Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sharing: Locomotive

LocomotiveLocomotive by Brian Floca
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book takes you on a turn of the century cross-country trek by train. Told in second person as a passenger of the train, you are overloaded with gorgeous page after page, filled with well-researched information.
This book was visually stunning. I could have looked at the intricate illustrations for hours.
I also learned so many neat facts (I like to collect those), like how engineers had a lever that would release sand onto the track if a train was having trouble getting enough traction to move forward.
This is wonderful informational picture book for the upper-elementary set, or anyone who loves trains.
Personal note:I tried to read it to my 4 year old and he lost interest about half way through, but my 10 year old loved it.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Argument Paragraph Unit

           Coming back from Christmas break has put instruction in my classroom into Argument mode! We began our Argument Paragraph Unit after returning. In the 8th grade, we are largely modeling our units on the MAISA units that are shared at the previous link and so far they seem to be working really well. The first semester, I was trying to mash together bits and pieces from a million different books by Heinemann (my all-time favorite professional publisher) and was really struggling to get cohesiveness and any type of fluency. So I spent the larger part of two months really scouring the internet to try and find a curriculum that I could base myself off of. I surprised myself this year by learning that I really need some kind of foundation to go off of, before I felt comfortable enough to really be creative with my lesson planning.
            So far the students seem to get the idea of a debatable claim and evidence, but they are having loads of trouble with commentary. I got some ideas for how to supplement that concept through some of the brilliant educators I work with and follow on Twitter. First, we're going to try the Slip or Trip activity, to really get students thinking about why commentary is needed to show how evidence supports a claim. Then, we are going to try the Write Around Text-on-Text method, as described at the link by Buffy Hamilton (The Unquiet Librarian). This should help students be able to build off of one another's ideas as well as the text itself to figure out how the pieces of argument all fit together.
           I will do my best to start updating here much more frequently and share how this unit is progressing.