Curriculum Tie-in

Debating, Campaigning, and Voting, Oh My!

The many televised debates along with the upcoming election have occupied a huge space in the realm of social media, social interaction, and social anxiety. I can’t help but think kids are also affected in many ways. It also makes me wonder how books can help them understand and cope. Fortunately, there are many middle-grade books–nonfiction and fiction–that deal with debating, campaigning, and voting. Here are just a few below. If you have a favorite that you’ve read with kids at home or in the classroom, please let us know in the comments section.

 

Speak Out! Debate and Public Speaking in the Middle Grades

By John Meany and Kate Shuster

Combining the practical and theoretical, Speak Out! teaches students the basics of public speaking, argumentation, and research, and helps them prepare for debate competitions and classroom debates. Exercises give students hands-on experience with important topics.

 

 

 

 

If They Can Argue Well, They Can Write Well

By Dr. Bill McBride

Every student can become a great debater. The key concepts of argumentation, critical thinking, and meeting academic standards align in a single, engaging format in this book. Packed with practical, hands-on activities, this collection teaches students to argue effectively, research information, think critically, and write persuasively. Also included is in-depth discussion on online research and emphasizes the timely skill of evaluating the validity of various internet sources. This revised edition provides specific connections between book content and the Common Core State Standards, as well as a new section on debate skills.

 

 

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

By Ann Braden

In this middle-grade novel, the protagonist joins the debate team and learns new ways to view her life:

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer. At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them. Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?

 

 

Running for Public Office

By Sarah De Capua

Find out just what it takes to run for office in the United States. Also learn about campaigning and how elections work.

A True Book: Civics series helps children become productive citizens by presenting core civic knowledge in a fun and engaging way. This series includes an age appropriate (grades 3-5) introduction to curriculum-relevant subjects and a robust resource section that encourages independent study.

From small town mayors to the men and women of the U.S. congress, all public officials play important roles in the nation’s government.

 

 

President of the Whole Fifth Grade

By Sherri Winston

Start counting your votes . . . and your friends.

When Brianna Justice’s hero, the famous celebrity chef Miss Delicious, speaks at her school and traces her own success back to being president of her fifth grade class, Brianna determines she must do the same. She just knows that becoming president of her class is the first step toward her own cupcake-baking empire!

But when new student Jasmine Moon announces she is also running for president, Brianna learns that she may have more competition than she expected. Will Brianna be able to stick to her plan of working with her friends to win the election fairly? Or will she jump at the opportunity to steal votes from Jasmine by revealing an embarrassing secret?

 

 

Lillian’s Right to Vote
By Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans

An elderly African American woman, en route to vote, remembers her family’s tumultuous voting history.

As Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, makes a “long haul up a steep hill” to her polling place, she sees more than trees and sky—she sees her family’s history. She sees the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time. She sees her parents trying to register to vote. And she sees herself marching in a protest from Selma to Montgomery. Veteran bestselling picture-book author Jonah Winter and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner Shane W. Evans vividly recall America’s battle for civil rights in this lyrical, poignant account of one woman’s fierce determination to make it up the hill and make her voice heard.

 

 

The Kid Who Ran for President

By Dan Gutman

“Hi! My name is Judson Moon. I’m twelve years old and I’m running for President of the YOU-nited States.”

That’s how I introduced myself to about a zillion people. I must have kissed a zillion babies, said a zillion hellos, shaken a zillion hands . . . Will I get a zillion votes? The answer might surprise you.

Can you picture a kid as President? Imagine what we can accomplish — together — in a country where parents listen. Where teachers give no homework. Where every lawmaker obeys a single kid — me! How am I going to pull this off? Who knows! Read the book to find out.

STEM Tuesday– The Human Body — In the Classroom

STEM Tuesday CoSTEM Costume Contest

 

This month we’re peeling back the layers to take a look inside the human body! In the body, trillions of unique cells work together to form the tissues, organs, and body systems that allow you to run and jump, laugh and cry, and feel pain and joy.

The books we’re highlighting this month dive into how the body works to sustain life. They are a great starting point for different sciences activities and discussions in the classroom. Here are a few to try:

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Science Comic: The Brain – The Ultimate Thinking Machine by Tory Woollcott and Alex Graudins

Another title in this popular graphic novel series that focuses on science topics. Readers will explore the ultimate thinking machine – our own brain! How our brains evolved, how our brain controls our senses, how we remember things, and more.

  • Discuss why it is important to know how your brain works. What modern technologies do scientists use to study the brain? How did scientists study the brain before modern technology? How did this limit their knowledge?
  • Have students build a model neuron. Have students study a picture of the neuron and experiment with different ways and materials to create the neuron model. Use several neurons to model a neural network.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Human Cloning by Kristi Lew 

This title for older readers explores the use of cloning and the depiction of human cloning in science fiction.

  • Have students debate the pros and cons of human cloning. Assign groups of students to each side of the issue and have them research points that support their position.
  • Discuss the concerns over the way genetic advances and technology are being used now and in the future. When does human intervention into the basic genetic code of life go too far?

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse by Leslie Bulion and Mike Lowery

With puzzles and fun verse, Leslie Bulion introduces human anatomy to middle-grade readers.

  • Have students choose a body part to research. With the information they learn, students can then create their own human body poetry and puzzles.
  • Have students swap the puzzles they created with classmates to see if they can solve each other’s riddles with the clues provided.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Human Movement: How the Body Walks, Runs, Jumps, and Kicks by Carla Mooney and Samuel Carbaugh

This book delves into how our bodies work when we play sports, dance, and walk. There are plenty of STEM projects, informative sidebars, and fun facts throughout the chapters.

  • Have students pick a type of movement – running, jumping, dancing, etc. Then have them prepare a flow chart that shows how the body creates this movement. What body systems are involved? How does the body know what to do? What actions and reactions occur to create the movement? What forces are involved?
  • What happens when an injury occurs to the body? How does this affect movement? Have students research a common injury such as a broken bone, sprained ankle, pulled muscle, torn ACL, etc. Then have them prepare a presentation on the injury’s affect on the body and movement.
  • Try one of the many STEM activities in the book!

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Carla Mooney loves to explore the world around us and discover the details about how it works. An award-winning author of numerous nonfiction science books for kids and teens, she hopes to spark a healthy curiosity and love of science in today’s young people. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and dog. When not writing, she can often be spotted at a hockey rink for one of her kids’ games. Find her at http://www.carlamooney.com, on Facebook @carlamooneyauthor, or on Twitter @carlawrites.

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.