How Will I Teach Social Studies?

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                Today's education system strongly focuses on literacy and math not social studies or science. However, as a teacher it is our job to give our students everything we have and make them well-rounded students. As a teacher, I have discovered many ways in which to make this possible from our Maxim book and in class discussion.

One of my favorite ways to learn history around the world and in the United States is through reading historical fiction. This covers literacy and social studies at the same time. Moreover, I have noticed through my own experiences that I much prefer to read a historical fiction and compare the events in the book with the actual events rather than just reading it straight from a textbook, which can be boring and dull. Books are also another great way to tie in a lesson on culture, there are numerous books out there on just about any kind of culture that students or yourself might find interesting or important. Lastly, one of the biggest ways to integrate social studies in with all the other subjects, is to simply take the opportunity to explore or answer students' questions when they ask. Too often, we easily dismiss students' questions about other subjects and move on and we talk about it later, but we either never do or do not engage the students as much as we could have when they first asked. This will be one of my goals as a teacher, to embrace the small opportunities to cover social studies whenever possible.

Lastly, one of the ideal social studies activities I would love to do with my 3rd-5th grade class would be a passport activity like the one described in the "Travel Agencies and Itineraries: A World Geography Activity" by Charles R. Beck. To me this is an idea social studies activity as literacy and math are incorporated as students discover on their own how to set up agencies and itineraries whiling researching their own information. This information or project was not given to them piece by piece, but rather the teacher gave them a broad assignment and students discovered a way to do it step by step where everyone learned, had fun, and integrated other subjects. When studying about other countries or cultures, this is an activity I will use in my classroom.


Unit 4

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11/20/09 Transformation and Tessellations


During the Transformation and Tessellations lesson I learned difference between regular tessellations, semi-regular tessellations, and irregular tessellations. I always knew that a tessellation was a repeated shape covering a plane with any gaps or overlaps, but I did not know there were different types of tessellations or their names. During this lesson I learned that a regular tessellation is composed of only one repeated regular and congruent shape, where as a semi-regular tessellation is made of up of at least 2 regular polygons that share a side. Lastly, an irregular tessellation does not limit the order of the polygons around the vertices.

I liked that during the lesson our instructors had the class using online activities to play around with different polygons and create the different types of tessellations. I liked that they used examples of everyday life things to help show we are surrounded by tessellations. For example, one student had a regular tessellated coat and another an irregular tessellated scarf. As a teacher I feel that it is extremely important to help students make outside connections to anything we teach otherwise the lesson is meaningless. I remember when I was elementary school would ask why we should know something or ask how it relates to "real life" I was blown off and therefore turned off. However, when my teachers took the time to help me see the connections between the outside world and our math lesson I was more interested and would look for those connections outside the classroom. Well the online activities helped and made the lesson more interesting, it was the outside world connections these teachers were able to make that definitely helped me see how influential tessellations are in our world and why they should be taught. This is something I hope I can do for my students.


12/02/09 Dividing and Multiplying Fractions


            During the Dividing and Multiplying Fractions lessons, I have finally learned why inverting the 2nd fraction works out. I came to realize that when you use picture, it is easier to understand this concept. For example, when trying to solve 5/6 ÷ 1/3 you are solving to find out how many 1/3's are in 5/6. After dividing the 5/6 pizza into 1/3's you discover there are 2 and 1/2 , 1/3's in that 5/6. You can also get this when you invert the 2nd fraction the 1/3 to 3/1 and multiply the 5/6's because when you divide the 5/6's by 1/3 you are essentially diving the 5/6's into thirds (3). Therefore, you just invert the 2nd fraction and multiply you get the same answer, 5/2. After working through the problems, and showing how this is possible, I finally understand why!!!

            One of the best things the teachers did was show the variety of ways I can solve a fraction problems multiplying or dividing. They showed me you could solve any multiplication or division problem using fraction bars, fraction circles, fraction tiles, pictures, and unifix cubes. Before the lesson, I did not know how to use any of these manipulatives to describe multiplying or dividing fraction or yet alone how I could teach a student how. However, I have learned how to use all of the manipulatives described above as I worked through each of the sample problems using all the manipulatives for each problem learning how to use them correctly. I now feel that if I needed to explain multiplying or dividing fractions to a student I could do it successfully without hesitation.


12/04/09 Statistics


            During the statistics lesson I learned even though two people can have the same numbers they could graph it differently. For example, the election graph in which one graph showed a huge decrease and the other graph show steady crime. However, both candidates used the same number, but they both graphed it differently to their benefit.

            As a teacher I learned how important it is to take data and graphing step by step. For example, children should understand the different types of graphs and what they are used for, otherwise they are technically graphing the data the wrong way. Also it is always important that a 4-step process always be followed through. Also, students should always be redirected back to the original question when stuck or confused as this can help refocus a student or help them see what they are trying to answer. Once we put these ideas in practice I know I learned a lot more myself and have discovered I too would like to use data from class as a way to engage them and demonstrate statistical data and graphing.


12/09/09 Integers


            In school I always got confused between integers, real numbers, rational numbers, whole numbers, etc. I could never remember half the definitions. However during the lesson I was finally able to remember the definition of what integers because of the way they explained it. For example, they explained that an integer includes any number and its opposite, so 4 and -4. During all of our examples we would use one color for positive and one color for negative so it helped me remember that an integer includes any number and its opposite- just like positive and negative are opposites.

            I really liked that during the lesson they explained how to solve integers with a number line. This really helped me visualize the problems especially when using the two different colored markers. I think having each table try to solve the problems and use the dry erase boards was smart. In school we never really got a chance to practice integers using two different colors on a number line and I really think that was the key element. As a teacher, the number line activity is something I would like to use in my classroom if I were teaching integers as I found it really helpful. Also, Sarah used the statement pull back like an arrow, a phrase that really helped make the process much more understanding. 

Is This Inquiry

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2. Students try building "puffmobiles" which will go farthest when blown.


I think this could be considered inquiry because students can pick and select the materials they want to use to build these "puffmobiles." Before, students pick their materials though, they must think of why certain materials will work or why they will not work. Planning and constructing the "puffmobiles" involves questions and evidence as students experiment with materials. Furthermore, after students blow the "puffmobiles" and discover which one went the furtherest they will be able to draw conclusions based on what they observed. While the description does not include sharing their explanations of why certain "puffmobiles" went farthest, this could be included to make this experiment more inquiry based. Once students are able to share their explanations and evidence they are completing the last step in inquiry. While this is a good start to inquiry, it could still be modified and improved.


4. The class record temperatures from


I do not this is inquiry because no questions were formulated or addressed to the class. The students are given no reason as to why they are recording the temperatures. Therefore, this scenario describes no elements of inquiry. However, depending on the grade level either the students can generate a question about temperatures or the teacher can ask students questions and have them research the question by using For instance, a teacher could ask his/her students, "Are the temperatures from an Northeastern state different from a Midwestern state during this time of year?" Students would be engaged in a question and would need to use the to find the evidence to support their answer to the question. Students could even investigate why this is or is not possible. Students could work in groups as they research and share their answers. The teacher could even give different regions for the class to compare and share. At the research, students can share their research, evidence, and explanations with the class as they use their evidence for support. If this scenario were modified where students were researching a type of question and sharing their explanations and evidence with other students, I then think this could be considered inquiry. 

Reading Response Chapter 12

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Reading Response 12 Chapter 9


            This chapter mainly focuses inquiry and problem solving. Cognitive constructivism is when the learning is explained from the perspective of the individual. Problem centered learning is a term that is used to describe two teaching approaches considered for cognitive constructivist classrooms- inquiry and creative problem solving. The common pattern of inquiry is:

-       Students identify a problem or question that can be investigated

-       Students generate hypotheses, or tentative answers that can be verified

-       Students collect data

-       Students analyze the data and form generalizations that can be applied to this problem and to similar ones encountered in their lives

-       Students share their results with an audience

Social studies instruction uses children's natural curiosity of wondering, asking questions, searching for possible answers, and constructing their own awareness of the world to help them learn. Teachers helps students on the road to self-directed learning by offering early, hands-on, problem-based experiences that incorporate: designing captivating classroom displays, discussing the displays, and encouraging children's questions in an informal classroom.

            Other teachers might use the outside world to introduce children to the important concepts and skills of the constructivist inquiry process. While no one way is the best way to teach constructivist inquiry, it does follow a continuum. This usually begins with interesting classroom mini-museums, moves on to focused personal investigations, and ultimately includes opportunities for students to take part in active investigations through which they construct and represent subject matter concepts.

            However, inquiry must be started be grabbing the students' attention with an interesting problem. The problem should high degree of mystery and intrigue, for children to find it difficult to attach themselves to anything they do not care about. From there they follow the inquiry process described earlier. Moreover, inquiry is not the only process used, but creative problem solving as well. In order for creativity to take place domain knowledge and skills, creative thinking and working skills, and intrinsic motivation must be present. The creative problem-solving (CPS) model is comprised of three main steps: the mess, idea finding, and action planning.



"One of the primary goals of social studies teachers is to understand how to channel the children's spontaneous investigations and help them acquire the confidence and skill to carry out the processes of constructivist inquiry in the classroom" (Maxim, 2010, p. 389).


"Both process skills and content knowledge become critical as teachers move children toward instructional episodes, for both are hallmarks of capable social scientists" (Maxim, 2010, p. 401).



While I never remember my teachers using the word inquiry around me, it has become an everyday term this semester. In science, we strongly focused on inquiry as we built our entire science unit around this idea. The biggest challenge is applying the inquiry-based approach to the younger grades, as it is more guided inquiry at their age. For instance, instead of having children create their own questions, they may need to be provided with a question.



What do you do if the school you are at does not support the inquiry-based approach? What other approaches can use you in your class to engage your students and allow them to be at the center of their own learning? How can you convince your colleagues or principle the benefits of inquiry-based learning? 

Reading Response Chapter 6

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Reading Response 11 Chapter 6


            This chapter mainly focuses on young political scientists. Civics is the study of political and legal systems, about our rights and responsibilities as citizens, and about how our government works. The goal of civic education is the development of informed, responsible citizens committed to the principles of American constitutional democracy. A realistic elementary school civics classroom would include: engaged children in citizenship processes, teaching subject matter through interesting topics and active processes, inspire the actions and attitudes of civic responsibility, and help children examine and analyze the values of our democratic society.

            A democratic learning community is a place where children are helped to establish the rules, take responsibility for their won behavior, and discover they do not need a dictator but rather a facilitator- someone who helps people work together. One way to establish this type of setting is on the first day of school. Teachers should given students the opportunity to participate in the rule-making process so they feel a sense of ownership and pride that will help set the tone for the rest of the school year. Another way to create a democratic learning community is through class meetings where students present topics of discussion, implement recommended group problem-solving strategies, establish the rules of a good discussion, and summarize what has been said.

            Another component is elections and voting, one of the best ways to educate young people about what it means to be a citizen in a democratic society is to get them involved in the whole process. This is only one of the ways to show students that civic responsibility can be defined as accepting the "duties of a citizen"- becoming an active contributor to public life in a committed and productive manner. As a citizen it is also important to understand the difference between fact and opinion, which will help them in when it comes to critical thinking. As citizens we do not want to take anything for face value, we want to examine what we already know and if our actions or thoughts are fair or reasonable.



"Throughout the curriculum and at every grade level, students should have opportunities to apply their civic knowledge, skills, and values as they work to solve real problems in their school, the community, our nation, and the world" (Maxim, 2010, p. 245).


"Children do not need to wait until they're 18 years old to experience what it means to be a citizen; citizenship awareness can start on the very first day of school" (Maxim, 2010, p. 251).



I remember the year that Clinton was running for office, my class ran our own voting process. I remember ballads were created and each got the opportunity to vote for a President. In fact, our whole school got to participate so we saw that while two different classes might have carried different votes and winners, the overall winner might not reflect the winner from your class. Also, as had a student government and each year the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer were voted in. All running candidates gave a speech telling us why they felt they were the best person for the position. During this time, we examined the entire voting process in our social studies class and compared it with the voting that parents got to do for the President. We also examined electoral colleges more closely.



How can we convince students that while our voting system is based on an electoral college, their vote still counts for something? So often some people feel why should I vote, I'm only one person, the country has already decided, how can we convince these types of students that it is important? How can we motivate or convince the discouraged? 

Reading Response Chapter 8

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Reading Response 10 Chapter 8



            This chapter mainly focuses on collaborative and cooperative learning. While the two appear similar they are different in that collaborative learning is an informal methods of teaching and learning where as cooperative learning is more closely directed and managed by the teacher, there are specific guidelines and expectations that are met. When students are learning or practicing skills in groups make sure that they are defined clearly and specifically, you want students to characterize that particular skill, and practice and reinforce it.

Maxim also offers a large variety of collaborative learning groups: buzz groups, brainstorming groups, poor tutoring, and project-oriented investigative groups. Cooperative learning approaches Maxim mentions: think-pair-share, think-pair-square, numbered heads together, jigsaw, and pick your spot. According to Johnson, Johnson, and Holubec (1993) these certain conditions must be met in order for a group to be considered cooperative learning: positive interdependence, face-to-face interaction, individual and group accountability, interpersonal and small-group skills, and group processing.

Before children can be put into groups, it is best to spend the first month or two observing your students. This will let a teacher know who can and not work together. It also lets the teacher slowly group children. Cooperative learning benefits students make discoveries and connections between their peers.



"Working in groups gives students an opportunity to learn from and teach each other" (Maxim, 2010, p. 360).


"Roger Johnson asserts, "Human beings learning more, flourish, and connect more when they're cooperating and less when they competing or working in an isolated fashion" (p.1)" (Maxim, 2010, p. 381).



I remember how much I looked forward to working in groups, as it always gave me a chance to learn information from my peers rather than sitting in my desk reading out of a book. However, it was the students' decision/job to assign jobs within the group. This usually lead to me keeping quiet and doing whatever my group members wanted me to do. However, I quickly learned that not everyone did their part when group projects were also completed outside of classroom (after school or at home). It was not until my eighth grade year that I began to take charge of my groups. However, this also left me in the spot to do most of the work, because if I did not I felt that any incomplete or sloppy work also represented me as a person, group leader, and group member.



While cooperative and collaborative group learning is great, what can you do to engage all students? Sometimes there is always that one person that seems to do all the work and no one speaks or says anything. How can you make sure everyone is participating on an equal level? Should specific jobs be assigned? If so does this take away from the inquiry process? Does it take away from the collaborative or cooperative learning?



Reading Response Three Articles

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Reading Response 10

"Travel Agencies and Itineraries: A World Geography Activity" By Charles Beck

"Visit My State! Introducing the U.S.A."

"My Family's Story: Discovering History at Home"



            "My Family's Story: Discovering History at Home," article describes how a teacher an involve students and their family members in order to learn about their own personal history. Often in social studies we focus so much on world history, country history, and state history and very rarely on our own history. This project is a great way to introduce students to the process of research and history as they work with their own family members to collect artifacts and information.

            The "Visit My State! Introducing the U.S.A." article describes a very detailed project in which each student learned about a particular state. Students in this case were asked to complete an in depth research, find the state's location using an atlas, create a diorama, generate a salt map, design a brochure, and finally present their projects to the class. While this sounds like a great project, I noticed it looked like a lot of work and would require a lot of time. However, this would be a nice transition from the family history to the states' history.

            My last article was by far the most interesting one. One teacher had created different travel agencies and tourists. Each travel agency was handed a folder with a cultural picture from one of the six (the excluded Antarctica) continents. The travel agency was required to look at the pictures and discover what continents the picture was from and then from their form their travel agency were they assisted the other students (the tourists) in the classroom by helping them fill out a passport and creating itineraries for when they go to visit the different countries. Overall, the unit sounded really awesome and like a lot of fun as the activity was very student centered.            



"In the role of agents, the students researched foreign countries using web sites and CD software, and as clients, they engaged in hands-on measurements using globes and wall maps." (Beck, Charles)



I remember when I was in four grade we too did a state project where we researched our state and put together a final presentation for our class. We were able to create whatever final project we wanted so long as it included certain elements: state flower, a picture of the state, the state flag, population, etc. I remember I did my state on Arizona, which was cool at the time because my Aunt Beth lived out in Arizona and I was able to receive several artifacts from her. For my final project I put together a scrapbook.



As much as I was interested in the state project I feel it was very timely. Did the teacher give the students a lot of in class time to work on the project? Was time taken away from other subjects? How much time was spent outside of class working on that project?

Reading Response Chapter 7

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            Social constructivism plays an important role in how children acquire and organize information. Jean Piaget opened the door others to see this understanding through his many years of research. Piaget concentrated on schemata, adaptation, assimilation, and accommodation. He believed children learned best through discovery learning or inquiry.

            Another important figure who helped guide us in stimulating children's reasoning was Lev Vygotsky. He talked about the importance of zone of development and scaffolding and how they are used to help children to discovery information on their own with as little help as possible from the instructor.

            One strategy used to support learning is through the Learning Cycle which is student centered, problem solving based teaching approach. The first phase is the exploration phase where teachers help students make a connection to their previous experiences and establish a purpose for learning. To active prior knowledge teachers can use a variety of methods: class discussions, stimulating objects or events, and graphic organizers. The second phase is the concept/skill development where the content is organized, basic skills are analyzed, and a variety of materials and activities are use for instruction. One way to expand on a concept is through factstorming, where students research relevant details related/connected to the concept. Different ways to assist students as they construct key concepts is through conversations, small groups, and graphic organizers (several types that are extremely helpful). The last phase is the concept/skill application where students apply or practice new concept or skill.



"Graphic organizers, like instructional conversations, are considered to be language-based scaffolding experiences because students need not only draw and write in order to complete an organizer but they must also talk, listen, and think." (Maxim, 2010, p. 345).


"Helping elementary school students construct meaningful concepts I one of the foremost challenges to social studies teachers." (Maxim, 2010, p. 354).



I remember when I was in sixth grade studying the different cultures and the eras we constantly used graphic organizers to connect a lot of our information. Times when we did not, facts and information were constantly mixed around in my head. However being able to sort the information was extremely helpful to put organize it into little boxes. I am a very organized person so when I have an opportunity to organize the information I am studying I take it. However, this cannot be done every time something is done as it is not necessary and can be very time consuming sometimes.



What do you do when your students are unable to connect new experiences with the past? I know the book already suggested a few, but is there anything else that can be done? How can you help those students make that connection? What if your students do like graphic organizers or do not do them? How else can you help them organize the information? What if you have a student who uses and fills out the graphic organizer, but it doesn't help that particular student? What else can you do to help this student? Should you maybe start over and walk through every step that must be taken to see if they are doing it correctly and to check and see if they are fully engaged when doing it?


Reading Response Chapter 3

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As elementary education teachers it is job to draw from the all the subjects we teach in order to teach the other ones. Furthermore, as more schools begin to cut programs like music and art, it is important for us as teachers to integrate the creative part of the mind that many experts believe to help increase children's mathematics. Some ways that we as teachers can integrate these other subjects is through integrative learning materials and activities. When we use materials and activities like hands-on, field trips, visitors, computers, and technology we are able to help students see and understand the connections more quickly and smoothly. Lastly, using group projects as an integrative tool also offers other benefits for students aside from just learning the content. Since projects are long term they offer several opportunities for students to work together, practice cooperation skills, leadership skills, and organization skills.



"Instead, the best programs offer comprehensive and interconnected experiences that enlighten students' understandings of humanity past and present. They pull from many areas of the curriculum to present a cohesive, absorbing awareness of the world." (Maxim, 2010, p. 96)



I remember being in sixth grade and learning about the Organ Trail. We were split into groups and we had to create our own Organ Trail game and we had to include certain components. While generating our own games, we also played the Organ Trail Game on the computer. Our teacher had found multiply ways for us to learn and understand the Organ Trail without just reading the book and answering questions. Instead we found ours immersed into this time period and learning about the real problems that we had read about. 



What happens when you start a project or assignment with your class and it just does not seem to be working? What do you do when the students just are not interested? Do you change the project/assignment half way through? Do you stick it out and do better next time? Do you ask the students why they are uninterested and try to find a way to revise it and continue on? 

Reading Response Rosa Parks

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Both articles strongly emphasize that Rosa Parks was not a tired old woman who did not want to give up her seats. They both discuss how important it is for students to understand Rosa Parks' background and what lead her to say no. Unfortunately too many students believe that she just did not want to, not that she was standing up for her believes and starting a civil rights movement when she refused. Both articles offer great books that shared detailed parts of Rosa's life and that are excellent choices to make for an elementary class if study Rosa or the civil rights movement. The one article offered a great detailed lesson plan on how to help students learn as much as they possibly can in fifty minutes and accurately. It offers an interesting lesson plan/project for students to participate in for them to fully understand and learn about Rosa.  



"By comparing multiple perspectives of the story of Rosa Parks and Montgomery Bus Boycott, students experience first hand how different published accounts of the same event may contain different information" (Landorf, H. & Lowenstein E., 2004, p. 9).



When reading about the expert teams and home teams, it immediately made me think of centers. The only time I remember doing centers in the classroom was for science experiments or math. I never had a teacher do one for social studies. However, I work in a pre-school room for my student teaching now and I see the benefits of centers and how they keep students engaged. I remember when I was student how difficult it was to sit in my seat all day long from class to class without getting up or participating in some kind of activity. However, with centers I was always fully engaged and loved being able to get up, move around, and talk with others even if it was only schoolwork related.



As great as an idea like centers would be for learning about Rosa, I wonder how many students weren't really doing their work. Although it is a great concept and jobs are given to students, its so easy for some students to have others do all the work for them. How do you make sure all your students are actively engaged? What ways can you motivate them to be engaged and participating? 

Reading Response Brown v. Board of Education

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            The article focuses on the background of the Brown v. Board of Education Topeka, Kansas and resources where students between the grades of fourth and fifth can find reliable and accurate background information to help them fully understand the case. The article explains the importance of Linda Brown, Thurgood Marshall, Fourteenth Amendment, Plessy v. Ferguson, and the effects of Brown v. Board of Education on other education rulings. The article explains the importance of students learning the background information of the people, cases, and things listed above to help students understand how Brown v. Board of Education came about and the results following afterwards.



"By analyzing primary and secondary sources on one r more of these selected web sites, students can gain a greater understanding of the importance of Brown v. Board of Education decision and is relevance for us today." (Sheehan, p. 27).



I never remember really studying Brown v. Board of Education in elementary school, only in high school and even then we kind of just breezed right through it without explaining Plessy v. Ferguson. In fact, it was not until I was in college that I learned more in depth about Plessy v. Ferguson and the relevance it had to Brown v. Board of Education or that there were twelve other students technically involved in the case. I wish my teachers had taken the time to set up the background information to help me better understand Brown v. Board of Education and its true significance.



What if schools or students do not have access to use these great websites? What else can teachers do to help provide accurate and helpful information to their students aside from using the classroom textbook? What if the library does not have enough information on the case or background information? Where else can teachers go? 

Reading Reflection 5

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Ready, Set, Science Chapter 5:


What methods does Ms. Carter use to encourage talk and argument and support scientific thinking? How does she include all of her students in the conversation? Are her methods successful?  


Ms. Carter's Classroom:

Ms. Carter has a green sheet that is given to students at the beginning of the year and discussed. As they read through the rules and obligations listed on the green sheet, students are asked to explain these rules and obligations in their own words to ensure understanding. Part of the obligations listed on the sheet include: speaking loudly enough for all to hear, listen to others when they are speaking, and when you agree or disagree with something you are to explain why.


Ms. Carter has created the green sheet as every day norms in her classroom instead of just a list of things. Ms. Carter refers back to the green sheet; if any students strays away from these norms and follows a disciplinary system she has set in place to help students remember the norms. Because Ms. Carter enforces these norms, the students behave well in her class and are actively involved in answering and answer questions of their own. Overall, Ms. Carter has succeeded in creating a safe classroom where students feel they can talk openly and ask questions without hesitation. 

Unit 1 Reflection

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Unit 1 Reflection:

            As I reflect back on this unit, I am filled with old memories and experiences of when I was in elementary school first learning the material we have discussed these past few weeks. I have learned of new techniques and manipulatives that I can use in my classroom to help enhance my students' understanding and learning. I remember from my own experiences that the teachers would sometimes just do the lesson on the board and that was it, never using the types of manipulatives we experimented with. The only manipulative I remember using in elementary was the unifix cubes, which I believe can be the most beneficial in teaching base-ten and place value. However, I have learned of other ways like the hundreds charts which can also be used to teach addition, subtraction, and multiplication. I have experimented with excellent websites that I feel could also help enhance my students' understanding of certain lessons if used properly.

            One of the biggest eye openers for me these past few weeks was learning Alphabitia. I never realized how new the number system might be to some of my students especially when trying to apply it different applications such as addition, subtraction, or multiplication. I have learned that I will need patience with my students and that the practice of saying and using the numbers will help them better learn and understand our number system. Overall, I feel I have learned of new ways in which I can help better my students and am looking forward to putting some of these new strategies into practice. 

Video Response - Unit 1

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Video 1 from 09/18/09 on Children's Thinking About Addition and Subtraction:

            In this video we observed how three students each approached the addition differently. For instance, we saw that Elthea understands place value as she manipulates the numbers. The original problem is 48 + 25 = ?. Elthea takes 40 from the 48 and 20 from the 25 and adds the 40 + 20 to get 60. From there she takes the 8 from 48 and adds it to the 60 to get 68. Next she adds 5 to 68 and gets 73. Meanwhile, James used nice numbers to solve his problem. He took the 20 from the 25 and added it to the 48 to get 68. From there he took the 2 from the 5 in the 25 to add to 68 to get a nice even number = 70. Lastly, he added the remaining 3 from the 5 to get 73. While on the other hand, Stacey did not understand how to use any other approach rather than counting by ones from 48.

            Elthea understood base-ten and place value, as she was able to manipulate the ones and tens columns. Like the grouping tens activities discussed in class using different manipulatives, Elthea separated the tens groups into 4 sets of tens and 2 sets of tens adding the tens group first. At this point she has mastered place value of ones and tens not needing manipulatives to solve the problems. She can separate the ones and tens in her head making it easier for her to solve the problem. 

Reflection on Mathematics Activity - Unit 1

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Alphabitia- Cups & Beans:

For this activity everyone was paired off into to twos and each person had XA (7) cups. Each pair shared a bag of beans and a die. Each person took a turn rolling the die and filling in the Beans and Cups chart. After each student rolled the die, s/he needed to count her/his beans out in Alphabitia each time, helping reinforce the Alphabitia number system. The first person to reach XA cups won. As I played the game, it took me a while to get use to calling out the Alphabitia numbers instead numbers 1-6. The most challenging part of this game was adding up the combinations it took to fill my cup and subtracting the number I had left over (the remainder) in Alphabitia terms. I often found myself trying to convert the Alphabitia letters into our number system and then adding or subtracting. However, by the second game I had a better fluency of the Alphabitia addition and subtraction system and no problem.

This experience taught me that although we as teachers may be familiar with our number system and have had several years of experience applying it, understanding it, and analyzing it, our students have not. Before kindergarten, our students have had no real need to use our number system. This activity taught me that I should not expect my students to know our number system like I do or think that they should. I realize I am going to need more patience than I thought since my students are just learning how to use our number system and I now know how frustrating it can be trying to apply the new number system to a variety of applications. 

Reading Response Parker

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Before having students write a biography, the teacher should first decide what the goals of the project are and whom he or she wants her students to focus on. For example, if they were focusing on leadership, the teacher might want them to write about George Washington. After giving the students background or a piece of the person they will be writing about, the teacher should have the students brainstorm crucial events throughout the person's life. Next, they will select four or five of the events listed to concentrate on. In groups of four or five, each group will take on an event and work on it together. Within each group, the biography is broken down even further. The example used in the scenario was each group member who was responsible for chapter 2 got together with all the other students who were suppose to write chapter 2 for their groups.

Together the groups will work together to create a title page, foreword, information, about the author's page, and the biography. By working in small groups, each student is accomplishing more than just the assignment at hand, but they are also learning how to work cooperatively, more about the people they are studying, the writing process, and how to construct a timeline. Project like this one not only exposes student biographies, but literacy, writing, and art if they are asked to produce pictures.



"Students in the upper elementary and middle school grades need to begin to work earnestly on the sixth learning objective stated earlier: students will learn how to make sense of competing accounts of a person or an event and compose a fair-minded account." (Park, p. 469)


"By embedding literacy instruction in social studies content and cooperative group-work, the teacher creates the kind of social context that can support in-depth learning." (Parker, p. 470)



When I was in elementary school, the only biography I remember writing was in fifth grade for my English class. We never completed a group biography paper/book like the one described in the reading. However, after we finished writing our biographies on our assigned people we had to present our paper to our class. I remember I wrote my paper on Katrina Witt, a famous ice skater. We were given class time to go to the library and check out book and complete our research on our people. We were also introduced to paraphrasing and quoting and the proper way to use sources. I remember we were taught how to generate a works cited page using the MLA format. So while we learned how to write a biography we also learned the mechanics of how to write a proper paper.



I wonder how much time was devoted to this biography. I realize that they discussed portions of Sojourner Truth were read over a few weeks period, but I wonder how much class was time was used to work on these projects. What subjects or how much time from which subjects were sacrificed to complete this project? Was this a group project that students worked on after school hours? 

Reading Response - Unit 1

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Chapter 11:



            When children first learn to count, they count by ones. It takes children a while before they realize they can group ten single ones as a group of ten instead of trying to keep track of twenty-two ones. As children progress into second grade they begin to count by groups and single ones. One way to introduce base ten counting is by using cubes, bundle sticks, and counters and cups. This chapter offers several ways of how to teach base ten concepts such as estimating groups of tens and ones, too many tens, base-ten riddles, and odd groupings.

            This chapter also discusses the importance of students being able to recognize written and oral numbers. They need to understand that they are more than just words and that they represent a value. As children learn how to count by tens and group, they also discover patterns and relationships between other numbers. The best way to demonstrate these patterns is with a hundreds chart. As children explore the activities for the hundreds chart, they will also investigate number relationships for addition and subtraction. Once students have established place value, grouping, and the hundreds chart they will be able to apply these concepts to numbers of larger numbers.



"We should not permit children to study place-value concepts without encouraging them to see number in the world about them." (Van de Walle, 2010, p. 207)



I remember when I was in elementary school learning to group count, my teacher would use the unifix cubes. This made it easy to group the cubes into sections of tens and then count by ten. Also, my teacher would pass out the unifix cubes for us to complete worksheets and do activities with her. While she was unable to use the solid unifix cubes on the overhead, she would use clear colored transparencies in addition to using the unifix cubes off to the side to demonstrate some of the activities. Our teacher tried every way possible to help us understand that ten single ones represented one group of ten.



I wonder why some children are unable to understand how to group by tens and base count? Even after teachers are able to demonstrate with unifix cubes or bundle stick, why there is a disconnect? I wonder what else a teacher could do to help students see the connection. Is practice and repetition just enough to help students see the connection with the base-ten concept?

Reading Reflection 4

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Ready, Set, Science Chapter 4:


List several classroom management strategies from the two case studies. How are they effective?


Ms. Winter's Mystery Box Activity

Before Ms. Winter's began her activity, she asked her students, "Are you ready to run a Mystery Box investigation with me?" Immediately, she grabs the class's attention by asking them to participate in an investigation with a mystery box; children love solving mysteries and investigations. As she started her lesson, she made sure to identify each item and what it was made of, this can be very helpful for students. If students do not know what they are working with how can they adequately answer the questions correctly?


While students were eager to shout out their questions, Ms. Winter's quickly addressed this issue by using the cup of Popsicle sticks to call on students. This gave each student an equal opportunity to ask a question and it was done at random, so no students were monopolizing the investigation. As students began to ask their questions and eliminate objects that were not in the box, Ms. Winter removed the items. By removing the items from their sight it allowed students to only concentrate on the items before them. Moreover, Ms. Winter continuously asked her students rhetorical questions to make sure they were paying attention or to remind them of clues they had already solved. Therefore, she repeated a lot of information, but with an enthusiastic and encouraging tone.


Overall, she did a great job at keeping all her students engaged by allowing everyone to ask questions and by performing spots checks.


Mr. Figueroa's Weighing Air Activity

Mr. Figueroa also managed to grab his students' attention by having them all come to circle as he was holding two volleyballs. Immediately, this draws the students' attention, as they are curious about the volleyballs. Mr. Figueroa keeps his students engaged by allowing them to count with him as he pumped air into the lighter colored volleyball and use themselves as human scales. I really like this particular idea of students giving their predictions by using their arms to represent which way the scale would balance. I think by allowing students to do something like this, it gives them a chance to stretch and stay engaged in what's going. I thought this approach was more interesting and engaging than a hand vote would have been.


Mr. Figueroa also had a system for giving each of his students to talk by using a talk ball whenever they were in circle time. This allowed whoever to have the ball the opportunity to talk, while others sat and listened without interrupting. Secondly by students being allowed to see the talk, they know immediately whose turn it is to talk. Once again we see another teacher using spot check questions to check on students' attention span and keep them engage.


Lastly, I thought it was smart that Mr. Figueroa told his students he would listen to everyone's predictions before following through with the experiment. I liked that he told his students that he was interested in everyone's predictions not just a few students. I also liked that he asked each student to support his/her own predictions.


I believe Mr. Figueroa also did an excellent job at keeping his students engaged by allowing them to participate in several ways. Both teachers were able to carry out their experiments/activities with a flow because they managed their classrooms each in a special way. All students knew the expectations and followed them as the teachers keep them engaged. I believe both these teacher demonstrated excellent classroom management skills and ideas that I plan to use in my classroom like the Popsicle cup and the human scale.  

Reading Response Chapter 4

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            Historians uncover important information about the past, verify the accuracy of the information, and organize the information into an informative historical narrative. Historians look for this information from several sources written and non-written. It is important for children to learn about the past so they can be better prepared to judge the present and the future. Students are to learn five sets of standards when learning about social studies: to think chronologically, comprehend a variety of historical sources, engage in historical analysis and interpretation, conduct historical research, and engage in historical issues-analysis and decision-making.

            History can be taught through several resources: tangible items, oral history, interviews, historical photographs and paintings, letters, journals and diaries, historical newspapers, historical narratives, historical fiction, biographies, and folk literature. Students should write in social studies to share what they know and have learned.  



"Without history, a society shares no common memory of where it has been, of what is core values are, or of what decisions of the past account for our present circumstance."(Maxim, 2010, p. 141)


"One of the reasons why history is so tricky to teach is that students are not interested in learning facts unless those facts are embedded in challenging or engaging context, but they cannot comprehend the contexts without knowing the facts." (Maxim, 2010, p. 142)



I remember doing an essay for the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) for my social studies class. We had to write an interview we had with one of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence. We had to research who they were, why the signed the Declaration of Independence, and what they expected to happen. I remember I did my interview with John Hancock. The paper required us to do research and yet at the same time we got to have fun with it. Any information we could not find, we either applied what we learned in class or used our creative side and dig into the 1776.



Is there any other way to teach dates aside from using timelines? How important is it that students learn several dates at such a young age? When students reach high school they are expected to know dates and places, so should elementary teacher require their students know dates and places. 

Reading Response Chapter 5

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When children learn geography, they describe places, learn how these classes came to be, and appreciate the bond between humans and their physical environment. There are four main reasons why students study geography in elementary school: existential reason, the ethical reason, the intellectual reason, and the practical reason. There are five main themes that students study in geography: location: position on the earth's surface, place: physical and human characteristics, relationships within places: humans and environments, movement: humans interacting on the Earth, and regions: how they form and change.

There are five ways in which to teach geography: observing, speculating, investigating, extending and reinforcing, and evaluating. Maps also play a very important role in the way students see themselves in the world and understanding areas around them. There are several types of different maps that could be used to teach map scales, cardinal direction, story maps, the globe, grids, and latitude and longitude. 



"It also stimulates student interest in their surrounding, develops an awareness of the variety of human and physical conditions around the world, and promotes a sense of wonder at the splendor of the physical environment." (Maxim, 2010, p. 193)


"Instead of expecting children to do something beyond their capabilities, then, it would be more instructive if teachers used activities matched to developmental uniqueness of the children." (Maxim, 2010, p. 210)



I remember in forth grade learning how to use climate maps, physical maps, production maps, sea level maps, and community maps. I remember learning to locate the school, the house, the library, and the zoo and counting the number of squares it takes to get from one location to another. That is the only part of forth grade I remember, was geography maps. I do not really remember learning the other aspects of geography that were discussed in the books like the cultures, languages, and religions. However, after learning how to use maps in forth grade, when I got to sixth grade we did not have to "waste" time learning maps instead we concentrated on the other aspects of geography such as culture, language, religion, and food.



Although, they talk about teaching in geography in elementary, how much do you give kindergarteners? By teaching more than just maps, can it be overload? Can kindergarteners understand relativity between themselves and their surroundings? 

Reading Reflection 3

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Ready, Set, Science Chapter 3:


1.     Each student comes into the classroom with four domains of knowledge all of which can been seen through all cultures: simple mechanics of solid bounded objects, behaviors of psychological agents, actions and organization of living things, and makeup and substance of materials.

2.     Science is more than just facts and definitions; it helps us understand the world around us through different processes.

3.     There are three types of conceptual change that students and teachers must achieve: elaborate on preexisting concepts, restructure a network of concepts, and achieve new levels of explanations.



"They are active explorers who have successfully learned about regularities in particular domains of experience in ways that help them interpret, anticipate, and explain their world." (Shouse, 2010, p. 40)


"When students understand the organizing principles of science, they can learn new and related material more effectively, and they are more likely to able to apply their knowledge to new problems." (Shouse, 2010, p. 41)



Similar to Ms. Faulkner, I had a high school chemistry teacher would also create a great introduction to new science units or experiments. For example, I remember the time we were studying air pressure and weight. She created starter inquiry like Ms. Faulkner. She wanted to us to do more than just watch a flashy demonstration. She asked us which would hit the ground faster a feather or a tennis ball? After writing down hypothesizes and discussing our background knowledge, we watch the teacher construct the experience and from there this lead us into our new unit. This type of demonstration gets us involved and interested, we were more than just an audience.  



Aside from doing KLEW charts what other ways can we as teachers discover what our students already know? Are pretests the only other way to find out about their background knowledge? What would happen if we did not discover their background knowledge? Can they still gain anything from our lessons?



Inquiry Chapter 3:


1.     Teachers create learning opportunities to help students achieve standards that incorporate inquiry and are supported by instructional models.

2.     Inquiries are also meant to help students evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of activities, learning to be critical of what they are observing and experimenting.

3.     Inquiries require much time, research, and investigation that can take several class periods to days to weeks inside/outside the classroom.



"It described inquiry not only as a mean to learn science content but a set of skills that students need to master and as a body of understanding that students need to learn." (National Research Council, 2000, p. 39).


"An instructional model must not be used as a "lockstep" device that limits the flexibility of a teacher to facilitate an inquiry that is sensitive to students' needs and interests." (National Research Council, 2000, p. 48).



I remember being in seventh grade and doing a worm as well. We observed worms one day writing down our observations and drawing what we saw. The second class we had dissected the worms examining every centimeter of them from their inside to their outside. It was fun unit and we all learned a lot. However, ours was not an inquiry project like the one described in Ms. Flores's class, rather it was just another science experiment.



How often do students really bring up questions like the students in Ms. Flores's class? We continue to read about students who ask additional or investigative questions in class, but how often does this happen? Is it because of the environment these teachers have created that these students ask such questions? Or is it simply because we have such curious students? 

Reading Reflection 2

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Inquiry Chapter 2:


1.     Inquiry is tied into the National standards to help students better understand the content and the scientific method.

2.     Students must question what they already know and build about that during the inquiry process. It is more than just simply asking questions.

3.     There are five essential features teachers should use for the inquiry in their classroom: the learner should be engaged, give priority to evidence, formulate explanations, evaluate their explanations, and communication and justify their proposed explanations. 



"In this way, the Standards seek to build student understanding of how we know what we know and what evidence supports what we know." (National Research Council, 2000, p.13)


"Skillful teachers help students focus their questions so that they can experience both interesting and productive investigations." (National Research Council, 2000, p. 25)


"More open inquiry will afford the best opportunities for cognitive development and scientific reasoning. Students should have opportunities to participate in all types of inquiries in the course of their science learning." (National Research Council, 2000, p. 30)



The only time I remember doing inquiry was during our sidewalk science projects that we would do every year. Each year every grade was assigned a topic and had to construct a project for other students to complete during sidewalk science week. As a class we would figure out how would want to put together the project and what results we wanted other students to discover. This type of thinking was on a higher level as we did more just than answer questions, we constructed a project and provided questions for others to answer. 



As a teacher how can you assess your students' inquiry without taking away from their experience when they know it is for a grade? 

Reading Response Chapter 2

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            Our country is a mixing bowl made up of different colors, languages, customs and traditions. Multicultural education is an approach to classroom methodology and content selection that recognizes and values the complex dimensions of American culture and society. Culture consists of all the accepted and patterned ways of a group's behavior. There are four main approaches to social studies: tourist approach/the contributions approach, the additive approach, the transformative approach, and the social action approach.

            Tourist approach/contributions approach is when special activities or projects are only offered during special cultural holidays. It is limited and fails to help students acquire an overall view of the role of various ethnic groups in the United States. The additive approach inserts several ethnic perspectives and viewpoints into the traditional curriculum. However, this approach only focuses on mainstream ethnic or cultural groups. The transformative approach allows students to view concepts and issues from multiple points of view, can be seen from an outsider's perspective. The social action approach is similar to the transformative approach, but it requires students to take action related to the concept being studied.

            In order for teachers to use culturally responsive teaching they must establish a democratic learning community within their classroom. Teachers should also use the personal approach that Ukpokodu discusses to help students find a connection and interest. Additionally, teachers should be aware of the variety of learners in their classroom and tried to reach every one of them through a variety of methods and activities. Lastly, teachers should adjust lesson plans to help students with disabilities or that are gifted so that they are being challenged at the correct level.



"To know and to not do is to not know" Chinese proverb (Maxim, 2010, p. 61)


"A culturally responsive and supportive classroom environment celebrates diversity, respects human differences, and eradicates racial, ethnic, cultural, and gender stereotypes" (Maxim, 2010, p. 64)


"...the teacher structures the learning community to empower all students to experience belong, autonomy, and competence..." (Maxim, 2010, p. 65)



I remember that my social studies teacher in Middle School used the transformative and social action approach in her classroom as we worked on numerous projects. For example, one year we created our own Holocaust museum after visiting the one in St. Petersburg, FL. Each student focused on a different part such as the children, the parents, the soldiers, the Nazis, the camps, the science experiments, and America's perspective and actions.  After completing our research we each created our own board and opened our informational museum to the community so they could become more informed.



How can you turn your early American social studies or world history class into a social action approach? Does the social action approach only involve current issues? 

Reading Response Chapter 1

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            Social studies is a combination of: geography, history, political science, anthropology, sociology, archaeology, religion, psychology, and economics. The purpose of social studies is to help our students become good citizens and prepare them for civic participation. Additionally, it is taught to past down our culture to the next generation. As teachers we want our students to able to make informed decisions so they can participate as citizens within their community, city, state, and nation. The opportunity for us to teach students at an elementary level makes the subject easier because as social scientists they are enthusiastic to learn more about what they do not know, much like adult social scientists. One way for us to teach children social studies is through the dynamic social studies model which includes: functional content, constructivist teaching practices, intrinsic motivation, cross-curricular integration, and respect for diversity.



"The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions offer the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an independent world" (Maxim, 2010, p. 14).


"Martin Rochester (2003) tells us that in Ancient Greece the word idiot referred to an individual who took no interest in public affairs" (Maxim, 2010, p. 16).


"... if children are going to develop the skills appropriate for active citizenship in a democracy, they must be capable of thinking about complex social problems in a classroom environment that promotes decision making and problem solving" (Maxim, 2010, p. 21).



During my elementary social studies I remember a lot of community maps, information, government system, and resources. I especially remember how connected my social studies lessons were with our student government committees. Although my school never had us involved with the community as the way Holzwarth's class was, we did apply our knowledge to our student government. We looked for ways to improve our school and the process/steps it took accomplish our goals. 



Why should students learn to become involved in their community if they have no children who attend the local schools and do not want to be involved? How do we convince them that some day when they do not expect it they will need their community and that through their community they have a voice?


Reading Reflection 1

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Ready, Set, Science Chapter 1:


1.     Science like many elementary school subjects is important because it allows students to think critically, make observations, and draw upon their own conclusions based on the results.

2.     Each student brings in his or her own background knowledge and questions making each experiment interesting.

3.     As teachers it is our job to show our students that they are scientists and offer them the missing tools they need to advance themselves when completing experiments and observing the world.



"Without scientific knowledge, we are wholly dependent on others as "experts." With scientific knowledge, we are empowered to become participants rather than merely observers." (Shouse, 2010, p. 2)



I remember when we studied hurricanes in earth science in sixth grade because I lived in Florida, I had had first hand experience, and so I could relate to what we were talking about in class. However, when we discussed earthquakes, I had no background knowledge, other than that part of the ground shakes.



How do you integrate between all the subjects, because we are elementary we sometimes cover up six subjects a day while integrating p.e., music, and art because at some schools these are not separate subjects? What if you cannot make connections with other topics covered in other subjects? How do you help your students find connections without bringing in extra homework, extra class time to talk, as both can take away from the curriculum time or seen as busy work. 



Inquiry Chapter 1:


1.     After the students had made an observation and asked Mrs. Graham's class, she went along with it.

2.     Each student felt as though they contributed toward the end conclusion/project.

3.     We as teachers we find ways to connect our subjects with our students and show them how their subjects can connect to the outside world.



"... help all their students understand science as a human endeavor, acquire the scientific knowledge and thinking skills important in everyday life and, if their students so choose, in pursuing a scientific career" (National Research Council, 2000).



I feel that as a student, sometimes teachers miss perfect opportunities to make lessons when we ask questions. However, I have also been lucky enough as a student to have a teacher like Mrs. Graham who goes along with it and helps students explore their ideas and hypothesis. For example, when my class became interested in our plant section, my teacher took the opportunity to design an experiment of growing lima beans to show us the process when she was approached with several questions. 



How do you make time for such a great lesson at the last minute? Although the students brought this problem to Mrs. Graham's attention, how do you take out something you were suppose to cover on the State tests? Is there a way to tie last minute experiments or observation and research to other units that have not been covered that way the students are not covering the same material twice? 



Was I Kidnapped?

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Title: Was I Kidnapped?


Genre: Realistic Fiction (Personal Choice)


Book: The Face On The Milk Carton


Cooney, Caroline B. The Face On The Milk Carton. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1990


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



     What would you do if you picked up a milk carton to take a drink and you notice the child's missing picture on the back looked exactly like you when you were three and was wearing a dress you know you have? Janie Johnson finds herself in this exact situation as she begins to investigate her own disappearance. As she begins to do some research with her close friend Reeve they begin piece things together. However, curiosity gets the best of Janie when she gets the address of the family who lost their daughter and sits outside their house. She soon learns that all the sisters and brothers have the same fiery red color hair she does (something her parents believed to be a recessive gene) and all look the same. By the end of the book Janie hears from her parents as to what they believe happened but are still unsure of many of the details and the book ends with Janie/Jennie (as the other family knew their long lost daughter) calling the family out in Jersey.



      Caroline B. Cooney does an excellent job setting up the reader within the first few pages when Janie sees her pictures on the back of a milk carton. While the story is told from third person, one is still able to sense the feelings and emotions Janie feels with the descriptive language Cooney uses in addition to the dialogue used as well. Furthermore, Cooney also tells the reader or tries to describe how or why Janie is confused, upset, or sad. While the book is one some children relate to as Janie is in high school and still has never had a boyfriend but likes her neighbor Reeve. Many of the teenage emotions and feelings and memories many of us remember are all brought back by this fascinating mystery.

     I truly enjoyed this book, as it was a real page-turner. You always hear stories of kidnappings, but what happens when the kidnappers are your parents and they are nice and you love them? It makes the story more interesting especially when Janie discovers the truth of the woman who kidnapped her, the Johnson's daughter whom they never speak of. In fact, the Johnson's aren't even their real name either as they are in hiding and they all have new identities. This is not a typical kidnapping story and keeps the readers attention all the way through.

     Cooney is able to create great suspense and mystery through the book, enough to write another. In fact, this is the first out of a short four book series that continues with Janie still trying to find all the pieces and put everything together with the help of her boyfriend Reeve. Overall, I loved the book, and I cannot wait to read the next three to find out what really happened to Jennie and her family, and about the woman who kidnapped her. Makes for an interesting and fast read.

Secret Spy Agent

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Title: Secret Spy Agent


Genre: Fiction (Personal Choice)


Book: Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying


Park, Barbara. Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying. Illus. By Denise Brunkus. New York: Random House, 1994


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



        Once again Barbara Parks creates another interesting day of Junie B. Jones as she starts to be a sneaky peeky spy. While her mother is feed up with her antics and tells Junie B. no more spying this does not stop her when she sees her teacher, Mrs., at the grocery store with her husband and she is eating grapes she did not pay for. While Junie B. decides not tell anyone what she saw because she knows she would get in more trouble with her mother and she doesn't want Mrs. to go jail. Instead she is left with this big secret she cannot tell anyone, except the principal finds out when she accidentally tells him while trying to explain she cannot tell anyone the secret. However, as the story comes out, so do the explanations.  



        Once again I found myself enjoying this cute short chapter book, as I read about Junie B.'s life. Reading stories like the one about Junie B. makes you feel you can relate to her especially the times when she gets called missy because we all know what that means, or when we get called our full name. While Junie B. always means well, it is her own interpretation and understanding of what people are trying to say that cause miscommunication and make the story funny.

       While the story is told through Junie B.'s perspective, it makes the reader wonder what really goes through a kindergartener's mind as she does not use correct, cannot remember people's names, and is trying to understand the meaning of some everyday sayings (ones usually said with humor, or do not mean what is literally being said). It is everything Junie B. is trying to learn and understand which makes the story humorous.

       I was able to enjoy another Junie B. Jones book as Junie B. found herself in trouble, and tried to be a good citizen. I love reading it from a child's perspective as it sometimes offers things that us adults take for granted or say without thinking. Sometimes we say things we expect others to understand, but we are thinking with our head, not with the one we are trying to relate to.

       Overall, I found myself laughing and remembering back to the days when I was five and what children think are important at that age and how innocent children can be. I think a book series like this one would be great to use as a read aloud in the classroom imitating Junie B.'s voice along with the other characters making it more fun for the students.



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Title: AHHHHHH!!!!!


Genre: Graphic Novel


Book: Beowulf


Hinds, Gareth. Beowulf. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 1999.


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Review: Jesse Karp (Booklist, May 1, 2007 (Vol. 103, No. 17))



        This graphic novel retells the familiar tale of Beowulf and high accomplishments such as when swam against Brecea in the sea where he ended up slaying nine sea monsters along the way. It is because of his amazing strength and courage, he decides to kill the monster Grendel and it's mother with success unlike others before him. The story takes the reader through each battle until the end of the book where Beowulf faces defeat against a dragon.



       Although I was familiar with this epic poem having read it in high school, this book offered me a completely different perspective. While the poem shares dialogue and descriptive language, this poem is mainly written through graphic pictures. Unlike the other graphic novel I choose to read, this one contained little or no text on the majority of the pages. In fact, the only times the author opened with a new chapter did the page really include text with a quick summary. In rare spots towards the beginning while explaining the kings and Beowulf's background additional text is included.  

       This particular graphic novel seems to be a closer reflection of a comic book as the many of the pictures are not in single boxes in a row from left to right from top to bottom like the other graphic novel. Instead many of the pictures are cut different from different angles and Hinds even includes some overlap in many of his pictures. In fact if you are unfamiliar with reading comics one might struggle with trying to figure out the order of the pictures because of the way they are cut and overlap sometimes. However, unlike a comic book this book includes no dialogue but rather retelling portions

        Although the genre suggests this is a graphic novel, the pictures themselves are extremely graphic in the sense of the detail of blood, gore, and fighting. Hinds portrays the different pictures with very dark or deep colors to help represent the seriousness of the fight and the high intense emotions. Hinds does this for the first couple of chapters until the last chapter where Beowulf fights a dragon and he dies. The pages and illustrations are filled dark and light grays to show Beowulf's downfall and death. The pictures of all the characters and their parts are very detailed as Hinds paid close attention to every part of his characters.

       While reading the poem in high school, each person was able to create their own image of the fights and characters, but in this graphic novel, the person must create the words. Each approach is interesting when studying/reading an epic poem like this one. I believe this could make for an interesting discussion in a Literature or English class. By reading the pictures later it offered me a much darker picture than I had ever portrayed in my head while reading the poem in class. However, the pictures were also able to emphasize Beowulf better than I had pictured him. However, I feel that if I were to use both, I might have my students read them in the order I did, read the poem first, then read the pictures and compare. 

A Passion To Dance

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Title: A Passion To Dance


Genre: Graphic Novel


Book: To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel


Siegel, Siena Cherson. To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel. Illus. by Mark Siegel. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 2006


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 2



             This enchanting and realistic story of Siena Cherson Siegel is cleverly portrayed through this vibrant graphic novel. Mark Siegel shows the story of Siena Siegel as she was first introduced to dance when she discovers the truth about her flat feet. Siena Siegel shares her personal story of how she finally made it to the school of American Ballet (SAB) through her performances, parents divorce, injuries, and even a death. This novel shows the true ups and downs Siena Siegel endured to get to where she was before she left ballet as a student and returned years later to fill the whole in her heart.



            Unlike a typical novel, this graphic novel takes a story and tells it a comic book style fashion displaying beautiful pictures and lots of emotion. Mark Siegel does an excellent job using very particular colors and the position of the characters to help portray the moods and emotions Siena feels at certain points in her life. He also uses very specific facial expressions; such as the eyes that can really tell the reader feel what Siena feels.

            The story is shows in box frames page by page from left to right and top to bottom. Furthermore, Mark labels each chapter/section/high point with a ribbon at the top of the page. The ribbon continues to flow throughout the book from page to page accompanied by a pair of ballet shoes. Mark also brilliantly changes the color of the ribbon to also match the emotions being displayed in each section.

            As important as the text and storyline line is, both are so nicely represented by the very detailed and colorful pictures. Graphic novels and comics are meant to be read without text and although this is the point of this particular novel, I believe that this book does not need as much text as was displayed.  Overall, I was truly able to enjoy the story (autobiography) and characters because of the graphic pictures, I feel like that brought so much more to this novel.

            I believe that an autobiography that is written in this style and format would be excellent to introduce to students rather than handing them a book filled with text. Moreover, I feel the pictures tell more than the text does, telling the reader a lot more than can be read. I also believe that through the pictures and the emotions evoked by them, students would be able to make a more personal connection the characters.

Growing up I had never heard of graphic novels, comic books, yes.  While at first I was hesitant to read this type of genre in fear I would not like the style or understand how to read it, the story and pictures easily flowed making the novel easy to read and enjoy. I know that if I was able to surprise myself, I might be able to surprise my students with this type of genre. 


Title: Who Will Be The New Defense Against The Dark Arts Teacher This Year?


Genre: Fantasy


Book: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Illus. By Mary GrandPré. New York: Scholastic Press, 2005.


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 2



                  In this book, we watch Harry as he starts another year at Hogwarts School with his best friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. However, as Harry starts another year they discover Professor Snape has finally obtained the Defense Against the Dark Arts while another new teacher joins the staff. During his sixth year Harry grows closer to Dumbledore as they work together to recover old memories to understand Lord Voldemoret. In the meantime, the young teenagers struggle with personal and school troubles as they try to survive another deadly school year.



                  Once again J.K. Rowling has create another adventurous year for Harry Potter and his friends. Unlike the past Harry Potter books, this one keeps the readers' attention the entire time while they try to discover what will happen. Also, this books makes the readers think they finally understand certain characters like Professor Snape. The reader feels as though they finally know who he really is after he makes the unbreakable curse with Malfoy's mother, Narcissa, and after he kills Dumbledore.

                  While this book is more action packed, it is also darker than the previous books, as the reader discovers Lord Voldemort's past as Tom Riddle. Furthermore, there are more secrets and mysteries as the readers also try to figure out what Malfoy is up to.

                  While this book is dark and enticing, I really enjoyed it. While I had watched the movies to previously reading books one through five, this was the first time I got to read the book before the movie in this series. This also created a different perspective and view. I read the story creating my own depiction of characters based off of the writer's language and description. I was able to approach this book differently and read it more quickly than the others as I had no idea of what to expect from the book as far as the plot or storyline.





"I see IT in the hallway..."

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Title: "I see IT in the hallway..."


Genre: Realistic Fiction


Book: Speak


Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999.


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 1



        It's an end of the summer party and the cops have just been called. Some kids are in trouble for drinking; some are in trouble with their parents and its all Melinda's fault. However, nobody knows the real reason why Melinda called the cops and ruined the best party ever. However, as the new school year begins and Melinda no longer has her old friends to talk to, the reader begins to learn more about Melinda and the real reason she calls the cops when one of her old friends starts to date a new guy and literally makes Melinda sick to her stomach. As Melinda finally starts to share the truth with her artwork and words, others refuse to believe what she is saying. However, in the end the others come to believe Melinda after they catch the guy she hates trying to hurt her.   



       The book starts the last day of summer before school is about to begin and all the things Melinda is worried about in first person. Melinda shares her feelings, thoughts, and ideas during her four marking periods at school. The book is divided between these four marking periods to show the reader what Melinda experiences and must accomplish to get through to the next marking period.

       Melinda's struggle of trying to make it through another school year is something many middle schoolers and early high schoolers can relate to such as what other people think, what is for lunch, the one teacher that seems to hate you, the mean girl/guy that won't leave you alone, and trying to keep friends. Melinda clearly describes her feelings and lonely she is as she has lost all of her friends. However, she finds comfort in her art class.

       As Melinda struggles to figure out her feelings and the events of what happened on the terrible night unable to speak about them, her artwork changes with her. Her art teacher, Mr. Freeman, is constantly talking to Melinda and asking her questions about her artwork and ways to improve it. It is when Melinda portrays a mutilated picture of a Barbie doll's head that her teacher realizes that there is something even more seriously wrong with Melinda than he suspected. While he reaches out to let Melinda know he is there for her, her old friend also begins to make contact with Melinda.

       However, things get even more complicated when the guy she hates, Andy (IT- as she refers to him in the book) begins to date one of her ex-best friends. She feels as though it is her job to warn Rachel about Andy. Unfortunately things go awry when Rachel does not believe Melinda and later confronts Andy. Then, Melinda finds herself in a similar situation she was in during the summer when Andy locks himself in a closet with Melinda and attempts to hold her down and keep her hands immobile. As the reader reads about Melinda's encounter with IT, Laurie Halse Anderson is able to make the reader feel the tension and the Andy on them with her descriptive and suspenseful writing.

       While Melinda slowly comes to terms with what happened over the summer during the school year, the biggest change for Melinda as a character is when she finally decides to take action by telling Rachel. Although some may think this is a too mature and serious book for middle schoolers to read, I would have to disagree.

       The Horn Book Guide rated this realistic fiction novel as a one because of its outstanding content, style, and humor during the lighter moments and I couldn't agree more. Although the Horn Book Guide notes this is for an older audience, I remember reading this book in middle school and hearing about rape and what could happen at parties for the first time in myself. I feel this book was able to portray a realistic picture of what could happen and how someone might handle at such a young age.

And although I could not relate to the rape aspect of the book, since I was fourteen when I read the book, I was able to relate to the academic assignments, busy parents, problems with making or keeping friends, worrying about what others think of you, and worrying about the rumors that are going around. I believe this could be a suitable book for any eighth grader or higher to read by themselves independently. I know that after I read the book I passed it along to friends who also equally enjoyed it and found themselves unable to put it down as they too could relate to Melinda and wanted to know what happened or what would come of everything.



Hiccup Snickup, rear right, straight up...

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Title: Hiccup Snickup, rear right, straight up...


Genre: Predictable


Book: Hiccup Snickup


Long, Melinda. Hiccup Snickup. Illus. By Thor Wickstrom. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2001


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



         This adorable book tells the story of a little girl who is trying to get rid of her hiccups in the most ridiculous manner (all the ways we have heard growing up: scare the person, drink water side-ways, hold your breath, repeat a certain phrase). In the end it is the grandmother's kooky saying being repeated several times that eventually makes the hiccups disappear.



          This cute book is filled with animated pictures and bright colors. The characters are well exaggerated to emphasize the craziness of the ways the little girl tries to get rid of her hiccups. I love how much Thor Wickstrom exaggerates each character especially the grandmother. She looks like the nutty grandma that comes into town only for short days with her wild grey hair, animal print hat, big crazy tacky jewelry, and bright pink dress. Even the mother is well emphasized with craziness through the pictures. Wickstrom also includes motion lines around the little girl to stress that she has the hiccups showing that her chest, throat, and head were moving. 

         This cute story includes not only vibrant pictures and make the story entertaining, but it includes a crazy humorous story that many children could relate to. The second we all get hiccups we all think of the best way to get rid of them and we all that know that talking to friends or family members we will find at least five different solutions; all which includes something nutty. I believe this is just the type of story that would be fun for read aloud because it contains simple words and the person that is reading it can also create a hiccup sound every time the girl hiccups making it more enjoyable for students.

         Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and it is one I would definitely read with my students or children for that matter. I believe this makes a great predictable for children to chime in with as the teacher or parent repeat the common phrase used on just about every page, "Hiccup snickup, rear right, straight up, three drops in a teacup, will cure the hiccups."



What To Write...

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Title: What To Write...


Genre: Historical Fiction


Book: My Brother's Keeper


Osborne, Mary Pope. My Brother's Keeper. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2000.


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



            This book is written in a dairy format of Virginia Dickens who is writing to keep record of the civil war events and surroundings while her brother, Jeb, is away with her father. While at first she struggles with what to write about, as she isn't sure what is important and what isn't, she begins to write about everything. Later when her brother finally returns home after suffering through battles and hiding out is appreciative of everything she wrote.



             Unlike a history book, this historical fiction book gives the reader a sense of what truly happened during the civil war from a child's perspective. Most history books put me to sleep, however historical fiction books give the history information I am interested in, but through a different lens; I do not have to be bored to read about history. Furthermore, like most historical fiction books, it offers a different perspective, usually from someone who suffered during the war: a child, an adult, or a solider.

            This particular type of series focalizes on what the child/young adult feels as the write down their feelings, views, and beliefs based on the events going on around them. While reading this story, the reader is able to truly grasp Virginia's thought as though you are inside her head feeling scared when guns go off in the field, fear when her brother and father have not yet returned, and frustration with those she is living with.

            As the reader learns about Virginia, her family, and the war, the reader is also able to see how Virginia matures and learns what is truly important. The reader is able to see Virginia as a round character and all the emotions she goes through trying to keep her family together during the Civil War. Additionally this book also includes timelines and a historical note section in the back of the book with actual photographs from that time period along with highlights and main events. For instance, this particular book included pictures and information on Abraham Lincoln and General Robert E. Lee.

Additionally there is also a Royal Diaries series, which also uses the same concept of incorporating people around important points in history for their storyline. The Royal Diaries are based on actual famous historical figures throughout history such as: Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, etc. Unlike the royal diaries, the Dear America dairies include stories from boy/young gentlemen perspective as well, not just a woman's. So although it is not a history book, I believe historical fiction books such as the Dear America series offers interest and insight into students or children who might find history or certain wars to be boring.

I love that they also offer a great side story in addition to what is going on in that particular time period. Furthermore, I discovered this particular book has two more for Virginia, After the Rain: Virginia's Civil War Diary and A Time to Dance: Virginia's Civil War Diary. Although most Dear America books do not have additional books for most of the characters through the series, this one does. Therefore, the reader is able to see the entire Civil War play out from when the South first begins to invade Pennsylvania.

Overall, I believe this would be great series to have for my classroom library in addition to my own personal library. I believe these books are great for children/students who might not be interested in history or a certain war, and I believe these books will help interest children. I know historical books like the Dear America series got me even more interested in other parts of history, I would normally want to skip over. Furthermore, this series also makes me want to resource some of these events/historical points in history even deeper. So I truly recommend this series for anyone who is not interested in history or for anyone who loves history and wants to read more.



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Title: Professor


Genre: Biography


Book: Who Was Albert Einstein


Brallier, Jess. Who Was Albert Einstein. Illus. By Robert Andrew Parker. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 2000.


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



       The biography is a journey through Albert Einstein's life starting with his parents and his birthplace; Germany. This book travels through Einstein's personal, academic, and scientific accomplishments through his life. This book shares the challenges and moves Einstein faced while over in Europe and how they escalated once the Holocaust began and Hitler was out to kill Germany's smartest man and leader amongst its people.



       This is no ordinary biography as the life of Albert Einstein is shared through a storybook type of writing with its causal tone. Although Jess Brallier includes an index in the beginning to help readers as well as a timeline located in the back, without them the reader might not feel as though they are researching a biography on Einstein.

       Instead the reader is able to learn about the high points of Albert Einstein's life through the brief informative chapters and ink sketched illustrations throughout the book. Furthermore, the biography is written in simple language with large text making it easier for even a second grader to pick up the chapter book and read with interest.

       Additionally this book includes eight side note pages that include Einstein's thoughts (4-D, theory of relativity, and E=MC2) and other important information such as what magnets are and how they work, the atomic bomb, and Hitler and the Nazis helping give the reader a better insight as to what is being discussed in the biography. These informational pages can be really helpful for any reader who does not good or strong background knowledge on such things or events. It helps the reader also better understand Einstein's thoughts and actions.

       Overall, I thought this was a phenomenal biography, probably one of the best I have read so far as it included so much information without boring the reader. While the Horn Book Guide gave an excellent review they marked this book down in my opinion as I myself might rate it as a number 2. I honestly feel this book really meets the standards of a level 2. I also discovered this book was part of a Who was series which also includes other important figures throughout history. I would be interested to check out these other book because this book really exceeded my expectations and offered me a great deal of information aside from Einstein's accomplishments like: he was married two times, had children, taught at Princeton, did not move to the states until after the Holocaust War began, Hitler had a hit list with Einstein on the top... So all in all, I truly enjoyed and learned a lot from this book and would recommend this series to teachers who are looking for biographies in the classrooms and maybe to parents as a way to get their children interested in these important figures.



Writer, Leader, and Inventor

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Title: Writer, Leader, and Inventor


Genre: Biography


Book: The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin


Giblin James Cross. The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin. Illus. By

Michael Dooling. New York: Scholastic Press, 2000.


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 1



          This interesting biography describes the life of Benjamin Franklin from beginning to end. Although there is not much about his growing up years, the book closely describes mr. Franklin from the time he started his own weekly newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette, to his trips to England. This biography concentrates more about Mr. franklin's involvement with America and how he represented this country before England on at least four separate accounts. This biography focuses on the most distinguished accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin during his time between America, England, and France.



         This was no ordinary biography like I suspected, but rather a fascinating story.  This book kept my interest the entire time, as it was not filed completely with text and timelines, but rather short paragraphs briefly describing his life with realistic pictures of Benjamin Franklin throughout his life. 

         This was not the same boring textbook information, but rather this biography also included additional information about his family and his relationship with his son that is not described in other biographies. Furthermore, the political information about benjamin franklin in this book kept me interested instead of wanting to sleep like the other dull biographies of benjamin franklin I have read.

         Additionally, this book includes an important dates timeline in the back of the book along with pages describing his inventions and sayings from his poor Richard's alamanack.

         After reading this biography, it is not wonder why the Hornbook guide awarded this book a one as the pictures are magnificent and the information about Benjamin Franklin's family, politics, inventions, and writing is written with a fresh and concise mind. This book leaves the reader still hungry, wanting to learn more about Benjamin Franklin and his accomplishments in more detail rather than leaving the reader full.



Alice Zucchini

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Title: Alice Zucchini


Genre: Poetry Book


Book: I Heard It From Alice Zucchini: Poems About The Garden


Havill Juanita. I Heard It From Alice Zucchini: Poems About The Garden. Illus. by Christine Davenier. San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books, 2006


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



        This cute poetry book contains memorable poems about gardening and the variety of vegetables inside the garden. This gossip filled poetry book shows the journey of a girl who travels from page to page from vegetable to vegetable from house to garden spreading the latest news on all the vegetables in the garden using cute rhymes to share the stories.



       I like the idea, that all the poems in this are all connected to each other and the garden. I like that there are were even informational poems on how to plant seeds and care for them. Additionally, this poem book includes an index page with all the poems and their corresponding page number making it easy to flip to any favorite poem in the this enchanting book.  Each page includes at least one poem with a bold, capitalized, colorful font for the title of each poem and an illustration of Alice Zucchini among the plants and vegetables she is speaking with.

The illustrations in this picture book look like they were sketched in Indian ink and then colored in with maybe watercolors. The colors are soft and inviting making it easy to look at while reading the poems. Although not all the poems have rhyming ends, they are cute and understandable. Furthermore, one poem even includes the pumpkin used in the Cinderella story and described what happened after the she was taken home. This was an enjoyable and information poetry book for any child from 7 years or older.


Did You Know Animals Can Do More Than Eat and Sleep?

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Title: Did You Know Animals Can Do More Than Eat and Sleep? 


Genre: Poetry Book


Book: Hippopotamus Stew and Other Silly Animal Poems.


Horton, Joan. Hippopotamus Stew and Other Silly Animal Poems. Illus. by Adinofli, Joann. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



In this imaginative poetry book, Johan Horton shares the fun adventures and silly rhymes of what different animals can do. For example, one poem describes what Old MacDonald's Billy Goat eats around the farm like all the buttons off the scarecrows and so on. Furthermore, this poetry book is filled with bright vivid pictures portraying all the little tales.



         I would have to say this is one of the top poetry books I have read because of the imaginative poems and the lively pictures that accompany the poems. I like that each poem is largely titled in different colors to represent the mood and setting making it easy to flip through and find the right poem. I really liked the bright vibrant colors the Joann Adinolfi uses as it gives a sense of playfulness to the pictures, with the children and animals describing silly and goofy poems. Furthermore, Adinolfi pays close attention to detail and makes sure to include a lot in her page filled illustrations, as it appears she painted the pictures.

         The poems themselves are simple, short, and easy to read for any student or teacher. While most of the poems rhyme, some do not. Horton also uses very descriptive language to paint a clear and funny picture for her readers. For example, "how many tissues do you suppose... a truckload, a trainload, a big cargo planeload..." 

         Overall, the animals and illustrations really make this a special poetry book. It is an excellent poetry book I would love to use in my classroom as it would really open up my students imagination and would be fun for any child or adult to read.



How Summer and Winter Came to Be

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Title: How Summer and Winter Came to Be


Genre: Myth


Book: Persephone and the Pomegranate


Waldherr, Kris. Persephone and the Pomegranate. New York: Dial

Books For Young Readers, 1993.


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



         This book shares the myth of Persephone and how the seasons came about. The myth begins by describing Persephone's relationship with her mother (Demeter) and how they used to pick flowers and roam the fields. One day Persephone picks a narcissus and finds herself in the underworld with Pluto (also known as Hades).

Zeus finally intervenes after Demeter has created winter in the summer and has allowed all plants and fruit to die causing the earth to be barren. Zeus arranges a deal with Demeter stating that as long as Persephone has not eaten anything in the underworld, she will be reunited with her mother. However, Persephone has eaten six seeds from the pomegranate Pluto handed her, so for six months of the year she spends her time with her mother and the other six with her husband, Pluto.



         This myth offers a different perspective and more detail about the myth than other books I have read. For instance, this is the first time the conversation between Demeter, Persephone and Pluto has been printed for me to read. I did not realize that Pluto loved Persephone, although I knew they were married. Other renditions of this myth suggest that Pluto was hard and cruel with Persephone and forced her to come back to make her miserable. Instead this myth offers the idea that because Pluto loved her so much, he let her go with her mother for six months out of the year.

         Furthermore, the pictures in book offer soft and warm feelings. For example, Pluto is not presented as evil, scary, or dark, in fact he is presented although he is a king with his crown. The only dark part of Pluto is his dark green robe and his black hair and beard. In fact, Pluto looks like an average guy aside from the crown. He is depicted in a different light in this myth. Lately, the illustrator does an amazing job at using the character's body to show emotion throughout the pictures. The illustrator pays close attention to detail and the facial expressions of the character.

         This story does an accurate job at depicting the familiar myth of how Persephone found herself down in the underworld and why winter and summer exists according to the Greeks.



The Clever Jackal

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Title: The Clever Jackal


Genre: Non-European Folklore


Book: The Tiger and the Brahmin


Gleeson, Brian. The Tiger and the Brahmin. Illus. by Kurt Vargo. New York: Rabbit Ears Productions Inc, 1992.


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



       In this story a Brahmin whose job it is to help everyone and everything in sight and agrees to let a tiger out of a cage as long as he promised not to eat the Brahmin. However once the tiger is let out, he pounces on the Brahmin and decides to eat him. However, the Brahmin pleads with the tiger and the tiger decides to let the Brahmin go and ask the first three thing he sees if they think the tiger should eat the Brahmin. The so the Brahmin sets off and all three animals agree he should be eat and on the way back to the tiger he comes across a jackal. The jackal asks the Brahmin to retell the story and explains he doesn't get it. So the Brahmin takes the jackal back with him thinking the tiger can explain it better. When the tiger tries to explain he only gets frustrated and aggravated with the jackal, as he just doesn't understand. So as the tiger goes into the cage to show him how he the tiger was in the cage and the story started the jackal shuts the cage before the tiger can say see. Thanks the jackal the Brahmin was not eaten and went on to continue his job.



       This book not only provides the folklore for people to enjoy, but also provides background information for any reader unfamiliar with the Indian culture. The book describes India and its people like the Brahmin and their jobs to help the reader understand. So after explaining the background information, the story starts off with one of the most popular folktales told in India.

       The illustrations are very simple and sharp as they all include shape figures. For instance all the noses in the books are triangle shaped, everything is with boxes and has sharp edges. However the clothes used in the book are fantastic as each part of the animal or scene includes are variety in the shade being used.

        Also, the book includes a sun symbol used to show when a new animal is speaking to help the reader decipher the conversations. Although it can be a bit distracting, it is helpful. I enjoyed how everyone including the Brahmin believed the jackal not to be smart since he couldn't understand the story, but he did all to well. I love how he tricked the tiger back into the cage allowing the Brahmin to go free especially when the Brahmin was trying to help the tiger in the beginning.


Why Not A Woman

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Title: Why Not A Woman


Genre: European Folklore


Book: Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure


San Souchi, Rober D. Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure. Illus. by Comport, Salley Wern. New York: Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers, 1999.


Professional Recommendation: CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Rating 3



 In this Irish Folklore, Margaret decides to venture out on a ship with a crew, but when they encounter a sea monster, Margaret flees to save the crew. She later finds a small house that used to live in the White Doon castle, but was kicked out by a giant. Days later, Margaret's love shows up at the cottage but falls into the old woman's trap and must go to White Doon and fight the monster. While Margaret watches her love fall to the ground she discovers the ring in the old woman's story fits her hand and she runs off to the slay the giant herself and save her love.



             This old folklore gives a test to the story, as the woman is the heroine in the story. Margaret displays the many characteristics that are associated with strong Irish woman, as one who takes charge, craves adventure, brave, and fears nothing. While the damsel is usually the one who needs rescuing, Margaret is the one who saves her true love.

            Furthermore, this story is filled with beautiful pictures that nicely depict the wild adventures of Margaret. Sally Wern Comport, the illustrator, pays close attention to detail as she uses bold colors for Margaret's hair and eyes to emphasize them, but at the same time uses the dark color to create dreary and scary scenes. The pictures are well done in the book and really portray the storyline.

            Not only does this folklore offer one story, but it also shares the story of the woman. In order for Margaret to continue her journey and adventure she must help the woman get her castle back and yet save her true love to continue her own journey.  Overall, I truly enjoyed this little folklore as it showed that a woman in a folklore, fairy tale, or fable does not have to be weak and count on her prince, but rather the prince (true love) must depend on the woman. 

Integrated Art Unit

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For this project, our group chose the unit "America."  Within this unit, we came up with four separate lessons you could use in the Elementary classroom to incorporate America as the overriding theme.

In my portion, I focused on culture and diversity. In this lesson, I would first introduce how and why people came to America. I would then assign countries to children where they would research each one and creat their own personal brochure. While working on their projects art work and music and pictures from different countries and cultures would be displayed and playing in the classroom. Through this project the students would learn about different cultures and how they are part of today's melting pot and why. 

An example of a finished project: 



My Lesson Plan: Culture and Diversity

iMovie: The Tortoise and The Hare

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The Tortoise and The Hare

Artist Statement: 

Each sign system provides us with a means of communicating meaning. Transmediation is a process of disrupting an existing text (the fairy tale) in one sign system (the book) and opening it anew in another (film). Thus, meaning is transformed, not translated. For the fairy tale, "The Tortoise and the Hare" our group took an old story and updated it using humans to portray animal characters. We included extra events that the Hare participates in along the way like relaxing, drinking a smoothie, and finding love. We also included our own ending for what happened after the race. By portraying the fairy tale through iMovie we were able to collect several pictures and movie recordings to piece together a great story. By using this program, we were able to include music to represent the scene as well. The overall program gave us the tools to show this fairy tale in a new and interesting light. 

Reading Group 3 Presentation 2

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Leave It To The Imagination by Tony Long

Palmer Museum Artwork

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Forest Scene, 1868

William Trost Richards

Oil on canvas


I choose this particular piece because this is the type of picture I can get lost in. I can feel myself standing in the woods at this particular spot absorbing enormously tall trees and fresh green grass. The lightening created in this picture gives the viewer the sense that they can see and feel the sunlight. This is the type of painting/artwork I would use in my classroom to inspire my students to write or use when creating this own work. When creating your own piece of anything you want the viewer or reader to feel it, experience it, and enjoy it. I feel this painting perfectly demonstrates this concept, one I would like to share with my class.

Hogwart's New House Lesson

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Pumpkin Juice House 

Book: Harry Potter

Create your own Hogwart's house shield based on your own qualities/personality or activities you like to do. 

Beautiful Butterfly Lesson

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My Butterfly

Books: It's Okay to be Different by T. Parr and Just the Way You Are by M. Pfister

Create: Create your own individualized butterfly.

Supplies: Coffee filters, markers, spray bottle, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and glue 

Collaged Coloring Book

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Bell from Beauty and the Beast
Caption: "Then, Bell went into the kitchen to sweep the floor so it wouldn't be dirty." 

Collaged color book- drawing pictures from an imaginary coloring book (using the artist's imagination) while using everyday objects such as tissue paper, buttons, ribbons, yarn, etc. to help create pages. 

Crayon Resist

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Rebecca On The Uneven Bars

We were asked to pick a scene from our childhood memories and draw the picture. Here is a picture of when my sister used to compete in gymnastics. We used to go away on weekends as a family traveling to watch my sister compete and it was something I always enjoyed doing. 

Crayon Resist- is using crayons to colors parts of a picture and then using watercolors to color other portions of picture and painting over crayon and filling in white spots and leaving colored water bubbles on top of the crayon portions to dry (these bubbles will appear because the paint does not mix with the wax from the crayons).  

Tissue Paper Collage

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Fish Down Under

Tissue paper collage- is an illustration technique of using a variety of colored tissue paper with watered down glue to create a picture. You can use techniques of layering, overlapping, and blending by using a paintbrush and water to help create your tissue paper collage. 

Paper Mache Clown and Artist Statement

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The building process was the most time consuming part of the project. It took a while for us to figure out how to create him and how big we wanted him to be. The hard part was trying to not make him look so boxy. The paper mache part itself seemed to take forever as there were so many curves to our clown and the paper needed to be as smooth as possible. However, his head, nose, and stomach were all made of balloons and we added curved shoulders to him as to not make him look boxy. It was easy to work with the group, as we all had no definite ideas for the clown making it easy to make decisions, as the group would all agree. We are all very satisfied with our clown; in fact he turned out better than we anticipated. As for the reason behind why we did a clown, we just wanted to do something fun and different. This is project I could easily see myself doing in a class. However, I might pick smaller objects for the paper mache. Maybe have each kid do the same shape, but everyone paint their own design or picture. Maybe even create a scene from a book we read and recreate one of the scenes through paper mache? Overall, I really enjoyed making the clown, and this is something I could definitely see myself doing in the future. 

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