National Picture Book Month

Wow, I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know that

November is National Picture Book Month!

How could I let that information slip by me??? Well, not again. This picture book fan will remember in the future. 🙂

To celebrate this happy month of beautiful picture books, I have the goal of posting either a picture book, or something about picture books, everyday on my corresponding Facebook Page: Fictional Stories in Science and on my Twitter Feed. Here are the ones I have highlighted these past few days:

NOVEMBER 1st

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I was happy to find this science-centered picture book at our Book Fair during Parent-Teacher Conferences. It is a colorfully packed story of Earth that teaches as well as delights. I could see it being used throughout the year for multiple reasons and for multiple grade levels. While reading I kept mentally returning to my 8th grade Earth Science days and geological time, as well as to last year’s 2nd grade unit on Dinosaurs and the spark we created in students to research and inform.

Click Here to Order on Amazon. 

NOVEMBER 2nd

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For Day 2 of National Picture Book Month, I highlighted “Eraser”. This is a great story to ‪help students understand how first drafts turn into finished drafts, and how we have many tools to help get us there. I love, and often use, a good eraser. 🙂

“Mistakes are proof we are trying.”

Click Here to Order on Amazon.

NOVEMBER 3rd

Please check out one of my FAVORITE TED Talks by Grace Lin about the Windows and Mirrors of our bookshelves. I encourage and challenge you to take a good look through your bookshelves…all of them, including those in your science section. Let your book selection both reflect and encourage all learners.

The video doesn’t play here on the site, but click HERE to watch it or click on the image below.

Grace Lin TED Talk on YouTube

NOVEMBER 4th

My 2nd Grade Co-teaching partner and I are going to use these two picture books soon to prompt perspective writing! The story A Tale of Two Beasts is a great way to open up a discussion about the interactions between humans and wildlife

Covers of "A Tale of Two Beasts" and "Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude"

Happy Reading!

How I Co-Hosted a Night of Literacies

This 2018-2019 school year I co-organized our literacy night with my amazing co-teaching partner, Lindsey Pyell. 🙂 We wanted to approach the topic of literacy night in a more global and multimodal way, so we modified the name to be our:

Night of Literacies

Night of Literacies Engagement Card by Kalynda Pearce

The goal was to highlight all of the vast literacies all around us, and how each genre has its own reading, writing, listening, and speaking approach to its practice and proficiency. Rather than focus solely on an English Language Arts approach, we challenged our grade levels to think of a genre of literacy to focus on, and we provided the examples of math literacy, science literacy, career-based literacies, etc. After much discussion in teams and in leadership, we decided on the following: (Click HERE for the PDF). 

We were thrilled (as were our families) to have the PTA support our event, and to have community partnerships with one of our high schools, the mayor, district office leadership, paramedics, firemen, and the police!

Night of Literacies Community Partnerships

You might notice that math literacy wasn’t one of the stops, but Lindsey and I supported this literacy by having math prompts on butcher paper covered lunchroom tables (where the PTA was handing out ice cream sandwiches). HERE is a link to those prompts.

Our grade level teams really stepped up to the plate to offer amazing literacy engagement ideas. For example, 2nd grade had leaf rubbings, which turned into scientific diagrams, with Observational Science; 1st grade had families reflect on what GRIT meant to them and how it help them to soar, with GRIT Literacy; and 5th grade had two sessions, one that focused on coding and one that took families through the design and trial process with airplane making for Science Literacy. 🙂

First grade’s GRIT literacy was also a collaborative art project, where families put their ideas on individual feathers, that created a powerful photo-capturing display. Here is a picture of me with my GRIT wings.

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Our teachers are so clever, creative, and hard working! They truly made the night a success and helped to give families an interactive taste of what a day at our school is like.

I am so very grateful to Lindsey Pyell, for working so hard with me for last month or so, for thinking through the big and small details with me…and for getting us these amazing matching shirts! 🙂

I hope this helps you and your school think through your own Night of Literacies, stretching definitions and visuals of what literacy is and looks like in action. Upon reflection, here are some tips we have learned in the process:

  • DO have staff members be among your list of guest readers. Our students loved having our PE teacher read and it was great for them to see him in that light. He is such an avid reader!
  • DO have it toward the end of the week. The beginning of the week is just tough for a later night, but…
  • DON’T back it up to a longer weekend. Our attendance was much lower than expected. We didn’t back it up to a holiday, but to a Teacher Work Day, so many families got a jump start on their extra day.
  • DO think through multiple announcement methods. I presented at PTA, made flyers, and it was sent home electronically, but I think more effort could have been explored. We tried to save on copies, with the electronic mailing, but next time maybe a QR-Code could be sent home, in addition to some copies, that linked to the flyer.
  • Most Importantly, DO love the engagement moments, no matter the turn out. Our lower number of attendees provided breathing space in the sessions and allowed for teachers to work individually with families, which was such a heart-warming site to see.

Below is an example of our flyer, in case this sparks an idea or two for you. Click HERE for the PDF.

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Happy Literacy-ing!

–Kalynda

Girl-Centered Sci-Fi Novels: A Share from Brightly

Many of my colleagues have asked me to post more about early readers and novels. While I do have that as part of my goal, I haven’t been able to reach that far…yet, minus some of my more recent posts for early readers. In the meantime I want to share a post I came across from Melissa Taylor who writes for Brightly:

11 Girl-Centered Sci-Fi Novels

for Middle Grade Readers

By Melissa Taylor from Brightly

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To access her list, click HERE. To learn more about Brightly, click HERE.

While I haven’t read all of her suggested titles (but I’m adding them to my list), I have read The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm. Check out what I wrote about this cute and clever story HERE. It was one of my featured books. 🙂

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Scientific Names, Pet Names, Your Name…Books that Spark this Discussion

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Cute K-2 story, but what I liked best was the additional information after the story, where a scientist explains how adorabilis got its name. After reading this, I would re-read the story and discuss the names of the other ocean animals, taking a closer look at their features, explaining that scientists observe closely in order to identify, group, and name species. Students could then look into how their favorite animal received their name.

You could also follow it up with this story…

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And even though there are no strong science ties, it does have a personal connection to family pets and naming in general. To name is a personal and historical act. And on that note, this is also one of my favorites:

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Zoey and Sassafras: Science Process in an Early Chapter Book = Love!

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Overview of the Series: Written by a former science teacher 🙂 the Zoey and Sassafras series takes you through the scientific process with your very capable guide, Zoey and her sidekick Sassafras. Zoey is a fan of nature, wonder, questions, and has a strong desire to help all animals (including magical ones) through her knowledge and use of science. Readers will delight in this relatable character and adults (like teachers and parents) will love the clear but discovery based approach to science and how the main guide (the mom) doesn’t step in, but poses questions so that Zoey can reach her own conclusions and next steps.

Book One

Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallow: After discovering an interesting photo, that reveals a family secret, Zoey meets a sick young dragon that is need of her help. I loved the specific science process connections and the trial and error as Zoey had to work through a problem on her own with just the knowledge and tools around her.

Book Two

Zoey and Sassafras: Monsters and Mold: A grown forest monster, matching the colorings of Sassafras, shows up in need of support to fix an embarrassing problem…mold on his fur. Yikes! Zoey is put to the test as she has to process through the scientific method a few times before reaching her conclusion. Her process mimics many pathways of taking a simple solution to a complex problem, which provides great opportunities for misconception conversations, misunderstanding conversations, and some experiments of your own. In addition, I really love the scientific method clearly displayed in this story, along with other science practices: growth mindset, problem solving, what to do when it does work out, and giving yourself some thinking and reflecting time. This story also brings in control and variables. I want this collection for my school, especially for my K-2 teachers.

Book Three

Zoey and Sassafras: Merhorses and Bubbles: Wow, this one got me thinking, wondering, questioning, and investigating the effect we have on nature, in particular our drainage systems and the local rivers. I don’t want to give anything away, but this would be a great read for that thought-provoking question and possible investigative project, both on a local level and a national or world level. I had an in depth conversation about (well, I won’t spoil it) it with my boyfriend while on a nature walk, all to the thanks of Zoey and Sassafras.

Book Four

Zoey and Sassafras: Caterflies and Ice: First off, what a cute and clever concept for a magical creature! As a cat fan, I loved it! 🙂 Ok, back to the story…an unexpected spring snowstorm hits and causes some trouble for a nearby group (Kaleidoscope? Swarm? Rabble?) of caterflies, their eggs, and their host plant…catnip. A few group members seek out Zoey for help and she has to use her background knowledge to help solve the problem…which she does…but, unknown to her (at the time) it also causes some additional harm. Asia Citro does a great job of capturing Zoey’s emotional struggle and scientific struggle as she explores time sensitive solutions. While I love this series for the problem solving approach of Zoey’s character, I especially love how this book also demonstrates that sometimes you really need to seek out the advice of the more experienced other…scientists don’t work alone.

AND…BOOK FIVE: Zoey and Sassafras: The Pod and the Bog

I didn’t think I was going to be able to read this one. 😦 It took quite the time to get it from the library, but it finally came! 🙂 In this book Zoey wraps up the notes on her own plant experiment, and is ready for a bedtime read from her mom, when they both hear the barn doorbell. It is their good friend Pip with quite the mysterious and colorful pod. In order to return the pod to the right habitat, the trio, especially Zoey, need to tap into all they know about plants, habitats, and the connecting thread…what type of habitats certain plants need in order to survive. It is a race against time to help save this species of plant. The time pressure is a stress pressure for Zoey…and isn’t it for us all? Multiple lessons learned and demonstrated here, beyond the typical science process ones, for stress, unfortunately, is often part of the process, but where we go for support and how we react is key.

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Learning About Shapes? Then you will want to read this (K-3+) book…

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So clever!

I loved all the shape based mathematical language being use to tell this tale of friendship drama and reunion! For example: “Circle admired Square for all his good points”. Ha! Ha! Love it! 🙂

Originally I bought this book for my kindergarten and first grade teachers, but no, the benefits and delights are not for those grades alone. There are clever math connections for K-5, really. It all depends on how you see the story. Also, the classroom lesson connections don’t even have to be math or, specifically, shape based. It can be used as a mentor text for another mathematical story or a pun-based story with a real-world problem-solution plot.

It is definitely one of those stories you could read and then re-read for different purposes…including reading and re-reading it yourself for a good laugh.

Learning About the Colors? Then You Will Want to Read…

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If you are learning the colors, then you will want to read this book! I loved the clever way that the colors were introduced, with words, curiosity, and with a tactile component. This book put a smile on my face–the prediction that will take place with a turn-and-talk, or whole group share, will easily spark engagement and language use. In addition, there are so many spin-off questions from this text, like…what is an aardvark…does he really eat ants…and how is a carpenter ant different than the ants we see on our sidewalk? And so many more! 🙂 I cannot wait to share this treasure with my K and 1st grade teachers. Fun!

For some additional Resources:

And did you know that aardvark means Earth Pigs? That sometimes they are called Antbears? I didn’t, but I learned that on Fun Aardvark Facts for Kids by Easy Science for Kidshttps://easyscienceforkids.com/all-about-aardvarks/