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Multimedia Bibliography: Ecosystems

Purpose and Scope
This bibliography is intended to serve as a resource for elementary school teachers or librarians working with a student population between fourth and fifth grade.  The expected age of children should range from approximately nine to eleven years old.

In Texas, teachers follow the Texas Administrative Code which specifies knowledge and skills to be taught as part of the curriculum. Beginning in the 4th grade, students are expected to learn about ecosystems as part of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills(TEKS).

According to TAC Chapter 112, the  TEKS dealing with ecosystems in the fourth grade are as follows:

(9)  Organisms and environments. The student knows and understands that living organisms within an ecosystem interact with one another and with their environment. The student is expected to:
(A)  investigate that most producers need sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to make their own food, while consumers are dependent on other organisms for food; and
(B)  describe the flow of energy through food webs, beginning with the Sun, and predict how changes in the ecosystem affect the food web such as a fire in a forest.

The TEKS in TAC Chapter 112 states fifth grade students will learn the following about ecosystems:

(9)  Organisms and environments. The student knows that there are relationships, systems, and cycles within environments. The student is expected to:
(A)  observe the way organisms live and survive in their ecosystem by interacting with the living and non-living elements;
(B)  describe how the flow of energy derived from the Sun, used by producers to create their own food, is transferred through a food chain and food web to consumers and decomposers;
(C)  predict the effects of changes in ecosystems caused by living organisms, including humans, such as the overpopulation of grazers or the building of highways; and
(D)  identify the significance of the carbon dioxide-oxygen cycle to the survival of plants and animals.

The materials discussed in this bibliography address the TEKS as well as other relevant material useful for creating a holistic understanding of an ecosystem, and are organized first by media type and then alphabetically within the type divisions. Where possible, annotations include information on how well each item meets the criteria of factual accuracy, elimination of stereotypes, concept clarifying illustrations, encouragement of analytical thinking, clear organization, and interest stimulating style. Read more…

Multimedia Bibliography- Children Writing Poetry

Many adults know how difficult it is to get some children to read poetry, but what about writing it?  What resources are available for that adult trying to help a child complete an English assignment, or just develop a deeper appreciation of poetry?  The intent of this multimedia bibliography is to be a guide for adults working with school age children and provide some tools that can help when a child wants to write his or her own poem.  While the main topic of this guide is helping children write poetry, many teachers and poets have pointed out that an appreciation of poetry comes from just being exposed to it—hearing it, speaking it, reading it, and writing it.  For that reason, this guide will also include some resources that are simply related to poetry, not necessarily being about writing poetry.


Behn, Robin, and Chase Twichell, eds. The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach. 296p. CollinsReference, 1992.

This book of poetry writing exercises is described by Norton as giving “strong reasons for using poetry writing exercises with anyone who wants to improve his or her writing,” and Norton also states that it is a good source to use for elementary and middle grades.  There are exercises to help with “understanding of language and abstract thoughts,” “enhance the visualization of images in a poem,” and “poetry writing exercises associated with photography” (Donna E. Norton, Through the Eyes of a Child).

Dunning, Stephen, and William Stafford. Getting the Knack: 20 Poetry Writing Exercises. 203p. National Council of Teachers of English, 1992.

Norton calls this book an “excellent source of ideas and suggestions for exercises in poetry writing…Each of the exercises includes an introduction, steps to follow, and examples of poems that were written using the writing exercise” (Donna E. Norton, Through the Eyes of a Child).

Fletcher, Ralph. Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem From the Inside Out. 160p. HarperTrophy, 2002.

TeachingBooks.net lists Poetry Matters as a resource for teachers when working with children on writing poetry.  Fletcher has split the book into two parts—Lighting the Flame and Nurturing the Spark.  He talks about the importance of poetry, and gives the reader practical ways to start writing poetry, such as keep it short and use your senses to capture the world around you.  Fletcher also goes into playing with the words and some of the technicalities of poetry.  This book is a good, brief source that covers many aspects of writing poetry.

Janeczko, Paul B. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Illus. by Chris Raschka. 64p. Candlewick, 2009.

Earning a starred review in Booklist, the reviewer describes A Kick in the Head as an “excellent selection [that] easily mixes works by Shakespeare and William Blake with entries from contemporary poets for youth, including Janeczko.” This guide contains brief explanations of the poem form, an introduction, and appended notes.  “This is the introduction that will ignite enthusiasm. The airy spaces between the words and images will invite readers to find their own responses to the poems and encourage their interest in the underlying rules, which, Janeczko says, ‘make poetry–like sports–more fun’” (Gillian Engberg, Booklist). Read more…

Multimedia Bibliography: Food and Nutrition

Introduction: Since the origin of humanity, food has been an essential component of society. Across centuries families and communities have been “breaking bread” together, so to speak, for centuries, however a shift in American food production in the mid-twentieth century towards a mass production/fast food culture has drastically changed Western society’s eating habits.  Families rush through a drive through for dinner, 5 minute meals cookbooks fly off the shelves in bookstores and libraries, and it has become increasingly common for kids to eat solely pre-packaged, processed  meals. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) obesity amongst children and adolescents has tripled since 1980. Presently, over 17%–or 12.5 million–children in the United States ages 2-19 are obese. These alarming statistics trigger a gamut of questions, two of the most significant being: is there a lack of information on nutrition and healthy eating habits?  Or is there simply a lack of awareness/usage of these nutrition resources? This bibliography targets the latter question by compiling a list of multimedia resources appropriate for middle grade children–examining  text, realia, web and media sources. Cookbooks are included in realia, because the often the best way to demystify healthy food choices is to see, touch,  create and taste  them yourself.

CDC. “Obesity Rates among all Children in the United States.” Accessed November 22, 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html/

Target Age: 2nd-5th grade


Schlosser, Erick and Charles Wilson. Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food. Houghton Mifflin, 2007.
Chew on This explores the sinister economic, agricultural and health implications of the fast food industry by recounting the inception and growth of this type of food preparation and distribution. The sheer size (318 pages!) of Schlosser’s and Wilson’s book may intimidate readers; however, its lively tone and stand-alone chapters make this book an engaging read.

Bramwell, Martyn. Food Watch. Dorling Kindersley, 2001.
In true DK fashion Food Watch teems with graphics, text boxes and beautiful full color photographs. Bramwell discusses topics that are deceptively obvious, such as where food really comes from. Targeting the disparity between food scarcity in developing states and the abundance of food in the first world,  Bramwell points out, “Pie eating contests are fun, but only rich people can afford to waste food. Tonnes of unwanted food and packaging are thrown away every day” (13). Food Watch decodes buzzwords readers may be familiar with but not really understand, such as “fair trade, “famine,” “nutritionist,” and includes numerous experiments, such as ripening bananas to look for ethylene that further illustrate Bramwell’s narrative (21). Overall this book is fascinating, frightening and completely on point in regards to the production, packaging and dispersion of food not only in North America but throughout the world.

Goldberg, Jake. Food: The Struggle to Sustain the Human Community. Franklin Watts, 1999.

Goldberg asserts on the dust jacket of his book, “Food is the fuel of human labor, and everything we have accomplished, or failed to accomplish depends upon it.” Because a trip to the local supermarket does little to reflect the story of how food really is grown, produced and distributed–and the impact of these activities on the world–Goldberg delves deeply and eloquently into topics such as the origin of food, agricultural development, food and civilization, hunger and more. This book is relatively lengthy (204 pages) and text heavy, so it would be best for older readers.

Powell, Jillian. Everyone Eats: Rice. Raintree, Steck-Vaughn, 1997.
Powell’s book explores the composition, farming and customs surrounding the world’s second most popular grain: rice (4). Complete with full color illustrations, photographs and recipes this book is an excellent tool to educate young readers a food they may often eat, but know very little about.

Peeples, H. I. Where Does this Come From?: Bubble Gum. Contemporary Books, Inc.
Annotation: This matter-of-fact book draws upon the origins, production and consumption habits of bubble gum. While it does discuss corn syrup and synthetic ingredients Peeples does not delve into the consequences of excessive sugary gum chewing, such as increased risk of cavities. This brief book would be best for younger readers (i.e. 1st-3rd grade). Read more…

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