The Horn Book » Lolly’s Classroom http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Fri, 31 Jul 2015 16:00:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Top 5 meta books to teach print concepts http://www.hbook.com/2015/07/blogs/lollys-classroom/top-5-meta-books-to-teach-print-concepts/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/07/blogs/lollys-classroom/top-5-meta-books-to-teach-print-concepts/#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2015 10:01:47 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=50330 As a Pre-K teacher, one of the things I am focused on is helping children learn concepts of print. These concepts include that books are read from left to right and top to bottom (in English at least); the role of punctuation; that print has meaning; the relationship between print and speech; that books have […]

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As a Pre-K teacher, one of the things I am focused on is helping children learn concepts of print. These concepts include that books are read from left to right and top to bottom (in English at least); the role of punctuation; that print has meaning; the relationship between print and speech; that books have a beginning, middle, and end; and more. One of the fun ways to teach these concepts is using a meta book. Essentially, these are self-referential books that teach children concepts of print and how books work through their plot line and design. Below are my top 5 favorite meta books:

It's a BookIt’s a Book by Lane Smith
I have seen children not old enough to crawl who know how to operate an iPad. This fact has inspired countless think pieces and studies regarding the benefits and drawbacks of both traditional books and books on tablets and computers. Lane Smith’s It’s A Book plays off of this divide between traditionalists and digital book readers in a way that will amuse both children and adults. In the story, we get one character pestering the other with persistent questions about the book he is reading such as “Can it text? Tweet? Blog?” Since many five year olds are already familiar with tablets and smart phones, this book can inspire discussions regarding the differences between digital books and traditional print books, and how those books work. (Note to educators and parents: the end of the book refers to the Donkey as a “Jackass.”)

We Are in a Book!We Are In a Book! by Mo Willems
Most readers of Lolly’s Classroom are most likely already familiar with Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie series. One of my class’s favorites in the series is the meta book We Are In A Book! In this book, Elephant and Piggie discover that they are in fact in a book and go on to explain how books work in a myriad of funny scenes. For example, Piggie informs Elephant that “a reader is reading us” which leads to the two characters trying to get the reader to say random silly words like “banana.” Concepts like page numbers and that all books end are also learned via the plot line.

novak_bookwithnopixThe Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak
Most got to know Newton native B. J. Novak when he played Ryan Howard on the TV show The Office. Since the completion of the show, Novak has expanded his artistic oeuvre to include writing a children’s book called The Book With No Pictures. As you probably guessed from the title, this book contains no pictures. Instead, the book forces the adult who is reading the story to say ridiculous things like “blork,” “Bluurf,” and “I am a monkey who taught myself to read.” This is a great book to teach children that text can have meaning without pictures and can inspire a fun lesson plan for emerging writers by having the children try to author their own book with no pictures.

Grover_MonsterThe Monster At The End Of This Book by Jon Stone
In this book staring the iconic Sesame Street character, Grover sees the title and is fearful of the monster at the end of the book. As the reader turns the book, Grover gets increasingly scared and angry at the reader who, by turning the pages, is bringing him ever closer to the monster at the end of the book. (I won’t spoil the ending, but you can probably guess who the monster turns out to be.)

! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Punctuation can be confusing to young children; fortunately, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld teamed up to create this great book simply titled !. In the story, the characters themselves are punctuation marks. At the beginning, we find the exclamation mark upset because he does not fit in with the periods. Eventually, the exclamation marks sets off and meets a question mark who can’t stop asking him questions, which leads to the exclamation mark finding his voice and purpose. This is a great book to read to set up a lesson plan about how different punctuation can change the tone and meaning of a sentence.

Finally, I will leave you with a simple lesson plan to create a “meta book” called “I Am In a Book” Get some small pieces of poster board and onto each piece of poster board attached a self-adhesive mirror tile (they are pretty cheap to buy). Use a hole-punch and book ring to turn it into a book. On the cover write “I am in a book”. On each subsequent page write phrases like “this is my happy face,” “this is my mad face,” “this is my sad face,” “this is my silly face,” and so on. As the children read the book they will make the face that goes along whatever is written underneath the mirror on that page.

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Using technology to mix up read-alouds http://www.hbook.com/2015/07/blogs/lollys-classroom/using-technology-to-mix-up-read-alouds/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/07/blogs/lollys-classroom/using-technology-to-mix-up-read-alouds/#respond Wed, 08 Jul 2015 10:01:39 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=50324 At a recent literacy conference, I was introduced to an online resource called Storyline Online. Created by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Storyline Online provides animated videos of picture books that are read by actresses, actors, and other well-known individuals. In addition to the videos, there are also activity guides to accompany each book, which […]

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At a recent literacy conference, I was introduced to an online resource called Storyline Online. Created by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Storyline Online provides animated videos of picture books that are read by actresses, actors, and other well-known individuals. In addition to the videos, there are also activity guides to accompany each book, which include discussion questions and ideas for follow-up activities.

While I am sometimes skeptical about the online read-alouds that are available on YouTube and other video sites, Storyline Online impressed me for several reasons.

First and foremost, the animations that are created to accompany the stories remain true to the illustrator’s artwork. No liberties are taken to interpret the illustrator’s work; rather, the images look nearly identical to the ones that you encounter when holding the physical copy of the book. I appreciate that such an effort is made to retain the original artwork, as illustrations are an essential aspect of the experience of reading a picture book.

Second, the range of notable people reading the books on Storyline Online is quite extensive. On the site, you can access read-alouds by Al Gore, Betty White, James Earl Jones, and Jane Kaczmarek — to name just a few. During their read-alouds, these famous individuals remain focused on the book and discuss their personal connections to the story. In other words, the read-alouds doesn’t feel like shameless acts of self-promotion, but rather, like book conversations.

Finally, and most significantly, the caliber of the books included on the site is impressive. The titles included on the site are substantive and many tackle real-world issues such as racism and classism. A few of my favorite picture books appear on the site, including Brave Irene; Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge; Thank You, Mr. Falker; and Chester’s Way (the video for which incorporates American Sign Language). In sum, the titles selected lend themselves well to stimulating class discussions and to raising critical questions about the world in which we live.

In an effort to mix up my own read-alouds a bit, I’ve been using some of these videos in my classroom. My second graders love them and we have had some great follow-up discussions after listening to and watching the videos of these thought-provoking books. I highly recommend this site to elementary teachers who want to add a little variety to the typical read-aloud routine.

storylinewebsite

 

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Brain-bending books http://www.hbook.com/2015/07/blogs/lollys-classroom/brain-bending-books/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/07/blogs/lollys-classroom/brain-bending-books/#respond Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:01:33 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=50318 Lately, I’ve read several books that blew me away with their beautiful and sometimes anarchic originality. I’ve written before about the creepy dreaminess of the almost-song We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and I was equally bowled over by the lyrical oddity of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, which […]

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Lately, I’ve read several books that blew me away with their beautiful and sometimes anarchic originality. I’ve written before about the creepy dreaminess of the almost-song We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and I was equally bowled over by the lyrical oddity of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, which seems to be part magical realism, part historical fiction, and part myth.

I sank into Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (who always overwhelms me with his creativity), as I went over the beautiful panels showing Little Bao and Four-Girl on either side of the Boxer Rebellion in China. And I still have no idea what to think about the coming-of-age meets praying mantis science cautionary comedy Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, except that it was unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

I loved the experience of each of these, but I was dismayed to find myself having the same knee-jerk reaction, thinking I had no idea how I’d teach with these texts. I found myself thinking that I wouldn’t know where to put them in terms of genre because they don’t totally conform. Or that it could be tricky to figure out how to handle a two-volume piece like Yang’s. Or that I wasn’t sure where a science-like tale might fit in my typical ELA classroom.

After some thought though, I’ve decided it was totally uncreative of me to react that way. Maybe it is these books’ originality that makes them exactly the ones I should find places for, either with full classes, small groups, or individuals. If I’m teaching genre conventions, an example that pushes the boundaries could be just as useful as one that meets all of the typical criteria. Or maybe a topic we don’t usually cover could give us a new insight into literary analysis or I could use two volumes to contrast different perspectives in some fun way I haven’t tried before.

Maybe my typical teacher categories have caused me to react too narrowly to these very cool and interesting books. So I’m on a mission to be more creative myself — I’m going to stop reacting that way and see what opportunities books like these offer to teach new and interesting ways of thinking about text. So, I’m wondering how other folks have thought about this. What genre-benders and other tough-to-classify books have people found to use in classrooms, and how did students react?

 

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The value of the graphic novel http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/the-value-of-the-graphic-novel/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/the-value-of-the-graphic-novel/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 10:01:12 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=50310 This year, I’ve really pushed my students to embrace graphic novels. It’s helped my low readers to access the same information as their peers, and although some students read it because it’s “easier,” they’re reading. What I find myself conflicted with now is that my school is part of the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, where […]

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This year, I’ve really pushed my students to embrace graphic novels. It’s helped my low readers to access the same information as their peers, and although some students read it because it’s “easier,” they’re reading. What I find myself conflicted with now is that my school is part of the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, where students are awarded points for taking quizzes about books they read. I think it’s a great incentive for strong readers, and I like the concept of the program.

What’s difficult for me is that the graphic novels I’m offering and encouraging are worth no more than 3 points on AR. Online, the program says it determines points based on the difficulty and length of the book. Text based books like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (12 points), Holes (7 points), and The Lightning Thief (13 points) fare well. Popular graphic novels for children like Diary of a Wimpy Kid (3 points), El Deafo (2 points), and Smile (1 point) are valued less. However, books like Maus (2 points) and Persepolis (2 points) cover complex topics…so shouldn’t that be worth more than 2-3 points?

AR tries to address in this in their FAQ’s, saying some books are “longer and provide more reading practice time.” I’m not sure if I’m convinced by this statement. Their goal is to have kids read for long stretches of time and be rewarded for their comprehension. Yes, that’s all good but what about the depth of content?

I’m pressured to have all my students meet a certain goal for AR points, and I see my low readers struggling to meet this expectation. I want to give more quality graphic novels but it will not help them much in AR. I’m certainly not saying AR is a bad program; I think it has many merits. I’m feeling conflicted with this small part of how they grade graphic novels.

I wish graphic novels were valued more in this case.

(Information for parents: http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R003985016GG79F2.pdf)

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Why schools still need libraries (and librarians) http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/why-schools-still-need-libraries-and-librarians/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/why-schools-still-need-libraries-and-librarians/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:01:21 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=50303 I felt like a scavenger. There I was, in a prestigious private school’s library, picking through books they were getting rid of in order to make space for a new tech area. The staff was extremely kind, but I still resented what their students had and mine didn’t. As I’ve explained in previous posts, the […]

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I felt like a scavenger. There I was, in a prestigious private school’s library, picking through books they were getting rid of in order to make space for a new tech area. The staff was extremely kind, but I still resented what their students had and mine didn’t.

As I’ve explained in previous posts, the high school where I teach does not have a library. Since we’re housed in a renovated church from the 19th century in West Philadelphia, we literally do not have the space. Our solution is to create small classroom libraries within each teacher’s room to make books available for students to borrow.

Meanwhile, that private school’s library is vast, filled with natural light spilling through expansive windows. It is overflowing with books. It is staffed with four librarians. It will soon have a new technology area.

ribay_whyneedlibraries

Photo: Randy Ribay

While we’re making do with what we have, I think it’s to the detriment of our school and our students’ education not to have a library or a single librarian. Even in the Age of the Internet, I have no doubt in my mind all schools still need libraries. Here are some simple reasons why:

  1. It is difficult to track and maintain books. To someone who’s never done it before, it sounds simple enough: students take books and put them back when they’re done. In practice, it’s insanely hard to keep track of who’s checked out what, to track down missing books, to repair them when they become ragged, to organize and shelve and re-shelve, and to order new ones. Trying to do this on top of your teaching duties is insane. It’s almost like it should be a full time job — oh, wait…
  2. Students need a quiet, safe space. While the image of the surly librarian with a shushing finger pressed to her lips has become a cliché, the fierce defense of a silent space is important. Students need a shared quiet space where they can go in order to read, study, research, collaborate, decompress, or just find sanctuary from the noisy world.
  3. We need book experts. Every time I’m faced with a reluctant reader, I feel like my challenge is to find THE BOOK that will turn that kid into a reader. This requires a vast knowledge of what’s out there, and certainly this varies from teacher to teacher. I believe I’m more well-read in YA than your average English teacher, but I’m limited mostly to my own tastes. So an in-house expert would simply increase the probability that a reader would end up with the right books in his hands.

For now, we’ll keep doing our best with our little classroom libraries. But if you’re a super-wealthy philanthropist who wants to build my school a library, let me know. To revise Cicero’s famous quote, a school without a library is like a body without a soul.

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A sense of place http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/a-sense-of-place/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/a-sense-of-place/#respond Tue, 16 Jun 2015 10:01:14 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=49626 “Doesn’t this book make you think of Rockport, of being down at the beach and feeling the waves?” one of my students asks me, holding up our classroom’s copy of Andre by Fran Hodgkins. “It does remind me of that,” I tell my student. “Why don’t you read what is says on the seal’s collar […]

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“Doesn’t this book make you think of Rockport, of being down at the beach and feeling the waves?” one of my students asks me, holding up our classroom’s copy of Andre by Fran Hodgkins.

“It does remind me of that,” I tell my student. “Why don’t you read what is says on the seal’s collar on the cover?”

“Rockport Harbor Master” my student reads. “Wait, did this really happen? Is this the same Rockport that I was talking about?” he exclaims, his enthusiasm palpable.

“You’ll have to read it to find out,” I say, as he settles into our book nook to explore this new title about a familiar place.

In my classroom practice, I definitely lean toward using books to expose my students to ideas and places that they may never encounter otherwise. Books about far-off places and diverse people appeal to me and never fail to lead to rich discussions with my students. However, exchanges like the one above remind me that while it is important to use books as an opportunity to introduce students to content and places that they can’t experience firsthand, it is equally important to have kids read about places they know and to discover someone else’s perspective on the familiar.

I teach in Maine and while the town I work in doesn’t feature prominently in any picture books, I have found that there are a number of books that revolve around places with which my students have at least tangential familiarity. Seeing these places in books excites them and validates their experiences. Additionally, they have the opportunity to make the connection that while they spend time reading about people in far-off places, other people may be reading about them and where they live.

For those Maine teachers who may be reading this post, here are some books about Maine that my students have particularly enjoyed:

Blueberries_for_Sal  Andre Harbor Seal  Miss Rumphius  Charlotte's Web

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (many of McCloskey’s other works also take place in  Maine including One Morning in Maine and Time of Wonder)

Andre: The Famous Harbor Seal by Fran Hodgkins

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (Island Boy is also set in Maine)

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White is rumored to based in part on Maine’s Blue Hill Fair and White’s experiences living in rural Maine

While searching for books set in Maine, I was impressed by the lists of books sorted according to geographic setting that I could find with a simple Internet search. Search for yourself and you might be surprised by what you discover. If you already have favorite books set in your area, please share them in the comments below!

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Teaching and reading in a YA movie world http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/teaching-and-reading-in-a-ya-movie-world/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/teaching-and-reading-in-a-ya-movie-world/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 10:01:41 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=50065 The first time I read The Giver, I was astounded. I got to the last page, sat for a moment in wonder, and then flipped back to page 1 to begin again, in the hopes I could hold that moment for just a little longer. The images that the book conjured for me were permanent, even today, many years and reads later.

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Editor’s note: Christina wrote this last August before The Giver movie opened but we couldn’t post it then. We offer it now at the start of this summer’s book-to-movie season.

giverThe first time I read The Giver, I was astounded. I got to the last page, sat for a moment in wonder, and then flipped back to page 1 to begin again, in the hopes I could hold that moment for just a little longer. The images that the book conjured for me were permanent, even today, many years and reads later.

I’ve had three separate conversations recently about whether I’ll see the movie, and in each, I’ve also been asked how I feel about all of the YA books being made into movies nowadays. Some askers imply that the spate of movies isn’t so great because it will make the kids “just see the movies” instead of actually reading the books. But I haven’t been thinking that at all.

As a teacher, I see my undergrads obsessing about the movie adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, carefully dissecting every small difference between page and screen as they re-watch and reread over and over. The Giver movie posterMotivation to read the book is definitely not their problem. And I see my summer school students having a conversation about who we would cast in a movie version of He Said, She Said and what would be changed by losing the two different points of view we get in the book. It strikes me that these are rich and deep ways of thinking about story, and I think those moments are full of possibility for teaching about deep comprehension and craft.

The MA Standards ask that students be able to consider material presented through a variety of different media, and I think many movie/book pairings afford interesting opportunities to do this type of analytic work. We do this with adult titles, so I think it makes sense to work with YA books in this way as well.

I am not in a position these days to teach The Giver, but if I had my own classroom, I would likely consider using scenes from the movie to help push students to think critically about the craft of presenting a story. Ultimately, I’m not sure if I’ll see The Giver. But, if I do see it, I’m not so worried about seeing someone else’s vision. My Giver is indelible in my memory. It grows with me and reveals new things at times, but it could never be replaced.

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Picture books under the sea http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/picture-books-under-the-sea/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/picture-books-under-the-sea/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:01:24 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48142 With water covering around 70% of the world’s surface and playing home to some of the most fascinating creatures on earth, it is not surprising that it is a perennially popular topic for young children. And, this ongoing popularity means that there are plenty of books available on this topic to encourage students to pursue […]

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With water covering around 70% of the world’s surface and playing home to some of the most fascinating creatures on earth, it is not surprising that it is a perennially popular topic for young children. And, this ongoing popularity means that there are plenty of books available on this topic to encourage students to pursue their interest in oceanography and sea life generally. Here are some of the best options to foster this interest and to bring the creatures of the ocean to your storytimes:

Ocean SunlightOcean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, illustrated by Molly Bang
This book by the incomparable Molly Bang and MIT scientist and professor Penny Chisholm is a perfect introduction to the science of the sea and underwater food chains. Bang’s artwork is predictably wonderful and the description of the process by which underwater plant life keeps the rest of the sea alive is a great way of starting a conversation about food chains more generally. This book is a nice addition to science lessons for kindergarten through second grade.

Fantastic Undersea LifeThe Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino
Combining retro illustrations with the fascinating life of Jacques Cousteau, this book is a good option for introducing students to Cousteau’s work and life on the ocean in general. The book includes quotes directly from Cousteau, which helps to bring him to life even more. It also includes a list of suggested reading and a timeline of Cousteau’s life for those who want to learn more about him.

SwimmySwimmy by Leo Lionni
This classic Caldecott Honor book follows a little fish named Swimmy who bands together with the other fish in his school to fight against the dangers of the open sea and the large fish that is bullying them. The story is wonderful for young children who are fascinated by fish and the artwork brings Swimmy’s world to life beautifully. Great for children from preschool through second grade.

This Is Not My HatThis Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
This 2013 Caldecott Winner follows a small fish as he swims away from the scene of his crime — the theft of a larger fish’s hat. The text of the story tells a very different tale than the visual narrative, which makes this not only a funny read but also one that gives children a chance to explore the meaning of this conflict and the subjectivity of the small fish’s perspective. The illustrations perfectly fit the story making this a great choice for storytimes, particularly for the preschool through first grade crowd.

Life in the Ocean

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola
Focused on the life and underwater exploration of oceanographer Sylvia Earle, this picture book combines the inspiring story of how Earle followed her dream from childhood through to a successful life as an expert in underwater exploration with beautiful watercolors of nature and underwater scenes. This would be a great read-aloud book for budding marine biologists or K-3 classrooms learning about the ocean. The book also includes an author’s note about the negative environmental impact humans have had on the ocean and a bibliography of other sources on the topic.

I hope these books will help you to bring the world of the sea to your classroom or story time. Let me know in the comments if there are others that you like to use to introduce oceanography and the underwater world to your students.


 

Editor’s note: I feel compelled to add a plug for Katherine Roy’s roy_neighborhood-sharks_170x218Neighborhood Sharks. We debated its status as a picture book over at Calling Caldecott earlier this year. I think it is absolutely a picture book!

 

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We need (more) diverse authors http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/we-need-more-diverse-authors/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/we-need-more-diverse-authors/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 16:19:09 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48187 In the Age of Testing, it seems creativity is often left by the wayside. Professional development for teachers these days focuses on practices that supposedly raise test scores. Practice questions. Test-prep software. Data analysis. Incentives. To make room for these practices, it seems that many high schools no longer teach creative writing. We teach reading […]

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In the Age of Testing, it seems creativity is often left by the wayside. Professional development for teachers these days focuses on practices that supposedly raise test scores. Practice questions. Test-prep software. Data analysis. Incentives.

To make room for these practices, it seems that many high schools no longer teach creative writing. We teach reading and writing to prepare students for college (and tests), which means argument, research, and analysis. Yet, stories remain an object of study, so there’s no denying they’ve retained their cultural value even if we’ve stopped writing them in the classroom.

Just imagine if we stopped going nuts about test proficiency and instead aimed to inspire children to love and value stories so much that they want to create them.

I think there’s a tremendous loss in that many (possibly most) schools do not have this mindset.

Writing fiction is instructive in itself. Writing a story helps one understand plot. Creating a symbol helps one analyze symbolism. Proofreading a piece in hopes of publication motivates one to master Standard English conventions. Writing a story gives context and meaning to skills that are often taught devoid of either.

Beyond the lost opportunity for instruction, I think a more insidious effect is that we lose potential authors. And since test prep reigns supreme in the inner-city, where test scores tend to be low but racial and socioeconomic diversity tends to be high, this equates to the loss of potential authors of color.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing authors of color in the writing community today, both published and unpublished. Yet I don’t think anyone would claim that the publishing world — at any level — has arrived at a place where it accurately reflects the world we live in.

But if we push for more creative writing in schools — especially in schools with underrepresented populations — I think we will eventually see more diverse writers emerge. And more diverse writers will lead to more diverse stories in agents’ submission folders, in editors’ hands, and on bookshelves. And that, I believe, has far more potential to transform children’s lives than any standardized test.

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Learning from mistakes http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/learning-from-mistakes/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/06/blogs/lollys-classroom/learning-from-mistakes/#respond Tue, 02 Jun 2015 14:38:37 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48156 My second graders, like most kids, hate making mistakes. Often, when students begin the year with me, they see mistakes as something bad and rarely seem more embarrassed than when they make mistakes in class. Throughout the course of the year, I ask my students to work on honing a growth mindset and try to […]

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My second graders, like most kids, hate making mistakes. Often, when students begin the year with me, they see mistakes as something bad and rarely seem more embarrassed than when they make mistakes in class. Throughout the course of the year, I ask my students to work on honing a growth mindset and try to encourage them to see mistakes as opportunities for learning, rather than irreparable aberrations. Each week, I recognize students who have made Great Mistakes in an attempt to normalize and celebrate the bumps that inevitably happen as we try to master something new. In addition to championing smart mistakes, I also use and later revisit a number of picture books that emphasize the mistake- and challenge-filled reality of the learning process.

beautiful oopsBeautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
This small book never fails to leave my students feeling inspired about the possibilities mistakes can offer us. The beautiful illustrations and clever construction of Beautiful Oops showcase the potential hidden in a ripped paper, dribbles of paint, stains, and holes. The book concludes with a powerful message that resonates with my young students: “When you think you have made a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful.”

stuckStuck by Oliver Jeffers
Stuck is a multipurpose book in my character lessons — it can be used to highlight creativity, determination, and the mistakes that we can make as we try to reach our goals. In this simple but effective narrative, Floyd tries a variety of strategies to retrieve his stuck kite from a tree…a process that leads to lots of mistakes on the way to an eye-of-the-beholder success.

Mr FalkerThank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
This autobiographical tale chronicles the struggles of a young girl named Trisha as she tries to learn how to read. Polacco’s rendering of the frustrations of feeling different and the embarrassment of being teased ring true and show that it is not always easy to keep trying when something is challenging.

everyone ride bicycleEveryone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka
Raschka’s book, ideal for young students, illustrates the process and pitfalls of learning how to ride a bike. This simple story makes it explicit that everyone had to learn how to ride a bike and that it takes extensive practice to master this skill. My students and I follow up our reading of this book by discussing whether everyone can actually learn to ride a bike and then considering how it can take different amounts of time, effort, and modification for people to master skills.

dotThe Dot and Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
The Dot and Ish both tackle the insecurities that can arise when we fail to instantaneously master skills and don’t meet our own expectations for perfection. In both tales, young artists experience frustration or uncertainty about their skills that hinders their abilities to develop potential talents. These books always lead to lively follow-up conversations about how fear of failing can prevent us from trying, and thus, from learning and improving.

 

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