There are two types of people in the world--those who like electric pencil sharpeners and those who like manual ones. I am firmly in the manual camp. They just seem to produce a better point and have more lasting power. That said, I think I have found a practically perfect manual pencil sharpener.
My second graders read Helen Keller by Jane Sutcliffe and illustrated by Robert Papp. The GREAT news: Helen Keller's life still fascinates children today!
Our study of this famous American takes one - two weeks. During this time, I display quotes by Helen Keller in the classroom, adding a new one each day, which we discuss. At the end of our studies on Keller, students choose one quotation and write about it in their journal.
>>> Below is a FREEBIE pdf file with the quotes. I copied each one unto different colored paper for displaying.
To further student understanding of Helen Keller’s life, it helps to give them a glimpse into it. On the website Helen Keller Kids Museum Online, students are able to view actual photographs of Miss Keller, her teacher, Anne Sullivan, and Polly Thompson, who was Keller's companion following Sullivan’s death.
The website offers a lesson in Braille (teachers may order a free Braille card, or buy additional cards) and a short on-line biography on Louis Braille. A list of additional Keller book biographies is posted.
A superb site feature is the timeline of Keller’s life, complete with photographs and direct links to actual YouTube videos of Helen Keller. Students are very engaged as they watch Anne Sullivan explain how she taught her famous pupil how to talk and actually hearing Keller speak. They can also view Keller’s trip to Japan, following WWII. Also, the site offers those interested the opportunity to write Keller Johnson-Thompson, who is Helen Keller’s grandniece, to ask her questions about her famous great aunt.
It is pure pleasure to see second graders so intrigued by this remarkable woman and her accomplishments. It is a tremendous lesson in perseverance for children.
p.s. - Here's just some of the many books about Helen Keller that your students might also enjoy reading:
After watching "Gallery
Walk," I used the idea myself in the classroom, but also changed the concept for a second type of Gallery Walk ~
Prior to a Gallery Walk, I walk up and down the
hallways of our school and select one (or two that adjoin) with creative
projects I think second graders would enjoy viewing. Then, before leaving our room, the class discusses
(or reviews) what it is like to visit an art gallery or museum and behavior
that first Gallery Walk, I tell my students that while some artwork does not
appeal to me, others "speak" to me.
(There is a bit of alot of side discussion on what THAT means!) It is explained that maybe because of the subject,
colors, or shapes, certain art pieces will capture my attention for closer observation.
Students are then instructed to bring their journal, a pencil, and an eraser
with them, as we embark on a Gallery Walk in our own school.
our Gallery Walks, students find art, often with accompanying writing projects,
they especially like in, for example, the fourth grade hall. If the piece they
choose has or is an art piece, they must draw it, write its title, describe it,
and then, write about why they feel it "speaks" to them.
Gallery Walks, not only because they get out of their usual surroundings, but
they also see what other grade levels are doing. It is also terrific for
differentiation! Many students like the artwork, but also reading the writing
that goes along with these pieces. Additionally, not
only is the level of writing on Gallery Walks more in-depth, but class behavior
is in the excellent range as well, as students are truly engaged in the
each Gallery Walk, my students keep asking me to schedule another soon.
However, I decided in order for these outings to remain special – and the
wonderful behavior during them to continue – that they take place only once or
twice in a month.
Build it, and they will come. Am hoping the same applies to blogs: Write it, and they will eventually read it? Hopefully.
Will continue today in the sharing of my favorite books and/or activities. Although, what I would LOVE (really) to do is post is a document or two, but cannot figure out how. My house needs cleaning (company is coming) more than I need to post, right? So, will keep blogging in the remedial fashion, until I get some time to solve the hows on adding some of the more exciting features. My apologies to readers . . . reader . . .
LET'S TALK BOOKS ~
Traditionally, the first chapter book I share with my students each year is My Father's Dragon. This book by Ruth Stiles Gannett is truly a classic. It was first published in 1948. Elmer Elevator (another great name) is the main character in My Father's Dragon. Elmer runs away from home -- which we discuss in class and always conclude that running away is dangerous and does not solve problems -- to travel to Wild Island. While there to rescue a baby dragon, cruelly misused by the animals of the island as their ferry, Elmer has a number of adventures and some rather close calls with danger, but all ends very happily. Note: Mrs. Gannett wrote sequels to this story, but the first is definitely the best!
Second graders are enchanted by the story of Elmer and his exciting rescue of the baby dragon. In the story, Elmer carries his trusty knapsack, which, it is explained, is what people used to call backpacks. My students make their own smaller version of a backpack and fill it with 5-6 items (drawn and cut out), that they would use if they were about to embark on an adventure. It is helpful to have these visuals when the children write about their own adventure to somewhere, after completing their art project.
(So, okay, I only shared one book, but there's always the promise of more later! In-between cleaning out the guest room closet and mopping, that is.)
Am genuinely trying to figure out how to share documents. Is there anyone out there -- and can you HELP!?
During the summer, when I'm able to shop and to read more
often -- you should see the stack of books beside my bed -- I'm always on the
lookout for children's books, old and new. So, thought I'd share favorites that
I read throughout the school year to my second graders.
The Big Orange Splot & Student Dream Houses
One book I read during the first days is The Big
Orange Splot, by Daniel Pinkwater. It is the story of Mr. Plumbean, who
lives on a neat street where all the houses look alike. Then, a bird comes
along and drops a can of orange paint on his house, leaving behind a big orange
split on the roof. Mr. Plumbean is inspired to change the appearance of his house into the
house of his dreams. However, his neighbors are none too happy about it, until each
talks to Mr. Plumbean about their dreams.
Students love Mr. Plumbean and all the house remodeling that ensues! I use the book to inspire the children to decorate their own house that is like their dreams. Their "house" is actually a privacy folder for use at their desks. Later, each student writes a description of their house and its special features. Second graders love to share their dreams – and these dream houses.
Watch for more sharing of books here in upcoming posts!
Friends, Below is a link to a post, titled
“Conversation Oo-No,” on the blog, OC SLP, by Debra Brunner. Brunner is a
licensed, certified Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), who practices in Orange
County, California. After reading it, I contacted Ms. Brunner and asked
permission to link to this post. She graciously agreed!
blog offers insight into autism, among other topics, from a speech
professional's viewpoint. This particular post shares how the author found that
the game Uno had assisted two of her young clients with conversational skills.
I’ve always used games for building community and social skills, but want
to be open to discovering and using new games. There’s much to consider: Which
ones are do-able in the amount of time students have in a center? What games,
besides Uno, best lend themselves to conversation for children? What about new games which with I may not be familiar? And old games: Checkers,
definitely. Boggle, yes! Make a Ten (or Eleven or Twelve) card games, yes
again. As a child, my cousins and I loved Yahtzee and Old Maid. Still think
Yahtzee will work well. Is Old Maid politically correct? Doubtful! Comments and suggestions would be much much appreciated.
I started thinking about guilty pleasures. Movie guilty pleasures. And, it had everything to do with the fact that I was watching the movie, “The Replacement Killers” with Yun-Fat Chow and Mira Sorvino. Maybe we’ll discuss books or TV shows or activities another
day, but today's topic is Movie Guilty Pleasures.
“The Replacement Killers,” as mentioned above, is one of mine. It is about a
Chinese hit-man (Yun Fat-Chow) who fails to kill his target due to conscience.
He finds help in the form of a forger (Sorvino) when he must elude the
replacements, who have been sent by his Chinese drug-lord boss to finish his
assignment, kill him and then, murder his family. Wow, right? There’s lots
and lots of bullets. Way too many. But, gosh, the movie is almost nonstop
action, and Sorvino is such fun to watch as the bad girl with a big heart.
Other movie guilty pleasures: If Harry Potter
movies count, I’m guilty. And I am increasingly fond of Pixar and Disney cartoons, like "Tangled." Are those guilty pleasures, also, or an indication that most Hollywood movies have lost their magic. Does the word "remake" make you cringe, too?
Films of the ‘30’s and 40’s are huge
favorites. Bette Davis movies are definitely another guilty pleasure of mine.
Those huge, piercing eyes! My favorite Davis film is “Dark Victory,” in which
she plays an heiress with an incurable brain tumor. Davis is at her
scenery-chewing zenith, but she will win your heart and your tears.
Unfortunately, Davis movies aren’t shown on TV, as much as they once were.
James Cagney gangster films also qualify.
How could this congenial man play gangsters so convincingly? His mobsters
were so very cold, with no heart for anyone or anything, except possibly for
his unfortunate film mom.
Edward G. Robinson movies are fascinating to
me. Mr. Robinson was a very gentle, cultured man who became famous for playing
psychopaths. Later, he developed into a terrific character actor. However, you
never forget, when you’re watching him, that it’s Eddie, as he is
affectionately known at my house, playing them.
My sons and I love the movie, “Brother
Orchid.” In this film, Robinson, as Johnny Sarto, retires from his position as
a racket boss. He goes to Europe to obtain -- okay -- buy class. There’s a
hilarious sequence here, when the savvy mob boss is hoodwinked at every turn
and eventually finds himself with no money. When he turns to the U.S. to
reclaim his old position, his former cronies decide to kill him. Sarto, wounded
and near death, is taken in by a group of monks. However, his old life will collide with the new . . . Does Little John Sarto find class? Watch the movie and find
My favorite actor is Humphrey Bogart, but
can’t really call his movies guilty pleasures, as many are truly classics. Robert Downey Jr. and Geoffrey
Rush are my top picks for favorite among the actors of today.
Barbara Stanwyck is probably my favorite
actress, but, again, most of her films I’d rate as real classics, not guilty
pleasures. Must admit though, that my favorite actress status changes a lot
among yesteryear greats Stanwyck, Katherine Hepburn, and Jean Arthur, among others. Today’s greats, in my humble opinion are Helen
Mirren, Judi Dench, and Meryl Streep. Sure, there's more, but Jolie and Aniston are not among them -- but they be in more than one of my favorite movie guilty pleasures.
Other film guilty pleasures? Oh, so many
to list and discuss. There's “Girl Happy” starring Elvis. How about "Big Trouble in Little China" and "Overboard" with Kurt Russell or "The Mummy," with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz (who is quite the fine actress)? And then there's those romantic chick flicks, like "Only You," with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr. and "A Good Year," starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard (another excellent actress). What about discussing these and more? No, think not today.
However, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about a few of my favorite oldie movies, actors and actresses.