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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…

Multicultural Literacy Text Set

This collection of resources focuses on introducing and discussing American culture as a diversity of many different cultures. Its primary audience is literacy teachers who want some resources to explore multiculturalism in their classroom. My goal is go beyond thinking of multiculturalism as something we talk about during a holiday, month or festival but as the norm thereby reflecting the reality of our country. While most resources are primarily literature about different cultures or from individuals in different cultures, there are also resources that focus on issues of multiculturalism and encourage students to explore their own position within the cultures they belong to. This is by no means a complete list but is a beginning.


Walter Dean Myers. We Are America. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. HarperCollins, 2011.

Just as the subtitle indicates, this is a book from the heart. Walter Dean Myers in a video expressed that he wished this book would help people feel ownership and connection by making up America. His theme is together we make America. He includes several individual voices ranging from Native Americans to artists. He includes quotes from famous Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life. This is a great book to introduce multi-culturalism at any grade level due to its vivid pictures and sincere, powerful choice of words.
Alexie, Sherman . The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.

Already an esteemed Native American author, this is Alexie’s first book for Young Adults. Based on his own experiences of growing up on the Spokane reservation then going to an all-white school, the narrative is wry, hilarious and heartbreaking. Alexie’s own illustrations add to the overall feeling of the book of a kid trying to figure these out for himself. This is a theme any kid could relate to and indeed Alexie’s narrative sounds very much kid-like. Yet this is also a perspective of growing up in America that ironically is not as well-known even in minority literature. Native American literature is usually limited to historical fiction or romantic narratives of pastoral people. While Native Americans have been in this land longer than anyone else, they feel as much strangers in America as do people from different countries. Honest, blunt and moving this is a great book but not for young readers.

Dillon, Leo and Diane. Jazz on a Saturday Night. The Blue Sky Press, 2007.

The whole book has the rhythm of jazz from the smooth, lyrical words to the gorgeous, thoughtful illustrations. It is clear that this is more than a simple picture book to entertain a child. This is a powerhouse tribute to a genre and a culture. Through the words and illustrations the reader is caught up in this imaginary event where great jazz musicians share the stage for a Saturday night audience. While the even might be fictional, it registers more as metaphorical of a golden age in the history of African Americans. This book reminds the reader of the beauty, grace and power of the jazz and the African American culture which has so heavily influenced American culture at large.
Park, Linda Sue. Project Mulberry. Clarion Books, 2005.

Julia is a Korean American girl attempting to find her place between two worlds. Korea, the native country of her parents, and her homeland, America. At many times these two worlds seem to compete against each other, but the real question is how much does Julia allow them to within herself. Many second generation Americans find themselves in Julia’s shoes. They cannot erase the culture of their parents but do not necessarily feel at ease in American culture. This is a great book to read to help students who may or may not be in Julia’s position to work through the issues of what it means to be American.
Conkling, Winifred. Sylvia and Aki. Tricycle Press, 2011. Winner of the Tomas Rivera Award, Sylvia and Aki tell the story of an unlikely but true friendship between a young Hispanic girl and a Japanese-American girl. Both face huge dilemmas presented to them the racism of their time. Sylvia is refused admittance to a regular school and must go to “Mexican” school. Aki is forced from her home to live in an internment camp. Despite these difficulties, the two girls find courage to face their problems and overcome the effects of racism. The whole book is told alternating between each girl. This book helps readers face the less noble side of America and yet simultaneously give hope to change. Read more…

Multi-media bibliography on The Great Depression

The purpose of this project is to compile a bibliography of materials related to the Great Depression, including the New Deal and the Dust Bowl. I believe that history is best taught by utilizing a variety of media, including print, film, and audio, including fiction and non-fiction elements. Elementary and middle school history teachers would benefit the most from this collection, as the intended audience is ten to twelve year olds. However, I also believe a public library could use this collection as it would help students with research projects or those simply interested in history. It was difficult to find material on this subject that was directed toward the specified age group, so teachers should be advised to review all content before using it in the classroom, as each teacher and school will have their own standards by which to judge the appropriateness of the content.

Fiction books:

Moss, Marissa. Rose’s Journal: The Story of a Girl in the Great Depression. San Diego: Silver Whistle/Harcourt, 2001. Print.

Though Rose is a fictional character, Moss creates a highly educational and factual book about the Great Depression centered on her. Written in journal form and packed with photographs, doodles, and comics, this book easily captures young readers attentions. Rose’s Journal is filled with pop culture and contemporary news, as well as a realistic account of rural farm life.

Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. New York: Scholastic Press, 1997. Print.

When Billie Jo was born, her father hoped for a boy. When he realized she was a girl, he took little notice of her. She eventually wins over his affections by helping with the farming and daily work. When her mother becomes pregnant again, they all wish for a boy to fill the family. However, when the drought strikes and the earth dries up, Billie Jo must learn how to cope with tragedy. Written in beautiful free-verse form, Hesse has created a sad, but realistic view of life during the Dust Bowl.

Non-Fiction Books:

Freedman, Russell. Children of the Great Depression. New York: Clarion Books, 2005. Print.

“His prose is straightforward and easily comprehensible, making sense of even the complexities of the stock-market crash. The use of primary sources is outstanding. This is a book told by chorus, featuring the voices of those who endured the Depression, and is embellished with black-and-white photos by such luminaries as Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, and Russell Lee. Eight chapters cover the causes of the Great Depression, schooling, work life, migrant work, the lives of children who rode the rails, entertainment, and the economic resurgence of the early ’40s.” – School Library Journal

Nardo, Don. Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression. Mankato, MN: Compass Point Books, 2011. Print.

“Occasionally, a single photograph becomes the emblematic image that defines an era, and this quality series tells the stories of four of those iconic pictures. Each book places its subject photo in historical context, profiles the photographer, describes the conditions under which it was taken, and analyzes both its immediate and its continuing impact. The texts include ample background information and details and are enhanced by large photos and sidebars. These books will help students understand the influence of the individual images and the eras they epitomize, making them strong choices.” – School Library Journal

Marrin, Albert. Years of dust: the story of the Dust Bowl. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2009. Print.

An overview of the Dust Bowl, starting with the history of the great plains and covering the events leading up to the dust storms. Plentiful pictures, sidebars, and maps help grab readers’ attentions. Read more…

Multimedia Bibliography – Dolphins

By Harry Ostlund

The purpose of this multimedia bibliography is to provide fourth through sixth grade students with an opportunity to explore the undersea world of dolphins through the use of books, eBooks, digital resources, the internet and community resources such as libraries, aquariums, and educational institutions. When I was growing up I was extremely lucky to live within walking distance of the Brooklyn Aquarium. On the weekends I attended programs such as Breakfast with the Dolphins, where we literally had breakfast with the dolphins, though we had to clean their fish first. These interactive and innovate programs provided us with enrichment experiences and firsthand knowledge of the behind the scene operations that we could never have obtained in any other setting. The aquarium, library and the public schools were committed to working together to provide city youngsters with authentic interdisciplinary learning experiences. Educational programs offered by these three educational institutions such as the yearlong Marine Teen Program provided middle school students with access to the unlimited resources. Middle school students who were selected to participate in these programs interviewed the staff of the aquarium and experienced the behind the scenes procedures, routines and protocols. They participated in ongoing research and worked alongside marine biologists and veterinarians. Working alongside the IT department they contributed their input by assisting with the designing an educational computer game. These authentic experiences inspired many of the students to pursue careers in the sciences. Students who participated in the Marine Teen Program had the opportunity to process, analyze, synthesize and learn about dolphins and marine life in a unique environment. The students gained a sensible understanding of the dolphins and of marine life that they could not have obtained in another setting. Though the local library provides many multimedia resources that could initiate a desire to learn more about dolphins and marine life this unique experience was enhanced by our visits to the aquarium. By reading and researching various publications, watching podcasts, videos, and live feeds, and engaging in authentic hands- on lessons the students were actively engaged in learning about dolphins and other subject matter. The materials presented in this multimedia bibliography will assist students become active learners by analyzing, questioning and narrating their individual learning experiences. Until they can visit the aquarium the internet provides students with opportunities to observe dolphin interactions through love webcams, and through online courses.


Carney, Elizabeth. (2012). National Geographic Kids Everything Dolphins, Dolphin Facts,Photos, and Fun that Will Make You Flip. National Geographic Children’s Books.

Dolphins are as bright and as curious as humans. Perhaps that is why we are fascinated by them. Inside this informative chapter book youngsters discover how dolphins live in family groups called pods, give birth to live babies, tail first and breathe air. The amazing photographs and bold text teach young children how dolphins are not fish but are mammals, how they were meant to live on land but were forced into the sea. This educational book is packed with scientific facts and photographs that will captivate your child. A must have for all beginning marine biologists.

George, Twig. C. (1998). A Dolphin Named Bob. HarperCollins.

After a storm a bottlenose dolphin washed up on the beach. Rescued by Mrs. Lee and taken to the Baltimore Aquarium the aquarium staff saved her and named her Aster. She thrived at the aquarium for several years and then at age eleven she gave birth to a dolphin calf named Bob. Born with an unusual comet shaped birth mark on his drooping dorsal fin, Bob was weak and tiny compared to other calves. The aquariums staff did not expect him to survive. But Bob surprised them, just like his mother Aster did when she first arrived. Bob gets well and soon he was performing tricks alongside his mother. Bob becomes the star of the aquarium. This amazing true story with its happy ending will delight youngsters and encourage them to never give up.

Grover, Wayne. (1990). Dolphin Adventure A True Story, HarperCollins.

Based on a true event, a professional deep sea diver Wayne Grover recalls how a pod of dolphins, two adults and a baby swim around him until he notices the baby of the pod was bleeding and had a fishing hook embedded in its back and fishing line wrapped around its tail. Mr. Grover describes a remarkable and poignant tale with the untamed dolphin family. Using his diving knife Grover carefully performs underwater surgery. He cut away the line and removed the hook but the baby dolphin’s bleeding attracted two hungry sharks. The large male dolphin attacked the sharks saving the baby dolphin and Mr. Grover. Two weeks later Grover is out on his boat and recognized the scar on the tail of the young dolphin swimming by in a pod of dolphins. The story ends happily for the baby dolphin and teaches readers about the dangers hooks and lines can bring to dolphins.

Orr, Katherine. (1993). Story of a Dolphin. Carolrhoda Books.

Based on a true event that occurred near the Caribbean island of Providenciales, a young girl recalls how a bottlenose dolphin and her father became friendly. Everyday her father would take a group of tourists out to sea on his boat to dive in the ocean. One day a stray dolphin appeared and swam around them. Over the next several months the dolphin and the girl’s father begin to swim together. Then one day their playfulness almost turned into a tragedy. This true story teaches us dolphins are unpredictable and aggressive with each other and with humans, so we need to be careful when we enter the water with a dolphin. Illustrated with full-color, full-spread paintings of island vegetation and ocean life in the blues, greens, and pinks that are present on the Caribbean islands.

Schaefer, Patricia. P. (2012). Dolphins from A to Z . Shaefer.

A superbly photographed book simultaneously teaches young children their ABC’s and presents them with scientific facts about bottlenose dolphins. The dolphins are alone, in pods, under the water, and as close to the shore as they could possible come. Photographed playfully swimming, catching fish and leaping from the water these amazing sea creatures present young children with powerful inspirational images that are unforgettable. Every child will want to reach out and touch the pages of this truly impressive book.

Wlodarski, Loran. (2007). If a Dolphin Were a Fish . Sylvan Dell Publishing.

Delfina is a young bottlenose dolphin who imagines she becomes her underwater sea friends. She imagines what it would be like to be a manatee, a fish, an octopus, a turtle, and even a bird. Young readers will learn that fish have gills and breathe underwater and bottlenose dolphins have a blowhole and must swim to the surface for air. As children turn the pages and encounter a new sea creature they learn a new scientific fact. The imaginative story is filled with soft colored pencil illustrations that complement the text of this educational underwater adventure. Read more…

History of Ballet: A Multimedia Bibliography

Photo Credit: Joannajuki on flickr.com

Photo Credit: Joannajuki on flickr.com

The history of ballet spans six centuries and includes numerous notable figures, works, and trends vital to the study of the fine arts. This multi-media bibliography is designed to aid classroom teachers in their lesson planning, possibly if the class was focusing the fine arts or taking a field trip to the ballet, or physical education/fine arts teachers if they were teaching a unit on ballet. The guide will include items appropriate for use in the middle grade (3-6) classroom as well as items for the edification of the adult in charge of said classroom. The focus will be on classical ballet forms (not modern or popular dance) and will include material that deals with both the origins of ballet in Europe—it was observed in Italy as early as the fifteenth century and reached its zenith in Russia—as well as the more recent history of ballet in America with its beginnings in the 1920s.

Audio Recordings
Shostakovich, Dmitri. “Ballet Suites 1, 2, 3” (compact disc recording). Scottish National Ballet, 1949-1952.
Three suites of “light music” from ballet scores composed by Shostakovich during the Soviet Regime.

Tchaikovsky, Petyr Illyich. “The Nutcracker Suite” (LP recording). Jazz adaptation by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, 1960.
Jazz variations of Tchaikovsky’s classic “Nutcracker Suite” performed by the iconic Duke Ellington. It would be excellent for showing students variation within ballet and ballet scores and would also make a fun choreographic project.

Tchaikovsky, Petyr Illyich. “Swan Lake” (compact disc recording). Philadelphia Orchestra, June 1, 2004.
The entire score of what is perhaps the best-known classical ballet (only “The Nutcracker” is performed more often).

Greenberg, Jan and Jordan, Sandra. Ballet for Martha: Making “Appalachian Spring”. Illustrated by Brian Floca. New York: Flash Point, 2010.
A picture book retelling of the creation of Martha Graham’s modern ballet Appalachian Spring with music by composer Aaron Copland and sets by artist Isamu Noguchi, this book contains the story of the ballet itself as well as the unique collaboration between the artists who came together to make it. The vivid watercolors bring to life both the exuberance of Graham’s dancers and the modernity of Noguchi’s sets. Excellent for classroom use.

Haskell, Arnold Lionel. A Picture History of Ballet. New York: Macmillan, 1954.
A highly illustrated visual history of ballet, beginning with its origins in the 15th century courts of Italy and going all the way through the mid-1950s. Includes both illustrations of notable dancers from the 18th and 19th centuries as well as ballet photography from the 20th century.

Homans, Jennifer. Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet. New York: Random House, 2011.
Former professional dancer Jennifer Homans chronicles the history of ballet from its beginnings in Renaissance Italy through its explosion in America courtesy of George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet. Apollo’s Angels focuses its attention on the cultural importance of ballet and its evolution through different times and places. Wonderful background resource for putting ballet into a larger social context.

Rubin, Susan Goldman. Degas and the dance : the painter and the petits rats, perfecting their art. New York : H.N. Abrams, 2002.
Considered a definitive picture book biography of the most famous painter of ballerinas, Edgar Degas, this book provides insight into Degas’ life as well as that of the dancers (the “petits rats”) he painted. It contains full-color illustrations of over 30 of Degas’ works and would be perfect for sharing in a classroom setting.

Untermeyer, Louis. Tales from the Ballet. New York: Golden Press, 1968.
This book contains a brief history of ballet as well as synopses of notable works of classical ballet from the 19th and 20th centuries including: The Wood Nymphs, Ondine, Billy the Kid, Graduation Ball, The Firebird, The Sleeping Beauty, Petrouschka, Children’s Games, Bluebeard, Swan Lake, Prince Igor, Coppélia, Giselle, Rodeo, The Golden Cockerel, The Rite of Spring, Le Spectre de la Rose, The Nutcracker, Scheherazade, and Fancy Free. Read more…

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