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A Tale of Perseverance: Where the Red Fern Grows.

A Tale of Perseverance: Where the Red Fern Grows.

Where the Red Fern Grows, written by Wilson Rawls, is a wonderful book to use for a novel study,  for literature circles, or book clubs in the classroom. Where the Red Fern Grows, was first published in 1961 and has become a classic favorite to use in the classroom amongst both teachers and students.

 

Summary of Where the Red Fern Grows*:
Billy, Old Dan, and Little Ann – a boy and his two dogs.

A loving threesome, they ranged the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country. Old Dan had the brawn, Little Ann had the brains – and Billy had the will to train them to be the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too. And close by was the strange and wonderful power that’s only found…

Where the Red Fern Grows. An exciting tale of love and adventure you’ll never forget.

*(from the book jacket)

 

 

This is a great novel to accompany a study of:

  • The Cherokee Native American tribe, including the geographic region where the tribe was predominantly found.
  • Dog training and/or Redbone Coonhound breed

 

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Where the Red Fern Grows for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

This is a great novel to use in the classroom to help show students the power of setting a goal and working with all your might toward achieving it. A touching story to see how perseverance will overcome adversity.

Your Brain on Math!

Your Brain on Math!

I came across this article that discusses how children’s brains go through different transitions as they age in the ways that they interpret and figure out math. Some excerpts that I found interesting from the article are below:
“Students start off at the foundation of counting fingers or objects to figure early problems. “Healthy children start making that switch between counting to what’s called fact retrieval when they’re 8 years old to 9 years old when they’re still working on fundamental addition and subtraction. How well kids make that shift to memory-based problem-solving is known to predict their ultimate math achievement.”

“Stanford University researchers first peeked into the brains of 28 children as they solved a series of simple addition problems inside a brain-scanning MRI machine. The children were tested twice, roughly a year apart. As the kids got older, their answers relied more on memory and became faster and more accurate, and it showed in the brain. There was less activity in the prefrontal and parietal regions associated with counting and more in the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus. The stronger the connections, the greater each individual’s ability to retrieve facts from memory,” said Dr. Vinod Menon, a psychiatry professor at Stanford and the study’s senior author.”

“Next, Menon’s team put 20 adolescents and 20 adults into the MRI machines and gave them the same simple addition problems. It turns out that adults don’t use their memory-crunching hippocampus in the same way. Instead of using a lot of effort, retrieving six plus four equals 10 from long-term storage was almost automatic, Menon said.”

“If your brain doesn’t have to work as hard on simple math, it has more working memory free to process the teacher’s brand-new lesson on more complex math. ” The study provides new evidence that this experience with math actually changes the hippocampal patterns or the connections. They become more stable with skill development,” she said. “So learning your addition and multiplication tables and having them in rote memory helps.”

“Stanford’s Menon said the next step is to study what goes wrong with this system in children with math learning disabilities so that scientists might try new strategies to help them learn.”

The quote: “If your brain doesn’t have to work as hard on simple math, it has more working memory free to process the teacher’s brand-new lesson on more complex math.” really stuck out to me. I have always felt that math instruction needed to combine both the rote memory of basic facts and give students a good foundation in number sense and higher-order math skills. Unfortunately many of the different math curriculums out there today don’t emphasize both. It always seems like it is basic facts vs. high order thinking. Problem is good math students have BOTH of these skills in their repertoire and good math curriculum should contain both as well!

What are your thoughts regarding helping students become fluent in the basic facts? What are your tricks and tips?

Rare Tale of Friendship: The Indian in the Cupboard

Rare Tale of Friendship: The Indian in the Cupboard

The Indian in the Cupboard was first published in 1980, and was so popular it was made into a feature film in 1995. A fantasy that both boys and girls can relate to catches the interest of the most reluctant readers.

Summary of The Indian in the Cupboard*:
When Omri’s big brother has no birthday present for him, he gives Omri an old wooden medicine cabinet he’s found. The cabinet doesn’t seem like much of a present to nine-year-old Omri until he deposits inside it another present he receives for his birthday: a miniature plastic Indian. His mother comes up with a key for the cabinet, and the real magic begins. When Omri turns the key once, the Indian, named Little Bear, comes alive; but turn the key a second time and it’s an ordinary plastic Indian again.

Author Lynne Reid Banks effectively blends the common elements of everyday life with utterly believable fantasy. The first book in this best-selling series enchants readers, while at the same time, reminding them of the responsibilities that accompany friendship and love. Omri’s heart-wrenching decision to send his Indian back to its own world brings up issues of separation for both parents and children alike.
*(from the book jacket)

I offer a complete novel study to accompany The Indian in the Cupboard for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

This is a great novel to accompany a study of:

  • Research Native Americans.
  • Research the Iroquois Nation.
  • Research the different Native American shelters such as teepees and longhouses.
  • Research the American West in the 1800’s.
  • Explore appropriate methods of conflict resolution.
  • Investigate the French/Indian War.

In the years since this book was published there has been controversy regarding the way the author portrays the Little Bear character with erroneous stereotypes of Native Americans. I have to say that there is truth to this controversy, however, I don’t feel it is worth not using this novel. A better way to expand the knowledge of your students is to acknowledge the stereotypes as you read. Discuss them. Learn why they are wrong and help your students learn the proper history of the Native American people. You have the opportunity to use the positives that this book offers while at the same time opening their eyes to how literature and history of the past have not always been the most truthful in their portrayal of certain groups. It is a good lesson to use to teach how fear has driven stereotypes. This book is a great example of how two people of very different backgrounds can find common ground and become allies.

The Indian in the Cupboard, written by Lynne Reid Banks, is a wonderful book to use for a novel study or for literature circles in the classroom.


Adults Find Standardized Tests a Challenge!

Adults Find Standardized Tests a Challenge!

I came across a very interesting article and I think it is worth reading for everyone, not just educators. Actually maybe even more so for non-educators!

 

 

 

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids.

 

 

I’d love to see a requirement of a passing score of all school board members, administrators and most of all, politicians on any test that they want to impose on any student. I bet we’d see a drastic reduction in standardized testing and a true understanding of what “teaching to the test” really means!

 

Thoughts?

Find Your Inner Tree Hugger with HOOT!

Find Your Inner Tree Hugger with HOOT!

Hoot, written by Carl Hiaasen, is a wonderful book to use for a novel study whole, class, lit circles, or book groups. Hoot, was published in 2002 and received the Newberry Honor Award for children’s literature in 2003.

Summary of Hoot*:

Roy Eberhart has recently, and unhappily, arrived in Florida. “Disney World is an armpit,” he states flatly, “compared to Montana.”

Roy’s family moves a lot, so he’s used to the new-kid drill. Florida bullies are pretty much like bullies everywhere. But Roy finds himself oddly indebted to the hulking Dana Matherson. If Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is the first interesting thing Roy’s seen in Florida.

The boy was about Roy’s age, but he was running away from the school bus. He had no books, no backpack, and here’s the odd part, no shoes.

Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase will introduce him to some other intriguing Floridian creatures; potty-trained alligators, a beleaguered construction foreman, some burrowing owls, a fake-fart champion, a renegade eco-avenger, some slippery fish, a sinister pancake PR man, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails.

Life in Florida is looking up.

*(from the book jacket)

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Hoot for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

 

This is a great novel to accompany a study of:

  • Florida geography and wildlife
  • Montana geography and wildlife
  • Research the role of the US Department of Justice
  • Research the Environmental Protection Agency

 

This is a great novel with themes of friendship, teamwork, adolescence, corporate corruption, environmentalism, and integrity all told in a writing style that tweens and teens can relate to and enjoy.