Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11 - 14 Cows for America

The Principals' Book of the Month is a monthly tradition where I get to choose an well written picture book to gift each classroom. A faculty meeting is held to share the book with my teachers along with an instructional strategy that can be used in the classroom with students. It is a highly anticipated event that takes research, planning and meaningful execution. I found our first book for this year while attending the International Reading Association Convention in May. The book was not even published yet but I knew the moment I finished that it was the perfect book for September and I had to get it! One little problem...I was to be in South Carolina on vacation the morning of the Book of the Month presentation. My technology mentor, Melanie Holtsman, and I got together and hatched a plan. Could we get our district to unblock Skype just long enough for me to present Book of the Month live? We presented our case, helped with some trial runs and finally got the answer - YES! It worked beautifully and from my mother in law's kitchen table I presented 14 Cows for America, by Carmen Agra Deedy, to our faculty.

14 Cows for America is the true story of one nation’s incredible and compassionate gift to another. Following the devastating attacks of 9/11, Kimeli, a Maasai warrior, returns to his tribe in western Kenya and relates the tragic events of the attack to his people. They are so moved by the sorrow of the story that they offer a most selfless gesture in an effort to reach out to a country suffering with tremendous grief by giving a gift whose very meaning equals life.

I chose 14 Cows for America as the September Book of the Month to remind us not only of the 9/11 attacks, which targeted the very heart of the American people, but of the extraordinary gifts of compassion shown by people half a world away. Being able to offer any gesture of kindness, big or small, to another selflessly is an important lesson to learn in life. As educators we have the incredible responsibility to not only teach our students the academics but to also provide lessons that shape these lifelong behaviors.

For this presentation we also made a video of me reading the story so that it could also be shown to students throughout the day on September 11.

Read Aloud of 14 Cows for America from Melanie Holtsman on Vimeo.

To learn more about the book and access valuable teaching resources visit the 14 Cows for America website. For a complete write up for this Book of the Month you can visit my Book of the Month Wiki.

“Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded,
nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort.”

from 14 Cows for America, by Carmen Agra Deedy


Dee Dee Tamburrino said...

I loved this book. It was very meaningful and emotionally moving. Thanks for sharing it with us. Dee Dee

Jenny said...

I LOVE the picture at the top! :) It is so perfect - right down to Melanie's face in the pic-in-pic box. What a wonderful capture!

Today was a poignant day for me. I realized this past Wednesday, as I shared the book of the month with my classes, that we are now teaching babies who do not remember this day. I was shocked, quite frankly, when my 4th graders did not immediately recognize through the foreshadowing Deedy included that Kimeli was telling the story of 9/11. It was in that moment it clicked that these students were only a year or so old on that day.

Wow. That happened fast.

I wrote a blog post about it and linked into a ThinkQuest site that was designed by students at P.S. 89 in NYC. (I think Miss Young also found this site and shared with faculty.) I immediately got my first comment from a mother who described her story of where she was when she first heard. I hope to hear similar stories from more parents. I want my children to know, not only the facts of the events, but the ripple effect that occurred throughout the entire country.

None of us will ever forget.

Debby Cothern said...

As I drove up to the school I was excited about Book of the Month and I saw that your parking spot was empty. I thought it must be cancelled because there is no way that Susan would miss it especially the first one of the year. I shouild have known to expect the unexpected. This is a beautiful book that not only reminds us all of this tragic day but teaches us a touching fact of another culture. I will never forget 9/11. My nephew Orie was in my class at Chets. Lani Montemayor was a para in my class and we worked together to support each other and take care of the students in our care. At the end of the day the faculty and staff gathered in the front office. There was a feeling of shock and support as we all asked for the strength to care for the children who were in our care. It was one of those times that makes Chets such a special place for us all. It is all about relationships!

Mrs. Metzger and Mrs. Morris said...

I thought it was the perfect book for September. Just like Jenny's class, my kids didn't know much about the event because it was before they were born and I'm sure difficult for their parents to explain to them. I'm also thankful that we have a connection to the author. I remember when Carmen Agra Deedy came to Chets and had us all rolling in laughter during her presentation. It showcases her talent that she can write a serious book as well.
Lori Metzger

Anonymous said...

14 Cows for America is a beautiful story that connects people and cultures from acroos the world. Through technology we were able to show our students where the setting of the story was and the people that lived there.
Most of our students were not familiar with the tragedy of 9/11, but the message the book sent was of goodwill, life, and helping others. That they could relate to. I had never thought of using metaphors this extensively before. I think while reading, we can get the students thinking about the characters and the plot. I think starting with a metaphor about the character would be easiest, and you can draw in a deep conversation and then record the students metaphor on index cards and tape them inside of the book.
Thank you for the wonderful book, and the teaching strategy.

JJ Brown said...

I loved this book! I am so glad that you chose it. I cried when you read it to us, and had to practice reading it at home to be sure that I didn't cry in front of my class. I chose to let you read it to them intead:) So powerful and moving.

As we stood at Flag Raising on Friday and you were talking to the students about Patriots day, when you said the date, of the original 9/11, a little boy standing behind me said, Oh my God, that is the day I was born. I was reminded that although that day was horrible and changed our lives forever, many good things came out of that day as well, one of them is a Second Grade boy at Chets Creek.

Thank you for continung to make me cry at each Book of the Month Presentation, thank you for choosing this beautiful and moving book.

T-Cubed said...

Carmen is my favorite author bar none. In the past, I have been drawn to her work because of her humor. This time it is her ability to throw light on what true generosity is. I think that few Americans truly "give more than is wise", which is exactly what the book shows in the actions of the Masai. There is so much joy found in giving, and certainly many do give in times of crisis. I hope that I can learn to give more, and more often, when there is no crisis.

I also wish that we could buy a few water buffaloes. That piece of video was one of the most poignant statements that I have ever seen. We all have the potential to do so much more than we do.

As far as my class goes, I hope that I can convey the warm feeling of being generous. I often see selfless kids, and I wonder how they got that way in an age and stage that is usually associated with selfish actions. Usually the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

Just thoughts...



KK Cherney said...

I love all of the layers of this book and how you as the presenter incorporated all type of media, strategies and pure rich literature. Thanks boss