Notes for Teachers

Russell Yates

 

 

 I have heard it said many times that to become a better reader you need to read! I truly believe that is true. Many times we teachers put so many obstacles in the way of our students' reading that they never get a chance to read, they're too busy completing worksheets, literature logs, and practice bubble tests. Keep this in mind when having your students complete the activities here, they are intended to expose and extend, not to "get in the way."

This website is designed for students in grades 3 through 6 ... "ish." The learning activities were selected for several reasons: they allow for a variety of abilities to successfully complete them due to their being open-ended, they incorporate and require more thought than that of a single subject area, they help children learn the essence of a particular genre, and they are inherently fun. The links to the various webpages support both the learning and the specific activities. However, they are not exhaustive, feel free to support your students with more links if you feel they need or want them.

One of the main purposes of this website is to help young readers explore some genres that they may not have read before. Educational activities for and information on other genres is out there and perhaps I will find the time to include those on this site in the future.

Directly below I have included some background information for most of the links and activities I have used while creating this site. You may find a student or perhaps your entire class wanting to pursue a genre further, some of these links should help. To find formal citations of the resources used please follow this link to the Bibliography and Resources page.

Biography

The activity for eulogizing a famous person comes from a lesson by Kristi Young and can be found on the Learning Space website at: http://www.learningspace.org/instruct/lplan/library/kyoung.html. The Learning Space has a lot of great lesson plans all of which are directly tied to the Washington State academic learning requirements. The URL for the lesson plan section is: http://www.learningspace.org/instruct/lplan/default.html.

The websites I have listed for students to use for their biography research, The American Experience - Featured Presidents http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/nf/featured/featured.html, Biography.com http://www.biography.com/, Black Pioneer Bios http://www.teleport.com/~eotic/blakbios.html, Distinguished Women of Past and Present http://www.DistinguishedWomen.com/subject/field.html, Who's Who in American History http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/bios/bios.html, are by no means all that are out there, they are just a very few among many. Use your favorite search engine, type in "biography," and you will find hundreds more websites. A word of caution however, you may get some sites with inappropriate information on them. To help minimize this, use a "kid-friendly" search engine such as Yahooligans ... and read through the sites.

Fantasy

The activity idea for the Harry Potter books comes from a lesson titled The Harry Potter Movie, Allstar Fantasy Cast by Keith B. Shaw. It can be found online at: http://www.incwell.com/HarryPotter/DreamCast.html. A character trait chart to use with this lesson can be found at: http://www.incwell.com/Printouts/CharacterChart.html. Of the many websites that focus on the popular series of books, I have found Scholastic's (http://www.scholastic.com/harrypotter/home_noflash.asp) to be among the best. Of course they are promoting sales of the book, but there is a lot of great information about the series here, including a pronunciation guide. The guide however needs for your computer to have Flash Player software from Macromedia in order to use it.

The Lilypad is courteous of Internet Public Library's Youth Story Hour website. More stories are available and can be accessed from: http://www.ipl.org/youth/StoryHour/.

The complete text of The Velveteen Rabbit is one of many complete text stories available from The at theCelebration of Women Writers' Build-A-Book Initiative at: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/williams/rabbit/rabbit.html. However, a linked listing of full-text stories for young readers that is probably more useful for teachers can be found on the Classics for Young People webpage, http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/storclas.html.

The Incredible Story Studio is a Canadian television program that produces shows based on stories written by kids. The website is one access to the show that students can use to submit their own stories for use in their programming. The URL is: http://www.storystudio.com/. They also have a "Teachers and Parents" page that will give you much more specific information. It is located at: http://www.storystudio.com/pt/contentnf.html.

Mystery

TheCase.com for Kids is a wonderful online resource for this genre. The site publishes a short online mystery every week for kids to solve. In addition there are two other mysteries, a writing contest, a weekly magic trick to learn, and a listing of TV mysteries! The URL is: http://www.TheCase.com/kids/. For older students there is another resource from this group that you may wish to know about, Learning with Mysteries Lesson Plans. They can be found at http://www.MysteryNet.com/learn/lessonplans/. Although I feel some of the stories that go with these lessons are for older children, they lessons themselves could easily be adapted for younger students.

Millennium Mystery Madness (http://library.thinkquest.org/J002344/) is a ThinkQuest Jr. website written by students from Ss. Peter & Paul School in Florida.

Another ThinkQuest Jr. site, Mystery (http://tqjunior.thinkquest.org/5109/index.html), is written by 4th and 6th grade students from Robert Healy Elementary School in Chicago. It includes two mysteries to solve as well as two mystery story starters. Another interesting feature about this site is the glossary that the students have included.

Poetry

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a wonderful website that includes lots of well-written lessons.The Art of Reading Poetry is one of them and is available at: http://205.146.39.13/success/lessons/Lesson1/ILAc1_L.HTM. I used this lesson as the basis for the activities on the Poetry page. Links to the other lessons available from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can be found on the page at: http://205.146.39.13/success/index.htm.

The Poetry Guide webpage lists 10 different activities for kids to do to become better, more thoughtful poets. Although the page is sponsored by the Environmental Defense organization, the activities are generic enough to be used in many settings. You can find this page at: http://www.edf.org/Earth2Kids/teachers/poetryguide.html.

The websites used for students to read other students' poems, Kids' Poems http://www.edf.org/Earth2Kids/kidspoem/, Positively Poetry http://advicom.net/~e-media/kv/poetry1.html, andWeb Choice--Site Developer's Favorite Poems http://geocities.com/EnchantedForest/5165/webchoice.html, together have tons of poems to read. I find them to provide good models for elementary aged students who are just beginning to be able to express themselves through poetry.

 

Science Fiction

The interplanetary travel brochure activity is from Roberta Sauer's lesson plan titled Interplanetary Travel Contest which can be found on the Learning Space website at: http://www.learningspace.org/instruct/lplan/library/Sauer.html.

The Solar Scouts online activity by Keith B. Shaw can be found at: http://www.incwell.com/Library/Scout/index.html. It is one of several online language arts activities from Spectrum Home and School Magazine, all available at: http://www.incwell.com/LanguageArts.html.

It's Magic is courteous of the Internet Public Library's Youth Story Hour website. It was written and illustrated by fourth and fifth grade students in 1996. It's opening page can be found at: http://www.ipl.org/youth/StoryHour/itsmagic/. The Story Hour page can be accessed at: http://www.ipl.org/youth/StoryHour/.

There are many great websites that provide information about our solar system. The three I've included here, StarChild: The Solar System http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level1/solar_system.html,The Planets http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/, and Views of the Solar System http://solarviews.com/eng/homepage.htm, are among the best.

 

The learning activities and student links can also be looked at in a different way, by subject area. Below is a listing of these site elements in this format. Note that some elements are listed in more than one subject area due to their integrated nature.

Reading

Poetry

Biography

Mystery

Fantasy

Science Fiction

Writing

Biography

Fantasy

Mystery

Poetry

Science Fiction

Science

Science Fiction

Social Studies

Biography

One final bit of information for you. As teachers it is important that we do our best to follow copyright laws, if for no other reason than to be good role models for our students (they have enough poor role models already)! One part of this is to give citations for the pieces of work that we use. In this spirit I am providing a Bibliography and Resources page for this website linked here.

Biography

 Science Fiction
Fantasy
Mystery

 .
Poetry

 Notes for Teachers

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