Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Writing Inspiration on Freedom and some History Text Suggestions

When I was in elementary school, I wrote lots of poetry. I found it to be a good outlet for my emotions. Somewhere along the way I stopped writing unless it was required. I have always loved learning and hungered for knowledge and opportunities to explore the imagination.

Someday I hope to be an author of children’s novels. I absolutely love juvenile and young adult literature. Books were my escape through adolescence, high school, college, various jobs, etc. I love the idea of being a writer because I want to open myself to creativity and new places and let characters guide me through their adventures.

However, making writing a priority and finding time for it is difficult. We all live such busy lives now. I also want to eat better and consistently exercise. Dreams of becoming proficient with my DSLR camera and capturing amazing photos also reside in my lists of goals.

I decided to start blogging to connect – to connect with other educators, best practices, new ideas, inspiration, my own creativity, and the writer within. I’m not sure if I will ever really make the time to become a children’s author, but I love that with blogging things I write can have immediate impact and feedback. The ideas and thoughts we share can be implemented by teachers far and wide and impact children the world over. That is a powerful thing. Here our words and ideas can have a legacy through the inspiration and collaboration we have as a community.

I am so deeply grateful for this little virtual backpack and the outlet it is providing. I can create and share and inspire and be moved all at the same time. You are all amazing, and I just want you to know that I appreciate you.

On this Fourth of July, I have found freedom here in this community of bloggers – freedom to express and share and grow and be excited instead of overwhelmed.
I have decided to start some weekly series of ideas to share with you.  Tuesdays I will share History text recommendations, Wednesdays I will share writing inspiration on various topics, and Thursdays I will share Science text recommendations. (Note: The frames for my weekly series are from the 3am Teacher.)

A Writing Inspiration wall was something I did in my classroom.  Each week I shared a quote, picture, and poem that we discussed and students used for inspiration in their journal writing.  It opens up the floor for great discussion and gets students to use their critical thinking skills.
For my writing inspiration for this week, I chose the topic freedom since today is July 4th.
Poem: "Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou.
This is a great poem to discuss metaphor and extended metaphor.  I love the idea of using a free bird and a caged bird for the ideas of freedom.  As a class, you could discuss the imagery and what people will do for freedom.  What does it feel like to be caged?  Why do people value freedom?  Why did America's founders declare their independence?
I liked all of these quotes so I decided to share all of them.  You can download a copy here.  The idea is to discuss the meaning of the quotes with your students.  They could write about what they think quotes mean, they could write a story about freedom, or they could write about freedom means to them.  The idea is to allow your students to use the quotes, pictures, and poems to inspire their writing and get them to think outside the box.

Picture:  Porch picture with flags
I saw this picture at Hobby Lobby so I took a picture with my phone.  I loved it.  This could open up so many wonderful writing ideas.  Who do the rockers belong to?  Why are there so many rockers?  Whose porch might it be?

Now yesterday, I ran out of time to share my history text suggestions.  So today on Wednesday, July 4 here is my "Tons of History Tuesday."

My goal is to share nonfiction texts, biographies, picture books, novels, and graphic novels on a topic each week.  For this week because of July 4, I chose the American Revolution era as my topic. I get all my books at the library that I use for read alouds usually (except the novels).
Biography: They called her Molly Pitcher by Anne Rockwell
This is a great book to discuss the story of Mary Hays "Molly Pitcher" and how she spent the day carrying her pitcher of water to wounded soldiers and fired the canon when her husband couldn't.  It illustrates the difficulties of war and battle and the bravery of women and soldiers.  If you needed a short story to illustrate some of what the battles were like and discuss bravery, this is a great picture biography to do that.  I would probably recommend this book for grades 3 and up.  The AR level is 5.4.

Picture book: John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith
This would be a fabulous book to introduce a study of famous people in the Revolutionary era.  The story introduces John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson as if they were children in a classroom and outlines each of their personality traits and how they each drove people crazy for various reasons.  Later, it briefly explains why those traits came in handy.  This is a great text to discuss inferencing and character traits.  The AR level on this book is 3.7, but I think you could use it with any grade. 

Novel: Mr. Revere and I by Robert Lawson
This is a wonderful novel written from the point of view of Paul Revere's horse.  It explains the events that were happening in Boston and the details of that famous midnight ride. The vocabulary is challenging.  It can be a difficult novel to find so I would use it as a read aloud.  The vocabulary is challenging, so you will have to stop and discuss what it happening in the novel.  I would recommend it for grades 5-8.  This book is great for discussion of events and point of view.  The AR level is 7.5, but I have read this book aloud to a fifth grade class.  It just took a lot of discussion.

This graphic novel is part of the History Kids Heroes series. The AR level is 3.0. This graphic novel discusses the ways people could be spies and how they passed messages.  I would probably have a class discussion to infer how John was feeling carrying the message.  You could discuss what would have happened had been caught.  Why might people have taken to the risk of being a spy?  What might have been their motivations?

Tomorrow I will share a Science text.  When I can, I will try to make some printables to share with you or tie these recommended texts to specific standards.  At the least though, I will share some books I think would make great texts to add to your Science and Social Studies curriculums and what types of reading skills I would focus on with each one.
Hope your July 4th has been relaxing and full of family, friends, and fun.


  1. This is such a great idea April. I cannot wait to read more :) I too use poetry as my outlet and have the ultimate dream of writing my own books someday. I have some that I have started, but never finished. Maybe someday :)

    My (Not So) Elementary Life

    1. I know the feeling. I got to write a novella for a class about an newly married wife who married a gamer and had no idea about what she was getting into. It was very therapeutic. Unfortunately, Iknew what I was getting into.

  2. Can I tell you how much I love this idea! I'm such a history dork and have a wide collection of historical literature in my library and can't wait to get more ideas to add to it :o) I love your blog! I’ve given you the Versatile Blog Award! Come by my blog and check it out.

    Teaching with a Touch of Twang

    1. I am so glad others love History too! I am going to share Science texts, but there will be more History texts because I love History! Thank you for the award. I hope you feel better.

  3. I enjoy your blog so much. Thank you for sharing your inspirational ideas.

  4. I love your blog and ideas! I'm your newest follower! :))


    Elementary Teacher Files 


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