Common Core & NGSS

Reading Restaurant

by Robyn Gioia

I was introduced to Reading Restaurant at a school get-together. Our school shared a professional day with teachers from a top-rated school in another district. Our assignment was to bring our favorite teaching units to share with everyone.

We met with the reading teachers. A manila folder was handed to us by two smiling masters. The manila folders were designed to look like restaurant menus. On the front cover was the title Reading Restaurant. When you opened the folder, you were met with a menu of different projects.

Instead of book reports or summaries, students have the opportunity to do a creative project.

Just like a restaurant, students select from each menu section. Their final selection must equal 100 points. For example, if they chose a 70 point dinner, they must choose another item worth 30 points.

The projects vary and can be tailored to the level and interest of your students. Some of the cool things are designing movie theater posters, writing and performing a play, or creating a cereal box that highlights selected literary elements with a playable game on the back. Of course you can add your own projects, but the restaurant menu format and a variety of projects is a big winner with the kids.

In my class, students usually mull over the selections. At the end of the month, each student presents their project to the class. I use a rubric to grade their project and presentation skills. Afterwards, the student audience is allowed to ask questions of the presenter. This generally creates a lot of excitement and generates a lot of interest in the different projects and featured books.

 

 

STEM Tuesday– Dinosaurs/Paleontology — Book List

If you’ve got a budding paleontologist in your home, you know there can never be too many books about dinosaurs! Who doesn’t love the mystery of ancient bones and tales of mighty lizards that roamed the Earth. These books run the gamut from detailed sketchbook to biography to comics to hands-on paleontology activities.

ALL ABOUT DINOSAURS:

Dinosaur! Dinosaurs and Other Amazing Prehistoric Creatures As You’ve Never Seen Them Before, by John Woodward
Highly illustrated, in depth, evaluation of dinosaurs from their definition through the Cenozoic era. Created by DK and the Smithsonian Institution, it is full of facts on fossils, amphibians, sea creatures, woolly mammoths, Neanderthals, insects, and more.

 

Dinosaur bones: And What They Tell Us, by Rob Colson
Opening this book is like opening a field sketchbook. It’s filled with watercolor drawings, complete with labels and descriptive notes. Annotated skeleton sketches allow readers to compare their own bones to those of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. A fun way to browse dino facts.

 

So You Think You Know About … Dinosaurs (series), by Ben Garrod
Scientist Ben Garrod reminds readers that we can be a scientist at any age. His books may be pocket-sized, but they are filled with dinosaur discoveries, battles, adventures, fascinating facts, quizzes, cartoon illustrations and paleo art. And lots and lots of passion for dinos. Each book focuses on one kind of dinosaur: Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptor, and Triceratops.

Dining with Dinosaurs: A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching, by Hannah Bonner
If you are starving for dinosaur knowledge, this book serves up a full-course meal of mouthwatering Mesozoic food facts. Starting with who ate who. Along the way, we meet scientists who explain tough questions about dinosaur poop, teeth, and more.

 

SCIENCE OF PALEONTOLOGY:

The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries: Amazing Fossils and The People Who Found Them, by Donald Prothero

Exploring paleontology from the eighteenth-century to the present, twenty-five individual chapters describe the stories behind the most important fossil discoveries and the researchers who found them. The book explores the escapades, rivalries, and scientific debates that have occurred around dinosaur bones.

Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers, by M. K. Reed (“Science Comic”)

This is a fun, graphic introduction to dinosaurs in their natural habitats. Follow paleontologists through history as they try to piece together the mystery of the giant bones uncovered in cliffs and deserts. Learn how our ideas about dinosaurs have changed and continue to change. Endnotes clarify ongoing scientific debates, and a glossary will have you speaking like a paleontologist in no time.

WORKING IN THE FIELD:

Gutsy Girls Go for Science: Paleontologists, by Karen Bush Gibson; illus. by Hui Li

The first chapter introduces the science of paleontology, along with tips for how to pack your field kit. Then we examine the work and challenges of scientists Mary Anning, Mignon Talbot, Tilly Edinger, Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska, and Mary Leakey. There are plenty of “Field Assignments” (hands-on STEM projects) ranging from modeling an excavation to finding clues in teeth, and informative sidebars are sprinkled through the chapters.

BIOGRAPHIES:

Battle of the Dinosaur Bones: Othniel Charles Marsh VS Edward Drinker Cope, by Rebecca L. Johnson
Explores the struggle and legacy of two scientists, Othaniel Marsh (Yale) and Edward Cope (Philadelphia), determined to become world-famous paleontologists. This book details the confusion and mistakes created by their haste and rivalry that took years to sort out.

 

Curious Bones: Mary Anning and the Birth of Paleontology, by Thomas W. Goodhue

Biography of Mary Anning and her life’s work of collecting fossils. Details the important discoveries she made and her contribution to the emerging science of paleontology, even though women weren’t allowed to attend colleges. It includes a discussion of societal and religious changes which occurred because of her discoveries.

 

History VIPs: Mary Anning, by Kay Barnham

This biography explores the life of Mary Anning, from her first fossil finds at the age of ten to her sales of important discoveries to wealthy scientists. Mary’s fossil finds made a great contribution to what scientist understood about pre-historic life. Sidebars and text boxes give context to help readers understand the society and events of the wider world in which she lived, as well as quotes and fun facts that touch on the humorous side of history.

Tooth & Claw: The Dinosaur Wars, by Deborah Noyes.

This is a tale of the epic rivalry that exploded into a personal – and professional – war between two early fossil hunters. Edward Drinker Cope wanted to find the biggest, best bones of the newly discovered dinosaurs. So did Othniel Charles Marsh. Their race to uncover bones played out across the American West and they discovered dozens of dinosaur species. But their animosity ruined their lives. Includes a list of museums where modern dino-hunters can find bones.

Pre-HISTORICAL FICTION:

Dinosaur Empire! (Earth Before Us series) by Abby Howard

Ronnie is just a normal fifth grader, who is having a bit of trouble passing her science class quiz on dinosaurs. Until… her neighbor, a retired paleontologist, lends a helping hand. With a bit of time travel and science “magic”, Ronnie and Ms. Lernin find themselves in the Mesozoic era.
Other books in the series: Mammal Takeover! and Ocean Renegades!

 

The Dino Files Trilogy: A Mysterious Egg; Too Big to Hide; It’s Not a Dinosaur! By Stacy McAnulty

Nine-year-old Frank loves visiting his grandparents in the summer. His grandmother is a famous paleontologist and, along with his grandfather, owns the Dinosaur Education Center of Wyoming. Frank calls it DECoW and loves that it’s got labs and dig sites where people – including him – can dig for fossils. But what happens when fossils aren’t so … extinct?

STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. A long line of ants marching across the kitchen counter generated one of her first articles for kids. When not writing, you can find her committing acts of science from counting native pollinators to monitoring water quality of the local watershed. Her most recent book is Diet for a Changing Climate (2018).

Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. She’s been a judge for the Cybils Awards from 2017 to present. And a judge for the #50PreciousWords competition since its inception. Her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2017-2018, 2016, and 2014-2015 anthologies. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com

STEM Tuesday–A Partridge in a Pear Tree and other Birds this Holiday Season– Interview with Author Jennifer Ward

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview & Book Giveaway, a repeating feature for the fourth Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’re interviewing Jennifer Ward, author of I LOVE BIRDS! 52 Ways to Wonder, Wander & Explore Birds with Kids. It’s part journal and part field guide full of amazing activities for readers to explore. The St. Louis Audobon Society said “It’s a perfect fit for parents and teachers looking for ways to engage children in STEM activities.

Christine Taylor-Butler: Jennifer, you began your career as an elementary educator and now have more than 20 widely acclaimed books for children. How hard was it to make the switch to writing full-time?

Jennifer Ward: It was both scary (financially) and bittersweet to resign from teaching to pursue writing full-time – giving up a job I was passionate about in addition to a regular paycheck/benefits. I definitely took a leap of faith!

CTB: What a leap! Do you miss teaching?

Jennifer: I do miss teaching, having my own classroom/students and school- community camaraderie. However, as an author, I’m a “nomadic-educator”, traveling and speaking in schools and at conferences. It also brings me great joy to know educators use my books with their curriculum.

CTB: In the book, you talk about the magical moment when, as a young child, you first heard a bird call pierce the quiet. Have there been other magical moments that inform your work?

Jennifer: Each book I’ve written has had that magical “aha” moment- a trigger, an experience that surfaces with story potential. I bank on those moments, wondering when the next one will present itself. Having been writing professionally for more than 20 years now, I’ve learned to trust the process and know that science and nature will never cease to fuel my creativity.

CTB: You write about a nature deficit, especially for families living in a city with busy lives. How hard was it to come up with 52 unique sensory explorations a parent and child could accomplish together.

Jennifer: Sadly, nature deficit is a real thing today. It wasn’t difficult to create sensory experiences in urban spaces because I drew from personal experiences. “I Love Birds!” focuses on birds and many species of birds have adapted well to living in cities. Sensory explorations take little time, are free of cost, great for the soul and rely on simply being “present”, even if it’s just for a few seconds. We, kids and adults alike, need to practice putting down the screen and connecting to the environment around us. It’s so easy to not be present today.

CTB: Although I LOVE BIRDS is about observing and appreciating birds and their behavior, you incorporate other elements in these tasks. For example, going outside and taking the time to feel the air on your skin and the ground beneath your feet. It made me want to try them all myself. Are the book’s activities also a form of meditation for families with busy lives?

Jennifer: I hope you do go out and try them yourself! Indeed, “I Love Birds!” encourages families to meditate in nature – even if it’s indoors and spending a moment to enjoy the warmth of sun seeping through a window or making time to observe what is going on outside of a window. It’s the art of slowing down for just a few seconds and re-connecting with this amazing planet of ours.

And

Jennifer Ward is the author of more than 25 nonfiction, fiction and nature-activity books. Recent books include Mamma Dug A Little Den, and Feathers and Hair: What Animals Wear. She’s received numerous awards including New York Public Library’s Best Informational Book of the Year, ALA Notable recognition, the International Literacy Association/Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice Award, the Giverny Award for Best Nonfiction Picture Book and more. To learn more visit Jennifer on Twitter at @jenwardbooks or her website: www.jenniferwardbooks.com

CTB: Now I’m curious. What has been your most unusual experience when observing birds?

Jennifer: Oooh. Good question! Hmmm…this could be another book, lol. One experience this year – there’s a knot in a tree in my backyard – one of many knots among many trees. But THIS knot is a hot spot for some reason? There’s something within it that draws every species of bird to it. Sap? Pooled water? Cached nuts and seeds? I’m not sure. But I am sure all the birds love this one, particular knot.

CTB: If you could choose one quick STEM based activity for readers to try, what would it be?

Jennifer: I challenge readers to engineer a bird nest using materials found in nature. Then, experiment to see if the nest is sturdy enough to protect a fragile egg. The experimental egg could be a mini-marshmallow, or if the nest is large enough, an actual chicken egg. Can the nest support the egg, protect the egg from elements such as wind, and offer adequate protection/shelter for the egg? Consider the nests you can see in “naked” trees during the winter months when trees are bare. Those nests often withstand season after season of weather extremes. Pretty amazing considering birds build without the use of opposable thumbs!

CTB: You call yourself a “bird nerd.” So I was wondering, beyond science and nature, do you have other hobbies or passions you would love to write about?

Jennifer: I am such a bird nerd, my life orbits around the lives of birds every single day. BUT, I do have other hobbies and passions: my family, my dogs, photography (primarily birds), painting, drawing, camping and gardening.

CTB: So what’s up next? Are there any new books coming out that we should keep our eyes out for?

Jennifer: Thank you for asking! I do, three to be exact! Fall 2020 – a picture book called, “How to Find a Bird” (S&S/Beach Lane Books) illustrated by Diana Sudyka. It is gorgeous! And I love that Diana implemented the two main characters (kids) as POC. Birding has often been characterized as a hobby for retired Caucasian people. That needs to change; the future of our planet and birds depends on it – Jason Ward @JasonWardNY is making great strides with this. 
Also next fall – a picture book called, “Round” (S&S/Beach Lane Books) illustrated by Lisa Congdon. It’s premise is everything round in nature, from objects to elements to seasons and beyond.
And 2021 or ’22 – a picture book called, “Just You and Me” (S&S/Beach Lane), with illustrations by Alexander Vidal. Alexander also illustrated “I Love Birds!”

Win a FREE copy of I LOVE BIRDS! 52 Ways to Wonder, Wander & Explore Birds with Kids

Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below. The randomly-chosen winner will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (within the U.S. only) to receive the book.

Good luck!

 

Christine Taylor-ButlerYour host is Christine Taylor-Butler, MIT nerd and author of Bathroom Science, Sacred Mountain: Everest, Genetics, and many other nonfiction books for kids. @ChristineTB