Monday, December 17, 2012

Snowflake Bentley


Thanks to everyone who came to our annual Bedtime Stories reading night. One of the books we read was Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian.

The book does a great job of telling Snowflake Bentley's story, but it includes only three of his actual snowflake photographs, and those are hidden in the back. Here are some additional photographs of his amazing images. And remember, what makes them even more spectacular is that these pictures were taken between 1885 and 1931, way before any sort of fancy photography equipment like digital cameras.




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Soccer - Happiness, Heartbreak, and the World Cup

A penalty shootout plays a major role in Keeper by Mal Peet, not only in the games, but in the Keepers instruction to El Gato. Here are two examples of penalty shootouts. Watch for things El Gato mentions. Do the shooters look at the keepers? Who looks more nervous? Who has more pressure? Look at the emotions displayed by shooters and keepers when shots are made, missed, or saved.

Remember, shootouts only come after two 45-minutes periods and two 15-minute overtime periods. That's 2 full hours of soccer. These players are physically and mentally exhausted, playing for the greatest trophy in the world, and they know that there are billions of people watching their every move.

And they are all playing for this:

The World Cup Trophy

The Women's World Cup Trophy




And here is another spectacular shootout, but I was unable to embed the video in this post. But it's worth watching.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wonder Read Aloud Resources

As we experienced Wonder by R. J. Palacio as our class read aloud, we used the following pages as a visual guide to the book. Sometimes the images helped us see people or objects or places that were unfamiliar to us. Sometimes the descriptions helped us better understand the significance of an event. Hearing the songs and reading the lyrics helped us understand why they were chosen to introduce different parts.

No, none of it is really needed to read and understand Wonder. Children's imaginations are completely up to the task of creating mental images to match the text they read. But there are certain descriptions, certain situations, where readers deserve to see exactly what Auggie describes to them. If Ms. Petosa looks like Mon Mothma, then let's see Mon Mothma. That's why Auggie gave us that comparison. At the same time, I'll quickly admit that some images were chosen just for fun, hopefully without detracting from the text, and all were chosen with our class in mind first and foremost.

If you are using these pages as you read Wonder, we'd love to hear about your experience. Are the pages helpful? Are they a distraction? Did we miss anything that you or your class feel should have been included? Please leave a comment and we'll be sure to respond.

Here are all the pages:

Wonder - Part One: August

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wonder - Pages 294-315, The End

The graduation program includes three songs. One previously mentioned ("Light and Day"), one traditional song (Pachelbel's "Canon in D"), and one of my personal favorites ("Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie).




In his commencement speech, Mr. Tushman quotes three authors. I'm only including the first of the three quotes here, just in case one of them might give away something from the story. The first quote is from J. M. Barrie who wrote Peter Pan. The quote Mr. Tushman uses, however, is from the book The Little White Bird. Here is J. M. Barrie along with the quote from the original text.



Mr. Tushman's second quote is from Under the Eye of the Clock by Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan was born with cerebral palsy and could only move his head and eyes, yet he wrote award winning books and was first published at the age of fifteen. Here is a picture of him with his book.


Finally, Mr. Tushman quotes Henry Ward Beecher and describes him as a "nineteenth century abolitionist - and a fiery sermonizer for human rights." Their school is named after him. Here is a picture of him as a younger man, followed by an image of a statue of Beecher currently in downtown Brooklyn, New York.



These last images are reversed, but I thought the last one was the best way to end our read aloud. Auggie mentions a red carpet. A red carpet is traditionally used when important people arrive somewhere, like when a president arrives to visit another country. This is a picture of the president of Japan arriving in the United States.


Red carpets are also used for celebrities when they arrive at fancy events like award ceremonies and movie premiers. This is probably the sort of red carpet Auggie is referring to.


And finally ... well ... I'm not even going to introduce this one. I'll just say this: I hope you enjoyed the book, and I especially hope you enjoyed the ending.



*All images linked to their source.

Continue the Wonder Resource Page.

Wonder - Pages 275-293

When Auggie goes to school after the fifth grade trip to the nature reserve, he says there was a shift in the way things were. "A monumental shift. A seismic shift. Maybe even a cosmic shift." Now I can't find any videos that correctly illustrate a cosmic shift, but here's a great example of a seismic shift. Would you say the entire ground moving is a big change?



And now a great quote from Mr. Tushman: "Sometimes a duck is just a duck!" Here's the story he was thinking about when he made that memorable statement.



Mr. Brown's June Precept, the final precept for the school year, comes from a song by The Polyphonic Spree. JUST FOLLOW THE DAY AND REACH FOR THE SUN! is from the song "Light and Day."


Just before the graduation ceremony, Auggie's dad tells him a secret, but then immediately wishes he hadn't said anything. He wants Auggie to keep the secret, but Auggie thinks he might as well try to get a little something out of it. He says he'll keep the secret if he gets the new Xbox when it comes out and his own car in about six years. A red Porsche.


Right after that conversation, Auggie and his dad sing their favorite song. It includes lines like "But I'm the luckiest guy on the Lower East Side, 'cause I got wheels, and you want to go for a ride." The song is by The Magnetic Fields and is titled "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side." So close your eyes and picture Auggie and his dad sitting in the car belting this one out at the top of their lungs.


*All images linked to their source.

Continue to pages 294-315 (the end).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wonder - Pages 248-274

There are certain things you need to take on a camping trip, and moms are the ones who help us remember to pack them and actually use them when camping. Auggie's mom is no different. Sunscreen and bug spray are two big ones. But having a rain poncho, especially with a hood, is very important for Auggie as well. Why?


Auggie is reading one of my favorite books of all time, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. In the part quoted on page 255, it tells how the White Witch knows the Deep Magic but that "there is a magic deeper still which she did not know." The White Witch is evil and knows Magic. What might this "deeper magic" be like? And why does author R. J. Palacio include that phrase here? Here's a picture of the original cover of the book.


The woods at the Broarwood Nature Reserve are not like the woods in Central Park. Auggie calls it "real woods." Central Park is an 843 acre public park in Manhattan in New York City. Here you can see what Central Park looks like in New York and part of the woods as well.




And even though they are camping in "real woods" there are still some modern games. Well, kind of modern, anyway. Auggie says they have Pac-Man and Missile Command classic arcade games.



Auggie says when the stadium lights go on in the field all at once, "I thought of that scene in Close Encounters when the alien ship lands and they're playing that music: duh-dah-doo-da-dunnn." Here is that scene from the movie, but the part Auggie mentions starts at the 5:00 mark. Skip ahead.


The movie for the twenty-third annual Big Movie Night is The Sound of Music. A couple of the songs are mentioned including "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "My Favorite Things," and "The Lonely Goatherd." Here is a clip of one of the songs, "My Favorite Things."


More names for Auggie. This time it's Gollum and Alien and orc (again).

Gollum

Alien

Finally, Auggie mentions an "emperor's guard." In Star Wars the Emperor's Royal Guard are the characters in red in this image, and their only job is to protect the emperor. Although Auggie doesn't say exactly "Emperor's Royal Guard," does it make sense that he'd use a Star Wars reference? And considering the situation when Auggie uses the reference, why does this one seem especially important?


*All images linked to their source.

Continue to pages 275-293.

Wonder - Part Eight: August


Beautiful Child by Eurythmics

Something that I said made you wear a frown.
The way you hang your head has made the tears come down.
But don’t you wear a sigh my beautiful child.
You know it doesn’t burn when you touch the sun.
So don’t be concerned my golden one,
You’re gonna reach the sky
Fly ... Beautiful child

There is no other place.
The human race is running out of space.
There is no better love,
And human love is what it takes.
And I’ll be at your side when you’re falling down.
You’ll be feeling fine when you hit the ground.
So don’t slip away
Stay ... Beautiful child



Continue to pages 248-274.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wonder - Pages 235-248

Miranda says she watched all six episodes of Star Wars just so she could talk to Auggie about "aliens and bounty hunters and all that." She even lets readers know where Auggie got the astronaut helmet he wore for two years. Now, I'd like to take the time to watch all six episodes in school - all in the name of research, of course - however I think it's best if we settle for the one-sheet for each of the films.

I put the images in the order the films were released, which is why it starts with Episode IV and ends with Episode III. The first three movies were released in 1977, 1980, and 1983. Over fifteen years later, the final three movies were released, all prequels, that tell the events that happened before the original three films. The final three episodes were released in 1999, 2002, and 2005.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Although Miranda only says she "watched all six episodes," who thinks she watched The Clone Wars too? The movie was released in 2008 as an introduction to the television series.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Emily Gibbs is the main character in the play Our Town. Miranda mentions Emily's costume at the end of her section. Here are some images of how Emily Webb was dressed in various productions of the play.




*All photos linked to their source.

Continue to Part Eight: August.

Wonder - Part Seven: Miranda


Beautiful Things by Andain

Got up early, found something’s missing
My only name
No one else sees, but I got stuck
And soon forever came
Stopped pushing on for just a second
Then nothing’s changed
Who am I this time, where's my name?
Guess it crept away

No one's calling for me at the door
And unpredictable won't bother anymore
And silently gets harder to ignore

Look straight ahead, there’s nothing left to see
What’s done is done, this life has got its hold on me
Just let it go, what now can never be

I forgot that I might see
So many beautiful things
I forgot that I might need
To find out what life could bring

Beautiful things


Take this happy ending away
It's all the same
God won't waste this simplicity
On possibility
Get me up, wake me up, dreams are filling
This trace of blame
Frozen still I thought I could stop
Now who's gonna wait?

No one's calling for me at the door
And unpredictable won't bother anymore
And silently gets harder to ignore

Look straight ahead, there’s nothing left to see
What’s done is done, this life has got its hold on me
Just let it go, what now can never be

So many beautiful things
So many beautiful things

Now what do I do?
Can I change my mind?
Did I think things through?
It was once my life
It was my life at one time



Continue to pages 235-248.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wonder - Pages 205-234

We learn something about Julian in this section. It might not be a deep look into his character, but it is educational nonetheless. Auggie uses a great simile, saying Julian "looked and acted like someone in a KidzBop commercial." (And with all the choices of videos to choose, I chose this one. Who knew Mr. W was a Lady Gaga fan? You learn something everyday.)


Auggie notices Maya and Ellie passing notes on Uglydoll stationary. He makes a comment about where the maker of Uglydolls got his ideas. The next day he finds an Uglydoll key chain on his chair in class. 



Auggie's hearing has finally deteriorated to the point of needing hearing aids. Traditional hearing aids hook behind the ear. Some even fit completely inside the ear.


That won't work for Auggie. Instead, he meets a doctor fascinated with Star Wars who makes Auggie look sort of like Lobot. In The Empire Strikes Back, Lobot's brain was connected to Cloud City's central computers which allowed him to "talk" with the computers.


Sort of looks like Mr. W's head + Auggie's ears = Lobot

Auggie's doctor is pretty awesome. He tells Auggie that Lobot is cool and says, "It's not like we're saying you're going to look like Jar Jar, you know?" (Good thing, in my opinion. Seeing a Gungan come to school would be sort of like seeing a Wookiee.)

The doctor was talking about Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar was a Gungan.  Source

Auggie's new Lobot ears help eliminate white noise. White noise is all the background noise that can sometimes gets in the way of hearing the important stuff. Like all the conversations in a restaurant might make it hard to hear your waiter. Or maybe in a classroom - well, not OUR classroom - it might be hard to hear the teacher with the whispers, desks moving, papers shuffling, and other sounds in the room. White noise sounds like this looks:


*All images linked to their source.

Continue to Part Seven: Miranda.

Wonder - Part Six: August

We read about William Shakespeare earlier in the year. We know he wrote poetry and plays in England in the 1500s and 1600s. Some of his most famous plays include HamletRomeo and JulietThe Tempest, and MacBeth.

August's second part in the story, Part Six, begins with a quote from Hamlet:
"What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world!..."
When you break this down and look at each sentence, what are all the things Prince Hamlet  has to say about "a man." What does the quote say about people? About humanity? What does it mean to be "noble in reason" or "infinite in faculty" or to be like an angel in actions? (We won't spend time today discussing why Prince Hamlet was saying this and how he felt as he was speaking. We'll leave that for your future literature classes.)

Knowing how each part is introduced by a song or quote, and knowing that the songs and quotes refer to the narrator of that section, what does this Hamlet quote seem to tell us about Auggie? Maybe it says something about all the characters?



Continue to pages 205-234.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wonder - Pages 186-204

Take a look at the first pages of Justin's part. Notice anything interesting? Why do you think it is written like that?


At the end of Part Four, Justin tells Auggie and Jack that he is the fiddler in a zydeco band. He describes zydeco as a type of music, like Creole music that began in Louisiana. Now at the beginning of Part Five, Justin mentions zydeco again. I'm not too familiar with zydeco, but I do know Sesame Street has been teaching kids for over 40 years.


Justin talks about how cool it is that Olivia makes things like earrings our of pieces of circuit boards or dresses out of t-shirts, or bags out of old jeans. For Valentine's Day she gets him a messenger bag made out of old floppy disks.


Justin explains how he traded his baroque violin for an eight-string hardanger fiddle. They look pretty similar, but do you notice the biggest difference?

Baroque Violin

Hardanger Fiddle

We learn that Olivia and Justin are trying out for a role in the play Our Town. We also learn that, according to the grapevine, the drama teacher had been planning to do The Elephant Man, but at the last minute he changed his mind. Wonder why...? (Skip ahead to the 0:55 mark for quick look at the play. Keep watching for more details.)


Justin walks with Jack to the bus stop. He says Jack's "got a gravelly voice, like a little tough guy. he kind of looks like one of those little-rascal kids in old black-and-white movies, like he should be wearing a newsboy cap and knickers."



When Justin is on stage he sometimes forgets his lines. When that happens he plays a little "Soldier's Joy" which relaxes him and gives him a few moments to remember his lines. It might have sounded something like this fiddle player.


At the end of his part, Justin says his mind is full of thoughts that won't turn off. One of them is the elements of the periodic table which he's supposed to be memorizing. Each box on the Periodic Table shows one scientific element.



Eventually, calmer thoughts soothe Justin "like a flatted third on a major chord." That's basically the difference between a major chord and a minor chord (or so I'm told). Can you hear the difference in this short music lesson?


*All images linked to their sources.

Continue to Part Six: August.