Greek Mythology

Media Item

Bibliographic Information: The Theoi Project. Greek Mythology. 2000.

Description:
This comprehensive website profiles almost every Greek deity, being, and creature from many ancient Greek and Latin classical stories, translations, and art. The site details a being’s whole biography: associations, powers, appearance, attributes, birth, life, death, family, offspring, and history.

Quantitative Reading Level: Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 58

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This website is presented in third-person, focusing on the the details of Greek mythology. It teaches the meanings and history of Ancient Greek beings. The media is 10th grade level.

Content Area: Social Science-Mythology

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Reading for 6-12: #2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms; #4  Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context; #5 Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas; #9 Synthesize information from a range of sources; #10 Read and comprehend science/technical texts in appropriate grades.
  • CCSS for Writing for 6-12: #9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • CCSS for Language 6-12:  #3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening; #4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great tool to use in Social Science Curriculum. It is best suited to 9th grade through 12th grade. It explores mythology and classical literature.

Supporting Digital Content:
http://www.theoi.com/

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Secrets of the Dead: China’s Terracotta Warriors

Media Item

Bibliographic Information: PBS. Secrets of the Dead: China’s Terracotta Warriors. 2011.

Plot Description:
Archeologist and scientists examine the collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, that were found in 1974, dating back to about 2200 years ago. They determine how the clay figures were created. Engineers recreate armor and weapons found among the statues and test their effectiveness. (Spoilers: they’re very effective. It took the Western world over a thousand years to catch up.)

Quantitative Reading Level: Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 55.4

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This television episode is presented in first- and third-person, focusing on the history of China. It teaches the science behind the artifacts. The media is 10th grade level.

Content Area: Social Science-History

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Reading for 6-12: #2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms; #4  Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context; #5 Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas; #9 Synthesize information from a range of sources; #10 Read and comprehend science/technical texts in appropriate grades.
  • CCSS for Writing for 6-12: #9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • CCSS for Language 6-12:  #3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening; #4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great tool to use in Social Science Curriculum. It is best suited to 9th grade through 12th grade. It explores history and archeology.

Supporting Digital Content:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/chinas-terracotta-warriors-watch-the-full-episode/844/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terracotta_Army

Meet Kristen

Chapter Book

Bibliographic Information: Shaw, Janet. Meet Kristen. Middleton, WI: Pleasant Company, 1986.

Plot Description:
In 1854, Kristen Larson and her family are sailing to America from Sweden. She makes friends with another girl, Marta. A storm hits the ship, which further deteriorates Kristen’s mother’s health. They have to hide below deck so that they’re not washed overboard. They eventually make port, and Kristen marvels at America on their train journey to Minnesota. Marta thinks everything is an adventure. When the family goes shopping, Kristen gets lost, and is frightened because she doesn’t know English. A kind woman helps her as they speak by drawing pictures, and the family is reunited. Marta becomes ill with cholera and passes away. They reach Minnesota and their family that had travelled to America before them. Kristen becomes friends with her cousins Lisbeth and Anna. The girls build a secret fort and play with their dolls. Kristen likes her new life.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 650; Accelerated Reader: 3.8

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on Kristen’s travel to her new home. It teaches about how both good and bad happen in life. The text is 3rd grade reading level.

Content Area: Social Science: European Immigrant History, 1800’s

Content Area Standard:

CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.

CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).

CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great historical fiction book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 3rd grade through 5th grade. It explores themes like family, dealing with grief, and self-worth.

Note: This book is part of the American Girls collection, which also has a magazine. Girls can get dolls that look like any of the American Girls (all races and many backgrounds are represented), or a custom doll that looks just like her. I still have my mini-me. Kristen was the first American Girl I read about.

Meet Josefina

Chapter Book

Bibliographic Information: Tripp, Valerie. Meet Josefina. Middleton, WI: Pleasant Co. Pub., 1997.

Plot Description:
Josefina is a nine-year-old living in New Mexico in 1824. Her mother passed away, leaving Josefina, her three sisters, and their father to tend the ranch and their home. Josefina is afraid of the family goat. The girls’ maternal grandfather occasionally visits with his caravan. Josefina hopes that he might bring her some courage. One trip, he brings his other daughter with him, the girls’ Tía Dolores. The family has a feast and tells stories. The goat eats a flower arrangement that Josefina had made for Tía Dolores, and she wrestles it back to its enclosure. Josefina realizes that she had courage all along.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 690; Accelerated Reader: 4.1

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on teaching the reader about how Mexican-American families lived in the 1800’s. There is an illustration every third or fourth page, usually small, but some a half-page or full-page depicting the text.

Content Area: Social Science: Mexican Immigrant History, 1800’s

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language; #7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently; #7 Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great historical fiction book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 3rd grade through 5th grade. It explores themes like family, dealing with grief, and self-worth.

Character Diversity:
Mexican-American characters.

President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath

One picture book on a historical topic

Bibliographic Information: Barnett, Mac. President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 1967.

Plot Description:
William Taft was the 27th president of the United States. One day, he was stuck in his bathtub. He wiggled, but couldn’t get out. Hours passed and he was still stuck. His wife discovered that he was in the bathroom, and he pretended that he wasn’t actually stuck; then he admitted it. She brought the vice president for him, who is prepared to become president in his stead. More advisors are brought in; a diet is proposed, or butter to grease him up to get him out, or blowing up the bath with dynamyte. As more ridiculous solutions are proposed, his wife keeps being cut off. Eventually she was able to suggest everyone in the room just yank him out of the bath, and it finally worked.

Quantitative Reading Level: Accelerated Reader: 3.2

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
The story uses short sentences well. The alliterations were great. The illustrations on each page had full-color and helped tell the story when there were only very small sentences on the page. The book was a short read, but very amusing.

Content Area: Social Science, US Presidents

Content Area Standard:
•    CCSS for Reading for K-5: #3 Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details; #4 Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses; #7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events; #10 With prompting and support, read prose and poetry at appropriate grade level.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a fun book to use as part of a around President’s Day. It is best suited to 3rd grade and below. It also introduces many officers of the White House, and their solutions involve their jobs at a level elementary school students can understand.

The Diary of a Young Girl

One non-fiction historical work (memoir or narrative non-fiction)

Bibliographic Information: Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl. New York: Doubleday, 1967.

Plot Description:
Anne Frank has a pretty typical girlhood, until the persecution of Jewish people began. Her family fled Germany to the Netherlands. When Germany invaded the Netherlands, the Franks were forced into hiding with another family. They pay attention to the war by listening to the radio. Anne writes her thoughts about the war in her diary. The news affects the mood of the adults; Amsterdam as a whole is suffering.  Anne writes about her feelings of isolation, and about the volatile relationships she has with the adults in hiding. Her entries become deeper and more philosophical as she matures before her time, finding it difficult to understand why the Jewish people are being persecuted. The diary abruptly ends, because they are betrayed to the Nazis and arrested. Her father was the only survivor, and published Anne’s diary according to her wishes.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 1080; Accelerated Reader: 6.5

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
Anne writes very properly for a young teenager, and decides that her diary is her friend, whom she names Kitty. The sentence structure is mid-level, and most of the words are one- or two-syllable. Nevertheless, her tale is tragically enthralling.

Content Area: Social Science, World History-World War II, Autobiography

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Reading for 6-12: #2 Determine theme or central idea and analyze in detail its development; #3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain; #4 Analyze complex characters; #5 Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole; #9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Writing for 6-12: #9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • CCSS for Language 6-12:  #3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening; #5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuance in word meanings, such as interpret figures of speech.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a powerful autobiography to use as part of a core English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 6th grade and above, with mild profanity. It explores themes like the loneliness of adolescence, the inward versus outward self, and the generosity and greed that happens in wartime.

The Great Gatsby

One historical fiction novel (chapter book, middle or high school)

Bibliographic Information: Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 1925.

Plot Description:
Nick Carraway rents a house in New York, next to the mansion of Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is a millionaire who throws parties but doesn’t participate in them. Nick visits his cousin Daisy and her husband, and meets Jordan, with whom he becomes romantically involved. She tells Nick that Tom has a mistress. Nick is invited to a party at Gatsby’s mansion, and he and Jordan meet Gatsby himself. Gatsby had been romantically involved with Daisy and is in love with her; he throws these parties in the hopes that she will come to one. Nick invites both Daisy and Gatsby over, and they reestablish their relationship. Tom becomes suspicious and then enraged at his wife’s infidelity, ignoring his own affair. He drives everyone to NYC, where Gatsby is at a hotel, for the confrontation. Daisy decides her place is with Tom. Tom sends Daisy back to their town with Gatsby, in a show that Gatsby doesn’t threaten him. Soon after, Nick, Jordan, and Tom encounter a car crash: Gatsby’s car hit and killed Tom’s mistress. Daisy had been driving, but Gatsby intends to take the blame. The mistress’ husband thinks that the driver of the car is the person with whom his wife had been havig an affair, and tracks Gatsby to his home. He shoots and kills Gatsby, and then himself. Nick moves back to his hometown, thoroughly disillusioned.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 820; Accelerated Reader: 7.3

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This is written in the first-person perspective of Nick, a man twenty to thirty years old. It is written in the manner of the upper class- very proper with high vocabulary. Paragraphs vary in length, often containing five sentences.

Content Area: Social Science, US History-Roaring 20’s

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Reading for 6-12: #2 Determine theme or central idea and analyze in detail its development; #3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain; #4 Analyze complex characters; #5 Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Writing for 6-12: #9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • CCSS for Language 6-12:  #3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening; #4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases; #5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuance in word meanings, such as interpret figures of speech.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a classic historical fiction novel to use as part of a core English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 9th grade and above, due to violence. It explores themes like the decline of the American Dream and the hollowness of the upper class.