Friday, March 27, 2009

Module 4 - Book Review - Marvelous Math

Marvelous Math

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, and Karen Barbour. 2001. Marvelous math: a book of poems. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.


Numbers come to life in this wonderful collection of math poems. Mathematics takes on fresh, new meaning for readers through questions and concepts explored in the 16 poems that comprise this anthology. The poems, a collection of rhyme and free verse, are consistent in quality and reinforce this book’s purpose in showing math can be fun and exciting. A variety of thoughts and emotions are displayed from inquisitive, “Marvelous Math” to comforting, “Math makes me feel safe” from sad, “Hourglass” to silly, “SOS” by Beverly McLoughland:

Sammy’s head is pounding—
Sammy’s in pain—
A long division’s got
Stuck in his brain—

The featured poets are all contemporary and many of them are well known. Aside from anthologist Hopkins, there are poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Betsy Franco, and Janet S. Wong (to name a few). Also incorporated are works by late poets Mary O’Neill and David McCord. Several poems first appeared in other poetry books. For example, Karla Kuskin’s “Counting Birds” is an excerpt from Near the Window Tree:

Instead of counting herds of sheep
Sometimes when I am going to sleep
I think of names of birds I love—
Merlin, mud hen, morning dove…

The accompanying watercolor and acrylic paintings by Karen Barbour are extremely inviting; they are abstract and vivid. Their surrealism is the perfect poetry companion. At times the art seems to dominate the page, but without the poetry it would have no meaning. Marvelous Math is a fantastic treat for a math class poetry break or for no reason at all. Young readers will enjoy this compilation.

Module 4- Poetry Break #4b

Poetry Break #4b

Introduction: Pairing up biography poems with another class activity is a wonderful way to get your class interested in poetry. The following Biopoem about Mexican painter Frida Kahlo can be shared for a variety of reasons: to celebrate Women’s History Month, to pair with an art/art history lesson, to read before a field trip to an art museum, or to couple with a biography about Frida Kahlo.


My Birth
by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

My birth name is Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon.
But I often say I am Frieda, German for “peace.”

My birthday is July 6th 1907.
But I often say I was born in 1910,
daughter of the Mexican Revolution.

My birthplace is my grandmother’s house in Coyoacan, Mexico.
But I often say I was born a block away,
in the U-shaped Blue House of my childhood,
a white building, until I painted it deep blue.

[From: Frida: viva la vida = long live life. By Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Marshall Cavendish Children/Marshall Cavendish Corp, 2007.]

Extension: Have your students write their own Biopoem. The poem can be autobiographical in nature or about another person, real or fictional. Give your students the option of sharing the poem with the rest of the class.

Module 4 - Poetry Break #4a

Poetry Break #4a

Introduction: On a nice, fresh, spring day bring your class outside (make sure you have administration approval) for a breath of fresh air and a poetry break.

Move Over
by Lilian Moore

    through the grass,
move over.

    Black and
    clover rover,
let me pass.

    Fat and
    loud on the
    let me
your string.

[From: Something New Begins: New and Selected Poems. By Lilian Moore, Atheneum, 1982.]

Extension: Have the class bring drawing pads, pencils, and something to color with; have them draw the bumblebee or something else if they’d like. Share another poem such as Spring Talk by David McCord.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Module 3- Book Review- I heart you, you haunt me

I heart you, you haunt me

Schroeder, Lisa. 2008. I heart you, you haunt me. New York: Simon Pulse.


Set in the present day this verse novel is about a 15-year old girl named Ava. Ava like many teenage girls her age longs to get her drivers license, is saving up for a car, and likes going to the mall with her best friend. However unlike other girls her boyfriend Jackson just died, it is all Ava’s fault and now he’s back as ghost! Ava is happy to have Jackson back in her life but what kind of life could they possibly have together?

Written in narrative free verse, the novel is peppered with flashbacks that tell how Ava and Jackson met and give the reader an understanding of their life together. Schroeder frequently incorporates music into the story to establish the mood:

The CD player turns on
You’re The One, by Sugarcult

A blue bouncy ball
rolls across the floor.

I pick it up
There’s scribbled writing,
hard to read.

I figure out it says:
Don’t be blue,
I love you!

Schroeder does an excellent job of conveying Ava's vast and strong emotions. The reader’s senses are ignited as they experience Ava’s feelings of love lost, love found, confusion, entrapment, guilt, anger, endless love, peace, and hope. It is these feelings that not only move the story but give it its power.

Module 3 - Poetry Break #3b

Poetry Break #3b

Introduction: Many children grown up falsely believing if a poem does not rhyme then it is not a poem. Poems are about expressing thoughts and emotions. The element of rhyme is optional in poetry. Read following poem to your class:


My Cat
by Judith Viorst

My cat isn’t stuck up,
Even though
He’s the handsomest cat in
      the world,
And smart,
And brave,
And climbs the highest trees.
My cat will sit on your lap and
      let you pet him.
He won’t mind.
He thinks human beings are
Almost as good
As he is.

[From: If I were in charge of the world and other worries. By Judith Viorst and Lynne Cherry, Atheneum, 1981.]

Extension: There are many forms of poetry that do not rhyme (i.e. free verse, haiku, Tanka, and Sestina). Read some more examples to your class. For an alternate activity have them create a free verse poem on the topic of their choice.

Module 3 - Poetry Break #3a

Poetry Break #3a

Introduction: There is a strong correlation between young children’s understanding of sounds of language and literacy rates. Share this alliteration poem with your students.


Riddle-Me Rhyme
By David McCord

Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ree,
An owl is in that tree.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ro,
He’s there and he won’t go.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ree,
“I’m staying here,” says he.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ro,
“Caw-caw,” caws the crow.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ree,
An owl by day can’t see.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ro,
But he can hear the crow.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ree,
Not one crow; now but three.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ro,
Now five or six or so.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ree,
Nine, then crows round that tree.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ro,
Now forty. He won’t go.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ree,
How deafening crows can be!
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ro,
The owl’s still saying “no!”
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ree,
Did something leave the tree?
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ro,
You’ll have to ask the crow.
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ree,
The crows are following he…
Riddle-me, Riddle-me, Ro,
Are following him.
                          I know.

[From: If the owl calls again: a collection of owl poems. By Myra Cohn Livingston and Antonio Frasconi, McElderry Books, 1990.]

Extension: Take alliteration to the extreme and share some tongue twisters with your students such as “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” “She sells seashells by the seashore,” and “Betty Botter had some butter.” Or share some less concentrated examples of alliteration such as “The Tyger” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”