Archive for the curriculum Category

Mare’s War

Posted in curriculum, further reading, ya lit on July 14, 2011 by Anita

Black History Fact of the Day: Beyonce Knowles, an award-winning singer, songwriter and actress, holds the record for the longest run on the Billboard Hot 100’s No. 1 spot in 2003 with the songs “Crazy in Love” (8 weeks) and “Baby Boy” (9 weeks).

A blend of historical fiction and road trip novel, Mare’s War is a great summer read. I have to admit I especially love the new cover (bottom).


“Meet Mare, a World War II veteran and a grandmother like no other. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less than perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American Battalion of the Women’s Army Corps. Now she is driving her granddaughters—two willful teenagers in their own rite—on a cross-country road trip. The girls are initially skeptical of Mare’s flippy wigs and stilletos, but they soon find themselves entranced by the story she has to tell, and readers will be too.

Told in alternating chapters, half of which follow Mare through her experiences as a WAC and half of which follow Mare and her granddaughters on the road in the present day, this novel introduces readers to a larger-than-life character and a fascinating chapter in African American history.”

— goodreads

We think women in the military is a new thing, but in fact they played a huge role during World War II.

African Americans were there, too.

Black and White Airmen: Their True History

But perhaps one of the groups whose roles are least explored is that of African American Women.  The Women’s Memorial site actually offers a Brief History of Black Women in the Military, including some info on their roles in WW2.  Other sites contain resource lists and some great photos, but information seems to be a little scarce.

 It’s great to see some YA lit exploring the role African American women have played in history.  Mare’s War is only one example.  Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith explores the role of an African American female pilot during WW2 who has to “pass” as white if she wants the chance to fly.


Lookingfor more?

Goodreads has some great lists:

YA Holocaust and WW2 Novels


Civil Rights Books for Children


And don’t miss more from these authors and about African Americans in American History

Tanita Davis’s Blog

Sherri Smith’s Blog

Bio’s Black History Month Resources includes videos, timelines, biographies, and a Black History Fact of the Day.


Beatle Meets Destiny

Posted in create your own, curriculum, pathfinders, ya lit on April 22, 2011 by Anita

Imagine your name is John Lennon, only everyone calls you Beatle.
And then you meet your dream girl and her name is Destiny McCartney.
But what if you’re already with the perfect girl?
A novel about change, chance and everybody doing the wrong thing.

-summary from goodreads

When we think of pathfinders, we usually associate them with class projects.  But, if you’re anything like me, you know some of the most exciting research takes place outside the classroom, when you find a topic that really, really interests you: a new hobby, a bit of history… a favorite band.

So why not create pathfinders for popular topics that kids might want to pursue on their own?  Or, better yet, have the student “expert” create the pathfinder for you?  A lot of kids will jump at the chance to create a resource list on their favorite topics.

Think outside the box when creating a pathfinder.  Traditionally, pathfinders were handouts given to students when they came to the library.  Then we started posted them on websites.  But how to organize them?

One great alternative is using a social bookmarking site like delicioius.   It’s an easy way to keep track of recommended links for student use, but you can also use tags to create pathfinders within delicious.

The Beatles

For popular topics like The Beatles, use delicious to bookmark informational sites, links to information about movies on the Beatles, links to video clips, audio clips… and don’t forget to link to books in your online catalog.

With some topics, you can even include fiction books on the topic!

Don’t miss out on other great pathfinder tools, like

Jog the Web


And don’t miss Joyce Valenza’s Neverending Search for the perfect pathfinder platform!

Reading History

Posted in curriculum, ya lit on April 15, 2011 by Anita

I’m doing a presentation at the Illinois Council for Social Studies conference today with a history teacher from my former high school.  We’re presenting on using social networking and books to get student excited about history.  We’ll share the project we created last year using Shelfari and a wide assortment of historical fiction and nonfiction books.  Our goal was to get the kids to see history and reading in a new light and to get them talking about books – and it worked!  So many new things grew out of this project; many used it as a lead-in to their final research project.

Reading History

We’ve created a small wiki to share our lesson plans and materials with conference participants. Please feel free to use any of the documents we have posted and adapt them to your own needs if you’d like to try the project in your school.