Posts Tagged For Teachers

Charlotte for President!!

It’s Presidents Day here in the USA, a day that never fails to make me consider what qualities make a good and effective leader.

Compassion?

Courage?

Brains?

Creativity?

Seeing the list made me wonder where I last saw all of these characteristics in one person. The answer was easy – the very last Middle Grade book I read – Meg Medina’s MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS. Merci would make an excellent president.

And so would so many other Middle Grade characters. I jotted down a few names from my childhood reading. (They’d be plenty old enough by now). Ramona Quimby (remember her No Smo King campaign?), Peter Hatcher (anyone who can manage Fudge can manage the White House), and Cassie Logan (who knew more about standing up at the age of 9 than most adults ever will) rose to the top of the list. Each one of them would make an excellent world leader.

As would wise, kind, and clever Charlotte from CHARLOTTE’S WEB. (Why limit ourselves to people?)

I had so much fun playing with this idea that I asked some of my author friends to help me out and nominate a Middle Grade Character they’d most like to see as President. Lucky for me (and for our readers) they had some great suggestions.


The Nominees

Karuna Riazi, Author of The Gauntlet and The Battle

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“Valencia Somerset from HELLO UNIVERSE. As she says herself in the book, she has a name that seems like you could follow it into battle. She’s smart, she’s sweet, she has big dreams, and I think her and her new friend Kaori Tanaka would be an awesome running team.”

 

 

Jarrett Lerner, Author of Enginerds and Revenge of the Enginerds

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“Beatrice Zinker (from Shelley Johannes’s books)! She is a courageous, creative, out-of-the-box (in fact upside down!) thinker. And perhaps most importantly, she has a big, kind heart.”

 

 

 

Melissa Roske, Author of Kat Greene Comes Clean and Mixed-Up Files Member

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“I would elect Willy Wonka from Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Yes, Mr. Wonka is a bit odd, but his heart is always in the right place and he gets things done. And let’s not forget the free candy.”

 

 

Lindsey Becker, Author of The Star Thief

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“Hm, first thought was Ramona Quimby, but she’s probably blowing things up at JPL…
Folly from HOW TO STAGE A CATASTROPHE is a born leader with big ideas. I’d give him a vote.”

 

 

 

Heather Murphy Capps, Author and Mixed Up Files Member

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“How about Nancy Drew? She’s methodical, diplomatic, takes no prisoners, observant, and kind!”

 

 

 

Andrea Pyros, Author of My Year of Epic Rock and Mixed-Up Files Member

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“Anne Shirley, from the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series. She’s smart and strong-willed (a president needs a strong backbone) and hard-working. Plus, though Anne hasn’t had it easy in life, she still finds a way to survive and thrive. A role model for us all!”

 

 

Rob Vlock, Author of Sven Carter & the Trashmouth Effect and Sven Carter & the Android Army

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“Ooh, I think I’d pick Bartimaeus from Jonathan Stroud’s BARTIMAEUS series. Sure, he’s a sarcastic, irreverent (and arguably evil) djinn, but I think he’d be a big improvement for our country!”

 

 

 

Samantha Clark, Author of The Boat, the Boy, and the Beast and Mixed-Up Files Member

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“I’d vote for Gaby from Varian Johnson’s THE GREAT GREEN HEIST. She’s my kind of president with organic food and sharing.”

 

 

 

David Neilsen, Author and Mixed-Up Files Member

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“I nominate Hermione Granger. She’s the smartest character out there, level-headed, strong, and would have the country running at peak efficiency in no time!”

 

 

 

Rosanne Parry, Author of Heart of a Shepherd, Second Fiddle, Written in Stone, and The Turn of the Tide and Mixed-Up Files Member

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“I’d nominate Tenar from the Wizard of Earthsea series if I was choosing from my childhood reads.”

 

 

 

 

Janet Sumner Johnson, Author of The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Club

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org“Mikayla (Mickey) Delgado (from TAKEDOWN by Laura Shovan). She works harder than anyone to accoplish her goals, and doesn’t give up when things get hard. Best of all, she inspires others to stand up for themselves, too.”

 

 

 

Which Middle Grade character would you nominate for President this Presidents Day? Please share below, so we can add them to our list. And, if you’re looking for a more traditional Presidents Day book list, check out this one by Michele Weber Hurwitz.

 

How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle

Well done, Mr. Tingle.

Imagine a class full of anxious 5th graders sitting on the rug at your feet begging for the next chapter in our read aloud, How I Became a Ghost by Choctaw native and story teller Tim Tingle.

As a teacher, I incorporate every moment into a teaching moment, and storytelling is no different. This is my third year reading this book aloud and a common comment after each session is how much my students love this story.

A couple of years ago, I sent two students on an errand, and they later burst through the classroom doors out of breath. They said they had run as fast as they could across the campus to get back before I started reading. I realized then, that I shouldn’t send kids on errands or make kids do catch-up work when we were visiting the land of the Choctaw on the Trail of Tears.

How I Became a Ghost is not only entertaining, it is also brutally honest. It is a tale of the Trail of Tears, when  Native Americans were forced to leave their homes in Mississippi and relocate to land now called Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The story is told through the eyes of Issac, a ten-year old Choctaw. In the very beginning, Isaac announces to his readers (or listeners in this case) that he is going to be a ghost soon. And because of his condition, premonitions of grisly events begin to plague him.

This is where the brutally honest part comes in. There are many disturbing scenes that are so well-told, that the kids shriek in shock. But they get it. And they are anxious for you to keep reading. For example, during one of Isaac’s premonitions, he sees an old Choctaw couple burning in flames. Soon after, the same couple die when soldiers sneak into the neighborhood at night to set everyone’s homes on fire. And then there is the premonition of pus-filled sores covering some of the tribe’s bodies. You guessed it. Soldiers ride into camp and offer the shivering population blankets exposed to Smallpox.

Choctaws were removed west of the Mississippi started in 1831. Louisiana Indians Walking Along a Bayou by Alfred Boisseau was painted in 1846.

Smallpox became a huge topic in the classroom and I had to teach a mini-lesson on communicable diseases (which ties into our Health curriculum) and the use of diseased blankets.  The bigger story, which we discussed several times, was the relationship between native tribes, societal beliefs, and the government in the 1830s.

Because Tim Tingle is a master storyteller, tie-ins to Native American culture are seamlessly woven into the story. We learn how the spiritual world is part of the family unit and how those who have passed on look after and protect those still walking the earth.  When Isaac becomes a ghost, his story does not stop there. As a ghost he is able to assist the living as they continue their fight to stay alive while walking the trail.

As with most great books, and one that has won many awards, the literary elements are rich. Besides profound sayings worthy of insightful discussion, we examined how imagery comes from the imagination. The scene goes from text on paper to an image inside our heads. In the following scene, Isaac’s feet are frozen in a puddle, and when he pulls his feet up the skin tears off. The kids cringe when this happens, but they understand how bitter cold can affect the body and the desperate conditions of the Choctaw. It is interesting to see imagery taking shape through the imagination of a fifth grader.

Some conversations: What is the author saying? Why does the author make a point of one hundred footprints turning into a thousand? Why were the footprints bloody and not regular footprints?

Isaac looking back and seeing a bloody trail of footprints.

Isaac covered with a blue blanket leaning against a tree with his feet frozen in ice.

One of the reasons I originally chose to read a book on Native American history is because it helps students to build a broader concept of how the U.S. was formed. Books can be powerful tools and it is a tool that sits at the top of my teacher toolbox.

 

 

STEM Tuesday — Highlights!

Hello STEM Tuesday enthusiasts! Can you believe that we’ve been doing this blog for 7 months now? How cool is that? We couldn’t do it without your interest and support. So, THANK YOU!!  It’s been a fabulous run and the best part is that we are just getting started. We have many more intriguing book topics for the rest of the year. If you haven’t signed up to get this newsletter weekly, please do so now. You will find the subscriber button in the upper-right hand corner.

BONUS: If you subscribe you won’t just get STEM Tuesday posts, but you’ll have access to all of the awesome posts by the Mixed-Up File-rs. GO Middle Grade books!

To celebrate our STEM Tuesday success and to provide you with a list of some STEM books for summer reading, we are going to take a look back at some of our past posts. So take time to click on the links below to see some of the awesome STEM middle grade books that we have highlighted. (HINT: If you click on the topic listed, you’ll be able to review the book list for that month)

Don’t worry, we are keeping STEM Tuesday running through the summer. Look for our list of exceptional STEM books COMING SOON in July so you can know what books to add to your classroom curriculum in the fall.

In the meantime, if you have suggestions, questions, or comments, don’t hesitate to contact us. Just send an email to STEMmuf@gmail.com

Cheers!

HIGHLIGHTS OF STEM TUESDAY

November– Zoology  

Book of the Month : Zoo Scientists to the Rescue by Patricia Newman 
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December  Science in Fiction Books

Book of the Month : Saving Wonder by Mary Knight
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January  Exploration

Book of the Month: Astronaut- Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact by Jennifer Swanson
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February  Wild and Wacky Science

Book of the Month: Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines by Sarah Albee

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March   Field Work

Book of the Month: Life on Surtsey: Iceland’s Upstart Island by Loree Griffin Burns

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April  All About Conservation  

Book of the Month: Back from the Brink by Nancy Castaldo

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May– Cool Inventions and the People Who Create Them  

Book of the Month: Alexander Graham Bell for Kids by  Mary Kay Carson
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Happy Reading! and GO STEM/STEAM books!

This blog was prepared by Jennifer Swanson

   Science Rocks! And so do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 30 books for kids. When not writing, Jennifer can be found looking for the Science all around her. www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com