You must choose an 8th grade math standard for this activity. Use this link and choose a standard from page 11-15. Here are links to extra resources that will help. I have attached an Example Excerpt Resource Set with the assignment. You are to find three types of articles or books that will help complete this template. Please clear the text in the purple font and place answers there. Rubric can be found on the last two pages of this document. Additional reading articles for the assignment. Some are attached to the assignment and some are linked here.You must choose an 8th grade math standard for this activity. Use this
link and choose a standard from page 11-15.
Here are links to extra resources that will help.
I have attached an Example Excerpt Resource Set with the
assignment. You are to find three types of articles or books that will
help complete this template. Please clear the text in the purple font
and place answers there.
Rubric can be found on the last two pages of this document.
Additional reading articles for the assignment. Some are attached to
the assignment and some are linked here.


Chapter 4 in Fisher & Frey Improving Adolescent Literacy (pages 50-65) (attached to
assignment)
Articles:Make sure to read all of these articles
o Picture Books for Young Adult Readers (Links to an external site.)
o
o
o
o
o
Teachers Find Many Reasons to Use Picture Books with Middle and High School
Students (Links to an external site.)
Aren’t These Books for Little Kids? (attached to assignment)
A Middle School Teacher’s Guide to Selecting Picture Books (attached to
assignment)
Using Picture Books as a Secondary Reading Intervention (Links to an external
site.)
Characteristics of Literacy Rich Content Area Classrooms
Resource Set Project
The Commentary, Resources, and Readings for this Module focus on the importance of
using multiple formats of instructional resources and curriculum materials —both print
and non-print to engage students and to foster comprehension. The essential idea is
the importance of selecting materials that accurately represent the particular
standards/concepts you are teaching and that support your students’
comprehension of your discipline. For example, an art teacher may have students
reading a work of art, say a mural. This differs from the science teacher who has
students conducting an experiment or an English teacher engaging students in reading
poetry. However, the end goal is the same for all of these teachers-creating learning
experiences that make the aspects of the discipline accessible and meaningful for their
students to master the content.
The resources you select in your classroom should help your students grasp the
concepts you are teaching. You’ll want to think about what you know about your
learners and how to support and engage them. You’ll also want to focus on selecting
resources that will support students’ comprehension of concepts and academic
language. Be sure to consider your reader profile from Module 1; you’ll want to think
about your biases and how those biases may impact the materials you select. What
works for you may not work for your students.
In this task, you will focus on a standard from your discipline (remember to focus on
Grades 6-12) and different resources you might choose to support students’
comprehension of the standard. In some disciplines, it may be easier to think in terms of
a “theme” or unit while selecting your standard but remember you want to select only
one standard.
To begin, ask what is it you want your students to know and what materials would you
use to help them know this content? Remember to review the Standard Course of
Study (Links to an external site.), to think about what resources will help your students
access the academic language and concepts of your lesson, and how the resources
connect. Consider what you have learned from the modules readings as you collect
your resources. It should be evident that you are considering the tools, strategies, and
techniques from the readings and research presented in this module and from previous
modules. You’ll showcase these connections throughout the project as you support your
selections for the resource set using specific citations from the course readings.
Begin with the Grade/Standard(s) then, choose at least 3 different texts/resources that
support the standard/goal you selected and that connect to one another including
1. Picture Book or Visual (i.e.art, photograph, comic, graphic novel) must be relevant
and support the content.
2. Expository/Informational Text/Resource: Must be expository/nonfiction. No fake
news, please, and no picture books–even if they are informational. Think textbook,
news article, how to, etc.
3. Web-based/Digital Resource (website, video, e-story, etc.)
While I normally encourage creativity, for this project, please follow the specific format
provided in the template at the end of this assignment. You will save your final project
as a PDF and submit to Canvas. Your project should include the following:
Subject/Grade Level/Standard List the subject, grade and standard. Example: Social
Studies, Grade 8, 8.C&G.2 Understand the role that citizen participation plays in
societal change. If you want to add objectives, you may. Example: Add 8.C&G.2.1
Evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches used to effect change in North
Carolina and the United States (e.g. picketing, boycotts, sit-ins, voting, marches, holding
elected office and lobbying).
Then, making sure that each section is clearly labeled, include the following for EACH
text/resource:

o
o
o
o
o
Text/Resource title and visual (if possible) of the text with APA citation. Be sure
to review APA. See Course Basics.
A short description of the text-what is this text about? How is information
presented? Brief sentence or two telling about the resource and how it is
presented.
Why you chose this text/resource? It must include how it makes your discipline
more accessible? This is a good time to connect to your readings from this
module or previous ones. Be specific; describe why this particular resource–and
don’t say because you think students will like it. Describe the purpose. Why this
resource over another? How does it help your students better understand the
content–make the content more accessible to students? Be sure to cite!
How it supports diverse learners? Think about the ways these resources move
your students forward with their understandings. Think about the diversity of a
classroom. What should you consider? Be sure to think about the many types of
learners in your classroom. Dig deeply, go beyond the surface level! Use
citations!
How you would use this text in the classroom with students? The use of the
resource should be a support for discipline specific learning. It should be
integrated as part of the learning, not an isolated lesson and support students’
comprehension of discipline specific concepts. Would you use it to introduce?
Reinforce? Clarify? What would your students do with the information? How will
you know the resource moved your students’ thinking forward? Review the
readings and think about what you know. Remember to cite!
Then in the next section

o
Overall Project Reflection with cited connections to the course/module
readings (think back to Modules 1 and 2 as well as Module 3) and questions you
may still have. Remember to discuss how you considered your personal biases
(think back to your Reader’s Profile) as you selected resources. Here tie
everything together. Compose a paragraph or two weaving your learning
together. Use this template (Links to an external site.) as a guide. (To use it, go to
FILE, select copy file, and rename.) Be sure to remove the purple text and make sure
you set the color back to black. Don’t forget your end references!
Criteria
Ratings
Aspects of
Assignment
are included
with correct
grammar,
usage,
mechanics
(GUM)
Subject/
Grade
Level/Standar
d
At least 3
texts/resource
s with title and
visual of the
text
/resource with
APA citation
A short
description of
the text-what
is this text
about? How is
information
presented?
Discipline
Specific
Knowledge
Why you
selected this
text?
How it makes
your discipline
20.0 to >18.0 pts
A
Project directions
followed, all aspects
included. Specific
Subject/ Grade
Level/ Standards
noted; 3+ cohesive,
appropriate
texts/resources with
title and visual;
clearly aligned to
standard; Complete
APA citations with
no or very minor
errors; Clear
description with
specific details of all
resources and
information on
format of each
resource.
18.0 to >16.0 pts
B
Project directions
followed with all
aspects included.
Subject/Grade
Level/Standards
noted; 3
texts/resources with
title and visual but
some may not be
clearly aligned to
standard; Complete
APA citations with
minor errors;
Description of all
resources and
format included with
varying level of
detail.
16.0 to >14.0 pts
C
Project directions
followed with most
aspects included.
Subject/ Grade
Level/Standards
noted; 3
texts/resources with
title and visual but
some may not be
aligned to
standards or
explanations may
be unclear; APA
citations mostly
correct; some errors
present; Description
of resources may
lack specific detail.
14.0 to >0.0 pts
F
Project directions
may or may not
be followed;
aspects may
missing; Subject/
Grade Level /
Standards;
Text/Resources
missing or not
present; most not
aligned to
standards or
explanations may
be unclear; Major
errors with APA
citations or
missing;
Description of
resources lacks
detail.
20.0 to >18.0 pts
A
Rationale has clear
evidence course
content has been
read and extended
by connecting
information from
18.0 to >16.0 pts
B
Rationale has
evidence course
content has been
read and extended
by connecting
information from
16.0 to >14.0 pts
C
Rationale has some
evidence course
content has been
read and somewhat
extended by
connecting
14.0 to >0.0 pts
F
Rationale missing
or does not reflect
a clear
explanation for
text/resource
choices and/or
more
accessible?
Standards:
NCPTS 3
InTASC 4
Learner
Specific
Knowledge
How does
text/resources
support the
diverse
needs,
challenges,
strengths
and/or
interests of
students?
Standards:
NCPTS 3
InTASC 4
Understandin
g of
Disciplinary
Literacy
Instructional
Practice/
Implementatio
n
How you
would use this
text in the
classroom?
Standards:
NCPTS 3
InTASC 4
Reflection
Connections
from course
readings to
practice.
Candidate
has
considered
course readings
and supporting with
relevant citations
which specifically
explain why this
text/resource
selected and how
will this
text/resource make
discipline content
more accessible for
students’
understanding.
20.0 to >18.0 pts
A
Rationale with
clear, specific
details explaining
how text/resource
choice supports the
diverse needs,
challenges,
strengths and/or
interests of
students. Evident
course content has
been applied and
extended by the
use of relevant
citations.
course readings
and supporting with
some citations to
explain why this
text/resource
selected and how
will this
text/resource make
discipline content
more accessible for
students’
understanding.
20.0 to >18.0 pts
A
Discussion of
implementation of
strategies reveal a
clear understanding
of concepts and
principles related to
specific practices to
support student
learning and
comprehension of
discipline content.
18.0 to >16.0 pts
B
Discussion of
implementation of
strategies reveal an
understanding of
concepts and
principles related to
specific practices to
support student
learning and
comprehension of
discipline content.
20.0 to >18.0 pts
A
Reflection clearly
describes specific
learning and
personal/profession
al growth related to
importance of
18.0 to >16.0 pts
B
Reflection
describes learning
and
personal/profession
al growth related to
importance of
18.0 to >16.0 pts
B
Rationale with
details explaining
how text/resource
choice supports the
diverse needs,
challenges,
strengths and/or
interests of
students. Evident
course content has
been applied and
extended through
use of varying
levels of cited
support.
information from
course readings to
explain why this
text/resource
selected and how
will this
text/resource make
discipline content
more accessible for
students’
understandingcitations may be
limited or missing.
16.0 to >14.0 pts
C
Rationale with
varying level of
detail explaining
how text/resource
choice supports the
diverse needs,
challenges,
strengths and/or
interests. Evident
course content has
been applied and
extended through
varying levels of
support – citations
may not be
included.
16.0 to >14.0 pts
C
Discussion of
implementation of
strategies reveal a
basic understanding
of concepts and
principles related to
discipline specific
practices to support
student learning
and comprehension
of discipline
content.
discussion of
accessibility.
Limited to no
evidence that
content from the
course has been
read and/or
extended by
connecting
information from
course readings.
16.0 to >14.0 pts
C
Reflection
describes learning
and/or
personal/profession
al growth related to
importance of
14.0 to >0.0 pts
F
Reflection on
growth limited.
There are
limited/no
connections to
course readings
14.0 to >0.0 pts
F
Rationale with
limited detail
explaining how
text/resource
choice supports
the diverse
needs,
challenges,
strengths and/or
interests. Some
evidence course
content has been
applied with
limited support.
14.0 to >0.0 pts
F
Discussion of
implementation
strategies limited
or not present.
Limited or no
evidence of how
these concepts
and principles
support student
learning and
comprehension.
own biases as
materials
were
selected.
Standards:
NCPTS 3, 4
InTASC 4
literacy in the
discipline/content
area using cited
course readings for
support. Clear
evidence with
specific detail
indicating candidate
has considered own
biases as materials
were selected.
literacy in the
discipline/content
area using course
readings for
support. Evidence
with detail indicating
candidate has
considered own
biases as materials
were selected.
literacy in the
discipline/content
area using limited
course readings for
support. Some
evidence with detail
indicating candidate
has considered own
biases as materials
were selected.
to support
disciplinary/conte
nt literacy
practices. Limited
or no evidence
candidate has
considered own
biases as
materials were
selected.
November 2002 | Volume 60 | Number 3
Reading and Writing in the Content Areas
Pages 48-51
Aren’t These Books for Little Kids?
Picture books can bring the events and people of history to
life for middle school students.
Linda Webb Billman
Jenna, a 9th grade social studies teacher and one of my graduate
education students, shakes her head in disbelief. Holding several
November 2002
picture books in her hands, she asks, “You want me to read these to
my students? These books are for young kids.” We speak about how she might integrate the
books into a unit on World War II and about the need for students to develop the in-depth
understanding of content that is rarely available from a textbook. I encourage Jenna to share
several of the books with her students. The following week she reports,
My students really liked those stories. The students not only listened to them, but we
also had a great discussion afterwards.
In my experience of working with teachers and conducting workshops on how to integrate
picture books into the social studies curriculum, Jenna’s initial response to using picture books
is a common reaction. Secondary and intermediate grade teachers rarely include such texts in
their teaching because they believe them to be too immature for adolescents. Educators
frequently perceive picture books, which are often marketed to young children, to be no more
than simple illustrations and shallow text.
In reality, many picture books—especially those related to historical events—are more
appropriate for older students than younger students. Young students simply do not have the
background experiences to comprehend many of the texts that focus on World War II. For
example, Kodama’s Shin’s Tricycle conveys the terror associated with the bombing of
Hiroshima. Bunting’s So Far from the Sea describes the lives of children of Japanese ancestry
who were housed in U.S. relocation camps from 1942 to 1945. Using picture books to address
such complex issues and situations is appropriate when one realizes that the books are actually
written for a more mature audience (Martinez, Roser, & Strecker, 2000).
Picture Books in the Social Studies Classroom
Definitions of picture books vary, but Giorgis and Hartman (2000) provide teachers with some
general guidelines: Picture books usually contain 32 pages; pictures appear on every page or
double-page spread; and the text and pictures work together to create meaning. Picture books
do not necessarily have a low reading level or immature interest level.
When they are used effectively in the classroom, picture books can help students learn more
about the world around them. Social studies incorporates history, culture, politics, and other
concepts that students may have difficulty relating to in a textbook; picture books provide the
interest, images, and readability that students may need to engage with content material.
In fact, many students find picture books to be more interesting than textbooks. Rather than
providing breadth, picture books are more likely than textbooks to focus on a single topic and
explore it in depth (Martinez, Roser, & Strecker, 2000). Using a number of different picture
books in a unit of study introduces students to a variety of perspectives on a topic.
In addition to encountering different perspectives, students who work with picture books
become sophisticated readers who must interpret the author’s messages by studying both the
illustrations and the text. According to Kiefer (1995),
An artist can enhance our affective response to a book through the choice of
elements of art, knowing that there are emotional associations we bring to certain
configurations of line, shape, color, texture, and value. (p. 53)
For example, the anonymous quality of characters’ faces and the use of harsh colors and
angles in Maruki’s Hiroshima No Pika allow students to feel the chaos associated with the
bombing. At times, the illustrations in these books appear at odds with the text. In Let the
Celebrations Begin! by Wild and Vivas, softly colored illustrations contradict the dreariness of
the text’s setting as women in the Belsen concentration camp make the children gifts of rag
dolls to celebrate their anticipated liberation.
Another benefit of picture books is their accessibility for students who have difficulty reading or
who use English as their second language. Most secondary school students, for example, can
easily read Tsuchiya’s Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War. Its
content, focused on the starvation of elephants because of their potential harm to Tokyo’s
population if the city were bombed and the animals escaped, can result in a very adult
discussion within the classroom.
As with all classroom materials, teachers should carefully consider which picture books to use
in class. Selection criteria for picture books include illustrations and stories that appeal to
students, absence of stereotypes, authentic and current information, content that extends the
topic being covered in class, differentiation between facts and opinions, and rich language with
illustrations that reflect the text (Farris & Fuhler, 1994).
To introduce picture books to the students, many teachers read the books aloud to
demonstrate that the teachers consider the books to be appropriate literature for adolescents.
Before reading the story, the teacher should introduce it, note that the text requires both
words and illustrations to create meaning, and provide the context in which the story takes
place (Giorgis, 1999).
A class discussion often follows the oral reading. Teachers of older students need to develop
students’ critical thinking skills by asking questions: Whose story is this? Who benefits from
this story? What voices are not being heard? (Leland, Harste, Ociepka, Lewison, & Vasquez,
1999). In addition, teachers and students may examine authors’ perspectives, moral and
ethical issues raised in the book, and the books’ relevance to current events. Students also
need opportunities to read, interpret, and discuss the illustrations in the books on their own or
within small groups. Bainbridge and Pantaleo (2001) note that
the size of picture books and the fact that they are picture books encourage group
work and collaborative construction of meaning. (p. 407)
Picture Books in a World War II Unit
Once teachers recognize the benefits of picture books for teaching difficult concepts to all levels
of middle and high school students, they can begin to incorporate the books into lessons. For
example, teachers can use picture books effectively in a unit on World War II.
Some students first study World War II in the 5th grade. Others encounter the topic during the
late middle grades or in their high school classes. As a result, students bring varied knowledge
and understanding to the topic. A World War II unit that incorporates picture books provides a
meaningful foundation for students as they explore this period in history and engage in a
variety of activities that incorporate both literacy and social studies.
When teaching about war in particular, picture books provide a face to the people, times, and
situations, and allow students to move beyond the memorization of dates and places
(Saunders, 1999). In addition, readers may more easily identify with the characters in a book
than they would with historic figures presented in a textbook. See the sidebar below for a list of
picture books related to World War II that are suitable for middle and secondary school
students.
To introduce the unit, teachers might consider using one of two books. Popov’s Why? is a
wordless picture book about a frog and mouse who initiate a battle because the mouse seizes a
flower from the frog. Fox’s Feathers and Fools, with its limited text, provides readers with
vibrant and haunting images of a war between peacocks and swans when the two species
become jealous of each other. The books’ analogies to war set the stage as students discuss
the moral dilemmas associated with conflict.
The World War II unit’s strength is its series of open-ended, literacy-based activities. Students
learn not only about World War II, but also about the people involved in the war and their
responses to the situations they encountered. For example, they might examine how
individuals and governments reacted to the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, atrocities
of the concentration camps, and the emotional, physical, or financial tolls associated with the
war. Stevenson’s Don’t You Know There’s a War On? depicts the life of a family waiting for Dad
to come home from the war. In the meantime, they purchase war bonds, use ration stickers,
and watch newsreels—unfamiliar activities today.
The students supplement the picture books with interviews with family members or other
community members to gain personal insights into how armed services members and their
families back home supported the war effort. As a result of their research, students raise
questions that go beyond the information in their textbooks: How did women’s roles change
during this time? Who were the Tuskegee airmen? What was the impact of the atomic bomb?
Other methods students use to conduct their research include examining period radio
broadcasts, newspaper accounts, movies, and photos; listening to guest speakers who lived
through the war; and reviewing Internet and library resources. Students conduct their research
individually or in small groups and then convey their findings to classmates through a variety of
formats. Rather than submit research papers, students might write scripts developed from their
research and read them to their peers; create and present video newsreels, computer
presentations, poetry, artwork, and diaries; debate such issues as the creation of internment
camps; and examine and create examples of government propaganda efforts. The teacher can
develop activities that meet the Standards of the National Council for the Social Studies.
A Springboard to Learning
Throughout the World War II unit, picture books—whether read to or read by the students—
offer a depth of information not always found in textbooks. Additionally, the books’ varied
vocabulary and illustrations allow students to create a foundation so that they can better
comprehend information from other sources. Students who have difficulties reading or whose
first language is not English will especially value these books.
Picture books should be used in combination with open-ended activities that allow students to
create individual or small-group projects that employ their strengths in such areas as writing,
music, art, or technology, and that can encourage reluctant students to engage with the
material. Finally, teachers must view picture books as a viable resource and encourage
students to use their creativity when teaching others what they have learned.
Picture Books for Teaching Middle and Secondary
School Students about World War II
Books about War
Feathers and Fools. Mem Fox. (1989). San Diego: Harcourt, Brace & Co.
Why? Nikolai Popov. (1996). New York: North-South Books.
Books about the Holocaust
A Picture Book of Anne Frank. David A. Adler. (1993). New York: Holiday House.
Best Friends. Elisabeth Reuter. (1993). Germany: Yellow Brick Road Press.
Flowers on the Wall. Miriam Nerlove. (1996). New York: Margaret K. McElderry
Books.
I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust. Livia Bitton-Jackson.
(1997). New York: Scholastic.
Let the Celebrations Begin! Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas. (1991). New York:
Orchard Press.
Miracle in the Glass. Ruthann Crosby. (1998). Anchorage, AK: Frozen Chosen.
The Butterfly. Patricia Polacco. (2000). New York: Philomel Books.
The Lily Cupboard: A Story of the Holocaust. Shulamith Levey Oppenheim. (1992).
Mexico: HarperCollins.
The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark. Carmen Agra Deedy.
(2000). Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.
Books about the Japanese Experience
Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War (Tomoko Dykes,
Translator). Yukio Tsuchiya. (1988). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Hiroshima No Pika. Toshi Maruki. (1980). New York: Lothrop, Lee, & Shepard.
Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story. Ken Mochizuki. (1997). New York: Lee
and Low Books.
Shin’s Tricycle. Tatsuharu Kodama. (1992). New York: Walker and Company.
Books about the American Experience
Autumn Street. Lois Lowry. (1980). New York: Yearling.
Baseball Saved Us. Ken Mochizuki. (1993). New York: Lee & Low Books.
Don’t You Know There’s a War On? James Stevenson. (1992). New York:
Greenwillow Books.
Lily’s Crossing. Patricia Reilly Giff. (1997). New York: Yearling.
So Far from the Sea. Eve Bunting. (1998). New York: Clarion Books.
Nonpicture Books
I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin
Concentration Camp, 1942–1944. Hana Volavkova (Ed.). (1993). New York:
Schocken Books.
Rosie the Riveter. Penny Colman. (1995). New York: Crown Publishers.
Sadako. Eleanor Coerr. (1993). United Kingdom: Puffin.
References
Bainbridge, J., & Pantaleo, S. (2001). Filling the gaps in text: Picture book reading
in the middle years. The New Advocate, 14, 401–411.
Farris, P. J., & Fuhler, C. J. (1994). Developing social studies concepts through
picture books. The Reading Teacher, 47, 380–386.
Giorgis, C. (1999). The power of reading picture books aloud to secondary
students. The Clearing House, 73, 51–53.
Giorgis, C., & Hartman, K. (2000). Using picture books to support middle school
curricula. Middle School Journal, 31, 34–41.
Kiefer, B. (1995). The disturbing image in children’s picture books: Fearful or
fulfilling? In S. Lehr (Ed.), Battling dragons: Issues and controversy in children’s
literature. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Leland, C., Harste, J., Ociepka, A., Lewison, M., & Vasquez, V. (1999). Exploring
critical literacy: You can hear a pin drop. Language Arts, 77, 70–77.
Martinez, M., Roser, N., & Strecker, S. (2000). Using picture books with older
students. In K. Wood & T. Dickinson (Eds.), Promoting literacy in grades 4–9: A
handbooks for teachers and administrators. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Saunders, S. (1999). Look and learn: Using picture books in grades five through
eight. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Linda Webb Billman is an assistant professor of education, Ashland University, 301 Bixler Hall, Ashland
University, Ashland, OH 44805; lbillman@ashland.edu.
Copyright © 2002 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
1703 N. Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311 USA •
Copyright © ASCD, All Rights Reserved •
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Privacy Statement
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EXAMPLE
This example excerpt from a previous semester might help you get started. Note: additional
support would have benefitted the project overall; in the How Used Section, no support is
given.
Subject/Grade/Standard: Math/6th grade/CC.2.1.6.E.1 Apply and extend previous
understandings of multiplication and division to divide fractions by fractions.
Text/Resource: Multiplying Menace: The Revenge of
Rumpelstiltskin Calvert, P., & Geehan, W. (2011). Multiplying menace:
The revenge of Rumpelstiltskin. United States: Charlesbridge.
Description: In this picture book, Rumpelstiltskin is threatening to
harm the kingdom if he is not repaid for the gold he spun 10 years
ago. The baby that he was promised in the fairy tale is now a ten-yearold boy who is the only one who can get Rumpelstiltskin’s multiplying
wand and save the kingdom. Throughout the book, the reader will learn about multiplying and
dividing fractions and whole numbers.
Why I chose this resource: This resource helps my students better understand operations with
fractions because it is a different way of engaging them in the topic. Rather than just teaching
my way through the material on multiplying and dividing fractions, this book would give them a
break from the traditional note taking lessons and allow them to see these operations put to
use. According to Linda Jacobson (2015), “picture books, according to some English language
arts (ELA) experts, provide excellent opportunities to teach higher-level skills while still
providing an engaging experience for older students who might think they don’t like to read.” I
think this text would do a great job of engaging my sixth-grade students in the topic of dividing
fractions even though they may not feel they enjoy reading. It is nice to incorporate other
subjects into math to show the students that all subjects are used across others. The purpose
of this text is also to show students how these operations can be performed outside of the
classroom. Many students ask me all the time how the topics we cover will be used elsewhere
and I think even though this is a fictional story, that it can give the students some insight into
how these topics can be used outside of the math classroom.
Supports Diverse Learners: This text supports diverse learners because all students do not
learn the same way. Some students are visual learners while others are auditory learners. I
think by reading this book to my class, that it can meet the needs of all learners. Students who
are auditory learners can listen as I read to understand how to multiply and divide fractions in a
context other than practice problems on the topic. Others who are visual learners can benefit
from this book because they can see what is taking place through the pictures as well.
According to Fisher and Frey (2016), visualizing is “a comprehension strategy used by the reader
to create mental images of what is being read.” This book allows students to easily visualize
what is taking place in the text, as it already provides the pictures for them. I think
incorporating a reading activity like this can bridge the gap between all types of learners in my
classroom.
How the text would be used: I would use this book in the middle of my lessons on multiplying
and dividing fractions as it is not meant to be an introduction to the lessons. Students need to
have background information as to what it means to multiply and divide fractions, so they can
follow along with the book. The book would reinforce the ideas that we discussed in class and
provide the students with pictures so clarify the ideas. I would then keep this book in my
classroom library for my students to refer to if they are still struggling with the concepts of
multiplying and dividing fractions.
Boffo Classrooms Take Students to Higher Levels of Performance
A Middle School Teacher’s Guide
for Selecting Picture Books
This We Believe Characteristics
• Students and teachers engaged in active learning
• Curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory
• Multiple learning and teaching approaches that respond to their diversity
By Bill Costello & Nancy J. Kolodziej
abstract, or complex in themes, stories, and illustrations and are suitable for children aged 10 and
older” (Lynch-Brown & Tomlinson, 2005, p. 83).
Contemporary picture books explore issues such as
homelessness, war, drugs, death, violence, racism, and
divorce. Marybeth Lorbiecki’s Just One Flick of a Finger
(1996), for example, contends with the topic of guns
in school. Smoky Night by Eve Bunting grapples with
issues surrounding the Los Angeles riots.
Our society is becoming more visually oriented
(Giorgis, 1999; Neal & Moore, 1992), and the visual
PHOTO BY JOHN LOUNSBURY
P
icture books have traditionally been relegated
to the domain of elementary school classrooms;
however, the stigma historically associated
with using picture books in middle school classrooms
is rapidly fading. The use of picture books as
supplementary material for middle level classrooms
is becoming more commonplace. By extending the
textbook with picture books, a teacher can provide
an “opportunity to read across a variety of types of
texts,” thus promoting students’ reading ability
(International Reading Association & National
Middle School Association, 2001, p. 3). A picture
book “has the potential to act as a magnifying glass
that enlarges and enhances the reader’s personal
interactions with a subject” (Vacca & Vacca, 2005,
p. 161). Not only does the use of picture books
provide motivation for adolescents, but it also
enables teachers to differentiate instruction by
allowing students the opportunity to choose their
own texts based on interests and reading levels
(Ivey, 2002). Middle level teachers who have been
reluctant to employ picture books as a source of
supplementary materials for their content courses
should reconsider their viewpoint.
Increasingly, picture books are being created
specifically to address the needs and interests of
middle school students. In addition, many picture
books can be interpreted on several levels (Hellman,
2003); thus, they appeal to students in the middle
grades as well as the primary grades. Much of the
current crop of picture books particularly suit
adolescents because the books are “sophisticated,
Well-selected books are important for teaching critical elements in
core subjects.
Bill Costello is the training director of Making Minds Matter, LLC, Bowie, Maryland. E-mail: trainer@makingmindsmatter.com
Nancy J. Kolodziej is a professor of education at Tennessee Technological University, Cookesville. E-mail: nkolodziej@tntech.edu
Middle School Journal • September 2006
27
format of picture books appeals to adolescents, who
today are exposed to various visual media, including
television, videogames, and computers (Brame,
2000). Consequently, they are used to relying on
visual images to assist them in learning new content
and concepts. Picture books, which employ visual
images to convey ideas, are ideal instructional aids
for today’s youth (Neal & Moore, 1992). Confirming
this idea, Hibbing & Rankin-Erickson (2003) found
that illustrations in picture books helped students
comprehend the text. This outcome is particularly
important when considering the needs of English
language learners (ELLs) (Wood & Tinajero, 2002).
The visuals provided by picture books can reduce
the “language load” (Miller & Endo, 2004) and
facilitate language acquisition.
Moreover, the brevity of text in picture books is
appealing to middle level students. Charles and
Charles (2004) found that in regards to class activities,
“completing long reading assignments” was one of
the primary dislikes of middle school students
(p. 40). The shorter text does not indicate easier
material; the readability of picture books often
exceeds the age level for which they are intended
due to their complexity of vocabulary and density
of information.
The majority of literature (Giorgis, 1999; Oleson,
1998) related to using picture books in middle
school classrooms focuses on how to use them.
Before teachers can implement a book, they must
first decide which book to use, and with the plethora
of picture books that exists in the marketplace,
middle school teachers have a difficult time wading
through the flood of titles in an effort to find books
that support the curricula. To combat this difficulty,
several authors (Hurst, 1997; Lanthier & Rich, 1999;
Wysocki, 2004) have created lists of books that may
be used in specific content areas. However, these lists
tend to focus on elementary students, are not allinclusive, and may result in the omission of excellent
picture books simply because they are not contained
on a prescriptive list. The purpose of this article is to
provide essential criteria that a middle school
teacher may use as a guide to self-select appropriate
picture books for the content areas of language arts,
social studies, science, and mathematics. When
evaluating books, teachers should focus on the
elements that are most relevant to the purpose on
hand and select a variety of picture books for use in
their content area classes. Students may then be
given the opportunity to self-select some of their
reading materials from those that the teacher
28
Middle School Journal • September 2006
provided, thus enhancing their motivation to read
the texts (Ivey, 2002).
General Considerations in Selecting
Picture Books
In selecting an appropriate picture book for use in
any middle school classroom, teachers should
consider several factors; these factors relate to the
teacher, the purpose of using the book, and the book
itself. One of the first and most important issues to
take into account is the teacher’s personal enthusiasm
for the book. Patrick, Hisley, & Kempler (2002)
found that teachers’ exhibited enthusiasm has a
positive effect on student interest and curiosity.
With the wealth of high-quality picture books
available, finding one that evokes excitement
should be a relatively easy task.
In addition to selecting a book about which the
teacher is enthusiastic, another critical consideration
is the book’s ability to achieve the objectives of a
particular lesson. Therefore, the teacher should
identify the objectives of the lesson prior to
exploring possible picture books to use. Identifying
objectives facilitates book selection and helps to
produce a focused and effective lesson.
Many picture books can be used in more than
one content area. When possible, a teacher should
select a book that not only serves an instructional
purpose but also can be integrated throughout the
curriculum. An integrated curriculum promotes the
intellectual development of middle school students
and facilitates understanding of abstract concepts
(Van Hoose, Strahan, & L’Esperance, 2001). One
exemplary picture book that brings educators and
various areas of the curriculum together is Leonardo
Da Vinci (1996) by Diane Stanley. It could be used to
supplement a science lesson on inventions, a social
studies lesson on the Renaissance, and an art history
lesson on Da Vinci’s life. Furthermore, art teachers
might employ this book to introduce lessons on
painting, sculpting, and architecture.
General factors that should be considered include
the book’s intensity of information, ability to meet
high literary standards, and portrayal of diversity.
Intensity of information can be enhanced through
the inclusion of special in-depth sections providing
detailed information related to the subject matter.
Giorgis and Hartman (2000) noted three examples of
picture books that contain in-depth sections. The
final segment of David Macaulay’s Rome Antics
(1997) presents a detailed aerial map of Rome and
descriptions of Roman sites. Ride the Wind: Airborne
Journeys of Animals and Plants by Seymour Simon
(1997) concludes with exhaustive information on
migration. Eratosthenes is placed in historical
context in the afterword of Kathryn Lasky’s The
Librarian Who Measured the Earth (1994).
Any picture book used to teach middle school
students should meet high literary standards
(Giorgis & Hartman, 2000; Neal & Moore, 1992).
The vocabulary must be rich, and the writing should
be of a high caliber. Books of superior quality are
often distinguished by the recognition of a literary
award. Therefore, books that have won awards such
as the Caldecott Award should be given primary
consideration.
When selecting a book for classroom use, teachers
should consider the book’s ability to depict diversity
in a positive light. This trait is even more important
in picture books wherein diversity may be portrayed
both in text and in illustrations.
Critical Elements for Language Arts
Besides the general considerations for choosing
picture books, two important elements that should
be considered when selecting picture books for
language arts classrooms is their ability to convey
literary devices and to model creative writing.
Hillman observes, “As a seventh grade language arts
teacher, I often see students who are reading at a
third grade level. Many students struggle with the
abstract elements of literature. … Picture books
communicate in ways that traditional literature for
seventh graders may not” (1995, p. 387).
Literary devices include alliteration, irony,
metaphors, parables, personification, rhetorical
questions, and similes. A picture book can convey a
literary device in a direct or indirect manner,
depending upon whether it specifically addresses
the device, or if it simply employs the device
within its text. Most picture books indirectly demonstrate literary devices; thus, when teaching with
picture books that indirectly illustrate literary
devices, language arts instructors should point out
the devices to students.
The use of picture books to teach literary devices
and parts of speech can enhance student understanding of these concepts. The brevity and
simplicity of text found in picture books facilitate
the learning of these facets of English writing. These
traits enable learners to focus on writing conventions
without being distracted by unfamiliar vocabulary
words and convoluted sentence structure (Neal &
Moore, 1992). A superb resource for language arts
educators is Hall’s (2001) Using Picture Storybooks to
Teach Literary Devices. It lists 120 picture books that
effectively demonstrate literary devices.
The brevity and simplicity of text found in
picture books facilitate the learning of
literary devices in English writing.
A picture book used to enhance the content focus
in language arts should serve as a good model for
creative writing. Books containing ambiguity lend
themselves well to this endeavor. The open-ended
tales inspire students to embark on creative writing
projects (Whitehurst & Snyder, 2000). Neal and
Moore (1992) pointed out that students can become
better writers by imitating the basic “patterns” found
in picture book stories. Students can use the
structure of the author’s text as a model to create
their own story using a similar pattern. Therefore,
a language arts teacher should seek a picture book
that has a well-patterned story structure with a
modicum of ambiguity. The teacher can then use
this book to stimulate student interest in creative
writing projects. For thorough coverage of this topic,
educators can refer to Teaching Writing with Picture
Books as Models by Kurstedt and Koutras (2000).
Critical Elements for Social Studies
“Quality picture books, both fiction and nonfiction,
can make historical periods and faraway lands come
alive for students. … Students will relate to the lifelike characters … and form a reference point for
understanding the more abstract historical and
geographical concepts” (Miller, 1998, p. 380).
Comprehension is facilitated when students form
connections between the text and themselves. The
inclusion of lifelike characters will aid students’
retention of the concepts being presented. Therefore,
a critical element for a picture book used to supplement the content area of social studies is that it
portrays characters that are realistic.
The emotional appeal of realistic characters
portrayed in picture books provides relevance for
adolescents, which facilitates the learning of
content. A significant challenge for social studies
instructors is to make content relevant so that
students can personally connect with it (Owens &
Nowell, 2001). According to Owens and Nowell, the
Middle School Journal • September 2006
29
result of establishing relevance in social studies is
that students will come to the realization that
society and its members can enact and produce
changes toward democratic ideals. Well-chosen
picture books facilitate this awareness.
A hidden or symbolic meaning should be
present in the text to teach ideas and ethics.
Not only should a picture book feature realistic
characters to which readers can relate, but it should
also have an allegorical story. In other words, a
hidden or symbolic meaning should be present in
the text to teach ideas and ethics. A model picture
book that effectively employs lifelike characters and
an allegorical story is Smoky Night by Eve Bunting
(1994). On the surface, it is the story of a young
urban boy’s experience during the Los Angeles riots.
On a deeper level, a symbolic message underlies the
narrative through a subplot involving two cats. The
cats despise each other because they are different
colors. As the story progresses, the cats share a
frightening experience and get to know one another.
Consequently, they become friends. The subplot
suggests that people from diverse backgrounds
should follow the example set forth by the cats and
learn to value diversity.
Picture books like Smoky Night that offer multicultural perspectives are important in all curricular
areas, but, in particular, they can enhance the
social studies curriculum. Stories and illustrations
depicting various cultures help students appreciate
different ethnic and racial groups, creating a more
constructivist and inclusive classroom atmosphere
(Johnson, 2005; Miller, 1998). Often, these books
convey concepts from a perspective that is different
from the one contained in the textbook, allowing
students to gain a more thorough understanding of
the content. For example, Connor (2003) found that
her students gained an enhanced “intellectual and
emotional understanding” (p. 244) of the slave trade
after viewing the book, The Middle Passage: White
Ships/Black Cargo. This story is told primarily
through Tom Feelings’ vivid and stark illustrations.
When selecting multicultural books, teachers should
ascertain that the book accurately represents the
culture being portrayed (Yokota, 1993). Additional
traits to consider when selecting multicultural
literature are provided by Yokota in her article.
30
Middle School Journal • September 2006
Geography curricula should be based upon the
essential elements and standards developed by the
Geography Education Standards Project (Marra,
1996). Consequently, a critical element for a picture
book used to teach geography in a middle school
classroom is that it must depict the content of the
National Geography Standards. A picture book can
achieve this objective if it represents at least one of
the following six essential elements: (a) the world in
spatial terms, (b) places and regions, (c) physical
systems, (d) human systems, (e) environment and
society, and (f) the uses of geography (Geography
Education Standards Project, 1994).
Numerous picture books that depict the content
of the National Geography Standards are available to
help educators teach regional, national, and international geography. Students can study American
geography with A is for America by Devin Scillian
(2001), and The Silk Route: 7000 Miles of History
(Major & Fieser, 1996) facilitates the learning of
historical international geography.
Critical Elements for Science
“Abstract concepts in science … can be given more
concrete and visual connections to students’ experiences by using the visual examples, models, and
diagrams in a picture book on the topic being
presented” (Miller, 1998, p. 377). Thus, one critical
element for a picture book used to teach science in a
middle level classroom is that it displays visual
images to facilitate the learning of complicated
content and concepts. The visual images in a
science-oriented picture book should help learners
“get the picture.”
One picture book that makes abstruse concepts
more tangible through the use of illustrations is The
New Way Things Work by David Macaulay (1998).
Macaulay, who is a former junior high school
teacher and architect, blends aesthetic drawings with
detailed explanations of how machines work. He
demystifies complex scientific principles like how
televisions function, why helicopters are able to fly
backward, and how electric guitars make sound.
Seemingly unrelated machines are linked according
to the type of action they perform. For example,
windmills and dentist drills are grouped together
because their mechanical actions operate in a similar
manner. These connections offer students a broad
perspective of the workings of machines. In contrast,
the intricate illustrations and nut-and-bolts explanations of each machine listed in the book afford
students a more detailed viewpoint of machinery.
Another critical element for a picture book used
to teach science is that it presents the possibility of
inspiring research projects. Miller (1998) has noted
the importance of assimilating the research process
in middle level classrooms. Picture books that feature
biographies of celebrated scientists could lead to
in-depth research projects. Starry Messenger by Peter
Sís (1996) is a consummate book to spark interest in
a project about the life and work of Galileo.
Picture books about controversial ecology issues
provide grist for the cerebral mills of adolescents.
The divisive subject matter stimulates student interest
and may serve as the impetus to work on related
research projects (Miller, 1998). Lynne Cherry’s
(1992) A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History is
an example of a book featuring a controversial
ecology issue. Its premise is that industrial progress is
detrimental to nature. A book such as Cherry’s can
provoke students’ interest and promote a research
project studying the effects of industry on nature, an
interview with a nature conservationist, or a debate
of the pros and cons of industrial progress.
Critical Elements for Mathematics
A critical element for a picture book used to facilitate
the study of mathematics in a middle level classroom
is that “the author explains some of the concepts he
is illustrating and offers suggestions for helping
students understand those concepts” (Sharp, 1984,
p. 136). In his book, Incredible Comparisons (1996),
Russell Ash uses comparison to help students
conceptualize the size, speed, and other aspects of
elements in our world.
Mathematics-oriented picture books should have
stories to which adolescents can relate. For example,
Jon Scieszka’s (1995) Math Curse is a story about a
girl who experiences math anxiety. She becomes
perturbed when she awakens one day with a
mathematical state of mind that forces her to view
everything as a mathematics problem; her day
consists of solving the problems. Students reading
Math Curse will sympathize with the main character
and feel a connection with the story line. As a result,
they will be more likely to learn the mathematical
concepts presented in the book.
Another picture book that takes a similar
approach is The Number Devil: A Mathematical
Adventure (Enzensberger, 1998). The plot involves a
boy who dreams about learning mathematics from
a devil. The number devil teaches the boy mathematical principles such as exponents, matrices,
prime numbers, square roots, multiplication, and
division. The concept of the devil as an instructor of
mathematics invites adolescent readers into this tale.
Even students who typically dismiss mathematics as
boring will be able to relate to The Number Devil.
Picture book biographies that depict the lives of
famous mathematicians should simultaneously
inspire students and impart mathematical knowledge.
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn
Lasky (1994) achieves this duality. It portrays the
life of Eratosthenes, an ancient Greek who used
geometry to measure the circumference of the earth.
Students will learn a great deal about angles and
circumference when they read Lasky’s explanation of
how Eratosthenes employed geometry to arrive at
his calculation. This book could also serve as an
inspiration to adolescents interested in pursing a
career in mathematics.
Final Thoughts
In their position statement regarding adolescent
literacy, the Commission on Adolescent Literacy of
the International Reading Association (1999) stated
that “adolescents deserve access to a wide variety of
reading material that they can and want to read”
Figure 1
Picture Books Cited
Ash, R. (1996). Incredible comparisons. New York: Dorling Kindersley.
Bunting, E. (1994). Smoky night. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.
Cherry, L. (1992). A river ran wild: An environmental history. San
Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Enzensberger, H.M. (1998). The number devil: A mathematical
adventure. New York: Henry Holt.
Feelings, T. (1995). The middle passage: White ships/black cargo. New
York: Dial.
Lasky, K. (1994). The librarian who measured the earth. Boston: Little,
Brown and Company.
Lorbiecki, M. (1996). Just one flick of a finger. New York: Dial Books.
Macaulay, D. (1997). Rome antics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Macaulay, D. (1998). The new way things work. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin.
Major, J.S., & Fieser, S. (1996). The silk route: 7,000 miles of history.
New York: HarperTrophy.
Scieszka, J. (1995). Math curse. New York: Viking.
Scillian, D. (2001). A is for America. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press.
Simon, S. (1997). Ride the wind: Airborne journeys of animals and
plants. San Diego: Browndeer Press.
Sís, P. (1996). Starry messenger. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
Stanley, D. (1996). Leonardo da Vinci. New York: Morrow Junior Books.
Middle School Journal • September 2006
31
(p. 4), and Roe (2004) concluded that “students
benefit when teachers broaden the curriculum
materials available for their use” (p. 6). Every
teacher, regardless of content area, has the inherent
responsibility to provide this access. By incorporating
picture books in content area classrooms, teachers
can provide a wider variety of reading material to
enhance their curricula. Teachers should use the
elements addressed in this article as guidelines and
should consider those that are most appropriate for
their purpose. In addition, some guidelines may be
applied across content areas.
By incorporating picture books in content
area classrooms, teachers can provide a
wider variety of reading material to
enhance their curricula.
Several recommendations can be made for
educators who decide to employ picture books as a
source of supplementary materials for their content
courses. First, instructors should develop additional
prerequisites of their own that facilitate the achievement of specific educational objectives. These
prerequisites will vary according to the objectives,
purpose, and student attributes and will act as
additional filters that further refine the process of
selecting picture books that can most effectively be
used to teach adolescents.
Second, teachers should frequently read children’s
literature journals to keep abreast of newly published
picture books. The American Library Association
publishes Book Links, which recommends high-quality
books that can be used in the classroom. Each issue
focuses on a specific curriculum area. Another
reputable children’s literature journal is The Lion and
the Unicorn, which is published thrice annually by
Johns Hopkins University Press. Other journals
include the following: ALAN Review, Children’s
Literature in Education, English Journal, The Horn Book
Magazine, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy,
Journal of Children’s Literature, New Advocate, and
School Library Journal.
Third, picture books can be incorporated in
content area classrooms in a variety of ways.
Students can be assigned to read a mutual book; this
reading can be accomplished independently, in
pairs, or in literature circles. Alternatively, students
32
Middle School Journal • September 2006
may self-select a book from options provided by the
teacher. The ability to choose their reading material
will increase their sense of autonomy, which is a
developmental need of middle school students
(National Middle School Association, 1996). Finally,
as stated in their joint position statement, Supporting
Young Adolescent’s Literacy Learning, the International
Reading Association and the National Middle School
Association (2001) advocate that middle school
teachers read to students daily. These read alouds
can enhance students’ reading skills through
teacher modeling of competent reading strategies,
demonstration of think alouds, and motivation to
read similar materials (Ivey, 2002).
Fourth, teachers should assess the usefulness of
books presented in class so that ineffective books
can be substituted with effective ones for subsequent
lessons. With the ultimate goal of enhancing the
learning environment for their current and future
students, this practice will enable educators to grow
in their ability to successfully incorporate picture
books in the classroom.
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Honor an
outstanding team!
Four grand prizes will be awarded in 2007.
Visit www.nmsa.org for application information.
Middle School Journal • September 2006
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