Julia Raucci’s Biography Blog: Performance Task

The book I chose is “I Am Walt Disney” by Grave Norwich. It is a book about Walt Disney and all the struggles he overcome before he became such a successful creator. The book is perfect for elementary school students, especially second or third grade, as the language is quite straight forward and the pictures are bright and colorful, perfect to keep a child entertained and interested.

Something I learned from the second reading by Sally La Luzerne-Oi and Jean Kirschenmann is that, “some of the most successful units were created around the lives of Frank Lloyd Wright (architect), Wilma Rudolph (athlete), Estée Lauder (businessperson), and Milton Hershey (confectioner and philanthropist).” I think this is so interesting because not every students aspires to be an architect, athlete, or business person. The fact that our students can still connect and get something beneficial out of these people’s lives shows the development of understanding and empathy, being able to step into somebody else’s shoes.

Julia Raucci’s Biography Blog: Writing Task

You can teach biographies through books, articles, movies, or even musicals. It is important to have multiple methods to teach biography, as different forms will resonate differently with different students. It is important for students to understand that no matter what they look like, what gender or race they are, what religion they are, or where they come from, YOU can achieve greatness and make a change. I feel it is important to teach our students about such historic people to show them that fighting for something you believe in and achieving success is not easy, but it is possible.

It is important to teach students about multiple perspectives to help them gain empathy and understanding for others. The earlier they experience these, the better it will be for their behavior and their respect for others that may be different from them. I prefer teaching biography by either reading books as a class or assign projects where they research a person and have to present while dressed as their person! How fun is that? I did that type of project in fourth grade and it is one of the only memories I have from that class. We can make sure their biography book is culturally authentic by using this little tool called the internet! Not only will this be beneficial to them for their books, but it will teach them how to find reliable resources on the internet for future reference.

Julia Raucci’s Realistic Fiction Blog: Reading/Writing Task

Realistic fiction is such an interesting and complex genre of literature. It must be believable enough, but also can carry elements of fantasy, like certain aspects of suspension of believe. Realistic fiction is very important to teach our students because, like the article “Realistic Fiction Books for Kids and Teens: A Beginner’s Guide” written by Emily Polson, we learn that realistic fiction teaches students about different races, cultures, and ways of life, among many other things!

The backward approach is something that is new to me, but I like it very much. By using the backward approach, students must read the story first and ask questions about what is really true. For example, in Charlotte’s Web, do pigs REALLY bathe in butter or was that fake? This is an awesome technique to teaching realistic fiction because it gets the kids to really pause and think about what they are reading, as well as practicing research and finding reliable sources on the internet!

The traditional elements to realistic fiction are believable and real characters, an original and fresh plot, as well as a true to life setting and an understandable story line. Nontraditional elements are things like super powers, super natural things, or anything that you couldn’t find in your everyday life.

Julia Raucci’s Fantasy Blog: Writing Task

I believe that fantasy as a genre can impact emerging readers by enhancing their creativity, imagination, and passion for literature. All of often I see children who think reading is “boring” and they would much rather be put in front of a TV set. By reading fantasy, we allow children to imagine the places and characters they are reading about. It makes you think outside the box, as typical fantasy books are quite far from reality! By reading fantasy books and showing children how creative and exciting they are, hopefully we can bring up a generation of passionate readers will a desire to continue reading literature throughout their life, especially in this age of electronics.

I, unfortunately, do not recall reading many fantasy books as a child, but I certainly did watch a ton of fantasy movies. Disney princesses were always my favorite, and I still love them today. The problem with movies, however, is that you are not forced to imagine the world or people, as they are clear right in front of you. This, in turn, does not help the creativity and imagination of a young child grow and develop as much as a book would, where it forces you to create all the battles and adventure in your mind. Fantasy books allow you to step away from reality, emerge yourself in another world, think out of the box, and strengthen your imagination. All in all, I see no downsides to teaching/reading fantasy!

Julia Raucci’s Bucking the Sarge Book Review

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Bucking the Sarge was an intense book that I recommend for high school students due to the content of the novel. This novel talks about shady business, drugs, and much more than is not appropriate for a middle school classroom, in my opinion.

Bucking the Sarge, written by Christopher Paul Curtis, is about a young African American boy named Luther and his mother, also known as The Sarge. His mother, The Sarge, decides to go to Flint, Michigan to work in real estate. The houses that she owns barely even meet the state codes regarding cleanliness. This is not the only type of business she does, however. She is also involved in secret and shady work, like running a loan shark operation. While The Sarge is down a terrible path, her son Luther has dreams of rightfully earned success. He has dreams of becoming a philosopher and studying at Harvard University. Because this business is not getting Luther anywhere near his own dreams in life, he decides to go against her and use the education fund of around $90,000 to get out of Michigan.

This is quite the novel, and the author does a wonderful job at making the characters as believable as possible, as well as having a very well rounded and developed protagonist, Luther. Luther breaks free and challenges stereotypes of young adults by staying clean of drugs, remaining celibate, and genuinely enjoying school, especially science. This is a wonderful lesson to teach students who may grow up in not the best home, you are still capable of becoming a great and successful person. There may be hurdles and barriers in your way and people that you need to revolt against, but you get to chose your own path in life, just as Luther revolted and took a different path than his mother did.

Like previously stated, I do recommend this book, but I believe it has to be taught in a high school class due to the content of the novel. This is unfortunate, however, that this book is out of the range that I will be teaching! I would have loved to teach this book to a class, as it talks a lot about making good choices, similar to that in Handbook for Boys, as well as the bias and injustice we hold in our society today.