Paul Hankins's Reviews > This Plus That: Life's Little Equations

This Plus That by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
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Sometimes life's little equations are simple and whimsical:

1 + 1 = US

And other times, life's little equations are progressive:


practice + practice = learning

practice + practice + practice = mastering

Amy Krouse Rosenthal who has delighted readers with titles this year like PLANT A KISS and CHOPSTICKS, and other Room 407 favorites like AL PHA'S BET and THE OK BOOK, gifts readers with something really special in LIFE'S LITTLE EQUATIONS.

Younger readers and writers may enjoy breaking down favorite activities, their surroundings and favorite places, and significant relationships into these "equations." To see these "little equations" worked into a math lesson--perhaps even posted outside of a math classroom would be a Common Core States Standards plus in my book (especially when considering standards that ask for multiple texts presenting a similar idea or concept).

For a new hashtag I've started at Twitter, #secondarypbs (Secondary Picture Books), I have started with THIS PLUS THAT: LIFE'S LITTLE EQUATIONS. For its discussion of the "tension of opposites," I picked up this picture book for Room 407 to use as a ladder with TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, particularly the equation "good days + bad days = real life." And Rosenthal does explore some opposites in regard to sincere apologies and politeness in the book which work well to bring a little light to Professor Swartz's concept of being pulled in opposite directions.

But looking closer at the book, I see something that can be used in the research process as well.

Classification is a skill that older reader and writers really need to break down a subject into a workable topic for the length of papers they might be asked to write. An introduction to Rosenthal's book might demonstrate how something complex (like a rainbow--or a relationship) can be broken down into its simple parts.

For example, a student desiring to do a paper on a diagnosis might think of that diagnosis as Definition+ Signs + Symptoms + Early Treatments + Research Studies + Current Treatment.

A student desiring to do a paper on a historical figure might think of that person as Brief Biographical Information + Significant Contributions To ____________ + Awards and Distinctions + Lasting Legacy.

And while these two examples are pretty simple here, what this approach really does is invite the older reader and writer to be able to focus down into a subject by appreciating its parts.

Like the recipe approach that is popular with multi-genre projects, I think a lot of students could benefit from this THIS PLUS THAT kind of approach to pre-writing.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Holly Awesome ideas. I am intrigued my all your ladder applications.


Paul  Hankins Thanks, Holly. I hope to continue to offer these extensions out of pbs for secondary teachers in little sound bytes and tweets here and there as I prepare to begin writing a book on the subject for secondary teachers. I think the CCSS ask more of us by way of including pbs and illustrated text within our instruction though the standards do say this explicitly.


Holly Yes - we've been using picture books in the upper elementaries for a long time to introduce skills and concepts - it's great that you're helping teachers do it at the secondary level! I'll look forward to reading your suggestions because there are always new books coming out! Good luck on the book!


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