Print Motivation

Moo!

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Early Learning, Fluency, Phonological Awareness, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Readers' Theater | 1 comment

Moo! by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Mike WohnoutkaIt’s the beginning of a new school year and we want all our students to start off feeling successful. If you have kids that are beginning or struggling readers, here is a book that almost everyone will be able to read confidently: Moo! written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.

This is no boring “baby book”. The humor of this one works for a wide range of kids, especially if you model reading it aloud with great expression. I read this one for an all-ages Stories in the Park event this summer and even the grown-ups were chuckling. Even though the book consists almost entirely of one word, the punctuation, the text formatting, and the pictures determine how the word is read. So not only is it a bull’s-eye for the Core Standard of Fluency, it works beautifully into a lesson on punctuation and Print Concepts.

Read Moo! aloud to your students and, once the giggles die down, talk about how you knew how to read the same word differently. For example, look at this page from the book: page of Moo! by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka There are moos in italics, in bold font, in all capitals and these differences, along with the punctuation, help determine how to read this page. Share the book again, asking different students to use the text and picture clues to help them read the page with feeling. Now you’ve got a lead-in to a great writing exercise. Brainstorm two lists: a list of punctuation and text styles that were used to change the meaning of “moo” so many times, and a list of animals that make a sound. Kids can write and draw about an animal that goes off on an adventure (using punctuation and formatting to show meaning) and they’ll only have to worry about spelling one word. Fun!

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Battle Bunny

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Art, Craft and Structure, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Self Smart | 0 comments

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers Happy February! This time last year, I was celebrating the sale of my first picture book, GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA, to Charlesbridge. This February 2nd, I came home from a week of presenting seminars to a cool surprise: my husband (author/illustrator Matt Faulkner) just received the official layout of the book so he can begin making the art! Woohoo!

Of course, I won’t see any of the art until it’s passed my editor’s approval. In the publishing world, authors don’t get to communicate with the illustrators. I just happen to live with my illustrator. And because I’d like to continue living with him, I can’t watch over his shoulder as he draws my characters, because I’d be tempted to give helpful comments like, “Maybe his cheeks should be a little chubbier, and maybe you should….” So Matt will make his magic in his studio and I will try not to peek until my editor says I can!

Those of you came to my seminars last week have already seen my new favorite book: Battle Bunny written by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett (and Alex) with pictures by Matthew Myers (and Alex). Kids who love the humor of Captain Underpants will go nuts for this book, and you can use it to teach the Core Standard of Craft & Structure.

When you show students the cover, they might think this book has been defaced. Well, yes and no. Battle Bunny is supposed to look drawn on and scribbled over – that’s the brilliant premise of this book. A kid named Alex is supposedly given a sappy-sweet book called “Birthday Bunny” from his Gran-Gran. Alex transforms the book by crossing out words, writing his own words, and adding crazy details to the pictures. For instance, the line “Birthday Bunny started on his path, hopping through the trees” is rewritten as “Battle Bunny started on his Evil Plan, chopping through the trees” and we see the cute birdie in the tree now has a speech balloon saying “You will fail!”

Revising! Editing! Transformative writing! After you’ve talked with your students about the authors’ and illustrator’s craft of word choice, art design, etc. that add layers to the book, go to mybirthdaybunny.com. There’s a free lesson plan for teachers, and I love that you can print off the “original” sweet version of the story for kids to change. If you are super-brave, buy some beat-up books from the library’s used book sale or from a thrift store and let your students revise them. Just make it clear which books can be written in and which of your books are off-limits!

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Words with Wings

Posted by on Sep 5, 2013 in Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Fluency, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Range of Reading, Self Smart | 0 comments

wordswithwings

This novel-in-verse is for the daydreamers and for the teachers who want to guide, not squash, those who have such vivid imaginations.

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes is one of those gorgeously-written books you can read aloud to your class for wonderful group discussions and then watch them eagerly grab it to read independently. (Novels-in-verse are not only a great way to immerse your students in poetry, but it hits both Range of Reading and Fluency for Core Standards. Woohoo!) Imagine yourself reading aloud this page to your students and knowing that for some kids, it will hit home:

First Day
I duck down in the seat
of my new class.
To these kids,
I’m not Gabby yet.
I’m just Shy Girl
Who Lives
Inside Her Head.
No one even knocks
on the door
for a visit.
They don’t know
it’s beautiful
in here.

Gabby is a daydreamer, which sometimes causes problems in school and at home. But how can she help daydreaming, when words have wings? Some of the poems would make for great writing prompts in your classroom, like this one:

Waterfall
Say “waterfall”
and the dreary winter rain
outside my classroom window
turns to liquid thunder,
pounding into a clear pool
miles below,
and I can’t wait
to dive in.

To my absolute delight, Nikki Grimes named the teacher in this book Mr. Spicer after one of the coolest teachers I’ve ever meet, Ed Spicer. He teaches first grade here in Michigan and he is committed to giving his students time to daydream. Sometimes he plays music, sometimes it’s quiet. Sometimes he asks his students to write about their daydreams, or turn and talk about them, or daydream on a particular topic, like a science concept they are studying. I love the power of daydreaming and I adore Ed Spicer for encouraging his students to take a few moments to let their minds wander. Follow him on Facebook for more about his classroom because he is a wealth of amazing ideas.

So share Words with Wings with your students. For a quick Craft & Structure lesson, talk about the words Nikki Grimes chose that have “wings” for Gabby. Why did she choose these words? What words have wings for you? Give your students a few minutes just to daydream, wonder and imagine. It may become a favorite break in your classroom.

Happy September, everyone!

For more information about the author, please visit: nikkigrimes.com.

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Eleanor, Quiet No More

Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in Biography, Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Non-Fiction, People Smart, Print Motivation, Range of Reading, Self Smart | 1 comment

Eleanor, Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport and Gary KelleyThis morning, I sat basking in the presence of an amazingly talented author. Doreen Rappaport was speaking at our local university, and because my husband, Matt Faulkner, will illustrate her biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Matt and I were able to sit in on her lecture. I’ve been a huge fan of Doreen’s work for years, but hearing her speak made me want to read everything she’s ever written. It reminded me just how powerful it is to hear an author or illustrator in person.

Doreen has a series of picture book biographies about famous Americans that perfectly hit that Common Core Standard of Range of Reading for elementary students. I love using her books because her writing style is so engaging that any one of them make for a great Craft & Structure lesson. Take, for example, Eleanor, Quiet No More written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Gary Kelley. Gorgeous, large illustrations accompany the story of Eleanor’s life. Yes, you will find a timeline of her life and key facts to use for writing reports, but more importantly you will get a sense of who this remarkable woman was. Direct quotes are written in huge letters, and discussing why this is can be the beginning of the lesson on author’s craft.

Doreen has video clips of Eleanor Roosevelt and Common Core-aligned study guides with cross-curricular activities on her website, but I think one of the best ways to extend this book is to have your students contact Doreen herself. If you aren’t able to bring her to your school, email her questions, or snail-mail her letters. Allowing your students to personally connect with authors and illustrators will inspire them to appreciate books on an entirely new level. Many authors and illustrators will Skype with students across the country, but check out who lives in your state. Michigan has a list of authors and illustrators available for school visits through the Library of Michigan website. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI.org) has a  speaker’s list that is searchable by region. All of your students will benefit from hearing an author or an illustrator speak, but for those who dream of making their own books, it may be the spark that lights the next Gary Kelley or Doreen Rappaport.

For more information about the author, please visit doreenrappaport.com.

For more information about the illustrator, please visit garykelleyonline.com.

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