Archives For Reading (process)

a middle grade dystopian novel where science meets social studies meets terrifying what ifs

If a book stuffed to the seams with big ideas, makes your soul leap, then Eye of the Storm is the book for you.

I can’t think of a better page-turner to help future decision makers grapple with ethical problems than Kate Messner’s novel.

In the near future when massive tornadoes are a daily event and meteorological engineering is possible, Jaden Meggs spends her summer in a community-wide storm shelter created by her father. She also learns that her father is steering storms away from her exclusive neighborhood and toward the organic farms, the competitors of his bio-engineered food company. Jaden has to decide what her obligations are and to whom.

Kate Messner takes the modern day issue of global warming, creates a worst case scenario of daily tornadoes and leaves the reader wrestling with deep questions.

Who has the right to decide how to solve weather problems? The government? The scientists? The individual? Communities with access to power? Everyone?

Who has access to safety? Who doesn’t? Why? Why does it matter who has access? Are there similar situations today? In history? What other issues of access does society have?

What kind of foods do people want to eat? Does everyone have choice to eat the food they want to eat? Should they? How does that impact other people in the community?

These questions are some of what future leaders have to face. So why not use Eye of the Storm as a springboard for discussion. Some of you may dismiss this book because it doesn’t neatly fit into a multiple choice test curricula. But would you rather have a president who’s adept at filling out a standardized test or a president who uses his or her critical thinking skills and ethical compassion to solve problems?

I have so fallen in love with this book that I have convinced my seventh grade Science, Humanities and English teachers to work with me to create a research project. As we design this curriculum, we are looking at the STEM standards and environmental issues. We are focusing on, how individuals can take a stand within the context of society or a government and what skills they need to create change. We are also studying the dystopian genre and examining what the format can teach us about the world and about crafting a story.

All of our work has been inspired by Kate’ Messenr’s skillful dystopian novel. Thank you Kate Messner.

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To help students broaden their cross-cultural knowledge base, I created a Hispanic Hero/Heroine game. I used it with a third grade library class but feel free to adapt it for different ages or for family use.

The unit had a number of objectives. Some were just to review. Some involved practice or mastery of common-core or information-literacy skills. And, of course, exposure to windows and mirrors content.

I wanted students to:

  • Understand a biography is a true account about a person’s life.
  • Read for the main idea
  • Identify keywords in the text
  • Use keywords to extrapolate the main idea
  • Learn how to turn facts into questions
  • Explore interviewing skills
  • Gain information about a particular person in a particular cultural experience.

Here’s an overview of the second lesson in the unit. ( See the first lesson in this post – list all people you know personally or otherwise who are of Hispanic descent).

  1. I gave each student their own mini biography  (a paragraph long) that I printed from Scholastic’s site for Discovery History Makers.
  2. I removed the name, and the job description for each person and created a fill in the blank. My name is…. I am a famous…. or I am famous for being a……. To download my template click here.
  3. Students read the biography and identified the person about whom they were reading.
  4. Students then highlighted keywords that were repeated over and over or had variations mentioned in the text.
  5. The looked at the keywords and determined the main idea or why this person was famous.

Roberto Clemente: the first Puerto Rican to be voted Most Valuable Player in baseball

For example if a student read about Roberto Clemente, he or she may have underlined Major League Baseball, great fielder, great hitter, Most Valuable Player, Baseball Hall of Fame. Then he or she would have said Roberto Clemente is a famous baseball player.

The mini biographies ranged in complexity so I gave the more abstract professions to those who were ready for the challenge and thus allowed for success for a range of students.

Stay tuned for how kids prepared themselves to face the questions the classmate paparazzi prepared for each other.