Monday, September 26, 2016

A nonfiction project in my classroom!

A nonfiction project in my classroom!

With my library science classes I have been reintroduced to the world of nonfiction! It is much different now than I remember it being when I was in High School, or it may have been I wasn't reading the right books.

There are so many nonfiction books on different science topics that I teach in my classes. I think my students could benefit greatly from adding these to my curriculum. Nonfiction books can add a depth to the topic that textbooks just can't. I am also able to support many different reading levels and interests with this project within one topic area as well. The book selection for space is amazing and my students are fascinated by it.

So I am working on writing a grant, I have created a donors choose project, and an Amazon Classroom Book Wish List to try and get some books into the hands of my students. I appreciate any support you can give.

Donors Choose
Classroom Book Wish List

Check out some of the books I am interested in!

My Friend Dahmer, A look at a nonfiction graphic memoir by Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer
by Derf Backderf

A student of mine recommended this book to me and this book is very popular at the school library. I love reading crime and mystery fiction but this was my first nonfiction book in that genre.

This is a graphic novel and I think this was the best format for this memoir.  The author was a classmate of the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and provides a unique perspective of what led up to Dahmer's killing spree.

I think case studies should be made about incidents like these to show teachers and school administrators that this really does happen. This is a sad story because he didn't get the help he needed as a student. I think students find this story interesting because they get insight on what caused him to end up where he did. It could be an interesting read and discussion for a Psychology class.

I found the book interesting but I think I would have enjoyed the book more if it had been focused on the crime, catching Jeffrey Dahmer, the evidence and the trial.

I would recommend the following books if you are interested in true stories about famous crimes.

GoodReads  Goodreads
Goodreads  GoodReads

2013 ALA/YALSA Alex Award
2014 Revelation Award at Angoulême
2015 ALA/YALSA Alex Award (Excellence in Narrative Nonfiction)

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Date: March 1, 2012
Grade Level: 7-12

Teacher Guide:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Drowned City Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans

9780544157774_p0_v4_s192x300.jpgDrowned City Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans
Written and Illustrated by Don Brown

This is the first graphic novel I have read. It was a very quick read, I enjoyed the graphics a lot. I chose this book because this event meant a lot to me. I am a science teacher and find weather events fascinating. I house sat during this time frame for some friends that are Red Cross volunteers, one of them coordinated relief efforts in the Cajun Dome for a couple months.  

First, I would connect this to fiction readers by marketing to teens that read graphic novels. You could set up a display of graphic nonfiction. I would also make a display  of both weather related fiction and nonfiction in the spring to coincide with storm season and in the fall for hurricane season.


I would use this book in class as a resource when I cover weather.  I would like to incorporate the use of nonfiction texts in different unit to assist with the understanding of different scientific topics. It is difficult to take field trip to see a hurricane, tornado or even a volcano. It is impossible to instill the sense of panic during a pandemic and the difficulties in deciding to publish scientific findings that religious groups will persecute you for. These are all topics that nonfictions texts could help students understand on a level that a science textbook cannot. This book gives a unique insight to a hurricane and the damage it causes, it would also be a great choice for my students that might struggle or are not interested in reading.

HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:
Aug 4, 2015
Recommend Age:
12 - 17

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

"Not that there's anything wrong with just lying around on your back. In its way, rotting is interesting too, as we will see. It's just that there are other ways to spend your time as a cadaver."
From the Introduction.

I have always chosen fiction books for reading in my spare time. However, I have recently found the genre narrative nonfiction and I have a long list of books I would like to read. I read a lot of medical thrillers from authors such as: Patricia Cornwell, Robin Cook, Tess Gerritsen, and Jefferson Bass. So choosing this book as one of my first nonfiction reads was a natural choice. As a science teacher the graphic details of the human body interest me.

From the chapter "Life After Death," about forensics and embalming:
Out behind the University of Tennessee Medical center is a lovely, forested grove with squirrels leaping in the branches of hickory trees and birds calling and patches of green grass where people lie on their backs in the sun, or sometimes in the shade, depending on where the researchers put them.
This pleasant Knoxville hillside is a field research facility, the only one in the world dedicated to the study of human decay. The people lying in the sun are dead...

Many medical thrillers reference what is commonly known as "The Body Farm" so I was not surprised at all when it came up in Roach's book. This research facility is what Jefferson Bass'  book series The Body Farm Novels revolves around. Jefferson Bass has also written a couple nonfiction books about The Body Farm. I highly recommend these if you enjoy his fiction books or Stiff.

The chapters that probably held the most interest for me were Dead Man Driving, Beyond the Black Box, and A Head is a Terrible Thing to Waste.

I didn't know that human cadavers had contributed so much to science and what we know now about the body and so much more. I was aware the human cadavers were used in medical school for Gross Anatomy, a class that introduces medical students to Anatomy by dissection of a human cadaver. 

In Dead Man Driving, Mary Roach describes the many ways that human cadavers have been used to improve safety in automobiles. Beyond the Black Box, explains how plane crashes are studied using human cadavers and that they can determine what happened by the injuries that the bodies sustained. A Head is a Terrible Thing to Waste, explains how human cadavers are used for doctors to continue their training on something besides a live patient.

I highly recommend this book, where else can you read about cannibalism, decomposition and decapitation without reading about serial killers?

Suggestions for use in Education

I think this book would be a great addition to an Anatomy & Physiology class, it would provide insight to the history of the study of the human body that textbooks do not provide. This would also be a great choice for a Science Club to read and discuss. 

A discussion guide can be found at the following link.

Stiff is a New York Times Bestseller, an Alex Award, as well as being chosen for many other reader's awards.

Pub. Date: 05/17/2004 Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc. 
Lexile Reading Level: 1230L Recommended Grade Level: 9-12

Wonder By P.J. Palacio

If you were to ask me some of my favorite books of all time, this would definitely be in my top 5! I won't describe what I look like. ...