Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Sunday, August 18, 2013

View From the 5th Grade Trenches: August 2013 - The Scieszka Zone

You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, 

The Scieszka Zone

Where else can a math cursed kid put two halves together and escape through a hole in the wall?

Where else can the Big Bad Wolf plead his case?

Where else can a cowboy crack up about a head of lettuce?

Where else can Chicken Licken seek an audience with Obama?

Nothing tops a roomful of giggling kids. That is why I start every school year sharing the witty and hilarious words of Jon Scieszka with my class. The crazy-perfect illustrations of Lane Smith enhance the laughter even more. Their stories are every bit as guffaw-inducing for adults as they are for the kids.

Mr. Scieszka has my undying admiration for his literacy program and website called GUYS READ. Here's the mission statement:

Welcome to Guys Read, a web-based literacy program for boys founded by author and First National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka. Our mission is to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers.

The GUYS READ website is a wealth of information and resources to get our boys reading. Through it I discovered middle grade gold such as the Time Warp Trio,

Guys Read Anthologies,

and the Spaceheadz online interactive series 

that have transformed some of my most reluctant male (and female) readers into potential bookworms.

Jon Scieszka has clocked time as a teacher in the elementary school trenches and he proves over and over his special magic for communicating with kids. As a teacher I appreciate everything Scieszka for the teachable moments the works provide above and beyond engaging kids with their perfectly pitched humor.

MATH CURSE – Introduces the Fibonacci sequence: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 (Have you cracked the code?) as well as empathizing with students about the mind boggling math concepts they have to conquer each new school year.

THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS – Is an approachable and entertaining example of teaching voice and point of view.

COWBOY AND OCTOPUS – Is Diversity 101. The relationship and tolerance between these two unlikely amigos exemplifies the joy of putting differences aside and being friends with someone unexpected.

THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES – Besides the perk of getting to say “stupid” for the guaranteed laugh, these quick spins on traditional tales are ripe for teaching the elements of a story.

Thank you Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith for all the lesson plan blanks you’ve filled in for me, and above all else, for making kids crave books.

SCBWI-LA 2013 Conference - Scieszka and Rose

What could be cooler than meeting one of your heroes in person and seeing they are as amazing as you always dreamed they'd be?

Answer: Nothing.

Look for the signpost up ahead – your next stop, 
The Scieszka Zone

*The Twilight Zone introduction is written by Rod Serling.