Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Student Writes Nasty Letter to Teacher and Teacher Corrects it!

April 10, 2014

 

correct

Never mess with an English teacher!

 

Click on the link to read The Telegraph’s Best Children’s Book of All Time

Click on the link to read The New York Public Library’s 100 Most Requested Children’s Books

Click on the link to read Stunning Photographs of the Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

Click on the link to read The Call to Stop Kids From Reading Books they Actually Enjoy

Click on the link to read The Classic Children’s Books they Tried to Ban

Click on the link to read How Spelling Mistakes can Turn a Compliment into Something Quite Different.

Click on the link to read Why Spelling is Important at Starbucks

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The Telegraph’s Best Children’s Book of All Time

March 6, 2014

 

 

books

Some absolute classics among this very well compiled list:

Watership Down

Richard Adams (1972)

The full-scale novel about rabbits finding their promised land has the magic of prophecy, idyllic Hampshire locations and the structure of the Aeneid. Adams enjoys parading his scholarship, and this is a lively introduction to brainy books.

The Hobbit

J R R Tolkien (1937)

Here we meet the characters who will make The Lord of the Rings happen, and on a pre-Peter Jackson scale. If anything, Gollum is even more chilling here, because we see him through the eyes of a hobbit – seldom the calmest of travellers.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

C S Lewis (1950)

Welcome to the magical land of Narnia, where the White Witch reigns over a snow-girt land peopled by fawns, talking beavers and people eager to put their trust in four kids from Finchley. The Christian allusions come later, but for now this is pure narrative magic.

Charlotte’s Web

E B White (1952)

The New Yorker writer cherished for his elegance of style gives us an altruistic spider with exquisite manners, and a pig to make her proud. There are intimations of mortality, but a plot of fame and legacy thumbs its nose at the inevitable.

The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943)

The Little Prince falls to Earth to meet the author, who has crashed his plane. His quizzical, wise stories of other planets (most of which are inhabited by solitary monomaniacs) lead to the daftest of all – our own.

Pippi Longstocking

Astrid Lindgren (1945)

It’s quite something to live as an orphan with just a horse and a monkey for companions. The heroine has a chutzpah that makes her sound at her most adult when she’s flouting adult conventions, especially at teatime.

Emil and the Detectives

Erich Kästner (1929)

When Emil is robbed of his mother’s hard-earned savings (that were never likely to stretch far), he has help from a scratch squad of child detectives from Berlin. However much this sounds like the best child’s game ever, the real world is seldom far away.

James and the Giant Peach

Roald Dahl (1961)

One of Dahl’s earliest, best, and most fully developed tales. There is no attempt to make the giant insects or articulate clouds seem natural: this is a world of wonder, more marvellous than Wonka’s, even.

Winnie the Pooh

A A Milne (1926)

Characters begin days by visiting one another, and end up shifting houses, learning to fly or surviving floods.

A Little Princess

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1905)

Sara has a privileged background but is now living as a Cinderella figure; and she plays at being a princess. But her response shows that being a princess is less a social ranking than a state of mind.

The Just So Stories

Rudyard Kipling (1902)

How did the leopard get his spots? How was the alphabet made? Why are elephant’s trunks so long? Kipling is the model of the patient parent in the face of constant questions. And who cares about evolution? This is much more fun.

A Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Jules Verne (1864)

Verne uses all the tricks that make Anthony Horowitz so successful – the action-packed chapters that end at just the right time and the sense of deepening mystery – but also a knack for convincing us that there really might be creatures down there.

The Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame (1908)

The idyllic, stylised account of life on the river, with anxious glimpses beyond it, is a masterclass in character-driven comedy – alongside the arriviste Toad is the petit bourgeois Mole, and Rat, the gentleman of leisure.

The Doll People

Ann M Martin and Laura Godwin (2000)

The dolls in your dolls’ house might look inanimate to you, but you clearly have no idea of what they get up to at night. They’re casing the joint, tracking lost relatives and dodging that cruel fate – PDS (Permanent Doll State).

The Child that Books Built

Francis Spufford (2002)

Although this book isn’t written for children, the more reflective might enjoy it as a guide on how to grow into reading; and it’s a wonderfully eloquent take on how growing up happens unexpectedly.

THE BEST OF THE REST

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Illustrator Quentin Blake Turns 80 and is Given a Knighthood

December 29, 2012

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Recently I taught a unit on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I formed my wonderful Grade 3’s in a circle and we each took turns reading from this masterpiece. Using the novel as inspiration, we completed the following activities:

  1. I got the students to write and design their own Golden Tickets.
  2. I gave out a piece of bubble gum to each student and got them to blow bubbles. Then, in conjunction with our writing genre focus, procedural writing, the students wrote a procedure as to how to blow bubbles in step by step form.
  3. We watched both films and analysed the faithfulness of each adaptation.
  4. Again, in keeping with our procedural writing genre focus I got the students to look up a simple chocolate recipes. They wrote the recipe down using a procedural proforma and then cooked/baked their recipe for an end of year chocolate party. The recipes would then be collated as a cook book for the students to take home.

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Whilst Roald Dahl is to be acknowledged for providing joy to my students and many others worldwide, so too must his incredibly talented and distinctive illustrator, Quentin Blake who turns 80 years old.

Thank you on behalf of my class and all those who have had the good fortune to enjoy your fine illustrations. Happy Birthday Sir Quentin!

Click on the link to read Hilarious Menu Items Lost in Translation

Click on the link to read This is What Happens When You Rely on Spell Check

Click on the link to read The 15 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in the English Language

Click on the link to read Who Said Grammar Isn’t Important?

Click on the link to read Why Spelling is Important

‘Love’ as Defined by a 5-Year Old

September 28, 2012

A cute note by a young child on the subject of love:

Click on the link to read If We Accept Dishonesty From Adults, What Hope is There for Our Kids?

Click on the link to read Teachers Should Stop Blaming Parents and Start Acting

Click on the link to read The Benefits of Reality TV on Kids

Click on the link to read Study Reveals Children Aren’t Selfish After All

The Most Unlikely Children’s Author Yet

August 1, 2012

I would never have predicted that former basketballer Dennis Rodman would even contemplate becoming a writer of children’s books:

What do Katie Couric, Gloria Estefan, Jamie Lee Curits and Dennis Rodman all have in common? If you said “They’ve all been photographed in a wedding dress!” … you’re correct. But we also would have accepted … they have all written children’s books.

That’s right … the NBA Hall of Famer and occasional crossdresser is releasing his own book for kids called “Dennis The Wild Bull” … set to be released sometime later this year.

Dennis and his people are tight-lipped about the premise, but the book’s website says it will “convey good lessons to children based on Dennis’ own experiences as a world class athlete while overcoming obstacles as a child.”

Dennis recently reconnected with his father … and we’re told he’s been re-motivated to strengthen his relationship with his own children … and believes this book will help the process.

Click on the link to read Who Said Grammar Isn’t Important?

Click on the link to read Using Spam Emails in Your Literacy Lessons

Click on the link to read It’s Not the Right Time to Put Age Classifications on Kids Books

Short Attention Span Blamed for Lack of Interest in Reading

June 22, 2012

People don’t have patience any more. Everything needs to be immediate and instantaneous. I heard someone on the radio last night complain about the 5 seconds of advertising they had to sit through before they could access their YouTube clip.

It is no wonder that children no longer have the attention span for reading:

More than four-in-10 teachers said children failed to read for pleasure at the age of 11, it emerged.

The study – by the publisher Pearson – found that many schools fear children have short attention spans and prefer to spend time online rather than reading a novel.

Teachers also said that books were not seen as “cool” by pupils and raised fears that parents are failing to do enough to promote a love of reading in the home.

Frank Cottrell Boyce, the author, said: “It’s worrying to think that so many young children are not being inspired to pick up a good book and get lost in a story.

“According to Unesco, the biggest single indicator of whether a child is going to thrive at school and in work is whether or not they read for pleasure.”

The poll questioned around 400 secondary school English teachers.

Two-thirds of those questioned said that reading was not seen as “cool” by pupils, according to the study.

Three-quarters said that children’s attention spans were shorter than ever before, while 94 per cent claimed that pupils preferred to be using the internet rather than reading.

It is my belief that a crucial part of my job is to promote the joys of reading. I take pride in selecting books for my class that will appeal and entertain. I also have a Book Club. This allows my students to see that reading is not necessarily a personal experience but it can be a shared experienced too.

Standardised Testing Meets Spin City

May 15, 2012

A few weeks ago I sought to have an interview with Australia’s Education Minister regarding the upcoming NAPLAN standardised tests. I am still waiting for a reply.

Luckily, I came across his op/ed piece over the weekend, where he tries to allay the fears of the parenting community and make a case for these highly pressured, incredibly unpopular series of tests.

In his piece, he claims that:

Parents and the community should rest assured that the NAPLAN tests are simply a way of measuring how our students and our schools are performing in the three key areas of reading, writing and numeracy. Nothing more, and nothing less.

I assure you Mr. Garrett that parents of 8-years olds subjected to 4 rigorous exams in 3 days understand that these tests represent much more than just a simple way of measuring child progress.

There is nothing in any of the tests that students need to learn above and beyond what is already being taught in the classroom, namely the curriculum.

I am not sure that is true. Whilst my students are expected to write persuasive essays, there is no mention of persuasive writing in the Grade 3 curriculum.

By measuring how our students are performing as they progress through school, we can get a clear national picture, for the first time, of where we need to be directing extra attention and resources.

This is just spin. This implies that these tests exist to help direct the Government in regards to spending and programs. There is no evidence of any Governmental response whether it be financial or a simple change of priorities based on the yearly NAPLAN results. Instead, the outcome of the NAPLAN is designed to expose failing schools, inept teachers and anything and everything that can divert attention from a Government good at measuring performance but poor at performing themselves.

It needs to be made clear to schools and teachers that excessive test practising ahead of NAPLAN is unnecessary. While it helps to be familiar with the structure of the tests, carrying out endless practices should not be encouraged. NAPLAN matters, but it is not the be all and end all.

Unnecessary to whom? If you and your staff were to be tested on the performance of your portfolio wouldn’t you take the time to prepare? When a class gets appraised, so does the teacher. Are we meant to sit back and watch 8-years old kids sit for their first formal exams without preparing them for the kinds of questions and scenarios they are likely to encounter?

Mr. Garett, your opinion piece tries to win over parents, yet it completely deviates from the very issue that parents are most concerned about. Parents do not like seeing their young children exposed to so much pressure. They don’t like to see their children who may currently enjoy learning, subjected to such a negative learning experience.

Today, one of my students was so frightened by the prospect of these exams that he was reluctant to get in the car. We are talking about a child that loves learning.

I have no problem with High School children being tested. But 3rd Graders? Is it really worth it?

 

One of the Most Overrated Skills in the Classroom

March 28, 2012

Whilst I can obviously see the value of teaching spelling skills, I don’t think it is anywhere near as important as schools make out.

The emphasis that spelling gets when it comes to teaching allotments, testing and reporting is astounding. Surely there are more vital skills such as maths, writing and reading that can profit from taking some of the ‘treasured’ spelling time.

Many skills now have specialised spelling programs complete with up to 5 weekly periods per class from the Second Grade upwards. Talk about overkill! My daughter recently brought home a form requesting our written consent to take her out of her classes in order to strengthen her spelling skills. What makes this request even more bizarre is that she is only in the first grade! I can understand taking her out for maths or English, but spelling?

What upsets me most about the obsession with children and spelling is what it does to our students. Our children know whether they are good spellers or not. They have been tested countless times and their work is often given a ‘dose of red’ where every misspelled word corrected. What then tends to happen, is that students become self-conscious about their spelling capabilities and try to avoid the dreaded red ink corrections. Instead of using the most appropriate word for their written work, they choose words they know how to spell. This has a severe negative impact on the quality of their writing.

I am a big fan of minimising the emphasis of spelling. I want my students to write freely, to choose words that best fits their work and have a fearless approach to spelling difficult words. To me, a free and unhampered piece of writing replete with spelling errors far outweighs a dreary, disjointed piece of work with correct spelling.

I’m not against the teaching of spelling and I certainly believe that spelling rules and the understanding of morphographs have a place in the classroom. I just don’t think these skills are anywhere near as important as many would have you believe.

R.I.P Jan Berestain of Berenstain Bears Fame

February 29, 2012

As a child, I absolutely adored the Berenstain Bears books. I made my parents read them to me over and over again. I particularly loved “The Bike Lesson”, a father’s cautionary tale to his young son on how not to ride a bike. I have since started reading the books to my daughter and on occasion, to my students.

Jan Berenstain, one of the writers of the series of books died at 88:

Jan Berenstain, who with her husband, Stan, wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed children and their parents for 50 years, has died. She was 88.

Berenstain, a long-time resident of Solebury in south-eastern Pennsylvania, suffered a severe stroke on Thursday and died on Friday without regaining consciousness, her son Mike Berenstain said.

The gentle tales of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear were inspired by the Berenstain children, and later their grandchildren. The stories address children’s common concerns and aim to offer guidance on subjects like dentist visits, peer pressure, a new sibling or summer camp.

Thank you Jan for contributing to my love of reading and literature. You have left a legacy that will continue to entertain children. May you rest in peace.

The ‘100 Greatest Books for Kids’ is Released

February 16, 2012

Scholastic Parent & Child magazine have gone to the trouble of ranking the 100 “Greatest Books for Kids.” There are some great titles among the list and some notable omissions. I am a tad disappointed “The Cat in the Hat” didn’t make the list. I suppose you can’t please everybody.

Below is the list:

1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

4. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jacks Keats

5. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

7. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

8. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

10. Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

11. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

12. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

13. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

14. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

15. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

16. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

17. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

18. When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan

19. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

20. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

21. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

22. Corduroy by Don Freeman

23. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

24. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

25. The Giver by Lois Lowry

26. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

27. Black on White by Tana Hoban

28. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

29. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume

30. My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Polacco

31. The Mitten by Jan Brett

32. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

33. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

34. Swimmy by Leo Lionni

35. Freight Train by Donald Crews

36. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

37. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood

38. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

39. Zen Shorts by John J. Muth

40. Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton

41. Matilda by Roald Dahl

42. What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry

43. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

44. Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

45. The Composition by Antonio Skarmeta

46. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

47. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

48. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

49. Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport

50. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

51. Sylvia Long’s Mother Goose by Sylvia Long

52. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

53. The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

54. Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges

55. Smile! by Roberta Grobel Intrater

56. Living Sunlight by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm

57. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

58. Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull

59. Dear Juno by Soyung Pak

60. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes… by Annie Kubler

61. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

62. Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin

63. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

64. My Truck Is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis

65. Birds by Kevin Henkes

66. The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

67. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

68. Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read Book by Karen Katz

69. The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks by Joanna Cole

70. Blackout by John Rocco

71. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

72. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

73. Tea With Milk by Allen Say

74. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

75. Holes by Louis Sachar

76. Peek-a Who? by Nina Laden

77. Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold

78. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

79. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

80. What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

81. Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman

82. Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows

83. Yoko by Rosemary Wells

84. No No Yes Yes by Leslie Patricelli

85. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

86. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

87. Rules by Cynthia Lord

88. Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

89. An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston

90. Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault

91. Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

92. What Shall We Do With the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell

93. We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States by David Catrow

94. I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis

95. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

96. Gossie by Olivier Dunrea

97. The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

98. First Words by Roger Priddy

99. Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman

100. Animalia by Graeme Base


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