All posts by Lisa Fink

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About Lisa Fink

Lisa Storm Fink is the Project Manager for ReadWriteThink at NCTE. After teaching grades K-4 for almost 9 years, she brought her varied experiences (multi-age classrooms, looping, cooperating teacher for preservice teachers, plus a specialization in Remedial Reading) fulltime to the ReadWriteThink site. Lisa feels lucky to have worked on all parts of the ReadWriteThink site as a writer and reviewer, curriculum developer, and now as Project Manager. She enjoys sharing the site with others during professional development opportunities as well as with her preservice students at the University of Illinois.

“I Have a Dream” 54 Years Later

A crowd of more than 200,000 people assembled at Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, for the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”—though most of us think of it as the date that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. The speech was the culminating event of a day of singing, talking, and political activism. Here are a few ways you can incorporate that speech into the classroom.

How Big Are Martin’s Big Words? Thinking Big about the Future
Inspired by the book Martin’s Big Words, students explore information on Dr. King to think about his “big” words, then they write about their own “big” words and dreams.

Entering History: Nikki Giovanni and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nikki Giovanni’s poem “The Funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr.” is paired with Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, taking students on a quest through time to the Civil Rights movement.

Exploring the Power of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Words through Diamante Poetry
Students explore the ways that powerful and passionate words communicate the concepts of freedom, justice, discrimination, and the American Dream in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

I Have a Dream: Exploring Nonviolence in Young Adult Texts
Students will identify how Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of nonviolent conflict-resolution is reinterpreted in modern texts. Homework is differentiated to prompt discussion on how nonviolence is portrayed through characterization and conflict. Students will be formally assessed on a thesis essay that addresses the Six Kingian Principles of Nonviolence.

How else can you highlight this historical speech?

Ways to Celebrate the Eclipse!

On August 21, the Moon will block the Sun, as seen from North America and down through mid-South America. The Sun will be entirely blocked on a path that is about 60 miles wide. This path will go through parts of 14 states. 

When I was in grade school, I remember working with a few other students to build a pinhole camera out of  of cardboard. We stood with the sun at our back, while trying to look at the projected image on a second piece of cardboard. Here are some more modern ways to get students engaged with the eclipse.

Invite students to look at historical and primary sources about eclipses throughout history. Then compare that coverage with the news we see today. What is the same? What has changed? Student can record the similarities and differences as a Venn Diagram or in a Compare & Contrast Map.

All Summer in a Day” is a science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury that was first published in March 1954. The story is about a class of school children on Venus, which in this story, constantly has rainstorms and the Sun is only visible for one hour every seven years. Invite students to make connections from the short story to this current eclipse. If you would like to engage more with the text, check out this lesson plan from ReadWriteThink.org.

In this lesson plan from ReadWriteThink.org, students listen to and discuss poetry that pertains to the study of astronomy and write their own poems to enhance their learning of the subject. As a final project, students use the ReadWriteThink Printing Press to compose original poetry books about astronomy.

What makes a shadow? Do shadows change? These and many other questions provide the framework for students to explore their prior knowledge about shadows as fiction, informational texts, and poetry. In this lesson, language arts skills are linked to the learning of science in a literacy-based approach to the study of shadows.

Will you be able to watch the eclipse? What are you planning to do with your students?

August is Family Fun Month!

The month of August typically signifies the last few weeks of summer before students and teachers return to school. Encourage family relationship building by participating in family activities throughout the month of August. Here are some suggestions!

Wild and Crazy Words
Make writing a little “wild and crazy” by ditching the pen and paper and using unique materials that will make your kids really smile while they’re having fun.

Explore and Write About Nature
In this activity, children look closely at living things in their natural environments and then make books about what they see.

Follow the Word Trail: Organize a Treasure Hunt
Create a treasure hunt out of word-puzzle clues hidden around the home or yard.

Creating Family Timelines
Children can interview family members and make an illustrated timeline of the most important family events and memories.

What else can you do as a family before school starts back up?

August 9 is Book Lovers Day!

It seems as though there is a holiday or day of remembrance for almost everything. But Book Lovers Day? That’s a day I can get behind! Here are some ways to celebrate your love of books.

We’ll take any excuse to celebrate our love of the written word, and this weekend’s National Book Lovers Day gives us a great one. Here are some of our favorite ways to get in the holiday spirit. Let us know in the comments below how you plan to celebrate this weekend!

  • Visit your local library – Libraries are magical places. Visitors can learn about far-away lands, find out how to do new things, follow the fantastic adventures of fictional and real-life heroes, and even solve mysteries and find the answers to burning questions. With a child, explore the many free programs and resources available in a local or online library to find out ways to keep active all summer long.
  • Host your own book club – Book clubs have come back as a popular way to allow readers to discuss books in an informal setting. Children can enjoy the same kind of community-building experience by meeting with friends to choose, read, and discuss books together. Their meetings can come to life with discussions, arts and crafts, and activities.
  • Reread an old favorite – Encourage readers to explore their reading history as they remember books they liked reading as children and then revisit these old favorites.
  • Contact your favorite living author – Sometimes a book’s impact is so great that readers seek a connection with the book’s author. This activity guides folks in reaching out to authors of books they love by composing personal letters or connecting to authors through their websites or blogs.
  • Host a book lover party! What if guests researched characters and then assumed those personas for the party? Get some ideas here.

How do you show your love for books?

 

 

Happy Birthday, Harry and J.K.!

It’s a double birthday! J.K. Rowling was born July 31, 1965, in Bristol, England. From the stories that Rowling tells about her composition of the Harry Potter book series, Harry was born on a train one day when she imagined the story. Harry’s official birthday as recorded in the novels, however, is July 31. Combine the celebration of both birthday!

The Harry Potter series is one of the most challenged series of books in the United States. The series is singled out because of its fantasy and magical elements. Young adult author Judy Blume, no stranger to challenges herself, wrote an article appearing on Censorship News OnlineIs Harry Potter Evil?, which outlines her reaction to the debate.

Have your students think about why people challenge the Harry Potter books and whether they agree or disagree with the arguments. For a more structured exploration, try A Case for Reading-Examining Challenged and Banned Books, which invites students to take on the roles of concerned citizens, public librarians, school librarians, and fans of Harry Potter and decide whether the books should be banned from the public library. Censorship in the Classroom: Understanding Controversial Issues leads students in researching the reasons several books are banned or challenged.

Please remember, if you face a censorship challenge yourself, you can receive help from NCTE.