Saturday, October 24, 2009

Reading for Newbery

As we move into late October, I'm feeling the crunch of leading my mock Newberians to great books of 2009. We have looked at so many books that I have not been able to keep up the reading. So for the homestretch, my gameplan is to focus on a short list of books that I know have potential. How do I do that? I read the SLJ blog to see what the hype is concerning certain titles:

I also take a look at what the students have rated a 4 or 5 star. We start reading in February so we've kicked off many that I never really got a chance to look at. I went back and realized that we had kicked of When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I just finished it and found it amazing. It is so perfect for middle schoolers with the main character being 12 years old and quite loveable. I totally got into the way the author keeps the reader engaged with trying to figure out time travel as well as the how and why the characters relate. Intertwining L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time brings a clever connection that made me flip back to reread a line or two so I could figure it out. The main character, Miranda, has enough curiosity to make you love her but how she reveals her understanding of people and ideas make you know that she is genuine. Don't let the posting on the SLJ mock Newbery blog discourage you. Jonathan's post is way to nitpicky for me.

I also read A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck and thoroughly enjoyed it. His appeal may be more for adults?? and I wonder just how much our kids can relate to his outrageous "old lady next door" character. I also wonder how much of the humor is appreciated without the life experiences background that may be needed to get the richness of his writing. Thoughts?

Here are the National Book award nominations for this year. I have not read any of them but have two in my hands for the weekend. This is what getting sick and staying home for a couple of days did for me. I like it.

What are you reading? I hope to post a few graphic novel reads in a few days or at least I should since I have a huge amount of homework before AASL. Right Mindy?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Teaching the Big6

I've been teaching the Big6 research process to sixth graders this week. We've made our way through Task Definition and Information Seeking Strategies. While there have been a few "ah ha" moments with some kids, so many of our students seem to be stuck in Googleland.

How do we truly move kids through a research process, be it Big6 or Super3 or some other process, without them reverting to the lone term put into the search box of Yahoo or or Dogpile. (Yes, some kid mentioned Dogpile today; I didn't know kids still used that!)

I used one of my favorite video clips, a commercial actually, to illustrate the fact that if they get stuck they need to think through the process, figure out what the next step is. (Yes, they all liked the commercial, and most of them "got it".)

But only time will really tell. We used their most recent studies of ancient Greece and Rome to talk through and walk through the first steps and there was hand-holding. When we cut them lose in the spring for the big sixth grade research project (a person that changed the world for better or worse), will they take the time to define their task and plan their search strategies in order to locate appropriate resources?

Or will they just type their person's name into Google on day one?