Monday, December 22, 2008

Picture Books and Read Alouds Across the Curriculum

Picture books have the potential for bringing together ideas, images, content, vocabulary, language, and arts in the minds of any learner. Below you'll find descriptions of four picture books that could help support different units of study in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Language Arts - ALLITERATION
The Worrywarts
Written by Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrated by Henry Cole

The Worrywarts is a fun book to read, and it is just as clever in the use of alliteration. Wombat asks Weasel and Woodchuck to go on a walk with her on Wednesday. Wombat is a worrier and that habit rubs off on her friends as they walk. Every time a new worry creeps up, the font is enlarged to help the reader know to use his or her voice with the text.

Mathematics - FRACTIONS
Fraction Action
Written and Illustrated by Loreen Leedy

Have fractions ever proved to be difficult for some students? Well, then pull this book off the shelf and begin to teach the concept through the cartoons in this picture book. The text has a running commentary, but it is the cartoons that teach. At first, the pages appear to be busy, but take the time to examine them carefully. It is really a clever way to explain how fractions work.

The Forest in the Clouds
Written by Sneed B. Collard III
Illustrated by Michael Rochman

After reading this book about a tropical rain forest high up in the mountains of Costa Rica, students will become fascinated with the existence and will want to learn how the ecosystem there is being threatened. In fact, the author tells us this cloud filled landform is the most threatened area on Earth. The detailed artwork of Rochman visually depicts the story as it unfolds page by page. Students will get to meet animals they’ve never heard of that make their homes in the mountains. A glossary at the back will help them understand this unique environment. This is one for your science shelf that you don’t want to miss. You can launch an extensive study of caring for the Earth and protecting our environment by reading this one.

Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters
Written by Patricia C. McKissack and Frederick L. McKissack

The McKissacks provide the stark contrast between the events of “Big Times” (Christmas) in the plantation owner’s big house and those of the slaves who lived in the quarters. The hauntingly beautiful language richly describes the traditions and scenes of the holidays in the mid-1800s. This is not a one sitting read-aloud so plan for a few installments. Take your time and savor the beautiful art that so aptly brings the story alive.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum

I hope you’ve had an opportunity to share your favorite books with your students. One of my goals as your reading coach is to help you make the read-aloud a strong supporting structure for literacy learning across your day. The read–aloud can strengthen your students’ abilities and achievement in your subject areas.

Most of us would be shocked by the wealth of resources being overlooked if we had the time to carefully and thoroughly examine the picture book collections in school and classroom libraries. Many well-written and tightly focused books are available to help layer students’ understanding of many topics in the curriculum. Yet, picture books continue to be greatly underutilized in our teaching.

Reading aloud across the curriculum is a practical way to expanding your instruction to accomplish literacy-based goals in four key subject areas – math, social studies, language arts, and science. From time to time, I will put together a list of picture books by subject area. I’ll share with you strategic advice for planning thematic, content-driven units that use read aloud to scaffold understanding and increase engagement.

If you’re planning a specific unit and would like me look for specific titles please feel free to send me an email. I will also be glad to stop by your room and share some of my favorite books with your students.

Please let me know if you would like members of FEA to come to your room during 4th period and read aloud to your students.

As your reading coach I welcome your feedback and ideas!!!