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Academic Honesty Statement
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Academic Honesty Statement I have read and understand the UTA Academic Honesty clause as follows. “Academic dishonesty is a completely unacceptable mode of conduct and will not be tolerated in any form at The University of Texas at Arlington. All persons involved in academic dishonesty will be disciplined in accordance with University regulations and procedures. Discipline may include suspension or expulsion from the University. “Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the submission for credit of any work or materials that are attributable in whole or in part to another person, taking an examination for another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or the attempt to commit such acts.” (Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Part One, Chapter VI, Section 3, Subsection 3.2., Subdivision 3.22).” Further, I declare that the work being submitted for this assignment is my original work (e.g., not copied from another student or copied from another source) and has not been submitted for another class. L. Keri BrookeOctober 21, 2008
Nothing Here But Stones by Nancy Oswald 2005 Winner of Willa literary award IRA Notable Book for a Global Society 2005 Finalist for Spur Award 2005
Background Information I am currently attending UTA for my initial certification in ELA/R 4-8 and hope to teach middle school (6-8) ELA/R. I graduated from UNT in 1989 with a BA in English Language and Composition. My husband and I began our family and then moved to Mexico City for 8 years. I have stayed home with our boys for 16 years. Now that they are in high school, I am following my dream of becoming a teacher. I plan to add Spanish 6-12 after obtaining my initial certification and perhaps teach 8th grade Spanish I. I have taken and passed the TExES Spanish 6-12. I have not yet taught in a classroom and therefore have not personally used tradebooks or supplemental resources, but during my teacher interviews they both showed me tradebooks that they use often and gave me ideas for incorporating them into the curriculum.
Reflection Statement I created this critical review PowerPoint Presentation of a YA fiction novel in the Fall of 2008 for List 5326 prior to my student teaching and it shows that I have an understanding of TExES 001 (Oral Language) by including a strategy for oral language in the application part of my PowerPoint, 003 (Word Identification and Reading Fluency) by understanding the difficulty of many of the words in this novel and preparing strategies to help students understand those words, 004 (Reading Comprehension) and 005 (Reading Applications) by having two sixth grade students read the novel and incorporate what they told me into my strategy of how I would present the novel to a 6th grade ELA/R class, and 009 (Study and Inquiry) by planning for students to use skills of inquiry in a pre reading exercise; NMSA Standards 4 (Middle Level Teaching Fields) by creating meaningful learning experiences about diverse cultures for a 6th grade ELA/R class, Standard 5 (Middle Level Instruction) by understanding the need for students to have effective instruction based on research and strategies; NCTE 2.2 by helping students become familiar with the Jewish culture, 2.5 by making meaningful connections between the novel and the culture and society of Jewish immigrants, 2.6 by engaging students in higher level thinking skills with the use of activities which incorporates diversity and an unfamiliar culture, 3.1.1 by designing appropriate activities to encourage language development, 3.1.2 by demonstrating how reading, writing, speaking and listening are interrelated, 3.1.3 by demonstrating an awareness of culture on language, 3.1.5 by demonstrating my knowledge of the historical influence of language, 3.2.2 by using writing, speaking and observation as major forms of inquiry, 3.3.1 by responding to the novel being read and instructing students on how to read and interpret it, 3.3.3 by using a wide variety of strategies to appreciate and understand the novel, 4.3 by incorporating integrated teaching strategies into the classroom and promoting whole class, small group and individual work, 4.5 by engaging students in meaningful discussions using oral and written forms of language, 4.8 by engaging students in making meaning of the novel through personal experience.
Bibliography Oswald, Nancy (2004). Nothing here but stones. New York: Henry Holt and Co. The following websites contain reviews and information: http://www.clt.astate.edu/sparks/Volume%203/Issue%201/Nothing%20Here%20but%20Stones.htm • Arkansas State University’s Children’s Book Review Journal (Vol. 4, Issue 1) an early childhood educator reviews the book and highly recommends it. http://www.smarter.com/ages-9-12-kids-books/nothing-here-but-stones-a-jewish-pioneer-story/reviews/pr--ch-1--pi-1213204.html • a blog with 3 reviews listed, the book was twice rated 5/5 and once 4/5 stars http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-13760005_ITMemail@example.com&library=Hurst%20Public%20Library • a review of the book from Stone Soup magazine at the Access My Library web site. They also recommended it. http://www.yabookscentral.com/cfusion/index.cfm?fuseAction=books.review&review_id=6071 • reviewed at a site for young adult books by a librarian – again the review was in favor of the book http://www.nancyoswald.com/ • this is the author’s website which gives a little information about the author and the background of the book.
Nothing Here But Stones Product Details Provided by amazon.com Reading level:Ages 9-12 Hardcover: 224 pages Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1 edition (August 12, 2004) Language: English ISBN-10: 0805074651 ISBN-13: 978-0805074659 Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces Average Customer Review: 4 ½ stars 3 Reviews Amazon.com Sales Rank: #771,338 in Books
Library Of Congress Online Catalog LC Control No.: 2003056969 LCCN Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/2003056969 Type of Material: Book Personal Name: Oswald, Nancy Main Title: Nothing here but stones / Nancy Oswald. Edition Information: 1st ed. Published/Created: New York : Henry Holt, 2004. Description: 215 p. ; 22 cm. ISBN: 0805074651 (hc : alk. paper)
Summary Nothing Here But Stones tells the story of Emma Lisovsky, a young Jewish Russian immigrant moving with her father, two sisters and little brother to Cotopaxi,Colorado in 1882. The children’s mother had died shortly after giving birth to the youngest child in their small home town in Russia.The father decided to flee with a small group of Jews hoping for a better life in America free from persecution. The story opens with the trip across their new country on a train. Emma relates how they had arrived in New York City with most of their money spent on their Atlantic crossing. Their remaining money was sent to a caretaker in Cotopaxi for building cabins and buying farming supplies. She misses her home and her mom and feels like her big sister Adar babies her.
Upon arriving in Cotopaxi, they find that their money has been “spent” and that their cabins aren’t ready for them. After having to live in a hotel for a few weeks, they are forced to move into their unfinished cabins in the mountains. Without windows or doors, the cabins leave the family open to wandering animals – including a bear. Emma misses her mother and their house in Russia. Emma befriends a horse which will play a big role in her life in America. Although she falls in love with the horse at first sight, she is reticent about riding it because girls simply did not do such things in Russia. The first time she sees him he is tied up at the hotel. Her little sister Ruth accepts a “ride” and gets up on top of the horse into the saddle. Chaos ensues as the Jewish women of the settlement are horrified that the girls would contemplate such a thing. Cotopaxi Hotel
The family undergoes many trials and tribulations in their new home with a harsh winter and little food. Emma eventually becomes the owner of the horse she had befriended. Having been severely injured in an accident, he was going to be put to death. Emma stands up for him and convinces her father that she will nurse him back to health. When his saddle is removed, Emma sees an “angel” – a white area shaped like wings on his back. She decides he is her guardian angel and names him ‘Mazel’ – Yiddish for ‘luck’. But one night, during a blizzard, a Native American and her infant and son show up at their door. Emma, against her big sister’s wishes, invites them in to share their meager meal of watery soup. The next morning, the small family is gone and so is Mazel.
Mazel being stolen comes on the heels of Emma’s little brother’s accidental death. She is heartsick and homesick and gives up hope. Struggling with her new life in a new country, she misses her mother, her little brother and Mazel, her horse. When her father is late getting back to the cabin one day, Emma sets out to look for him. Lost and with the beginnings of a late Spring snow storm, she stumbles upon an unbelievable sight – her horse Mazel. The Native American boy who had come to their cabin so many months ago recognizes her as the one who gladly opened her home and shared her meager supply of food and quietly gives her back the horse. Astonished at her luck, she finds her father who has injured his foot and lets him ride Mazel back to their settlement. The story ends with the entire settlement celebrating Passover with plenty of food, friendship and happiness. Emma finally feels at home in America.
Personal Response While I enjoyed the story, I found that it I had a hard time getting into it initially. Written in first person and in the present tense, it is a little difficult to connect with the characters at first. The author did a fantastic job, however, of presenting life in the late 19th century – especially for women! The women and girls did all of the housework, cooking, laundry and baby care. They were not allowed to ride horses and, being Jews from Russia, were not allowed to pick their own mates. Their new lives in America showed how enlightened the thinking in this country can be. One of the girls from Russia was the example the author used. Mindel changes her name to Minnie, marries the man she fell in love with (a Jewish boy from their Russian village) instead of the man the Matchmaker chose for her, and encourages Emma to think for herself. Nevertheless, I honestly wish the author had explained the Yiddish words and Jewish traditions more thoroughly. Some of the words can be guessed because of their context, but there were 15 words I had to look up in the dictionary to understand (such as chuppah, sefer, gevalt, tateleh, tzimmes, gefilte, and pesach to name just a few). The U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2004, Jewish households made up only 2.2% of the U.S. population (Table 76). Therefore, the author could have really made a bigger impact with her story by taking this opportunity to enrich her readers with the vibrant history, tradition and vocabulary of Judaism.
Justification For Use While I stumbled over many of the words used in the novel, this book would nevertheless be an excellent book to use in the Intermediate or Middle School grades. For the purpose of this project, because I am not yet in the classroom, I will explain it’s justification for use in grade 6. Teaching this book partnered with a Social Studies unit studying Russia, pioneers, and Judaism would enrich the students’ understanding of life in the late 19th Century in Russia and the United States. Students could explore the differences of a country run by a Tsar vs. a President as well as understand the freedom of religion inherent in our Constitution. Especially interesting would be having the students apply their knowledge of what happened to so many of the Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia during World War II. By reading this novel students would also gain knowledge of pioneer life in the far West at a time when supplies were not readily available and people had to depend upon themselves for the necessities of life. Students would learn how settlers interacted with Native Americans and their reliance upon one another during tough times. Therefore, this book also provides an excellent opportunity to compare the plight of Native Americans with Jewish persecution. The novel alone presents so many interesting ideas for classroom use by simply explaining so many things the author didn’t. The vocabulary is rich and presents an excellent opportunity for discussion on a diverse culture.
Justification For Use http://www.acaje.org/assets/pdf/educationalResources/AmJHistJS.pdf This URL discusses the importance of the immigration of Eastern European Jews to America and the tribulations they faced when they got here. It gives some great ideas for students to study specific Jewish immigration at the turn of the 19th century. http://www.pbs.org/kcts/preciouschildren/diversity/read_activities.html This URL from PBS gives great reasons why diversity must be discussed in our classrooms and offers suggestions on how to do so. http://teaching.berkeley.edu/bgd/diversity.html This is an URL from Berkeley University in California that has compiled a wonderful list of the not only the importance of diversity in the classroom , but strategies teachers can use with theirstudents to increase diversification within their own classrooms.
Justification For Use Students would employ TEKS for Grade 6: (1) Reading/Fluency. The novel is for ages 9-12 so the students would fall into this age group. (2) Reading/Vocabulary Development. Students would find many new words to add to their existing vocabulary: (A) they would be defining words based in Hebrew from the Yiddish. (B) the would be able to decipher many meanings by the context in which they are used (E) students would use a dictionary to define many of the words in the novel. (3) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Theme and Genre. Students will be able to analyze the cultural and historical contexts of the novel. (A) they will be able to understand the theme of the novel, characterization of Emma and setting of the historical fiction (B) students will be able to understand and determine stylistic elements the author uses in the novel such as metaphors, similes and the Jewish folk hero Ben Shem Tov. (6) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Fiction. Students will understand and draw conclusions about historical fiction: (A) they will summarize the elements of plot development in the novel with the climax of action and the conclusion (B) they will recognize how the dialect used helps the reader to understand Jewish life. (C) they will recognize the use of first person as the main narrative (28) Listening and Speaking/Teamwork. Students will work productively with others in teams in their small group discussions.
NMSA Standards: Standard 4: I used this project to create meaningful learning experiences based on young adolescents’ competence Standard 5: I used this project to employ effective instruction based on research and theories. NCTE standards: 2.2 I would use this project to help students become familiar with the Jewish culture and traditions. 2.5 I would make meaningful connections between the novel and the culture and society of immigrants to the United States 2.6 I would engage students in activities that helped them achieve higher level thinking 3.1.1 I would use my knowledge of student language acquisition to design appropriate activities that promote learning 3.1.2 I would demonstrate how reading, writing, speaking and listening are interrelated. 3.1.3 I would demonstrate an awareness of culture on language and the impact of teaching it. 3.1.5 I would demonstrate my knowledge of the historical influence of language 3.2.2 I would use writing, speaking and observing as major forms of inquiry. 3.3.1 I would respond to the novel being read and instruct my students how to respond and interpret it. 3.3.3 I would use a wide variety of strategies to appreciate and understand the novel. 4.3 I would incorporate integrated teaching strategies into the classroom and promote whole class, small group and individual work. 4.5 I would engage students in meaningful discussions using oral and written forms. 4.8 I would engage students in making meaning of texts through personal responses.
Student Interviews I chose my next door neighbor A. N. to read this book and give me his opinion. He is a 6th grader working on his Reading Merit Badge for Boy Scouts. He asked if he could read it aloud to a friend of his, N.S. (a 6th grade female), in order to fulfill the requirements for the merit badge. I thought that was an awesome idea and I looked forward to getting an opinion from both genders. Unfortunately neither of them like the book! I felt comfortable that they would not color each others’ opinions because they are both very outspoken and self assured. They spent one week reading the book and then reported to me separately that the book was “boring”. When I asked why, they said they felt it was too advanced for them (even though they are both 11 – almost 12 – and are in GT classes at school). They also said that the foreign words were hard to understand (I had written the Yiddish expressions and words in the back when I read the book, but they still had a hard time flipping back and forth and trying to make sense of it all). N.S. said the plot wasn’t very exciting and both said it was just plain too difficult to read. When I asked, they said that if the book were presented as a class project where they worked in conjunction with a social studies class studying Russia, pioneers and Judaism in the late 19th Century, they might enjoy the book more, but they would definitely not read it on their own. They both agreed that if the book were presented with the right tradebooks which explained the Jewish culture and traditions in better detail, they would have found it easier to understand.
Carroll ISD Teacher Interview 1 I interviewed Mrs. Christensen, a 5th Grade ELA/R teacher at Durham Intermediate School. She has approximately 2000 books in her class library which she shelves alphabetically according to title. She says she organizes them that way because her students are 10 years old and they typically look for a certain title (like Harry Potter) and this gives them easy access. She keeps all of the award books in one area (Bluebonnet, Lone Star, Caldecott and Newberry). She is able to fit all of the books into the room because she covered up one white board with book shelves, using only the front whiteboard for instruction. She teaches 90 minute classes which enables her to allow her students Sustained Silent Reading for 20 minutes every day! She also has “Read-ins” once or twice a 6 weeks when she allows students to bring pillows, blankets and snacks to class and read all period.
Carroll ISD Teacher Interview 1 continued For book reports, Mrs. Christensen allows her students to pick their books by genre. She feels that this engages the students by allowing them their own choice. But the book must be at least 90 pages long. She uses Discovery Streaming for book talks. This is where an author talks about their book’s setting, historical period, etc. She has the students do book talks in small pods of 4-5 students. The most popular books are fantasy and adventure. To get students interested in a required reading book such as Esperanza Rising, she discusses the history and customs of Mexico and brings in foods from the book such as pan dulce (sweet bread). She said that this definitely includes the use tradebooks. She showed me how she keeps many tradebooks on or near her desk for quick reference during a discussion or reading.
Carroll ISD Teacher Interview 2 I interviewed Ms. Adams, an 8th Grade ELA/R teacher at Carroll Middle School. She has approximately 250 books in her class library consisting of YA, fiction and nonfiction; student interests with K-12 reading ability. She told me she keeps lots of nonfiction for boys to read – they tend to need more encouragement and having military books, How Things Work, or Ripley’s Believe It Or Not keeps them interested. She doesn’t keep them in any special organizational manner. She has a check out list posted next to the shelves and has some students during Dragon Den keep things organized for her when there’s time (which isn’t often). She has a “you lose it, you replace it” policy and will e-mail parents when a text is lost. She figures about 200 books have “walked away” over her years of teaching. She uses Sustained Silent Reading on Fridays as part of a Reading Workshop program where the students read for approximately 35 minutes. She said she will “fight to the death” to keep that time available for SSR and wishes the kids had a specialized Reading class in addition to the usual Language Arts of writing, speaking and listening. She and the other Grade 8 ELA/R teacher use a Read To Win program in Dragon Dens on Monday/Wednesday (approximately 40 minutes) where they give out small prizes for reading a certain amount each week for being “caught” reading.
Carroll ISD Teacher Interview 2 continued For free reading, Ms. Adams allows her students to choose their books For book talks she pulls books from the library and will use parents or guest speakers as she is able to get the kids interested in a certain book. She has used the local State Representative Vicki Truitt to come in and tell what she was reading and why. Ms. Adams will also read the prologue to her students which can hook them into the story. She plays on the emotions of the characters in the book as 8th graders are chock full of emotions! She has also used a game show format, dressed as a character from the book and used video clips. She uses tradebooks as a way to help the students further understand the subject or topic they are studying. She plans ahead of time which ones she will use and tends to keep the same ones handy year after year because the students in former years have responded well to them. But she is always on the look out for new and different ones to try out and asks other ELA/R teachers what they use when studying certain books.
Carroll ISD Librarian Interview I interviewed Karen Peck, the new librarian for Carroll Middle School. She orders YA books based on awards from several located within the ALA (American Library Assoc.) including YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Assoc.) for nonfiction, Best Books for YA, Alex Awards (adult literature teens might find appealing), Michael Printz Award for Excellence in YA Literature, Great Graphic Novels for Teens and Odyssey Award for Audiobooks. She also orders all of the current books on the Lone Star Reading List by the Texas Library Assoc. She features new books by displaying them prominently – especially the Lone Star books and Series books (such as the Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz). She has noticed a huge increase in circulation this year and doesn’t know if it’s due to a class that simply reads more, or if she is more flexible than last year’s librarian who required a pass from a teacher to check out a book. She allows students to come in between classes or during class and quickly check one out. She ran out of due date cards and says her shelves are half empty! Students mostly check out fiction – lots of series books – but hardly any nonfiction.
Activities to use in the classroom: Hebrew Vocabulary BINGO game: This website (http://www.chinuch.org/middle_school.php) has a fantastic array of game ideas for the Jewish culture. In the BINGO game, each students is given a card covered with pictures of objects such as a prayer shawl, a dreidel and a torah.Students must listen to the vocabulary called out in Hebrew (such as ‘talit’ for prayer shawl) and be able to hear the word, define the word and pick it out on the card. This game would be a really fun listening skill for students while strengthening their understand of the vocabulary used in the novel. (Tchudi 306) Poetry (speaking): Find a poem online or in the library about something from the novel. Immigration, Russia or America at the turn of the 19th century, pioneers, or Native Americans, for example. During our Poetry Corner day, explain why you chose the poem and then read it to the class. (Tchudi 335) • Chat Room Project – imagine that Emma has magically obtained a computer in her cabin in Cotopaxi. She gets on the web and finds a chat room to discuss what is happening in her new life in Colorado. Describe the type of chat room she might be interested in. What would she talk about? Write a conversation between Emma and a fictitious friend in this chat room. Describe in detail the conversations taking place. • this would be a post writing activity where the students would summarize plot development, discuss in-depth characterization and describe different points of view. (Tchudi 166) Pre Reading Activity: In your small groups, read aloud to each other the Author’s Note in the back of the book. Discuss with your group why this book is called historical fiction. What predictions can your group make about the novel you are about to read? What do you think the story is going to be about? What does the picture on the cover of the book depict? How does that sway your prediction of what the book will be about? (Hadaway/Lesson 2/Page 6)
Resources for the study of Nothing Here But Stones Immigrant Kids is a wonderful nonfiction tradebook by Russell Freedman that tells of immigrant children coming to America in the late 19th/early 20th Century. There are lots of pictures for students to visualize what life was like at that time as well as many stories that explained the conditions of New York at the time so that students can better understand what Emma experienced as she debarked on her way to Cotopaxi. The poem “Steerage” by David Citino would work right alongside Immigrant Kids in explaining the conditions on board a ship heading to New York from Europe. Very descriptive and gives rich detail of life in the steerage part of an ocean liner full of immigrants. The poem “The Engine” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox is an excellent poem describing a stem engine similar to the one Emma talks about in the novel. The author of the poem lived from 1850-1919 so that puts her work right in the middle of the time the novel takes place. Plus the fact that the author of the poem is a woman would also be a wonderful aspect of presentation to the classroom. 101 Things Everyone Should Know About Judaism by Richard Bank is a fabulous resource to use in the classroom to open discussions with students about Judaism, its traditions and vocabulary. Very nicely written for quick reads and easy to have available for questions. I Am Marc Chagall by Bimba Landmann is a wonderful fiction tradebook to use in the classroom when studying Nothing Here But Stones as it presents the life and art of Chagall, a Jewish artist born in a small town in Russia about the time Emma travels to the US and whose paintings can enhance the study of Judaism as well as immigration and tells of a childhood similar to that which Emma would have experienced.
Works Cited: • Greenberg, J. (Ed.). (2001). Heart to Heart. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Hollander, J. (2004). American Poetry. New York: Sterling. United States Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/08s0076.pdf - 2008-01-10