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NCSS / History Geek Week Session One: 2012 Notable Tradebooks and literacy strategies

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It’s session one. History Geek Week is in full swing and my goal is to live blog each of the sessions I attend.

I first learned about NCSS Notable Tradebooks for Young People almost ten years ago and having been braying about them ever since. As social studies teachers, the need to use more fiction and non-fiction stuff as part of our instruction has always existed. But the urgency to do that has been lacking in most elementary (and secondary) rooms.

Hence the braying.

God bless the Common Core. I know some are not fans but one thing the new standards have done is to bring more focus on the literacy piece of social studies.

And the Notable Tradebooks should be a huge part of that.

Every year, several NCSS Notable Tradebook board members share out their favs and appropriate teaching strategies. Today I’m sitting in on the grades 5-6 session. And here we go.

(There’s always a CD at the end of the session with lesson plans. I’ll try and upload those later.)

Megan’s Year: An Irish Traveler’s Story
Through the voice of a young girl, the life of the people known as Irish Travelers is explored. Tales of the World Megan spends her summers traveling around the Irish countryside with her family. They move from place to place, hauling their camper behind their old car. But they aren’t on vacation. This is their way of life. Megan and her family are Travelers.

Despite the rough living, Megan loves her life and the freedom that comes from traveling the open road. But at summer’s end, when there’s no more work to be had, the family moves to the city of Dublin. The camper is parked and they move into a cramped house. Megan and her siblings attend the local school as their parents struggle to make ends meet. And as the seasons pass, Megan counts down the days until she can return to her summer life.

A Storm Called Katrina
Ten-year-old Louis Daniel hates it when Mama treats him like a baby. But when Hurricane Katrina blows through the Gulf Coast on a fateful August night, followed by broken levees and rising floodwaters threatening New Orleans, Louis feels like a little kid again. With no time to gather their belongings save Louis s beloved horn Daddy leads the family from their home and into an unfamiliar, watery world of floating debris, lurking critters, a winsome black-and-white dog, and desperate neighbors heading for dry ground.

Taking shelter in the already-crowded Superdome, Louis and his parents wait and wait. As the days pass, the electricity goes out, the air conditioning dies, the bathrooms are closed, and people around them begin to bicker as they run out of food and water. When Daddy fails to return from a scouting mission within the Dome, Louis knows he s no longer a baby. It s up to him to find Daddy, with the help of his prized cornet.

My Name is Sangoel
Sangoel is a refugee. Leaving behind his homeland of Sudan, where his father died in the war, he has little to call his own other than his name, a Dinka name handed down proudly from his father and grandfather before him. When Sangoel and his mother and sister arrive in the United States, everything seems very strange and unlike home. In this busy, noisy place, with its escalators and television sets and traffic and snow, Sangoel quietly endures the fact that no one can pronounce his name. Lonely and homesick, he finally comes up with an ingenious solution to this problem, and in the process he at last begins to feel at home.

Hidden Teens, Hidden Lives: Primary Sources from the Holocaust (True Stories of Teens in the Holocaust)
Hiding behind a double wall in a ghetto in Poland, ten-year-old Aaron Elster heard gunshots and people screaming. In moments, Nazi troops discovered his family and herded them into the street, where Nazis were gunning people down. This young boy’s hiding place did not save his family that time, but thousands of Jews went into hiding during the Holocaust. Barns, trapdoors, bunkers, secret attics, forged identity papers, and fake names became tools for survival. Author Linda Jacobs Altman uses primary sources to detail the stories of many Jews who went into hiding to survive the Nazi’s planned extermination of Europe’s Jews.

Birmingham Sunday
Racial bombings were so frequent in Birmingham that it became known as ”Bombingham.” Until September 15, 1963, these attacks had been threatening but not deadly. On that Sunday morning, however, a blast in the 16th Street Baptist Church ripped through the exterior wall and claimed the lives of four girls.

The church was the ideal target for segregationists, as it was the rallying place for Birmingham’s African American community, Martin Luther King, Jr., using it as his ”headquarters” when he was in town to further the cause of desegregation and equal rights. Rather than triggering paralyzing fear, the bombing was the definitive act that guaranteed passage of the landmark 1964 civil rights legislation. Birmingham Sunday centers on this fateful day and places it in historical context.

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