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Author: Smith, David J.
Illustrator: Adams, Steve
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Year Published: 2014
Grades: Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 9

If…A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers

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Smith, the author of If a World Were a Village, continues his mission to make huge concepts understandable for students by using relevant concepts like pizza, rulers and dinner plates. In the same vein as If a World Were a Village, he compares the planets by shrinking them into balls with Earth as a baseball. Therefore Mercury becomes a ping-pong ball and Jupiter, an exercise ball. The continents become a two page spread of the book, with 3/4 of it being blue for seas and oceans, and the remaining 1/4 divided up to scale with the continents. This time, Smith tackles other less tangible ideas, such as compressing the entire history of the earth into a single year, and suggesting that if it was a two hour DVD, humans would only appear in the last second of the video. The illustrations (or infographics) by Adams bring the examples to life in a way that is accessible by the younger grades, while older grades can use both illustrations and text to make meaning of the concepts presented. Smith, a Canadian teacher and consultant, has provided two pages of back matter discussing using scale and models to bring concepts to students, and giving six different lesson ideas for using scale in the classroom.

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