Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Those Darn Squirrels

Title:  Those Darn Squirrels

Author:  Adam Rubin
Illustrator:  Daniel Salmieri
Publisher:  Sandpiper ©2008
ISBN:  478-0-547-57681-7
Grade Level:  K-5
Book Review:  Old Man Fookwire doesn't like very many things, but he does love birds.  He feeds them, paints pictures of them and mourns every winter when they leave for a warmer place. As much as he likes his birds, he dislikes the conniving squirrels that come to live on his property.  That is until they find a very clever way to win his heart.  The story can be read on many levels.  It can be read purely for pleasure.  The reader can take away a lesson about the importance of appreciating differences and resolving conflicts.  Or the squirrels ingenuity can inspire young engineers.  Whatever the reason, it is a delightful read.

Systems Thinking Connections: 
Habits: Those Darn Squirrels offers students multiple opportunities to examine how characters in the story practice or don't practice the habits of a systems thinker, making it an ideal book for helping students understand the habits.  After reading the book aloud to a group of fourth grade students, each group of 4 to 5 students took a set of habits cards and selected one to which they could make a connection with the story.  Their connections were excellent and their understanding of the habits as applied to the scenarios in the book were very accurate and reasonable.  Students recognized how Old Man Fookwire and the squirrels learned something by changing their perspectives to increase their understanding.  Students also noted how the squirrels benefited when they took the time to consider an issue fully and resits the urge to come to a quick conclusion.
Tools:  A group of second graders in  used a Behavior Over Time Graph to track the squirrels level of frustration.  You will note from the key that these students also read the sequels to the original story. Comparing the frustration of the squirrels and Mr. Fookwire at various points in the story  produced deeper understanding and comprehension of the text.  
Another thing to note in this graph is how readers cite textual evidence by making notations on the graph itself, showing what is affecting the level of frustration.  Systems tools are powerful ways to help students make connections to a text and document those connections using evidence from the text.  
Special thanks to Christina Wamboldt, Hewlett ElementarySchool, Hewlett-Woodmere School District, for sharing this piece of student work.

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