Tag Archives: History

The Louvre Museum

Bibliographic information: The Louvre Museum : http://www.louvre.fr/en

Brief description: The Louvre’s website features everything you need to know about visiting the museum. You do not need to travel to Paris in order to take a tour though. The websites offers virtual tours of three sections of the museum. Students can tour the Egyptian Antiquities, the remains of a fortress under the Louvre or the recently restored ceiling paintings of the Galerie d’Apollon. The website also offers a section called ‘A closer look’ which allows students to see the details of museum pieces through a magnifying glass, while hearing commentary and animations on the historical and artistic background of the piece. Another section called ‘tales of the museum’ features animated clips, photographs and stories about the museum and the works it houses.

Qualitative  analysis: This website does not require background information to appreciate the masterpieces at the Louvre. It does however, provide a lot of details and background information to help viewers gain a better understanding of certain works and the museum in general. Purpose or main ideas of works are clearly stated, though some are speculations and not solid facts. The stories of the museum section is narrated in by a limited third person narrator, who provides the details that are available from history. Parts of the site are casual and familiar and others are more formal in tone and vocabulary. The language closely adheres to the viewers linguistic base. Domain specific vocabulary is explained. There is distance between the reader’s experiences and those in the text, but there is acknowledgement of these divergent experiences and sufficient explanation to bridge these gaps.

Subject area: Art, History

Personal thoughts: The Louvre is one of my favorite museums and would love the opportunity to take my students there, but a much more economical and feasible alternative is to take them on a virtual tour.

Subjects/themes: museum, historical artifacts, sculptures, paintings, architecture, tours

Description: The Louvre is the site of an ancient civilization. There are the remains of a fortress under the Louvre, which later served as a palace for the King and is now the home to thousands of priceless artifacts and artworks, such as the Mona Lisa.

High interest annotation: Take a tour of one of the most famous museums in the world without leaving your seat.

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Esperanza Rising

Bibliographic Information:

Ryan, Pam Muñoz (2000). Esperanza rising. New York: Scholastic Press.

Plot Description: Esperanza is a wealthy young girl whose family owns El Rancho de las Rosas in Mexico. All her life she has been waited on by servants and given everything she could desire. Then one day her life changes forever. Her beloved Papa is killed and his evil brothers threaten Esperanza and Mama if they do not do as they are told. So they flee to America under the cover of darkness with their former servants. In America their lives are vastly different. Mama and Esperanza live in a farm labor camp and must learn to work for a living, and work hard. At first Esperanza is left to take care of the babies while the others work, something which is very difficult for her, since she has never had to take care of herself before, let alone others. Then when Mama is taken ill, Esperanza must find the strength to work and be El Patron of her family. Set against the backdrop of Great Depression Era California and workers strikes, this is a story of family, community and hope.

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 750L, ATOS Book Level: 5.3, Interest Level: Middle Grades (4-8), AR Points: 6

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The organization of the text is clear and chronological. The conventionality of the text is fairly complex in that it employs many examples of figurative language such as similes, metaphors, and personification throughout the story to paint a vivid picture of the scenery and Esperanza’s experiences. The vocabulary is mostly familiar and conversational, including dialogue. It also has Spanish words mixed into the English narrative, but they are always in italic font, so they are easy to recognize and the English equivalent always follows. Sentences are simple, complex and compound phrases. Themes are clear, but conveyed with some subtlety. The experiences are not common to most readers, though some students will have immigrated from other countries, so be able to relate to some experiences of being new to a country and a few may know what it is like to completely start over. There are some references to historical and cultural events, such as the Mexican Revolution and the Great Depression, but everything that is essential for understanding the story is explained.

Content Area: English, Literature, History

Content Area Standard: History–Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools

California: A Changing State-4.4 Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial power, tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cul­tural development since the 1850s.

  1. Describe rapid American immigration, internal migration, settlement, and the growth of towns and cities (e.g., Los Angeles).
  2. Discuss the effects of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and World War II on California.

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature

Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

English Language Arts Standards: Writing

Text Types and Purposes: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7 Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students research the Mexican Revolution and the Great Depression (in particular finding out about the farm workers in California and forced repatriation). Have students write a letter to Abuelita explaining what life is like in America. Analyze how Esperanza changes over the course of the novel and what brings about those changes. Have students record examples of figurative language throughout the story. Chart the ‘mountains and valleys’ of Esperanza as the story unfolds.

Supporting Digital Content: 





Awards: YALSA Top Ten, Americas Award for Children’s Literature, Smithsonian’s Notable Book, NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, Jane Addams Book Award/Honor Books, Pura Belpré Award/Honor Book, Jefferson Cup Award/Honor, Publishers Weekly Best Book, Judy Lopez Memorial Award: Children’s Literature

Character names/descriptions: Esperanza is a young girl who loses her life of comfort in Mexico and must begin again in America. Mama is her mother who tries to be strong in her new role as head of the family, but finds it increasingly difficult. Miguel, their former servant whose family helps Esperanza and Mama escape to the US. Abuelita, Esperanza’s grandmother who stays behind in Mexico. Marta, an outspoken field worker who wants better wages for workers and helps organizes a strike.

High interest annotation: After terrible tragedy takes her father and her home, Esperanza must listen to her Grandmother’s words and rise like a phoenix from the ashes of her privileged former life to start again.

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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Bibliographic Information:

Lowry, Lois (1989). Number the stars. New York: Laurel-Leaf Books.

Plot Description: Ten year old Annemarie’s world is changing. The Nazis have taken over Denmark and German soldiers are posted on every street corner. Electricity is rationed, there is no more butter or sugar for cupcakes and the whole city has a curfew. However, these inconveniences turn to something much more dangerous as the Nazis start ‘relocating’ Jewish people. Annemarie’s best friend Ellen and her family are Jewish. How can they escape? Ellen comes to stay with Annemarie and pretends to be a part of her family in order to hide from the Nazis, while her parents go to an unknown location. Annemarie overhears talk of ‘fishing weather’ that makes no sense and soon her family and Ellen are off to stay with Uncle Henrik by the sea. It is there that Annemarie learns the meaning of the strange conversation she overheard and must gather all her courage when she becomes the only one who can stop the Nazis from discovering her friends as they attempt to escape.

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 670L, ATOS Book Level: 4.5, Interest Level: Middle Grades (4-8), Recommended Reading-California Recommended Lit. English Grade 3-5

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story is told in third person limited, from Annemarie’s perspective. She is a child, so does not have all the information. So the reader must try to understand events without all the facts, just as Annemarie does. Some meanings are stated, while others are left for the reader to discover. There is limited figurative language, with nature used as a metaphor. Organization is conventional and mostly sequential, with a few flashbacks. Register is casual and language is familiar. Sentences are mostly simple and compound, with some complex construction. There is distance between the experiences in the text and those of the reader, as not many will have had to be brave to save lives, but many will be able to connect with the idea of being brave to help those you love. Some background knowledge about World War II would be useful, but is not necessary for understanding, as the text explains the circumstances as well as a ten year old girl can understand them.

Content Area: Reading, History (World History-World War II)

Content Area Standard: History-Social Science Standards for CA: Grades 6-8

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills

Research, Evidence, and Point of View

  1. Students frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research.
  2. Students distinguish fact from opinion in historical narratives and stories.
  3. Students distinguish relevant from irrelevant information, essential from incidental information, and verifiable from unverifiable information in historical narratives and stories.
  4. Students assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources and draw sound con­clusions from them.

English Language Arts Reading: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.6 Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

Curriculum Suggestions: Students define bravery and write about their own experiences of courage. Discuss point of view and the author’s choice of a young girl who does not have all the facts, as the narrator. Research the Danish resistance movement during World War II. Keep track of the code phrases used by characters helping the Jews escape and give the real meaning of the phrase. Keep track of metaphors and symbols in the novel and discuss how they aid in the readers understanding of the story. Discuss story telling elements such as rising action, climax and falling action.

Supporting Digital Content: 




Awards: Newbery Medal, Jane Addams Book Award, Sydney Taylor Award, ALA Notable/Best Books

Character names/descriptions: Annemarie-A 10 year old girl living in occupied Denmark during World War II and her best friend Ellen, who is Jewish.

Personal Thoughts: I remember reading this book as a child and loving it. I thought Annemarie was so brave. I think seeing the events through the eyes of someone around their age will help students connect with the story and get them interested in World War II history.

High interest annotation: Annemarie must go on a dangerous journey to help save her friend from the Nazis.

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A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Bibliographic Information:

Hawking, Stephen (1998). A brief history of time. New York: Bantam Books.

Plot Description: Brilliant scientist Stephen Hawking attempts to lay out, as the title implies, a brief history of time and our universe for the ‘average’ reader. He is taking on a difficult task, because his theories require a depth of scientific knowledge, not possessed by most people. Hawking begins with a look at our universe’s past and how our perception of it has been ever evolving throughout human history. He discusses the how and why of the beginning of our universe with the Big Bang and if, how and why the universe will end. Hawking delves into many fascinating aspects of time and space.

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 1290L, ATOS Book Level: 10.5, Interest Level: Upper Grades (9-12)

Qualitative Reading Analysis: This book is written for people who are not scientists, but it is by no means an easy text to comprehend. All the scientific vocabulary and concepts are explained, but readers may still have difficulty understanding the explanations of concepts without a foundation in scientific knowledge and ideas. Knowledge of concepts related to space and time would be particularly helpful in understanding the book. The author does provide many analogies from everyday life situations to illustrate the basic ideas behind difficulty concepts. The text structure is exceedingly complex in that connections between an extensive range of ideas, processes or events are deep, intricate and often ambiguous and organization is intricate and discipline-specific. The text is very complex in its use of graphics. Tables, charts and graphs support understanding of the text. Vocabulary is complex, subject specific and academic in places and conversational in others. Sentences are composed of several subordinate clauses with transition words and are complex. The purpose of the book is clearly to educate people about the universe, but it includes many theoretical or abstract elements. The subject matter relies on extensive levels of discipline specific and theoretical knowledge, which includes a range of challenging abstract concepts. Many references are made to outside ideas and theories. The author attempts to explain these theories and concepts, but many students may have difficulty understanding, even with the aid of the author’s explanations and graphics.

Content Area: Science (Physics), Reading

Content Area Standard: California’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for Grades Nine through Twelve

HS-ESS1-2. Construct an explanation of the Big Bang theory based on astronomical evidence of light spectra, motion of distant galaxies, and composition of matter in the universe.

HS-ESS1-3. Communicate scientific ideas about the way stars, over their life cycle, produce elements.

HS-ESS1-4. Use mathematical or computational representations to predict the motion of orbiting objects in the solar system.

Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6–12

CCSS RST.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students create a comic book to explain a concept from the book. Discuss or write essays on various topics from the book with textual evidence for support, such as examining the different dimensions of the universe or the possibilities of time travel.

Supporting Digital Content: 


Character names/descriptions: None. It is about concepts, rather than characters.

Personal Thoughts: This book was a little too scientific for me in parts and I had difficulty with many of the concepts. I think this book would be difficult for most high school students. From what I understood, the ideas sound fascinating and I would be interested in reading the simplified or illustrated versions of the book and perhaps using those with students instead.

High interest annotation: Discover the complexities of the universe through the mind of a brilliant scientist.

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Filed under Non-fiction Science Title for High School