TLA 2015
Elaine Abdur-Razzaaq

A recap of the session Syncing Technology and Literacy TEKS
presented by Jessica Bartholomew Scheller, Klein ISD and Sally Rasch, Aldine ISD

The presenters opened their presentation with the question: "Books? Electronic Resources? Why not use it all?"  They proceeded to show how using a fiction or nonfiction version of a mentor text on a topic can be expanded with other useful resources.  Some literacy TEKS that were covered include: variations on a theme, characterization, retelling important facts, text to self connections, informational texts, locating and using primary sources and reading for facts, to name a few.

These are some paths that can be followed when syncing up a theme through several mediums.

  • Watch the movie, then read the book and compare
  • Research using a history database
  • Read informational books on the subject
  • Read other books that include other events that happened during that time period
  • Find books on this subject that appeal to upper and lower grades
  • Read the book first then generate questions that can be researched through district databases
  • Look at those in the Arts field and determine how events during this period affected their lives
  • Compare and contrast using Venn diagrams and Culture Grams to help students draw conclusions about the circumstances during that period
  • Include actual video footage of events to make history come alive
  • Take advantage of actual photos and documents on Smithsonian, Library of Congress and National Archives websites
  • Combine books and the Internet through interactive series like 39 Clues, Spirit Animals and Infinity Ring that allow reluctant readers to play a video game based on the book’s characters
  • Look at as many formats of a story as possible. One example is Mo Willems Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus. Find the YouTube video, the play of the book, how it is used to teach book care and compare all three.

The Texas Bluebonnet nominee titled The Great American Dust Bowl written and illustrated by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) was my inspiration for the theme about the Dust Bowl. Before reading this book, let's look at this book trailer.

Make sure you emphasize to 3rd through 6th graders that they can count this book as "read" on their Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee list.  Written in a graphic novel style that students love, this book is a great introduction especially for 5th graders studying this period of U.S. History.

In the Selected Bibliography section of this book one can find a book by Timothy Egan titled The Worst Hard Time (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006).  In this conversation with the author, a comparison is made between the Dust Bowl natural disaster and Hurricane Katrina and how both created a massive exodus of people.  Here a Venn diagram could be used to help students show comparisons between these two events.  

Variations on the theme   

Matt Phelan, a graphic novelist, writes The storm in the barn(Candlewick Press, 2009). Some of the pictures without words could be an excellent way to get students to write their own captions/dialogues/poetry of what they think the pictures depict. 

Making the theme interactive  

When many facts are gathered, it is always good to let students choose what they would have done in that situation.  Exercising their higher order thinking skills helps them expand and build on the knowledge they have obtained.  The Dust Bowl: an interactive history adventure (Capstone, 2009) by Allison  proves to be such a book to help facilitate this.  It takes the reader to that time in history with facts, first person accounts and primary source pictures.  As a presentation, students could make a timeline of events and include their interactive choices to show what would have been the outcome.

Readers Theater or Wax Museum

Sherry Garland's Voices of the Dust Bowl(Pelican Publishing, 2012) would make an excellent  book to generate ideas on how to reenact the "voices" of those who experienced first hand what life was like during that period in U.S. history.  It would also be good to show how diverse cultures experienced the harshness and how they dealt with it.  Collaboration with the music teacher might also be fun to include music of this era in this production.

Expanding the theme to lower and upper grades

Dust for dinner (Harper Trophy, 1995) by Ann Turner is a book that could be used for first, second and third graders to help them grasp the concept of life during the Dust Bowl.  Have students make a list of essential items they would take if forced to migrate to another place.  Discuss how would care of their pets would be important too. Students could use Voki or a similar app to show what they have learned.  Upper graders will enjoy reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

Using the district database

The World Book is one that provides a My Research page to store Encyclopedia Articles, Books, and My Websites on a theme.

Expanding the theme provided this 4-page article with follow-up questions for 2nd grade about dust storms:

The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns:

Discovery Education Streaming for grades 3-5.  Begin video at 1:10 to advance to dust bowl info:

From a lesson titled Losing Ground which includes 7 worksheets for grades PreK-3 and 4-8 about farming practices and the Dust Bowl. The Texas State standards for ELA-R and Science can also be accessed:

Have students create book trailers to share for all of the books used above. 

Interview someone who lived during that period


  • Google Images
  • YouTube
  • Discovery Education Streaming
  • World Book - AISD database
  • TLA Presenters Jessica Scheller and Sally Rasch
  • Maurice and David LeMond

Thank you AISD Library Services for the opportunity to attend TLA 2015!

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