Monday, September 10, 2012

The BIG Blog Book Tour Begins



Little Pickle Press publishes children’s books that present relevant topics of the times, and help parents and teachers begin conversations with their children about subjects like the environment, ethnicity, entrepreneurship, and other values that children and parents worldwide can embrace. To help adults further guide children through the basic concepts introduced in the picture books, the publisher also offers free expanded lesson plans available for download at their website. These are a great help for busy educators as each offers three exercises to reinforce the book's concepts, as well as many Internet links to related topics and information!

Today we welcome, Meredith Moran, who is a Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education at Stanford University. Meredith researches and writes the lesson plans that complement the LPP stories. The latest project is for BIG (written by Coleen Paratore and illustrated by Clare Fennell), which was just released and kicks off its blog book tour with this very post!

Dani: Welcome, Meredith. Tell us a little a bit about your teaching experience, and why you chose to get a Ph.D.

Meredith: Hello, and thank you for having me.  I taught elementary school for nine years, one year in third grade and eight years in kindergarten.  The longer I taught, the more fascinated I became with the process of how young children learn to read.  Eventually I decided that pursuit of a Ph.D. would provide the best avenue for me to develop in-depth knowledge of the reading process.  It was an extremely difficult decision for me to leave the classroom and I still hope to return to teaching in some capacity once I finish my doctoral work.  My long-term goal is to pursue literacy-based research that can easily be translated into promising instructional practices that increase children’s enjoyment of and success with reading.

Dani: When you set out to create the lesson plan, what do you do first?

Meredith: The first step in the process involves getting to know the book in detail, as well as the key messages conveyed within the text.  Dani and I schedule a phone conference in which we read the book together and brainstorm ideas about themes and activities that are both relevant and engaging for children.

Dani: After you have an idea of the direction and the projects, how do you craft them? Are there certain themes or values you focus on for each lesson plan?

Meredith: Once I have an idea about the general direction of the projects, I like to design the learning activities next (it’s the teacher in me, still!).  After I’ve mapped out the learning activities, I have a better idea of which character-building skills and additional resources best tie in to each project.  In terms of themes and values, they tend to vary according the text itself, though most of the plans center on a theme of encouraging children’s physical and emotional well being, as well as successful interaction and participation in an increasingly global environment.

Dani: What is the Common Core Initiative and how does it fit into the lesson plan? Why is it important?

Meredith: The Common Core is a set of national learning standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics for students in kindergarten through grade 12.  The goal of the standards is to ensure that all students in the United States receive a quality, equitable educational experience that will prepare them for a successful future and a lifetime of learning.  The Little Pickle Press lesson plans include activities that help elementary school students work toward achievement of the Common Core standards for listening and speaking.  These language skills provide a critical foundation for literacy success.

Dani: Do you create the artwork, too?

Meredith: I wish I could say that I did, but we have a talented team of graphic designers at Little Pickle Press who work wonders with the format of the lesson plans once the writing portion of the plans is completed.  I am always amazed at how the designers bring such beauty to what starts out as a text-on-paper document.

Dani: Thanks for sharing with us, Meredith! Readers, you can download all the lesson plans at the Little Pickle Press website here. Click here for the BIG lesson plan. And of course you’ll want to buy a copy of this beautiful book which is printed on recycled papers with soy inks in North America. It’s all part of the Little Pickle Press commitment to protecting the environment. You can also download a Kindle version of the book by clicking here.


If you have questions for Meredith, please leave them in the comments. What do you think of writing lesson plans for teachers and have you done this for your own books?

27 comments :

  1. Since most of my recent books are adult fiction, I have not created lesson plans for teachers, but I can see how that would be helpful for children's books.

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  2. What a cool concept. It almost makes me wish I was still in the teaching world - I love anything that introduces literacy to children.

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  3. These lesson plans are so amazing! It is great to learn more about you, Meredith!

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  4. I love the lesson plans, what a great resource for teachers!

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  5. I love these lesson plans! Thank you!

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  6. One of the most innovative aspects of Little Pickle Press are the lesson plans. Furthering their support of children and helping them grow into responsible, open minded, and compassionate adults.

    Well done Meredith!

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  7. I love that I fan feel your passion for children coming through off of the page! Thank you for take the time to develop these lesson plans, they are wonderful

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  8. It's a great idea. Certainly makes the book more appealing to both parents and teachers.

    And the artwork looks beautiful!

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  9. Being somewhat involved with the creation of these, I have to mention all the great links Meredith finds to augment the themes in each lesson plan. There are so many great resources on the Internet, it's overwhelming. The lesson plans pre-vet all those, which makes them even more useful for teachers. The plans are great for homeschoolers, too!

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  10. I have long wondered about the process of creating a lesson plan from a children's book. Thanks for the insight! My girls and I love reading BIG.

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  11. Welcome Meredith! I love your PhD topic and the way it manifests in these lesson plans. How cool to be involved in the brainstorming for these, Dani!

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  12. This is a great insight on the process of creating a lesson plan. Thank you, Meredith, for doing such important work! ~Land

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  13. The "Big" lesson plans are a wonderful addition for the teachers and adults using books published by the Little Pickle Press. I think all of the lesson plans are great models because they are so pertinent to each book and provide activities that are appropriate for home and school! Including Common Core Standards is an especially important piece since all states have mandated that the concepts be taught in their schools. I've been keeping a resource notebook of the lesson plans available from Little Pickle Press books and am thrilled to be able to add "Big" to my collection. Thank you, Meredith,

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  14. The Lesson Plans are such a great way to access the positive messages in Little Pickle's books in a manner that children can relate to and internalize. The activities suggested are thoughtfully researched and sourced because Meredith does an amazing job!

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  15. And Sarah, who just commented, does the artwork that makes them so beautemous!

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  16. I'm going to share this with all of my friends who teach.

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  17. Great idea! Best to you on this tour.

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  18. We get so much positive feedback from educators on our lesson plans. We are so grateful to Meredith and the rest of our team who invest their time and talent to bring these valuable resources to teachers for free. So, spread the word to the educators in your life! Thank you!

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  19. Thank you everyone for your kind words about the plans! I truly enjoy the process of writing these plans. Being a part of this project certainly makes me want to return to the classroom to implement the plans myself. And I certainly have to share the credit here - the Little Pickle Press team is amazingly collaborative; these plans are definitely a team effort!

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  20. Meredith, Your lesson Plans are amazing! They are interesting, informative, and the activities look like children would love them. You must have been a fantastic teacher!

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  21. Little Pickle Press hits a home run with the BIG lesson plans. What a wonderful resource for teachers and parents.

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  22. Meredith- Thank you for all your hard work in making these lesson plans. They are a great resource for teachers, and even parents, on how to spark conversation and thinking after reading BIG!

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  23. Gosh, Coleen, thanks for stopping in!

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  24. The lesson plans are such a great added resource from Little Pickle Press. They are a tremendous resource for educators and parents, and this one is particularly comprehensive. Meredith, I suspect you are sorely missed in the classroom.

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  25. So grateful and excited to be a part of this wonderful project and team!

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  26. In this age of computer games and other technical wizardry, it's so refreshing to learn that some still work to encourage reading among our children. Huge kudos to Little Pickle Press, Meredith, and of course to our own special Dani for their parts in this worthwhile project.

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  27. thanks for sharing..

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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