Teaching Guide for Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson

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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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Review and Giveaway: Mapping My Day by Julie Dillemuth

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Mapping My Day
Author: Julie Dillemuth
Illustrator: Laura Wood
Published: March 13, 2017 by Magination Press

GoodReads Summary: Flora loves drawing maps and uses them to tell us about her life! Mapping My Day introduces spatial relationships and representation: where things and places are in relation to other things. This book intends to show readers how maps can convey information, inspire children to draw their own maps, and introduce basic map concepts and vocabulary. Spatial thinking is how we use concepts of space for problem solving and is shown to be a key skill in science, technology, engineering, and math. Includes a “Note to Parents and Caregivers” with extra mapping activities.

Ricki’s Review: As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think about how my husband will enjoy it. I am going to place it in my son’s room to surprise them. Interdisciplinary books are tricky to write, and Julie Dillemuth does a fantastic job making mapping and mathematics fun! While learning about arrows and symbols on a map, the reader also learns that Flora can make her brother snort milk out of his nose. As a bonus, this is a book that features a multiracial family without being a book about a multiracial family. This made me very happy. This is a book that will be appreciated by teachers and readers alike!

Kellee’s Review: Mapping My Day’s Flora loves maps. She thinks in cardinal directions, she maps out where everything is, and she even plays games using maps. It is because of Flora’s enthusiasm that the readers of her story are going to want to play with maps also which will *surprise, surprise* lead to them learning about mapping skills and even some mathematics. I know this book is going to find its place in elementary classrooms and so many kids out there are going to map their days out just like Flora. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The back of this book features map-making pages that are free for readers to download at www.apa.org/pubs/magination/441B206.aspx. The maps are connected to the story and allow readers to practice their mapmaking skills—very cool!

Discussion Questions: How does the author incorporate maps in a way that is fun and exciting?; What parts of Flora’s day does she map? What other parts of her day could she have mapped?; How might Flora’s brother’s maps look a bit different?

Flagged Passage:

Read This If You Loved: My Map Book by Sara Fanelli; Math Curse by Jon Scieszka; My Life in Pictures by Deborah Zemke

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About the Author: Julie Dillemuth was mystified by maps until she figured out how to read them and make them, and it was a particularly difficult map that inspired her to become a spatial cognition geographer. She lives with her family and writes children’s books in Santa Barbara, California, where the west coast faces south. Visit her at her website: http://juliedillemuth.com.

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip for providing copies for review!**

Exclusive Reveal!: Teaching Guide for Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder

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Charlie & Mouse
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Expected Publication April 11th, 2017 by Chronicle Books
http://www.chroniclebooks.com/charlie-mouse.html

Yesterday we revealed the Barkus teaching guide, today we get to share another new guide I wrote for another must-get early chapter book from Chronicle Books for all of my early elementary friends!

About the Book: Meet Charlie and Mouse! Join these irresistible and irrepressible sibs in their quest to talk to some lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, beloved author and illustrator team Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood in four irresistible stories that readers will relish.

About the Author: Laurel Snyder is the author of many books for children. She lives and writes in a small yellow house in Atlanta, Georgia, which she shares with her husband and two sons. She would like to state for the record that while none of these stories are exactly true, none of them are exactly untrue either.

About the Illustrator: Emily Hughes is an illustrator (and sometimes writer) who lives in windy Brighton, England, while thinking fondly of her hometown in Hilo, Hawaii. When making books she uses pencils, her tablet, and a very, very generous stack of paper.

About the Guide: This guide consists of discussion opportunities and classroom extension activities designed for use by Pre-K through first grade students in classroom, small group, or individual assignments. Charlie & Mouse allows children to exercise a variety of reading comprehension strategies, from gaining information about a story from the illustrations and text to retelling, describing, building vocabulary, and comparing and contrasting. Additionally, Charlie & Mouse helps young readers develop foundational reading skills such as learning to recognize sight words and text features.

You can also access the teaching guide here.

Update (11/10/17): I have completed the guide for the sequel to Charlie and Mouse as well! Check it out: https://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=14584

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Don’t miss out on this one!

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Teaching Guide for Red’s Planet: A World Away From Home by Eddie Pittman

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Red’s Planet: A World Away From Home
Author and Illustrator: Eddie Pittman
Published April 19th, 2016 by Amulet Books

Summary: Red, a quirky, headstrong 10-year-old, longs to live in her own perfect paradise far away from her annoying foster family. But when a UFO mistakenly kidnaps her, Red finds herself farther away than she could have possibly imagined—across the galaxy and aboard an enormous spaceship owned by the Aquilari, an ancient creature with a taste for rare and unusual treasures. Before Red can be discovered as a stowaway, the great ship crashes on a small deserted planet, leaving her marooned with a menagerie of misfit aliens. With her newfound friend, a small gray alien named Tawee, Red must find a way to survive the hostile castaways, evade the ravenous wildlife, and contend with Goose, the planet’s grumpy, felinoid custodian. Surely this can’t be the paradise she’s looking for.

Teaching Guide: 

Pittman’s new graphic novel series will be a big hit with adventure and sci-fi lovers!

The teaching guide can also be viewed here.

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The SLOWEST Book EVER by April Pulley Sayre

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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!

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The SLOWEST Book EVER
Author: April Pulley Sayre
Illustrator: Kelly Murphy
Published April 5th, 2016 by Boyds Miller Press

Goodreads Summary: April Pulley Sayre’s wry, quirky storytelling tone shines from the warning on the first page (“This is a S-L-O-W book. Do not read it while surfing, water skiing, or running to escape giant weasels.”) right through to the glossary at the end. In between, readers will explore an astounding variety of information about all things slow—in nature, geology, art, outer space, etc. Throughout, The SLOWEST Book EVER playfully encourages readers to slow down and savor everything. As Sayre shows: “If you think slowly enough, the entire world is amazing.” This innovative nonfiction work is a treasure trove of information that begs for multiple readings.  

Kellee’s Review: Anyone who teaches knows that the most popular nonfiction books are the ones that have a ton of information in short segments with fun pictures. Well, Sayre’s The SLOWEST Book EVER is exactly that but even better than you are picturing. Sayre does such a great job of having a small amount of information that packs a very big punch. Although each fact is over only a 2-page spread, the information is thorough, interesting, and specific. I loved the wide range of topics that were all covered under the big idea of SLOW, and I think students will be fascinated with all of the information.

Ricki’s Review: I read a lot of books, and I don’t think I’ve read a book that is quite like this one! It is a compilation of fascinating information that will compel readers to want to learn more about their world. It is apparent that a lot of thought and care went into the crafting and production of this book. Each page is a bit different, so if a reader is uninterested in a topic, he or she can flip the page and find something else entirely different. This book would make a great gift because all children will find sections that intrigue them, regardless of their interests. I’d look forward to going to a class where a teacher used this book used as a read-aloud, reading a few sections each day. This book makes learning fun!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Since The SLOWEST Book EVER includes tidbits of information on many different topics, each spread could easily be used as a jumping off point for an inquiry project. Students browse through the book to determine which spread of information interests them the most then they do more research (using the back matter as a place to start) then share the extra information with their classmates.

The SLOWEST Book EVER also does an amazing thing by looking at all the different ways that SLOW can be defined. After finishing the book as a class, revisit all of the different ways slow was used then brainstorm different meanings of other subjective adjectives such as fast, large, and small. Then student, as a class, could write their own fact book using a different adjective but showing different meanings of that word.

Discussion Questions: Which fact surprised you the most?; The book doesn’t only focus on slow speeds–what ever definitions of slow did the author focus on?; What topics would you like to learn more about? Where could you go to get more information?

We Flagged: “Chewy Nature Thoughts
Read them. Think about them. S l o w l y.
Slow thoughts are often big thoughts. So don’t fret if it takes a while to understand them. Don’t worry if you need to read them twice. -Traveling in a circle is, after all, still traveling.” (p. 8-9)

“How long does a minute feel to a mayfly…?
It’s About Time

Does time fly for a fly? Biologists wonder about this. So you can, too! How long does a minute feel to a mayfly, which may live only one day? How long does a minute feel to a 70-year-old Galápagos Tortoise?” (p. 16-17)

SLOWESTBOOK_16-17

Read This If You Loved: Nonfiction books such as Weird but True by National Geographic, Lifetime by Lola M. SchaeferExtreme Oceans and Extreme Earth Records by Seymour SimonIsland by Jason Chin, The Guinness Book of World Records

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Reviews and Educators’ Guide: Matt Tavares’s Baseball Biographies

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Henry Aaron’s Dream
Author: Matt Tavares
Published January 12th, 2010 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: Matt Tavares hits one out of the park with this powerful tale of a kid from the segregated south who would become baseball’s home-run king.

Before he was Hammerin’ Hank, Henry Aaron was a young boy grow ing up in Mobile, Alabama, with what seemed like a foolhardy dream: to be a big-league baseball player. He didn’t have a bat. He didn’t have a ball. And there wasn’t a single black ball player in the major leagues. B ut none of this could stop Henry Aaron. In a captivating biography of Henr y Aaron’s young life – from his sandlot days through his time in the Negro Leagues to the day he played his first spring training game for the Braves – Matt Tavares offers an inspiring homage to one of baseball’s all-time greats.

There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived
Author: Matt Tavares
Published February 14th, 2012 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: A lively picture book biography of Ted Williams from a master of the genre — just in time for Fenway Park’s centennial.

Ted Williams lived a life of dedication and passion. He was an ordinary kid who wanted one thing: to hit a baseball better than anyone else. So he practiced his swing every chance he got. He did fingertip push-ups. He ate a lot of food. He practiced his swing again. And then practiced it some more. From his days playing ball in North Park as a kid to his unmatched .406 season in 1941 to his heroic tours of duty as a fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, the story of Teddy Ballgame is the story of an American hero. In this engrossing biography, a companion to Henry Aaron’s Dream, Matt Tavares makes Ted Williams’s life story accessible to a whole new generation of fans who are sure to admire the hard work, sacrifice, and triumph of the greatest hitter who ever lived.

 

Becoming Babe Ruth
Author: Matt Tavares
Published February 12th, 2013 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: Matt Tavares’s striking homage to one of baseball’s legends offers a rare view into Babe Ruth’s formative years in “the House that built Ruth.”

Before he is known as the Babe, George Herman Ruth is just a boy who lives in Baltimore and gets into a lot of trouble. But when he turns seven, his father brings him to the gates of Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, and his life is changed forever. At Saint Mary’s, he’s expected to study hard and follow a lot of rules. But there is one good thing about Saint Mary’s: almost every day, George gets to play baseball. Here, under the watchful eye of Brother Matthias, George evolves as a player and as a man, and when he sets off into the wild world of big-league baseball, the school, the boys, and Brother Matthias are never far from his heart. With vivid illustrations and clear affection for his subject, Matt Tavares sheds light on an icon who learned early that life is what you make of it — and sends home a message about honoring the place from which you came.

Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made it From the Dominican Republic All Way to the Major Leagues
Author: Matt Tavares
Published February 10th, 2015

Goodreads Summary: The love between brothers is key to Matt Tavares’s tale of Dominican pitcher Pedro Martinez, from his days of throwing rocks at mangoes to his years as a major-league star.

Before Pedro Martinez pitched the Red Sox to a World Series championship, before he was named to the All-Star team eight times, before he won the Cy Young three times, he was a kid from a place called Manoguayabo in the Dominican Republic. Pedro loved baseball more than anything, and his older brother Ramon was the best pitcher he’d ever seen. He’d dream of the day he and his brother could play together in the major leagues—and here, Matt Tavares tells the story of how that dream came true. In a fitting homage to a modern day baseball star, the acclaimed author-illustrator examines both Pedro Martinez’s improbable rise to the top of his game and the power that comes from the deep bond between brothers.

My Review: These four superbly crafted biographies take a look at the life of each man, but as more than a baseball player. We learn about their childhoods, where they came from, and their dreams and hopes. Each book includes aspects of the history surrounding them including the Depression, wars, and racism. Additionally, these books are crafted beautiful with lyrically written prose. These books are must reads for lovers of baseball, history, and biographies in general.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I was lucky enough to be asked to write a teachers’ guide for each of these books. For each book, I created discussion questions and activities (including cross-curricular activities). I plan on using this guide in my own classroom with the books in a lit circle type of setting. Each group will be given one of the biographies, will complete the discussion questions and activities, and then become experts on their player before presenting. These biographies are asking to be in classrooms, and I hope the guide helps show how they can fit into a language arts/reading class.

Please check out the complete guide at http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/0763668249.btg.1.pdf 

Examples from the guide: 

Becoming Babe Ruth
News spread differently in the early twentieth century. Discuss with your students the way news about Babe Ruth was spread during his lifetime and have students find examples in the text. Then have them discuss the way news is spread digitally nowadays. Invite the class to debate the pros and cons of digital news.; How did Babe Ruth’s life change when he left Saint Mary’s to play for the Orioles?

There Goes Ted Williams
Have students write down Ted Williams’s batting average and home run stats as well as those of two other Hall of Famers. After comparing the players’ stats, have students write a paragraph discussing whether or not they believe that Ted Williams is the best hitter ever.; How did Ted Williams’s childhood perseverance help him become a professional baseball player?

Henry Aaron’s Dream
Baseball began integrating before all cities in the United States had ended segregation. As a class, discuss how this reality affected black players on major-league baseball teams and how black players’ trips to segregated cities differed from those of their white teammates. Then, with your students, complete a graphic organizer comparing and contrasting the life of white and black baseball players during Hank Aaron’s lifetime. Invite students to write an essay about how life has changed for players of color over time.; How did Jackie Robinson influence Henry Aaron? What did Jackie Robinson’s accomplishments mean for other black baseball players? 

Growing Up Pedro
Pull up a map of North America. Have students mark all the different places that Pedro played: the Dominican Republic, Montana, Montreal, and so on. Ask students to determine the miles between each location. Which place was the farthest from Pedro’s home? Which place was the closest?; Have students write a journal entry as Pedro Martínez. Invite them to write, from Pedro’s point of view, what it feels like to move so far away from home when he is so young. Does he miss his family? Is he sad, happy, or excited to be in Montana.

Discussion Questions: Examples of discussion questions and activities for each of the biographies can be found in my teachers’ guide; however, after reading all four of the books, two discussion questions could be: Most of the baseball players had a mentor or idol that he looked up to and learned from. How did these mentors or idols help guide the players into becoming the greats they are?; Each of the baseball players helped a charity that was close to his heart. Who did each player help? Why did players choose the charity they did?

We Flagged: 

Becoming Babe Ruth, byMatt Tavares
http://www.matttavares.com/becomingbaberuth.html from Becoming Babe Ruth

Check out Matt Tavares’s You Tube channel to see sneak peeks into Growing Up Pedro and  There Goes Ted Williams.

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Annika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills

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annika riz math whiz

Annika Riz, Math Whiz (Franklin School Friends series)

Author: Claudia Mills

Pictures by: Rob Shepperson

Published: May 13th, 2014 by Farrar, Strous, and Giroux

Summary: (Grades 2-4) Annika Riz loves math more than anything. She’s trying to teach her dog, Prime, to count. She’s determined to beat fellow math whiz Simon Ellis in a Sudoku contest at the public library. She even sleeps under number-patterned sheets. But Annika’s best friends Kelsey and Izzy think math is boring. All they care about is the upcoming school carnival: their principal is going to be dunked in a dunking tank and their class is going to have a booth selling home-baked cookies. But then disaster foils the friends’ cookie-baking plans. Can math save the day?

Review: Each of the books in the Franklin School Friends series tells the story of a different third-grade student with a passion for a school subject.  I was excited to read Annika Riz’s story because she is a math whiz—and I love math! Annika looks at the world through math-tinted glasses, and she wants everyone to love the subject as much as she does. She even attempts to teach her dog, Prime, how to count. I found the story to be so very charming. Annika is an endearing character who will resonate with many kids (and adults). Her energy and enthusiasm is refreshing. I suspect that readers will appreciate math much more by the end of this book. This series would be a great addition to elementary school classrooms. Series books are a big step in many students’ journey to becoming avid readers. Most adult readers list series books as a major part of their reading identities, so I am a strong advocate of having these texts available to students.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Annika looks at the world through a math mind. Teachers might ask students to pick a school subject and show how that subject is important in many of their everyday activities. This would teach students to apply what they are learning in school to their world.

Check out the downloadable curriculum guide for the Franklin School Friends here!

Discussion Questions: How does Annika approach the sudoku contest? Do you think she does a good job preparing for it?; What role do Annika’s friends play in her life? Because the girls have such varying interests, are you surprised they are friends? Why or why not?; Why do the girls decide to make lemonade? Do you think this was a good choice?; In what ways does Annika use math to examine aspects of her world?

We Flagged: “Kelsey loved reading and Izzy loved running the same way that Annika loved math. But Annika didn’t hate reading and running the same way that the others hated math. It was hard when your two best friends hated the thing in the world that you loved the most” (4).

Read This If You Loved: Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, Judy Moody by Megan McDonald, and Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows

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Claudia Mills, Philosophy claudia.mills@colorado.edu photo by: Larry Harwood

Claudia Mills is the acclaimed author of fifty early-chapter and middle-grade books, including 7 x 9 = Trouble!, How Oliver Olson Changed the World, and Zero Tolerance. Claudia was a professor of philosophy for over twenty years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she received many teaching awards, before leaving the university to write full time. She has two sons. To learn more, visit her website at claudiamillsauthor.com.

RickiSig