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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.

Solitude, Storytelling, and Surprises with Ruth Behar Chalk and Ink: The Podcast for Teachers Who Write and Writers Who Teach

In this episode, Ruth Behar and I talk about solitude, storytelling and surprises.If Chalk + Ink has made you a better author and/or educator, please fill out this form so I can feature you on our 50th episode.It would be great if this season, the number of downloads per episode would double compared to the second season. Please help me spread the word by sharing the podcast on social media, writing a review wherever you listen to your podcasts, and/or sharing this episode with five colleagues.Maybe you’re not into promotion but you want to give me a boost and buy me a latte. It’s easy. Go to and with one single click you can support the podcast-no subscription necessary.In addition to being an amazing author and educator, Ruth Behar is very generous. She’s creating a five-minute Let’s Write video that educators can use in their classrooms. Become a Chalk + Ink Patreon supporter, you can have access to Ruth’s video as well as videos by April Jones Prince, Marcie Flinchum Atkins, Zetta Elliott, Erin Dealey, René Colato Laínez, Michelle Cusolito, and Lisa Stringfellow. Ruth also generously donated a 30-minute Zoom classroom or library call to a lucky podcast listener and a signed book to another podcast listener. There are several ways to enter: 1) Tweet or retweet this episode and be sure to tag Ruth and me, 2) Go to and make a comment on this episode’s post, 3) Make a comment about the episode on our Chalk + Ink Facebook page; and 4) Become a Chalk + Ink Patreon supporter. Patreon supporters are automatically entered into each giveaway. In order to enter the giveaway, these actions must be completed by midnight on Friday, September 16th. The winner will be announced on Friday, September 23rd, on the podcast as well as on Twitter and on our Facebook page.It’s homework time. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Nope. Nunca. Not going to happen,”? If so, then you have something in common with Beto, the main character in Cindy Rodriguez’s delightful new picture book Three Pockets Full. Give it a read before Cindy’s interview releases on Friday, October 7th.Many thanks to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink’s podcast art. Happy listening!Support the show
  1. Solitude, Storytelling, and Surprises with Ruth Behar
  2. Diving Deep Into Struggles, Successes, and Synergy with Michelle Cusolito
  3. Season Three Opener: Top Ten Luminous Literacy Workshop Tips
  4. Chalk + Ink: 50th Episode Call to Action
  5. Season Two Finale: Top Ten Writing Tips

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