Friday, April 18, 2008

Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants

Author: Park, Barbara
Illustrator: Brunkus, Denise
Publisher and Date: Random House, 2003
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Novel
Age Range: 1st-3rd grades

Summary: In this book, Junie B. learns that cheating isn't just when you copy someone's answers on a test. Junie B. forgets her homework one day and copies May's 'A+ homework' so she won't get in trouble. She thinks she lucked out when Mr. Scary asks them to stand up and read what they wrote for homework. Only, Junie B. doesn't read from her paper when it is her turn. She gets caught and Mr. Scary sends a note home to her parents explaining what she did. The next day in class, the desks are arranged in groups and Mr. Scary has them write a cinquain. After writing their poem, the class was given a spelling test and Junie B. copied 'would' off of Herb's paper. They both felt bad about it and confessed what they'd done to Mr. Scary the next day.

Response: I really enjoyed this book and think it would be a great series to keep in my classroom. The thing that stuck out to me the most was the language used by Junie B. and her classmates. It wasn't perfect English all the time, but it reminded me so much of how first graders communicate with each other.

My senior year in high school I had an internship with a first grade class at my old elementary school. That class was great to work with and I really enjoyed spending time with them during the lessons. This book in a way reminded me of that class and how much I really want to start teaching is first grade after I graduate from Appalachian.

The illustrations were very fitting to the characters themselves. The first illustration shows Junie B. and May sitting at their desks in the classroom. By May's expression the reader can see, before the book even begins, that May thinks she is a great student and better than her peers in Room One.

I also liked how there were students like José in the classroom that could incorporate language from their culture into the cinquain poem they were writing. In any classroom today you will surely find students from various cultures. Students will have to learn how to interact with them if they don't know already, and treat these students just like anyone else like José's friends treat him in this book. Having a variety of cultures in the classroom would open up doors to learning about the student's cultures and maybe even having them teach the class a little about it.

Teaching Ideas: This book contains a good message about cheating, no matter what day the students may read it throughout the year. It shows them that it is wrong and how you can get in trouble for it. The students could learn from Junie B. and Herb's mistake and see that they did the right thing by telling the teacher what they did. Being honest in your schoolwork is always the best and is a true reflection of what you have learned.

For a language arts lesson, students could be given the rules of a cinquain again and be asked to write their own cinquain about whatever they would like.

Cinquain Links:

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