Tag Archives: literature

Litographs

One of my fabulous colleagues, Suzanne Horan, shared the Litograph website earlier this week, and I’ve been trying to narrow down my wish list ever since!  (My birthday is coming up so – Perfect. Timing.)

The Litograph website sells t-shirts, posters, and totes that are based on famous literary works.  If you look at them closely (their website allows you to zoom in), you will see that the artwork is actually created by text from the book – kind of like word clouds taken to a whole new level!

Some of the products have illustrations on the front and back, so be sure to scroll over them to reveal both sides.

Don’t see your favorite book represented?  You can make a request and vote on other suggestions here.  (I voted for The Giver and The Princess Bride.)

Thanks to Suzanne for the tip (and the flour she brought me to save me from a Squishy Circuits disaster earlier this week)!  Happy Phun Phriday!

from Litographs.com
from Litographs.com
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Try Calling Ishmael – Or at Least Listen to the Voicemails He Gets

I had a completely different post planned for today.  But then I was hip-hopping around the internet, visiting my usual suspects, when I came across this post on It’s Okay to Be Smart.  Joe Hanson rocks.  He always has intriguing entries on his Tumblr, and this one is no exception.

Call Me Ishmael is a website/YouTube Channel that is for people who love books.  “How can that be?” you ask, “Videos are the antithesis of books.”  Well, not if they are videos that celebrate books and the difference they have made in people’s lives.

Call Me Ishmael asks people to call “Ishmael” and leave a voicemail about their favorite book.  Each day, Ishmael takes one of those voicemails, and creates a video with the transcription.

It’s really moving to listen to the impact some of these books have made.  Aside from the implications for classroom use, I just found it inspiring to listen to a few of these, and it made me think deeply about the books that have become a core part of my soul over the years.

Here are a few that I recommend:



The Giver

from Lois Lowry's Newbery Acceptance Speech for The Giver
from Lois Lowry’s Newbery Acceptance Speech for The Giver

If you visit my Pinterest Board of Books for Gifted Students, you will see The Giver, by Lois Lowry, is prominently featured.  I read this dystopian novel along with my 5th grade Gifted and Talented students every year, and those of you who know me are aware that I don’t often do the same thing more than once.  However, this book seems brand new with every group of students.  The discussions are rich and we are always able to find many connections to current events and their own lives.

The Giver is coming to theaters this August.  It will be interesting to see how the book transfers to the big screen.  You can see how Lois Lowry feels about the movie in this recent Twitter chat in which she participated that is posted on Walden Media.  More resources from Walden Media, including educational materials, are available here.  I highly recommend Lois Lowry’s Newbery acceptance speech – which gives incredible insight into the formation of the book.

In the interest of full disclosure, I recently participated in Walden Media’s “Teachers are Givers” contest, and was one of the 4 winners.  They chose a teacher each week for four weeks, based on technology lesson plans we submitted.  I didn’t expect to win, as my amazing colleague, LeAnne Hernandez, won the first week.  However, I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the second winner.  I recommend you take a look at the winning entries, as there are some fabulous ideas for integrating this amazing novel with technology in the classroom.  I was truly impressed with the other 3 teachers’ submissions, and can’t wait to try them!  If you feel so inclined, you may want to vote for your favorite lesson plan.  The overall winner will receive a hometown screening of The Giver.

If you are looking for some other resources to support The Giver, you should definitely take a look at Teachers Pay Teachers.  I have a “Depth and Complexity with The Giver” product available for $1.00, but there are tons of other related products on the site – many of them free.

Also, here is a post I did awhile ago on Book Trailers for The Giver.

Read Write Think has a lesson called, “Memories Matter: The Giver and Descriptive Writing Memoirs.”

For older students, you can find some interesting resources on Schmoop (“We Speak Student”).

Whatever you do, if you choose to use this book with your class, be sure to leave lots of time for discussion.  This is a book that demands conversation.  Thoughtful dialogues will help your students to become much more reflective about its themes and implications.  You could probably spend a year on this book, and never fully explore some of the topics it suggests.  It will definitely make an impact, and will be a piece of literature that your students will never forget.

What Would Socrates Do?

socrates-education

In past posts, I’ve mentioned using “Socratic Dialogue” with my students.  Sometimes this is referred to as “Socratic Method”, “Socratic Seminar”, or “Socratic Circles.”  You can learn more about this teaching technique here and in my post on “Socratic Questions.”

I recently ran across an excellent post on the Langwitches blog called, “Socratic Seminar and the Backchannel.”  The article gives a detailed description of teacher Shannon Hancock using the fishbowl method of an inner circle and outer circle with her 8th grade students to discuss The Alchemist. What distinguishes Shannon’s lesson from others of its kind is that she allowed her students to use Today’s Meet as a backchannel to comment during the discussion.  Normally, the outer circle of students remain fairly passive, but her technique makes the discussion much more interactive and collaborative for all who are involved.  I must confess that I have used a backchannel in my class before (Socrative and Google Docs are other great alternatives to Today’s Meet), but this particular use never occurred to me.

Even if you do not have enough digital devices to exactly replicate Shannon’s lesson, I encourage you to take a look at the article, which includes a wonderful video of the class in action, as well as examples of comments made on the backchannel.  I love the way Shannon introduces the lesson, as well as her encouragement of the students to collaborate by having a short discussion with partners at the half-way mark.

Watching Shannon Hancock inspires me to work harder to make our classroom Socratic Circles more meaningful and deep, whether we use technology or not.

iMovie Trailers for The Giver

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 6.07.46 PM

In our district, most 5th grade GT students read the book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry.  This amazing piece of dystopian literature spawns endless discussions about topics from the meaning of freedom to the potential consequences of genetic engineering.  I have read this book with a group of students every year for 14 years, and I have never heard the same conversations twice.

Lisa Johnson at TechChef4u recently featured some iMovie trailers, and included some that were done about The Giver by Mr. Weinert’s 8th  grade class.  I hope to use them to get my class excited about the book next year, and perhaps have them create some of their own for one of the sequels to the novel.

Lisa Johnson also included a link to some storyboarding templates for iMovie on the iPad by Timothy Jefferson which you might want to check out as well.

Respondo

Respondo is a new tool brought to you by the creator of The Differentiator, Ian at www.byrdseed.com.  As Ian describes on the Respondo page, he is still working on this tool, and welcomes any suggestions.  However, from what I can see, it is a great way to incorporate creative thinking into responses to literature.  It is based on the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. technique I posted about a few weeks ago, and which Ian describes in his post called “Do More with Story Structure.”  Give Respondo a try the next time you want to “jazz up” your literature discussions!

The Akinator

I found out about this site on KB Connected right before the holidays. Karen’s site recommends to “use it to introduce: Historical figures, characters from a book, famous scientists, figures in pop culture etc.” I tried it out myself, and was impressed, so I showed it to my nine-year old daughter – who became obsessed with it!  The Akinator tries to “figure out” which character you are thinking of by asking you questions.  It slowly narrows down to the correct answer based on the answers you give to its questions.  The character can be one from fiction or non-fiction.  Of course, there is less of a chance that obscure ones will be guessed correctly.  But, you may be surprised by what The Akinator knows!  My daughter was thrilled when it guessed the character from The Fablehaven series she had in mind.  In addition, if The Akinator guesses incorrectly, you have the option of inputting information about the character to help it to “learn” more.

Be aware that the site does request a name and age.  I would recommend that you have your child or student use a nickname, but give a close approximation to his or her real age.  The questions change a little for adults and might be considered inappropriate.