One and Only Ivan
Some of the best books I read as a child caused me to feel just about every emotion, and Ivan is that kind of book for a new generation. Based on the unfortunately true story, the Newberry Award-winning Ivan tells the story of a silverback gorilla who lives in an enclosure next to Stella the elephant at a struggling shopping mall. Through a simple and painfully innocent first-person view, Ivan describes life in the enclosure. With the exciting new arrival of Ruby, a baby elephant born in the wild and taken from her family, Ivan begins to remember life before living at the mall, and nothing can be the same. Ivan soon discovers that one of his tricks, drawing, might just be his best shot at getting him and Ruby out of their tiny enclosures - but will the humans understand? A heartbreaking tale you won't want to put down. 319 softcover pages. - Laura
This unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated book is told from the point of view of Ivan himself.
Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
In the tradition of timeless stories like Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create an unforgettable story of friendship, art, and hope.
The One and Only Ivan features first-person narrative; author's use of literary devices (personification, imagery); and story elements (plot, character development, perspective).
This acclaimed middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 8, for independent reading, homeschooling, and sharing in the classroom.
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
Please note that a brief synopsis of many of the books included here are provided in our Library Builders section. Study guides for the same book are often available from several publishers, so we found it more efficient to give a description of the book only once.
While there is a decided emphasis in Lightning Literature on enjoying and understanding the literature, the program is also decidedly comprehensive in its grammar and usage coverage and just plain expectant in its composition assignments. A Teacher Guide, a Student Workbook, and lots of classic (along with some contemporary) children's literature are the components for the program.
Literature selections for Grade 4 include: Tuck Everlasting,Borrowers, Family Under the Bridge, Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Dreamer, Morning Girl, Love That Dog, One and Only Ivan, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Earth Dragon Awakes, Gone Fishing: Novel in Verse, and Nim's Island.
The Teacher Guide is the heart of the program and is necessary. It's here that the general flavor of the program is most obvious including its orientation toward teacher-student interaction rather than independent student work. Detailed daily instructions are written in first person to the parent/teacher. The flexibility built into the program is reiterated often with examples of how to adapt the teaching instructions for students who are sluggish or need extra challenge. Weekly schedules have a basic structure. Each day includes literature study, grammar/mechanics study, and work on the weekly composition assignment. All workbook answers are provided in the Teacher Guide
The Student Workbooks include some instructional material but are essentially consumable worktexts. Most of the grammar exercises are included here along with space to write thoughts about the reading selection (i.e. Reading Journal Pages: What this Story is About, What I Think of this Story, and My Favorite Sentence). The books are colorful and appealing. Literature Only Packages include all the literature selections needed for the course. The Grade 4 Full Year Package includes all the literature plus the Teacher Guide and Student Workbook.
Lightning Literature & Composition utilizes a “read-through-books-multiple-times-a-week” methodology in the lowest grades. It continues through the grade levels with a focus on literature appreciation as well as a loving, gentle introduction to language arts. The goal throughout the series is developing a love of great literature. Maturing to solid, literature-based grammar and writing lessons, this series is excellent on all fronts.
Literature selections are varied and inspired, including classic, contemporary, and award-winning options. Grammar instruction presents, reviews, and builds through the grade levels, incorporating diagramming after 1st grade. Students are encouraged to write a wide variety of compositions with instruction in the writing process and forms of writing always weaving in the grammar applications. But, this never gets in the way of enjoying the story. There is, in fact, an amazing amount of seamless interweaving of the literature, grammar, and composition threads.
You might be wondering about the role of phonics/reading instruction in this program. To put it simply, it's not included. There seems to be an underlying assumption that the student is reading at grade level and that phonics instruction is underway (or completed).
The basic components of the program are a user-friendly Teacher Guide, a colorful and appealing Student Workbook and lots of well-loved literature. The early grades include extra read-aloud stories/books. (i.e. Aesop's Fables in Grade 1; Winnie the Pooh and Just So Stories in Grade 2). Poetry is included (after 1st grade) drawn from the Random House Book of Poetry for Children in grades 2-3 and included in the Student Workbook in grades 4-6.
The Teacher Guide is the heart of the program even though much of the instruction comes through the Student Workbook. While there is little teacher prep that is necessary, the courses are based on teacher-student interaction and the Teacher Guide is absolutely necessary. It provides weekly overviews, daily lesson plans, and answers to workbook pages.
There are 36 weekly lessons; each with daily instruction for Monday through Thursday (Friday is a day off). Lessons in Grade 1 are each based on a well-loved children's picture book. In Grade 2, the lessons start with picture books but in the last third of the year move into chapter books which are studied over a multi-week schedule. Upper levels cover chapter books over several weeks (anywhere from 2 to 6).
Daily instruction includes three segments: literature, grammar & mechanics, and composition. Compositions are assigned weekly with daily guidance towards completion. Daily composition segments lead the student through the writing process including brainstorming, ordering, rough drafts, and final drafts. The variety of writing assignments includes creative writing, essays of all sorts (description, personal, opinion, etc.), research paper, and poems. There is a constant emphasis on remembering that the goal is to love literature and language arts with suggestions for adapting the lessons to the needs of your student. Each week ends with suggestions for extending the lesson. Handwriting instruction and practice can be incorporated into each lesson as desired/needed.
The Student Workbooks include instruction and serve as a consumable worktext. Artwork, illustrations, and graphics are all related to the week’s literature assignments. Appendices vary with the grade level books but tend to include helpful reference and resource information.
"Reading should be fun, and writing should be satisfying." The author of this series believes this, and she has produced courses that try to keep that goal ever present. She WANTS students to enjoy themselves! Accordingly, reading assignments are comfortable - two novels, two non-fiction books, two short stories and several poems for the 7th grade course, for instance. Lessons are well-constructed and the excellent and thorough coverage includes vocabulary, comprehension, literary elements, composition, grammar, and mechanics.
The three components of this program are designed to be complementary and to be used together. The Student Workbook is the student's textual companion as they study the literature selections. This consumable book is the place for the student to "do" their work. It provides worktext space for all the essential exercises as well as some optional fun/reinforcement exercises.
The Teacher Guide is the "glue" that holds the whole program together providing a philosophical and methodical overview of the program and a weekly planning schedule (lesson plans) as well as chapter-by-chapter answers and teaching helps.
The last component is the excellent Literature Selections that are the heart of the program. Classics, familiar, non-familiar, poetry, and, occasionally, surprising choices all find their way onto the book lists for each grade level. While you may be able to locate some or all of the books at a library, we also offer Literature Packages for each guide that include the necessary books. You and your student are encouraged to read, enjoy, and profit from the year's literature studies. ~ Janice
If you're looking for a study guide for a specific book, Novel Units probably has it covered! They produce hundreds of literature guides - only a sampling of them is listed here.
Teacher Guides are 30-40 pages - not voluminous, but enough for good coverage of the book. Format of the guides vary somewhat by grade level, but feature some common elements. They begin with a synopsis of the book and its author, and some pre-reading activities that serve both to provide background for the novel study and initiate student involvement. This segment also gets readers thinking about the story. Chapter by chapter (in some guides, multiple chapters) lesson plans contain vocabulary words, discussion questions (with answers), and suggested activities. Some guides also include writing ideas. Literature concepts/skills appear here and there. Some guides contain reproducible graphic organizers to aid student analysis. All include some culminating questions and activities. Again, these vary in scope and type by guide. There are no objective or essay tests, but each guide ends with a student assessment page that provides a list of projects or exercises to be completed to help evaluate student understanding.
Student Packets, although not available for every book, vary somewhat by grade level and book. Student packets may include: activity pages, study guide, graphic organizers, writing and/or listening and speaking prompts, critical thinking challenges, quizzes and a unit test. Answers are included in the back, along with an essay evaluation form (i.e. rubric). Student packets are not reproducible.
Novel Unit Sets include a Novel Unit study guide and/or teacher guide, as well as the recommended reading book for the guide(s).
Really, each of these components can function as a stand-alone product and can be used without the other, but for a more comprehensive study, they are best used in concert. There is very little overlap between the two, even in the chapter-by-chapter questions - but completing the questions in the student packet will help prepare your child for the more in-depth questions found in the teacher guide. If your child is working independently on a novel, the student packet can be used alone (if available). If you want your student to do little written work and put more emphasis on discussion, the teacher guide can be used by itself.
Please note that some guides have been written to correlate with a specific edition of a book. Some of these editions are now out of print, and we do not carry all versions mentioned. Where multiple editions are available, such as the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the page numbers given in the guide may not correlate exactly.
If you are looking for a rigorous all-in-one teacher/student literature guide, these guides are a good choice. The research-based activities include text-dependent questions, student interpretation of vocabulary words, close reading exercises, and analyzing the text through writing. Comprehension questions are available in two levels of difficulty. There are also cross curricular activity pages including a grammar and other subject activity page for every section. Unit study suggestions and possible books to dig deeper are also listed. This gives you the option to dive further into the literature with other subjects.
Each guide begins with a short author biography and a book summary. A pre-reading exercise gives students the opportunity to think about the theme outside the context of the story. Then, multiple assignments for each section of the book allow students to analyze the story elements in different ways. Some reading responses include drawing pictures or writing in the form of narrative, informative, or opinion. The close reading exercises have students reread a specific part of a chapter before answering questions so they can use textual evidence in their response. Graphic organizers are used throughout to keep the students engaged.
These literature guides are very thorough and implement different strategies to get the most out of the text. Guides require unabridged editions, but not specific editions. Questions are based on chapters and not specific pages. Student pages are reproducible for classroom use only. Post- reading activities and an answer key are included.