Sunday, December 6, 2009

Final Reflection!

I can't believe that the semester is over already! I have enjoyed this class so much and I have learned so many things that I am going to be able to take into my future classroom. I honestly believe that this is one of the most beneficial classes I've taken. I've learned how to look at children's books critically and decide which offer the most to children (and which ones are just enjoyable to read!) Going into this class I really didn't think that there was much to know about children's books. I just assumed that they were all great and there was no technique to finding the exceptional ones. Now that the semester is over I realize how wrong I was! I have really enjoyed digging deeper into what makes up children's books and finding out how to create a great library for my classroom.

Out of all of the assignments and activities that we did throughout the semester, I think the most beneficial was creating a text set. I can definitely see how and why this is so important in classrooms and I'm glad that I've had a chance to test it out. I honestly feel like I can take everything that we've done in this class and apply it directly to my future classroom. I think that I am much more prepared to handle a classroom library and to help my students find great books for them to read.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Love to Mama edited by Pat Mora

This book is full of poems about mothers and grandmothers and is a tribute to mothers everywhere. The poems are beautifully written and contain both Spanish and English words within them. For students coming from a Spanish background this would be great for them to have background knowledge in the language and the culture of the book so that they can relate and connect to the poetry. for students who do not have a Spanish background it is great for them to get insight into a new culture or a culture that they may not know much about. At the end of the book there is a glossary of Spanish words and phrases and it was one of my favorite parts about the book. I think that people of all ages can really benefit from reading books that contain multiple languages and cultures because it opens up their minds and exposes them to new ideas and ways of life. Aside from the text of this book, the illustrations are incredible. The colors are very bright and bring a lot of life to the poems and make it fun to read through.

Good Sports by Jack Prelutsky and Chris Raschka

This book is a poetry book all about sports. There are the typical sports- basketball, baseball, football, etc. but there are also poems about gymnastics and frisbee and sports that some people wouldn't think of right away. There is something for everyone in this book.
I think this book is great for children because it goes back to what I have said in previous posts about making poetry accessible to children. It is hard to read poetry when you are first introduced to it and it is even harder if it is about things that you have little or no experience with. By having short poems about sports (which is a topic that a lot of children know about) it helps students begin to connect with poetry and makes it relevant to them. I think that poetry books like this are a great starting point for introducing poetry to students because it allows them to combine the familiar with the unfamiliar.

Poetry for Spring selected by Lillie Patterson

This book is full of multiple poems about Spring. The poems are from various poets but they all consist of topics relating to Spring. My favorite thing about this book is the layout. The table of contents starts with "Welcome, Spring" and the first few poems are all about the beginning of Spring. Then, the poems focus on events that occur during the Spring season- Mother's Day, Easter, Arbor Day, St. Patrick's Day, etc. Finally, that last poem is Goodbye, Spring and it is about the last few days of Spring before summer arrives.
I enjoyed reading this book because when I was in school I was not interested in poetry, and even in college I still have trouble understanding some of the poems I read. Although I might not fully understand what the poet is saying or understand the way he or she is saying it, I can still understand the meaning of the poem and I can use my imagination to create scenes in my head that help me understand what I think is being said. I think books like this really help children begin to create meaning in what they are reading and shows them that they don't have to understand every piece of what they are reading in order to understand what the author is trying to tell them. I think this book is great for creating class discussions.

Winter Eyes by Douglas Florian

This book, as you might have guessed, is a book of poems all about winter. The poems are short and each one has an accompanying page that is used just for a painting of the poem. The poems are about all of the wonderful things about winter-cabins, ice fishing, sledding, etc. However, there are also great comparing and contrasting poems-What I Love About Winter followed by What I Hate About Winter.
I really enjoyed this book because, again, I think it makes poetry accessible to students. I liked that it had poems that were contrasting because I think that would be an interesting way to approach a discussion about comparison and contrast because a lot of children don't have exposure to poetry. Also, being from Iowa I love the winter and the fact that I am reading it in November just gets me thinking about all of the things that I love about winter and how great snow is!

More Small Poems by Valerie Worth

I read this book because it was mentioned in Love That Dog and it made me curious as to what it was. Just as the title states, it is a book of small poems. The poems are all of various topics-kittens, shoes, fireworks, anything you can think of.
I think this book is great, especially when children are first being introduced to poetry because it makes it very accessible to young readers. It shows them that poems don't have to be long, extravagent poems to be meaningful and that you can create poetry from anything. There are virtually no limits. I also really enjoyed this book because I usually don't read poetry but when I was reading through this I was amazed at how simple, yet powerful some of the poems were and it was fun for me to read through them.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

This book is about a boy named Jack who is telling a story through a series of short poems. However, he doesn't really think they are poems because he believes he doesn't understand poetry. His teacher helps him realize that everyone is a poet.
I love this book! I could completely relate to it, even now in college. Reading through the first few pages I knew exactly what Jack was saying. In my creative writing class in college we read the Red Wheelbarrow and I remember thinking, "I have no idea what this is about." As I was reading Jack's thoughts I couldn't help but laugh because it doesn't matter how old you are, sometimes you're going to feel like you just don't get it. What I loved about this book was that Jack's teacher keeps having him read poems and write poems and eventually Jack starts realizing that he can actually write poems. Throughout the entire book he keeps saying he doesn't understnad the poems they are reading and he doesn't think that his poems are that great because he doesn't really think they are poems. By the end of the story he is writing poems and putting his name on them for the entire class to see. I think this book is great for children because they can relate to it and it shows them that it's okay to not understand something right away, and also that not everyone gets the same thing out of what they are reading.