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NCTE 2013 C.53 Rethinking Picture Books: Harnessing the Power of Nonfiction for Older Students


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Picture books, accessible to even the most reluctant middle and high schoolers, are exemplary, engaging models for students to examine and emulate. With the impending advent of CCSS, teachers are finding that they must seek out more nonfiction texts for their classrooms. This presentation will provide ideas for using nonfiction picture books as mentor texts to teach reading strategies and writing craft in creative and meaningful ways.

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NCTE 2013 C.53 Rethinking Picture Books: Harnessing the Power of Nonfiction for Older Students

  1. 1. Rethinking Picture Books Harnessing the Power of Nonfiction for Older Students Presented by: Beth Shaum Kellee Moye Jennifer Vincent Audrey Vernick
  2. 2. The statistic we’ve all seen: Common Core recommends the following distribution of literary vs. informational reading: ● 50% literary and 50% informational by 4th grade ● 45% literary and 55% informational by 8th grade ● 30% literary and 70% informational by 12th grade
  3. 3. “Visit the official CCSS website, or listen to the rhetoric of those who have come to be closely associated with Common Core, and you’ll hear over and over the grave concern that students need to be able to read more complex texts.” ● Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman, p. 32 So why picture books then?
  4. 4. Myths about picture books ● All picture books are written for little kids. ● “Big kids” don’t like “little kid” picture books. ● Using picture books with older students equates to struggling readers. ● Big kids won’t read picture books because they don’t want to get caught reading something below their level.
  5. 5. The Wall by Peter Sis
  6. 6. Picture Books for Higher Order Thinking Skills and Reading Strategies Kellee Moye Middle School Reading Coach/Teacher, Orlando, FL @KelleeMoye
  7. 7. Why Picture Books? ● Gives visual support for struggling readers and visual learners. ● Brevity allows for lessons and discussions in one class period. ● A safe place to start encouraging students to take risks in their reading and writing lives. ● Picture book does not automatically equate to simplicity; simple can also be complex
  8. 8. Not Just for Struggling Readers ● Using a text the students will understand, but pushing an idea that is tougher will make it so that the class/reader understands the more rigorous idea better. ● Other times, picture books actually have text and ideas that the students do not understand, but through discussion and the visual aid of pictures they can reach the complex idea.
  9. 9. Theories That Support Using Picture Books ● Scaffolding/Gradual Release of Responsibility (I Do, We do, You do) ○ Buehl (2005) stated, the GRR model “emphasizes instruction that mentors students into becoming capable thinkers and learners when handling the tasks with which they have not yet developed expertise.” ● Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development ○ Using guidance, a learner can be taken what they can do unaided to a task/thought process. from rigorous
  10. 10. Overcoming the Fear ● Need to first get past the teacher fear. ● Then get students used to seeing them again. ● Once these two steps are done, picture books become a successful part of curriculum. ● I use all types of picture books: ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ To teach standards To teach genres To teach kindness To teach a love of reading To make connections To start discussions To make students think As mentor texts As companion texts
  11. 11. Middle schoolers can love picture books!
  12. 12. Example: ● Jane Yolen’s “Unsolved Mysteries from History” series ○ Inquiry (CCRA.W.9) ○ Vocabulary (CCRA.R.4) ○ Informational vs. Narrative nonfiction ○ Research (CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.7) ○ Debate (CCRA.R.8) ○ http://www. unleashingreaders. com/?p=1800 CCRA.W/R.# = College and Career Readiness Anchor (dot) Reading/Writing (dot) Anchor #
  13. 13. Example: ● Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down and others by Andrea Davis Pinkney ○ Figurative language (CCRA. R.4) ○ Artistic style (CCRA.R.7) ○ Text features ○ http://www. teachmentortexts. com/2012/11/andreadavis-pinkney-and-brianpinkney.html
  14. 14. Example: ● Harlem by Walter Dean Myers ○ Imagery (CCRA.R.4) ○ Rhythm ○ Mood (CCRA.R.4) ○ Voice (CCRA.R.4) ○ Metaphor (CCRA.R.4) ○ Visual Interpretation (CCRA.R.7) ■ com/a/uw. edu/harlemvia/ ○ http://www. p=2129
  15. 15. More Examples: ● ● ● Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp ○ Point of view and perspective (CCRA.R. 6) ○ http://www.unleashingreaders. com/?p=1396 Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya ○ Making connections (with Endangered by Eliot Schrefer) (CCRA.R.9) ○ http://www.unleashingreaders. com/?p=2125 History News: The Greek News by Anton Powell and Philip Steele ○ Inquiry (CCRA.W.9) ○ Vocabulary (CCRA.R.4) ○ Newspapers (CCRA.R.7) ○ Text Features ○ http://www.unleashingreaders. com/?p=1861
  16. 16. More Examples: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman ○ Vocabulary (CCRA.R.4) ○ Inquiry (CCRA.W.9) ○ Making Connection (math) ○ http://www. p=1633 ● Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss ○ Compare and Contrast (CCRA.R.9) ○ Setting ○ Tone (CCRA.R.4) ○ http://www. ●
  17. 17. Mentor Texts to Bridge Reading and Writing for English Language Learners and Students with Special Needs Jen Vincent, NBCT Coordinator of Instructional Technology Elgin, IL @mentortexts
  18. 18. Principles of Second Language Acquisition ● Taking into account developmental stages of language acquisition ● Focus predominantly on meaning ● Also focus on form ● Development of formulaic expressions and rule-based competence ● Development of implicit and explicit knowledge ● Extensive second language input ● Opportunities for output ● The opportunity to interact in the second language ● Taking into account individual differences in learners ● Assessment examines free as well as controlled production
  19. 19. Needs of ELL Students ● “Only when learners are engaged in decoding and encoding messages in the context of actual acts of communication are the conditions created for acquisition to take place” ● “Communicative competence (Hymes, 1971) in a second language is facilitated by using the language as a medium for learning content rather than by studying it as a separate & distinct subject area” ● “To develop true fluency in a second language, learners must have opportunities to engage in real communication” (DeKeyser, 1998). ● “Engaging in activities focused on creating meaning is intrinsically motivating for learners.”
  20. 20. Strategies for ELL Students ● Vocabulary and language development ● Guided interaction ● Metacognition ● Authentic assessment ● Explicit instruction ● Meaning-based context and universal themes ● Modeling, graphic organizers, and visuals ● Multiple modalities ● Socialcultural implications http://www.amle. org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet/TabId/270/ArtMID/888/ArticleID/350/DifferentiatingInstruction-for-ELLs.aspx
  21. 21. Needs of Students with Special Needs ● Consistency and intensity of instruction ● Individualization of academic content and pacing ● Interactive/collaborative learning ● Recognition of different learning styles/needs ● Reflects changing world we live in ● Purposeful journalid=57&articleid=337&sectionid=2249
  22. 22. Strategies for Students with Special Needs ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Problem-solving model Metacognitive awareness Self-regulatory strategies Differentiated learning Embedded strategy instruction Explicit and extensive strategy instruction Feedback tailored to student needs and abilities Continuous introduction of new strategies
  23. 23. WHY Picture Books? ● ● ● ● ● Engaging Visual support Manageable length Rich language and vocabulary Complex ideas
  24. 24. Benefits of Using PBs for ELLs and St w Special Needs ● ● ● ● ● Learning within context Guided interaction Reciprocal learning Connections to their lives Harness metacognition
  25. 25. How Reading Transfers to Writing ● ● ● ● ● Reading like a writer Noticing patterns Recognizing author’s craft Mentor texts as models Student practice
  26. 26. Informational Mentor Texts ●
  27. 27. Biographical Mentor Texts
  28. 28. Mentor Texts for Background Knowledge
  29. 29. Using Picture Books as Mentor Texts for Writing Instruction Beth Shaum Middle school ELA teacher Canton, MI NCTE social media coordinator Twitter: @BethShaum Email:
  30. 30. Modeling Quality Nonfiction Writing through Picture Books Audrey Vernick Picture Book Author Ocean, NJ ● Brothers at Bat: Modeling QualityThe True Story of an Amazing AllNonfiction Writing Brother Baseball Team ● She Picture Books through Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story ● Bark and Tim: A True Story of Friendship
  31. 31. Why mentor texts? “Most disciplines expect that novices learn from experts, whether they’re beginner tennis players watching professional tennis players or art students copying master paintings. Similarly, writers learn by emulation.” -Georgia Heard
  32. 32. Why mentor texts? “Nobody is born with a style or voice. We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are. In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying.” - Austin Kleon
  33. 33. Why mentor texts? “I emulated Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis. We all did.” - Paul McCartney
  34. 34. Picture books as a catalyst for research
  35. 35. Picture books find the story in hiSTORY
  36. 36. Great Books as Inspiration ● Reading a great nonfiction picture book sparks a desire to write great nonfiction, to take close-up looks at history from unique angles. ● Reading about previously unknown people and experiences opens doors to thinking about the stories that are all around us. What have our parents done? Who are our neighbors? What stories do they have? ● Power in oral histories. Kids as interviewers-developing those skills
  37. 37. Taking Research off the Beaten Path ● Finding the story in history requires allowance for exploration, for an initial stage of pure messiness-digging around, experimenting, making bad choices before coming across a subject that sparks enthusiasm. ● Shift from using timeline as the main point to a starting point. ● Taking research beyond books to primary sources.
  38. 38. Primary Sources ● There’s a palpable excitement of discovery writers feel when they’re taking unpaved roads and finding untapped primary sources. ● Taps into the magic of nonfiction. ● Consider their own lives in terms of the primary sources they leave behind--social media, scrapbook, journal--what conclusions would biographer draw about them?
  39. 39. Nonfiction as Story Element Editors worried no one would care about a family no one had heard of. No name recognition, no incredible breakthrough. Asked if I would fictionalize story, create more drama. The truth serves as its own element-readers react to both the story and the truth of it as they read.
  40. 40. Examples of literary tools generally associated with fiction/literature Engaging beginnings and well-crafted endings Metaphor and simile Rich, sensory language Voice Non-chronological explorations
  41. 41. Picture books help us understand a writer’s motivations
  42. 42. Picture books allow us to try out other voices to help us find our own This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold
  43. 43. This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
  44. 44. Picture books can show that ALL writers break the “rules” of grammar.
  45. 45. Picture books can teach students what it really means to “restate your thesis.”
  46. 46. Picture books can inspire young writers to tell stories from new and unique angles
  47. 47. Picture books can support cross-curricular connections
  48. 48. How do you find the right mentor text? Get a library card and become a voluminous reader of books
  49. 49. How do you find the right mentor text? ● Make a simple change to how you read ○ As a teacher of writing, become mindful of craft. ○ Always read with a notebook or some postit flags on your book mark. You never know when you’ll come across something you can use
  50. 50. How do you find the right mentor text? ● Constantly ask yourself as you’re reading: How can I use this with my students? ○ Is it something they can easily emulate? ○ Can it teach them an element of craft such as: ■ varying sentence lengths ■ the conventions (or unconventional use) of language ■ literary concepts ■ grabbing leads ■ resonating endings
  51. 51. How do you find the right mentor text? Comb through nonfiction award lists: ● NCTE Orbis Pictus Award ● Association for Library Services (ALSC) to Children Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal ● Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults ● National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 ● National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Notable Trade Books for Young People
  52. 52. How do you find the right mentor texts? ● Follow teachers on Goodreads and Pinterest ○ Goodreads: can sort to-read, currently reading, and read books onto shelves ○ Pinterest: Pin ideas on boards with different themes. Some boards I follow/curate: mentor texts, book trailers, book reviews, article of the week, etc.)
  53. 53. How do you find the right mentor text? Start using Twitter for professional development ○ Regular, ongoing hashtags: #bookaday #nerdybookclub ○ Twitter chats: #titletalk #nctechat #rwworkshop
  54. 54. How do you find the right mentor texts? Read teacher/librarian blogs: ● Teach Mentor Texts ● Unleashing Readers ● Kid Lit Frenzy ○ Common Core in Real Libraries ○ Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays ● Nonfiction Detectives ● Great Kid Books ● 100 Scope Notes ● Reading, Teaching, Learning ● The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog ● There’s A Book For That
  55. 55. Other resources for using mentor texts Mentor Author, Mentor Texts by Ralph Fletcher Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson Ten Things Every Writer Needs to Know by Jeff Anderson Finding the Heart of Nonfiction by Georgia Heard
  56. 56. Download our presentation and follow us on Twitter Twitter: Beth: @BethShaum Kellee: @kelleemoye Jen: @mentortexts Audrey: @yourbuffalo