Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Read Alouds That Help You Teach 3rd Grade Skills


I always enjoy introducing a topic using a book. If it's the right book it can hook the kids immediately & honestly I really enjoy reading a great book out loud. It always makes me feel really connected to the class and I always walk away from it feeling joyful. I think that has a lot to do with how the kids respond too. If I like the book, it shows and they tend to enjoy it more when it seems I'm enjoying it. Some of my favorite memories are of us reading a book together as s class.
Here are just a few from this past year that caused fantastic class conversations and student "Ah-ha" moments...



Exclamation Mark
I read this one near the beginning of the year and it helped us review ending punctuation. This book is SO MUCH fun to read. The kids & I just laugh when the question mark shows up. Ha! I actually read this one a few times this year because we loved it so much & the extra exposure helped students that struggle pick up on the humor if they didn't understand it the first time.


Duck. Rabbit!
It's a Duck! No, It's a Rabbit! Haha! The kids were all talking during this read aloud that helped us to understand Point of View. I also was able to link this one to opinion writing & persuasive statements. After we read a few pages I stopped and had them jot down a couple reasons that supported their opinion of duck or rabbit. They shared those ideas with a neighbor to help them see their point of view and maybe even persuade their neighbor to change their mind. There were so many great conversations happening during this one. We read this one more than once as well to remind the kids of the skills learned.


Who Would Win? Lobster vs. Crab
This series is AMAZING! If you don't have these in your classroom library they are a must for your Scholastic wish list this year. The kids absolutely devoured these once I read one out loud. I had to require that they only keep 1 in their book box so others in the class could read them! This is the kind of problem I want to have in my classrooms always!
I used these books to teach opinion writing and persuasive statements. The kids would have a pencil and paper as I read the fact pages about each animal. When I do this I only read the fact pages that really help support their opinions so be sure you read through the book first and plan which  pages you'll read. They would jot down notes about each creature and naturally conversations began to occur. "The lobster will win because..." and "That trait will help the crab in a fight".  Now at the end of these books there is a "fight scene" between the two creatures and one ends up the "winner".  I stop just before the fight scene and we complete the following activity...
We would review how to write a strong opinion paragraph. Then using the facts they jotted down they wrote who they thought would win and why.  After everyone had created their paragraph I would read the end. When I read the endings they were on the edge of their seats people! You could hear a pin drop in my class & then when it's finally over TONS of conversation about their opinions would occur. Now I know this sounds like chaos, but if you listen closely you hear them sharing text evidence about why the ending has to be wrong or right. I had one student this past year who read the bull shark version with a partner and he was so adamant that the ending was wrong that he was referencing other books. It was great and also convincing. After hearing his evidence I even thought there might be a misprint in the book. I even encouraged him to write a letter to the author. :)  He was engaged, reading, researching, and thinking! It doesn't get much better than that does it!?


Amelia Bedelia 4 Mayor
Oh Amelia! This lady is always doing the craziest stuff! At first I thought these would be too childish, but really when you read Amelia Bedelia it takes a lot of word knowledge to fully understand the humor in her books. So I gave it a try this year to teach homonyms and figurative language. When I read these out loud it was a slow read in a way. Meaning, I had to pause a lot because there was so much humor they were missing. This book ended up taking us 3 read aloud sessions because we took the time to understand what was really happening in small sessions. I also had the class say whether it was figurative language or a confused homonym when we came across those classic "Amelia Moments". After reading this out loud the kids started picking these up on their own and pointing out confused homonyms to me or a neighbor. Success!


Oh The Places You'll Go!
I LOVE this book. It might be my all time favorite picture book after this year. It may have been the first time I read it and the kids really understood it. I used this book to teach figurative language this past year. I wrote some of the figurative phrases on a chart paper. As we read we paused and the students made sense of them together. Then we wrote what the phrase meant in kid friendly language next to the figurative phrase. I felt so proud of them after this lesson. Figurative language is so hard to understand and they really worked together & thought hard about each page. They walked away from the carpet feeling like they could do anything!

Books can connect our kids to so many concepts & it's important for us to remember how much our older elementary students enjoy hearing a story.
What are your go-to books to read out loud & teach skills?

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 5

Thanks so much to Literacy Loving Gals for organizing this book study and getting the word out on this extremely helpful reading strategy resource. I love the way this book is set up and I know I'll be referring to it often this school year.


 Today I'm sharing some details on Goal 5 of The Reading Strategies Book, which is all about understanding plot and setting. Basically it's about understanding what is happening in the book. 
A big part of this is visualizing. Children must explicitly be taught this skill.
This Goal is perfect for me because I'm constantly saying the following phrase to my class...


 These visualizing skills are so important to develop and model to students. 
So often this step is skipped because it's a skill that is done automatically in mature readers. When this step is skipped children tend to become readers that finish books, but can never tell you about the book they're reading. As a child, I was one of these readers. My eyes would move and I was decoding words, but it wasn't going anywhere. Literally. Nowhere. I pictured very little as I read until I was a bit older and a wonderful teacher said, "You have to picture it. Put yourself in that book." From that day on I LOVED to read. Now I stress the importance of the skill in my own classroom. Seriously, by the end of the year they're all saying, "We know Mrs. M! Make a Movie in Your Mind!"
It makes me so happy when it sticks...


Here are a few strategies from the chapter that can help your students become active, thinking readers that are able to visualize.


Reactions Help You Find the Problem

This strategy is all about teaching students the importance of noticing how the character is reacting to a situation in the books. Further the author, Jennifer Seravello, encourages the teacher to use an extension prompt such as, "What does that reaction tell you about what he or she is feeling?" 
This strategy could be completed in a Double Entry Journal. You could also have the students put post-its in their books with an explanation of the character's reaction at that point.  
An example used in the book is from Charlotte's Web when Fawn is "shrieking" because she discovers Papa is planning, "to do away the pig". That word, "shrieking" can really make an impression on a reader and we want to teacher our young ones to pick up on clues like these.
Practice makes permanent!


Chapter-End Stop Signs
At the end of each chapter the students will write one important event from that chapter. This could be done on a post-it and placed at the end of the chapter. It could also be completed on a paper like the one they showed in the book below.  

This a great way to get students thinking and reflecting about what they read. 
It would also help them with retelling and summarizing skills.


Series Books Have Predictable Plots

The author suggests using this strategy with your book clubs or reading groups. Throughout the book the students would discuss similarities between the plots of the books in the same series. Then to extend on that encourage the students to use what they know about that pattern to predict what will happen in the current book they're reading. 
They use the example of The Magic Tree House, which is the perfect example in my opinion. After reading a couple of these the students should see the pattern of the book. The book club could create a poster like the one shown in the book. 


This poster shows how students were actively thinking and comparing throughout their book club. We then want this process to carry over into independent reading. Again, practice makes permanent!

Another idea I thought of to include some writing would be to create a story with a similar pattern as the series they're reading. It would be their own version of an adventure with those characters in a similar plot line.

You guys need to pick up this book! It's easy to utilize & implement the strategies listed.
Thanks for stopping by & Thanks to The Literacy Loving Gals for inviting me to join in!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

BTS in a Flash! Student Engagement

Hello everyone! It's the final week of BTS in a Flash! This linky has been so much fun & I've found so many great ideas! Thanks to our hosts for setting all of this up! :)
This week's topic is student engagement...

These little traffic cones with positive sayings on them make my kids work SO hard. As soon as I start giving them out the participation in class shoots way up! I found them at the Dollar Tree. I've seen them each year around back to school time for about the past four years, but if you see them buy them! They go quickly! 
I give these out for exceptional answers, hard work, kind acts, and great effort! When the kids earn a cone they also write a note home to their parent to let them know they earned it and how they earned it. It sits on the corner of their desk for the day & then they're returned to be used again the next day. 
I didn't have a picture of the cones so I used this photo of the cones from Crockett's Classroom. She has a post about these where she adds a little something to spice them up. Check it out!


Behavior bucks were a huge hit this past year. The kids could earn $5.00 each day if they followed classroom rules, completed their work, got along with others etc. They would save the money and then they could spend it on reward coupons (see below). Also, once a quarter I would have a special event such as donut morning where they could spend the earned paper money to buy a donut. The kids were really motivated to stick to our rules so they could keep their money. They also got a lot of practice in trading money because they always wanted the higher bills. So it was helpful in two ways! I love it when that happens!

These are the coupons that I mentioned earlier. These were great because the rewards on the coupons cost me little to no money and the kids loved them! I'd say the favorites were, "Sit in the Teacher's Chair" and "Homework Pass". The kids really wanted to save their Behavior Bucks so they could purchase the coupons.

What are your tips for keeping students engaged?


Sunday, August 9, 2015

BTS in a Flash! Decor & More


Another week has flown by friends! I'm not in my room just yet but here are some of the things that are a MUST for my decor.

A Color Scheme You Love!
I chose this color scheme last week & just love it! It makes the room look so welcoming, but still calm. Of course I had to purchase many accessories to make the room look complete. Good thing Hobby Lobby & Target have plenty of options for me. Haha! #targetproblems

A Fun Bulletin Board Background
The background is felt from Joann Fabrics and the border is tissue paper. This one stays up all year and I just change out the objects on it. I'm going to try focus walls this year! I saw this tissue border idea from All Students Can Shine!


Inspiration!
I need inspiration in my room to keep me going! I also think it sends a positive message to the kids and you can never have too many positive vibes in a classroom! I created this one last year. I have a couple versions HERE if you're interested in adding a little inspiration on your door!

Cute Labels!
Fun labels make everything better! Am I right!? These also help me to stay organized. I use these labels in the Sterilite drawers behind my desk and they were a life saver this past year. I felt more organized than usual and the little clips on the labels just brightened up the whole shelf.

I can't wait to read the other decor ideas! Posts like these are always so inspiring! How do you decorate your classroom?




Sunday, August 2, 2015

BTS in a Flash! Curriculum Must Haves



Hello friends! It's week 2 in the BTS in a Flash series! I hope you'll join in on the fun. I'm always looking for new ideas & products to use in my classroom. Here are a few of my curriculum must haves in class!

I used these Interactive Notebooks by Blair Turner and they are so great! There are pictures to show what the page should look like and the activities are engaging for the kids. It really helped that they were organized by standard since I teach in a state that uses Common Core. It made the files easy to navigate & use.

These Multiplication & Division Loops were created by me & they were life-savers this past year! It was a quick & engaging way for the kids to practice their math facts each day. I had them in small expandable files. The kids would take one loop to complete and then add it to the class chain link. The chain link grew each day & that really motivated kids to continue practicing.


This Book Club  product is on my WISH LIST! I want to use more novels in class and this fantastic resource from Not So Wimpy Teacher will help me accomplish that goal! These organizers are versatile so they can be used with a variety of books. What products are on your wish list?
What products are must haves for you?
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 26, 2015

BTS in a Flash! Teacher Faves


Hello friends! Can you believe it's already time for back to school!? I know some of you are already in the classroom but I am still cherishing my last few weeks. Along with enjoying the time, I'm getting ready for my next crew! It's funny how a teacher's brain never really turns off. Your classroom & students are always in the back of your mind it seems. But now it's finally time to take action!
I'm so excited to be joining all of these FABULOUS bloggers to share a super fun Back to School linky! Hopefully I'll find some more items that will make all the difference this year.
We hope you'll join in the fun too!
So this week is Teacher Faves! When I sat down to write this post I tried to think of my favorite teacher things. You know the things that just keep you going. The things that make your life just a little bit easier. As first I couldn't think of anything but coffee. I know that's totally shocking here on this blog *sarcasm* but soon my list was really long. It turns out I like  A LOT of things. That might explain my issues with spending far too much money at Target.... Which is also one of my favorite things. Haha!
So I chose the very best of my favorite things. All the while humming that catchy song from The Sound of Music. Ha! I seriously loved that movie as a kid. But getting back on track here. :)

"These are a few of my favorite things..."

This past year was the first year I tried using interactive notebooks & glue sponges in my classroom. I mostly used them in math and I LOVED them! The kids were engaged when we used them. We were able to go back to older pages and refresh our memories. I also liked being able to complete a page on Day 1 and then on Day 2 the kids would look it over. They would talk about the topics and show that they understood it with an example using words or pictures. The glue sponges worked really well, One things I learned was the importance of using a good container to keep the air out!

These drawers kept me organized this year. It forced me to put things in their place. When I made copies they went in by subject & I was no longer searching through piles on my desk. These cute labels add a pop of color & fun. I also used a set with my writer's workshop drawers. The labels were fun to make so I ended up creating a couple versions. If you like a little clip art click HERE and if you like it simple & blue click HERE.

Post its! Sticky paper! Why didn't I think of this idea!? I just love these. I really like this size because they're great to use in reading group. The kids write notes about how they responded to the text and stick them in the book. I've also used them as a color coded book marks when more than one reading group is using the same book.

Lattes, machiattos, and frappuccinos! I like them all! These wonderful treats just keep me going. It's my Friday treat and sometimes my Monday or Wednesday pick me up. Haha!
Milanos just make working those evenings easier for me. I sometimes have just one as a treat for making it through a stack of papers. Sometimes I have more than one...
I know books seems obvious since I'm a teacher, but I just can't leave them out, and I can't just pick one. If I had a bigger home I would have a giant library. I'd even have one of those cool rolling ladders that you're never allowed to climb on in the store. You know like in that scene from Disney's Beauty & the Beast!? You know you want to try it! :)

Individual dry erase boards make my life easier.
Less paper = less grading = happy teacher & less paper usage = happy planet.
Plus their more fun than paper! They're perfect for teaching a skill in small group, student skills practice. and they're great for quickly checking on student's understanding of topics. They can be expensive at school supply stores. I was lucky to find these just last week at the local craft store for $2.00 each! Woohoo!

What are your teacher faves!?



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Summer Stock Up!


Hello Friends! I hope you're having a fantastic & refreshing summer! I'm linking up with The Primary Gal to Share & Show you some amazing products.
My Multiplication Loops & Division Loops were life-savers this year!! They were a quick & easy way for the kids to practice their math facts. Plus they were fun!



I stored them in a little file folder that I found at The Dollar Tree. I printed a bunch. Then I cut & sorted them in the file folder so they would be easy to find and refill. This would last a few weeks so it was low maintenance for me to keep up with in class. 




The kids would help themselves to a loop at their level. They would complete it on their own after morning work, or if they finished a task early. Sometimes they wore them like a bracelet, but most of the time the kids added them to our math fact chain. The chain went around the room and the students were motivated to make the chain grow.


My Freebie is a sample of these Multiplication Loops! 
Be sure to check them out & see if they could be successful in your classroom!