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October 31, 2014

Books That Open a World of Possible

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    At times, getting kids to stay excited about reading can seem impossible. In the minds of some of our students, there are just too many other things to do besides getting cozy with a book. Playing outside with friends; participating in team sports; playing video games; or catching up with the latest dance, song, or music artist ends up grabbing and holding the interest of our students.

    Like many of you, I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas to engage my students. I was recently reminded via email to view Scholastic’s live webcast on Thursday, November 6, 2014 featuring Usher "about how kids can open a world of possible through reading."* I decided to click on the link to get information about the webcast thinking that this would be something different for my class participate in. Now for all of you who are technology whizzes and are thinking that webcasts are old hat, please remember that I am stretching my dinosaur legs and embracing the 21st century here. After viewing the page with its downloadable resources, I knew that this was something I definitely wanted to try.

    * We just learned that Usher has shared his four favorite books to read as a kid. It was great to see that the titles he mentioned are ones that have enchanted kids for years! They are:

    The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey

    Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

    The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

    Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

     

    Bigger Than Words Reading Activity

    Before starting this activity, I played the short clip of Usher inviting kids to view his webcast. I am a big Usher fan, but I was not sure if my students would be as familiar with him. Boy, was I surprised. They knew exactly who he was from his role as the judge from the television show The Voice, his featured appearance in a Cheerios commercial, and his recent hit song with Nicki Minaj. Some students mentioned that their parents are fans as well.

    After learning about the webcast, my students were hooked. Part of the teacher resources that are available to use with this webcast is a reading activity that I shared with my students. The activity sheet includes a video clip of Malawian inventor William Kamkwamba that we watched together as a class. At the age of 14, this young man constructed a windmill to generate electricity for his family. We were all amazed when we saw the image of the windmill and reflected on the significance of what he had done for his family. And to think, he got the idea from reading a book. 

    After watching the video, we completed the activity sheet. I used the prompt: “Think about the books you have read, and describe the inspiration you have found.” This required some thought on the part of the students. To support student thinking, I would suggest a partner activity for your class such as “Turn and Talk." I created an anchor chart using student responses.

     

    After the chart was completed, my students began to reflect on some of the books that they had read either over the summer, or since the beginning of this school year. They used their at-home and in-school reading logs as a part of their reading research. They were now focused on thinking about how a book inspired them. We created booklets with their comments. This activity became a display board. As a living display, students have the opportunity to add to it throughout the year. I was deeply touched as I read some of their comments. 

     I Survived The Attacks of September 11th

       

     

    Wonder

       

     

                            I Represent Sean Rosen                                                              The Color of My Words

      

    I hope that you will sign up for the webcast and participate with your students. As a bonus, there is a contest for free tickets to see Usher's #URXTOUR. Sounds like a win-win to me!

    Remember, reading Opens a World of Possible. Any ideas to help create "possible" in your classroom? As always, please share!

    At times, getting kids to stay excited about reading can seem impossible. In the minds of some of our students, there are just too many other things to do besides getting cozy with a book. Playing outside with friends; participating in team sports; playing video games; or catching up with the latest dance, song, or music artist ends up grabbing and holding the interest of our students.

    Like many of you, I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas to engage my students. I was recently reminded via email to view Scholastic’s live webcast on Thursday, November 6, 2014 featuring Usher "about how kids can open a world of possible through reading."* I decided to click on the link to get information about the webcast thinking that this would be something different for my class participate in. Now for all of you who are technology whizzes and are thinking that webcasts are old hat, please remember that I am stretching my dinosaur legs and embracing the 21st century here. After viewing the page with its downloadable resources, I knew that this was something I definitely wanted to try.

    * We just learned that Usher has shared his four favorite books to read as a kid. It was great to see that the titles he mentioned are ones that have enchanted kids for years! They are:

    The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey

    Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

    The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

    Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

     

    Bigger Than Words Reading Activity

    Before starting this activity, I played the short clip of Usher inviting kids to view his webcast. I am a big Usher fan, but I was not sure if my students would be as familiar with him. Boy, was I surprised. They knew exactly who he was from his role as the judge from the television show The Voice, his featured appearance in a Cheerios commercial, and his recent hit song with Nicki Minaj. Some students mentioned that their parents are fans as well.

    After learning about the webcast, my students were hooked. Part of the teacher resources that are available to use with this webcast is a reading activity that I shared with my students. The activity sheet includes a video clip of Malawian inventor William Kamkwamba that we watched together as a class. At the age of 14, this young man constructed a windmill to generate electricity for his family. We were all amazed when we saw the image of the windmill and reflected on the significance of what he had done for his family. And to think, he got the idea from reading a book. 

    After watching the video, we completed the activity sheet. I used the prompt: “Think about the books you have read, and describe the inspiration you have found.” This required some thought on the part of the students. To support student thinking, I would suggest a partner activity for your class such as “Turn and Talk." I created an anchor chart using student responses.

     

    After the chart was completed, my students began to reflect on some of the books that they had read either over the summer, or since the beginning of this school year. They used their at-home and in-school reading logs as a part of their reading research. They were now focused on thinking about how a book inspired them. We created booklets with their comments. This activity became a display board. As a living display, students have the opportunity to add to it throughout the year. I was deeply touched as I read some of their comments. 

     I Survived The Attacks of September 11th

       

     

    Wonder

       

     

                            I Represent Sean Rosen                                                              The Color of My Words

      

    I hope that you will sign up for the webcast and participate with your students. As a bonus, there is a contest for free tickets to see Usher's #URXTOUR. Sounds like a win-win to me!

    Remember, reading Opens a World of Possible. Any ideas to help create "possible" in your classroom? As always, please share!

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