Text Dependent Analysis in the School Library

  Last year our school implemented a targeted writing program based on the concept of Text Dependent Analysis (TDA) to encourage our students to become stronger writers and more careful readers.  I’m happy to play a role in supporting the curriculum, especially when I can offer students an opportunity to analyze and answer questions about some award-winning picture books, and to incorporate some media literacy instruction as well.

  I always do an author/illustrator study on Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, so I knew this year that I wanted to use the book Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by this extremely talented duo.  I typed up the text of the book on a one-page handout and made copies for each student, and wrote three simple TDA questions (since this is their first time doing TDA with me) for them to answer.

Students are shown the questions before being given the typed copy of the story so they have some guidance on what to look for as they read.  We answer a sample question on the board together, emphasizing the need to restate the question as part of the answer and write in complete sentences.  We also discuss the fact the students sometimes must read carefully and study the clues in the writing so they can infer the answers if the author doesn’t state the information directly.

The beauty of using Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is that the story is ultimately incomplete without the illustrations.  Barnett’s text does tell a complete story, but the punchlines (and impact) are all dependent on Klassen’s illustrations.  Students are able to answer the TDA questions, but they usually have a slight feeling of letdown because the events seem rather mundane and the ending is quite anticlimactic.  That sets the stage for part 2 of the lesson when I share the book as a read-aloud and show them the illustrations.

It literally gives me goosebumps to hear the shouts of amazement and the groans of frustration when the kids see the pictures and realize what is actually going on in the story!  And it’s the perfect opening to discuss the concept of media literacy with them, and to emphasize how – in good picture books – the text and illustrations work together to tell the whole story.

We conclude with some information about Barnett and Klassen, and the promise that I’ll share more of their books with the students later in the year.

What other picture books do you think would make good TDA texts?  Please leave a comment and share your suggestions!


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Snow Days!

As you might imagine, snow days are a huge treat for us students and teachers in South Carolina, and the timing of our wintry weather this month gave us an extended Christmas break.  I spent part of that time researching some snowy read-aloud books, and here’s what I came up with:

  The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
This is the classic story of a young boy’s day in the snow, and it’s just been made even more relevant by the new book…..

  A Poem For Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney
The story behind the book The Snowy Day, and a tribute to Ezra Jack Keats and his groundbreaking picture books.

  Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant
Who doesn’t love penguins, and this simple story is illustrated with cut-paper collages, which always (as regular readers of this blog know) hold a special place in my heart.  A great choice to inspire a torn-paper art project.

  Snow! by Cynthia Rylant
Not only are the snowy illustrations somehow almost cozy, but Rylant has filled this text with figurative language to discuss with your listeners.

  Blizzard by John Rocco
This Caldecott honor book is not only the author’s account of his own experience during the Blizzard of 1978 (if you’re looking for memoirs for an ELA unit), but also a tale of courage as John is sent to the store wearing tennis rackets strapped to his feet to buy groceries for his family.

And these new choices are in addition to two of my old favorites:

  Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
The true – yet lyrical – story of the first man to take magnified photos of snowflakes to share their beauty with the world.  Informative and inspiring, reminding listeners to follow their passion in life.

  Snowflakes Fall by Patricia MacLachlan
A beautiful story about how snow fits into the cycle of the seasons, with an underlying message of hope following the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Which “snow” books will you be sharing with your students?  Leave a comment and tell us about them!


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Donors Choose Makerspace STEAM Book Grant Funded!

 *Update on my Reading + Doing = Learning project:  It’s been fully funded!  (Thanks in part to our eligibility for matching funds from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, an organization that supports schools serving military communities.)  If you were one of my donors, thank you very much!!!

Do you need more books for your library?  (Don’t we all?!?)  Donors Choose is helping us fill our shelves by matching all donations made Oct 18-19 to book projects.  Get the details from this Donors Choose blog post.

I’m creating a project to get more STEAM books for my collection.  Many of the activities we have going on the the makerspaces each week elicit requests for library books on those same topics, and currently I can’t keep up with the demand.  Click to view (and donate to!) my project: Reading + Doing = Learning

Have you had a Donors Choose book project funded?  Tell us about it in the comments or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune!


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Library Book Tasting: New Books Edition

The arrival of new books in the library is always exciting for me but my students can’t get excited unless they realize new books are available to them.  That’s why I always host a “book tasting” before putting the new books out on the shelves.

I devote a week to giving my classes time to examine the new books that interest them most and makes notes on the ones they like the best.  We save the note sheets for future library visits when the books are in circulation as a To Be Read list.

How do you share new books with your students?  Leave a comment and tell us about it!


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Donors Choose Makerspace Book Grant

  For the second year in a row, book funding for my library was cut by the district, so once again I turned to Donors Choose to fill a need in my library.

My project this year is connected to the activities I host in my STEAM makerspace area.  I’ve found that when kids engage in hands-on activities like origami, drawing and doodling, designing and building with simple materials like Legos, etc. they often ask for how-to books on those same topics to check out.  As important as it is to me to offer these learning opportunities in my library, it’s perhaps more important that kids voluntarily follow up on theses activities on their own. The need for more of those books sparked my idea for Reading + Doing = Learning!

After determining the most popular makerspace activities, I analyzed my library collection to see where the greatest need for corresponding books was.  That led me to creating a wish list on Amazon that I could plug into my Donors Choose project.

If you support hands-on learning for students after the school day ends, I hope you’ll consider making a donation to this project!

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Living Literature Day Book Character Costumes

There’s nothing more heartwarming for a librarian than to see students dressed as their favorite book characters!  Living Literature Day gives students, teachers, staff, and administrators a chance to use their imagination and creativity as they show their reading pride.  I was shocked that several students asked me who I was dressed as today.  I thought it was quite obvious that I was dressed as Hermione Granger, the girl who practically lived in the Hogwarts Library!  (Although I will admit my hair was a little frizzier when I left home this morning; it must have flattened during the day.)

Who are your favorite book characters to dress up as?  Leave us a comment and let us know!

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FALLing Leaves Library Lesson Plan

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and I always look forward to celebrating in my library with read-alouds that celebrate the colorful falling leaves of the season.  Here are some of my favorites:

Fletcher Falling Leaves Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson
It’s autumn, and Fletcher’s favorite tree is slowly changing colors and losing its leaves.  Fletcher is very worried.  He tells the tree he’ll help. But when the very last leaf falls to the ground, Fletcher feels as though he’s let down his friend, until the first day of winter when Fletcher receives a surprise.

Lucky Leaf Lucky Leaf by Kevin O’Malley
Our main character is thoroughly enjoying his video game until mom tells him to go outside and play. Fortunately he finds two of his friends who are in the same situation, and the three begin trying to catch the last leaf on a tree (the lucky leaf).  The twist at the end of this comic book-style book is how our hero uses his good luck

Read Leaf Yellow Leaf Red Leaf Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

Leaf Man Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’m drawn to books that feature collage illustrations, and Ehlert is a master of this art form.  In Red Leaf Yellow Leaf she introduces us to the life cycle of the tree, and in Leaf Man she takes us on a journey with the title character as she imagines where he might travel and what he might see, and she shows us all the flora and fauna that can be created using different combinations of leaves.

Leaf Man spread

Can you find all four mice in this illustration from LEAF MAN by Lois Ehlert? (Click to enlarge)

At the end of the book, Leaf Man settles down happily with a Leaf Woman, which always wins approval from my listeners.  After we examine Ehlert’s clever cut-paper illustrations, students draw (or trace) and cut out their own selection of leaves and use them to design an original leaf collage.  I show them a collage that I created as an example to get them started.

1-Leaf GirlIf you have access to iPads, you may want to incorporate the Labo Leaves app in your lesson as well.  It provides students with digital leaves that they can drag into position to create leaf animals that burst into life when completed.  What a great hands-on introduction to the possibilities of designing with leaves!  See for yourself:

You can purchase Labo Leaves for ios ($1.99) or android ($0.99) and once you download the app you can use it without an internet connection.  You can see other Labo apps here.

What are your favorite fall leaf read-alouds?  Please share in the comments or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune


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