Battle of the Books by Sherry Gick

Nerdy Book Club

Five years ago, on my very first day in my new position as middle/high school librarian, our Agriculture teacher came into the library and told me we needed to start a Battle of the Books program at our school.  I immediately said, “Sounds great! Let’s do it!”  Followed by, “What is it?”  (Those of you who know me won’t be the least bit surprised by my reaction and the seemingly out of order steps.  I tend to embrace ideas quickly and jump in without a lot of forethought…)  He proceeded to explain all about it, based on his involvement with his own children at a neighboring county school.  I told him I was definitely in because it sounded fantastic.  Saying yes and beginning Battle of the Books has been one of the best decisions ever for my students and staff.

battle of the books

So, what is Battle of the Books?  While…

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Snake Oil — Ads as Mentor Texts

Teaching this week at the San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP) Young Writers’ Camp, I used ads as mentor texts to teach 4th and 5th graders about argument/opinion writing. We began the day with a prompt by TA Michele, who had kids write about a time when they had to convince someone else to see things their way, or convince someone to give them something they wanted, or take them someplace they wanted to go.

Then we examined ads as mentor texts. We copied ads from magazines, comic books and the internet and gave one to each pair of students and had them examine the ads to identify audience, what the ad was persuading us to do, how the ad made us feel, and what persuasive techniques the ad author used.

We moved on to the great game Snake Oil http://www.thepwpinitiative.com. In Snake Oil, players divide into one “character” and two or more product inventors/salespeople. “Characters” draw a character card — examples:  vampire, prom queen, cowboy, general, plumber. They become the market for the product the other players will create. Then other players each draw six object cards. From those 6 cards, they choose two cards to combine to make a product the character would want to buy. Then they create a verbal product pitch for that product.   After each player as pitched their product to the character, the character decides which one he/she would like to buy. One character was  a Ninja, and she chose to buy a Pump Ladder, created from the cards pump and ladder, to help her cushion when she climbs and leaps in the dark.

After students played four rounds of Snake Oil, they worked as a group to create a print ad and a product pitch as a group for one product.  Here are some of the results!

After a break, my teaching partner, Laura, had students create ads for a real audience — university students — showing the best way to spend $3 in the campus food court.

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A Top Ten Featuring the Coretta Scott King Book Awards by Monica Edinger

This is am amazing book that grabs your heart. Can use it for many different ages:
What is your dream? What are your parents’ dreams for you? What are your grandparents dreams for you?

Nerdy Book Club

On a Sunday morning this past June I was sitting in a Las Vegas ballroom with tears in my eyes. Not because I had just trudged through multiple casinos full of fake Roman decor to get there, but because I was listening and watching as one recipient after another gave a heartfelt speech in response to having been honored with an ALA Coretta Scott King Book Award. As stated on their website,

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

With the current focus on the critical…

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