Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Roosevelt's Rough Riders: Fearless Cavalry of the Spanish-American War

Roosevelt's Rough Riders: Fearless Cavalry of the Spanish-American War
You can count this topic among things I did not know much about prior to reading this book.  Both the Spanish-American War and the Rough Riders.  I had heard of both and I'm sure read of both in a Social Studies textbook once upon a time but those details had not made permanent residence in my brain.  Given hindsight on many wars in our country's history, the following should come as little surprise.  America got involved to protect its interests, namely sugar.  Congress, that is the US Congress had enacted a tariff (tax) that would apply to products imported into the United States.  Since Cuba was part of the Spanish empire, that tax (that we enacted) applied to sugar imported from Cuba.  Cuba wanted its freedom from Spain.  We wanted free sugar.  We helped Cuba with the end game plan of buying Cuba so we wouldn't have to pay tax on sugar.  Much like our entry into WWII following the attack at Pearl Harbor, it still was not until an explosion on a US Navy Ship protecting American "interests" in the Havana Harbor that the American people were interested in getting involved in the war.  In 1976, it was determined that the explosion was probably really a result of a kitchen fire on board and not the underwater mine planted by the Spanish that it was overtly blamed on at the time in 1898.  That's all on the first three pages.  

And then enters Theodore Roosevelt.  Roosevelt's resume was quite diverse.  He grew up in NY, went to Harvard, ranched in the Dakota Badlands, worked as a frontier sherriff, served as the US Civil Service Commissioner, NYC Police Commissioner, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy before becoming a volunteer soldier at the age of 40.

From there, the actual battles of the Spanish-American War involving the Rough Riders and Buffalo Soldiers play out across the pages.  A point of note that stuck out to me was of the Spanish troops' use of smokeless gunpowder to be able to disguise their position when attacking.

Likewise, the recovery period to quarantine soldiers to screen out illness like Yellow Fever and Malaria at Camp Wikoff on Long Island seemed smart.  Though Roosevelt had neither, he stayed with his regiment.  The success of the Spanish-American War won Cuba its independence, and as part of the treaty, the United States also acquired Guam and Puerto Rico along with the option to purchase the Phillipines.  Bring on the sugar!

Capstone Kids
Fact Hound Sites
Theodore Roosevelt: Life Before the Presidency
The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War
The Maine Explodes

Roosevelt's Rough Riders: Fearless Cavalry of the Spanish-American War
Author: Brynn Baker
ISBN: 978-1-4914-4840-3
Published: 2016 by Capstone Press

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

CYBILS Nominations Paired Books

Day 1.

Without having read these books.  Yet.  I am already seeing some partner texts emerging.  Let me explain.  last year, and the year prior, I had planned to do posts with certain books paired or grouped together, like this:

2015 Titles


See what I did there?

Some emerging pairs or groups for 2016 titles (already!)


I'm getting excited!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pax is the book that was selected for The Global Read Aloud for grades 4 and 5.  I just finished it Friday (just in time, #GRA16 starts on Monday!).  I love that this story highlights the connections and relationships between people (Peter, his father, his grandfather, Vola, even the baseball player and bus driver) and animals (Pax, Gray, Bristle, and Runt) and their interactions with each other.  The story felt like it could take place in any number of settings and a country was never defined and either at a time in the past or even in the future.  Though references to trench warfare made me think past, but who knows what our future will bring.  The impact of war on the environment and its inhabitants other than humans and our collective conscience in the actions taken during war and how we forgive ourselves for what has been done (both by Peter; his father; and Vola) is very deep.  Pax offers opportunities for group discussion and self reflection alike and I can't wait to hear how it is received by our 4th and 5th grade students and their teachers.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Global Read Aloud

Last year, we had hoped to do The Global Read Aloud at my school but couldn't seem to get our hands on the actual books.  We are a big school, so getting the books in the hands of the teachers is no small budget line item.  This year, I applied for a grant (which was denied), then begged, borrowed, and plead, and eventually, we got the books!  Hoping to plan even better for next year, but as we work to get them in our teacher's hands on time (or really close to it) I'm also working on finishing up the books.  I finished Pax today!  I'd already read The BFG and I'm working my way through each of Lauren Castillo's books too.  I can't wait to have discussions with students (and teachers) about these books as they progress through them.  Follow along via the twitter hashtag #GRA2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Hero

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Hero

While women were not permitted to serve in the military until 1901 in the Army Nurse Corp and 1908 in the Navy Nurse Corp1, that didn't stop Sarah Edmonds and many others from crashing through that glass ceiling in disguise.  The first book I read along similar lines was Pam Munoz Ryan's Riding Freedom.
Even dressed as a man, there were many assumptions made about Sarah/Frank.  That she was too young to sign up to be a soldier.  You know, since she hadn't yet grown facial hair.  Frank trained as a soldier, nurse, and then finally worked as a spy, dressing as a freed slave.  In the Author's Note, it also mentioned that one of her disguises over time was that of an old Irish woman, perhaps the most ironic of her disguises.  Overall, the story is intriguing as a stand alone, but I find the author's note to leave me wanting to read more about Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye and the work she did both during and following the war for veterans and African Americans.  The mere fact that her memoir and story were published in her lifetime (and became a bestseller) and that her work as a soldier was eventually recognized are most telling that bravery and bending gender roles and expectations are nothing new.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Hero
Author: Marissa Moss
Illustrator: John Hendrix
Published 2011 by Abrams Books for Young Readers (oops!  This was on the "New" shelf at my library but it's not so new.  I loved it, so I'm still going to review it a smidgen late)
To review, I borrowed this copy from the public library.  And since it's from 2011, there is little chance that I'll be having a review copy sent!


Friday, September 30, 2016


It's official!  I get to read, review, and blog for the fifth year as part of the Elementary/Juvenile Nonfiction Category.  And tomorrow, nominations open up - so YOU can help pick what I'll be reading.  Make a nomination here.  I try to keep my eyes peeled for the newest nonfiction year round, so I'll post some blogs over the next few days of books I hope get nominated!  As that will also save me some time later (wink, wink).  Well, any of you familiar with both this blog and CYBILS season knows you might hear a bit more from me between now and February so stay tuned for my musings on the best nonfiction to hit the shelves!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Curriculum 21 and Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Today, during our professional development, we had an amazing opportunity to hear from a visionary in the field of education and curricular design, Heidi Hayes Jacobs.  As she spoke during our morning session, I felt a whole lot of this running through me.

For example: 
Heidi spoke about differentiated professional development reflective of not only your district but individual buildings respective of their cultures and tribal patterns.

She attributed the quote "You're either growing or you're decaying" to Jean Piaget.  I've found it attributed to either Lou Holz (sub dying for decaying) and Alan Arkin.  Though I don't doubt Jean Piaget has said something to this effect too.  He was pretty into growth and child development, after all.

The message hard chairs in rows sends: Stay in your place.  Design flexible spaces.

In relation to curriculum, we need to decide what to cut; what to keep; and what to create.

Perspective taking.  Last week, we watched this video from Alan November.  Similarly, Heidi pointed out that in Britain, the "American Revolution" is referred to as "The War with the Colonial Insurgents."

Digital Literacy involves Access; Selection; Curation; and Creation

Research means to "search again"

In our buildings/districts, there are "people doing interesting work that should be shared." 
Um, hello #sharetheawesome

Things I'm planning to check out:

The film, Beyond Measure   Not surprising to me, this is by the same film maker who created The Race to Nowhere, Vicki Abeles.

I look forward to my trip (wink wink) to the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY but moreover, checking out the available resources for educators in media creation and literacy.

I also look forward to my trip to The Reading and Writing Project with Lucy Calkins.

Some other resources I plan to investigate further are here in this Symbaloo.  I plan to add more resources as I read Heidi's book, Curriculum 21.

*I don't usually make my symbaloos lopsided, but I noticed that when embedded this was cutoff and made a design decision to do so so you can see them without having to scroll and whatnot.

Oh, and then there's this.  Like Richard Byrne and Donalyn Miller before her, I'm sure this was not at all creepy for Heidi.  Because we are on a first name basis.  She said so.