My students need 30 copies of Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science in order to develop nonfiction reading skills.
My students are well on their way to discovering the joys of reading; however, they've focused almost exclusively on fiction material. They're denying themselves the excitement of learning while reading. Imagine how powerful a message reading nonfiction can send about the value of lifelong learning!
My thirty seventh graders attend one of the smallest high schools in our state.
They live in a tiny, economically depressed town with only one industry, on family farms, or in homes in the surrounding countryside. They love being plugged into technology but also still love the feel of a book in their hands. They're inquisitive, energetic, and enthusiastic. They have wide-ranging interests and strengths, including participating in athletics and 4-H activities. Having received a good reading foundation in elementary school, our students come to junior high ready to continue those good reading habits. Many of them head to the school library on a weekly, or in some cases daily, basis or regularly raid my classroom bookshelves.
In 1848, a young railroad worker named Phineas Gage suffered an unimaginable brain injury when an iron tamping spike pierced his skull. In an intriguing book that follows Gage's life after the accident and what doctors have learned about brain science because of Gage, the author makes history and science come alive in ways that textbooks never can. From their reading, my students will learn valuable skills for decoding unfamiliar words, for organizing information, and for using text features to aid comprehension. As a believer in project-based learning, their science teacher and I will give our students a number of choices; among them, creating a 3-D model of the brain to show how it functions to writing their own children's book about a medical or scientific discovery that is reflective of a certain period in history. In addition, students will visit several sites on the 'Net that make brain science accessible and interesting.
This project is important for several reasons.
Traditionally, our students have scored well in fiction on their state assessment tests. However, we must address weaknesses in the area of nonfiction reading and comprehension. More importantly, giving them intriguing materials and relating reading to other areas in the curriculum will help them see the power of reading to learn, as well as make real connections between subject areas. Who knows? Maybe we'll even discover a budding neurosurgeon!
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|Phineas Gage • AKJ Books||$12.48||30||$374.40|
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