Why Should You Use Novel Studies in Your Classroom?

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The Power of El Deafo!

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The One and Only Ivan in Your Classroom!

Last year my son came home from school and told me, "Mom, I am reading the best book and you really need to make a unit for it!" Not a crazy comment by any means, but from my son it is a bit out of the ordinary because he is a reluctant reader. It takes a really, really good book to hook him into raving about it!  There really isn't higher praise for a book than that!

What is this awesome book you ask? It is The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. In addition to the highest accolades from Sam, it also won the Newbery Medal in 2013 among many other awards. From Katherine Applegate's YouTube Channel:

I put it on my summer to-do list and I am happy to say I am finally done and my new novel study is published!  I also have to say my son was right, it is a really, really good book! I am a huge animal lover and love animal stories so of course, there's that, but I also really enjoyed the poetic way this story is told through the eyes of Ivan, the shopping mall gorilla.  I was also astonished to learn that this story isn't totally fictitious. There was a real Ivan who lived in a shopping mall in Washington State for 27 years!

While creating this novel study I wanted to incorporate as much of the non-fiction aspects as I could to help the student learn a little about Silverback Gorillas, elephants, living in captivity vs. the wild, and of course the story of the real-life Ivan! I hope that your students can walk away from this book with your hearts filled with excitement as much as Sam did!

Please check out the completed The One and Only Ivan Novel Study that contains both a printable and Google Drive™ compatible format available in my store. 

In August, Sally Kneifl, who teaches in the Umoⁿhoⁿ Nation Public Schools in Macy, NE. was the winner of my giveaway of a class set of The One and Only Ivan books, the novel study, and a gift card.  Sally wrote to me today to share the deep and positive experiences her students had reading this book.

"I wanted to thank you again for the books that we received from you, The One and Only Ivan and share the activities that we did to culminate the unit.
Students wrote a short summary, some facts that they learned about the real Ivan the gorilla and gorillas in the wild, as well as their favorite part of the book. I found a book called "Actual Size" by Steve Jenkins.

We researched the true story about the real Ivan.
The students completed a webquest about Gorillas and they learned many facts.
The author Katherine Applegate mentioned the documentary about Ivan, so I ordered the National Geographic special “The Urban Gorilla” which featured Ivan.
The students created a display on the hallway wall where other students can learn fun facts and compare their hands, feet, height and arm length to a life-sized gorilla.  

The librarian is also reading it to the younger kids, so it didn't just impact my grade levels...it is going to impact the entire elementary and middle schools. I love hearing the students talk in the hallway when they are sharing their writing and they know all of the information about Ivan or gorillas, and they are explaining it to the High School students or our Special needs students. Any chance for my students to feel smart or have pride in their work...I will take it. It is always a struggle at our school. Thank you again...you blessed many." -Sally Kneifl

You can find the Urban Gorilla documentary that Sally mentioned within my The One and Only Ivan Novel Study and Actual Size by Steve Jenkins by clicking the image below.

Thank you, Sally and the students from the Umoⁿhoⁿ Nation Public Schools for sharing their work and joy with me!

Fight for Net Neutrality!

This is true, not just for video, but for all digital materials offered online, including teaching resources from sites such as Teachers Pay Teachers! Fighting for Net Neutrality is fighting for the freedom of what you have access to and how much you can be charged to access it. 

Don't give up that power to the cable companies!

Using Shiloh in the Classroom

Shiloh, written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, is a wonderful book to use for a novel study or for literature circles in the classroom. Shiloh, was first published in 1991, and among the numerous awards given was the Newbery Medal  in 1992.  Shiloh is an endearing book that will draw the interest of the most reluctant of readers and is relatable to both boys and girls.

Summary of Shiloh:

(from the book jacket)

When 11-year-old Marty Preston finds a young beagle up in the hills behind his home near Friendly, West Virginia, he is convinced that the poor pup is in trouble. Certain that the dog is being abused by his owner, Judd Travers, Marty names him "Shiloh" and immediately feels that he will do anything to save the dog from further harm.

When the dog runs away from Judd to Marty's house, Marty is faced with a number of ethical dilemmas: Should he tell his parents? Should he return the dog to the abusive Judd? Should he steal food to feed the mistreated pup? Marty finds that there is a fine line between telling the truth and lying by omission. He struggles to stand on the principles he knows are right, even if they go against the law.

As Marty's half-truths begin to pile up, however, the villainous Judd comes closer and closer to finding Shiloh, who Marty has hidden in the woods. Then when Marty discovers that Judd is poaching, he blackmails him and makes a deal to work for Judd to pay for the dog, but this is not what he tells his parents. In the end, readers will rejoice when Marty and Shiloh are allowed to be together.

This is a great novel to accompany a study of:
• Investigate animal abuse laws in your area.
• Explore the role that the animal control department plays in your community.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Shiloh for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

Here's a preview sample of my Shiloh Novel Study:

Please go to my TpT store to see this free preview as well as the complete CCSS alignment checklist for grades 4-6 in its entirety. Please email with any questions you may have!

Teachers, Let's Flood the World with Kindness!

Today is Inauguration Day here in the United States. This election and upcoming inauguration incite many different feelings amongst us. No matter who is President of the United States, as teachers we have the power to instill great knowledge and empathy in our students. Let's take this opportunity to channel our power into spreading kindness and truth throughout the world!

Fellow teachers and sellers at Teachers Pay Teachers have come together to flood the site with free resources for you to use in your classroom to promote kindness, empathy, compassion, civic knowledge, critical thinking, equality and respect for all people. 

Please search for the hashtags #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths for hundreds of forever freebies to use in your classroom to help encourage and preserve these values that we all hold dear.

Please check out my contribution to the cause, Choose Kind Activities for use with Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
Many of my fellow TpT sellers are participating in the project. Click on the images to get a sampling of some of the resources you can find searching with the hashtags:

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Let's work together to make the world a kinder, gentler place for everyone!