Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

Title: Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci
Author: Joseph D’Agnese
Henry Holt
Publication Date: 2010
Genre/Format: Picture book/Nonfiction/Biography

Summary: Perhaps one of the greatest Western mathematicians of all times, Leonardo Fibonacci was born in Pisa, Italy around 1170. Fibonacci was a whiz at math, in fact; he thought about numbers all of the time that he appeared to be daydreaming.  While on a trip with his father to a city in northern Africa, Fibonacci noticed merchants using a new numeral system borrowed from the Hindi in India, rather than the traditional Roman numerals. As an adult, Leonardo wrote a book about the Hindi-Arabic numbers, but he is most remembered for his number pattern called the Fibonacci sequence, a special numbered pattern that appears in nature.

Personal thoughts: Read Together:   grades K - 12 
Read without help: grades 4 – 12.
Read With: 
Rabbits, Rabbits Everywhere: A Fibonacci Tale (Ann McCallum, 2007); Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature (Sarah Campbell, 2010);
Snippet of Text: “You can call me Blockhead. Everyone else does. One day when I was just a boy, Maestro wrote out a math problem and gave us ten minutes to solve it. I solved it in two seconds.” (pg.5-6)
“My father took me to live in a city called Bugia in northern Africa. In my new home, I noticed the Arab merchants didn’t use Roman numerals. They used numerals they borrowed from the Hindu people of India. Back home, we wrote this: XVIII. Here, the merchants wrote this: 18. See how much easier it is? I wanted so much to learn about these numerals.” (pg. 21)

Watch the book trailer for Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci
Connections to Reading:  Activating background knowledge, Making connections, Set purposes for reading
Connections to Writing: ExpositoryDescribe how you feel about solving math problems.
Connections to Writing: Narrative(1) You have just found out Fibonacci has died. You want to honor him by writing an obituary (2) Write an Acrostic Poem
Connections to Art: (1) Draw a picture of all you know about mathematics. (2) Design a bumper sticker about Fibonacci sequence.

Connections to Science: The Fibonacci sequence emerges in nature and found in a variety of flowers and trees, generally associated with some kind of spiral structure.  For example, the leaves on a stem of a flower or a branch of a tree many times grow in a corkscrew, spiraling around the branch as new leaves form further out. Look at plants and flowers that illustrate the Fibonacci sequence: pinecones, pineapples and sunflowers.
Topics Covered: Fibonacci sequence, mathematics, mathematicians, Roman and Hindi-Arabic numbers
Translated to Spanish:  No
Translated to other languages: Japanese
Other formats: DVD (animated); audio

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pink and Say

Title: Pink and Say
Author: Patricia Polacco
Philomel Books
Publication Date: 1994
Genre/Format: Picture book/Historical fiction

Summary: Set during the Civil War and based on a true incident in the author’s own family history, Pink and Say is a story about interracial friendship of two young boys, Sheldon Curtis (Say) and Pinkus Aylee (Pink) both who are members of the Union Army.  Say is injured on the battlefield and Pink finds him, takes him home to his mother, Moe Moe Bay, where he and mother nurse him back to health. Before Pink is fully recovered, marauders come to Moe Moe’s house and both boys are captured and sent to Andersonville Prison.  Pink was hanged and Say lives to tell the story that is passed on from generation to generation.
Personal thoughts: I still get goose-bumps after reading this story no matter how many times I read it. I love reading the book aloud to students as many of them have never heard Pink and Say. I am always elated when I find that Say returned home, married, had a family and lived a very long life. There is such loss and sorrow when I read that Pink died just a short time after entering Andersonville Prison.  A powerful book to read aloud.
Read Together:   grades 3 - 12 
Read without help: grades 4 - 12
Read With:  
January’s Sparrow (Patricia Polacco, 2007), Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln(Patricia Polacco, 2011)   and Sarah Emma Edmonds was a Great Pretender: The True story of a Civil War Spy (Carrie Jones, 2011).
Snatch of Text:
 “I watched the sun edge toward the center of the sky above me. I was hurt real bad. For almost a year I’d been in this man’s war. The war between the states.  Being just a lad I was wishin’ I was home.
My leg burned and was angry from the lead ball that was lodged in it just above my knee. I felt sleepy and everything would go black. Then I’d wake up again. I wanted to back to our farm in Ohio and sometimes when I’d fall into one them strange sleeps, I’d be there with my Ma, tastin’ baking powder biscuits fresh out of her wood stove.
Then I heard a voice. For a moment I thought I was fever-dreamin’, but then I felt strong hands touch my brow, splash water I my face.” (unnumbered page)
Connections to Reading:  Activating background knowledge, Making connections, Anticipation Guide
Connections to Writing: ExpositoryFriendships are very important to middle school (elementary and high school) students.   Write a definition of what your friends mean to you and be sure you include examples.
Connections to Writing: Narrative—(1). Imagine yourself as a battlefield reporter for the Union Army and interview Pink and Say (2) Write a simulated journal/diary entry, for at least two days, from the point of view of either Pink or Say. (3) Create a Found Poem using words in the text.
Connections to Art: Illustrate and create an ABC book about the Civil War
Connections to Social Studies:  This book can serve as catalyst for a research project for older students who are studying the Civil War. Students may work by themselves, pairs, or in groups of four to research the causes of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, Andersonville Prison, leaders of the Union or Confederate Armies.

Topics Covered: Civil War, friendship, slavery, soldiers, kindness, heroes, hope,
Translated to Spanish:  Yes
Other formats: Audio book