The Power of a PLN!

ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

Last week as I finished a PD session for some of my teachers, I was asked by the principal to compile separate lists of Informational Books for grades 3, 4, and 5 so they could be purchased for the staff.  So a a “resource-full” individual, I put my question out  on Twitter to see exactly which informational titles the members of my PLN would say that they could not live without.  And they did not disappoint!

Here are the five books that I shared as a result of Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing  – and Ways to Use Them with Power”.  The variety is incredible and seems to renew teachers’ interest in quality informational texts as well.  And then the opportunities for using mentor text to explore writing techniques and goals will quickly expand for all writers who study craft moves while reading!

1.  National Geographic – Great Migrations:  Amazing Animal Journeys

2. Surprising Sharks  by  Nicola Davies and illustrated by James Croft

 3. No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young

4. The Split History of the American Revolution 

5. Elephants  by Steve Bloom

Responses to my request for HELP!

Melissa Stewart provided a great list, but I loved the fact that she said these two books were necessities if only two books could be ordered.  Do you know Melissa Stewart? If not, STOP, reading and just click on this link NOW!

Boy Who Loved Math – Heiligman

The Animal Book:  A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest –and Most Surprising Animals on Earth – Steve Jenkins

Melissa stressed that the actual books for a grade level would depend on the content standards currently in place.  So keep that flexibility in mind as the goal is NOT to create a perfect list.  Instead the goal is to put valuable mentor texts into the hands of the student authors!  Check to see which ones you already own and which ones fill gaps in your current collection!  (So unless your room is completely empty, you would need to check your current booklist and your standards before blindly purchasing all of these!)

Grade 3
Vulture View – April Sayre and Steve Jenkins
An Egg is Quiet – Dianna Hutts Aston
If You Find a Rock – Peggy Christian
Plant Secrets – Emily Goodman
Feathers Not Just for Flying – Melissa Stewart
Grade 4
No Monkeys, No Chocolate – Melissa Stewart
The Sun, the Wind, and the Rain – Lisa Westberg Peters
Song of Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems – Joyce Sidman
Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci – Gene Barretta
Planting the Wild Garden – Kathy O. Galbraith
Grade 5
A Place for Bats – Melissa Stewart
Winter’s Tail – Craig Hatkoff
Who Lives in an Alligator Hole? – Anne Rockwell
Living Sunlight – Molly Bang
Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba

Allison Jackson (@Azajacks), avid reader who also reviews books for the Nerdy Book Club, and teacher of third grade students submitted this list also on Twitter.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate – Melissa Stewart
Locomotive – Brian Floca
Balloons over Broadway – Melissa Sweet
UnBEElievables – Douglas Florian
What to Do About Alice? How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Crazy! – Barbara Kerley
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 – Michelle Markel
A Splash of Red:   The Life and Art of Horace Pippin – Jen Bryant
Step Gently Out – Helen Frost
Brothers at BatL The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team – Audrey Vemick

Allison also included any books from National Geographic Kids and any books by Nic Bishop.  Additional books for older students included:

Island by Jason Chin

books by John Hendrix

What FIVE informational books would you recommend for students in grade 3, grade 4 and grade 5?
How has your PLN helped you lately?  And more importantly, how have YOU helped others in your PLN?

Special thanks Melissa and Allison!

14 responses

  1. We too are amazed at how much we learn and how generous the PLN is! You provided so much to us this summer as you blog your way through the TCRWP institute. Thank you!
    Clare and Tammy

    1. Clare and Tammy,
      It is so fun to grow and learn within a community. Blogging helps me consolidate my learning and sort out what “I really know” so there’s absolutely no reason NOT to share! You are so welcome!

  2. Fran,
    You really were the beginning of my PLN. Last year I really wasn’t sure about it. Thought maybe you had to be invited or perhaps vetted to join in. I think back and laugh. There aren’t enough hours in the day to fully tap the power of my PLN. I can’t tell you how much you have helped me become a better teacher, learner and source for others. Thank you not only for yet another RESOURCEFUL post to share with my PLN, but for the support you give me and so many well beyond your Iowa teachers.

    1. Thanks, Julieanne!
      Your constant conversations help me learn and grow as well! I truly believe that you get back ten fold from what you put into your PLN! I am so thankful to have so many to learn from!

  3. This is the reason why I tell teachers to join twitter! Amazing people who are so willing to share! Just like you!

    1. Thanks, Jaana! Sharing is so much fun! And with a PLN, it’s all about sharing as a two-way street!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Yes for online PLNs and yes for teachers who share – I learn so much from you, Fran – so glad that you are part of MY PLN!

    1. Thanks, Tara!
      You are your own fount of wisdom! It’s so nice to be able to develop the support systems that we need in order to continue to fuel our reading/writing passions!

  5. I fly by twitter on occasion, and I never fail to find something that inspires me or nudges me to be a better teacher. I love the chats, even though I usually just read the archives. It’s so powerful to have an online PLN – thanks for sharing your finds and that of your PLN with us. I love Balloons over Broadway and The UnBEElievables.

    1. Ramona,
      Thanks so much for commenting! Twitter does not have to be “hours wasted” as it is meant to serve you and your needs! UnBEElievables is the new “nugget” for me. Can’t wait for it to arrive!

  6. These lists are such a great resource, Fran! I would add Snowflake Bentley for 4th-5th graders. As far as my PLN is concerned, I can’t imagine being without it. My teaching has been enriched immeasurably by you and many others. Thank you so much!

    1. Catherine,
      I so love the phrase “Better Together” because I think it describes both the knowledge and the strength that comes from our collaborative work. I loved your slice about the Brooklyn Bridge as that was one off our (Allison and I) “Must do” list during June writing institute.

      Thanks for Snowflake Bentley – it’s a hybrid and a classic!

  7. Fran, this is SO helpful! I arrived back in LA after such a FULL week in NYC at TC bursting with ideas and thoughts. Upon arrival, however, the immediacy of school having started and classroom needs pressed. I am working this week to prepare orders for periodicals to use for demo texts and also to support schools as they look for text to use with their students. (This in addition to leveled reading libraries which need to be in place yesterday in so many classrooms.) Your blog post yesterday morning was perfect. Thank you for this beautiful resource for informational text!

    Just for fun, I’ll share that I’m looking at these periodicals:

    Time For Kids,
    Spider Magazine,
    Ask Magazine,
    Young Readers,
    National Geographic Kids,
    Cobblestone & Cricket,
    Science News for Kids,
    Highlights for Children.
    Scholastic News,
    Super Science,
    Junior Scholastic,
    Scholastic Scope,
    Science World,

    Your posts are always a gift to the work I’m endeavoring to do! Thank you.

    1. Dayna,
      What a comprehensive list of periodicals! There is such a need for great mentor text from periodicals as well as the “real” books that we use when we live the lives of readers and authors both!

      I am so glad that you are finding these posts helpful! That is part of the power of our PLN! 🙂

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