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Hi guys! My name is Samantha Monaco and I'm in the Collaborative Special Education/Elementary Education program. I'm a junior and I plan to graduate in the Spring of 2017!

Samantha Monaco

Realistic Fiction Module

6 min read



"According to the article Shut My Mouth Wide Open: Realistic Fiction and Social Action written by Cynthia A. Tyson, does she feel that fairy tales should be taught throughout the curriculum? Why or why not?"

This was an amazing article that I really enjoyed reading. It was so real and the teacher did a great job explaining everything that she was saying. I would say that Cynthia A. Tyson has a stand where it depends on the reader. In the article, she mentions that, "This suggested to me a need for more con- temporary themes in reading material for some readers." This point was made after she saw a group of African American males in her classroom who struggled to remain interested in fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood. The boys would make comments about the unrealistic features and what the grandma could have done. They weren't able to read these and learn from them because they couldn't see past the unrealistic aspects. So, this teacher decided that maybe for this group of boys, she should move to a more contemporary realistic fiction. She had a goal of "opening wide" the mouths of these boys through realistic fiction who had "shut mouths" to the genre of fairy tales. In order to test her hypothesis, she met with seven of these boys throughout the year and read contemporary realistic fiction. As she had predicted, this opened up a whole new world that the fairy tales never did, for THIS group of boys. I don't believe that she's putting down fairy tales as a whole because everyone has a different learning style. What doesn't work for these boys (fairy tales), might work for another group of students. In my opinion, I would say that she believes it depends on the group of students and their individual needs. This group of African American males became able to relate their lives to the new stories she was telling and this really interested them. They were able to compare and contrast their lives to the stories and then even have discussions about their communities and way to fix certain issues. So, this genre, was able to tighten their literacy skills as it also worked on their ability to be civically competent and know about the issues of a society. For this group, she wouldn't recommend fairy tales to be taught throughout the curriculum. For another group, she might.

"In the article Depictions and Gaps: Portrayal of U.S. Poverty in Realistic Fiction Children's Picture Books why is it that some areas in the books reflect the reality in the United States, but areas such as poverty are misrepresented? Provide examples and support your thoughts."

This article was also interesting. In this article, the author discussed how the areas of poverty are misrepresented. It talked about how many children's picture books, there are stereotypical situations. In the beginning, the author mentioned how students were unable to find "themselves" or the environment they lived in in the books. They found that children's books rarely showed children living in poverty but on the rare ocassion they did, it was a stereotype of certain races. The author even mentioned that sometimes these books could give off the sense of race and poverty being intertwined which is something we've and still are working so hard to get rid of the notion. They would find African American and Latino families to be depicted as the poor families but underrepresented white families which is feeding into unfair stereotypes. When they analyzed the books, they found that contemporary rural poverty was practically being ignored. They also found that the books were overrepresentative of the white population at 66% in the books and only 46% in real life. They concluded that more books must include contemporary rural poverty to more accurately depict what is going on. The gap needs to be filled and it must be filled accurately so that we can start, "educating tomorrow’s leaders of the need for acceptable living standards and opportunities for all people."


"Write a short realistic fiction mini lesson. You can choose how you would like to incorporate realistic fiction into in. Think about how culture, ethnicity, income level, and interests would relate to your age group and through realistic fiction. Choose a realistic fiction text to support your lesson that is appropriate to the chosen age group. Make it interactive and fresh, try to gear it towards an age group that you have not tried before, experiment!"

For my realistic fiction mini lesson, I have chosen the book "Shiloh" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. This lesson is geared for fourth grade which is a lesson that I have yet to create any lesson plans for or even work with. "Shiloh" is a book that incorporates realistic aspects such as abuse, honesty, equality, justice, pets and honor. This is a book that I remeber learning about and it's one that captures most students' interest. For this lesson, we are going to read the book and then we will create a poster that includes things such as the elements, important events, character traits, theme/message and problem/solution. We will conduct this poster as a whole group after done reading the book. Before we create this poster, we will have a discussion on the book where I will ask literary questions such as the following:

Where does Marty find Shiloh? How does he finally get the dog to follow him?

Besides the fact that Judd Travers is cruel to animals, what are the other reasons Marty dislikes Judd?

How does Marty explain the food he saves at the end of each meal for Shiloh?

Judd is always complaining about how much Shiloh disobeys him, so why does he care so much about getting Shiloh back?

How does finding Shiloh change Marty's opinion about the way all animals should be treated? For instance, how does he say he would get rid of a snake?

After praying, Marty decides that it's okay to hide Shiloh from Judd Travers because he's protecting the dog, and God would approve of that. How does Marty discover that one lie, no matter how noble, leads to another?

These are only a few questions that will be asked. As you can see, these questions are discussing important issues. They're discussing how animals should be treated, lying/telling the truth, etc. These are all realistic features of an environment that students should learn about.

Samantha Monaco

Biography Module

3 min read


Here is the link to my annotations for the reading, "Reading in the content areas: Fictional biographies and diaries for social studies" by Dee C. Storey. I really enjoyed this article and whoever picked this did a great job. It was full of information and it was clear cut.


"Writing Prompt 1: The time is 1865 and the Civil War had just ended. Imagine you are soldier coming home from war. Write a short story in your “diary” using the first person narrative and describe your experience during this time. Compare and contrast the stories with your classmates paying close attention to how the stories differ or how they are similar."

Dear Diary,

I can't believe that it has finally arrived. It is time for me to come home. I have fought so hard and never thought this day would come. This has been an experience that I will never forget. The things that I have seen, the things that I have done. These are all things I would've never thought I would do. The environment I have been in, the way I have slept, are all things that I wish upon nobody. I have faced nights of sleeping on the cold ground. I have had nights where I couldn't sleep at all. In order to get through these days, I just imagined what it would be like when I finally got out. How it would be when I could go home to my own bed. The bed that I had slept in every night leadng up to my listing in the war. These are the things that pushed me through. I can't wait to officially be home and see my family. I can't wait to watch my children run through the yard in freedom. Freedom. Something I haven't known in quite some time. I'm thankful to be alive. I'm thankful to be breathing after all of this time. There were points where I truly didn't think I would ever get to say, "I'm coming home." And now, it is here.


"Tell the class your story in the best way possible. If music influences you, then write a song. If you like pictures then make a picture collage. If you like to write, write a short story. Include details about yourself such as interests, passions, your birthday, key people in your life, and/or anything that makes you, you. There are no parameters with this project, so have fun and be creative."


Above, you can get a great sense of my story. My story is full of family, friends, my puppy and laughter. I enjoy living life to the fullest and enjoying each and every moment with loved ones. Pictured above is my (left-right, top-bottom) boyfriend, brother, father, puppy, mother and work friends. I hope this gives everyone a better sense of who I am.

Samantha Monaco

Fantasy Module

4 min read

Hi everyone! Here is all of my pieces of the Fantasy Module.


Both of the readings were great reads. Below are my annotations.


Do you think that fantasy and science fiction books, like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and the hundreds of age appropriate books and series, should be a part of standard curriculum or read as optional pleasure/summer reading books?

Answer: I do believe that these books should be a part of standard curriculum. As we have learned throughout this module, Fantasy and Science Fictions books are very important to students learning and could engage some criticial thinking. They incorporate many literacy skills that are crucial to the language/reading development of individuals. One suggestion that I would have though, would be to offer a selection of books for students to choose from. I don't believe that there should be mandated ones without choice. As we all know, students learn better and feel better when they're given a say in their learning. Especially a genre such as this one where students get to really be free and see adventure. This is critical for students especially at the younger age when they're all about imaginiation. Students could also choose to read them over the summer for pleasure/summer reading books as they wished.

Would you assign and teach fantasy and sci-fi books in your middle school/ high school classroom? If yes, explain why and which book(s) would you assign and to what grade? If no, explain why and what type of books would you focus on instead?

Answer: Yes, I would 100% assign and teach fantasy and science fiction books in my middle school/high school classroom. As I've mentioned, this genre has many benefits to students and it allows imagination for students. This genre allows students to explore and be adventorous, something that many students of this age group enjoy doing. For students at this age, they should be able to choose from a wide variety of genres and this genre might be one that interests them. I would most likely do a unit on this genre because I feel as though it isn't one that students know a lot about. Some examples of books that I would assign would be:

  • "Blade of Fire" by Stuart Hill. (Grade 7) "Medea, the couple's cold-hearted, fifteen-year-old daughter, who's just coming into her magical powers, may be the downfall of the kingdom." Magical powers are something that really grab students interest. We all know we wished or even pretended that we had magic powers at one point or another!
  • "Evil Star" by Anthony Horowitz. (Grade 6) "His fate — and the fate of the world — is tied to four other kids across the globe." This would really interest students. The introduction is one that would catch students ears and could intrigue them. 
  • "InkHeart" by Cornelia Funke. (Grade 7): "But her father has a deep secret — he posseses an extraordinary magical power." I would use this book because I believe it has an extremely interesting factor to it. It speaks of a magical power which would interest students.


My fantasy world. My fantasy world is one of many hopes and dreams. In my fantasy world, there would be endless amounts of dogs, money and I would live on an island. I would enjoy a world full of these things because they're all my favorite. Dogs are my favorite animals and I would love to be surrounded by as many of them as possible! Not having to worry about money would be another stress reliever! Lastly, I would love to live on an island because there were always be plenty of beautiful weather and relaxtion (something that we're not used to here). Here are some pictures that would portray my fantasy world:




Samantha Monaco

Myths Module

3 min read


I enjoyed both of the readings that were chosen for this module. Below you will find my annotations for the first reading, "The Modern Quest: Teaching Myths and Folktales".


The task at hand is to come up with our own mini lesson for how we would teach a myth in the classroom. The grade level that I chose was second. 

To link to the CCSS, I have found the following standard:


Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

For my lesson, I chose the West African Tale: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears.

To begin the lesson, there will be a whole group read aloud by the teacher. The teacher will periodically stop to ask questions in between the story. Some questions that he or she might ask are:

  • Vocabulary questions: Does anyone know what a yam is? Mischief? Burrow? Etc.
  • Comprehension questions: Why did the iguana put sticks in his ears? Why was rabit terrified and why did it leave its home? Why did King Lion call a meeting of the animals? Etc.

After the story is finished and the teachers answers any questions students may have, then they are placed into pairs of two for a "turn and talk" to discuss the central message, lesson or moral. Students will first summarize the story in their own words and discuss their favorite parts. Then they can try to determine the main message in their pairing. Once they believe they have their idea, they will then raise their hand and tell the teacher. Once all groups are down, the teacher will put every pairings ideas on the board. They will go through and discuss each one narrowing down to what the actual message was. The actual message was to reveal the meaning as to why mosquitoes buzz in peoples' ears and why people "shoo" them away.

To take one more step in this lesson, the teacher will introduce a quick writing component. The students will get the chance for a "Creative Write" period. In this period, students get to write what they think the mosquito would have said if it was brought in front of all of the other animals at the meeting. This would be a great way to end the lesson because students' often love creative writing. They're given a topic and their idea can't be right or wrong. It's their thought.


For this participation task, we are to choose a creative writing activity from the presentation and complete it. The activity that I chose to complete is a biopoem. I'm going to use the template provided for the younger grades because I would like to see how the research goes trying to find that information.

1. Greek name: Poseidon 

2. Four traits of character: Bad-tempered, moody, greedy and vengeful

3. Relative of: Zeus & Hades

4. Lover of: Amphitrite

5. Who feels: Vengeful when insulted

6. Who needs: Trident (his weapon)

7. Who fears: No power over the air or land (besides earthquakes)

8. Who gives: Earthquakes, Storms and Horses

9. Who would like to see: People believing in him and horses running free

10. Resident of: Mount Olympus or Sea

11. Roman Name: Neptune

Samantha Monaco

Fables Module

3 min read


Both of the readings were very insightful and helped me to understand fables. Here is link to the reading that I chose to annotate:


After reading several of Aesop's fables, I have gained a greater knowledge on fables and can appreciate them more. I read through a series of the fables and I chose to complete my writing portion of this module using "The Dog and His Reflection". This fable is:

A dog was walking home with his dinner, a large slab of meat, in his mouth. On his way home, he walked by a river. Looking in the river, he saw another dog with a handsome chunk of meat in his mouth.

     "I want that meat, too," thought the dog, and he snapped at the dog to grab his meat which caused him to drop his dinner in the river.

(Moral: Too much greed leads to nothing.)

In order to create a different moral to the story, I had to change the ending. The way that I chose to change the ending is displayed below:

A dog was walking home with his dinner, a large slab of meat, in his mouth. On his way home, he walked by a river. Looking in the river, he saw another dog who looked extremely hungry. He was searching for food.

     "I wonder if that dog has had any food lately" thought the dog, and he approached the dog to find out. He realized quickly that this dog was starving and hadn't ate in days. He decided to give the dog his dinner, a large slab of meat. The dog started wagging his tail.

(Moral: Sometimes, there are people/animals who need someting more than you do. And it pays off in the end to help them.)


After reading, "The Fox and the Grapes", I began to think about the moral of the story. The moral of the story is that some people pretend to despise/dislike some things if they are out of their reach. The fable uses an incredible amount of imagery to portray the setting of this fable. For example, read the first part below:

A Fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice, and the Fox's mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them.

All of these words are strong words that help to paint a clear picture as to what's going on in this fable.

I really enjoyed reading this fable. It was beautifully written. Some questions that I would ask students in order to get them thinking about the moral could be:

1. Did the fox seem to really want the grapes in the beginning?

2. Was the fox able to reach the grapes?

3. How did it make him feel when he failed to reach the grapes?

4. Why do you think the fox said, "Here I am wearing myself out to get a bunch of sour grapes that are not worth gaping for", if he really wanted them in the beginning of the story?

5. What do you think the overall moral of the story is?

These are just some ideas of questions to get students thinking about the moral of the story.

Samantha Monaco

Walk My World Learning Event 9

2 min read

Hi guys!

So, my Walk my World journey is coming to an end. This is my sixth and final learning experience. As I've mentioned before, I enjoyed this opportunity because it was different than any other conventional activities I have done in a class before. It provided a way for us to take a look at who we are from many different angles and now we get to summarize this. The event is:

– Story of Me. Where have I been? What have I learned during this journey? What is next?

From this journey, I have learned a lot about myself. I was given time and prompts to look into my life and where I've come from. It has been extremely interested. Overall, I believe that I've learned that my journey has lead me to a happy place. I'm totally content with my life in all aspects right now. It was a nice wake up call to really see how lucky I am and it made me forever grateful. I've overcome many obstacles in my life and I'm sure there will be more to come. What is important, is to know that I'm surrounded by a loving family and there's not much better than that. Next, I get to continue my journey to becoming a teacher. I have many things to look forward to in my future and I can't wait to see what is to come. I've included a picture of a road that never seems to end. I chose this to symoblize my life and the journey that is continuous.


Thank you,

Samantha Monaco

Samantha Monaco

Module 6: Poetry

2 min read

Hello everyone!

First, here is the link to my annotations for my selected reading.

Next, I will complete the writing task.

"Using details from BOTH readings explain how someone could use poetry to build imagination in the written work of students. Share some poems you would use in the classroom."

After reading both of the selected readings, I feel better educated on poetry and teaching it to young children. Before this module, I had the common misconception about poetry and the need to rhyme. I also had many experiences from school, mainly high school, where I didn't understand poetry and was forced to write it. In the readings, it even talked about this and how common this is for students. The question at hand is how someone could use poery to build imaginiation in the written work of students. Poetry is an interesting way of written communication that requires imagination. Instead of traditional writing, the student opens up their mind to the world of metaphors, stanzas, imagery, etc. The student has the freedom to write as they please and use the words they want without being right or wrong. I believe poetry is the most creative form of writing and really requires imagination from children in order to make connections between their thoughts/intent to their actual writing. One important aspect we learned about teaching poetry is to have the student imagine how the poet was writing and what their intent was. From here, they have to imagine and take on that role in order to create a poem of similar intent.

Some poems I might use in the classroom are the following:


Last, here is the extended metaphor poem that I wrote:

My mind is a garden,

my thoughts are the seeds.

The soil is the barrier of who I

am and want to be.

I can grow flowers,

or I can grow weeds.

You see, it's up

to me.

Samantha Monaco

Module 5 Annotations/Reading Reflection/Dr.Seuss Book

3 min read

Hello everyone!

The readings this week were very interesting to me. I'm currently taking SED 435 so phonics instruction is something that I'm very familiar with now and will begin tutoring starting this coming Thursday. The two readings that I chose to annotate were the CCSS and Trachtenburg's Phonics Literature. Here is the link to my annotations:

Reading Reflection

1. CCSS: The common core state standards is a document that I'm becoming more and more familiar with. The document comes up in all of my EDU and SED courses and is incredibily important to us future teachers. When annotating, I mentioned some books that could be used to meet the standards but a lot of the times the book choice could have varied depending on the actual lesson being taught. One main point that I made was explaining that if you look at a certain standard and Kindergarten and watch the progression of difficulty in the same standard across grades, it's very interesting. You'll see that in Kindergarten the students have prompting and support, grade 1 they lose that support and by grade 2 the standard is increasingly difficult and so on.

2. Trachtenburg's Phonics Literature: This reading was one that I had mixed feelings on. As I've mentioned, I'm currently taking a phonincs instruction course so some of the information contradicted what I'm learning. One example was how in the beginning it mentioned quickly how students who participate in read-a-longs and shared reading experiences would spontanteously begin reading. This is not going to happen. Eventually in the article, they changed the view to a combination of actual literature and phonics instruction in a whole-part-whole fashion. They explained and provided an example lesson. After reading the lesson and the point that was made about carefully selecting this teaching approach, I felt a little better about it. Overall though, I belive that the main focus should be explicit phonics instruction and once students are suceeding with this then they could go and read real texts on their own. Of course, the teacher could still read aloud to them because this helps them develop their vocabulary.

Dr. Seuss Book/Activity

The Dr. Seuss book that I chose was "Horton Hears A Who". The reason that I chose this book was because I just completed an extremely cute bulletin board at my daycare based off of this book. What I did was read the book, get the students familiar with the book and excited about it. We then took their pictures and created a bulletin board that looked like this one below! There are so many fun/exciting things you can do with Dr. Seuss books!



Samantha Monaco

Module 4 Performance Task

4 min read

Hello again!

Time for the performance task.

While watching the videos on mini-lessons, we were to look for what worked and what didn't work. Here are my feelings:

1. Ricks Reading Workshop:

Rick modeled for the students what he would want them to be doing later. Telling students what they're going to be doing is very important. By showing the students how he read the book, it drew attention to what they should be doing/focusing on. He then allowed for the students to talk to each other about what they were thinking. By making them think, you're furthering their understanding of their own opinions. Then, he walked around and took pieces of what they were saying to use to teach them more.

2. First Grade Lesson:

This teacher had a whole group mini-lesson where she made the students answer her questions together. Even though the teacher took control of the lesson, she was taking input from her students. The only issue that I see with this is that the same students could always be answering the questions while the same questions sit there quietly. Unless there was something put into place regarding the amount of time individuals speak, then I don't believe that this is a lesson to reach all students needs.

3. Poetry Mini-Lesson

In this lesson, teacher provided the students with the purpose of the lesson. Especially with students in middle school, this is very important to point out. As I've been saying throughout a lot of my posts/annotations, students should be informed as to why they're learning what they're learning. This could help to motivate them in their learning. I also like how the poem was shared together along with each student having their own copy. This is helpful for the student who struggles to follow along to an orally spoken story/poem. The teacher also checks in to be sure students are understanding what they're doing. They always ended with a group discussion.

4. Reader's Workshop

In this workshop, the teacher was teaching the importance of re-reading a book and why it was helpful. They had a whole group discussion where the teacher re-read a book and explained why it helped. From here, she sent the students to their desk to choose (important) a book that they have read once before to re-read. I like this idea because it's allowing for the student to choose a book on their own but they're restricted in a way. It's not too open but it's also not a situation where the student gets no say in their learning. I value students choices and think it's an important aspect in their learning.

5. Kindergarten Writer's Workshop

This teacher began her lesson with an initiation to get her students thinking about a book they read earlier. Initiations are key to a good lesson plan. They thought about a time they felt silly and then were able to share and draw their feelings on paper. By relating to the students and their lives really keeps their interest/motivation high. Personally, I do feel that the teachers explanation of her story was a little lengthy for the age group she was working with (kindergarten). In my own opinion, maybe it would've been more effective if she spent less time on her own story and maybe choose a students to use as the example. I only think this because one 5 year olds story will relate to another 5 year olds thinking better than an adult teachers story. Or, maybe they could have completed the writing workshop in a more interactive way for the students being that they are so young and jittery.


These are my personal reactions to the readings. People may agree or disagree but regardless of your stand, let me know what you think! I look forward to reading and commenting on other peoples views on the videos.

Samantha Monaco

Module 4 Annotations

1 min read

Hey guys!

Here is a link to the annotations I've completed for this weeks readings. The two readings that I chose to annotate were:

1. Organizing for Effective Instruction: The Reading Workshop

2. Help! What Is Wrong with These Literature Circles and How Can We Fix Them?