Friday, September 12, 2008

September's Book of the Month

This morning, the faculty gathered in the Media Center for our monthly Book of the Month. This month’s book, Amazing Pop-Up Picture Atlas by DK Publishing, is hot off the press. In fact, the copyright date of September 4, 2008 almost guarantees this will be a brand new text to students and teachers alike.

This BOM is no different than most first Book of the Month's for the year; It has been selected by the principal and purchased for each classroom based on this year's theme, Around the World in 180 Days--Our Virtual Learning Adventure. And, it was not an easy find. Plentiful are childrens' fictional picture books but more rare are the non-fiction titles that capture the imagination of our youngest learners. This find, by Principal Susan Phillips, has broken the mold and ensures a captive audience for our Kindergarten through Grade 5 learners.
Amazing Pop-up Picture Atlas engages the reader from the first page where a 3-D globe of our planet pops out, to page two with a Map of the World, and beyond, highlighting each continent. Pull out tabs are tucked in each page containing information on the countries, and fold out pages showcase flags, features, amazing sites, production, and interesting animals. This text is a wealth of factual information begging for the teaching of non-fiction reading strategies.

As always, Principal Phillips began by telling the faculty why she selected the text.

I chose Amazing Pop-up Picture Atlas as the September Book of the Month
to remind us never to get too comfortable with what we know. Embracing a global
perspective opens up opportunities for learning and growth, for both teacher and
student. There are wonders to behold outside our classroom walls, the state of
Florida, the United States, the continent of North America, and it is our
responsibility to share these with our students. Our future reminds me of this
atlas, complex yet simple, and just when you think you have it all figured out
something new pops up to change your perspective.
Then, to highlight how teachers could use this text with students, Susan introduced seven different activities: Compass Groups, Map It, Advertise, Fast Write, Travel Brochure, Scavenger Hunt, and Graffiti Boards.
  • Compass Groups--Position students in groups of four for north, south, east and west. Have students explore the atlas and then name each direction in turn so each student can talk about what they noticed or learned.

  • Map It--After providing students with time to explore an atlas and its features have individuals or groups create their own map of their house, the classroom, or school using the features they noticed while exploring the atlas.
  • Advertise--After providing students with time to explore an atlas have them create a short advertisement that highlights the features of the area reviewed.

  • Fast Write--Prior to exploring the atlas have students use continual writing for a few minutes about the areas of the atlas you will be having them explore. Once they have explored the atlas have them go back to the fast write to see how much they knew ahead of time and replace misconceptions with newly learned knowledge.
  • Travel Brochure--After exploring the atlas have students create a thumbnail summary of the major categories learned on a brochure.
  • Scavenger Hunt--Prior to experience with the atlas give students a list of things to look for as they explore. (This text has a build in scavenger hunt.)
  • Graffiti Boards--Have students work in small groups to represent what they have learned about the atlas using symbols, sketches, and short phrases.

Each grade level team along with the resource team where charged with collectively completing their assigned activity as they explored their text. The room was abuzz as teams excitedly set off to complete their task and concurrently brainstormed how this activity would look in their own classrooms. The ideas were plentiful and as I circulated from team to team, I felt proud to work at a school with such amazing teachers.

To close, Susan had each group share their product from the activity and discuss the process. The creativity of the group overwhelmed me, especially the funny poem advertisement put together by the 2nd grade team. As usual before departing to their rooms, each teacher received a one page handout as a reference tool.

The excitement about this text and the limitless possibilities leave me anxious to interact with students throughout the building; I can't wait to see their reaction to September's interactive Book of the Month. I know it will be a hit!


The Lipsky Team said...

Hey Suzanne,

My crew is really excited about the new book of the month! I love the graffiti board idea. We made graffiti boards at Stanton in my World History class and it helped me remember some complex topics!


Melanie Holtsman said...

I love our new book and I think our learners will be inspired to learn more about the world around them. Thanks for the sharing what we do with BOM so that others can replicate it at their school. You capture our practice so perfectly here!

dayle timmons said...

Really nice description of what took place at the Book-of-the-month. It's an interesting book and gives others great examples of different ways to use a non-fiction text!

Anonymous said...

I loved reading about the BOM and reliving what we did at our faculty meeting. Our 4th grade group had Free Write. It was so interesting because we had just done a Free Write in my 4th grade class that week. It was amazing to see what we knew as a group before reading our European section, and then to add our new-found knowledge to our chart. We sure did learn that it is much more productive to work as a group and put 8 heads together and learn from each other. Our students are going to love this book! I can't wait to try out the different "group roles" with my students.