers will be surprised and inspired to learn about dino diets and they’ll get to explore how scientists can tell which dinosaurs ate what just from looking at fossils!

Journey through artist and author Hannah Bonner’s whimsical world to learn how the dinosaurs and their contemporaries bit, chewed, and soaked up their food.

Review: Although the cover looks a bit silly, this text is to be taken seriously. Hannah Bonner does a wonderful job examining what different dinosaurs ate, the science behind what and why they ate what they did, how paleontologists know what dinos ate, and where all these dinosaurs fit in the grand scheme of things. Told in a unique structure that alternates between Hannah and a microraptor narrating and comic strip interviews with scientists, the text is not only informative but very entertaining.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is going to be the perfect text for a dinosaur unit in a classroom. It allows for so many different discussions including the different periods within the Mesozoic Era (and Cenozoic Era), connections between dinosaur diets and modern animals, types of scientists that study dinosaurs, different species of dinosaurs, and even text structure. Such a wide range of opportunities for classroom discussion (and even extension activities from the discussions). Additionally, the back matter of the text is filled to the brim with information and even an experiment.

Discussion Questions: What are some ways paleontologists can tell which dinosaurs ate what?; What modern animals fit into each of the ‘vore categories in the text?; Why did the author choose to include the comic strip interviews throughout the book?

Flagged Passages: 

dining-with-dinosaurs-spread

dining-with-dinosaurs-comic-strip-interview

Read This If You Love: Dinosaurs 

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

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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!

oh-ick

Oh, Ick!: 114 Science Experiments Guaranteed to Gross You Out
Author: Joy Masoff with Jessica Garrett and Ben Ligon
Published November 1st, 2016 by Workman Publishing Company

Summary: From the bestselling author of Oh, Yuck! and Oh, Yikes! here is an A-Z compendium of hands-on grossness.

Featuring 114 interactive experiments and ick-tivities, Oh, Ick!delves into the science behind everything disgusting.

Stage an Ooze Olympics to demonstrate viscosity and the nature of slime. Observe how fungi grow by making a Mold Zoo. Embark on an Insect Safari to get to know the creepy crawlies around your home. And learn what causes that embarrassing acne on your face by baking a Pimple Cake to pop—and eat. Eww!

Review: I always struggled with science, but I think if I had done more science experiments, putting the facts and information that I couldn’t memorize into practice, I would have been able to understand the concepts and information better. Books like Oh, Ick! and its companions Oh, Yuck! and Oh, Yikes! make science interesting thus helping kids put science into action and moving the information from short term to long term!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would love to see some of these icky experiments used in the classroom! Although the experiments are alphabetical by topic, the index gives teachers the ability to search for what they need. Want to teach about B cells and scabs, why not do “Spaghetti Scab Dinner?” Sound waves? Why not try “Sick Sounds?”

Flagged Passages: 

oh-ick-spread

Read This If You Loved: Gross and interesting science experiments

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**Thank you to Estelle from Workman Publishing for providing a copy for review!**

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