Sunday, December 15, 2013


The class has spent the month of December learning about penguins.  Also, about non-fiction text features and writing informational text.  The students are in the process of writing their own books on penguins.  We started our first lesson on penguins with a book pass.  Students had an opportunity to have a quick look at a variety of books on penguins.  To begin the activity, students are seated in a circle and each start with one book.  When the teacher says pass, about 30 seconds later, everyone passes their book clockwise and has another 30 seconds to flip through another book.  After looking at many books we stop and sort the books in groups:  fiction and non-fiction.  One of the books seemed to fit both categories so the class decided to overlap the two hoola-hoops to create a Venn diagram.  The overlapping section represented 'both'.  We also spent time discussing and recording non-fiction text features such as diagrams, photographs, captions, sidebars, maps, table of contents and bold faced words.  They were very observant!

Next, in small groups, they recorded what they already knew about penguins and what they wondered. They came up with some excellent questions.  We'll refer back to their questions at the end of the unit to see what they learned.

They have drawn diagrams and written about their appearance, habitat and diet.  We're practicing writing the facts while making it interesting for our audience (you, the reader).

We have been keeping our work in folders, which will become our book covers.  We used New York illustrator, Nancy Wolff's images of penguins for inspiration on our title pages.  Her work has appeared on virtually every imaginable surface like gift wrap, rugs, stationary, fabric and books.   We will be wrapping up our penguin unit this week and the finished books will make their way home.