GENRE BLOG REFLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS

I truly enjoyed blogging about children’s literature and the genre books that I was not familiar with or would ever read if given the choice. Although time consuming, reading the books and blogging about them was thought provoking, interesting, intellectually stimulating, and definitely different than what I have ever done in any of my previous classes. The books I have read included many different features. Some of the books included more illustrations than others, some required more real-life connections than others, but overall, they had underlying messages that were great for students to learn, understand, and reflect upon.

I feel that the historical fiction and science fiction books were similar in length for the different age groups, they both had messages for students to learn at the end of the books, all of the books had a happy ending, and both genres contain adventure and mystery.

I believe that all genres should be explored because they can be great reads and like it did for me, it can change your opinion on how fun they were to read. The characters, in both historical fiction and science fiction were dynamic, brave, courageous, likeable, and interesting. The authors can take you on journeys that you have never been on before.        

The questions I now have are how come I have never given these books a chance? What other lessons can I make out of these books? Can I use them for a unit plan? Are there any field trips to enhance the discussions that can arise from reading these books?

I think that communicating about the books online to a partner was enjoyable, yet I hope helpful and informative. I think giving a synopsis, a review, and possible examples of questions and lesson plans was beneficial and can be essential if we were to ever have the opportunity to implement it and seeing whether it worked well or should be modified.

In terms of teaching reading, I think it is important to stop every two pages, or stop when a word that may be difficult arises, or where they could make predictions, and ask questions such as what is happening, why it is, do we agree, disagree, why or why not, etc. The students can put themselves in their shoes, stop it look at the illustrations and explain what is happening, and for them to be given opportunities to make connections.

The fact that we had to explain how the books were labeled and considered that specific genre helped allow my partner to connect to the story. The genre’s features and characters were described from the book as well as examples from the text.

Reading outside my comfort zone was eye-opening and rewarding. I was able to truly enjoy two genres I wouldn’t normally read and ones I didn’t know much about. I had many misconceptions that I am glad I was able to explore. I though science fiction would be too fake and far-fetched from reality to be fun and interesting. I found that the stories had real-life characters that the reader could relate to and it took the reader on fun adventures with the joy of scientific wonders and terminology.

Historical fiction surprised me and my previous opinion changed because the stories I read brought out the real issues that were faced in history that transpired into a happy, fun, adventure of discovery and learning. Students can not only read about an interesting story, but also learn about the past and how things have changed. Historical fiction is wonderful for activities students can take part in.  

I was able to communicate with my partner by switching books accordingly. We both posted information about our genre, reflected on them, and gave our opinion about them. We commented each other’s posts and added links, videos, and pictures. My partner gave helpful information and suggestions about the books that I didn’t think about, and other times we agreed what may be best for students to learn. We emailed back and forth when we had a question and responded in a timely fashion. I think working with a partner helped view things you may have missed. I am also grateful I had a great partner who was as committed to the readings and responses as I was. If this was not the case, I’m sure my experience would not have been as great.

I was introduced into the world of blogging. I am obsessed with Pinterest but have never created o blog of my own. I chose WordPress because I liked the style, the format, and the organization of it. I was able to follow other classmates also using WordPress for their blogs and enjoyed reading, commenting, and liking their posts.

I separated my questions and thoughts in paragraphs so it was easier to read and see the separation of where my last thought ended and my new thought began. I posted pictures of the book covers to give visual representation and inserted links to other lessons, websites, and articles that gave insight into additional information about the books and information worth noting, as well as book reviews.

My partner Diana used a different blog site and it was formatted quite different. I was able to maneuver my way around the site and she even included music! She included videos and helpful links to other websites that gave valid information. Her comments were shown on one page. In my blog, you had to click on the comments for them to be seen.

I liked blogging although I think it would be easier if everyone used the same website to blog. Their new posts would then be in your feed, and can be viewed and commented easier. 

This experience will impact my teaching of children’s literature by giving me strategies to use when reading aloud to students, how to dissect literature, critique it, ask open-ended questions, encourage students to find hidden and underlying messages, discuss their opinion and views on the readings, make predictions, etc. My partner and I explained many ways that reading could transfer into writing stories, drawing illustrations, creating works of art, etc. It is always import to strike up rich conversations and allow the students to explore different aspects the book may touch upon. Reading can build vocabulary and reading comprehension when a word seems too difficult and we have to find the meaning, students can explore characters and be encouraged to make connections throughout the book.

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Genre Blog Overview

My instructions were to choose five historical fiction books for children. I liked being able to choose the books because I read several reviews and wanted to make sure that it received high ratings for specific reasons. I want to make sure that the book is recommended, that it raises great discussion, that it can create great lessons for students, and a variety at that.  I was able to read summaries on the books and decide if they are books children would be interested to read and if I would be interested too. However, I do believe my partner choose great books in her genre. It was fun to discover what books she choose and why.

I enjoyed blogging about my text and my partners because she gave me great feedback and suggestions for lessons to do with students. I hope I did the same for her as well. I was able to get another person’s opinion and advice. I also collected great every-lasting ideas that I hope will be beneficial and sufficient when my teaching time comes.

My genre was historical fiction. I enjoyed exploring the texts and depicting where and why these books portray history and fiction. I was able to read about situations in the past, the way people lived, the feelings they had, the working conditions they endured, the family life, and what matters the most to the characters. I was able to make connections to present day life and compare and contrast the similarities and differences between past, present, and even predictions about the future. It was great to read that although the times were different and many things were different, the characters still expressed similar emotions like we do today. It is great to be able to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what and how we may feel, and how we can relate.

Although the stories and characters were considered fiction, I felt that history was able to bring important matters that did or could have taken place in history to life. I felt that the texts I chose had realistic features in it. Not only was it from the past, but the time period’s descriptions were rather more accurate than I feel exaggerated. “The Little House in the Woods” discussed frontier life and activities that took place during that time, “The Gardener” discussed what it was like in the great depression and how it was to help a family member out to make money, how you may travel somewhere else for a better life, and how creative you could become to make someone happy in times of sadness and hopelessness. People during this time were struggling and sad. “The Waving Girl” was I believe to be the most realistic book, other than changing the name or parts of the story. There was a waving girl back when boats would sail along the Port of Savannah, Georgia during that time.  This story was about her in some made-up fashion. “Pie” takes place in the 1950’s where it teaches about the love of family and tradition. The story is fiction, but I don’t think it gave too many details or examples about history, other than it were during the 1950’s where pie contests took place.  

I felt that the science fiction books were great and true to the genre. I think that not only did it mention science terminology, but it brought the reader back into a time that was unreal by some kind of technology, invention, or machine. Not only could these adventures never happen, but it was great to read about the nonliving aliens and the make-believe planets and space life. It was fun to time travel and learn how some of the robots operated and thought. Readers are able to identify those make-believe stories, make predictions, and use their imagination.

In my future teaching, I would like the students to create reading logs and I would assign these books specifically. If they are at different grade levels, I would use the books for specific reasons, whether it is finding specific vocabulary words, look for a specific moral in a story, concepts, historical knowledge, text to text connections, etc. I would use these books for not only literacy and reading comprehension, but critical thinking, sill development, building grammar, vocabulary, and thought-provoking discussions.

My Trip To Alpha 1

mytriptoalphal

By: Alfred Slote

 My Trip to Alpha I is a book for children ages 7 to 10. Jack is instructed to go to Alpha I by Voya-code to help Aunt Katherine DeVanter pack and get ready to move back to Earth, traveling over six million light years. With a computer program inserted, Jack was a dummy and didn’t travel as his real self. Jack rode on a solar craft, met robots called Arbos, and saw the mines his aunt owned. Jack gets curious when his aunt begins to act rather strange. He comes to realize she is a dummy. After finding the holding center of the travelers heading to Earth, he discovers that his real aunt is there asleep. He returns home after she is awoken and safe.

Alfred Stole is the author of several science fiction books, including My Robot Buddy, Omega Station, and Clone Catcher. These books all revolved around space and time travel, robots, aliens, and computerized chips were described as if it were normal.  

Jack was worried about missing his basketball game when he went to Alpha I to meet his Aunt. The book focused on Jacks ‘normal’ life back home with his parents and friends. Students can speak about whether they ever experienced going somewhere they didn’t want to and missing their favorite thing to do, or didn’t want to miss out on something they were interested in. They can discuss how it made them feel and what was the outcome? Did it change their feelings? Did they discover anything new? Was it valuable going? Anything learned and worth knowing? What is more important than their original plans? Why or why not? Students can write in their science journals.

Students can discuss what the other planets may have looked like that was mentioned in the book. Everyone was going somewhere in the terminal, to Pluto, Jupiter, and other planets. We read that Alpha I was one of the wealthiest planets, what may have the others looked like? They could make comparisons about Alpha I and one of the other planets and what may have been different. This can allow students to compare and contrast using their imagination of a planet that was described and images shown, to a planet less wealthy, with no images.

Students can also identify the science fiction in this book and the parts of the book that seem realistic, such as Jack attending school, having friends, being apart of the basketball team, etc. They could compare and contrast on a Venn Diagram the similarities and differences of his planet and Alpha I.  They may not have been human, but they did work, they used transportation, they lived in homes, etc. Why would the Arbos do such a thing to his Aunt? Could these robots share human qualities? Why can’t they be trusted? Why can they be trusted?

Students can be asked why Jack had to be his dummy self in order to travel to Alpha I? Why can’t humans travel that far in our bodies and as we physically are? Why would there have to be a computer chip inserted? What do we need to travel to space? What happens to our bodies in space?  What dangers can arise? What wonders could be discovered? We can write these questions down in the science section for the room and students can split up to research them on their own and find the answers whether it be an inference from the book, or on the computer, articles, etc.

The Time Hackers

time hackersThe Time Hackers by Gary Paulsen

Seventh grader Dorso Clayman finds unusual things in his school locker to eventually discover they had disappeared. Dorso and his friend Frank find themselves at the center of pratical jokes from time-hackers. As they hack into time themselves, things from the past suddenly start appearing in the present. They soon realize they have to break the time hackers’ code before they get stuck in the past.

Author Gary Paulsen grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota where he enjoyed extreme sports. Some of his tales are dubbed “slaptick”. He took the reader on an hilarious adventure in The Time Hackers. He has written many books for young children, as well as published fiction and nonfiction for adults.

For a history lesson, students can follow the people that were mentioned in The Time Hackers and research who they were. The people students can research include Anne Boleyn, the Headless Ghosts of Brickling Hall, Beethoven, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Marie Antoninette, Nefertiti, etc. Students can write who they were, what time period they lived, their importance and significance during that time, and what Dorso and Frank could have felt when they came across them, what questions they could have asked them, and what they could possibly find during that time in history.

Students can create a journal of their own. They can keep track of the places Dorso and Frank visit throughout the book. Some of the places include The Battle of Gettysburg, Battle Between Custer and Crazy Horse, London in Early 18th Century, The First Flight with the Wright Brothers, and many more. They will be instructed to record the destination, historical event, time period, and their own thoughts on what they would witness during this time period if they were ever trapped there. They can conclude other historical events in their journal that could tie into these times and places.

The students can also create a timeline on the different events that take place in the book. Which came first and what follows after. They can write the time period, the event, and draw an illustration. They can present to the class when finished.

The students can take a journey into history themselves! They can write about places in the past they would like to visit, what things they would like to see, how it would make them feel, and why they chose these places to discover. The students can draw a picture to better illustrate their adventure. They can present to the class when finished.

The students can also discuss the relationship between technology and science. The technology we use today relies heavily on science in the way these machines function and operate. Students can research or write down questions they may have to later find the solutions on their own or as a class. Students can recognize the importance of science in their everyday lives. They can also identify where technology is used and why it is so crucial in helping us live the way we do.

My Teacher Is An Alien

My Teacher Is An Alien by Bruce Corville brings us into twelve-year old Susan Simmons life. She notices that her substitute teacher, Mr. Smith, is unusual. She followed her substitute teacher to find any evidence that he was hiding something and tried to discover why he was so weird. She witnessed him peeling off his face and revealing that he is an Alien, an humanoid called Bronxholm. Her friend Peter believed her and helped her figure out the mystery of why aliens were here and what happened to their teacher.    
 
Author Bruce Corville is an American writer of children’s books. He expressed his love of writing at a young age and eventually became an elementary teacher. He created other series that were science fiction. Some of the books in his series include Aliens Ate My Homework, Magic Shop, Space Brat, I Was A Sixth Grade Alien, and many others. I think that Corville, once an elementary school teacher, experienced and understands issues that arise in schools and what students may enjoy reading. I believe he has the knowledge and love for creating science fiction books, as he has created a number of series to express that.
 
Possible Lessons:
Teachervision.com is a website I found that gives enrichment activities for elementary students to engage in after reading this book. The students can build an alien spaceship design, explain why and how they built it, and model it to the class. They can also act as one of the characters in the book and have someone interview them. They can ask any questions they like, encouraging them to be creative and use their imagination. Students can also write daily diary entries for Susan Simmons and what she may have seen, felt, and believed. They can share with the class at any time. A lesson can be done where the students are to differentiate between regular fiction and science fiction. They can then write an added chapter to the book and describe what happens to Peter when he visited their planet and what could happen from there. Lastly, the students can be split up into teams. They will be given a vocabulary list of words used and seen in the book and will find the definitions in either the book or dictionaries. They will memorize the spellings and meanings and will participate in a vocabulary game where one team asks the another how to spell a word and to define it. They can use a Practice Frame to write down the word, its predicted definition, a sentence, then the real definition and a sentence.  
 
Website for Enrichment Activities:
 
Vocabulary List:
 
Vocabulary Practice Frame:
 
On Ebookbrowse.com, there is an in-depth lesson that incorporates this book chapter by chapter. Each chapter will be discussed, the issues that arise will be presented, such as bullying, vocabulary words will be given, opinion pieces can be written, chapter questions asked and responses written, and for the teacher to engage the students in effective collaborative discussion. I think this is extremely helpful and is great to read and check out.
My Teacher is an Alien Lesson Plans pdf
Found at ebookbrowse.com

I think that these examples are great for either literacy lessons (vocabulary development, spelling, grammar, writing responses, paragraphs, reading comprehension, critical thinking, etc.), STEM lessons (science exploration, engineering of spaceship), and art (creating and designing the spaceship).

Doug Unplugged

By: Dan Yaccarino

The book introduces Doug, the robot. His parents plug him in to fill him up with facts so he could be the smartest robot ever. He learned facts about the city and looked out the window wondering if there were more things he could learn if he went out there. Doug unplugged himself and discovered so many new things. He even found a friend in the park and discovered all sorts of different ways to play. They boy returned to his parents with a hug. After observing the loving embrace the boy had with his parents, Doug returned home to do the same thing with his. The parents thought he was the smartest robot ever.

With more than thirty books written, author Dan Yaccarino has earned his title of international author-illustrator. He is also the creator of the TV series Oswald, about a blue octupus and his friends, and the Emmy Award-winning Willa’s Wild Life, about a 9 year old girl named Willa who has a variety of unusual pets. Yaccarino is familiar with creating humaninistic characters whether it be in animals or robots.

Doug Unplugged is a great book for young children to read, to view the bright pictures, and to empathize with Doug. The students can recall the first time they met a new friend, what they may have learned from them, and how it made them feel. They are able to characterize Doug as having human qualities, his thoughts, feelings, etc. The message that sometimes the best ways to learn about the world is to go out and be in it is great for students to relate to their own real-world experiences and all that they have discovered.

As a teacher, you can have the students write about a time they went somewhere they have never been before and what they learned while there. They can also draw an illustration that models their description. The students can present to the class when finished.

The students can also compare and contrast the qualities and characteristics of Doug the robot to humans.  They can write these similarities and differences in a Venn Diagram. They can write how Doug learns, where he gets his knowledge from, recognize that he doesn’t go to school like humans, how he doesn’t wear clothes, how he is able to fly, that he has an antenna, may be hard textured, but that he has human emotions, feelings, and like to play, make friends, view the world, and shows compassion for his family.  

Mars Needs Moms

By: Berkeley Breathed

The book introduces us to a boy named Milo. He wonders what is so special about mothers. He described them in negative terms, such as “summer-stealing”, “giant”, “perfumy garden goblins”, and there was hardly anything special about that. Mothers always force you to eat vegetables and food you don’t like, do chores you don’t want to do, lacked humor, and even called his own mother a ‘tyrant’. He fell asleep when Martians landed nearby. Their plan was to snatch as many moms as they could, referring to them as ‘treasures’. Martians don’t have moms and they viewed mothers as prizes. Milo followed his kidnapped mother and the Martians to the distant red planet, Mars. They needed moms to drive them to activities, cook, clean, pack lunches, and to be there when they are hurt. It is not until his mother sacrifices her life to save his that Milo realizes why mothers are so special. He demanded to save her life and traveled back home curled up in her arms.     

This science fiction book enables the readers to understand Milo’s frustrations with his own mother and why it is hard to remember all the good things his mother does, what makes her special, why she is important, and how she helps, cares, and loves him. This book brings the readers to another world on planet Mars where we come to see the Martians’ different perspectives and views on the importance of mothers and their appreciation for them.

The author uses vivid and colorful animated images throughout that helps bring the book to life. Milo’s face expressions are clear and relatable to how many other children may feel at times when they are angry, annoyed, confused, and fed up. The readers can relate this book to real-life and it should be an example of taking things and people for granted. We need to think positively about the people who surround us and remember how blessed, fortunate, and grateful we should feel to have them care, protect, and want the best for us, especially our mothers. Being a mother is a hard job with many responsibilities and students should come to realize all they do.

I think this book would be difficult for those students who may not have mothers, or may not live with them, or know them well. I think it is important for students to think of other adults or people who take care of them. Students can be asked if they ever taken their mothers or loved ones for granted, what makes them special, how can we thank them, how sometimes we don’t realize how important others are to us until an outsider looking in gives their opinion. Students can hear others describe their mothers and realize that all mothers may do different things, whether it be helping with homework, help to clean the house, cook meals, buy clothes, drive them to sports or activities, give them advice, etc.

I found a lesson plan you can do with students that incorporates this book in order to understand and write dialogue. The students will be asked to predict what they think will happen in the book while they look at the illustration on the cover and back of the book. While reading, they will then write down some dialogue they hear when Milo speaks with his mother, the characters words and the narrators words, the use of quotations when speaking, and to highlight with two different colors what the character says and what the narrator does.

Mars Needs Moms Dialogue Lesson pdf
Found at ebookbrowse.com

An article by Brooke Barnes in The New York Times explains why the film “Mars Needs Moms” was not a huge success as a movie. The storyline was questioned, as well as the computerized features, money spent to create it, money to view it, and the competition that followed.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/business/media/15mars.html?_r=0

In Mike Hale’s The New York Times article, he describes some concerns with the book-made-into-film, one of them being seen as antifeminist towards the depiction of mothers and what they are seen to do and be.

http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/movies/mars-needs-moms-review.html

If you would like to watch the movie trailer, here is the link:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1305591/

 

Author Berkely Breathed is an American cartoonist who used to focus on political cartooning and later transferred over to children books. He has produced eleven best-selling cartoon collections and five children’s books, two of which were made into films. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1987 for editorial cartooning and the Gold Duck Award for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction for Mars Needs Moms! 2008 Picture Book.

Being a political cartoonist, I would say that author Berkely Breathes had the authenticity to create Mars Needs Moms! The book could easily spark controversy that he would be familiar with as he was involved in critiquing political issues and the comedy cartoons that he has created about them. The book also portrays admirable cartoon illustrations that he has been awarded for.