“Black Brother, Black Brother” by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Novel Guide

"Black Brother, Black Brother"by Jewell Parker Rhodes - Novel Guide

“Black Brother, Black Brother”by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Novel Guide

“Black Brother, Black Brother” by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a new timely middle school novel that explores a number of themes; racial prejudice, family, coming of age, resilience, bullying, identity, etc. Rhodes never fails to tell a wonderful story and weave a message of positivity and strength. What I love about Rhodes is her detached objectivity. She is able to present her characters for who they are and expose their humanity, unburdened by the North American cultural burdens and blind spots. This is also why middle school students enjoy her works so much. “Black Brother, Black Brother is so much more than a story about a boy who was bullied at a racially non-diverse school. It’s a story of a boy who learned to “win with his mind”. It’s the ideas that make or break us individually and as a group. Donte learned to reject the false ideas and see bullies for what they are, break away from feeling like a victim, find a role-model, and figure out how to take personal responsibility. I can’t wait to share this novel with my class in the fall.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

 

EPISODE #158: Black Lives Matter for Middle Schoolers

https://lgbpodcast.libsyn.com/jewell-parker-rhodes-2020

 

House Arrest – by K.A. Holt – Novel Guide

"House Arrest" - by K.A. Holt - Novel Guide - Distance Learning

“House Arrest” – by K.A. Holt – Novel Guide – Distance Learning

House Arrest – by K.A. Holt is a must-have and read for middle school grades. This novel in verse tells the story of a boy who tries to do anything he can to help his brother. K.A. Holt does a wonderful job depicting raw emotions and reactions of a middle-schooler to a life that is anything but fair. Timothy has one goal, which is to help his baby brother get the medical help that he needs, and he goes to a great distance to get it, even getting out of his comfort zone and risking public embarrassment to reach his goal. This inspiring story will stay with students for a long time and has earned a permanent place on our classroom shelf. Selected by a reluctant reader, enjoyed by all.

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Teach Your Child to Read

Teach Your Child to Read

Teach Your Child to Read

This isn’t my first post about teaching reading and I have a sense not the last. Every teacher a reading teacher – has been a mantra of teachers everywhere. We all teaching reading, no matter the grade or subject that we teach at the time. Reading is the most important skill that we teach our kids. From reading comprehension to analyzing math questions, it all comes down to reading. For anyone trying to help their child learn to read or figure out the science behind reading progression, Coursera is offering a free course: Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing. It’s informative and will make a huge difference whether you are a parent or a teacher.

“Broken Strings” by Walters & Kacer – Novel Guide – Google Classroom

Broken Strings" by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer - Novel Guide

Broken Strings” by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer – Novel Guide

“Broken Strings” by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer – a future Newbery Award Winner –  is a must read for middle schoolers. This captivating story held our attention until the very last page. Fiddler on the Roof, the world’s most popular musical has made our class bucket list. “Broken Strings” is filled with symbolism of loss and broken things that are repaired and given a second change through perseverance, tolerance, and courage. This is a story of heritage, history, and identity, with timeless themes of human experience that transcend generations and continents. A must read.

 

 

 

Broken Strings" by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer - Novel Guide

Resources for Google Classroom

Google Classroom Resources

Google Classroom Resources

Teachers and students everywhere have started their online teaching and learning journey due to COVID – 19. In my previous post, I noted some currently free resources for students and teachers. The transition from the traditional classroom to this new online environment has been an interesting experience so far. There is no outline for expectations when it comes to the learning load. How many hours should a 7-year-old spend learning online? How about a 12-year-old? What do we need parents to do? What about students who are stuck living in big cities on quarantine? How much engagement can we expect, being that millions of kids are confined to their homes with no access to parks or physical activity? This year I am teaching 7th grade and find that some things work well and other things, which in theory should be easy, actually don’t work at all. Some students who are the most engaged in class have a hard time engaging online. The dynamic of distance learning is something to get used to. On top of that, we have a world pandemic looming over students’ mental health. My students love, love, love social studies. So one major thing is really working is using Google Classroom to study and discuss historical and realistic fiction. We are immersing ourselves in novel studies about Native American history, Holocaust, September 11th, racial prejudice, Spanish Flu, water shortage in Sudan, Indian partition, Syrian refugee & immigration,etc. Getting lost in the story of someone else’s life is making the current predicament go by a bit faster. Hopefully, by the time we are done with our yearly reading goals, we will be able to enjoy the outdoors again.

Click here for Google Class Resources

Stay healthy,

Mrs. Lena, M. Ed.

FREE Learning Resources – Available Through the End of the School Year

 

Zooboks - Digital Learning Resource

Zooboks – Digital Learning Resource

Ranger Rick Digital Magazines– My students LOVE these magazines. Now they are available for free through the end of the year. What I love about these magazines is that articles are interesting and in-depth. 

https://rangerrick.org/freedigital/

Ranger Rick Digital , Zoobooks Magazines, Zootles, Zoodinos & More… 

BrainPop – FREE access to teachers 

https://www.slooh.com/guestDashboard

Astronomy Lessons

A lot of kids love learning about space. Today, Slooh is starting a FREE livestream, 1-hour astronomy lessons at 4:30 p.m. EDT, and live telescope views from around the world. 

https://www.slooh.com/guestDashboard

 

 

Free Learning Videos

Free Learning Videos

The Kids Should See – Smart Videos 

Epic!– Read Amazing Children’s Books Online – FREE for Teachers and Their Students – until the end of June

NSTA – FREE Science Teacher  Resources

Teacher Vision – FREE for ALL for the next two weeks.

TIME for Kids – FREE Digital Library

Scholastic FREE Learn at Home Library

 

 

Best Reads – Women’s History Month

Best Women History Month Books and Lesson Plan

Best Women History Month Books and Lesson Plan

Before She Was Harriet – Lesson Plan

Counting on Katherine – Lesson Plan

Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg? – Lesson Plan

So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth Long Walk to Freedom – Lesson Plan

Ruby Bridges – Through My Eyes – Lesson Plan

Vision of Beauty – by Lasky – Lesson Plan

 

Read Across America 2020

Read Across America - Books

Read Across America


Read Across America

Green Eggs and Ham  – Word Sorts Lesson Plan – Words Their Way – Grades K-1

Lorax Lesson Plan – Earth Day Lesson Plan – Earth Science Lesson Plan – Grades 1-3

"The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss - Lesson Plan; Earth Day Lesson Plan

“The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan; Earth Day Lesson Plan

"Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss - Lesson Plan

“Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

"Horse Museum" by Dr. Seuss - Lesson Plan

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – the latest Dr. Seuss library addition. “Horse Museum” is a story of arts history. In its engaging manner, Dr. Seuss introduces different art movements and styles, encouraging again, creativity of thought and expression. This book inspires students to draw and appreciate different types of art. Even though the book revolves around horses, allow students to select an animal of their own choice as a subject of their art.

 

 

 

"Horse Museum" by Dr. Seuss - Lesson Plan

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

"Horse Museum" by Dr. Seuss - Lesson Plan

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

 

 

 

New Black History Month Books

New Black History Month Books

New Black History Month Books

1.“Before She Was Harriet” – Cline-Ransome
2. “Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt” – by Hopkins
3. “Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” – Helaine Becker
4. “Trailblazers: Harriet Tubman A Journey to Freedom”
5. “The Parker Inheritance” – Varian Johnson
6. “So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth Long Walk to Freedom” – Schmidt

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

"Horse Museum" by Dr. Seuss - Lesson Plan

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

Just in time for Read Across America / Dr. Seuss Day 2020, “Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss is the latest Dr. Suess library addition. Unlike, most other Dr. Suess books that focus on rhyming and early language development, “Horse Museum” is a book about art history, Dr. Seuss style. As always, Dr. Seuss’s book encourages creative thinking and expression. Suitable for a wide range of elementary grades from Kindergarten to 6th grade. This book inspires students to draw and appreciate different types of art. Even though the book revolves around horses, the main lesson is that artistic styles not only differ due to age, region, and artistic style but also individual artistic expression and choice. There is simply no one right way to make art. Love it!!!!

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

"Horse Museum" by Dr. Seuss - Lesson Plan

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

Elephant Drawing outline Horse Drawing Outline Turtle drawing outlineRose Drawing Outlinebird drawing

“Counting on Katherine” by Helaine Becker – Lesson Plan

"Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13" - Lesson Plan

“Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” – Lesson Plan

“Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” by Helaine Becker- Lesson Plan; An inspiring story about Katherine Johnson, an African American NASA mathematician, and physicist, who saved Apollo 13 by calculating a safe passage of Apollo 13 back to Earth after an explosion. Her calculations didn’t contain mere numbers but also included her vast knowledge of space physics, which astronauts followed to travel back. Katherine Johnson made numerous contributions to the American scientific community in her long NASA career as a space mathematician and physicist. In 2015, at the age of 97, Mrs. Katherine Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. In “Counting on Katherine” Becker unfolds a story in a most captivating way. Katherine’s spirit and enthusiasm simply jump off the page. Mrs. Johnson’s life story is a story of achievement and her accomplishments are immeasurable. Such an amazing read!

"Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13" - Lesson Plan

“Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” – Lesson Plan

“Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” – by Patricia Brennan Demuth – Novel Guide

 

"Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?" - by Demuth - Novel Guide

“Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” – by Demuth – Novel Guide

 “Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” – by Patricia Brennan Demuth is the latest book in Penguin’s Who Is? series. Published just in time for our January and February deep social studies dive. This book is a perfect complement to “I Dissent” Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark” by Debbie Levy. Justice Ginsburg’s biography is cross curricular endeavour of social studies and language arts. Perhaps, more importantly than any fact in the book is the exemplary life of Justice Ginsburg, who used her knowledge and position to pursue justice and fairness. Perseverance, positive attitude, and education opened doors for Ruth even though she faced numerous obstacles.

 

 

"Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?" - by Demuth - Novel Guide

“Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” – by Demuth – Novel Guide

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

 

“Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet” – Novel Guide

"Greta's Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet" - by Valentina Camerini - Novel Guide

“Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet” – by Valentina Camerini – Novel Guide

Great Thunberg was certainly the person of the 2019. She is a perfect role model for young people. Greta was able to bring awareness to the climate change cause and even more importantly awareness to the fact that nothing is being done about climate change. We read “We Are All Greta”, a great comprehensive book for students who are in middle school.

“Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet” by Camerini is geared towards younger students in grades 3-5. While Camerini’s novel is an easy read. It is also a perfect text to develop student’s critical thinking skills. While studying this text, we pull from other resources, analyze and debate Greta’s TED Talk, sources of high emissions, etc. The author does a good job presenting the issues and climate change cause(s), dwells a bit much on Greta’s Asperger. Please note that students with Asperger’s are extremely bright and logical people with a deep sense of right and wrong. They have a keen understanding of issues. People with Asperger don’t have a disability, but innate reasoning skills that are accompanied by intense interests.

Camerini’s ends her novel stating that there is no easy answers, which contradicts the whole Greta story. The scientific research is out. Governments do know what needs to be done. There are easy answers. The question is how long will it take us to take action. Lovely book with flawed ending, but perfect for text analysis and building logical and critical thinking. 

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Lesson Plan

Free At Last copy jpegFree At Last!: The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr.  – by Angela Bull    

Interest Level: 4-6

Reading Level: Grade Equivalent 4.3

Lexile Measure 720L

DRA: 38

Guided Reading: P (Proficient Reader)

Genre: Biography, History, American History

Theme: Civil Rights, American History, African American History

“Free At Last! The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr.” is an ideal read for both home

and classroom. The book’s level is for proficient readers, but reading it to the class is a much better way to go, due to the wealth of new vocabulary, concepts, and historical information.

The books is available for FREE at WeGiveBooks.org. and the lesson plan

that goes with it is available @ http://tinyurl.com/audvj2a

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

 

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? - Grades 3-7; Novel Guide

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? – Grades 3-7; Novel Guide

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? – Grades 3-7; Novel Guide

Who Was Series is highly engaging series for students in grades 3 – 6. “Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.” is a cross-curriculum text that incorporates American history, African-American history, social studies concepts, and an exemplary life story of Martin Luther King, Jr.  This book is a yearly inspiration.

 

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? - Grades 3-7; Novel Guide

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? – Grades 3-7; Novel Guide

Happy Teaching!
Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

 

 

 

 

Free Reading Prep Comprehension App – Pekaboo Studios Giveaway

Reading Prep Comprehension 4+ Fiction & Non-Fiction Stories

Reading Prep Comprehension App – Grades 2-5; Fiction & Non-Fiction Stories

“Reading Prep Comprehension” App by Pekaboo Studios – Free for limited time. Perfect for independent silent reading time or group guided reading. Grades 2-5; Fiction and Non- Fiction stories.

Free Reading Comprehension App - Giveaway by Pekaboo Studios

Free Reading Comprehension App – Giveaway by Pekaboo Studios

“If I Built a School” by Chris Van Dusen – Lesson Plan

"If I Built a School" by Chris Van Duesen - Lesson Plan

“If I Built a School” by Chris Van Duesen – Lesson Plan

And the “I Built…” fun continues with “If I Built a School” by Chris Van Dusen – 14 page, Lesson Plan; 

This lesson cuts across language arts, architectural design, & mapping skills curricula. While studying “If I Built a School” story, students are introduced to the architectural design of Bjarke Ingles Group, a renowned Danish architectural company that recently built their first public school in Arlington, Virginia. Students can see real-life examples of emerging building concepts and elements; optimization of light, color, space in school design/ building. Van Dusen does a fine job using imagination to create more fun and engaging learning space, and Bjarke Ingles takes students into the real world with his amazing designs that incorporate ski slopes and rooftop gardens in structures that serve a variety of purposes from public housing to bank building and schools.

Bjarke Ingles Group - Public School Arlington, Virginia

Bjarke Ingles Group – Public School Arlington, Virginia

“The greatest scientists are artists as well. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world.

– Alber Einstein

Teaching That Matters

"If I Built a Car" by by Chris Van Dusen - Lesson Plan

“If I Built a Car” by by Chris Van Dusen – Lesson Plan

As a teacher and a parent, I have two reflection points during the year. The first one is at the end of the school year, and the second one is at the end of the calendar year. The endings are good points to reflect on what went well and what should have gone better. When it comes to education, there is a lot of “should have been better” points. I can’t escape the feeling that so much of the time, kids spend time in school learning stuff they will never use. How do we go about preparing them for the future? While reviewing linear relations with my high schooler, I was reminded of all math algorithms that I still know but never once used in my professional life. Can we honestly say that we are preparing students for the future if we are not helping them gain the skills that they will need? Sorry, but linear relations and polynomials will not help anyone survive in the real world. Most kids are not going to become mathematicians, but they perhaps can become something even more important. Steve Jobs wasn’t a coder, but he changed the world with his creative ideas and entrepreneurialship. The change in creativity from the 1st to the 5th grade is tragic. In the 1st grade, students have a hard time doing anything other than doodling and telling the most creative stories one can hear. In the 5th grade, most students claim that they don’t know how to draw and have difficulty coming up with a fictional paragraph. Our school system does everything to destroy any type of creativity students enter the school with. Well, “If it’s not on the standardized test, we don’t need to know it”. We go about it in all the wrong ways. So, at the end of the year, I always ask myself, how did I do as a teacher. How am I helping them survive the test culture and gain skills that they need in the world? The most important skills that are not on the test; perseverance, creativity, ingenuity, self-confidence, critical thinking. 

"Vision of Beauty" by Kathryn Lasky - lesson plan

“Vision of Beauty” by Kathryn Lasky – lesson plan

In class, we will start the new year with the study of “Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker” by Kathryn Lasky. Sarah Breedlove Walker was and is an amazing role model, who proved that if something can be envisioned, it can be achieved. Also, we are going to study a fun series “If I Built” by Chris Van Dusen, starting with “If I Built a Car”. What makes “If I Built a Car” perfect for creativity and imagination, is the fact that students get to use their imagination to create a car and not be limited by STEM activity constraints. Jack in “If I Built a Car” is able to think about features that he would like to see in a car, design it, and then troubleshoot the how-abouts of building his dream vehicle. Of course, he starts by researching what has been done in the past. Chris Van Dusen takes us one step ahead of STEM. It encourages creativity and imagination without which there is no innovation. 

 

Happy Teaching! 

Make a difference.

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed. 

 

"If I Built a Car" by by Chris Van Dusen - Lesson Plan

“If I Built a Car” by by Chris Van Dusen – Lesson Plan

Drita, My Homegirl – LA & Civics – Grades 4-6

 

"Drita, My Homegirl" by Jenny Lombard - Novel Guide

“Drita, My Homegirl” by Jenny Lombard – Novel Guide

Lexile Measure: 690L

Guided Reading: Q 

Genre/Theme:

Realistic Fiction

Interest level: 3- 5 

Topics:

Elementary School

Friends and Friendship

Immigration

Drita is a fourth-grader who just arrived in New York City from Kosovo. As every immigrant, Drita is excited at first, but soon faces many hard realities. Their “new” apartment is small, old, and dirty. She is having a hard time making friends at school and her whole family goes through big changes. 

What is really amazing about this novel is how real it feels, even though the author, Jenny Lombard, is not an immigrant/refugee herself. The author did an amazing job portraying the life of an adolescent girl who is trying to start a new life in a new country.

"Drita, My Home Girl"Jenny Lombard - Novel Guide

“Drita, My Home Girl”Jenny Lombard – Novel Guide

For Lesson Plan go to: Click Here

“Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends” by Mike Reiss – Lesson Plan

"Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends" by Mike Reiss - Lesson Plan

“Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends” by Mike Reiss – Lesson Plan

“Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends,” and how can they be? Turtle is a horrid animal with rough skin and a hard shell, while the tortoise is a handsome creature with a hard shell and rough skin. A story about two moody turtles who take 46 years to come to the realization that they come from the same family of animals. Turtle or tortoise? Who can tell the difference? After this story, primary students will become experts on turtle or tortoise identification. Plus, it’s an ideal time to incorporate teaching about reptiles, their characteristics, and habitats. All in all, a lovely ending for two super moody creatures. Surely, your students will recognize themselves in the story.

"Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends" by Mike Reiss - Lesson Plan

“Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends” by Mike Reiss – Lesson Plan

Florida Sea Turtle Hatchling

Florida Sea Turtle Hatchling