October 17, 2018
by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.
Discussion questions and activity from the Teacher Guide:
Dive in & Discuss
1. Have you ever walked into a room full of people who seemed different than you? How did you
feel? What made you feel that way? Discuss your feelings and how they changed as time passed.
2. What is something that makes you unique? Is it a positive or negative trait? How can you turn
this trait into your new beginning?
3. What is diversity? Create a kid-friendly definition and post it in the classroom. Why is it important
to have conversations about diversity? How might people with differences in ability, culture, race,
gender or wealth/money feel when they are in a group that seems different from them?
Who’s in the Room?
This would be a great first day of school activity or one to use any time your class is entering a new
situation and meeting new people. After reading The Day You Begin, lead the class in a discussion
about what information is important to know when you meet someone new. What things do you learn
about each of the characters in the book as they reveal themselves to one another? What would you ask
someone when you meet them for the first time? Generate a list of questions that the class feels will
help them get to know their classmates. Encourage them to think of a few questions that will help them
dig a little deeper when they interview their peers during the activity. Partner students and ask them
to interview each other. Have them list all of the answers that they have in common as well as their
differences. A Venn diagram is a great graphic organizer to use with this activity. At the conclusion of
the interviews ask students to introduce their partner to the class. They can choose the most interesting
parts of their conversation to share. Finally, ask the class if there is a character from the book that they
relate to and, if they are comfortable sharing, to explain why.
September 10, 2018
Counting on Catherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
by Helaine Becker
Blurb: From Katherine‘s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, this is the story of an American icon who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives.
Want to make a case about precise computing? Read an excerpt of this book to your students about the importance of Katherine’s math being precise or people would die in space!
This harrowing biography of how Katherine Johnson, an unsung hero, helped the Americans in the Space Race shows just how important minorities were to the effort.
My favorite quote, from Katherine Johnson herself, comes from the back papers: “Despite her many achievements, Katherine never liked to take any credit. Her reason? ‘Because we always work as a team,’ she says. ‘ it was never just one person.'”
This book is for:
- space enthusiasts
- biographies highlighting otherwise unsung people of history
- February — Black History month
- Women’s History month
- Context Clues: use the page about “all of the computers were women” to have students figure out what the author means by “computers” (people, not machines)
- goal setting
- reaching one’s potential, despite setbacks
Check it out at your local library! ISBN 9781250137524
October 26, 2017
by Seth Fishman
illustrated by Isabel Greenberg
The dust jacket description says: “The whole world is filled with big, enormous, gigantic, humongous, incredible numbers. Look all around you. You can see them in the sky, and in the grass, and in the forest, and in the ocean, and in the city. They are even in the pages of this book, just waiting for you–and your one and only imagination.”
Math teachers! This books shows HUGE numbers in both numeric and word form. It would be a great extension for any lesson teaching about large numbers and how to properly say them.
The back of the book teaches how to read such large numbers (most lessons only go to the millions or billions, but this book goes to the billion trillions — 21 zeros behind the number!)
September 27, 2017
by Laurie Wallmark
illustrated by Katy Wu
Grace was a curious girl, exploring how clocks work by taking them apart and putting them back together again. That curiosity and tensity continued into college where she took courses in physics and math while other women were taking courses called “Husbands and Wives” and “Motherhood.” She continued to persevere until she convinced the Navy to enlist her even though she didn’t meet the age and weight requirements at the time. Good thing they did, too! Grace went on to write computer code that no one else had done, and fix problems that no one could seem to solve.
BUG! This term is known in the computer science world for a mistake in the program’s code. In this book, the author shows how Grace Hopper and her colleagues actually found a bug inside their computer which cause a switch to malfunction. Even since then, computer glitches have been called bugs!
At one point in the book Grace needs to pass Latin (she had a failing grade) in order to go to college. Briefly, this book shows the hard work she does in order to accomplish something she didn’t like to get to her dream of going to college.
Check out this PDF for some discussion questions and extension activities to do with this book.
*Timeline activity in the PDF link above.
September 11, 2017
How to Survive as a Firefly
by Kristen Foote
Illustrated by Erica Salcedo
Did you know that fireflies only live as adults for 5-30 days?
Drill Sergeant Firefly is tasked with teaching the firefly larvae all they need to know to survive their life cycle. And he must accomplish this task quickly, before he dies.
Told in a comical dialogue, readers learn about metamorphosis, the firefly life cycle, bioluminescence, and everything you could possibly want to know about fireflies!
Looking for a way to spice up your how tos?
Looking for a possible project using coding, incorporating life cycles?
Looking for a mentor text that shows a comical voice?
Just looking for a good read?
This is the book for you!