Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Teaching Transversal Lines

Image by School Genius

Transversal is not the name of a one hit wonder 80's band, but instead the name of the line that crosses two or more lines in the same plane. In teaching this concept to 5th graders, I have been given several helpful resources that are listed below. Other subjects that come into play include interior, exterior, vertical, and corresponding angles.

SmartBoard lesson: This is a really good lesson. Students are able to manipulate sections and get a good visual feel for interior, exterior, and vertical angles.

Khan Academy videos: Angles formed between transversals and parallel lines
                                       Angles of parallel lines 2
These videos by Salman Khan are great resources to reinforce your lessons. A couple of numbers in the second video are out of place, but this can easily be rectified. Khan has a great sense of humor and does well to simplify difficult subjects.

Math Worksheets 4 Kids has two good sets of problems that can be used for practice or homework:
Parallel Lines and Transversals #1
Parallel Lines and Transversals #2

If you have any other helpful resources, please list them in the comments section.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Woods

The Woods
written and illustrated by Paul Hoppe
2011 (Chronicle Books)
Source: Mebane Public Library

A young boy is ready to turn in for the night. He goes through his normal routine when he discovers that his bunny is missing. This calls for a trip to the woods. These woods are directly connected to his bedroom which is very convenient. Not too far into the journey he meets a scary brown bear. Except this bear is not scary but instead scared. He is afraid of the dark so our narrator offers his nightlight for relief. This party of two continues until they meet two scary giants. Seems the giants are not scary either. They are just bored and in need of a bedtime story, which is quickly provided. The next creature met along the way is a three headed fire-breathing dragon who is not interested in providing a fright but rather needs help with a stomachache. Our kind narrator provides a hug which is just the tonic needed. Afterwards, a trip to a big dark cave yields the bunny and a surprise ending.

The Woods is a terrific option for a bedtime story. The lead character helps others face their fears with solutions for various nighttime needs. This is a clever text which provides opportunities for rich discussions about being afraid and how we deal with these feelings. It would be interesting to see if children put two and two together to see that the boy is giving each creature something he uses at night to help himself go to sleep. Paul Hoppe's watercolor illustrations have a classic look that remind me of early 20th century Sunday comics. The Woods would be an excellent choice for a read aloud in a preschool or kindergarten class.

Other reviews:
Picture Book of the Day
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey Diddle Diddle: A Food Chain Tale
written by Pam Kapchinske; illustrated by Sherry Rogers
2011 (Sylvan Dell)
Source: Orange County Public Library

Check out Nonfiction Monday at A Curious Thing

A slithering snake came slinkin' past
when he spotted that bug - a snack at last!
He swallowed it whole and shimmied along,
a hissin' and a grinnin' and a singin' a song.


No one is safe in Hey Diddle Diddle. As soon as you start celebrating your latest meal, you end up on someone else's dinner plate. Welcome to the food chain. Each sequence is presented in a four line rhyme that will be a popular shared reading experience. It is an AABB pattern so you can withhold the last word in the second A and B lines and see if students can predict the word. Speaking of predicting, you can also ask students to use their background knowledge and predict what animal will be on the next page. Hey Diddle Diddle is a good science lesson (Lessons on herbivore/carnivore, predator/prey, and habitat are possibilities), but I think the hidden strength of this book is in the writing lessons that can be taught using this text. Author Pam Kapchinske loads these verses with vivid verbs which can be used as a mentor text for beefing up stale writing. It would also be a fun activity as a class to create your own pair of four verse rhymes featuring a predator and their prey. Perhaps a kid attacking a grilled cheese sandwich. As with other Sylvan Dell titles, check out the back matter for activities that can be used in the classroom or at home.

Other reviews:
Just Our Thoughts

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont

The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont
written by Victoria Griffith; illustrated by Eva Montanari
2011 (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Check out Nonfiction Monday at Books Together

Alberto Santos-Dumont was a celebrity in 1903 Paris. He flew his dirigible around the French capital and easily outpaced the cars below. But Alberto was restless. As he explained to his friend, the jeweler Louis Cartier, he wanted flying machines to go faster and be more useful. For three years Alberto worked on a flying machine and was ready to unveil it in November 1906. Nearly a thousand people gathered at a field to see his new invention. An unexpected interloper by the name of Louis Bleriot was also there with his new flying machine. Being a gentleman and supremely confident, Santos-Dumont offered Bleriot the chance to go first. This was a huge risk for Alberto as he stood to lose the opportunity to be the first man to fly an airplane powered only by itself. Bleriot made three attempts and on the third one his airplane fell apart. Alberto started the engine on his plane and soon soared above the heads of the spectators. He managed to fly for twenty-one seconds before a hard landing. Alberto knew the time since he was wearing a new  wristwatch created by Louis. Cheering spectators carried the new champion of flight on their shoulders. Alberto Santos-Dumont was the first man to take off in a plane using its own power.

The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont brings to light an historical figure previously unknown to me and I suspect many others. This book is a perfect example for students of how our understanding of history is subject to change. It is an interesting debate as to who actually invented the airplane. The Wright Brothers flew with the assistance of wind and a rail system while Santos-Dumont's airplane was self-powered and there are others who could possibly lay claim to being the first. This could be the subject for an research/opinion paper or a compare/contrast assignment in a classroom. Victoria Griffith's captivating text could also be used for a lesson on sequence. Students would describe Alberto's big day in a series of boxes filled with illustrations. It would be interesting to create a picture book unit on early flight featuring aviators such as the Wrights, Santos-Dumont, Elinor Smith, and Amelia Earhart.

Other reviews:
Picture Book of the Day (check out the video!)
Fuse #8


Thursday, November 17, 2011

STEM Friday: Mystery Math: A First Book of Algebra

Mystery Math: A First Book of Algebra
written by David A. Adler; illustrated by Edward Miller
2011 (Holiday House)
Source: Orange County Public Library

Check out STEM Friday at Dig This Well

David A. Adler and Edward Miller have done it again! Last year they created the terrific Time Zones which translated a complex subject into a fun read. As if that wasn't difficult enough, this dynamic duo is now tackling algebra in Mystery Math. A haunted house is the perfect setting for a subject that strikes fear in the hearts of millions. Adler starts the book by comparing equations to seesaws. Both need to be balanced in order to work. Simple equations (e.g. 6 + 2 = 8) combined with spooky owls on tree branches illustrate this idea of balance. Next, the mystery number is introduced. Adler explains that variables get their name because they vary from one equation to the next. A simple rule is given to help deal with variables: Whatever is done to one side of the equal sign must be done to the other side. Finally, readers are guided on how to solve for variables in each of the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). In each section, guides Mandy and Billy and caretaker Igor present the operation in the form of an algebraic word problem. The problem is broken down so the reader can see how to find the value of the variable. A nice finishing touch is a piece of procedural text in the back matter that shows you how to build a balance scale that can be used to find unknown numbers in equations.

Mystery Math would be a great introduction for elementary students who are beginning to learn about algebra. Students could write their own word problems to match the setting of the book and share these for homework.

Other reviews:
Nonfiction Detectives

Monday, November 14, 2011

Little Pig Joins the Band

Little Pig Joins the Band
written and illustrated by David Hyde Costello
2011 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Mebane Public Library

Little Pig is frustrated. He is never called by his real name, Jacob, and when his family gets out Grandpa's marching band instruments, Little Pig finds that he is too small to play them. With no piccolo, harmonica, or kazoo in sight, Little Pig is resigned to being a spectator. When his brothers and sisters start playing, it is a maelstrom of missed notes and steps. What this band needs is a leader, and there is no height requirement for that position. Little Pig steps in as drum major and harmony ensues.

A common theme in picture books is a young character who doesn't seem to fit in and has to find a way to belong.  This theme is popular among young readers because they have experienced similar feelings in their lives. Little Pig Joins the Band would be a good mentor text for making text to self connections and also for teaching a lesson on problem and solution. In conjunction with this book, I would ask students how they can be leaders in their classroom and home.

Other reviews
Waking Brain Cells




Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Time to Eat

Time to Eat
written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
2011 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Source: Mebane Public Library

Check out Nonfiction Monday at Playing by the book

Have you watched competitive eaters scarfing down hot dogs in the July 4th contest on Coney Island? The winner will eat about 50-60 hot dogs. Sounds impressive (or disgusting or both), but the true competitive eating champs reside in the wild animal kingdom. For example, a tick can drink about one hundred times its own weight in blood. This amounts to a human drinking 6,000 milkshakes as an equivalent meal. A crucifix toad stores insects on its sticky skin and then peels off the skin for a tasty treat. Baby blue whales drink enough milk to gain 200 pounds in 24 hours. Shrews have to eat every two or three hours to stay alive and end up eating three times their own body weight each day.  With Time to Eat, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have collected a cornucopia of "wow" facts about animal eating habits and combined with their usual cool collage artwork will easily capture the imagination of young readers. Seventeen different animals are featured in this book and in the back matter there are extra facts included for each animal. Time For a Bath and Time to Sleep are two more books in this series for young readers.

For teaching purposes, there are several sets of pages where there is a connection between the two animals featured. A butcherbird impales its prey on a thorn while a black widow wraps up its prey in a tight cocoon. You could read the two pages and ask students why the two animals are paired together. This could be an introduction to author's purpose. There are also opportunities to teach main idea and supporting details with several of these passages.

Other reviews:
100 Scope Notes

Saturday, November 12, 2011

SmartBoard and United Streaming lessons for weather

Image by Simon

I'm working on a weather unit for 5th grade so I've listed several SmartBoard links below for lessons that would work well with this unit.

The Water Cycle: Good overview. Really like the run-off section.
Weather: Excellent information on fronts and air masses. Great graphics.
Weather Clouds: Great graphic of the Earth with explanation of humidity.
Virginia Weather Lesson: Developed for Virginia students, this lesson has a terrific Venn diagram activity for the four cloud types (cumulus, cumulonimbus, cirrus, stratus).

 If you have access to United Streaming, there are Weather Smart videos and check out the first 12 minutes of the Magic School Bus video, Wet All Over, which gives an entertaining overview of the water cycle.

Friday, November 11, 2011

STEM Friday: SmartBoard Lessons for Geometry

Image created by Gustavb

We are starting our math unit on identifying, estimating, and measuring angles and my colleague sent me several SmartBoard lesson links that will be extremely helpful in teaching these lessons.

Classifying angles: Overview of angles and their classifications.
Angles: Learning to identify and measure angles.
Angle Measurement: Introduces angles and the tools to measure them. Fun lesson!
Measuring Angles: Includes complementary (90 degrees) and supplementary angles (180 degrees).
Measuring and Classifying Angles: Quick quiz on types of angles and their measures.

Check out the SmartBoard Exchange link in the links section to the right to find more lessons for your interactive whiteboard.

STEM and Poetry Friday: Double Play!

Double Play!: Monkeying Around With Addition
written by Betsy Franco; illustrated by Doug Cushman
2011 (Random House)
Source: Mebane Public Library

Check out STEM Friday at Ana's Nonfiction Blog
Check out Poetry Friday at Teaching Authors

Chimps Jill and Jake make the most of their recess time. They hang out on the bars, jump rope, play foursquare, blow bubbles, and engage in other fun activities. As they play, the reader will notice that recess presents a great opportunity to think about math. The subject today is doubles in addition and when Jill and Jake hang upside down on the bars, they see two sets of knees; 2 + 2 = 4. When there are two games of foursquare being played, you have 8 squares; 4 + 4 = 8. Learning about doubles is an integral part of the process of being able to add numbers and Double Play! makes this fun.

Betsy Franco has mixed poetry and math before with Zero Is the Number of Leaves On a Tree and with Double Play! she again strikes a perfect chord in blending words and numbers. After reading aloud this book with a preschool or kindergarten class, you will hear addition sentences being trumpeted by students all over the playground for days. Students will also delight in viewing Doug Cushman's playful and bright artwork. I would definitely use Double Play! to create a writing activity combining recess, addition sentences, and illustrations. Your class could create their own version of the book. Another thought would be to think about the addition sentences in other areas of the school including the lunchroom. Double Play! is a great lesson for young children on applying the skills you learn in school to all parts of your life.

Other reviews:
Kiss the Book
Journey of a Bookseller


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Abandoned Lighthouse

The Abandoned Lighthouse
written by Albert Lamb; illustrated by David McPhail
2011 (Roaring Brook Press)
Source: Mebane Public Library

A well fed bear finds an empty rowboat on the beach and decides to take a nap. The tide rolls in and takes the boat to the rocks surrounding an abandoned lighthouse. As the bear fishes near the rocks, the boat floats away. A boy is playing on a different shore later that day, kicking a ball with his little dog. The ball bounces into the back of an empty rowboat. When the boy enters the boat to recover his ball, the boat floats out into the sea. His dog paddles furiously and catches the boy in the boat. Exhausted, both boy and dog fall asleep and later find themselves on the rocks beneath an abandoned lighthouse. The bear rescues them and also catches fish for dinner. That night, a storm blows in and brings a large ship perilously close to the lighthouse. Will the three friends be able to revive the lighthouse and save the ship from the rocky shore?

The Abandoned Lighthouse reminds me of Maurice Sendak's Little Bear books which are very appealing to beginning readers. It has a similarly peaceful feel to it with plenty of opportunities for readers to practice their skills of prediction and sequence. As experienced readers, we know that when the bear falls asleep, he is going to float out to sea. Beginning readers don't necessarily know this, so this book is a good opportunity to think through why this happens and how it drives the story. Reading The Abandoned Lighthouse would also be a good opportunity for younger readers to practice retell with the use of sequence. I also like the open ending which would lend itself to a shared writing experience where you could write a new adventure for the rowboat.

Other reviews:
A Book and A Hug

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Earthquake in Haiti

Earthquake in Haiti
written by Miriam Aronin
2011 (Bearport Publishing)
Source: Mebane Public Library

Check out Nonfiction Monday at Charlotte's Library

The 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 was devastating in many ways. Earthquake in Haiti documents this destruction with heartbreaking stories and photographs. Personal accounts are presented through the eyes of 24 year old Wismond Exatus Jean-Pierre who spent 11 days trapped in the rubble of the hotel where he worked. Christa Brelsford was an American volunteer who was helping Haitians learn to read. She was trapped by falling concrete and lost her right leg to amputation, but was so grateful to her rescuers that she started a charity, Christa's Angels, to raise money to rebuild schools in Haiti. Several sections of the book are also devoted to the relief and rescue efforts that quickly came to Haiti in the aftermath of the disaster. Schoolchildren raised money through sales of hot chocolate, parades, and handmade cards. There is still quite a bit that needs to be done today in Haiti. You can click on this link to find out how to help.

Earthquake in Haiti is less a book about the science of earthquakes and more about the human effects of such a tragedy. Students could use this to study the skill of cause and effect by listing the bad effects (homelessness, death, lost jobs, etc.) and good effects (people around the world helping) of this natural disaster. There are also several words (desperate, compassion, volunteering) that could be used for vocabulary study and for making connections.