September 04
5 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

Prior to Google, Web search engines ranked search results according to the number of times a key word appeared on a page. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized the Internet search process by ranking pages based on the number of other pages to which they are linked. Since incorporating in 1998, Google has grown in popularity as a preferred Internet search engine and information application provider. In 2006, the verb "google" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Working with your librarian/school media specialist, engage students in an overview of developments in information/reference search technology. Guide students in an exploration of the following search tools (or others that provide a similar sense of contrast and development):

  • card catalog
  • Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
  • library Web site
  • Google or other search engines

After students have had a chance to become familiar with the different search technologies, lead a discussion about the purposes, benefits, and disadvantages of each.

Encourage students to think beyond the notion that the newest technology is always the best. Remind them, for example, that information they find through an online search may not have the same credibility as something they might have found through the library card catalog. Or point out that while an online search engine may offer faster, more refined results, it may be keeping track of what you searched for without your full knowledge or permission.

Google was formally incorporated this week in 1998.

Part of Google's official site, this timeline covers the company's lifespan from 1995 to the present, including thorough links to more recent developments in Google services. The timeline also lists the April Fool's Day jokes for which Google has become famous.

This frequently-updated blog includes information about new developments at Google, as well as innovative ways to use Google tools for work or leisure activities. Here you can also find links to other blogs about web technologies and blogs written by Google staff.

Offering an extensive history of search engines, this site puts Google in perspective as one of the industry leaders in the market. The site also includes an extensive list of links for further reading and exploration on the topic.

April 11
5 - 12
Author & Text

Known for such realistic fiction such as Out of My Mind, historical fiction such as Copper Sun, as well as adaptations such as Romiette and Julio, author and educator Sharon Draper has won multiple Coretta Scott King Awards for her work.  She is the 2011 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to the field of adolescent literature by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ALAN), the 2015 recipient of the Edwards Award for her significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature, and NCTE's 2016 Charlotte Huck Award.

Among Sharon Draper’s most popular books are the Hazelwood Trilogy (Tears of a Tiger, Forged by Fire, Darkness before Dawn) and the Jericho Trilogy (The Battle of Jericho, November Blues, Just Another Hero). Obtain copies of the books and preview each title on a classroom projector (each page contains an overview and summary; some contain audio previews as well).

Give students time to choose a book and then form literature circles around each title.  After individual book groups have finished, form new groups that bring the books from each trilogy together to discuss how the books relate to an build on one another.

Sharon Draper was born on this day in 1952.

Draper’s official site contains rich resources on each of her books as well as specific resources for students, teachers, and librarians.

Among a variety of resources on Sharon Draper and her work is a collection of video interviews discussing specific works and teaching and writing more broadly.

This site offers biographical information and profiles of many of Draper’s works.

A conversation with Sharon Draper around #WhyIWrite.

This blog post from YALSA's The Hub recognizes Draper's contributions to the field and shares some student testimonials about favorite titles.

August 01
3 - 6
Holiday & School Celebration

Teachers and students come to school bringing a wide range of backgrounds, languages, abilities, and temperaments. Get things off to the best start by asking them to respect their differences and make the most of their similarities. By sharing information on their lives and dreams, students and teachers can build community in the classroom that will support literacy instruction throughout the school year.

The first weeks of school can set the tone for the rest of the year, so community-building is a priority. Ask students to share details about their lives with one another using the interactive Graphic Map.

  • Ask students to identify key moments in their lives. Younger students can brainstorm a list of events from the summer, while older students might focus more specifically on significant events from previous years at school.

  • Have students assign a positive or negative value to each event based on their feelings about it. Happy events like "meeting a new friend" would have a high number, and sad events like "having to leave a sibling at home" would have a lower number.

  • Once students have gathered their ideas, ask them to publish the entries using the interactive Graphic Map. Have students record a brief description and include an image for each memory. If computers are not available, have students draw graphics and add captions for their memories on construction paper.

  • When everyone has completed their graphic maps, invite students to share their memories in small groups or with the whole class. Encourage students to look for feelings that they have all experienced and to identify details that they want to know more about.

See the Graphic Map page for more information and activities for this interactive tool.

Get ready to go back to school!

This booklist, compiled by ReadWriteThink, names texts that can be shared with Grades K–2 and Grades 3–5 students during the first few days of school.

 

This NCTE resource provides additional lesson plans, teaching strategies, journal articles, and more to help the first weeks in the classroom flow more smoothly.

 

This article from KidsHealth includes tips for dealing with first-day jitters, the first day at middle school, and getting a good start.

 

Older students can find resources on this KidsHealth site to help make the first days of school more successful. The site includes topics such as choosing extracurricular activities and dealing with bullying.

 

Compiled by ReadWriteThink, this booklist suggests titles that can be shared with students in Grades 6-9 during the beginning weeks of school.

 

April 21
1 - 6
Author & Text

Barbara Park was the author of over two dozen Junie B. Jones books, as well as several stories for older readers including My Mother Got Married and Other Disasters, Skinnybones, and Mick Harte Was Here. Park's books have earned a number of awards, including many children's choice and parents' choice award lists. Titles in the Junie B. Jones series continue to appear on bestseller lists.

Have your students write their own "Junie B." stories after brainstorming issues they've experienced during the school year.

  • First have the group make a list of the Junie B. adventures in the books they've read (e.g., cheating, school play, losing a tooth).

  • Then ask students to brainstorm a second list of ideas that would make interesting stories.

  • Students can work alone or in pairs to write their stories, using one of the ideas from the class list. Have students use the interactive story map to plan their writing.

  • After all stories have been completed, have each student or pair share their story with the class.

Have students turn their stories into books, with illustrations, and then work with your school or community librarian to create a library display of all the new stories.

Barbara Park, author of the Junie B. Jones series, was born on this day.

A website for kids, including a bibliography of Junie B. books, interactive and printable activities, as well as information about Park's books for older children.

 

This Random House resource provides summaries and teacher's guides for all of the Junie B. Jones books. Links are provided to other book series resources as well.

 

This resource contains a brief biography of Park as well as some notes and a list of some of her Junie B. Jones books.

 

This site provides links to resources about Barbara Park, including an interview in which she describes her experiences in writing the books.

 

October 21
5 - 10
Author & Text

Ursula K. Le Guin is the noted author of fantasy and science fiction novels for young adult readers. Her Earthsea Cycle, first published in the 1970s, remains a favorite series for fans of fantasy fiction. Le Guin passed away in 2018.

 

The task of a fantasy writer is, first and foremost, to create some semblance of believability in the world in which the story is set. Since many students will be familiar with some fantasy worlds (e.g., Hogwarts School from the Harry Potter series, Middle Earth from The Hobbit), have them construct a two-column chart. In the first column, ask students to list the realistic elements of a familiar fantasy story of their choice. In the second column, students should indicate the "fantastic" aspects of each realistic element. For example, in Harry Potter, there are rules for appropriate behavior, which is a realistic element. The rules themselves, however, such as not performing magic in front of Muggles, show the addition of the fantastic element.

 

Ursula K. LeGuin was born on this day in 1929.

This site dedicated to Le Guin provides information about her books, her life, and her writing.

 

Cynthia Leitich Smith, children's author, offers a list of suggested reading in this genre, plus some interesting links to websites related to science fiction and fantasy.

 

This article from The ALAN Review provides an overview of Le Guin's Earthsea novels.

 

March 05
3 - 12
Author & Text

Leslie Marmon Silko, born in 1948 and raised in the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, proudly proclaims her mixed Native American, Mexican, and White heritage. As a writer, Silko draws on the stories she heard from her great-grandmother at Laguna. The oral tradition of storytelling, she insists, is alive and well for anyone who takes the time to listen to others. Silko's most widely taught novel, Ceremony, deals with a young World War II veteran's return to his Indian reservation.

To celebrate Silko's birthday, your students can revive elements of the oral tradition.

Have students write a brief anecdote about something funny that happened to them recently. Have students limit their writing to no more than a paragraph. Then ask students to read what they have written several times to themselves. Next, in pairs, have students tell each other their stories without looking at what they wrote. Each pair should then join with another pair and tell each other their stories, again without looking at what they wrote. Stop the class at this point and ask students to look back at what they have written to see if their stories have changed in the telling. Why do these changes happen? Finally, have students move into a larger group and retell someone else's story as well as they can. Before wrapping up, students should discuss some of the elements of oral storytelling: what makes a good story? What changes in the retelling and why?

Have students interview older family members to learn about family stories that may have been passed down through generations. Students may wish to share these stories in class or write them down and illustrate them.

Today is Native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko's birthday.

This resource from American Passages offers a brief biography of Silko, as well as teaching tips and questions for her novel Ceremony.

This is a collection of notes by a Georgetown professor on the major themes and complex style of Silko's work.

The Smithsonian Institution offers this collection of Native American-related resources. There are links to Smithsonian resources, online exhibitions, and recommended reading lists.

This PBS site provides a collection of resources on Native American storytelling.

June 07
K - 12
Author & Text

Louise Erdrich was born today in 1954. Erdrich is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and is the author over a dozen novels as well as poetry, short stories, and books for children. Her work depicts Native American characters and settings and has won a number of awards, including the National Book Award for The Round House and the O. Henry Award for “Fleur.” She is also the owner of an independent bookstore in Minnesota.

Project for students the short video Louise Erdrich, author of LaRose, talks about her love of books. Briefly discuss Erdrich’s attitudes toward and associations with books before inviting students to write their own short memory piece about a pleasurable experience with a book, at a bookstore, or in a library.

Encourage students to include sensory details about the book, such as how it looked, felt, smelled, and so on. Then ask students to share their memories to join in Erdrich’s love of books.

Celebrate Louise Erdrich's birthday today.

Erdrich's Poetry Foundation page includes biographical information and links to several of her poems, including "Turtle Mountain Reservation" from Jacklight (1984).

 

This HarperCollins page offers a biographical sketch as well as information about all of her major works.

 

Louise Erdrich's blog is frequently updated and offers a glimpse into her work as an independent bookseller and reader.

 

This compendium of NPR resources includes booklists featuring Erdrich's works as well as links to archived audio content.

 

From the documentary series by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this page includes videos of Erdrich discussing her genealogy and the importance of ancestral history.

May 20
3 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

On May 20, 1927, Charles Lindbergh began the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris and the first solo flight across the Atlantic, taking off from Roosevelt Field in New York in his plane The Spirit of St. Louis. Thirty-three and a half hours later, "Lucky Lindy" landed safely in Paris, France, becoming the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero, a biography for younger readers, has a subtitle that might appear to be an oxymoron by contemporary standards. Often, society portrays heroes as superhuman, forgetting that heroes are ordinary people who manage to face extraordinary challenges successfully.

Write the words HUMAN HERO on the board and ask students to consider what might be meant by this phrase. Next, ask groups of students to think of people, alive or dead (or fictional), who fit the category "human hero." Then place all names students have mentioned on the board. Ask students to brainstorm a list of attributes or qualities these people share. Can this list of attributes and/or qualities lead to a definition of heroism? Students can finish by reading a biography of a selected hero and summarizing it using the Bio-Cube interactive.

Charles Lindbergh began his transatlantic flight in 1927.

The Lindbergh homepage includes links to a great collection of resources. Included are flight plans, biographical information, a timeline, video clips, and more.

Part of the PBS American Experience series, this website features information about the film Lindbergh. Also included are a timeline of aviation milestones, maps of Lindbergh's transatlantic flight, and a teacher's guide.

View an exact replica of The Spirit of St. Louis in flight!

This Smithsonian online exhibit includes technical specifications and pictures of Lindbergh's famous plane. The page features a timeline of the milestones of flight.

March 25
3 - 6
Author & Text

Born on March 25, 1964, Kate DiCamillo is the award-winning author of Because of Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, her first novel, was a 2001 Newbery Honor book and was released on film in 2005. Her novel The Tale of Despereaux won the Newbery Medal in 2004 and Flora & Ulysses won the Newbery Medal in 2014. Additional works include The Tiger Rising, Mercy Watson to the Rescue, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

DiCamillo often writes about animals, such as the title characters in Mercy Watson to the Rescue, Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Tiger Rising. Have your students examine the characters in these stories, looking for character traits, examples of personification, and similarities and differences. Then challenge students to write original short stories featuring animals as central characters.

  • Have students visit the interactive Plot Diagram to plan their stories.
  • Then have students visit the interactive Story Mapping tool and select the character map option to develop their stories' central characters.
  • Ask students to print out their plot diagrams and character maps and use them to write their stories. When students have finished writing, have them share their work by reading their stories aloud or posting them in the classroom.
Celebrate Kate DiCamillo's birthday today.

Kidsreads offers this brief biography of Kate DiCamillo. An author interview and links to book information are also included.

DiCamillo's website provides book and author information, upcoming public appearance dates, and more.

Scholastic offers this biography of DiCamillo, as well as links to an annotated book list and an interview transcript.

This resource from Reading Rockets highlights DiCamillo talking about her well-known texts as well as sharing about her early rejections.

May 01
9 - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

Since 1978, the month of May has been a time to honor the heritage of Asian and Pacific Americans and their contributions to the United States. Originally a week-long Asian American Heritage Week, the celebration now lasts through the entire month.

Ask students to consider the portrayal of Asians in popular culture by focusing on characters in films and movies. Have students explore images from classic and contemporary films and then compare these images to the historical and cultural reference materials.

  • Visit Asian Images in Film, from Turner Classic Movies, with the class and analyze still images and movie trailers on the site to identify how and when Asians are included in Hollywood films.

  • Have students consider the shortcomings of Hollywood portrayals, after viewing the Asians in Hollywood, Stereotyping of Asians, or Anglos Playing Asians videos on the site.

  • Ask students to find historical and cultural reference materials covering topics similar to those in the film clips. Have students compare the film portrayals to the information that they find in other texts.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is in May!

This Library of Congress site features resources on Asian Pacific American history and culture, including links to biographies in the Veterans History Project, contemporary Japanese paintings, and resources for teachers.

The Smithsonian Education site includes materials on ethnic heritage, world music, history, and the arts. Visitors can learn about Hawaiian Lu'aus, Chinese immigrants' participation in the American Gold Rush, and the art of Buddhism. Educational materials and lesson plans are also provided.

This article from the Asia Society explores the history of Asian Americans and their role in shaping the country.

Find great books written about a wide range of Asian and Pacific American cultural experiences for children and adolescents.

Watch online interviews with Asian American children's book authors.

These resources below will help you explore the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans with students and ask them to think critically about how the roles and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders have been presented in literature and popular culture.