...sharing thoughtful, mentor text-inspired lessons your students will love!
1. Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter - I got this idea from www.writingfix.com. I use this lesson during the first week of my writing classes. There are wonderful activities on the website to use with the book...I would HIGHLY recommend this book.
2. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes - I use this picture book as part of my "Names" unit. Again, I do this very early in the year (mainly as a way to help me learn everyone's names). At the end of the unit student complete a writing project about their name - some students write a memoir about the person they are named after; some students write an acrostic poem; some students create a picture book about their name (a time they were teased, how they got their name, the meaning of their name); some students write an article about name origins; some students write editorials about the importance of a name. Students are given choices and I am always impressed with this assignment.
3. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold - I read this picture book with "The People Could Fly" by Virginia Hamilton. This is an introductory activity to theme analysis. We read each text individually and discuss possible themes. To do so, students choose a word that is important to the text. Then students draw 4 pictures that relate to that word and write a short statement connecting each picture to that word (and the text). Finally, students write two theme statements (I like to describe them as universal truths and life lessons) about the text. I find that the word and the pictures focus the students and lead them in the right direction. After we write theme statements about each text, we look at common themes between the two texts and students write a short theme analysis essay. We revise and edit and then students feel more confident to tackle a longer theme analysis over a novel.
OK...there are some of my ideas! Please share what you are doing with picture books in your middle school classroom! I can't wait to hear and implement some of your ideas into my classroom!
One of my favorite tricks with picture books and middle school is to type them up so they fit on one printable page; usually, my aides do this task for me, and I check their work carefully because they make a lot of typos, I find. When I pass out the one-page version, my students have no idea they're reading a picture book; they simply think they're reading an essay or a short story. Later, I display the picture book in my chalk tray, and some come up and flip through it, saying, "This is that essay you had us read, huh?"
Books I did this with last year: All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan; Owl Moon by Jane Yolen; The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter; Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen; When I Was Five by Arthur Howard.
The first four on the list above I use as mentor texts to teach revision ideas; before students read my one-page, typed version, they have written about something similar to the book's idea in their journals, and we analyze the authors' techniques and "style tricks" to help us create a revision plan for our own rough drafts. The fifth book listed there is a great jump-start for the"I Used to Be/But Now I Am" poetry lesson I found at WritingFix.
I hope others join us with this conversation! Thanks for your titles!
--Corbett Harrison (http://corbettharrison.com)
I typed up Cheyenne Again by Eve Bunting. I read it as a picture book, and the students read it on a legal-sized handout. I wanted them to comment how they felt at different parts of the story, so having the handout available to write on worked well. This is a story about a Native American boy forced to go to boarding school to become more American and less savage Indian. Based on a true story!
Then I had my students re-read the story, and write on mini-sized post-its. They love posts-its! Adding more emotions they felt, and reactions to the story.
Finally I had the students sit in small lit-style circles and share what was on their papers and post-its. I had very deep level conversations. I walked around each group and asked, "Why do you think the mother said, "Run! Run away!" to her son, while the father said that the son must go with the white man? That brought about great conversations.
I loved the depth of conversation so much that I decided to type up some more of my favorite Eve Bunting stories: How Many Days to America? (I use this to bring depth to Thanksgiving" and The Train to Somewhere - about the orphan trains after the Depression.
I teach 8th grade science and use picture books often. One of my favorite is during Rocks and Minerals we read Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor. We also watch a clip from a foreign film about a stone story. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ-z0_KruSU
I show students some rocks I have collected over my years in the military: rocks from Europe, Berlin, Arizona. I tell them I use to guess their stories, but with scientific knowledge I can better predict their past.
We learn about the ways to look at rocks and detect their story: heat and pressure, melting and cooling, weathering, erosion, deposition, cementation, and compaction. We pick a rock from a pile, or bring one from home and then classify them and write a historic past.
There is also a great story/comic activity "Ride The Rock Cycle" to reinforce the story idea or use as a formative assessment: