Category Archives: Language Arts

TEDU 566 – Potential Instructional Activities for Language Arts

Here is a link to three different instructional activities that I performed with my tutoring student during the course of a semester. Each has the activity we did together, as well as an analysis of each, including; reasons for using such an activity with professional, textual support.

Three Instructional Activities from TEDU 566 Tutoring

Activity I: (Technology Incorporated)

  • Activity from Lesson Plan:

Familiar Reading                                                                                                                  SOL 5.6 a & d

  • Objective: The student will successfully re-read their Quickreads passage, listen to themselves reading it, and discuss what they notice about their reading with their tutor with 90-97% accuracy reading and given the reading, a recording device, and prompting from their tutor.
  • Activity: The student will re-read a passage while being recorded, listen to the recording, and discuss what they learned about their reading with this tutor.
  • Materials: Recording device (I-Pad), Quickreads passage “Why Ships Float”

Procedure:

  • Begin by having the student re-read the previous session’s Quickreads passage. Be sure to record the student’s audio as they are reading.
  • When they are finished, have the student take a moment to listen to their reading from the recording.
  • After, ask them how they feel about their reading, what they notice, and what and how they may want to change it.
  • Have them read the passage again and record them again. Be sure to have them listen to it once more before having them discuss again how they feel about it and compare the two times to one another.

Explanation of Use:

For this first activity, my student and I sat down and he re-read aloud a passage that he had previously read the session before. While he was reading, I used the designated I-pad I was given to record his audio as my student read. Once finished, we took a moment to listen to the reading he had done and then discussed not only how he felt about his reading, but what he could then do to make it even better. He mentioned that he wanted to try and read it with more feeling and like he was really interested in boats. We then took the time to re-read the passage and I recorded my student once more. Together, we listened to the new recording and once again discussed how he felt about it and what he thought about the first recording versus the second one.

  • Focus Literacy Component: Fluency
  • Reasoning for Use with Support:

This activity aimed to help build my student’s fluency in terms of prosody, or expression within reading. It not only worked to help my practice with repeated reading of the passage, something that Timothy Rasinski notes is essential to helping build fluency, but it also worked to target voice and feeling with it as well (2012). It did so through having my student listen back and hear how they sound through the recording which then allowed them to focus on how they wanted to change and build upon it from there. They got to consider how important the tone and voice of something is to understanding it, another point in which Rasinski claims is key to mastering fluency with students (2012). With tone and expression, students better understand not only what feeling the author was going for, but the overall message and content of the reading as well. They better intake and process information with the use of feeling and emotional understanding.

Activity II:

  • Activity from Lesson Plan:

New Text                                                                                          SOL 5.6 a & d

  • Objective: The student will successfully read and answer questions on the passage Why Don’t We See Stars in the Daytime? with 90-97% accuracy and successfully complete a HQQ chart with their tutor without error given the book, the chart, questions, and prompting from their tutor.
  • Activity: The student will perform a read aloud and complete a comprehension HQQ chart with their tutor.
  • Materials: Why Don’t We See Stars in the Daytime? passage, HQQ chart, Writing utensil

Procedure:

– Begin by asking the student what they have heard about stars. Record their answer in the ‘H’ sections of the chart. Then ask what questions they have before reading and record their response under the first ‘Q’ section.

– Allow the student to read the passage, keeping a running record as they do.

– When finished, discuss the reading and ask the student if they have any new questions they would like to ask after reading the passage. Record any response under the second ‘Q’ section of the chart.

Explanation of Use:

The second activity was composed of using a graphic organizer, a HQQ chart, with my student as we read a new text about when one is able to see stars in the sky. The H stands for what have I heard, the first Q stands for what questions I have before reading, and the final Q stands for questions I have after reading. We began the activity by filling out both the H and the first Q sections of the organizer. I had my student tell me what they already knew and what they wanted to know and acted as a scribe and model for how to fill out the chart. We then read the passage and once we were finished, I asked my student if they had anymore questions about the reading before I recorded those down in the last Q section and we had a short discussion about the topic at hand.

  • Focus Literacy Component: Comprehension
  • Reasoning for Use with Support:

This particularly activity worked to helped build my student’s comprehension of the passage and their understanding of different techniques that they might use to better comprehend and learn from their readings. With the use of the actual graphic organizer, which Hallie Yopp and Ruth Yopp recommend for helping show students information from text in a structured, easy to follow, organized way, my student was better able to compose their thoughts about the reading and think about it as a whole (2014). My student was better able to think about, and see, what he already knew and what else he wanted to know. Organizers like this help students to better understand information in things that they read because they offer a sense of uniformity (Yopp & Yopp, 2014). Students can see the information more easily, access it more quickly, and in turn use it more effectively than they would with just the book in hand. It works to help supplement reading and build upon comprehension through the use of organizing and putting ideas into student’s own words.

Activity III:

  • Activity from Lesson Plan:

Writing                                                                                             SOL 5.7 i

  • Objective: The student will successfully complete a Frayer model vocabulary chart on a word from the reading How Big is the Moon? Without error given the chart, the reading, and prompting from their tutor.
  • Activity: The student will complete a Frayer model vocabulary chart with their tutor.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  • Materials: Frayer model chart, Writing utensil, Vocab word, How Big is the Moon? Reading

Procedure:

  • After having the student read the passage and discussing it with them, have the student complete a Frayer model vocab chart for the word “nearest” or “near”. Be sure to include the dictionary definition, a picture, and two other student choices to help them remember the word.

Explanation of Use:

The final activity centered around using chart to help my student better understand a somewhat high frequency word within a new reading passage that they were looking at for that specific session. After my student finished their first reading of the passage, I introduced the Frayer Vocabulary Model chart to them and asked them to think about the word nearest, which they had seen in their reading. I wrote down the word in the center of the model and then worked with my student to successfully fill in each of the surrounding boxes in the chart, the definition, a picture to match, an example, and a sentence using the word. My student completed the boxes and afterwards, we discussed the word and how it might be important to remember it for future use.

  • Focus Literacy Component: Vocabulary
  • Reasoning for Use with Support:

This activity worked to foster a better understanding of a vocabulary term from a reading and also introduce a new way for my student to analyze and work to understand words that they may not be familiar with. My student gained a better understanding of a word through the use of multiple, different facets that encompassed the word through the use of the Frayer Model chart. With it, my student explored not only what the word meant, but also what it might look like, and what some examples of it might be. It allowed for a more creative, student driven approach to understanding a new word, something that Melissa Gallagher and Blythe Anderson argue is an important piece to teaching vocabulary (2016). Not only was my student able to make learning the word more fun and unique with the different areas that had no set, pre-determined answers, but they were also able to make it their own by using their own words and ideas to help them better remember the term. The student took ownership of the work (Anderson & Gallagher, 2016), and so they were able to gain more from the activity than what might otherwise be possible with more limiting approaches.

References:

Anderson, B., & Gallagher, M. (2016). Get All “Jazzed Up” for Vocabulary Instruction: Strategies That Engage. The Reading Teacher, 70 (3), 273-282. Retrieved from https://blackboard.vcu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-7628133-dt-content-rid-27839607_2/courses/TEDU-566-002-2018Fall/Vocabulary.Jazzed%20Up.Reading%20Teacher%281%29.pdf

Rasinski, T. (2012). Why Reading Fluency Should Be HOT!. The Reading Teacher, 65 (8), 516-522. Retrieved from https://blackboard.vcu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-7502685-dt-content-rid-27008185_2/courses/TEDU-566-002-2018Fall/reading%20fluency%20hot.Raskinski.pdf

Yopp, H., & Yopp, R. (2014). Literature-Based Reading Activities: Engaging Students with Literary and Informational Text. 59-91. Retrieved from https://blackboard.vcu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-7628125-dt-content-rid-27838660_2/courses/TEDU-566-002-2018Fall/Yopp%26Yopp.During%20Reading%20Activities.pdf

TEDU 566 – Case Study Report

This is a comprehensive case study centered around the student that I focused my tutoring work with, language arts based, and their achievement with the assessments. It also touches on potential activities and support that was used as additional support to further enhance the student’s understanding of English and language arts.

Student Razae A.
Examiner Ms. Melanie Gin
Dates of Evaluation 12 September 2018 to – 5 December 2018
Student Birthdate 21 December 2007
School Glen Lea Elementary School
Grade Fifth
Gender Male

Reason for the Intervention

Razae was referred to the tutoring program based on his past performance within school and his previous tests scores. The reading specialist that he sees had concerns as Razae was not meeting grade level-based expectations, and was performing below grade level, by several grades, in regards to language arts, reading, and writing content. He qualified for this tutoring support based upon his low Standards of Learning (SOL) score in reading in fourth grade.

Razae worked diligently during the administration of tests and assessments, for the most part. At times he needed additional prompting to stay on task but was otherwise very responsive and alert to what was being asked of him. He was very calm during the actual testing and understood that the evaluations were all put in place to better help his tutor understand how she could help him with his language arts skills. The scores and results on the tests are deemed to be the fruits of Razae’s best efforts.

School History

This was Razae’s fifth school year attending Glen Lea Elementary. He has progressed through school accordingly, but has issues in certain areas like language arts. Razae has an IEP and is a part of a collaboration based, inclusionary class. He receives additional support via special education as noted by his IEP. Such assistance includes seeing various specialists, like the special education teacher and the reading specialists, as well as accommodations for learning, like being in a separate environment when required to take a test.

Razae is currently a participate in the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) master’s of elementary education tutoring program. This program works to support Razae and his learning in the areas of reading, writing, and spelling. During tutoring, which takes place twice a week for forty-five minutes in the morning during the fall, Razae receives one-on-one work time with his tutor, a VCU Master’s of Teaching graduate student. During each tutoring session, Razae works with several different areas of language arts, including; word work, new and familiar readings, and writing. Permission from the student’s legal guardian(s) was obtained before the start of the fall program.

A personal interview was conducted by the tutor with Razae to learn more about his personal life, school life, experiences, and interests. From the interview, Razae shared that he lives with both of his parents, though they live separately, and gets to see them both each day after school for a set amount of time. He has five brothers and two sisters, and is considered the “baby of the family.” Razae enjoys playing video games, especially Fortnite, playing outside with his best friend Jelend, and spending time with his family. His favorite subject in school is math, and has also mentioned he enjoys science too. Conversely, Razae mentioned that he has issues with writing and does not like to read much in school.

Razae partook in a survey, the Elementary Reading Attitude Survey, to gauge his feelings about reading. The survey found that Razae has indicated that he has little interest in reading for recreation or at home, but does have a rather high interest in reading in school and for activities in class. He has an interest in working with readings and workbooks in class and his academic subtest was within the 71st percentile. On the other hand, Razae indicated disdain for reading recreationally. He had negative feelings about reading at home, no matter the day or the weather, and disliked the idea of receiving a book for a present. His recreational subtest score was very low compared to his academic one at only the 6th percentile. Razae’s full scale score was within the 26th percentile, showing that his has a distinctive lack of motivation for reading. While in class, Razae does not mind reading and made notion towards enjoying it, but would rather engage in different things during his free time.

Results of Assessment

Phonemic Segmentation

Yopp-Singer Test, 19 of 22 – 86%

Razae scored fairly well with the Yopp-Singer assessment, scoring a solid 19 out of 22 on this phonemic segmentation test. He had little problems with identifying the phonemes in any of the words, no matter the number of phonemes within the word, save for those that are ‘r blends’ ones. It is with the ‘r blends’ that Razae had issues and seemed to break them down into perceived onsets and rimes, segmenting both the words ‘grew’ and ‘three’ into /g//rew/ and /th//ree/ respectively.

Bryant Psuedoword Decoding Test

Score: 17/35

Level: Second

Razae was able to correctly decode 17 of the 35 words featured within this assessment. This placed him on a second-grade level, his score of seventeen words correct fitting into the norm and its standard deviation on this level. Though he does not necessarily struggle with sounding out phonemes and sounds in words, the concept of trying to say words that were not real seemed to affect how well Razae was able to decode each individual word. For the most part, there is not consistency within the mistakes he made, they are all varied, though short and long vowel sounds are a prevalent feature within these mistakes.

Spelling Assessment

Words Their Way Elementary Spelling Inventory

Feature Points: 24

Words Spelled Correctly: 2/25

Spelling Stage: Late Letter Name-Alphabetic

Known Using but Confusing Absent
–        Initial and final consonants

–        Short vowels

 

–        Blends

–        Digraphs

–        Other vowels

 

–        Common long vowels

–        Inflected endings

–        Syllable junctures

–        Unaccented final syllables

–        Advanced affixes

–        Bases/ roots

Razae was able to correctly spell 2 of the 25 words presented in the spelling inventory assessment. Further analysis of his spellings indicates that he is at a late stage in the Letter Name-Alphabetic stage. He correctly identified all initial and final consonant sounds. He also has a grasp on short vowels, scoring a five out of five with this feature. Razae is “using but confusing” blends with five out of seven correct, digraphs with three out of six correct, and other vowels with two out of seven correct. An example of a correct use of a digraph would be with shopping in which Razae spelled it ‘shoping’, able to recognize the digraph but unable to identify the inflected ending, but spelled ‘shower’ as ‘solwr’. For a blend, an example would be with float in which Razae spelled it ‘flot’ and for other vowels, fortune which he spelled ‘fornit’. He exhibited using both the different features but had others that were absent. Common long vowels, inflected endings, syllable junctures, unaccented final syllables, advanced affixes, and bases or roots are absent from Razae’s spelling.

Qualitative Reading Inventory

Word Lists Results:                Identified Automatically                    Identified

Pre-Primer 1 17/17, 100% 17/17, 100%
Pre-Primer 2/3 17/20, 85% 19/20, 95%
Primer 16/20, 80% 19/20, 95%
First 16/20, 80% 17/20, 85%
Second 11/20, 55% 12/20, 60%
Third 5/20, 25% 5/20, 25%

Passage Results:

Passage Level

Title

Type of Text Oral Reading

(Score/Rating)

Fluency Retelling

(Number of Ideas/Rating)

Comprehension Overall

Level

Pre-Primer 1

I See

Narrative

 

Total Accuracy 97%, Independent 111 WPM 2/5 ideas

40%

Minimal

3/5 correct

60%

LB 4/5 correct

80%

Instructional

Instructional
Pre-Primer 3

People at Work

 

Expository Total Accuracy 98%, Independent 123 WPM N/A 0/5 correct

0%

Frustration

Instructional
First

The Surprise

Narrative Total Accuracy

98%

Instructional

75 WPM 5/24 ideas

21%

Poor

4/6 correct

67%

LB 5/6 correct

83%

Instructional

Instructional
Fifth

How Does Your Body Take in Oxygen?

Expository-

Listening

Capacity

N/A N/A N/A 1/8 correct

12.5%

Frustration

Frustration

Overall Instructional Level:

 First 

Razae was able to identify 100% of the pre-primer 1 words, without any errors. He was able to identify 95% of the pre-primer 2/3 words with two self-correction. With the primer words, Razae identified 95% of the words and made three self-corrections, and for first he could identify 85% of the words with one he self-corrected. For both the second and third words, Razae fell below the 70% frustration level with his identifications. Razae worked hard to decode words that he did not recognize in the various list, often using letter combinations he recognized to guess what an unknown word was. For example, he guessed the word thought as together, looking at the ‘th’ and the ‘g’ and thinking of words in which he knew those letters existed together. Overall, Razae kept focus and did his best with the word work. His instructional level falls within first.

Razae was instructional on the level one passage with his accuracy and comprehension. He fell just below the instructional level for fifth graders for reading rate during the fall, having 75 wpm while the rate is 80-130 wpm. His reading was solid and his comprehension showed that he did understand, in depth, what the passage had been about. For both the pre-primer 1 and pre-primer 2 passages, Razae’s reading rate and accuracy were instructional or independent. His comprehension for pre-primer 1 was instructional, however for pre-primer 2 his comprehension was at the frustration level. He had little issue with reading the words, only having problems with a few, unfamiliar ones from each passage. But while his reading was quick, and rather fluent, Razae’s comprehension was not. He had some issues trying to recall exact details from the passage, instead focusing more on the bigger, broad idea of the passage when answering comprehension questions. For the listening capacity, level five passage, Razae was within the frustration level for comprehension. He had difficulty trying to recall what the passage had detailed and what some of the words and vocabulary meant.

Writing Sample

Composing & Written Expression: 1/4, Usage & Mechanics: 1/4

Razae wrote a one sentence narrative about the personal artifact that he brought to share with me, a basketball video game called NBA 2k17. His sentence showed little control or mastery over grammar or punctuation, lacking a capital letter for the beginning of the sentence little to no subject verb agreement. The writing shows little elaboration and no visible structure as it places multiple, different ideas into one, lone run-on sentence. However, it does have good focus and a central idea that is talked about within each of the details of the sentence. When we talked about it, Razae had plenty to share about the game, but when it came to writing he found he had difficulty trying to get his thoughts translated down onto a paper medium.

Standardized Vocabulary Test

PPVT-4, Standard Score 76, Percentile Rank: 5, 95% Confidence Interval 69 to 84

Based on his performance, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-4) gives indication that Razae is below his expected level of vocabulary acquisition by more than three years. This is a significant gap. Razae’s age, at the time of the test, was 10 years and 9 months, while his age equivalent showed 7 years and 3 months. His standard score was 76 and this placed him within the 5th percentile, which as the test describes is a moderately low score. Razae will need more vocabulary instruction, encompassing both direct and indirect instruction, in order to try and help increase his word acquisition and understanding.

Summary of Assessment Results

The assessments done with Razae show that he is having difficulty with a number of different areas in his language arts studies. He has issues with decoding words and has a limited pool of words that he is familiar with and can automatically identify in comparison to others of his grade level. Some areas of concern are Razae’s difficulty with recognizing letters that make different sounds when together, digraphs and blends. Razae also has some trouble with reading and comprehension. He is reading well below grade level, on a first-grade level as indicated by the QRI, and has issues focusing on details within a story. In terms of writing, Razae also exhibits having issues. He has ideas and thoughts about what he wants to say, but is unable to translate these thoughts into coherent sentences and writings. He has issues with structuring his sentences, punctuation usage, and a limited resource of words in which he can pull from to describe something in his writing. Razae has the ability to translate his ideas verbally, but needs more instruction to be able to put these ideas to paper and writing.

Recommendations for Instruction

The main purpose for our tutoring sessions is to help strengthen Razae’s understanding of and abilities to use language across all of its different components, especially in terms of reading fluency, reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing, and word knowledge. The goals for each of these different parts of language arts is to improve upon and raise them towards grade level standards to the best of his ability, through continuous word work, reading both familiar and unfamiliar text, writing about said text, and discussing and thinking about these texts. At the very least, the over all goal is to help Razae to be better equipped with various strategies and ideas on how to approach language arts and work through the hard parts.

Some instructional changes, strategies, and ideas that can improve Razae’s language skills would include:

  • For comprehension, introducing various ways to help build and explore reading comprehension, like using charts or questioning, to get the student used to thinking more in depth about what he is reading.
  • For fluency and accuracy, having the student read and re-read various passages, beginning at a first-grade level and increasing with difficulty at the student’s rate, would help to not only build up word stores and inflection skills, but also potentially boost his confidence and self-efficacy.
  • For word knowledge, re-introducing features that the student is having issues with, specifically the features of blends, digraphs, and other vowels, and working on building up those with repeated practice and interactive activities, games, word sorts, and practice tests, before moving onto more complex ones will help the student to better be able to decode as well as think about words, their structure, and meaning.
  • For vocabulary, having the student look back at specific, somewhat high frequency words within their reading passages and then having them complete some sort of activity, like filling out a Frayer model, would better help the student to become accustomed to words that can frequent their reading and better help them not only understand their reading, but potentially also improve their word stores and their writing capabilities as well.
  • For writing, practice with the actual writing process, including pre-writing, drafting, and editing, can help Razae to better organize ideas and help to translate the thoughts that he has onto paper in a coherent, more complex way.

 

TEDU 426 – Read Aloud Lesson Plan

This is a lesson and a reflection based upon a read aloud that I performed with my third grade practicum class. I learned quite a lot about not only reading to a class effectively, but also what it takes to keep engagement and assess student understanding while still being timely and staying with the targeted goals.

Read Aloud Lesson Plan

Purpose:
– This lesson, the read aloud, is important to conduct because it helps students to understand and see what a fluent reader is like. By watching a teacher read aloud, they are able to see how a reader demonstrates fluency, through expression, clarity, and the speed of reading. The students also gain practice with comprehension and vocabulary. With the questions and activities spaced throughout the reading, focusing on what is happening, predicting, connecting experiences, and exploring new words, the class is able to not only see how one should think while reading, but also gain experience in actually participating in this more in depth thinking while exploring literature. Over all, student both see and take part in the process of reading to learn, which will help them to better be able to function in society as this is a skill that is used in everyday life.
– SOL:
Reading – 3.5 The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of fictional text and poetry.
a) Set a purpose for reading.
b) Make connections between previous experiences and reading selections.
k) Use reading strategies to monitor comprehension throughout the reading process.
m) Read with fluency and accuracy.

Objective:
– Students will be able to correctly answer questions based on the theme, progression of the story, and the vocabulary. Before the read aloud, students will be able to correctly form a prediction given prompting from the teacher and working with a partner with without error. During the read aloud, students will correctly answer questions on the progression of events and vocabulary given specific questions with 80 – 90% accuracy. After the read aloud, students will be able to correctly demonstrate critical thinking and reflecting given a final prompt asking to confirm whether or not their initial predictions were correct and why without error.

Procedure:
– Introduction:
o I will introduce the lesson by having students gather around me on the reading carpet and telling them that today we will be reading a fable called The Lion and the Mouse.
o I will then go over what a fable is with the class, ask them to connect their own experiences with fables with this one and share those ideas with the class, and finally I will tell them we will be working on predicting and some vocabulary.
 A fable is a fictional story that has an important lesson to teach. The lesson is called a moral.
– Development:
o Next, and before actually reading the book, I will have the class turn and talk to a partner to form an idea, a prediction, about what the story may be about (Auditory).
o I will have students share with the class what they came up with before telling them to keep their ideas in mind.
o I will then begin reading the book (Auditory, Visual).
o I will read up until the the words ‘majestic shaggy mane’, and then pause to ask the class a few questions.
o I will ask them what words they heard that they think describe lion and his actions (majestic, shaggy, strutted).
o Then, once either they or I have mentioned the three words, I will ask the class to think about what they might mean and then have them raise their hands to share with the class once they have an idea.
o We will go over what each means.
 Strutted – a way of walking like you own the place, Majestic – being fancy or like a king, Shaggy – usually hair that is messy or poofy.
o Finally, I will ask the class to tell me what reference source they would use to find the meaning/definitions for the words we talked about if they did not know them (Possible answer: Dictionary).
o I will then continue reading up until the words ‘lion roared furiously’.
o We will pause once again and this time, I will have the class turn and share with a partner what has happened so far in the story and what they think will happen next.
o Afterwards, I will have students volunteer and share with me their summaries of the story and their new predictions.
o Then, I will then continue reading until the end.
o After the actual read aloud, I will have the class think about what happened and ask them what they think the lesson/moral of the story was.
o We will then go over it as a class.
 Moral: ‘Even the small can be great, and it’s important not to judge people on appearance’.
– Summary:
o To end the lesson, I will go over the idea that we have just read a fable as well as talk about what happened in the story and the moral of the story one more time.
o I will then ask the students to think about how they can relate the lesson/moral to their own life or experiences and have them share.
o Finally, students will return to their seats and write a sentence answering the following question (Kinesthetic):
 Was your first prediction, right? Why or why not?
o When finished, students will turn in their sentences.
– Differentiation:
o Students who may struggle with understanding the plot or events will have support from other students, in the form of partner sharing for the during read aloud pauses, who can explain to them the sequence of events.
o For students who struggle still to understand, I will be there to answer questions the best that I can.
o Students who are on level have both an auditory and visual learning example with me reading the book to them aloud. They will be able to listen and see the pictures to help them understand the substance of the story.
o Students who excel will have an opportunity to help who are struggling and test their knowledge of the content in the form of helping to teach it to another.

Materials:
– Teacher:
o Book: The Lion and the Mouse by Aesop, retold by Max McGee
o Questions / Comments for before, during, and after activities
o Question for Wrap Up
– Students:
o Paper
o Pencil

Evaluation:
A:
Student work will be evaluated based on whether or not the class has successfully created working predictions without error before the read aloud, has successfully answered the story and vocabulary questions during the read aloud with 80-90% accuracy, and has successfully revised and considered the ‘why’ portion of their writing prompt after the read aloud without error.
B:
For my read aloud lesson, my students did meet the objectives that I had set for them. I know this because of how they not only formed predictions at the beginning, without fail, and then revised them and wrote about why at the end, without error, but also how the students successfully answered all of my questions during the read aloud. All students who individually answered my questions, answered them correctly. As a class, the students were all also able to answer any of my questions with expected answers. They were also able to quickly craft and then considered their predictions, both with partner help and individually.
My lesson had both strengths and weaknesses, as most lessons do. For example, one of my strengths was engagement. The students were extremely engaged with the read aloud and the lesson in general. I was able to keep myself sounding excited and interested, showing expression and fluency during the reading, which in turn helped to keep my students wanting to know what I had to say and what would come next. Not only that, but another strength is that I was able to relate my read aloud to what the class was already learning about in their literacy block, fables. I had the chance to talk to my teacher about the read aloud, and together, we came up with an idea for a book that would not only satisfy what I needed, but help the class to gain even more practice and reinforcement with a concept they are already focusing on. On the other hand, I also have weaknesses. One weakness was my reading speed. I tend to talk fast, and as such, I read fast as well. I know that the students were able to keep up with me, but it still could not hurt to slow myself down a bit to help things to sink in and allow students to better absorb what they are hearing from my reading. I also could have worked more on having an exact definition for the vocabulary that we talked about. I gave them general, off the tongue definitions, but specific, dictionary ones would probably help to better solidify the words’ meanings with the students.
There are a few things I would like to change should I have the chance to reteach my read aloud lesson. For one, I would like to practice reading my book a few more times before hand to try and help with my own pacing as I read. I think that more practice would allow me to better find a slower, better pace so that I could help better portray the story to students. I would also like to prepare more for any vocabulary that I might want to focus on before doing the read aloud. Specifically, I would like to have the definitions and potential synonyms already prepared to give to the class in case general, off the top of the head ideas do not catch with everyone. I think that these few things would definitely help to solidify the over learning from the read aloud and not only give me more confidence in my teaching it, but also help improve student learning as well.

TEDU 426 – Spelling Lesson Plan

This is a lesson created from a specific student’s spelling needs based on the results of a DSA test. It caters to the student and helps to guide the teacher in areas in which the student needs improvement. For myself, it helped me to plan out a lesson for my student and really help them to hone their skills on a certain sort so that they can better use it in the future.

Spelling Assessment

Connected Lesson Plan

Purpose

  • The student had all five features, long vowels, r-controlled vowels, other long vowels, complex consonants, and abstract vowels, correct. The student had no features that they are using and confusing, nor did they have any that were absent.
  • Even though the student showed that they had all the features correct, there were a few instances and areas where there were errors. As such, I decided to focus on one of these error areas, r-controlled vowels, in hopes of helping the student to touch up and perfect the use of that feature.
  • It is important to conduct this lesson, and to further incorporate spelling into the curriculum, because the concept an essential part of life. It is integral for not only school to be able to spell and understand words, but in life in general as well. We use and write words every day to communicate or share ideas, and so it is important that one has an understanding of how to spell them and how they work in order to properly get one’s point across or understand another’s thoughts, to function in society.
  • SOL:
    • 3 The student will apply word-analysis skills when reading.
  1. a) Use knowledge of regular and irregular vowel patterns.
  • 5 The student will use phonetic strategies when reading and spelling.
  1. a) Use knowledge of consonants, consonant blends, and consonant digraphs to decode and spell words.
  2. b) Use knowledge of short, long, and r-controlled vowel patterns to decode and spell words.

Objective

  • The student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of r-controlled vowels by sorting a set of words into correct categories given the set of words and headings with 80% accuracy.
  • The student will be able to display a solid understanding of r-controlled vowels by correctly categorizing words from the four areas of the word sort in a word-based game given the set of words and a game board with 75% to 80% accuracy.
  • The student will be able to demonstrate a solid understanding of r-controlled vowel words by correctly writing them into categories given a visual of the words and headings with 80% accuracy.

Procedure

  • Introduction
    • The lesson will begin with introducing the sort and the sort’s theme to the student. I will be sure to connect the sort back to the DSA the student took previously and explain that we are going to be fine tuning an area that the student had a few errors with.
    • Next, I will model the sort. I will place each of the four headings down and then show the student how to sort them, sorting at least two from each category, by reading the word and each of the headers before matching it to the one that it matches with.
    • Once I am sure that the student understands, I will allow them to try the sort.
  • Development
    • The student will then try and sort the words, following my model as an example.
    • Once finished, we will go over the words and check to make sure that each of them is in the right category. If not, I will ask the student to look at it again and see if they can match it to the right place.
    • I will then ask what they noticed about the sort and go over the theme, r-controlled vowels. I will mention that these can be tricky as there is no real way to tell them apart by their sounds. We simply have to practice them and be aware of what words contain what r-controlled vowels.
    • Following the sort, the student will then play a game related to their words sorts called Vowel Spin (it is modified slightly from how it is presented in Words Their Way).
    • The student will begin by placing nine words, from the sort, face up on their player card. Then they will reach into the headings/category bag and pull out a category, collecting all the words on the board that match the category. New words from the sort will then replace the missing ones, and the game will continue until all of the sort words have been collected.
    • After the game, the student will finish the spelling activities with a written sort.
    • They will, in my particular case, be able to look at the words and then write them on a piece of paper into one of the four categories. This is because the words have no real way to discern their spelling from their sounds alone. The aim is to have them match all of their words with the right one.
  • Summary
    • The lesson will come to a close once the student finishes their written sort.
    • I will go over the sort and review the theme of the sort once again, being sure to talk about any mistakes.
    • Finally, I will have the student consider and reflect on what they learned from the activities, and ask what they think they achieved and why do they think that.

Materials

  • R-Controlled Vowels Word Sort
    • Headings: _ur_, _ir_, _or_, _er_
    • Words: curb, burn, turn, hurt, skirt, firm, dirt, bird, cord, sport, stork, fort, clerk, perch, germ, term
  • Word Sorting Game (Vowel Spin *modified)
    • Set of sort words
    • A player card
    • Bag containing the slips of paper labeled with the word categories (instead of spinner)
  • Pencils
  • Paper for Writing Sort

Evaluation

  • Part A

Student progress and learning will be assessed based on whether or not the student correctly completes the initial word sort, the game, and finally the written sort with an accuracy that falls within the targeted on listed in the objectives for each. Student understanding will also be assessed based on their response to being asked about what they believed they learned with the spelling lesson.

  • Part B
    • The student did meet the objectives that I had set for the lesson. The student demonstrated a new understanding of r-controlled vowels by sorting the words twice, once simply with the cards and another in a written sort, and by playing a game based around the specific word sort given to them.
    • I know the objectives were met because of how the student was able to sort and play the game, all three times in which they were able to sort the words any without fail or mistake. As well as with the student’s thoughts on the sort when asked to reflect on what they believed to have learned from working with it. My student told me that the sort was a tricky sort, as we had talked about at the beginning, and that they would need to pay attention to remembering what word was spelled which way, as there are no real rules for r-controlled vowels.
    • My own part in the lesson, the teaching, had both strengths and weaknesses. For one, I believe that a strength was with the engagement and clarity in which I presented the lesson to the student. At no point during the spelling activities did the student show disinterest or resistance to what I was teaching or having them work with. There was no confusion, pretty much at all. And there was even a point after the game, in which my student pulled a few words from the sort and wanted to have a sort of discussion about them, relating their meanings back to their own life and mine as well. The student was clearly interested in not only doing the activities, but also learning about the words in the activities as well. On the other hand, a weakness I noticed is that my lesson was almost too easy. My student, who is at the upper end of the WWP stage, breezed through each of the assignments and finished earlier than expected. They clearly understood spelling sorts and what was asked of them, and so I feel as though the lesson would have been even more effective if I had planned something more or picked and created a bit more of a challenging game. Over all, the lesson went rather well with some strengths and only a few weaknesses.
    • If given the chance, there are a few things I would do to change this lesson. First and foremost, I would definitely try to come up with a more difficult game or modify the current game to be more challenging. I believe that something with a bit more of a challenge would help to further reinforce the words with the student, as it would make them have to really consider the words and their spellings in order to win. I would also like to work on expanding the reflection portion of the lesson as well. The student was able to give me a reflection, one that went up and beyond my expectations, and so further prodding those thoughts could help even more to familiarize the sort with the student and even further, to get the student to really think about why we would use, need, or have to know those words. Hopefully, with these modifications, the student would be able to get even more out of the lesson in terms of learning.

TEDU 426 – Running Record Lesson Plan

This is a lesson plan created based around performing a running record with a single student. It focuses on what and how a running record is done and what a teacher must do to successfully gather data on a student’s reading information. It was very insightful to myself and helped me to not only practice a running record, but be more aware of what goes into such a thing.

Running Record Lesson Plan

Purpose:

  • The purpose of this running record is to gain an understanding of at what level a student is proficiently reading. Then, based on the information gained, it can be appropriately decided whether to keep the student at the same, current reading level or adjust it for the student’s unique needs so that they are reading at the right level for their fluency and comprehension capabilities.
  • SOL: 3.6 – The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of nonfiction texts.
  1. a) Identify the author’s purpose.
  2. b) Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning.
  3. c) Preview and use text features including table of contents, headings, pictures, captions, maps, indices, and charts.
  4. d) Ask and answer questions about what is read using the text for support.
  5. e) Draw conclusions using the text for support.
  6. f) Summarize information found in nonfiction texts.
  7. g) Identify the main idea.
  8. h) Identify supporting details.
  9. i) Use reading strategies to monitor comprehension throughout the reading process.
  10. j) Read with fluency, accuracy, and meaningful expression.

Objective:

  • The student will be able to successfully demonstrate fluency and comprehension in texts with the use of a provided passage from a book as shown by reading the mentioned passage with a 90-97% accuracy, as well as making predictions and answering questions correctly about it.

Procedure:

– Introduction:

  • The lesson will begin with explaining to the student that they will being reading to the teacher (student teacher), and that the teacher will in turn be taking notes about their reading.
  • The student should be told that this is an activity to help the teacher better understand them as a reader, and that it is not something for a grade.
  • The teacher will then introduce the book to the student, allowing them to see the cover, title, and any present on the front, while reading the title aloud to them.
  • Once the student has had a chance to look over the front, for about a minute, the teacher will ask the student to make a prediction about what will happen.

– Activity:

  • Once the student has made their prediction, they will be asked to read the story/ selected passage to the teacher aloud.
  • The teacher will time the student’s reading, as well as take notes, using the hundreds chart, on the student’s mistakes, including any with; substituting, omitting, repeating, reversing, or having to be told a word or words.
  • The teacher will also be offering assistance should a student not know a word, telling the student the word after five seconds of the child being unable to give it.
  • Closing:
    • After the student finishes reading the passage, the teacher will then stop the time and ask the student a few questions about the reading (at least one).
      • Did your prediction at the beginning come true?
      • What did you learn about *the topic* from reading this?
      • Tell me what happened during this story.
      • What do you predict will happen next?
    • The teacher will then close up the activity by reviewing one of the student’s mistakes they made while reading with them. The teacher should make note of it in the passage and explain to them what they changed and how it was different from what was actually on the page.

Materials:

  • The book which contains the selected passage for the student to read (student use)
  • A hundreds chart (teacher use)
  • A timer, stop watch, or something to keep time with (teacher use)
  • Miscue Analysis chart, for after the running record (teacher use)

Evaluation – Part A:

  • The student’s knowledge will be assed with the use of the data gathered from the running record with the hundreds chart to see if the student has performed within the 90-97%, Instructional level, as well as with the responses given about the passage for the comprehension questions about the story.

Evaluation – Part B:

  • The student I worked with did meet the objectives that I had set for him. Logan read the passage with an accuracy of 97% and had a total of four mistakes in his reading, one of which was not counted as he self-corrected himself. However, his reading and fluency was much stronger than his comprehension. When asked about what the story had told him, he only gave a very simple answer, and even asked what I meant by my question at first. The error that we went over together was with the words ‘grow’ and ‘grown’ and how he had left off the ending of the word grow when he read it. The student made that mistake twice and I wanted to be sure that he understood the difference between the two versions of the word and that the ending can change the meaning of a sentence, and if it even makes sense.
  • The percentages for the cues were as follows; meaning – 100%, structure – 25%, visual – 75%. The percentages for self-corrections was 25%.
  • I had both strengths and weaknesses with my teaching for this lesson. One strength was that I was able to clearly tell the student what I wanted and they were able to do so. I had no issues with Logan understanding that I wanted to see how his reading was and how I wanted him to demonstrate it to me. On the other hand, a weakness was the lack of clarity with my actual, comprehension questions. The student either did not understand fully what he had read or was not sure of what I was asking with a few of my questions, perhaps because of how they were worded, and that created confusion and affected his comprehension. Another weakness was that the student was clearly somewhat nervous with me. He read very quietly and never made eye contact with me. While it may be because the student is shy, it is also important to make sure that he is comfortable to as to not skew his data because of some miscellaneous variable.
  • For the next time I teach this lesson, I will be sure to try and work on a few things to improve it. First, I will definitely try to vet any questions I plan to ask the students again more carefully. I want the students to be able to understand the question and answer it to the best of their ability so that I can get a full, unhindered understanding of their comprehension and what they know. I will also work to try and make sure that the student is comfortable when working with me. To do, I will do my best to emphasize that I am not only not taking this for a grade, but that I am not judging them either and that the activity is only there to help them do their best.

TEDU 389 – Pearson’s Perspective Assignment

This is a snapshot from an assignment for TEDU 389, in which the class practiced assessing writing and then compared our assessments to the actual scores of various student writings. It was a very eye-opening experience for myself and helped me to see that scoring and assessing takes a lot of time and thought to do accurately.

I have learned quite a few things from this activity. First and foremost, I have discovered that I am not a fan of the way the different traits were lumped together in only two categories. It made trying to score some of the writings very frustrating. For instance in one paper in particular, the one about why the mother was special,I felt that the organization and ideas were pretty strong, but the word choice, voice, and sentence fluency needed more work. Needless to say, the score I gave the piece was higher than the score they gave the piece. Though I can’t say I’m surprised with how conflicted about it I was. I wanted to be more thorough with my scoring, to be honest, and so that bugged me a bit. But despite that, I did find that I either came close to what the professionals had scored the papers, or I was far too critical of the work and gave it a lower score. This just goes to show that scoring and assessing writing is not only subjective, to an extent, but also something that takes practice. It can be challenging to try and assign a score when you’re not used to working with scoring anything. So practice can definitely help to make sure that one’s scoring is more fair and accurate.

Making sure to teach the traits of writing is essential to helping students do well on assignments like this. The way that the papers are scored, even if I did not enough how they were presented, follows the traits almost to a tee. Scorers look at ideas, organization, word choice… all of the traits. So by making sure that such is a part of the writing process all the time and taught directly in class can help students to be prepared. They will not have to worry about incorporating something they don’t know about into their writing for an assignment like this because it will, hopefully, come naturally to them.

 

TEDU 386 – Literature ToolKit

This is a collection of various children’s books and a general description of each. This is a handy little tool that I can use for my future classroom when I am looking for different, appropriate sorts of books to share with the class.

Toolkit cover sheet

Title: Kitten’s First Full Moon

Author: Kevin Henkes

Summary: This is a picture book for younger readers that stars a little kitten. One evening, she sees her first full moon and mistakes it for bowl of fresh milk. Not wanting to miss out on such a treat, she tries to reach for it, but finds that she can never reach it. Still, the kitten does not give up and throughout the story, she embarks on an adventure to reach the milk. She gets herself into a lot of trouble before finally deciding to give up and go home. As she returns home, though, she finds a bowl of milk waiting for her and so she happily partakes before falling asleep in the end.

OWL – Observe: The illustrations in the book play a big role the story. In them, I noticed that the stark black and white used really helped show that it was indeed night. And while they are not very colorful, the boldness and contrast helps to make each picture interesting and draws the reader’s eyes to them.

Diversity: This book is non-applicable for cultural assignment because it focuses only on a small kitten and her adventure without touching on any specific culture or cultures.

Title: Last Stop on Market Street

Author: Matt de la Pena

Summary: The story begins with a young boy, CJ, and his grandmother as they leave church. The pair head to the bus stop and board the bus as CJ asks why they do not have certain things to which his nana replies with why would they need them. As they travel onboard, the pair interact with a multitude of unique people. Still, CJ questions his nana, though as they finally get off of the bus and walk down the street towards the food kitchen, he realizes that sometimes it is best not to ask way. He realizes that sometimes it is best just to be grateful for what you have and do. At the end he and his nana help serve food to the homeless who need and he is glad that he was there.

OWL – Link: I can connect to this story on a personal level. There was one point in my childhood when my family had little money for anything that was not necessary and so I would often ask why I could not have things that other children did. And like CJ, I have come to realize that sometimes it is not about what you want, but what you do is what really matters.

Diversity: This is book is most definitely culturally neutral. Throughout the book many different people from all walks of life are present. Everyone interacts with each other and the story does not focus solely on one certain cultural group.

Title: Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me

Author: Daniel Beaty

Summary: A young boy has grown accustom to spending each morning with his loving father. However, one day his father never comes to get him up and spend time with him. This results in the boy becoming understandably distressed and he writes his father a heartfelt letter asking him to come home. To his dismay, his father writes back that he is unable to return home. He goes on to explain to his son that it is alright though because as long as he does his best, he will always have his father with him. And so knowing that, the boy lives the best that he can. He grows into a fine young man with a life to be proud of and a love for his father despite the other being gone.

OWL – Link: I am not really sure why, but this book had me in tears when reading it. I cannot relate to someone whose father is not in their life, but still the very idea struck me deeply. I believe it might be because I hold my own father in such high regards and I love him dearly. I simple could not imagine a life without him and it makes me sad to know that such a thing is not reality for others in the world.

Diversity: This book is culturally generic. Especially with the illustrations, it focuses on an African American family. But, it does not necessarily focus on something specifically in African American culture because children of all backgrounds can grow up without their fathers there for them and everyone can grow up to be the best that they can be.

Title: The Victory Garden Vegetable Alphabet Book

Author: Jerry Pallotta and Bob Thomson

Summary: This is a simple book that uses the familiar concept of the alphabet to introduce gardening and vegetable organization to young readers. It starts with each letter, both in its capital and lower case forms, and then follows up with a vegetable that starts with that letter before going on to give details about the plant. This is done for each of the twenty-six letters. The purpose of the book was less to actually teach the alphabet and more of something that uses its familiarity as a tool to teach about a potentially less known subject to kids, gardening.

OWL – Observe: This book, while an older children’s book, seems to do a good job about teaching kids two lessons in one. They get to learn their alphabet while at the same time getting to learn about the different types of vegetables that they can find within a garden.

Diversity: For the most part this book is culturally neutral. There are plenty of different kinds of children depicted in the book, but it is never the focus of attention. It simply shows that anyone can learn how to garden.

Title: Save Me a Seat

Author: Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Summary: This realistic fiction piece follows the story of two boys as they begin their school year as fifth graders. Each of the two boys, Ravi and Joe, have different, alternating chapters with their own perspective told in it. It begins with the first day of school which is a challenge for both of them, Ravi because he is trying to adjust to life in America compared to India, and Joe because of a learning disability related to his hearing and a personal bully. The two of them hardly get along for most of the book, usually just focusing on their own problems. For example, most of the book, Ravi wants to be prove he is smart to the rest of the class, but keeps failing because of how different things in the US are. Joe on the other hand tries to deal with the stress that is brought on by his bully, the cool kid Dillon, his mom working at his school, and his hearing sensitivity. But before long, Dillon picks on Ravi as well. The two of them are left feeling terrible for their own reasons and are only able to pick themselves back up with the love and support of their families. The story ends with a class presentation in which Ravi and Joe get back at Dillon for his bullying with a loose lidded jar of leeches. It concludes before we really see their friendship form, but it leaves us with a sense that it will be a strong one and Ravi and Joe will be good friends for a long time.

OWL – Wonder: After reading the story, I find myself completely enthralled by the thought of visiting India. The culture is so different and rich. However, I know I will not be visiting such a place any time soon and so I wonder if there are any other books, particularly children’s books, that focus on India that I, and maybe my class one day, could read.

Diversity: This book is culturally specific. Throughout the whole story, the reader is immersed into two very distinct cultures, the average American culture and a less known, at least in the United States, Indian culture. For both, the book talks about what happens in the daily lives of the boys who are a part of the culture while also touching on their traditions and the contrast between the two.

Title: Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio

Summary: This book follows the life of a child with a physical deformity of the face named August. It focuses on his life as he begins his first year attending a real school, much to August’s dismay, and as he enters the fifth grade. The story focuses mostly on August as he adjusts to life in a school and how he deals with all of the challenges that having a deformity like his brings. He starts off being the outcast and not really having any friends save for the ever kind Summer who he meets on the first day of school and another boy named Jack who has a rocky relationship with August in the beginning. Eventually though, he begins to adjust and manages his day to day life with the help of his new friends and his family.  Though being friends with August comes at a price as Jack is ostracized by the other boys and a ‘war’ breaks out between him and the fifth grade bully, Julian. This eventually gets stale for the fifth graders though and most of them give it up, leaving August and Jack to let their friendship grow in relative peace save for Julian who refuses to give up. Things continue on as August faces problems at home and with his family, such as their dog passing away and his sister wanting some sort of normalcy in her life, but he manages to overcome these obstacles and carry on with managing his life. The climax of the book comes when the fifth graders go on a trip to a nature retreat. There, August is singled out by a group from another school and bullied. Aid comes in the form of Jack and the other boys from his grade, who stick up for him and get him out of the situation. This is where things shift, and August and the rest of the school come to find that they do care for him. He is more than just a burden or a strange kid. He is a part of their school even if he looks different and so things start to get better for Auggie. He finds people are nicer, they care and want to be friends with him. The story finally ends as the fifth graders attend their end of the year graduation and August has a moment with his mother, thanking her for making him go to school. Though that is the end of the story, there is still more to it. Throughout the book, it shifts from August’s point of view and focuses on a myriad of other characters in story. These other characters include his sister, Via, Jack, Summer, and a few others. This helps to give different perspectives and reveal more about not only August’s life, but the other characters’ lives too.

OWL – Wonder: This book was absolutely fascinating to me and I greatly enjoyed reading it. I know that the author has written more books involving the characters, but no direct sequels so far. So I have to wonder, will there ever be a sequel to wonder? Will we get to see what happens next in August’s life?

Diversity: This book is hard to classify with its diversity, but it seems to be a culturally neutral piece. Within it, there is mention of several different kinds of characters, such as Via and Auggie’s grandmother who is Brazilian, but there is never really any focus on the cultural aspects of a character with a different heritage like Grans. Instead, the book focuses on a general story line with all different types of characters in it.

Title: Counting Crows

Author: Kathi Appelt

Summary: This is a book that follows a group of crows as they demonstrate their ability to count with a few rhymes thrown in. They count by threes, first counting themselves and then varying objects like mangoes and ants, until they reach number nine. From there, they count one by one until finally reaching twelve and introducing the concept of a dozen to young readers. The dozen crows then fly off into the sky and bid farewell by a cat who is lounging nearby on a small park bench. This book is definitely focused on reviewing simple numbers, 1-12, as well as introducing new mathematical concepts, such as counting by threes and understanding that twelve of something is a dozen, to readers in a basic, easy to follow number story format.

OWL – Wonder: As someone who loves birds, I have to wonder where the author drew their inspiration for using birds as their focal point for a counting book. Was it from simply seeing a flock of crows one day or did they do some research into crows and learn that they have indeed been known to be able to count in real life?

Diversity: This book is non-applicable to the diversity tag. The whole cast of characters are animals and thus do not have much of a connection to it.

Title: Green Eggs and Ham

Author: Dr. Seuss

Summary: The story begins with Sam-I-am trying to get another, unnamed character to try the dish, green eggs and ham. The other promptly refuses and so Sam-I-am offers the man various situations in which he may like them, such as with a fox or in a box. But each time the man refuses. Sam-I-am still refuses to desist and eventually his persistence pays off. The other agrees to try green eggs and ham under the condition that Sam-I-am leaves him alone once he does. To his surprise, he finds that he quite likes the dish and expresses this to Sam-I-am. The tale ends with the man saying he does indeed like green eggs and ham and thanking Sam-I-am. Within in the story the words “Sam-I-am” and “I do not like green eggs and ham” are used repeatedly to create a steady, recognizable pattern for readers to follow along with. Along with some words that simply rhyme with each other, like fox and box, the recognizable patterns and phrases throughout the book help to engage young readers and encourage them to read along with the tale as it is told.

OWL – Observation: The book has a multitude of repetition and rhyming which makes it a good pattern book. Kids will be able to see repeated lines such as “I do not like green eggs and ham”. This should help them to easily follow along and even join in with the story as it is read.

Diversity: Though the characters are not animals, they are not human either and so we cannot rightly say if they are diverse or not without actually knowing what is considered diverse in Seuss’s world.

Title: The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Author: Paul Galdone

Summary: This piece is a retelling of the classic tale of three billy goats. It opens with the three billy goats gruff, the small one, the medium one, and the big one, as they stare off into the distance at a green pasture. They want to go to it and eat all the sweet, green grass, but there is only one way to get to the meadow and that is to cross the river by passing over the nearby bridge. The issue though, is that there is a hungry troll beneath the bridge and the goats know he would not let them pass. And so they plan to trick him to get to the meadow. One by one, they cross the bridge. Each time the goat trying to cross is stopped, starting with the smallest, by the troll who claims he will eat them. But each time the goat says not to eat him, but rather wait for the bigger goat that will follow to eat. Their plan works and as the biggest billy goat crosses the bridge, the troll goes to eat him, only to be pushed over the edge and off into the river by largest beast. With their adversary now out of the way, the three goats gain access to the green meadow and eat to their hearts content.

OWL – Link: As a child, this was one of my favorite bed time story to listen to. My father would always be so enthusiastic when reading it, even giving the goats their own little voices, and I loved every moment of him reading it to me. So I knew I simply had to include it here in the hopes that one day I will perhaps be able to share it with my students and have them find some joy in it too.

Diversity: There is no applicable type of diversity for this piece. The tale is about animals and features all inhuman characters within it.

Title: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Author: Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)

Summary: This classic tale follows the adventures of one little daydreamer, Alice, as she travels through a fantasy world known as Wonderland. The story begins as Alice sits on a river bank with her older sister, looking over her books. Uninterested, Alice turns her attention away and quickly finds herself chasing after a white rabbit who can speak and wears clothing. She tries to follow him, but ends up tumbling down a rabbit hole into the world of Wonderland. From here, she begins her adventure and comes to meet an array of strange characters, find a plethora of odd settings, and encounter a multitude of nonsensical events. A few of the different adventures Alice happens upon include; partaking in a Caucus race with anthropomorphic animals, having tea with a mad man, known as the Mad Hatter, and an anthropomorphic hare, the March Hare, listening to the Mock Turtle’s tale, and being accused, by the Queen of Hearts, of being a tart thief.  The story ends as Alice upsets the queen and is about to be the next subject to lose their head when she is awoken by her sister. She finds that all of her adventures were simple dreams and that she had been sleeping the whole time. It comes to a close as Alice decides to leave the river bank, pondering over all of her fantasies.

OWL – Link: When I young, and even now, I had a very, very active imagination. And a big part of why I was and am so creative is because of reading books like the Alice series by Lewis Carroll. And so to potentially help facilitate creative growth in my own students, I would love to share this book with them.

Diversity: While the book does feature a human protagonist, a large majority of the characters are animals who live in a world and society completely different to those on earth so I feel that the non-applicable tag is what fits for this book’s diversity.

Tile: Stone Soup

Author: Marcia Brown

Summary: This is a tale that opens with three soldiers who are returning home from war. They are hungry and tired so when they come across a village, they decide to see if there is any chance that they could rest and eat there. When they arrive, they find that the villages have no food, or so they say. In reality, the villagers have hidden away all of their food, not wanting to share it with the soldiers. It is then that the soldiers decide that they will make themselves food and that they will make soup from three stones. They gather up a large pot and boil the water before dropping the stones into it. At this, the soldiers begin to talk about how adding different types of food would make the soup all the better. Each time they mention a new food to put in, the villagers, too curious to think otherwise, offer to add their hidden rations to the soup. Over time the soup is full of the villagers’ own food and the soldiers, who have tricked them, are looked upon as heroes. They are praised as the town shares the soup and given a place to stay for the night. The next day, the villagers praise the soldiers once again for telling them how to make stone soup and send them on their way. Even in the end, they are non-the-wiser to having been tricked by the soldiers to put the food they had been trying to hide into the soup.

OWL – Observation: Based on what happened within the tale, I would gander that this gets considered to be a trickster tale. The main characters spend the entire book fooling the townsfolk into sharing their food and in the end go about their merry way as if nothing ever happened, similar to fox in the gingerbread man.

Diversity: This book is culturally generic. People of a specific group are focused on, but there are no real details about their culture being introduced or touched on in the tale. The characters are simply there to be a part of the story.

Title: Tuesday

Author: David Wiesner

Summary: This is a wordless book that centers around a group of frogs on a Tuesday evening. And while most of the story can be up to the reader to interpret, it does have a semblance of a story line that can be followed by just looking at the pictures. It begins with all of the frogs in a pond, acting like normal frogs do, when suddenly their lily pads begin to float and they take for the skies. The group of frogs fly to a nearby town and end up causing all sorts of mischief, getting entangled in clothes lines, chased by dogs, and even sneaking into an old woman’s living room while she sleeps. All night long the frogs explore the town, but when morning finally comes, the lily pads suddenly fall from the sky which causes the frogs to fall with them. Unable to fly any longer, the frogs hop back to their pond and proceed to pout about not being able to fly and have fun anymore. The book ends with the humans trying to figure out what in the world happened and why there are lily pads littering the ground all over the town. And then, the last two pages show what happens the following Tuesday evening, when pigs can fly.

OWL – Wonder: Based on the last few pages, it is safe to say that each Tuesday night will bring a new surprise. I wonder what will come next the week after the pigs have a night to fly around the town.

Diversity: This book features no real diversity. The tale focuses on animals, frogs to be exact, and follows their journey on that Tuesday evening.

Title: One Tiny Turtle

Author: Nicola Davies

Summary: This informational tale explores the nature of a sea turtle by following the story of one little turtle as she journeys through life. It talks about how she lives in the sea, how her life progresses, and how from her, a new generation of turtles will repeat the process. All of this is informational despite being presented in a narrative form as it focuses on what turtles really do experience in life and strays away from any fantasy elements that might slip in to other stories like the turtles being able to speak to each other or other animals. The pages also have additional facts, designed to be wavy in text pattern to look like waves, that help to give even more information on turtles. These do not pertain to the narrative parts of the book, but are interesting facts to children learn even more about sea turtles. Even though it has a lot of information presented on each page, it is still easy to follow for children and the narrative style of presenting facts would help keep them more invested than if it were a simple presentation of facts.

OWL – Observation: The author does a good job at addressing some real life dangers that turtles can encounter in the wild while still keeping it friendly to younger children. This helps to offer a true understanding of the animals’ lives without having any lasting, unhappy effects on children who read the book.

Diversity: This book, while very informative, has a non-applicable diversity label because it focuses on teaching readers about sea turtles which are animals.

Title: Dash

Author: Kirby Larson

Summary: This is a historical fiction novel about a young Japanese girl and her family, her mom, pop, brother Ted, and Obaachan, during World War II, the period in which Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps in the United States in particular. The story begins just after the attack on Pearl Harbor as Mitsi deals with the problems that come with the new stigma against anyone of Japanese descent. She finds that she and her whole family are treated differently in ways that are not so nice, and that the only solace in her life comes from her loving dog Dash. Things take another turn for the worse however, as the government enforces a mandatory evacuation of all Japanese Americans into internment camps. Mitsi’s family is no exception and much to her dismay, she is forced to leave Dash with her kindly neighbor, as pets are not allowed in the camps, and leaves her home to go to camp Harmony. There Mitsi finds herself falling deeper into unhappiness. The conditions are terrible and she misses Dash dearly. She finds that despite doing their best to try and make do, her family feels like it is falling apart and Mitsi cannot stand it. Things do improve, though, as Mitsi grows more accustomed to life at camp Harmony and even makes a new friend with a girl named Debbie, who has issues of her own with her absent father. But just as she settles into her life, things are thrown into chaos again and the whole camp is moved to a new location out in the desert. It is even farther from Dash, who she had been writing to, and more misery ensues for the young girl. But Mitsi and her family as hardly and adaptable and they grow into their new lives once again. Things continue to improve as her family works through a few issues, like her brother getting rid of a bad crowd of friends, and she feels like they are whole again. The tale ends with General DeWitt instating a new rule that would allow pets into the camps and Mitsi is reunited with her fluffy companion. They end with the friendly neighbor, Mrs. Bowker, Dash, and Mitsi all heading to Misti’s apartment in the camp for Tea. They are still in the camp, but things are more positive for Misti who is reunited with her best friend and able to be with her friends and family.

OWL – Wonder: From what is presented within the book, we are left with a sense of uncertainty as to what happens next. Mitsi is reunited with her canine companion, but at the same time she and her family are still stationed in an internment camp. I cannot help but wonder when were they finally able to leave and what were their lives like after they did? What happened next in Mitsi and Dash’s story?

Diversity: This novel is culturally specific. The main characters are of a specific cultural group, Japanese Americans in this instance. How their culture effects their lives, particularly during the period in which there were Japanese internment camps in the United States, as well as specific details about their culture are portrayed throughout the book and help to build the reader’s understanding of not only the time-period, but also some of the different aspects that come from Japanese culture.

Title: Song and Dance Man

Author: Karen Ackerman

Summary: This is a sweet little book that follows the adventures of a grandfather and his grandchildren as they explore the attic in their grandparent’s house. The grandfather finds some of his old things and he decides to put on a show for his grandchildren, as he used to be quite the “song and dance man”. He displays all the talents that he has learned as a performer over the years, including tap dancing, singing, telling jokes, and magic tricks, as his grandkids watch in wonder. As his performance finishes, the children cheer and ask for more, but he simply smiles and puts his things away. The grandchildren say that they wish they could have seen him perform when he was younger. It draws to a close as he hugs all his grandchildren and tells them that he would not trade the time he gets to share with them for a “million good old days” and then they all finally clamor down the attic steps, with the grandfather pausing to reminisce about the past one last time.

OWL – Observation: The book features a relationship between a grandparent and their grandchildren which is a dynamic not usually very focused on in children’s literature. It is good to see a book that touches on and explores a relationship that is very important in many different children’s lives.

Diversity: This book is culturally generic. It focuses on a family of a specific background, but does not touch on any culturally specific information about that family in the book. Instead it focuses on different activities and occupations that the grandfather does and that anyone could take up and try themselves.

Title: The Spider and the Fly

Author: Tony Diterlizzi

Summary: This book is a retelling of an short, but cautionary fable originally told by Mary Howitt. It begins with a gentleman spider as he tries to persuade a lady fly that he comes across to come and join him in his den. She is weary of him, knowing what spiders do to insects, and refuses him at first to which he retorts with more persuasion. But try as he might, with compliments and promises, he cannot persuade her to join him. He does however notice how she enjoys his compliments and so he continues with them, until she is far too taken with them to stay away. The spider snatches her up and drags her up to his web where it is then implied that she is eaten. The grim story ends with a word of warning from the author to the reader, saying to be wary of strangers with honeyed words and lots of flattery as one could find themself trouble like the fly did if they decide to trust these people.

OWL – Link: I remember being fascinated by this book and its illustrations when I was younger and even now, that I am older, I think it is a great story to share with children. It is not only unlike many other children’s books, but it also teaches a very important lesson of not trusting strangers. I know that I, for one, took that to heart after having this book read to me.

Diversity: The tale introduces us to a cast made entirely of anthropomorphic insects and so the book does not have a connection with a specific type of diversity and falls into the non-applicable category.

Title: The Lotus Seed

Author: Sherry Garland

Summary: This is a historical fiction picture book that follows the tale of a woman who was present and living in Vietnam during the Vietnam war. We follow her as she first encounters the emperor crying after losing his throne. Wanting to remember him, she sneaks into the palace grounds and takes a seed from one of the various lotus flowers there. She hides it away and continues on with her life, getting married and planning on settling down. That does not happen though as war strikes the country and, with her husband off fighting, she is forced to flee with her child. They managed to escape and end up in the United States where she grows her family, the lotus seed still with her. Years later, she finds the seed to be gone and discovers that her grandson, and the narrator’s brother, has decided to plant it out in the garden. At first the woman is upset, but as the seed grows into a blossom, her sadness is replaced with a sense of peace and nostalgia for her country. She ends by giving her grandchildren each a seed from the flower so that they too can remember the emperor and Vietnam.

OWL – Wonder: The book focuses on a historical event with a fictional story of the woman who flees from Vietnam, but even then, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like for the woman to return to Vietnam. What would she find, how would she feel, and would she take any of her family there too?

Diversity: This piece of culturally specific. It focuses on the life of a Vietnamese woman and how she carries a small token to not only remember her heritage, but to share it with her family as well. There are various instances within the piece that talk about Vietnam’s history as well as some important symbols that help to represent its culture.

Title: Spiders

Author: Gail Gibbons

Summary: This is an informational, nonfiction picture book that focuses on the topic of spiders. It offers an insight on many different aspects of spiders, including how many different types there are in the world, where the word arachnid originated from, how they differ from insects, and even how they and if they weave webs at all. It is packed full of a multitude of facts and information, all of which are true, about spiders and can act as a great pair of a fiction piece about spider or even stand on its own, with a teacher perhaps even just reading a few different facts to a class at a time. The piece, with its colorful imagery and easy to read and understand text, acts as a good way to introduce the subject of spiders to children and help the understand more about an animal that is usually quite terrifying.

OWL – Link: I, myself, am deathly afraid of spiders. But even so, I have this odd fascination with them in literature and much to my surprise, I was able to read this informational piece about them with ease and without cringing or shying away from the imagery. The drawn pictures definitely help to create a more at ease tone when trying to learn about such a squeamish topic.

Diversity: As the book focuses solely on spiders, which are of course animals, it does not have tie to diversity. It is simply an informational piece about a topic in our world.

Title: The Fourteenth Goldfish

Author: Jennifer L. Holm

Summary: This is a science fiction novel that follows the peculiar tale of a fifth grader and her grandfather, who has found a way to reverse aging. The story begins with an exert about goldfish aimed to teach not only the characters the importance of the circle of life, but the readers too. Following that, the main character, Ellie, comes face to face with her now teenage grandfather. Unable to get back into his lab, her grandfather moves in with them and even begins to attend Ellie’s school. As the novel progresses, Ellie finds herself more and more fascinated with science, thanks to her grandfather, and thinks herself a scientist in the making. However, her grandfather is determined to publish his findings and to become known as one of the great scientists of the world. So he plans to break into his old lab and retrieve the jellyfish that he was able to make the age regressing serum with. He, with Ellie and a classmate of hers Raj, they try multiple times only to fail. That is until Ellie comes up with a plan involving delivering pizza and it works, with Raj being able to retrieve the jellyfish. But as her grandfather begins to continue with his research and how he will present it to the world, Ellie comes to the realization that maybe this breakthrough is not something to reveal to the world. She confronts her grandfather, who refuses her proposal at first. But her words eventually reach him and the novel comes to a close as he flushes the jellyfish down the toilet and finally sees the importance of Ellie’s words. He leaves to travel, promising to be back, and things return to normal for Ellie. That is until a mysterious package arrives harboring a new, strange jellyfish inside.

OWL – Wonder: The book ends on a cliff hanger. It presents a new type of jellyfish that could be used to any kind of unimaginable science. So, I have to wonder, what would this strange new specimen be used for and will we ever find out with a sequel?

Diversity: I believe that this book displays a culturally neutral type of diversity with its characters. No real culture is focused on in the book, but with the characters presented, based on attributes like their names such as Raj and Momo, it can be inferred that an array of different people are portrayed in the book. No one culture is explored, but there are several different types of people mentioned.

Title: The Day-Glo Brothers

Author: Chris Barton

Summary: This is a biographical picture book that focuses on the lives of the Switzer brothers, Joe and Bob. It begins with the two of them as kids and explains how they each had their own habits and ambitions for the world. Joe wanted to be a magician and Bob wanted to be a doctor. But as they got older, Bob’s dream was ended after an accident in a ketchup factory. He was stuck at home to recover for a long time when his brother came to him with an idea to make his magic act even more impressive, using fluorescent painted items as props. Not having anything else to do, Bob agreed and he and Joe got to work messing around with paints that glowed in the dark. They focused on this business, making a profit from making and selling glow in the dark props and items for all sorts of different businesses, before moving east to Ohio. There, the brothers made a particularly strange discovery. They found that a combination of hot alcohol and fluorescent dye made the objects keep their color even in the light. It was a break through to have such bright, vibrant colors visible during the day time and the brothers decided to name their invention “Day-Glo” paint. With their invention, they were able to help people all over the US, even with the military’s efforts in World War II. It ends by saying that the brothers wanted to help people as well as dazzle crowds, and with their paint, they were able to do both. The last few pages explain how both normal fluorescence and daylight fluorescence work.

OWL – Observation: I noticed that as the two brothers began to become more and more involved with paint, the pages became brighter and brighter. It was a nice little touch that really helped to not only show the colors that the boys invented, but also how emphasize just how important these colors are.

Diversity: This piece is what I believe to be culturally neutral. Though no cultures are depicted or focused on in the book, there are an array of different types of characters of all kinds of backgrounds seen in the pages and the pictures.

Title: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Author: Judi Barrett

Summary: This is a fantasy book about the town of Chew and Swallow. It starts with a grandfather telling his grandkids about a peculiar little town. Now this town is just like every other town, except for one thing, the weather. Instead of raining or snowing, food would fall from the sky at every meal time. It talks about how the townsfolk go about their lies with the strange weather. But then things take a turn for the worst as the weather begins to pour down strange, food based weather. More and more storms come over the town and the food grows larger with each one that comes over the town. At one point they even have to close the school because of a giant pancake that falls atop of it. The townsfolk eventually decide to leave the town, believing they had no other choice. And so they paste together the old bread and make rafts before setting out to sea to find better land. They come to a new shore and make a little town, though have trouble adjusting to having to buy their food, but still it is better than what they remember in Chew and Swallow. The book closes with their grandfather saying that no one ever went back to the town to see what had happened. The next morning, the kids awaken and head out to go sledding with their grandpa, swearing that they saw butter and could smell mashed potatoes.

OWL – Observation: I love seeing all the different food based weather patterns. Getting to see it rain hot dogs and pea soup really brings the story to life and immerses the reader or listener in the special little town of Chew and Swallow

Diversity: I think that this book is culturally neutral. Like with the biography about the Day-Glo brothers, there is no real focus on any specific culture. However, within the pictures and the community of Chew and Swallow, there are a plethora of different types of people being depicted.

Title: Love That Dog

Author: Sharon Creech

Summary: This is novel written completely in free verse poetry and follows the story of a young narrator named Jack as he learns about poetry during a school year. It starts with Jack none too happy about having to write poetry, even claiming that is it something that only girls do. However, over time he becomes more and more entranced with it and begins to like not only listening to it, but writing it as well. This is when we begin to learn more about Jack and how important his dog Sky was to him before an unfortunate accident caused him to pass away. We follow Jack as he uses his poetry to talk about Sky and this is when he comes to find his favorite poet, Walter Dean Myers. He is fascinated by the other’s works and even writes a poem inspired by Myers’ Love That Boy poem. Egged on by his teacher, Jack writes a letter to Mr. Myers asking him to come visit if he can and to his surprise, the poet does come. He and his classmates enjoy a day with Mr. Myers and the tale ends with Jack writing a thank you letter to the other and includes the poem about Sky that was inspired by Myers’ poems. After the story concludes, the book has bunch of the poems that were mentioned in the story that the reader can read for themselves.

OWL – Link: This is such an easy, but enthralling piece. As a child I always struggled with poetry. I could never understand or relate to it and I wish so much that this had been used in my classroom. It would have helped me to understand that poetry is not as complicated as it may seem and  that really anyone can partake in it and enjoy. I definitely hope to incorporate this into my classroom someday.

Diversity: Even though this book features human characters, there is no real mention of any sort of ethnicity or cultural background and so I would say that this book has a non-applicable diversity tag.

Title: Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems

Author: Marylin Singer

Summary: This particular piece is a book about poems that focus on classic fairy tales. And while this idea in general is nothing new, it offers a unique aspect to these stories by having the poems be read in two different ways, normally and then in reverse. It offers a unique or new perspective, along with the more classic notion, from timeless tales that most everyone is familiar with, and features pairs of poems for characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White, and many more. My personal favorite in the book was the poem called The Sleeping Beauty and the Wide-Awake Prince. In these pairs of poems, we learn about Sleeping Beauty who only ever wants to be able to live her life and not have to be stuck sleeping, while conversely Prince Charming is stuck in his own life, forced to hack away a briars and only wishing for some rest and recuperation. This book is a unique, fun little piece that can be used as a good way to introduce poetry, opposites, and even the premise of fairy tales to students.

OWL- Wonder: For such a simple concept, the piece is exceedingly unique and I cannot help but wonder, just how in the world did the author come to think up this idea. What inspired Singer to try and reverse the stories of well-known fairy tales?

Diversity: This book seems to be culturally generic. While not really mentioned at all in the text nor focused on in the poems, the pictures do seem to depict characters of a certain group or who all hail from the same, certain area.

Title: Lucky Beans

Author: Becky Birtha

Summary: This is a historical fiction piece that follows the story of a young boy, Marshall, living with his family during the Great Depression of the 1930s. His father has lost his job and some extended family has come to live with them. Short on money, Marshall and his family have to eat beans nightly for dinner. To which, Marshall is not fond of at all. One day though, he finds himself walking by a shop window with a fancy sewing machine and a large jar of beans. A sign next to the beans says that if you can guess the closest to the number of beans in the jar, you can win the sewing machine. And Marshall, having watched her sew their clothes, wants to win it for his mother. He goes home and explains the situation to his family, who are happy to try and help him win. They spend the next few days trying to figure out how to estimate the right number of beans and finally find the solution thanks to what Marshall has learned in school about math and measurements and the use of his parent’s crock pot. Confident in their estimation, Marshall and his mother go to the store the day of the drawing and make their guess. The tale ends as the winner is called and it is Marshall’s mother, who was only thirteen beans off from being completely right. Over joyed the two go to accept the prize and are congratulated for their great estimation.

OWL – Observation: This book not only offers an insight into what life was like during the Great Depression, it also incorporates math into the story as well. It can be used as both a teaching tool for history and for math and for linking the two together to show that both are applicable within the real world and that what we learn is not simply just things that teachers want students to know, but that it can actually help them in life.

Diversity: This book is culturally specific. While it does talk about how the poor in general faired during the great depression, it also devotes some time to exploring specifically how an African American family who were facing financial issues lived during the time period. It follows how the family lived as well as the adversities that faced from others within society.

Title: I am Rosa Parks

Author: Rosa Parks

Summary: This is an autobiographical piece about the life of Rosa Parks, told by the lady herself. She begins by talking about the situation in America before civil rights and how she was arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus. She mentions how everyone should be equal, no matter who they are, before transitioning into speaking about her life from the beginning. Parks goes through her childhood to her young adulthood to the bus incident again. This time however, there is no transition to the past, instead she goes on to talk about how African Americans began to stand up for themselves. They stopped riding busses, even during the winter, to protest the injustices. Eventually, their boycott ends in victory with a court ruling saying that no one had to give up their seats to anyone else on the bus. She ends up moving to the north for safety reasons, but mentions the south and how Martin Luther King Jr continued to fight for equal rights and truly started the civil rights movements. The book ends with Rosa Parks being glad for what she has helped to change and how she hopes that the children of today will grow up to love one another not matter what they may be or look like.

OWL – Observation: Rosa Parks does a really swell job about discussing just how unfair life was in the south before the civil rights movements without being bias towards any group. It helps to show children that no one has to be wrong or mean or bad because everyone is the same, just ordinary people.

Diversity: This book is culturally specific. It focuses on a member of a specific group of people, African Americans, and how before the civil rights movement, she and others of this cultural group were mistreated. We learn about how life was for this group through the eyes of this one, historical figure.