En la Clase: Gracias~Thanks

Gracias Thanks |En la Clase | Vamos a LeerIn last week’s En la Clase I talked about using Round is a Tortilla and Green is a Chile Pepper as the basis for a poetry activity based on gratitude, gratefulness, and awareness.  This week I’m highlighting Gracias ~ Thanks, another beautiful book illustrated by John Parra and written by Pat Mora.  As the title suggests, thankfulness is the main theme of the book, making it the perfect book for this time of year. The publisher’s description writes, “There are so many things to be thankful for. . .Straight from the heart of a child flows this lighthearted bilingual celebration of family, friendship, and fun.  Come share the joy, and think about all the things for which you can say, ¡Gracias! Thanks!”  Like last week’s books, Gracias ~ Thanks is a book written with young children in mind, so it’s great for your pre-school or early elementary students.  But, with such an important and universal theme, it’s great for encouraging a mindfulness of the everyday things for which we can be thankful in older and younger students alike.  Plus, each page is written in English and Spanish, so it’s great for English, Spanish, or bilingual classrooms.

In all of our busyness, it’s easy to take for granted the people or things that make our lives so special.  Mora’s poetic words and Parra’s beautiful illustrations turn the very commonplace things in our lives into reasons to celebrate.  They highlight the ways in which the ordinary actions of family and friends can make our lives such lovely experiences.  Not only is it a fun book to read, but it easily lends itself to writing activities. Continue reading

En la Clase: What My Calavera Did at Night

 

skeletons 2As many of you  already know, literacy is one of my favorite ways to integrate cultural content, like Día de los Muertos, into a standards based curriculum.  Not only does it reinforce the reading or writing skills that we work on throughout the year, it’s also a way to help ensure that we don’t fall into that trap of the “Tourist” approach to multicultural education.  Too often when we teach this kind of cultural content, it appears to our students that we’re taking  a break from our ‘real’ curriculum to do something fun.  While these units can and should be fun, it shouldn’t appear that they’re not authentic and important parts of our curriculum.  By combining this content with types of literacy activities done throughout the year, students don’t see these projects as less important than any others.

For today’s En la Clase, I’ve adapted a unit I typically used with my students when we returned to school in January.  Many of you may be familiar with the book Snowmen at Night.  In this story, a boy imagines what  his snowman does at night while he’s sleeping.  My students would make their own very large snowperson, then write a story about what their snowperson did at night.  For my younger students, this was a project where I could introduce how to use a brainstorming web for a multi-paragraph paper, with each section of the web representing a different paragraph.  For older students, it was practice for skills that they’d already learned.  Hesitant writers were often excited and engaged by creating their snowperson before any of the writing began. Continue reading