Monday, February 4, 2013

Having Fun with Common Core: No Changes Necessary

Today we are going to look at two books by April Pulley Sayre. Both can be performed as Readers Theater-style group reading activities with few or no changes. And in the process, students can learn science concepts as well as address CCSS for ELA in the Reading Informational Text #4. Add a discussion of the main topics and supporting ideas of these books, and students can also satisfy CCSS for ELA in the Reading Informational Text #1 and 2.

The poetic text of Vulture View (Holt) makes it ideal for reading aloud, and it’s easy to get your whole class involved. Here’s a short sample from the beginning of the book:

The sun is rising.
Up, up.
It heats the air.
Up, up.
Wings stretch wide
to catch a ride
on warming air.
Going where?
Up, up.

During the very first reading, invite students to participate in the repeated phrases “up, up” and later “No, no” and “Down, down.” During subsequent readings, individuals students can take turns reading the non-repetitive lines and the whole class can continue to participate as a chorus for the repeated phrases. The result will be lovely, teaching students by example the qualities of beautiful language. And, of course, in the process, they will also learn about the lifestyle and feeding habits of an intriguing scavenger.

Bird, Bird, Bird: A Chirping Chant (NorthWord) is a energetic, romping compilation of sixty-three North American birds. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Puffin, pelican, roadrunner, rail.
Barn swallow, tree swallow, quail, quail, quail.
Bluebird, blackbird, bobwhite, brant.
Oystercatcher. Ovenbird, cormorant.

The fun, silly, tongue-twisting verse begs to be read aloud, and students will love competing to see who can read the text fastest and with the most precision. This activity works well when students pair up. It can be a whole-class activity when specific sections are assigned to individuals or pairs of students.

After students have mastered the chant, they can turn to the back of the book to learn more about each bird. Encourage students to find out which species live in your area and watch for them during the appropriate times of year.

If Bird, Bird, Bird: A Chirping Chant appeals to you, check out some of the author’s other chant books. They include Go, Go, Grapes: A Fruit Chant and Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant.

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