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!

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?
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