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The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story

The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho

In the classroom, often times student struggle when trying to differentiate fiction from nonfiction. Sometimes, I will give students a group of books that they have to sort into two groups: fiction or nonfiction.

A similar activity can also be done with informational fiction titles. “Informational fiction presents facts and information within a fictional story.” In The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho, the grandmother and the main character, Dayeon, are fictional characters. But as Dayeon learns to face her fear of the ocean, readers learn about the haenyeo tradition which centers around elderly women diving “in deep waters up to thirty meters.”

After the fictional story arc, Tina Cho includes nonfiction back matter about the haenyeo tradition. She uses quotes from her interview with various haenyeo to organize the information in the back matter.

So, another way to help readers learn the difference between fiction and nonfiction, would be to give them an informational fiction title such as The Ocean Calls and ask them to read the whole book including the back matter. Then, ask them to identify whether Dayeon’s story is fiction or nonfiction and explain why. After explaining that the story is fictional because it has made up characters, ask readers whether the back matter is fiction or nonfiction and to explain why. In the back matter, readers can identify the quotes from real people and learn the facts about the tradition and the dangers these brave women face every time they dive deep.

For those of you who wish to learn more about the author, Tina Cho, who is also a kindergarten teacher in Iowa, you can listen to me interview her on my podcast Chalk and Ink: The Podcast for Teachers Who Write and Writers Who Teach.

It’s the season three finale.  I’ve compiled the top ten writing tips from this season’s guests to help get listeners psyched up for a creative, productive summer. Tip Number Ten: It's Gotta Be Fun with Linda Urban, Torrey Maldonado, and Jessica LanderTip Number Nine: Set a Schedule with Andy J. Pizza, Sally Engelfried, and Ruth BeharTip Number Eight: Get Organized with Tracey Baptiste, Ralph Fletcher, and Erika Thulin Dawes with Mary Ann CappielloTip Number Seven: Get Outside with Susan Edwards Richmond, Nicole D. Collier, and Jessica LanderTip Number Six: Read Craft Books with Sally Engelfried and Sandy Stark McGinnisTip Number Five: Create Community with Andy J. Pizza, Cindy Rodriguez, and Hanh BuiTip Number Four: Get Specific with Tracey Baptiste, Linda Urban, Stacey Shubitz and Melanie MeehanTip Number Three: The Beginning Holds the End with Kyle LukoffTip Number Two: Write for the Unseen Reader with Chris Baron, Torrey Maldonado and Hanh BuiTip Number One: Writing Starts with You with Chris Baron, Michelle Cusolito, and Emily FrancisSupport the show
  1. Season Three Finale: Top Ten Writing Tips
  2. Writing Starts With You With Chris Baron
  3. Highlighting Helpers with Hanh Bui
  4. Trusting the Process with Mary Ann Cappiello and Erika Thulin Dawes
  5. Celebrating Students' Strengths With Jessica Lander

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