Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SOLC17 Begins! 1/31 Plus Non-Fiction PB Wednesday

   
             Thanks for the March Slice of Life challenge with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day One of Thirty-One of the March #SOLC17.  Thank you, Stacey, Beth, Deb, Betsy, Lanny, Kathleen, Lisa, and Melanie for all the work done in preparation for this amazing month. This is my seventh year writing for the challenge, and its beginning has certainly spread my wings to other kinds of writing, to other groups, too. It's always a joy to share with others and to see so many who started this journey with me still here, writing!
              And, Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy. Each Wednesday a group of us share non-fiction picture books we believe everyone should know about. The books inspire and teach, and help students if you're a teacher of writing see how others share non-fiction research. 


               Until the year before last, I taught gifted middle school students in an independent school, a mixed group of 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Without telling so much about our learning approach, a huge part of what we valued was to get the kids out of the building, day trip, morning or afternoon trips, and overnights. From the youngest to those I taught, everyone traveled near and far. For my age students, I traveled all over the U.S. and outside the borders for a few trips. But one memorable one I will remember a long time because I'd never been there before was my visit to the Grand Canyon. We camped and drove all the way from Denver to the canyon. We spent a week there exploring the geology and the cultures that had lived there. In every trip out into nature that I took, the animals are my most inspiring finds. This time, it was breath-taking to see the amazing California Condor every day, swooping up along the canyon's walls, gliding higher and higher until one couldn't tell how very large it was.      
              And one more special memory was seeing the evidence of story written along the paths we walked. We spent each day journaling and sketching, telling our own stories of the day. Here's one picture:

And the reason for this beginning about my own past is to introduce you to a new book out by Jason Chin, Grand Canyon.  If I'd had this book along with us on our own trip, I would have been very grateful. There is a thread running through the book that shows a man and his daughter walking through the canyon, deep into it, then from the top.  Jason Chin fills the largest part of the pages showing a canyon level and explaining its story geologically, what you will see about how it was formed, evidence of that, and the flora and fauna within it. Edges of the pages are filled with tiny sketches of flora and fauna found today. It is astounding in the information given, along with the useful power of illustration. The ending open pages forming a four-page panorama is the next best thing to being there! The inside front has a map; the end papers show a cross-section of the canyon, labeled with additional information.  There is also information in the back matter about rocks, human history, ecology, and a glossary with sources. 
       One additional part that is hard to describe, but is a clever idea. On one page, the story shows the young girl and sometimes her father walking in a certain area, and it tells about that area, what animals are there, what plants, and what fossils/kinds of rocks can be found. On some of the pages, there is a small "cut-out" piece, showing a "find", but when turning the page we go back millions of years to view what that area was then, perhaps an ocean, perhaps dry, windswept dunes. You need to find and read this book. It's terrific.

46 comments:

  1. This sounds like a fascinating book, Linda. I wish I had it when traveling the Canyon last year. I often remember standing near the ledge fascinated by the amazing rock formation before me. At Eagle's Landing I was immersed in the grandeur of the spread eagle carving. Thanks for bringing this all back to me today.

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    1. I wish you'd had it too, Carol. It is marvelous, & you would have learned more as you traveled the canyon!

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  2. I have this from the library. I will get to it soon! I paged through it quickly and it's so detailed!

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    1. Enjoy, Michele. Even though I've been there & studied the canyon before, it's presenting information in a wonderful way up from the floor.

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  3. Your writing always speaks to me. Thank you for this glimpse into your past teaching, and for this wonderful book suggestion. I'll be ordering it today!

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    1. Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoy this wonderful book!

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  4. I understand that reading about a place and seeing even a movie never gets close to visiting the place in reality. The students and teachers visiting the Great Canyon got an amazing experience. Then again without an opportunity to visit a place a good book can provide a positive emotion too. Your recommendations are trustworthy.

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    1. I agree, the "experience" of being there is like no other, but thank goodness for good books that "show" well, & videos we can now access. I loved traveling with the students, some who had never been so far without family. It was a growing up time for them, and a good one. Thanks, Terje.

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  5. This is a book I want to find! I love the way you describe the structure of it. I need a trip to the Grand Canyon. It's been over 40 years since I was there and then I only got to spend 30 minutes there. Maybe that will be a slice one day.

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    1. After reading this, I'd love to return, too, Elsie, but our trip was magical. My lure remains the beach! Perhaps you can travel through on the way to California!

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  6. This looks like such an amazing book as all of Chin's titles are. I enjoyed reading your words about your own experience.

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    1. Thanks, Carrie, it's quite a lovely experience to "be" there, but also to read this book.

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  7. Thanks for sharing "Grand Canyon." Last month I flew over it... 34,000+ over it on a clear day. And what a magnificent view it was!!

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    1. Oh wow, I've never flown over it. That must have been amazing as you say. Thanks for sharing, Alice!

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  8. Your slice makes me want to go to the Grand Canyon. I think that trip belongs on my bucket list. And this book would be a wonderful pre-trip read. I think of how often our visits to special places are just for a day or even a part of a day. And you and your students spent a week there! I'm sure all made memories never to be forgotten.

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    1. Yes, it was an amazing trip, Ramona. We stayed on Lake Powell too, another part that was terrific. And I agree, you have to stay a while to really soak things in. Maybe you can get to the Canyon with some grandchildren some day?

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  9. The Grand Canyon is on my list of places to visit in this country. I need to check out this book. I like learning about how things were formed. On another note, Kathy and I checked out the book you recommended about the quilting stories. Fantastic. Thanks, Linda,

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    1. I am happy you liked Sewing Stories, Bob. It is inspiring to read about those who persist in their passions no matter how hard the circumstances. Enjoy this Grand Canyon book, too. I know you have the "traveling" bug, have a great trip planned soon, but there's always room for one more!

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  10. I have always been envious of your Canyon trip and hope to take a class there one day. It sounds like an amazing book as well and I will have to check it out. Thanks for sharing and for sharing SOLs with me too. Happy March!

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    1. Thanks, Max, I've been out since this am. Will look for you! Welcome back!

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  11. I just love reading your stories about teaching, Linda!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I'm glad you enjoy them!

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  12. Awesome trip! I spent a summer teaching week-long archaeology camps near Mesa Verde, and it was SO much fun. Amazing to be able to do your learning in actual places.

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    1. So funny. I was just reading and commenting at your post, Katie! Your archaeology trip sounds awesome. I've done just a half day once of a dig. It was special to find anything!

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  13. A wonderful review and slice of life. Thank you!

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  14. The Grand Canyon is on our list of places to visit. Guess I'll have to put this book on our list!

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    1. Yes, I think it will please you when you go! Or it will entice you to put it at the top of your list!

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  15. This looks like a wonderful book, Linda - and I loved your lead in!

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    1. Thanks, Tara. It's a long way from you, maybe someday? If you find the book, perhaps it will be a good entry for n-f place writing?

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  16. This looks like a beautiful book! So excited to be slicing again - and I am looking forward to your posts!

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    1. Thanks Maureen. Wondering what this March will bring!

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  17. What amazing experiences your school offered the students. It reminds me a bit of Ralph Fletcher's brother, Jimmy, in Marshfield Dreams, and how he was such an outdoor guy. These trips like the Grand Canyon really fill a niche for students like Jimmy.

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    1. We did many trips outdoors, but also city trips, Karen. My biggest walking trip, I think, was to NYC. Although we used the subway, there was lots of walking! You're right, though, for some students, being outdoors was a joy. There is so much to learn about over days of experiences. Our lives just don't usually include those long stretches anymore. Thanks!

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  18. What a great book-memory pairing! I hope you share this story with your students to highlight what text-to-self connections look like, and how they grow with life experience.

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    1. I wish I could share Chris, but I'm retired and no longer have a class. I certainly would love to if I could. Thanks!

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  19. Jason Chin's books are beautiful! I didn't know this one--thank you for introducing it to me!

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    1. It's just our, Kellee, and like his others, it is marvelous! Thanks!

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  20. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but it's on my bucket list! Thanks for sharing this book. I'm planning to add it to my wish list for next year. New author for me.

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    1. Jason Chin has created some lovely n-f books, Elisa. And this is a good one. Looks like many of us would like to be traveling to the Grand Canyon? Thanks!

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    2. So glad to hear this. We are always on the lookout for new nonfiction titles!

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  21. Our two rafting trips through the Grand Canyon were our most memorable vacations. It is an awe-inspiring place. I love Jason Chin's work, and can't wait to get a copy of this book. Thanks for sharing, Linda!

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    1. Oh you will love it, Catherine. He has created the trip as a good "book" adventure. Love that you've rafted through. We did not, only the hiking.

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  22. I'm totally intrigued by your description of your school. I hope you'll write more about what you did there!

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    1. I wrote quite a bit before I retired, Annette. It's an independent school where each student chooses his/her own topic around which the curriculum is created. There is a class unit which is a while class study around which the overnight trips are planned. Among so many other details. If you want more, let me know & perhaps we can talk via e-mail?

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  23. Books to me really enhance experiences for me. When I travel, I like to read books about that place or takes place there. It makes me feel I'm living multiple lives.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!