My First Official (Published) Educator’s Guide! – A Teacher’s Guide to Novels by Lisa Graff

The Lisa Graff educator’s guide that I created for Penguin is out! Over the summer, I was excited to be contacted by Penguin to write an educator’s guide to 5 novels by Lisa Graff. I was told that the guide will be printed and distributed by Lisa Graff when she visits schools or attends conferences.

I’ve already been creating and sharing guides and other work on this blog just because I feel it further validates the time I put into my work. I figure if I’m working hard to create it, others mine as well be able to benefit from it too—it’s been great to see that the guides on my website have been viewed and downloaded (and hopefully used) several hundred times. The opportunity to create a guide for Penguin excited me because I’d be able to create something that could reach and help a wider audience. Considering that I also enjoy doing this sort of thing, I readily agreed.

I submitted my work to Penguin a couple months ago, and just received the finalized PDF. Since it took a little while, I’d gotten nervous that maybe something was wrong with what I submitted. BUT, I’m thrilled to see that they kept it exactly as I submitted it…guess that means they were pleased. 🙂

Lisa Graff Teacher Guide

Click HERE to view and print the entire guide. 5 guides, aligned to the Common Core State Standards, are included to the following novels: A Tangle of Knots, The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wildflower, Double Dog Dare, Lost in the Sun, and Absolutely almost. Each guide includes a short summary, theme listing, vocabulary, and breakdown of questions to ask before, during and after reading the novel. The questions in the “before” section would best be used in a discussion format and include information a child must know before reading the novel in order to best access the story. The “during” questions can be used to guide discussion groups and check grade level understanding throughout the novel. When relevant, page numbers are included to make it easier for you find answers to the discussions questions and enable you to ask questions at a suitable time. The “after” questions engage analysis and are appropriate to utilize after the completion of the novel.

I’ve posted other resources for Absolutely Almost to my blog in the past. Click the links below to access related material.

Absolutely Almost Read Aloud Guide – This guide is a bit more in depth than the one I submitted to Penguin. I completed this guide before reading the book as a read aloud with my class last year. The link to the guide is provided at the bottom of the post.

Resources to Use with Absolutely Almost – Within this post, you will find links to a few resources I created to be used with Absolutely Almost: a protagonist character web, “helpful hints” printable, and supporting character character web.

Students Write About Feeling “Absolutely Almost”

Absolutely Almost Writing Connections Printable

Absolutely Almost Author Skype with Lisa Graff – You can arrange a time and date for Lisa Graff to Skype with your class. My class had a memorable experience!

Student Poetry Activity after the Completion of the Novel

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Poet-Tree and Green Space

I can’t believe I’ve never posted about Poetry in the Park before. If you have a nearby park or even a grassy area at your school to take your students, I urge you to provide your students with these outdoor writing experiences.

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I’ve read several articles about the importance and benefits of green space in learning, as well as how it can help students with distractibility. According to one article, “When kids with ADHD spend time outside or looking at nature, it increases their ability to pay attention and control their impulses”. Last year a like-minded teacher and I began bringing our students to the park once a month for an outdoor writing experience. For these trips, we give a short mini-lesson in the classroom and then walk the students to a nearby park. Once at the park, they select their own personal space to work. They separate and set in on their assignment. Students love this writing experience and I do too, as it’s very rewarding to the students and teacher; the work they produce at the park is consistently astounding! Students are so engaged. They’re encouraged to use their senses at the park to inspire their writing.

Each season, we complete seasonal “five senses poetry”. I’ll be sure to post about this later. This year, we’ve already written about Summer and we’ll be writing about Autumn next visit. On our most recent visit we wrote cinquain, diamante and windspark poetry. Pairing our writing with our current Life Science unit, students focused on environmental topics and used their surroundings and what they’ve learned in Science to inspire them. I split my class in groups so they could each visit a tree to make observations. Together, they came up with a list of adjectives to describe their tree. We then split up into our individual spaces. We called this park session “Poet-Tree”.

My class, investigating their trees.

My class, investigating their trees.

Here is my latest Poet-Tree in the park guide. I’ve provided screenshots, but you can download the document via a link at the end if you’d like.

Students visited a tree together and completed the first page of their Poet-Tree guide together. See first page below…

Poet-Tree

Students then found their own personal outdoor space and completed a poem on the palm tree they just investigated using the following guide for cinquiain poems:

Cinquain Poems

Student samples from my class:

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When finished, they went on to complete a diamante poem. They could choose to write about any environmental topic.
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Student samples from my class:

Diamante Poems

Finally, they worked on windspark poems, another poem of free choice, as long as it had something to do with the environment. These are my favorite!

Windspark Poems

Student samples from my class:

Windspark Poems

Before finding their own private space to complete their poetry and after completing tree brainstorming as a group, they received the following brainstorm list. This was provided to help trigger ideas as students completed the diamante and windspark poems.

Outdoor Brainstorm List

Click the following link to download this booklet – Poet Tree – 5th Grade.