Tag Archives: award winners

How to Compare and Contrast with the Common Core in Fourth Grade

4th grade common coreFourth grade is a significant juncture for readers because the Common Core State Standards prescribes that 50% of reading material should be nonfiction. One of the critical skills on Common Core-aligned end of year assessments is compare and contrast. By the end of the fourth grade, students need experience in comparison for both fiction and nonfiction works. Practice in comparison not only improves a student’s close reading abilities, but also enables educators to gauge student comprehension and interpretation.

In honor of Parrots Over Puerto Rico winning the 2014 Robert F. Siebert Medal for the most distinguished informational book for children published in 2013, I am comparing Parrots Over Puerto Rico with Puffling Patrol. This book comparison is useful because the books tackle similar central ideas, yet have very different text structures and presentations of information.

I have created sample questions to teach towards and check mastery of each of the three Common Core categories. These are by no means the only questions to ask in each category, but these provide an overview of the progression in question complexity and mastery of the texts.

By creating a range of compare and contrast questions across the standards, we are able to differentiate for students within a class, provide extension opportunities for ready learners, or move the whole class from literal- to higher-level thinking over the course of several lessons.

Texts:

Parrots Over Puerto Rico (level: Q)

Parrots Over Puerto Rico
Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Puffling Patrol (level: R)

Continue reading

Guadalupe Garcia McCall on how writing heals

In this excerpt from her 2012 Pura Belpré acceptance speech, Under the Mesquite author Guadalupe Garcia McCall shares how writing the book helped her heal and brought her closer to her father:

Guadalupe Garcia McCall as a teenager, standing with her mother
Guadalupe Garcia McCall as a teenager, standing with her mother

My life with my mother was full of love and acceptance. I was blessed to be her daughter, even if for a little while. That’s why I wanted Under the Mesquite to be a true reflection of her nature. I wanted it to do what she did best—to nurture young people’s dreams, to give them the courage and strength to pursue those dreams. Writing Mesquite was both wonderful and painful. For in the process of writing this book, I pulled out and dusted off memories I had set aside, memories I had tucked into deep crevices in my heart, put away for fear of losing them. I am glad they are written down now. My mother lives because this book exists. It is her nurturing spirit that resides in these pages, her wisdom, her love, and I am so happy to be able to share her with you.

Continue reading

Guadalupe Garcia McCall thanks the committee…

Under the Mesquite author Guadalupe Garcia McCall thanks the William C. Morris and Pura Belpre award committees that honored her book, along with readers:

Here’s one of my very favorite parts of Guadalupe’s Morris Ceremony speech at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference:

Mesquite cover
lotsa bling

Continue reading