Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Science Trade Book Blog for Busy Teachers

Welcome to our new blog, Perfect Pairings: Linking Science and Literacy! We were inspired to start this blog to share all of the great books we have been reading over the past few years. We have been looking at science trade books from science (Kristin) and literacy (Amy) perspectives, and are getting ready to present at the NSTA National Convention in San Antonio Texas with some of the authors of the NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books.

One of the books we're going to share at our session (which is tomorrow at 1:00 in room 216B at the Convention Center, if you're here in San Antonio) is Blockhead: The life of Fibonacci by Joseph D'Agnese. It's a wonderful biography of Leonardo Fibonacci, told through his own eyes, from his youth in Italy, through his world travels and exposure to Arabic numbers, and ultimately to his discovery of what we now know as the Fibonacci sequence. The young mathematician is portrayed in this book as one who questions the world around him, wondering about nature and architecture and observing details that many seem to overlook. In the book it is this inquisitive nature that ultimately leads to the discovery of nature's famous sequence. D'Agnese seamlessly integrates famous problems (multiplying like rabbits, anyone?), applications of the sequence (pinecones, flower petals, sunflower seeds), and the Fibonacci spiral into the story in a way that engages the reader, while John O'Brien's illustrations provide a visual representation of each. And, the author wraps up the book with a one page explanation of what we actually know about Fibonacci's life (which is nice in terms of sorting out what's fact and what may be a bit of fiction in the story) and a "Can You Find?" page that invites readers to look for specific examples of the Fibonnaci sequence hidden in the illustrations,  challenges (and guides) them to find applications in real life, and even poses some pretty good  higher order thinking questions. It would make the perfect read aloud for 2nd grade and up. (Even though the text language is such that younger students would likely understand it, it would likely push the boundaries of their attention spans!)

And if you like the whole idea of exploring the Fibonacci sequence, you might also check out Sarah C. Campbell's non-fiction book Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, which uses vivid photographs, taken by Sarah and her husband, to show examples of the Fibonacci sequence in nature. She, too, includes additional information on Fibonnaci, his now-famous numbers, and other related information (The Golden Ratio, The Rabbit Problem, Golden Spiral, etc.) in the final pages of the book, and has some ideas for use in classrooms on her website (check out the "For Teachers" section in particular!). And, just in case you're here in San Antonio, think about coming to tomorrow morning's session (9:30-12:30 in the Marriott Rivercenter, Salon L) where you can meet and interact with Sarah (and Amy) and a number of other science trade book authors or a Saturday morning session (9:30-10:30) where Sarah (and Kristin) will talk about using scientists' stories in teaching!

That's enough for now--we've got to head back over to the Convention Center and check out more of the sessions (and exhibits!). Looking forward to sharing more books tomorrow!


  1. Amy & Kristen,
    This sounds like an exciting venture, and I look forward to hearing more as well as possibly sharing some great books from my elementary repertoire if the opportunity arises.

    Good luck on your presentation tomorrow! Wish I could attend!

    Karla Halcomb- KCS Secondary Literacy

  2. Thanks, Karla! We're looking forward to hearing your ideas...and sharing more books of course!

  3. Enjoy San Antonio and welcome to the blogosphere!