Thursday, June 26, 2014

Building World Knowledge in Grade 2

2nd graders' initial wonderings as they listened to The Watcher.

It is particularly important for young children to be able to give names to experiences beyond where they live. High quality read alouds can potentially open windows to new worlds.  

Two examples of building world knowledge with primary grade students through high quality picture books come to mind as I think about the work done in Newark, this last year.  The student examples below come from Suzanne Capuano and Carolyn Garcia's 2nd grade classroom. Along with their colleagues Kathryn Callan, Daniela Healing, and Dolores Babalaco we have been trying out an e-book I wrote for 2nd grade that focuses on reading aloud.  (This link will take you to an early version of the e-book. It has now grown to nine units and I am revising based on what I have learned form these teachers and their students. The book is downloadable from iTunes. It's free.)
from The Watcher.

Students enjoyed listening and rereading, Jeanette Winter's picture book biography about Jane Goodall, The Watcher. Here are 3 students' initial written responses to the book.

(1) Written by Kiyara, Grade 2. May 2014 
Jane Goodall patiently waited for the cautious, hidden chimpanzees. Jane is very patient with the chimps. But, for some reason she was very patient wit that type of wild animal. Especially the life that they are living. How can she even watch them so closely when she is huddle with them in the rain? 
I guess by waiting for the chimpanzees to show themselves they gave her time to think. By staying in the background, never hid from the chimps, she pretended she didn’t care, and she quietly watched the chimps.

(2). Written by Saladin, Grade 2. May 2014            
Some things Jane learned by watching the chimps were you have to be patient. Also, chimps wake up at dawn to get food. Also, chimps are just like us.  Chimps make their own tools. Chimps eat termites. Jane loved that chimps have tantrums just like us. Chimps kiss like us. Jane learned that chimps accepted the rain. Lastly, Jane learned that chimps are the animals that are most likely just like us.

(3) Written by Isamar, Grade 2. May 2014             
When you think of chimpanzees, you might think of them being growly, harmful, but then Jane Goodall came along and opened the window of chimps to us. They’re not ALWAYS this way. 
             Observing Chimps – Did you know?
Before Jane learned about chimps, they didn't come by her for weeks They had to observe her before they could trust her. Just like humans!
             Bananas for Meat
When Jane Goodall moved in she explored these beautiful creatures.  Until one day she observed that they ate termites! WOW! Nobody knew about this before Jane.
Jane has accomplished many things about chimps, but she’s not done yet. She’s found out that the chimpanzees interact by kissing, hugging, and laughing like humans.
             Thank you Jane for teaching me about goodness and nature. You are amazing.

from Gandhi: A March to the Sea
I also thought it was significant that when these same 2nd graders wrote poetry at the end of the year, one boy wrote that he thought a statue of Gandhi should be placed in Branch Brook Park (in Newark) to remind everyone to settle differences through non-violent methods and "to learn how to walk with dignity." The children devoured the picture book, Gandhi: A March to the Sea. What is important to not is how the child infused this knew knowledge about Gandhi into his everyday living. This boy understands the importance of dignity (Gandhi's march to the sea) and non-violent protest and can apply each to his life in Newark. 

This is the big stuff.

The unit, these texts come from focuses on inspiring people. These are the texts included in the unit.

  1. Bruchac, Joseph. (2009). Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder. Illustrated by Thomas Locker. Golden, CO: Fulcrum. (Lexile N/A)
  2. Lawlor, Laurie. (2012). Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World. Illustrated by Laura Beingessner. New York: Holiday House. (890L) 
  3. McGinty, Alice B. (2013). Gandhi: A March to the Sea. Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. Las Vegas, NV: Amazon Children’s Publishing. (Lexile N/A)
  4. Nivola, Claire. (2012). Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. (1170)
  5. Roth, Susan & Cindy Trumbore. (2011). The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families. Collages by Susan Roth. New York: Lee and Low Books. (1180L)
  6. Tonatiuh, Duncan. (2014). Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation.  New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers. (Lexile N/A)
  7. Winter, Jeanette. (2011). The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps. New York: Schwartz & Wade/Random House. (820L)
  8. Winter, Jonah. (2009). Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx: La juez que crecio en el Bronx. Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez. New York: Atheneum. (840L)

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