Thursday, April 28, 2016

Writer's Notebook and Science: Hertha Ayerton Inspires Young Innventors

Today's Google Doodle featured Hertha Ayrton, a British inventor, mathematician, and engineer. She was recognized for her work on electric arcs and ripples in sand and water, and awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society. She is indeed a role model that can inspire students, both girls and boys, and increase their interest in math and science.

If you are looking for literature to incorporate into your STEM curriculum to inspire young inventors, the book Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh is a great resource.  It is a collection of brief biographies of women and girls whose creative ideas changed the world.  The last few entries feature young inventors, including  ten year old Becky Schroder who was the youngest female to receive a U.S. patent when she invented Glo-sheet, paper that allows you to write in the dark.  (Perhaps that will inspire writers as well as inventors!)  The book also includes a list of organizations' postal and internet addresses that can help your students get started on the path to developing their own innovative ideas.

Once the ideas start flowing, encourage students to  record them in their writer's notebook.  If they are having difficulty thinking of of new ideas, have them read through their notebook and look for entries about things that "bug" them, or about situations that did not turn out the way they had hoped.  Perhaps this will inspire them to rework an existing product or  develop the idea for something that could improve the situation or eliminate frustration from those things that annoy them.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Harriet Tubman Biographies

The United States Treasury Department recently announced that Harriet Tubman will be featured on the new twenty dollar bill.  In addition, the back of the new ten dollar bill will depict the leaders of the women's suffrage movement: Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and Lucretia Mott.  The new five dollar bill will be a tribute to the civil rights movement and will picture opera singer Marian Anderson, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who arranged for Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..  This announcement may lead teachers, librarians, and parents to seek out books on these famous individuals. This event may also launch a biography Reading unit of study or a Social Studies unit. 

In this blog post, I have some book suggestions for introducing Harriet Tubman to children.  My next blog post will be on how to use biographies as mentor texts for students'  research projects on famous people. 

by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
 The lyrical prose and detailed illustrations depicting Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and her role in leading others to freedom will keep children captivated.  The author shows how Harriet's strong faith gave her courage in the face of many dangers and hardships. The stylized font throughout the text also adds to the overall impact of this book.

If you are searching for a more detailed biography for children, the popular Who Was biography series selection about Harriet Tubman would make an interesting read-aloud or independent reading choice.

Who Was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough is engaging, and the quotes that the author includes give the writing voice.

For middle grade readers, DK Biography: Harriet Tubman by Ken Knapp Sawyer is fact-filled and contains many interesting side bars, photographs with detailed captions, a timeline, and a bibliography.

Adults and children alike a sure to be inspired by Harriet Tubman's courage and determination in each of these books.