Saturday, 21 June 2014

Teaching Literary Devices? Try These Picture Books

(A list compiled from: Using Picture Storybooks to Teach Literary Devices- Susan Hall)

Alliteration:the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words
Switch on the Night – Ray Bradbury
Come on, Rain! – Karen Hesse
Simply Delicious – Margaret mahy
Mouse, Look Out! – Judy Waite

Atmosphere: the pervading tone or mood of a place, situation, or work of art.
The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark – Henri Sorenson
Edna – Robert Burleigh
One Duck – Hazel Hutchins
So You Want to be President – Judith St. George

overused expression that has lost its original vitality
Roberto the Insect Architect – Nina Laden
Tree of Hope – Amy Littlesugar

interruption of present action to insert an incident that took place at an earlier time for the purpose of giving the reader info to make the present situation more understandable or to account for a character’s current motivation
The Worry Stone – Marianna Dengler

a sudden jump forward in time from chronologically narrated events to a later time that shows the aftermath of the present events
The Art Lesson – Tomie de Paola
Goldilocks Returns – Lisa Campbell Ernst
builds suspense and adds plot plausibility by providing clues ahead of time to event that will occur later in the narrative
(Number the Stars – loose front step)
Pierre’s Dream – Jennifer Armstrong
The Full Belly Bowl – Jim Aylesworth
Edna – Robert Burleigh
King Christian
A Spoon for Every Bite – Joe Hayes
Come On, Rain! – Karen Hesse
Passage to Freedom –Ken Mochizuki
The Ant Bully – John Nickle

emphasis achieved by deliberate exaggeration
The House Gobbaleen – Lloyd Alexander
Kate and the Beanstalk – Mary Pope Osbourne
Yard Sale – Mitra Modaressi
Comes a Wind – Linda Arms White

mental pictures summoned through language that appeals to the senses
The Hidden Forest – Jeannie Baker
The Spirit of the Maasai Man – Laura Berkeley
The Memory String – Eve Bunting
Edna – Robert Burleigh
Fly, Eagle, Fly! An African Tale – Christopher Gregorowski

Without direct comment, an author’s clues enable a reader to form reasonable conclusions about characters or events
Pierre’s Dream – Jennifer Armstrong
The Memory String – Even Bunting
Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type – Doreen Cronin
The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian of Denmark – Carmen Agra Deedy
The Lonely Scarecrow – Tim Preston

the perception or awareness of a discrepancy or incongruity between words and their meaning, or between actions and their results, or between appearance and reality
The Art Lesson – Tomie de Paola
Goldilocks Returns – Lisa Campbell Ernst

an implicit comparison between one thing as described in terms of another

Switch on the Night – Ray Bradbury
Come On, Rain! – Karen Hesse
Faraway Home – Jane Kurtz

a recurring theme, character, or verbal pattern
Alice Nizzy Nazzy, the Witch of Santa Fe – Tony Johnston
Emma and the Coyote – Margriet Ruurs
The Lost Boy and the Monster – Craig Kee Strete
Deep in the Jungle – Dan Yaccarino
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

the use of words to represent or imitate natural sounds
River Friendly, River Wild – Jane Kurtz

Parallel Story
a narrative or picture story enclosed within another story upon which equal or primary interest is centered
The Worry Stone – Marianna Dengler
Sister Yessa’s Story – Karen Greenfield

a humorous but recognizable imitation of another literary work to amuse or ridicule the other’s style or subject matter
The Three Little Dinosaurs – Jim Harris
Little Red Riding Hat – Susan Lowell

Tambourine Man – Joy Jones

Poetic Justice
an outcome in which vice is punished and virtue rewarded in a manner appropriate to the situation
The Three Little Pigs
The Tale of the Turnip – Brian Alderson
Mr. Wolf’s Pancakes – Jan Fearnley
A Spoon for Every Bite – Joe Hayes
Bearhide and Crow – Paul Brett Johnson
The Man Who Caught Fish – Walter Lyon Krudop
Nobody Rides the Unicorn – Adrian Mitchell

Point of View
perspective from which the story is seen and told
Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne
Dragon Scales and Willow Leaves – Terryl Givens
Go Home! The True Story of James the Cat – Libby Phillips Meggs
The Ant Bully – John Nickle
The Sign Painter – Allen Say

accidental good fortune that occurs just when it is needed

Why? – Lindsay Camp
I Like Your Buttons – Sarah Marwil Lamstein
Emma and the Coyote – Margriet Ruurs

comparison between two unlike things for the purpose of pointing out an attribute found in both

The House Gobbaleen – Lloyd Alexander
Goodbye, Geese – Nancy Carlstrom
Alice Nizzy Nazzy, the Witch of Santa Fe – Tony Johnston
Cindy Ellen – Susan Lowell
One Lucky Girl – George Ella Lyon
Kate and the Beanstalk – Mary Pope Osbourne
Emma and the Coyote – Margriet Ruurs

Stereotype/Reverse Stereotype
Predictable, oversimplified patterns of thinking or reacting.
The opposite of the expected

Mr. Wolf’s Pancakes – Jan Fearnley
Little Red Cowboy Hat – Susan Lowell

any person, object, or action that has additional meaning beyond itself to represent or stand for a more abstract emotion or idea
The Yellow Star –
Chicken Chuck – Bill Martin
Peace Cranes – Sheila Hamanaka
Red Flower Goes West – Ann Turner

the underlying meaning or truth about life or humanity as revealed in a story’s plot or characterization
Lottie’s Princess Dress – Doris Dorrie
Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores – James Howe
I Like Your Buttons! – Sarah Marwil Lamstein
Bud – Kevin O’Malley
The Sign Painter – Allen Say
The Lost Boy and the Monster – Craig Kee Strete

the attitude of a writer toward a literary work’s subject and its audience as revealed by choice of words and details
The Spirit of the Masai Man – Laura Berkeley
The Video Shop Sparrow – Joy Cowley

The Girl Who Hated Books – Manjusha Pawagi
Henrietta – David Mamet

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Trash Can Clues...Or "A Fun Deductive Logic Exercise"

I love mysteries. They are fun to solve and they are my favourite reading genre. (Actually my favourite television or movie genre too!) And I think it is just wonderful to share the fun I have reading mysteries with my class. We always spend a lot of time on improvised crime scenes (which teaches critical literacy, timelines and jot notes) and read-aloud short story mysteries.

My classroom bookshelves are full of Encyclopedia Brown, You Be the Jury and Two Minute Mysteries.
File:Park trashcan.jpg

Lately, we've developed a new mystery lesson that teaches us that are actions are accountable. It came about from an Eco lesson I observed. The teacher had her pupils look through trash cans and recycling boxes to see if the students were committed to saving the environment by recycling. It was a great hands-on lesson.

It got me thinking that I could ask my students what the trash says about a person's activities. After all, archaeologists dig in garbage dumps to learn about older civilizations. What would future archaeologists say about us?

Hands-on Activity

So I took our trash bin and the recycling box and dumped them out (onto plastic sheeting so the custodians wouldn't be angry) and I had the students don plastic gloves and pick through it.

Then I asked them to tell me ten things about the group who used these bins. I prompted them with a few questions to get them started: Are they recyclers? Are they healthy eaters? Do they sharpen their pencils a lot?

Written Component

I had the students make a chart with five columns.

When                             Where                        How                           Who                            What

And I asked them to make reasonable guessing based on the evidence they see to answer these questions.

The students were thrilled! (They love hands-on activities)

Some of the answers:

This took place recently - over the last year!

I think someone used the box to carry a sloppy, wet item. A cardboard box  wouldn't usually hold wet items.

The string is red, perhaps someone wanted to remember something.

Someone threw out three bottles - I would use them to make a tunnel for my cars. 

Lessons learned:

Your trash says something about you.

Can you reuse your trash

One man's trash is another man's treasure.


Friday, 6 June 2014

Exit Slips

It is interesting that as the year ends, I am thinking of exit slips. Exit slips are small written tasks - but sometimes oral tasks - that students complete in order to leave the class. I use it to recap the lesson mostly. And I find it has merit as a memory cue and for some accountability in the lesson.


I use a generic slip and post a question on the board for students to answer. The slip has room for name and date, then lines for writing. They have to write the date on the slip so I can keep track of which question I used! I make questions to go with my lesson to check their understanding - requiring a written answer explaining a concept or a math problem. I've included some examples of the generic ones I use below.

Whenever I post worksheets on this blog, they far exceed the post boundaries and are seemingly useless to other teachers. Instead I will simply try to re-create them in this post (and teachers who want to use them can copy and paste them into their own documents.

Name ______________                       Date______________

                                              Exit Slip 

Name three facts that you learned or used in this lesson.




Name ______________                       Date______________

                                              Exit Slip 

What was the main idea of the reading? __________________

What evidence supports your reasoning?

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Walking School Bus....

 File:School bus invasion.jpg
Walking to school alone is not an ideal situation for students. Even when walking in larger groups of school-aged children, parents are uneasy. Kids don't always follow the rules and a single moment can change a child's life forever. But the line-up of cars that circle a school each morning isn't great either. Students need exercise and they need to get to school. A "walking school bus" may just be the answer. This is a designated route with stops just like the big yellow school buses have except that parents or volunteers led the walkers and take up the rear too. Children arrive at school safely and have gotten some exercise too.

I recently read about something that is so simple that I think it may catch on. A walking school bus. It seems to be really catching on in some school districts. No only is it a less costly form of transportation, but the children also get some much-needed exercise, and it is environmentally friendly.

Here is a link to read more, but I will give you a short summary of the website. A walking school bus is inclusive of all students and ensures a safe (adult-led) walk to school. Its great exercise and it is environmentally friendly. (Variations of this theme include the "bike-train"). This site includes lots of well-thought out tips on finding a route and setting up a school bus (a walking school bus that is!) in your area.

Here is an article about one school districts' experience with the walking school bus.

It seems to be a global initiative, Walking Bus Ireland, is a well-established institution.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Help Your Child Improve Math Skills for Middle and High School with these Websites

I really like the following three websites for middle and high school students looking to improve their math skills:

Mathematics and Statistics  This site has everything a math student could need. Short clips on improving your long division skills to videos on heat transfer. This is an open university website but a lot of the lessons are so simply delivered that even high school students can use them.

EZschool Worksheets for all math strands at various levels. What a great resource for the summer.

CK-12 A great site for math and science lesson,s worksheets and videos. Motivated students can really get lost in this fabulous site.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Ontario Teachers Beware of the Pay Cuts for Teachers in British Columbia

In British Columbia, teachers' salaries will be cut by 5% next Monday. In September, they will be cut 5% more, totalling a 10% pay cut. Ontario teachers need to be watchful of this, because if we elect the wrong government in June, this will be our fate as well. More here.

ETFO, or the English Teachers Federation of Ontario, has over the past several elections asked teachers to support the Liberal party. The reasoning is that the Liberal party supports teachers. I think there are two problems with this stance: 1) we have to recognize that it is the Progressive Conservative Party that targets teachers  and 2) we have three parties in a two-party system.

What does that mean? Three parties in a two-party system? It means that the system was set up for two parties. People were expected to vote for one or the other. The candidate with the majority of the votes won. When there are three parties in the two-party system, it throws things off a bit. Now it is not necessarily the majority of the votes that wins, but only the candidate with the most votes who wins. That means, that if the voting was relatively equal among the three parties, we could have a party win with roughly 34% of the total vote. That party would win  the election but it wouldn't represent the majority of voters.

So, a vote for the Liberal party is not necessarily a vote against the Progressive Conservatives (PC). To truly campaign against the PC party, ETFO and teachers must ask teachers to vote for the non-Conservative candidate most likely to win.

The Liberal and New Democratic Party (NDP) often split votes because they are both leftist parties. The Conservatives are the only contenders who try to represent the right. Yet, with two similar left parties running against each other in a tight riding, that could allow the PC party to win.

We don't want a PC government in Ontario come June 12th. The PC party promises to slash education jobs, increase class sizes and ruin the education system we already have.


Friday, 28 March 2014

A List of Math Skills Students Should Have for Grade 6

Clipart Source

 Recognize, read and write numerals to 999,999.
 Read and write word numbers (one hundred twenty-two thousand, four hundred) 
 Write numbers with expanded notation (5,931 = 5,000+900+30+1)
 Create a simple graph or chart to express mathematical information.
 Do two and three digit addition and subtraction with regrouping (carrying or borrowing).
 Introduce decimals (tenths, hundredths) and show how to line up for addition.
 Round numbers to the nearest 10, 100 and 1000.
 Use estimation for arithmetic problems and know when this is appropriate.
 Memorize multiplication facts up to 12 X 12.
 Learn multiplication terminology: multiplicand, multiplier, product, factor, multiple.
 Multiply two and three digit numbers with or without regrouping.
 Multiply by 10s, 100s, 1000s.
 Multiply numbers with decimals, and count digits to the right of the decimal points in the multiplicand and multiplier to determine the placement of the decimal in the final product.
 Find common multiples and lowest common multiple.
 Learn division terminology: dividend, divisor, quotient, remainder.
 Memorize division facts with quotients up to 100.
 Do long division with or without remainders.
 Know the fraction terms numerator and denominator.
 Reduce fractions to lowest terms (6/8 = 3/4).
 Compare fractions with like denominator.
 Find a common denominator for fractions.
 Add and subtract fractions.
 Multiply and divide fractions.
 Convert mixed numbers to improper fractions, and improper fractions to mixed numbers. 
 Convert fractions to decimal numbers, and decimal numbers to fractions. 
 Read and create simple graphs (pictograph, line graph, bar graph).
 Tell time to the minute.
 Compute elapsed time (clock or calendar).
 Understand the concept of time zones and convert between them.
 Calculate perimeter of polygons.
 Calculate area of squares, rectangles and triangles.
 Identify lines of symmetry in a shape.
 Identify points, line segments, parallel lines, intersecting lines, perpendicular lines and rays.
 Identify the center, radius, and diameter of a circle.
 Solve for a variable (n+3=9, so n=6).