Rachel J

Friday, February 03, 2006

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

Now for a novel that I found really interesting : Touching Spirit Bear is a great novel dealing with anger, Aboriginal ways of justice and finding one's self. This is the amazing story of Cole, a young boy who's anger causes him to hurt someone. To avoid going to prison, Cole chooses to meet justice through the Native American Circle of Justice that send him to a remote island to survive by himself for several months. While there, he encounters the Spirit Bear who ultimately changes his life by making face himself and his responsibilities.

This book is truly great. Tim and I used it last year for our Aboriginal novel study. There are so many extensions that you can do with this book. It touches on dealing with anger, taking responsibilities for your own actions, Aboriginal issues and becoming friends.

BC Curriculum: Gr. 5-7 Novel Study - Language Arts

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Thie book is a great book for learning about sharing and friendship. it is about a fish that has sparkly scales and all the other fish in the ocean want them too, but Rainbow Fish does not want to share. Soon, he doesn't have any friends and is very sad. When one little fish comes and asks for just one, Rainbow Fish gives one to him and discovers that it's a good feeling to share so he ends up sharing all of his scales.

BC Curriculum: K-3 Personal Planning, Mental Health

I have also used this book with art, where the students were exploring warm and cool colours. I also know that Avtar used this book for art, too and she had pictures up for the art show on it. They were really neat.

Literature Circles: Nightjohn

I found Nightjohn to be a really good book and I really enjoyed reading it. The content was enough to make an impact on the reader and it also addresses serious issues: the treatment of slaves and a right to a good education.

If I was to teach this in class, like Melissa, I would probably do it with a read aloud. Although I soon got use to it, the langauge was difficult to understand in the beginning, but after a couple of chapters, it got easier. Doing this novel as a read aloud will make the comprehension easier. I would also have group discussion for some of the issues that were brought up. This would let some students really express themselves, but I would also have some control over the things that were said and I would be able to change the subject if things got out of hand. Another method I would use would be for a journal from either Nightjohn's point of view or Sarnie's. I think it would be interesting what the students might have to say about some of the events that took place in the book. This would also help them explore feelings about the treatment of slaves and the value of education.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Oral Storytelling

I read the article Oral Storytelling: a dropped thread in the tapestry of literacy by Cynthia Andrew. I found it to be really interesting and thought provoking. I never knew that there were so many positive outcomes for oral storytelling. I found this to be convincing that I would like to try it in the classroom.
Looking back at my own school experience, I do not remember a lot of oral storytelling in it. The big person that I do remember is Richard Thompson. Now, I was very fortunate to have gone to school with Richard's daughter, so about once a year, he would come to the school and tell us stories. I have very found memories of him and I am always excited to find out that he will be visiting and I get to listen to him once again. I bet that I could go back to all of my classmates and they would be able to tell me a story from him.
The article mentioned that this type of storytelling hits three learning styles: oral, visual and kinesthetic. Therefore, this is an excellent way to motivate different kinds of learner. I had the priviledge to watch Richard Thompson again last week and he did a fabulous job telling a story about digging a hole to China. He had different voices, he had actions for different characters, he had actions that the audience to do and he also lines within the story that the audience could repeat with him. It was great. The students were so in to him and the forty five minutes that we had with him was over in the blink of an eye, but this is proof that oral storytelling is a great way to get to some kids.
The article also gave some great ideas about some of the ways you tell stories: using puppets, from different character perspectives, etc . . . These are excellent ideas that could extend language arts class.

The Case of the Three Robbers by Cynthia Ballenger

The reading that we had at the beginning of the semester really interested me. As a teacher, I am also looking different ways to use books throughout my lesson. This book made me aware of how we use books and why we tend to like them so much. However, it was the point made on how we relate books to our lives that was the most interesting to me. I, too, have worked with children as young as two and I remember how parts of a story would start them talking about it and if I let it continue, that was the end of the story.
This article reinforced the issue of finding material that is relevant to our students' lives. This will engage them in their own learning and will make the lesson more interesting when they share their own stories of how it relates to them.
This article also reinforced how learning can happen over a period of time and that students have to come to accept things as they are. The reminds me of Piaget's assmilation and accomodation concept. I know there were times in my life when I did not want to accept what the lesson said to be true.
Finally, this article reinforced that there are times when our lessons just aren't going to go as planned, but nevertheless, the students will still take something away from it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sachiko Means Happiness by Kimiko Sakai

I found this book while we were doing our library field trip. I was looking for a multicultural book and took this one. After reading it, I thought that it was a great book to share with you. it is written about a young Japanese girl who lives with her mother, father and grandmother. One day the Sachiko is told to look after her grandmother. She does not like this job because her grandmother was alzheimer's and does not recognize Sachiko. The story is about how Sachiko becomes friends with her grandmother again.

I thought it was great that it addressed a disease like Alzheimer's. This is not an issue that is usually seen in books and I like the positive outlook that it provided. I think this would be a great book for any young child who might be going through this with a family member.

BC Curriculum Grade Level: Personal Planning, Mental Health Gr. 2+

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

This is a book that I was introduced to this summer while I was in Quebec. My teacher used it for a creative writing session. After hearing about the book, I decided to buy it and it is just great. The story behind the book is that this author went to a publisher to show his work, but the publisher was too busy so he told the author to leave his work and he would look at it after. Well the author didn't want to do that so he decided to leave a sample from each one of his stories. He left one picture and the sentence from the story that goes with it and the title to the story. Well the publisher looked at the samples and was instanly intrigued. But the author never came back. So after years of these samples sitting around, someone decided to publish it anyways.

This book is a great started for creative writing. The pictures are intriguing and the titles and pharses that match them are mysterious. If you were doing a creative writing unit, this would be an awesome book to use and I would highly recommend it.

BC Curriculum: Any grade level - Creative writing

Here's a sample from the book.


He had warned her about the book. Now it was too late.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Black Snowman

For our multicultural assignment I used the book The Black Snowman by Phil Mendez. This book is great. It's about a young African-American boy named Jacob, who has a bad image of being black. He says that everything black is bad and evil. One day, he builds a snowman with his brother. The snoman turns out to be black because the snow was dirty. When they dress the snowman, the younger brother placed a magical kente on his shoulders and the snowman comes alive. The snowman soon realizes that Jacob is ashamed to be black. That night, the snowman introduce Jacob to Africans who are brave and courageous and that he should be proud of to share a heritage. Jacob, however, does not identify with them. The next day, Jacob's brother gets in trouble and with the help of the African ancestors and the black snowman, Jacob saves his brother and regains his pride in being black.

After the mulitcultural assignment, I thought that this book was a great resource to have in the classroom. The book depicts ALL black characters. The ancestors are shown to be caring, protective, caring and wise. I thought that the message was also very important and that all children would be able to identify with the conflict of colour and white being "good." The book also breaks down stereotypes showing that African-Americans are strong, courageous and brave. The story is good to talk about racism and the depiction of issues like "the white knight" and "the white house" and the pictures are beautifully illustrated. I would definetly recommend the book to have.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Book Of Bad Ideas

Ok, so we have all had ideas that we thought were great, but then they turned out to be the worst idea ever. Well, the book I chose to read aloud to my group was The Book of Bad Ideas by Laura Huliska-Beith. This book is a great book to use with kindergarten to about grade two or three. In it the children give a list of great ideas that went horribly wrong. The illustrations (also done by the author) are great and funny and have some really neat detail.

What attracted me to the book was the likeness to the book No, David by David Shannon. On my practicum, my grade ones loved it, even though the book wasn't really a story.

I thought The Book of Bad Ideas would go good with a lesson on having the students make their own book of bad ideas and illutrate it to have a class version of the book. You could get some pretty good ideas and laughs out of it. Anyways, I really enjoyed this book and reading it to my group.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mina's Spring of Colors

So I just finished Mina's Spring of Colors by Rachna Gilmore. I thought the book was great and I would definitely use it on my classroom. Especially around March. I thought the author did a great job at illustrating how hurtful off hand comments can be about someone you love, even though, Ashley was hopefully just trying to be funny and didn't mean to hurt anyone. I also thought she did a good job at making Mina feel bad about what was happening, but having her follow through for the love of her grandfather. The book also related to me in the way that I sometime pick on my siblings and family members, but would be very angry if someone was to do the same to my family. I especially liked the way that the author made the everyone equal in the end.

"Everyone's spattered in rainbow shades, you can hardly see who is who -- we all look the same, covered in color."

This quote reminds me of the many the many sayings that we as teachers are always trying to emphasize, that underneath, we are all the same or we are all from the same race -- the human race.

Reading this book has made me curious about Holi. So I went online and did a little research. The site I found gave many two or three explainations on the reasons for Holi. Holi is a time to celebrate good triumphing over evil, but also touches Hindi mythology, which I also found interesting. This holiday would be a great multicultural event to introduce to a classroom because it seems like it would a lot of fun and would empahsize the message of forgiveness, an important lesson to learn. Anyone have any ideas?