Anyway...drama over. Yesterday, I remembered it was time for Collaboration Cuties' Mentor Text Linky.
When I saw it was a Language Arts Mentor Text, I was excited to blog about one of my favorite read alouds. I have mentioned this book before. A couple years ago I was introduced to Patricia Polacco's book The Junkyard Wonders at a Balanced Literacy training. I fell in love with the book. It is a beautiful story about friendship, creativity, and uniqueness.
This book had also been on my mind because I was researching the Next Generation Science Standards on Friday. I remember reading this post at Corkboard Connections. In this post, Wendy and Cheryl of Get Caught Engineering talk about how Engineering will be a large part of the new Science Standards. They have some great ideas for incorporating Engineering in Literature. I immediately thought of The Junkyard Wonders. In this book, the main character, Trisha, goes to live with her dad because she wants a new start. She felt dumb at her old school. She discovers she has been placed in a special class called The Junkyard. Everyone in the Junkyard has something that makes them different. Mrs. Peterson, their teacher, places them in groups called tribes and immerses them in a year full of truly hands-on learning. At one point, they actually go to a junkyard and collect things to make something new. The message in the book is about how we all have something special to offer and no one deserves to feel unloved. It is a sad book because one of the classmates dies. I rarely can read this book aloud without getting teary, but I love the story! You can use this story to discuss story elements, theme, mood, visualizing, character traits, etc.
I love this story enough I decided I finally needed to make a unit to go with it. (It took me most of the day to finish the unit. That is why I am a day late with this blog post.) The unit is 18 pages and has a variety of organizers to analyze literary elements. I also included several writing assignments and a project idea. I created it with the 4th and 5th Grade Common Core Literature Standards in mind.
Mrs. Peterson reads them a definition of genius on the first day of school that I love. I think I want to make a giant poster of this quote! Here is a free copy of the quote to display in your classroom. You can also get it at my TpT store.
You could use this quote to prompt great discussion and writing. I also love the idea of using this book to prompt discussions of inquiry based learning, working in groups, creativity, etc. I think often we feel so pressured to be worried about meeting certain curriculum goals or testing expectations, that we often forget that learning should be fun and creativity should be fostered without limitation. We often put kids in a box when we should be encouraging them to just follow their natural bent to think outside the box. I look forward to discussing this definition of genius with my gifted students. How do you foster creativity in your students? Have you ever tried incorporating engineering in literature?