Currently viewing the category: "Informational Nonfiction"

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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!

Behind the Legend Series
The Loch Ness Monster
Big Food
Author: Erin Peabody
Illustrator: Victor Rivas
Published May 2nd, 2017 by little bee books

Series Summary: little bee books is thrilled to announce their brand-new nonfiction middle grade series! Behind the Legend is designed for readers ages 8-10 and asks that to decide what is fact and what is fiction. Each book analyzes legendary creatures throughout history using scientific problem solving. Readers evaluate the evidence of sightings, debunk hoaxes with scientific experiments, and read from sources to decide if the monster is made of myth, legend, or fact. Packed with interesting anecdotes, photos, sidebars, and illustrations, each title is a page-turning adventure that readers won’t want to put down.

Learn all about creatures and monsters throughout history and discover if they’re real or not in this new nonfiction series! Behind the Legend looks at creatures and monsters throughout history and analyzes them through a scientific, mythbusting lens, debating whether or not the sightings and evidence provided are adequate proof of their existence.

More books coming soon! Zombies and Werewolves coming in Summer 2017 and Unicorns and Dragons in Spring 2018.

The Loch Ness Monster Summary: In The Loch Ness Monster, readers learn about all the sightings and proof of it, from the famous photograph to the huge “footprints” found by the Loch. It also discusses other history about the monster, such as how Nessie became a major figure in popular culture, and other mythical beings that came from Scotland. Complete with engaging anecdotes, interesting sidebars, and fantastic illustrations, kids won’t want to put this book down!

Big Foot Summary: In Bigfoot, readers learn about all the sightings and proof of it, from the famous photograph and video to footprints and other evidence. It also discusses additional history about the monster, such as how Bigfoot became a major figure in popular culture, and how other versions of the creature (such as the Yeti) have been seen around the world. Complete with engaging anecdotes, interesting sidebars, and fantastic illustrations, kids won’t want to put this book down!

Review: On one of our recent Top Ten Tuesday posts, I shared that I am always looking for nonfiction books to keep my middle grade students reading nonfiction because it is so hard to talk them into reading it unless it really catches their interest. I think part of the reason is because there aren’t many transitional nonfiction books from picture books and shorter informational nonfiction books to longer works like books by Jim Murphy, Deborah Heiligman, and Candance Fleming (which are phenomenal, but many readers just don’t have the nonfiction stamina). I think the Behind the Legend series fits this need perfectly! They are slightly longer than the traditional children’s nonfiction book and the words outnumber the pictures though there are still many illustrations, big font, lots of white space, and short chapters.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The Behind the Legend series’ texts will be perfect for not only reading aloud and discussing the truly interesting information within the book, I think the texts would be perfect mentor texts for writing an informational nonfiction text of the students’ own. The books do a wonderful job at looking at many different aspects of the legend and remaining unbiased.

Discussion Questions: Based on the information shared in the text, do you believe the legends are fact or fiction? Support your answer with evidence form the text.; How do legends such as the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot become such cultural phenomenons?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Who Was? series, Legends

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**Thank you little bee books for providing copies 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!

You Can Be a Paleontologist!: Discovering Dinosaurs with Dr. Scott
Author: Scott D. Sampson, Ph.D.
Illustrator: Franco Tempesta
Published April 4th, 2017 by National Geographic Kids

Summary: Ever wondered how to find a dinosaur? Paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson, host of Dinosaur Train on PBS Kids, tells kids how! How do paleontologists find dinosaur bones? How do they know what dinosaurs ate or looked like? And what is paleontology, anyway? Dr. Scott tackles all these questions and more while inspiring kids to go out and make the next big dino discovery!

About the Author: Scott Sampson is a dinosaur paleontologist, science communicator, and passionate advocate for connecting people with nature. He currently serves as president and CEO of Science World British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., where much of his work focuses on rethinking 21st Century cities as places where people and nature thrive. Nevertheless, he’s perhaps best known as “Dr. Scott,” host and science advisor of the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS series Dinosaur Train, produced by the Jim Henson Company. Dinosaur Train is currently viewed daily by millions of children and parents in more than 100 countries. Sampson also served as the on-air host and science advisor for the four-part Discovery Channel series Dinosaur Planet (2003). He has given hundreds of media interviews for radio (e.g., NPR), newspapers (e.g., New York Times), multimedia newswire services (e.g., Reuters), television (e.g., The Today Show, Good Morning America), and periodicals (e.g., Time Magazine, National Geographic). He has been featured in more than a dozen documentaries, including Nova, Paleoworld, and Nature Kids. Sampson is a widely sought public speaker, presenting on topics ranging from dinosaurs and education to children, nature, and sustainability. Sampson is author of Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life (University of California Press, 2009), as well as a new general audience book—How to Raise a Wild Child—aimed at helping parents, teachers and others foster a deep connection with nature in children (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Toni and daughter Jade.

Review: Kids love Dr. Scott on Dinosaur Train on PBS, and there is a reason why: HE LOVES HIS JOB! And that love just flows through this book. His descriptions of everything from where to find fossils, where they are stored, and why dinos looked so weird are so animated, lively, and interesting and the text is so kid friendly! It is set up in a way that is easy to follow if you want to read it sequentially or the reader can jump around to get answers to their questions. The information isn’t dumbed down for kids, which is something I really try to watch out for because it is a huge pet peeve of mine!, but it is definitely written in a way that most readers will be able to understand. As for hard tier 3 academic words, there is a glossary!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Do you know that student you have who has read every dinosaur book in your library but just wants to know more and more? This book is for them. This shows them that they can take their passion and make a living out of it! The text would also find a very nice home in classrooms to discuss how science is used in the real world. I hope there are more books in this series because it would be definitely a wonderful asset to elementary classrooms to have books written by scientists for kids about being a scientist.

Discussion Questions: What do you have to do to become a paleontologist?; What would your job consist of if you become a paleontologist?; What interesting information about dinosaurs have paleontologists discovered?; What other questions do you have about being a paleontologist?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Dinosaurs, Sharing scientists with kids

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**Thank you 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!

Happy (almost) Earth Day!

Care For Our World
Author: Karen Robbins
Illustrator: Alexandra Ball
Originally Published: July 15th, 2012 by Compendium Publishing and Communications
App Release: March 1st, 2017 by Sunbreak Games, LLC

Book Summary: Get ready to meet some truly wonderful wild animals from every continent on Earth. As children turn the pages of this book, they’ll encounter dozens of playful creatures in their natural habitats and will learn about the importance of caring for all the plants, animals, and people that call planet Earth their home. A timely reminder of the responsibility every generation shares: to nurture and respect life in all its many forms.

App Information: Take an interactive journey around the world, discovering diverse environments and the animals that call them home, in this animated adaptation of the award-winning children’s book, Care for Our World. Additional creative activities are included, like Coloring Book pages, Creating custom habitats, and even Learning facts, sounds, and photo galleries in the Animal Encyclopedia.

“Care for our world, for you and for me, for all living things from mountain to sea.”

Author Karen Robbins’ delightful words and illustrator Alexandra Ball’s captivating images combine to inspire children to care for the earth they call home: a timely reminder of the responsibility every generation shares to nurture and respect life in all its many forms.

Features: 

• Listen to the animated story, with narration, music, and sounds.

• Touch characters to see and hear them react, and practice their words.

• Color select pages from the book
• Create custom habitats with select animals and backgrounds.
• Save images of your creations to the Gallery.

• Learn more with facts, sounds, and photos in the Animal Encyclopedia.

Recommended for ages 3-8

Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’m so impressed with so many of the book apps that are becoming available! As a 21st century mom and teacher, technology is just inevitable in our lives, so I want to make sure that whatever my son and my students interact with is the best out there and isn’t just a tech babysitter. Care For Our World fits this definition and is definitely an app that I am going to recommend to my mom friends and my elementary teacher friends.

The story by itself is a wonderful read aloud and discussion starter. It takes the two main characters around the world to visit different habitats and the animals that live there. The author’s theme is quite clear throughout: this is OUR world and we need to take care of it because we share it with some amazing animals. This theme makes it a perfect read aloud for Earth Day and many animal and Earth-centered activities and inquiry projects could stem from the story.

The app takes the book to a whole new level. Everything wonderful about the book is still there, but now the story is interactive! First, it reads to you. On each page, you can also click on the plants and animals and the narrator will tell you what they are. You can also click on each word, and it’ll read it to you. This is perfect for kids learning to read! The viewer, when finished with the book, can now go explore more about some of the animals in the story by going to the Animal Encyclopedia where you can hear the sounds the animals make, learn about their behaviors, and see photos of them. Lastly, kids will have a blast coloring different scenes from the book or creating their own habitat (all artwork can be saved in a gallery to view later). The app is fun and informative–a perfect mix for the type of app I’m always trying to find for my son.

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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

Recommended For: 

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

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“Journey” by Michael Cottman

My journey to write Shackles From The Deep started when I was a boy growing up in Detroit and watching a popular television show called Sea Hunt, a 1960s adventure program about an underwater detective.

From the time I was a kid, I wanted to scuba dive and explore the ocean’s depths. And because National Geographic embraces adventure tales like no other company, this was a perfect publishing partnership.

I wrote Shackles From The Deep in a conversational way for young readers to share the story of the Henrietta Marie, a sunken 17th century slave ship. This is more than just the story of one ship – it’s the untold story about millions of African people taken as captives to the New World.

I traveled to three continents to piece together a trans-Atlantic puzzle. I reviewed shipping records and slave-ship captain’s logs in London. I retraced the route of the Henrietta Marie slave ship and scuba-dived the ship’s ports of call in Jamaica, Barbados, and West Africa.

During my research, I learned amazing things:  Today, the Henrietta Marie is believed to be the world’s largest source of tangible objects from the early years of the slave trade.

The Henrietta Marie is the only slave ship in America that has been scientifically documented and where more than 20,000 artifacts were recovered, including the largest collection of slave-ship shackles ever found on one site.

I also learned the shackles were discovered in 1973 by Moe Molinar, a black underwater treasure hunter who was searching for the Atocha, a Spanish galleon that had sunk nearly 400 years ago filled with gold, silver and $400 million worth of jewels.

Treasure hunters didn’t know what to make of these relics. Then in 1983, maritime archaeologists, intrigued by the mystery, revisited the site and came upon a ship’s bell. As they chipped away at the limestone encrustation a name and a date emerged: Henrietta Marie, 1699.

Beneath the sea, on the wreck of the Henrietta Marie, I ran my hands through the sand and held the tiny glass trade beads that were used by the Henrietta Marie’s crew to trade for African people.

The story of Shackles From The Deep also introduces young readers to the unprecedented partnership between members of The National Association of Black Scuba Divers (I’m a lifetime member) and white maritime archaeologists who explored the Henrietta Marie together for a common purpose and forged lifelong friendships along the way.

After all, the global institution of slavery is our collective history.

But because of slavery, it is nearly impossible for African Americans to pinpoint the origins of our ancestors.

We cannot always identify a country in Africa where they were born, let alone a city or village. We can only know they came from somewhere on the west coast of the enormous continent.

Are my people Ibo from Nigeria, or Fulani from Mali, or Wolof from Senegal, or Ashanti from Ghana? I may never know.

What’s important, however, is my appreciation for the African culture — my culture, too — and my need to draw strength from the African people who came before me and survived.

And we continue to honor them.

In 1993, I joined members of The National Association of Black Scuba Divers to place a one-ton concrete memorial on the site of the Henrietta Marie shipwreck.

The bronze inscription on the memorial is a powerful testament to the human spirit: “In memory and recognition of the courage, pain and suffering of enslaved African people. Speak her name and gently touch the souls of our ancestors.”

Shackles from the Deep: Tracing the Path of a Sunken Slave Ship, a Bitter Past, and a Rich Legacy
Author: Michael Cottman
Published January 3rd, 2017 by The National Geographic Society

Summary: A pile of lime-encrusted shackles discovered on the seafloor in the remains of a ship called the Henrietta Marie, lands Michael Cottman, a Washington, D.C.-based journalist and avid scuba diver, in the middle of an amazing journey that stretches across three continents, from foundries and tombs in England, to slave ports on the shores of West Africa, to present-day Caribbean plantations. This is more than just the story of one ship it’s the untold story of millions of people taken as captives to the New World. Told from the author’s perspective, this book introduces young readers to the wonders of diving, detective work, and discovery, while shedding light on the history of slavery.

Critical Praise: 

“The idea of identity is at the center of this fascinating narrative nonfiction book…This truly multidisciplinary volume….engagingly explores a wide scope of topics, including the history of slavery, marine archaeology, and contemporary racial discrimination, culminating in a dive down to the wreck itself. Every bit of this concise, detailed book feels personal, and Cottman’s exploration and investigation of the wreck is rich with intrigue and poignant, thought-provoking questions.” -Booklist (STARRED REVIEW)

“Cottman weaves his personal story of discovery with history of the slave trade, helping readers understand why a sunken slave ship from the 1700s still matters. His emotional attachment to the artifacts, including child-sized shackles, deepens the storytelling in this highly readable narrative.” –Kirkus

“Accessible and very personal account….(a) chilling exploration of the slave trade.” -Publishers Weekly

“Cottman’s personal journey, fraught with reminders of the trials and injustice his own enslaved ancestors must have endured, is compelling” -BCCB

About the Author: Michael H. Cottman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, is a former political reporter for the Washington Post. Cottman has appeared on National Public Radio’s (NPR) “Tell Me More” with Michel Martin and also the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2000 to discuss his (adult) book The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie. Cottman also serves as a special consultant to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a national multimedia project, “Voyage to Discovery,” an education initiative that focuses on the African-American contribution to the maritime industry spanning 300 years and efforts to teach students of color about careers in marine biology and oceanography. Visit his website at http://www.michaelhcottman.com/.

Thank you to Michael for his post and to Barbara from Blue Slip Media for providing the resources!

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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!

If I Were a Whale
Author: Shelley Gill
Illustrator: Erik Brooks
Published February 21st, 2017 by Little Bigfoot

Summary: From best-selling children’s author Shelley Gill comes this colorful, rhyming board book playfully featuring whales found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans. Toddlers will love to learn about whales swimming in the deep blue sea in this beautifully illustrated board book that shares simple whale facts in an imaginative way.

If I could be anything, do you know what I’d be? I’d be a whale in the deep blue sea.
Scooping up fishes and flipping my tail, I’d be a minke or beluga whale.

About the Author: Shelley Gill was the fifth woman to complete the Iditarod race. When she’s not writing, Shelley travels to schools around the country where she covers a variety of topics–from whale watching to how she thinks up her writing ideas.

About the Illustrator: Erik Brooks spent much of his childhood in Anchorage, AK, where he explored the outdoors and had Alaskan experiences such as seeing the occasional moose wandering through the yard and getting run over by a dog sled. He still loves getting out into nature with his family and his handsome mutt of a dog, Max.

Review: If I Were a Whale is the perfect mix of rhyming poetry and scientific facts. Gill guides us through different oceans visiting different types of whales glimpsing at how each lives their life. This book maybe just a tiny introduction to whales, but the illustrations and text will make the reader want to read it again and then go learn more. Trent, as soon as we were done reading it, asked for it again, but the second time through included a lot more questions about the different whales. I see this book being read often in our future because Trent is a big fan of animals and science as well as good rhythmic picture books. I also want to commend the artist as each page is a beautiful scene with the highlighted whale and its habitat.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In early education, it is so important to introduce young children to as much as possible to help their knowledge grow of our tremendously complicated and full world. If I Were a Whale is a perfect read aloud book that kids will love but will also introduce them to different whales, other animals, and geography.

Discussion Questions: Which whale would you want to be? Why?; Why do whales live in different oceans?; What other animals did you see in the book? Why were they in the illustrations or text?; How are the whales alike? Different?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Baby Beluga by Raffi, If I Were a Penguin by Anne Wilkinson, Giant Squid by Candace Fleming, O is for Orca by Andrea Helman, Books about whales or other ocean animals

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**Thank you to Nicole at Little Bigfoot for providing a copy for review!**

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