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Genre Celebration: Jerry Spinelli

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Catherina Reyes

on 29 July 2014

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Transcript of Genre Celebration: Jerry Spinelli

Blue Ribbon Blues: A Tooter Tale
Do the Funky Pickle: School Daze
Fourth Grade Rats
Jake and Lily
Maniac Magee (Newbery Award Winner)
Love, Stargirl
Hokey Pokey
Smiles to Go
Wringer (Newbery Honor Book)
Knots in my Yo-Yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid
With realistic fiction, children are able to relate and connect to the characters they get to know in this genre of books. Realistic fiction takes real kids with real problems and solves them in a realistic manner, in the real world. This genre contains many characteristics that appeal to children, such as humor, family life, school, a sense of adventure, and perhaps even danger. Characters are engaging and believable, dialogue is believable, plot is fresh and original, settings are true to life, and problems faced by characters are honestly portrayed. Teachers can use books of realistic fiction to do read alouds, guided reading lessons, writing prompts, vocabulary, and book clubs.
Jerry Spinelli
Conclusion of reading activity
: Students will be split into groups of 4. Students will make a collage of social issues they face in today’s society. Students will be shown an example and be encouraged to use colored pencils, markers, paint, magazine clippings, etc. The students’ collages will represent the issues they face as well as those represented in the book. The posters will be posted in the classroom, school, or the local mall where students display their art work. Students will present their collages to the school in an assembly or to the grade level classes.
How Students Are Impacted
: Fourth Grade Rats is a book that students can relate to through the social issues that are presented. This is a “Growing-Up Book” that the text discusses because it is relatable to the changes students go through as they advance through the grades in school, experiences the pressures of social situations, and as they begin to be attracted to the opposite sex (Mitchell & Casement, 2003). Students learn so much from each other and watching each other interact and the experiences they encounter with one another. Reading about those issues is no exception. Students have the opportunity to see certain issues through the eyes of the characters in the book and determine how they see the issue themselves and how they might handle the problems or situations that are encountered themselves.
“Readers will devour this humorous glimpse of what jocks are made of while learning that life does not require crashing helmet-headed through it.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“Spinelli packs a powerful moral wallop, leaving it to the pitch-perfect narration to drive home his point.”—Publishers Weekly

“As Spinelli effortlessly spins the story of an ordinary Pennsylvania boy, he also documents the evolution of an exceptional author.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“In this warm, deeply personal memoir of the kid he was, Spinelli takes us to Norristown, Pennsylvania, in the 1950s.”—Booklist

“Newbery-winning Spinelli spins a magical and heartbreaking tale from the stuff of high school.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, the star of Spinelli’ s latest novel possesses many of the mythical qualities as the protagonist of his Maniac Magee.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Sixteen-year-old Leo recounts Stargirl’ s sojourn at Mica High in an allegorical story that is engagingly written.”—Booklist

“Tooter is a real-life, plucky, resourceful heroine who scampers through this novel for new readers.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“The characters are well-developed—Tooter is at times reminiscent of Ramona—and the story is enjoyable.” —School Library Journal

(Random House, 2014)
Genre Celebration: Jerry Spinelli
"Life is full of happy accidents." (Spinelli, 2014)
Growing up, Jerry Spinelli wanted to be a cowboy. Up until he was ten, he then wanted to be a shortstop for the New York Yankees. At the age of sixteen, his love of sports inspired him to compose a poem about a recent football victory, which his father published in the local newspaper without his knowledge. It was at this time he realized that he would not become a major league football player, so he decided to become a writer instead. Little did he know, twenty-five years would pass before a book of his would be published. In the years after college he wrote four novels, but nobody wanted them. They were adult novels. So was number five, or so he thought. However, because it was about a thirteen-year-old boy, adult book publishers didn't even want to see it. But children's publishers did — and that's how, by accident, he became an author of books for kids. (Scholastic, 2014) Jerry Spinelli then found his calling as a writer for children's books, and is now known for his many titles, including Jake and Lily, Loser, Fourth Grade Rats, and Maniac Magee, a Newbery Award Winner.
Realistic Fiction
Fourth Grade Rats
Grade Level
: 2nd through 5th
Duration --
Daily: Book Reading- 30 minutes at the end of each day; read aloud by the teacher and round-robin by class members.
: Journal writing: A prompt about what was read that week and how students relate.
Book Summary
: “First grade babies! Second grade cats! Third grade angels! Fourth grade…RRRRRRATS!” (Spinelli, 2012). This is the chant that students at school use. Suds and his best friend Joey just entered the fourth grade. Suds is unsure about how he feels about becoming a “rat” and struggles to find his footing. His best friend Joey, however, knows how it’s done! He warns Suds that becoming a rat means the next step to becoming a man! He must now do things like tell little kids to get off the swings, tell his mom “no,” leave his lunch box at home, and litter on the playground. Suds is not interested in this behavior and struggles to fit in. One day, Joey lets himself get stung by a bee and suddenly Judy, the girl Suds has had a crush on since first grade, is following Joey around everywhere! This is enough for Suds to realize that he needs to try harder to fit in! Being a rat works for Suds for a while, until one day he has the opportunity to save Judy’s cat from a tree and she leaves him up there hanging on for life. Little did he know, this was Suds’ chance to really think and actually take the first steps toward growing up. From that moment on, Suds begins doing all things right and good. He stands up for himself and others and works hard to please others. Soon, Joey converts to the good side and Suds finds himself the most popular and loving rat that ever graced the halls of fourth grade (Spinelli, 2012).

Image retrieved fromhttp://sharingsoda.blogspot.com/2012/09/old-school-sunday-review-fourth-grade.html
Image retrieved from http://sharingsoda.blogspot.com/2012/09/old-school-sunday-review-fourth-grade.html
Grade Level
: 4th through 8th
: Book Reading- 30 minutes at the end of each day
Book Summary
: Donald Zinkoff, a quirky elementary school student, faces trials of being bullied. He never seems to fit in with the other kids, he is just obviously different. Although he remains to be an over excited kid, he gets down and out about being called a loser by the other students! His first grade teacher, Miss. Meeks sees the value in the person Donald is. She instills confidence in him and shows him the goodness of being a child. When he gets to second grade, his teacher, Mrs. Biswell, scolds him for his sloppy appearance. She begins to grow hateful towards Donald. Through this, he stays happy and remembers what Miss. Meeks had taught him. By the time he gets to fourth grade, Zinkoff’s life changes drastically. He is popular, or close to it, with the other kids and holds a pretty good reputation. He has a pretty good year until field day, where he loses the game for his team and is called a loser again. He does pretty well at bouncing back after that day, and tries even harder to fit in. The next year is a continuous effort to be popular. When he gets to middle school he is now just nobody. He is not popular and he is not a loser. Just nothing. This seems to get to him more than anything previously. When a little girl in his neighborhood gets lost he searches in the freezing snow for her until he is found just before he froze to death. When word gets out about his heroism he has a great reputation for his good heart and compassionate soul.

Conclusion of reading activity
: Students will individually write about a time that they felt bullied or unaccepted. They will include the way they felt, the way they think others felt, how they handled the situation, and what they could have done better. After writing their personal experience, they will be asked if anyone is brave enough to share to the class. Teacher will start the sharing by telling their personal story.
How Students Are Impacted
: Students will be impacted by hearing Donald’s story of being unaccepted. Although it is sad in many instances, and students who can relate will feel his pain, he remains strong and happy throughout most of the story. It is a great lesson for students to remember to stay positive in all situations. We can see, through his experiences, that everything he goes through is much better when he stays happy. Students will hopefully realize the trauma that bullying can cause, and that is always better to accept everyone, even the unaccepted!

Jake and Lily
Grade Leve
l: 4th through 6th
Daily The teacher will read to the class for 30 minutes at the end of each day until the book is finished.
Book Summary
: Jake and Lily are twins that have a special bond. They shared everything even dreams. They had the same recurring dream every year on their birthday. They would both sleep walk to the train station and then wake up. Their parents decided for their 11th birthday that the twins would be given their own rooms. This made for many changes. Jake liked the change but Lily did not like the change at all. She was worried they would lose their connection. Changes definitely took place that summer. Jake started hanging out with Bump and his friends. Bump was a bully but Jake liked hanging out and riding with the group. He went along with the bully while he made fun of a new kid. This ultimately bothered Jake because he knew it was not right. He finally broke away from the bully and befriended the new kid along with the other boys in the group. During this time, Lily was having a hard time finding herself. She tried to find a hobby and invited a girl to come play. She was sad and angry that her brother no longer wanted to hang out with her. They had lost the connection like she was afraid of. She had the dream and went to the train station but Jake did not show up. This was devastating to her. One day, she met a girl and became great friends with her. They liked many of the same things and she had found a friend. She found herself and then was not as lonely or mad at her brother. Jake and Lily both found themselves that summer. Jake helped his friends build a clubhouse and Lily helped build a new playground area. By the end of the summer, they also found their way back to each other. They were back on track with their connection.

Conclusion of reading activity
The students will be given a writing prompt on the board. It will say, If I had a twin he/she would be…. .
They will include if the twin would be identical, would they want to always be together, would they want separate friends, and anything else they can think of. The students will be given 20 to 25 minutes to complete the assignment. After completing the writing prompt, the students will share with the class.

How Students are Impacted
The students will see that they are all individuals even if they do have a twin. Twins do have a special bond and relationship but it is important for them to be individuals as well. They should be able to communicate in settings where the twin is not there. It is good to have both mutual and separate interests. We should never like something just because someone else does or wants us to.

Image retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/jerry-spinelli#cart/cleanup
Image retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/jerry-spinelli#cart/cleanup
Image retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/jerry-spinelli#cart/cleanup
Image retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/jerry-spinelli#cart/cleanup
Image retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/jerry-spinelli#cart/cleanup
Image retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/jerry-spinelli#cart/cleanup
Maniac Magee
Grade Level
: 4th through 8th


Daily Book Readings: The teacher will read for 30 minutes at the end of each day, calling on students to read who then call on a friend to start where they left off.
Book Summary
: Jeffrey Lionel Magee lived a normal life until the age of three, when his whole world changed. His parents were tragically killed in a trolley accident and he was sent to live with his Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan who are strict Catholics that hate each other and live separately in the same household, “sharing” Jeffrey, who grows up in a loveless and silent house. At 11 years old, he has a concert at school which both his Aunt and Uncle are obligatory to attend together. He screams out at them, “Talk will ya!” and everyone in the audience soon realizes it is not part of the concert, which Jeffrey then takes off running. Running a couple hundred miles and a year, he ends up in Two Mills, Pennsylvania, a divided town, segregated in East End (blacks) and West End (whites). He first stops in East End and meets Amanda Beale on her way to school, carrying a big suitcase full of books. He convinces her to borrow one and takes off running again. He goes back and forth between East and West End, making a few friends, some enemies, and never seems to notice that both ends are totally segregated. He earns the name Maniac from his many encounters of both peoples in both the East and West End, and soon everyone starts calling him that. He is homeless but seems to get by all on his own, he can read and write, and can run for days. Maniac finally returns the book to Amanda, and her family, the Beale’s, take him in to live with them. Life is good for a while but eventually someone finally says something to him and how he doesn’t belong in East End because he is white. He takes off again, towards West End and moves in with a buffalo family at the zoo. There, he meets Earl Grayson, a washed-up former minor leaguer who tends to the place and starts taking care of Maniac. They become close, he teaches Grayson how to read, they celebrated holidays together, but then Grayson dies and Maniac is alone again. The story continues with Maniac yet again finding himself staying somewhere for reasons different than before, as he continues to make deep impact on other’s lives as he usually does. A great book for every kid to read.

Conclusion of reading activity
: Students will receive a writing prompt, asking them why they think Amanda and Maniac became friends. (Possible: They shared an interest in books; had respect for one another.) Then point out that by the end of the story Maniac and Mars were developing a friendship. Ask: What do you think this friendship is based on? (Possible: They shared an interest in running; had respect for one another; began to understand one another.) Ask students to write a short essay describing what they consider the important qualities of friendship. Call on volunteers to read their essays to the class. Does everyone agree on what makes a friend?
How students are impacted
: Students can relate to the situations that Maniac seemed to find himself in. They can speak with their families/teacher about legends and how much truth is behind them. Students/Children can begin to understand the differences between the present and the past and how segregation and discrimination used to be. It teaches the reader than even though you might have a tough life, it shouldn’t stop you from being a good person/role model, and that you shouldn’t be judgmental to others, whether it be from the color of their skin or what people think. Maniac is a brave and smart young boy who makes a deep impact in others lives by just being a genuine person.
What are some of the biggest issues that students face on a social level in school?
What social issues did you face as a student in elementary school?
Girls being in clicks was a problem in my class. How do you include all girls without leaving someone out?
How would you respond if someone called you a Loser? Would you respond to them? Would you walk away?
Do the different grade levels in your school have a reputation for certain behavior? Have you ever felt pressured by trends in your class to act a particular way?

All Images retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/jerry-spinelli#cart/cleanup

Education Portal. (2003-2014). What is realistic fiction?. Retrieved from http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/what-is-realistic-fiction-definition-characteristics-examples.html

Fitzgerald, K. (2012, September 2). Old school sunday: Review. Retrieved from http://sharingsoda.blogspot.com/2012/09/old-school-sunday-review-fourth-grade.html

Random House. (2014). Jerry spinelli. Retrieved from http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/author/spinelli-jerry/

Scholastic, Inc. (2014). Jerry spinelli. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/jerry-spinelli

Scholastic, Inc. (2014). Maniac magee. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/maniac-magee

Spinelli, J. Fourth Grade Rats. 2014. Scholastic Inc.

Spinelli, J. (2012). Jake and Lily. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Questions To Think About
Learning Team C -
Amanda Bryant, Kelly Henderson, Catherina Reyes, Brandi Sinclair
RDG 350
Jeanine Faust
July 28, 2014
Image retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/books-by/jerry-spinelli#cart/cleanup
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