Saturday, December 6, 2014

Penguins & Main Idea FREEBIE!

Do your students have a hard time deciding what is a topic and a main idea? Well mine do! This is evident when they are researching a topic in the pre-writing stage. They come to writing conference with their web filled in with great details, but many times they're not related. Also, the main idea is very vague, which resembles a topic. So some more instruction needed to be done. 

I used this activity to teach in a scaffold method. I read a non-fiction text about penguins. I used Penguins from reading which, side note is a fabulous resource. I read with the kids because I was able to project the book on the smart board, and showed them how monitor their reading. I did this by using a note-taking strategy. 
I'm not sure of the source but here's what I use:

~ a squiggle line under the word means the reader is unsure how to decode the word
 ? is used if the meaning of a word is confusing
! is used the fact is cool, interesting or reminds the reader of something

We've been using this in reading group as well. I just have them use the small tab post-its since they can't write in the book. It's really helped the kids monitor their reading, and creates A TON of great discussion about what their reading. At the end of the day I think talking about words, and books is what helps our kids become life-long readers, not prepping for a test.

After the think aloud, I showed them the difference between topic, and main idea, which they always seem to have a hard time deciphering. I projected the first web. 

We talked about how the main idea and the details go together. This opening was a quick “Watch Me” part of the lesson. Then the kids did a Daily 5 rotation. After that we came back together and read another section in the book. Then I gave out the next 2 webs on a 2 sided sheet so they could refer to it when they later work independently.

We looked at the side that was partially filled in first and they worked together in table groups to complete the main idea and missing detail using the text. This was the “Let’s Practice Together” part of the lesson. We did another Daily 5 rotation. After, I let them read a section of the book on their own and fill in the blank web on their own. This was the “I can do this on my own” part of the lesson. The kids were engaged because of the short bursts of instruction, interesting topic, and the feeling of fully understanding what was expected of them. Even my littles that tend to struggle with reading seemed confident in completing the activity on their own. 

 I’m also planning to use the blank web to help them plan for writing their non-fiction book... stay tuned for that.
If you are interested in this FREEBIE pick it up on TPT! Hang in there hard-working teachers! You're doing a great job! Even if some days the task seems impossible, you are making a difference! Those littles are luck to have you! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wow! Where Does the Time Go!?

This year is flying! There are only 2 days left in the first quarter for us and I can't believe it. I know I say this in just about every blog post-But really, where does the time go!? I haven't blogged in about 2 months and it baffles me- so here's what we've been up to in 3rd grade...
I've been doing my best to build up some new 3rd grade activities. I started the year off reviewing the 2nd grade concepts so I focused on money, addition, subtraction, and word problems. I created some math bell work papers for the beginning of the year review. You can pick them up HERE for FREE. 
We reviewed telling time to 5 minutes, learned to tell time to 1 minute AND learned how to figure out elapsed time problems. To help my little friends that struggled with telling time to 5 minutes we did the Peek & Check Clock. This is a great tool to use with those littles that struggle to remember or just lack the confidence to tell time to 5 minutes. If you want to see a detailed description of how to complete this activity you can my blog post on Teacher Deals & Dollar Steals HERE.

This year I started using the Daily 5. OhMyGoodness, I LOVE it. I am now kicking myself for trying to create new centers every two weeks for the last 3 years. I will admit that it took a lot of practice so that now it will be done correctly, but the kids love it, it's very little maintenance for me, and they are engaged the entire time. It's a winner in my book! I created some I-Charts to put on the bulletin board that had the same wording we went over when I taught the choices.

If you're interested in these little cuties you can pick them up HERE for FREE. The posters are just my interpretation of The Daily 5 after reading their book, which I highly recommend.

We also reviewed a our Language Arts vocabulary words so we could use the words, and understand them when we're asked to locate parts of our stories. We played a modified version of Headbands with the vocabulary cards I created. I didn't have enough of the plastic headbands for the kids to use so they just put a card on their forehead without looking. The other kids took turns giving clues to get the player to guess their word. At first they struggled with it, but after a couple rounds I saw a huge improvement in their knowledge. They were having fun, and improving their understanding. Don't you just love it when an activity works out that way!?  

We also took some time for a little fun after our fall testing. We created some pumpkins. They all turned out so different and cute! We painted them with small wiffle balls that had been rolled in paint.The paper is in a shirt box so that the wiffle balls can roll around easily and not end up on the floor. 

Here's what it looks like while painting.

This is what one of them looked like when it was all done! Too cute! Some of them turned out scary, and others were cute, but they were all super creative. Then the kids wrote a story about their pumpkins. I really enjoyed reading them because they were all so different. I just love to see what the kids come up with when I don't give them too many guidelines. It turns out so much better than if I give them a prompt. Do you agree? 
So that's what we've been up to in my classroom!
Hopefully it won't be another 2 months until I blog again....
Happy Fall!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back to School!

OhMyGoodness! I've been back to school for 3 days now and it's as if I blinked and it flew past me! This little project was supposed to be my Monday Made-It with 4th Grade Frolics. Haha! Made-it Wednesday!? Does that count!?
I had forgotten how crazy life gets during the first few weeks. Luckily my little sweeties are great and I'm really enjoying 3rd grade. Don't get me wrong, I'm completely overwhelmed, but living in the moment & enjoying the crazy days!
Here's my first day of school gift I made for the littles! I'm really happy with how they turned out & it was so quick! I originally saw this idea HERE but I wanted it in one piece so here's my spin on it!
I made the labels & printed them on card stock. I punched out the labels using a 2.5 inch scalloped punch. I found that starting on the right side of the paper was easiest for me. Move down the right side punching out the circles. Then cut off the side of the paper so you can get to the middle set of circles and repeat the process.

Once you have all the labels punched out you can use a hot glue gun to attach the label to a snack bag of cookies. I used bite size Oreos. Yummy! I may or may not have eaten two bags while I made these...

If you would like to make this for your littles click here for the free labels. I made a generic version so you can either sign your name or use the plain one. I hope you're back to school season is going smoothly!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Close Reading The Final Chapter

1. What Advice Can You Share?
My advice is to talk about how you read as an adult. When I talk about how I visualize ("Make a Movie in Your Mind"), use context clues, and think while I read it helps the kids realize they have to think to read closely. I know it sounds like a simple thing, but it's explicit instruction. I remember being younger and never thinking while I read. I really struggled with comprehension until I was older and a teacher told me to picture what I read. Also, after you model the strategies give the kids a lot of time to try out these skills independently.

2. What New Ideas Do You Have?
I'd like to use movie clips & real life experiences to apply the drawing conclusions skills.

3. How Do I Plan to Implement Close Reading in My Classroom
I plan to use close reading in my guided reading groups. I plan to start by modeling close reading. Then we'll work together until I see they're ready to try it out on their own. During the big back to school sale I scooped up Sassy,Savvy, Simple's Close Reading Packet & I plan to use that at the beginning of the year!
I also plan on giving the kids more time to read. Chapter 7 talks a lot about giving kids the chance to use those close reading strategies independently. I hope to accomplish this by using The Daily 5 this year. Everyone I've talked to just loves the Daily 5 so I'm hopeful I'll have the same success.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you've learned a little something about close reading from our book study!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Close Reading Chapter 6: Comparing Text-to-Text

1. My Ah-Ha Moment from Chapter 6
In Chapter 6 the authors talk about comparing two texts. I'm sure many of you have done this with your students on a Venn diagram or some other graphic organizer. You work together to compare two versions of the same story or two characters in a book. These are great practices & an outstanding way to model how this is done. Yay! 
 Then the authors encourage us as educators to let the students choose the books they will compare.
At this point I was thinking, "Hmmmmmmm.... Not sure my kiddos are ready for that." But as I thought about it more I realized some of our little ones already do this don't they!? As we're reading out loud a sweet child will say "Oh this book is like_____________". We, as teachers, are always super excited that they've remembered the story and listened close enough to be able to compare it to another text.
So my plan is to try to read stories that can be compared in some way. Maybe by asking "Does this remind anyone of another book we read?" The idea here is there is no wrong answer to that question as long as the student can say "Oh it's like the book we read yesterday because ______________."
 If I model enough the students will eventually begin doing this in their own reading.
We'll use a graphic organizer like this one to compare characters, settings, or passages.
Can you think of two related books that could be used?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Introducing Teacher Deals & Dollar Steals!!!

I am so excited to announce that I am joining forces with some of my favorite bloggers to bring you a new collaborative blog called Teacher Deals and Dollar Steals! With this blog, there will be approximately forty teachers sharing their excellent work in what we are calling a Dollar Steal!

What is a Dollar Steal, you ask?  Each day, one of my bloggy friends will be sharing a post about one of their products.  In their blog post, they will share a link to their product where you can purchase it for only $1.00.  Now here's the catch, you'll have to act fast because their sale will only last for THREE days.  After the three days, you can still grab their fabulous product, but it will be at it's original price.

I would love for you to hop over by clicking the button above and follow our new blog through email or Bloglovin in order to ensure that you catch all of our deals in a timely manner.  We are also giving away a $25 TeachersPayTeachers Gift Certificate.  You can enter by following us!!!

Thank you for joining me on this new and exciting experience.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Behavior Management Using Money & Reward Coupons

I bought this super cute mirror at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago & have been trying t decide what to put on it. I wanted something meaningful, but easy for my third graders to understand.
I have been asking my all my sweet teacher friends and I finally settled on this...

"When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind"
Have you read the book Wonder? I read it for Ramona Recommends July book. It was very emotional.  It made me think about my everyday actions. Am I being kind? It's such as important question.
So the mirror will be in our classroom as a reminder to be kind to one another & ourselves.
It was super easy!!! I cleaned the mirror and used these super cute 3D foamy glitter stickers from Hobby Lobby. I also like these stickers because I could change the letters easily at some point in the school year &
keep the kids guessing.

Well the beginning of the year is quickly approaching & I don't know about you but my reaction was 
 "Uhhh, Where did you come from August!?!?!?"
That was a major wake-up call for me! So I worked worked worked... 
Envision smoke coming up from the keyboard as I type and manipulate fabulous clips. Ha!
Not really, but I was working very hard to create Behavior Bucks......

The kids will have the opportunity to earn $5.00 each day. If he or she is off task or not following a class rule he/she will receive the warning table tent. I wanted something they would see & I didn't want it up on the wall. After that I have other table tents yellow (I Owe $1.00), orange (I Owe $2.00), red (I didn't earn my money today) if the negative behaviors continue. They will keep track of the money they earn all week and add up their totals on Friday afternoon. Then they can use the money they have in their wallet (we'll make one in class) to purchase reward coupons...

The reward coupons cost me NO MONEY! Say what!? Yeppers! I didn't want the hassle of stocking a store in my classroom so I have created coupons that are free rewards with the exception of treasure box. I gotta have a treasure box! If you don't want a treasure box just don't print that coupon sheet. Some other examples are, Choose Our Brain Break (Whoop Whoop Go Noodle!), Choose our Math Game, Line Leader, Show & Tell, Use Smelly Markers, and more! I also have Be a Superhero for a Day, Be King or Queen for a Day, and  Be a Pirate for a Day. 

I found these little gems at the Target (#addictedtoTarget) in the party section for $2.00 each! They inspired me to create those coupons! I mean who doesn't want to wear a pirate hat and say "Ahoy Matey" all day!? If they use the superhero coupon they can wear the mask and make up a cool superhero name! I'm looking forward to seeing which coupons the like best & I'm sure those creative kiddos will have even more ideas for me!
I hope you're getting excited for Back to School!!! Ready or not.... 
Thanks for stopping by!
Oh and don't forget about the BIG sale August 4 & 5! My store is 20% off & use BTS14 to get additional savings!! 
I'm off to look at my wishlist...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Close Reading: Point Of View

I'm back this week with Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching for Chapter 5 of Falling in Love with Close Reading!

This chapter was about point of view and how that affects the tone of the text. You could model identifying the point of view by using a persuasive article or narrative.
 In my grade level I'll begin by using it with narrative. I want the students to see me making notes and finding evidence to support what I think the character is feeling. Then they'll begin doing this in their own reading. 
I was trying to think of book I could use as an example and I thought of Frindle By: Andrew Clement. I imagine reading with my class or small group. Then we would go back through the chapter jotting down the events and dialogue stated by Nick & Mrs. Granger that form their point of view in the story. There is a lot of subtle messages in this novel that would create discussion between the students and myself. I created a graphic organizer FREEBIE for notes on a narrative. I imagine the kids adding details to the kid image on the paper to make it look like the character they are looking at closely. In my classroom I plan to have half the class look at Nick closely while the other looks at Mrs. Granger. Then the students could use their evidence to show why their character might be acting a certain way in the story. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Check out what the other fabulous bloggers have to say about Chapter 5!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Close Reading: Text Structure

We're into Chapter 4 this week with Savvy Simple Teaching!

1. When Reading How Does This Compare to Your Instruction? 
Last year I taught 2nd grade and we didn't use many of the text structure words listed in chapter 4. So I'm making that my first step. I want the students to understand the meaning of these words so they can participate in real conversation about text. I focused on the parts of story plot and created a Plot Mountain using The Three Little Pigs. I did this to show the meaning of introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.  I think the visual with the definitions will help the kids understand the words with a familiar story. I was inspired by Lucky Little Learners Plot Mountain. Check out her post today!

Click HERE if you're interested in this FREEBIE!

2. How Will I Connect What I Learned to My Instruction?
In my third grade classroom I want to use these words more frequently so I created some posters that could stay up in my room to remind students of these parts of the plot and their meaning. 

The Plot Mountain and Posters will help students see how a text is connected. While reading closely they'll see how the author writes a text to lead the reader down a path.  Students will start to recognize patterns in the clues written by the author and pay better attention to the important details. This skill should help them draw conclusions and really engage in the text. Eventually we hope if we model these skills enough our children will internalize these skills so they can use them while they read independently.

Next week we'll look at Point of View...
Check out the other posts about Chapter 4!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It! Cute Containers

 Hello friends! I'm linking up with Tara for Monday Made It! I'm so excited to be participating this week!

Today I'm going to show you how I changed a baby formula container into a cute container for supplies!

I've been saving baby formula containers for MONTHS! I kept thinking to myself, "These are great containers! I'm going to cover them and make them cute!" It's taken about 8 months (Yikes!) but I'm finally following through on my idea.

So I started with my supplies. I used clean baby formula containers (Target brand), chevron contact paper (from amazon), scissors, measuring tape, and a plastic scraper (Bed Bath & Beyond I think).

The hubs helped with removing the labels (both layers) from the rectangular and cylinder formula containers.
 These came off easily for us so we didn't need to bust out the goo-be-gone thankfully!
Then I measured around the container and the height.
If you're using the Target brand container the measurements I used were 21 in.around & 5 in. tall for the rectangular one. For the big cylinder it was 17 in. around & 5 in. tall. This allowed for a little bit of overlap and some space on the edges.
*Note you can use any formula containers I just happen to have the Up & Up Target ones.*

I was so happy the contact paper had measurement lines on the back! Yessss!

Now you want to do your best to stick down the first edge of the contact paper on your container in a straight line. Then you slowly (seriously like a turtle-haha) unroll the backing to reveal the adhesive and press it evenly onto the container.

While I was ever so slowly placing the contact paper on the container I was smoothing it out with my handy dandy scraper. This thing was seriously a life-saver! The idea of using contact paper usually sends me into horrible flashbacks of grade school attempting to cover my workbooks & it sticking to everything except the book. Am I right!? But the plastic scraper really made this step easier. The cylinder container was easier on this step and I was able to just use my thumbs to smooth out the bumps as I slowly removed the backing.

Sometimes it didn't go as well...

But overall it was a simple little craft. I think these will look great on my classroom shelves. You could also use them for the kids' small toys, or a travel container for some little legos. I plan on putting a cute label on them so the kids can help themselves to supplies.
 I'm sure once my little guy gets a bit older I'll be using them for little cars and action figures.

Happy crafting & thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Close Reading Chapter 3:Word Choice

Thanks so much for stopping by our book study with Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching's
This week is all about word choice & how words set the tone of the text. 
If you missed last week's post about text evidence you can click here.

My Ah-Ha Moments & Comments About Chapter Three

"Words go a long way. In text, in the media, and in our lives, the words we choose matter."
(Lehman & Roberts, 2014 pg. 49)

WOW. Isn't that sentence a show stopper!? There is so much truth in that statement. Not only for reading purposes, but in life. What you say & how you say it matters.
 As I was reading I thought, " I could teach this close reading strategy & teach some social skills too."
Chapter 3 is all about how the words give the text a tone and we want our students to recognize not just the vocabulary but, the feeling being set by the author. In other words, we're trying to figure out why the author chose one word over another word. This is taught using the same 3 step process from last chapter, but with a little spin on it so students are focusing on words.

Read Through Lenses
-Choose words from the text that evoke strong emotions & images

Find Patterns
-Which words fit together & how do they fit together?

Develop a New Understanding of the Text
-Think about how those words set the author's tone, purpose, the central idea.

Authors choose words for a reasons. They do this so you feel what the character is feeling.
In non-fiction they use the words to make you feel a certain way about the topic. 
I think you could help students understand this strategy better by bringing it into your writing lesson. Use interactive writing to show how using one word versus another changes the feel/tone of the writing.
When students write on their own in workshop you might ask questions like, "Why did you choose those words in your own writing?" "What emotion or tone are you trying to set?"
Another idea is to take an emotional sentence and change some of the adjectives. Talk with your students about how that changes the tone or feeling of the sentence.

How is This Strategy Different From How I Teach Close Reading?
I was more focused on teaching the meaning of words, not the tone in my reading instruction. I use tone often when I read on my own, so I'm not sure why I never thought to teach the importance of recognizing it. Perhaps it's because I taught 2nd grade and we're more focused on the basics of reading comprehension. However it is a really important skill to teach. I sometimes forget that we need to model all those strategies that we use automatically in our everyday reading so our students can be successful independent readers.
 I'm looking forward to using what I've learned here in my 3rd grade classroom this year. 
How do you teach your students to understand the tone of a text?

I'm really enjoying this book! I hope you've learned a bit about close reading today! 
Next week we'll learn about the text structure.
Be sure to enter the raffle & check out the other amazing bloggers below to learn more about chapter 3!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Close Reading Chapter Two: Text Evidence

"We only get good at the things we do." ~Lehman & Roberts
This statement is a perfect summary thought for chapter 2 of Falling in Love with Close Reading. Chapter 2 is about how to teach students to gather important details in a text, find patterns in those details, and then use those details to make interpretations. The key is modeling these steps and then letting students use the skills they've learned in their own reading.
There is a 3 step process the authors use to teach close reading. Each step helps the students get closer to a deep understanding of the text. Let's start with the first one...
1. Read Through Lenses
At first I had a hard time understanding exactly what the authors meant here, but after reading closely (yep- I just said that-haha) I realized reading through lenses meant identifying what you're focusing on in the text. Some examples might be character, setting, relationships, the central idea etc.
When students know what they're looking for they can better focus their energy.
2. Find Patterns
Okay you've gathered your details now what do they all mean? This step involves looking at the details and seeing if there are patterns or connections. The authors suggest having the students jot down the important details in step 1 and in step 2 to group the details. This can be done with different colored highlighters or circling details that are related. This is also a step where students might get rid of a detail because he/she realizes the detail isn't important.
3. Develop a New Understanding of the Text
In step 3 the reader uses those patterns he/she found to make interpretations about the character, setting, or central idea (whichever topic was the focus). This is also when students should be able to talk or write about the focus, details, and what the details meant. In this step it's important to encourage students to continue using the details from the text and stay away from the "maybe" thoughts. When I refer to "maybe" thoughts I mean those that our students come up with when they use too much of their own ideas & not enough text details. Both details are important for readers to use but we need our students to be able to use text evidence as support to their interpretations.
In non-fiction text this step would involve discussing vocabulary, and using the details to decide on a central idea. Then taking details and new vocabulary to make meaning of the challenging text.
My Interpretation of Chapter Two & An Example
Falling in Love with Close Reading seems to be more geared toward intermediate education however, there is a lot for primary teachers to learn from this book. So as I read I tried to relate it to a book a primary student would be reading. I decided on a Magic Tree House book because the kids love them and these books have enough details to carry a close reading discussion.
In many of the examples they used character as the focus so I'm going to use Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs before Dark as my example to explain what I could do with a group of 2nd graders.
I would have the students focus (step 1) on the main characters Jack & Annie. They could write details (step 2) on a sheet like this one.
Details About Jack:
 Jack worries a lot, he wants to go home, he uses the book to do research, he wears glasses, he takes notes, he's older than Annie, he looks for Annie a lot, he's smart, he gets away from the mean dinosaur, he gets Annie out of trouble with his research.
Details About Annie:
Annie makes Jack get out of the tree house, she's younger than Jack, she isn't afraid of the dinosaurs, she loves animals, she's excited to be in prehistoric times, she wanders off a lot, sometimes she gets into trouble.
After we gathered some details we would (in reading group or whole class) decide which details go together. It was my understanding (from the chapter) that you make generalizations based on the details in this step. So here is one way to group details...
These could "go together": Jack looks for Annie, and does research, he gets Annie out of trouble.
After putting the details together we could come up with a statement of what we know now. 
*These details tell us that Jack is a smart person and a good brother when he does research before going somewhere new to keep himself and Annie safe.
These could "go together": Annie isn't afraid, she's excited, she wanders off, she makes Jack leave the tree house, and she sometimes gets into trouble.
*These details tell us that Annie is adventurous when she makes Jack enjoy the trip, and goes off on her own unafraid of the dinosaurs.
There are some other interpretations that students could make from the details gathered too. The idea is that the students are using the details to support their interpretations. An activity like this would create a great discussion within your reading group. You could also do this with a read aloud and write details on a chart paper to help younger students read closely.
How would you implement this in your classroom?
 Leave a comment below & let's get a discussion going!