Showing posts with label Freebie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Freebie. Show all posts

Student-Created Gingerbread Variations

Students worked in groups to create their own gingerbread character and story elements to accompany it.
I'm sure many of you have read multiple versions of The Gingerbread Man story.  I decided to take it a step further this year and have my kids work in teams to create their own gingerbread story.

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A Quick & Easy Way to Teach Vocabulary


 I want to share my favorite vocabulary activity with you!  One of the great things about this Vocabulary Graphic Organizer is that it can be used K-5 and across all subject areas.  There is a free copy of the organizer later in this post.

I want to share my favorite vocabulary activity with you!  One of the great things about this Vocabulary Graphic Organizer is that it can be used K-5 and across all subject areas.  There is a free copy of the organizer later in this post.

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Kids Creating: Games For Learning

How can you use games to help students practice literacy skills? In my classroom, students have been creating games to take home based on their needs.

My students love to play games, but I was struggling to keep up with them in terms of differentiation and keeping it fresh.  One morning on my way to work, I had a brainstorm: Why can't they help make games to meet their needs?!?
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Five Unique Ways to Build Reading Fluency

Students' reading fluency develops just like bike riding skills. Our little ones start off reading word by word with occasional "falls", but with lots of practice, they gain speed and momentum to glide along and make meaning. This post includes lots of help for addressing reading fluency including freebies.

Reading is like riding a bike. You watch little ones beginning to ride a bike, they're wobbling all over the place. But as we practice and practice and practice, we don't even think about peddling anymore. Eventually we can ride with no hands. – G. Reid

Students' reading fluency develops just like bike riding skills. Our little ones start off reading word by word with occasional "falls", but with lots of practice, they gain speed and momentum to glide along and make meaning. The challenge of reading fluently requires several subskills in order for a reading to experience fluency success. What are those skills?
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Homework: The Great Debate

As I'm sure you've all seen, homework has been in the news. The teacher from Texas sent a letter home to her parents, someone posted it, and it went viral.  There has been more publicity with homework because of this, but I have struggled with it for a while. As the RtI coordinator in our building, had a teacher refer a student for academic difficulties, but blamed the issue entirely on incomplete homework. Really? Should homework hold that much power?
Homework is a hot topic.  Here are two options that allow for independent practice AND student choice.  It's just one idea for homework.

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Is Your Classroom Your Happy Place?

Hello everyone!
 This is Laura from  Where the Magic Happens Teaching Blog.  Can you believe that I started school this week? Second grade is surely very different from 1st grade.
I spent the summer reading and learning the new set of standards, creating new materials, and visualizing what my new classroom was going to look like. I love the feeling of an empty classroom, the idea of a new beginning, and the potential and possibilities. More than anything, I kept on thinking (it was more like day dreaming), about a productive, brain friendly, and homey classroom.




It really starts with my classroom library. I have spent years (and tons of money and time) collecting the right books to reach ALL of my readers year after year. I truly believe that the concepts of classroom community and individuality begin with literature.  It is my  first goal, to show and provide my students with the opportunity to explore their own reading interests free from any constraints. 

Or like my little G would say: "for the fun of it!"

I try to build momentum by not opening the complete library to my students on the first week of school.  Instead, I open it gradually:
First the themes
Then the series
After this the nonfiction section
and so on...
 Since we have such a large classroom library, our books are displayed all over the room in colorful tubs that I got from the Target dollar spot!









Having an organized and quality classroom library makes me think that if nothing else, I am attempting  to create the right conditions for reading by my students.

Think about it! A strong classroom library:

  • Supports your literacy instruction in and out of your classroom.
  • Helps your students to learn about books and author's craft.
  • It also provides a central location for classroom resources... hello shared research!!
  • Serves as a place for students to talk about and interact with books
And you might think...
But how does she come up with the money to buy the books?
Well, let me just tell you: Scholastic points, yard sales, and The Goodwill are my friends! Last weekend for example, my local Goodwill had really great books for .50 a piece! It takes creativity and energy!!

Because my classroom is also really small this year, I had to become really creative too on finding a comfortable reading spot:




Two beach chairs, a lamp from the Goodwill, a cute rug from Walmart, some wooden letters and Voila! There you go!

Now, this is something to be really jelly about:
My school librarian is so fabulous and awesome. As this is my first year in 2nd grade, she has given me tons of suggestions about transitioning my students from easier picture books to  a bit-more-challenging chapter books.
One of the greatest suggestions that she gave me is to  do a classroom library scavenger hunt. This, in order to teach my students to identify different series, authors, themes, and topics.
Oh! And also to help my students keep books and display materials orderly!

So I do different types of  scavenger hunts:






Click HERE to download!





Click HERE to download!





Click HERE to download!






Click HERE to download!

Or all of them!



I give the students one bookmark and they explore the classroom library, once they find a book that matches one item on their bookmark, they bring me the book and they get a punch! These bookmarks match my classroom library book bin labels.



What is my goal with this?
I, more than anything, want to get my students motivated to read... and to read for fun. Throughout the year, I want to introduce them to authors, great series, themes, etc. Instead of giving them or leading them to a leveled book, I want them to be able to freely express about their  reading choices and pursue them.

They each will have their own book box. With the book boxes there are a couple of whole group lessons that need to be addressed:

  • Differences between picture books and chapter books
  • Choosing "just right" books (blog post and anchor chart on this coming up next week)
  • Keeping a balance in your book box
  • How to return books
  • Giving book recommendations








I would love to hear and learn from all of you! How do you organize your classroom library? What routines and mini-lessons do you teach to help your students be successful? What things do you do to foster reading motivation??

I can honestly say that there are many happy places for me: my mom's house, my boys' arms, the beach, the mountains, my own classroom!

Until next time!








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6 Things To Do with Paint Chips

I LOVE paint chips. They can be used for so many things in and out of the classroom. This post is about 6 ways to use these in your classroom.
I can't help it.  There is something about those multi-hue swatches that is so appealing.  I used them when I taught a scrapbook class on colors.  AND I love the commercials from Sherman-Williams using animated paint chips.   



I can't help it.  There is something about those multi-hues that is so appealing.  I used them when I taught a scrapbook class on colors.  AND I love the commercials from Sherman-Williams using animated paint chips.   Here are a few ideas for using them in your classroom.
I LOVE paint chips. They can be used for so many things in and out of the classroom. This post is about 6 ways to use these in your classroom.

1. Vocabulary Gradients

I love this idea.  It's a play on "Said is dead!"  If you want your students to stop using "generic" adjectives like cold, hot, small, and big, give them other ideas.  True text gradients, show words on a scale...icy is colder than cold, but arctic is colder than icy.  However, using smaller or shortened paint chips, even kindergarten can use it to describe "small" as tiny, little, or itty-bitty.  Vocabulary gradients can be alternative adjectives.  Students can also be given a mentor text to hunt for words on the gradient.  In the book "Shiver Me Letters:  A Pirate ABC," students can work in pairs in a word hunt to find words for said and write them on the paint chips.  They can find roared, cried, yelled, questioned, and moaned.) Later, when they are writing you can encourage them to make their writing "colorful."
I LOVE paint chips. They can be used for so many things in and out of the classroom. This post is about 6 ways to use these in your classroom.

2. Word Family Fluency Flips

As a word family is introduced, this is fun way to practice changing the onset.  Write several words from a single family on a colored strip and secure them with a ring.  Providing the students with word family words on a ring can create a fluency activity for independent reading.  
I LOVE paint chips. They can be used for so many things in and out of the classroom. This post is about 6 ways to use these in your classroom.

3. Fill in the Blanks

I would suggest laminating these cards and allowing students to use a dry erase marker, but make sure they know they can't erase until someone checks their work.  You can even tell them to write it with dry erase first, then copy the strips to a piece of paper.  This could also be adapted for several math activities, including filling in the missing addend, counting by 2, 5, or 10's, multiplication facts, and patterns.
I LOVE paint chips. They can be used for so many things in and out of the classroom. This post is about 6 ways to use these in your classroom.

4. Compound Words

This is a "newfangled" (it's a word) paint chip is great for anything that needs to be constructed or deconstructed.  Again, laminate and use dry erase.  They set above is for compound words, but it could be used for prefixes, suffixes, contractions, and...who knows what else.  Again, this can be used for math with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts (to name a few).
I LOVE paint chips. They can be used for so many things in and out of the classroom. This post is about 6 ways to use these in your classroom.

5. Summary Bookmarks

This activity combines three of my favorite things:  The Magic Tree House, SWBSA, and paint chips. Providing students with a bookmark for their summary is the perfect way to create a reading response activity.  If you'd like a full description of the summary strategy Somebody, Wanted, But, So, And, CLICK HERE. These can also be laminated for extended use.
I LOVE paint chips. They can be used for so many things in and out of the classroom. This post is about 6 ways to use these in your classroom.

6. Classroom Fun

Finally, this is just a fun one.  I loved making these ornaments at our Winter Party.  

Want more?

Check out my Pinterest Board for Paint Chips.


Be Fair

Don't clean out any paint supply section.  Get what you need here and there...and laminate when you can.  For those of you who don't have access to paint chips, I made a sample pack of things to do. If you'd like a copy, CLICK HERE or click the picture below.


SO this is my mini-obsession.  Do you use these differently?

Although I posted this originally on my blog, Cathy Collier's The W.I.S.E. Owl, I thought iwas definitely worth the re-post.  I hope you agree.





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Making Decoding Strategies Automatic: 3 Easy Steps


Hello, Everyone.  This is Cathy from Cathy Collier's The W.I.S.E. Owl.  I am a reading specialist in a K-2 school.  I do both pull-out interventions and coaching, but have a soft spot for my pull-out kids. Two of my students this year are first grade students diagnosed with a "learning disability." (My undergraduate degree is in special education, so you know I love them.) They are the highlight of my day...and I won't deny I'd love to teach them all day!


When we started in late fall, these two were on a Level B and as of March they were moving into a Level D.  THEN, we hit a wall.  The D to E wall.  E seems to be the time when students are faced with lots of long vowel words, blends and digraphs, and word endings.  Here's what I know:  they can decode almost any word, IF I ask them questions and guide them.

For example, If they come to the word "gate."

     Me:  What do you know?        
Justin:  There is an "e" on the end?
     Me:  What does that mean?      
Justin:  The "e" makes the "a" says it's name.
     Me:  So, what is the word?      
Justin:  /g/ /a-a-a-a/ /t/,  gate.
     Me:  Great job!

What can I do?

My greatest challenge is getting the students to have their own internal dialog when using decoding strategies.  After a conversation with my Assistant Principal, we decided to try and practice the automaticity of the decoding strategies.  What does that mean?  I want them to come to an unknown word and think strategy first.  I have always "taught" and "practiced" the strategies, but I'm taking it one step farther.


1.  Play "Slap Jack"

I created a strip of the 3 strategies they seemed to need the most.  I chose 1 known and 2 unknown strategies.  We had been using CVC Sliders to practice our "slide and sound" with cvc words.   They have gotten pretty consistent with that strategy, so that became their "known" strategy.  The second strategy was the silent e "making the vowel say it's name (most of the time)."  We have talked about this strategy, but they needed concentrated practice with it.  The final strategy was "chop the endings."  We covered up or "chopped off" the endings to look at the base word for decoding.  To begin, I wrote 5 words for each strategy on an index card and when I flashed the card, they had to "slap the strategy" they would use to decode the word.  THEY DID NOT DECODE THE WORD.  This wasn't a decoding lesson, it was a strategy lesson.  We played this game for a week.  I let them sit side-by-side and slap the strategy together, but by the end of the week it was a race.  I wanted the strategy to be automatic.  The video below is Justin identifying the strategy for me.  (He said he didn't want to slap it, if it wasn't a game.  He thought he looked silly doing it alone.)
I hate that the video doesn't show all the strategies, but you get the idea.  By the end of the week, he was pointing to the strategy and saying the name of it.  That's what I want:  automaticity.

2.  Sort 

Part 1, we sorted with the cards from the week before.  I gave them the cards to sort under the strategy mat.  Yes, I should have made the cards smaller.  Lucky for you, I made small cards for you at the end of the post.  They would sort the cards as quickly as they could, then they would "prove" the cards belonged in that column.  They are still not reading the cards, they are just choosing a strategy.  Part 2, was a sort sheet.  This was an independent activity at the end of the week, but the students were still asked to "prove" the word belonged.  I also wanted to send a sample of a competed sort home to their parents.

3.  Read.

Finally, we read sentences I constructed with multiple strategies in each sentence.  As they came to an underlined word, they touched the strategy on the mat and then decoded the word.  They did a great job.  My favorite moment was when looking at the word "running" Justin said, "After I chop the ending, I can see a word to "slide and sound."  WOW...that's a moment, if you ask me.

Get your FREEBIE!

I made a FREEBIE set for this idea.  CLICK HERE or click the image below for the FREEBIE!



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When Whole Group Writing Transfers to Independent Writing


Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

Isn't that every teachers dream?  

You do whole group lesson and after whole group lesson you want the students to transfer your whole group lesson to their independent journal writing.  Creating routines in kindergarten is as much about giving them tools, as it is about giving them time to practice the skill.  Our school system has adopted a new reading program and one of the writing lessons is persuasive writing.

Michelle Brinn, a fantastic kindergarten teacher, was tasked with 2 things:  Introduce your students to persuasive writing and do it in a 1/2 day kindergarten program.

We talked about how we could expose our youngest writers to persuasive writing and get it done in a 20 minute daily writing lesson.  Another obstacle in Michelle's lesson would be time.  She decided it would be a modeled writing, just to manage time.  We mapped a plan:
Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

Monday

Decide what two items the students will compare.  The topic needs to be something that is easily understood...not every child will have opinions on soccer v baseball (of course, soccer is better) or whether summer or winter is the best season (of course, summer is better).  BUT they will probably have an opinion about whether dogs or cats are the better pet.

Tuesday

Talk about Option 1:  dogs.  What are 3 reasons dogs are great.  The students were eager to tell why their liked dogs, but we stuck with 3 ideas.  She asked them to keep all their other ideas for later in the post.

Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

Wednesday

Talk about Option 2:  cats.  What are 3 reasons cats are better.  Once again, students were eager to share their ideas.  Students liked how cats were quiet.  

Thursday

The vote!  Students were asked to vote for their favorite pet.  They chose dogs (of course, they did).  Michelle asked for more reasons why dogs were the best choice.  Their ideas were fantastic.  

Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

Friday

The wrap up!  Students were finally asked to write a closing sentence.  Michelle asked for MORE reasons dogs were chosen and the students came through with great ideas.

It was a success.

As a whole group writing lesson for the week, it was definitely a success.  The students were excited about pleading their case for why dogs were better than cats OR why cats were better than dogs.  BUT the really exciting part was getting ready to happen...

Independent Journal Time

With all the chatter and opinions about cats and dogs going on in her classroom, Michelle asked the students to write about it in their journals.  We were THRILLED with the results and I think you will be, too.
Believe it or not, you can teach persuasive writing in Kindergarten. This post explains how and includes a FREEBIE for you.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again:  Too often we give students excuses, instead of tools.  Michelle did a fantastic job of giving her students a tool for persuasive writing.  She gave them an easy plan...and time to practice. 

If you'd like a FREEBIE Persuasive Writing Card, click the image below.



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Project Based Learning...Good for One, Good for ALL

We often talk about how a one-size-fits-all curriculum just doesn't work in education, but today I'm hear to share with you that one instructional practice. Project Based Learning, or PBL, IS good for one learner, but it's also good for ALL learners.
Project Based Learning is GREAT for all students. Visit this post on Adventures in Literacy Land to read about the research supporting it, benefits for students, and how to get started.
Recently, I was able to hear Nell Duke, a leading researcher in the area of reading, speak on the topic of engagement. We know that engagement is more important than ever with the increased demands our standards bring, and we know what happens when you give challenging work to students who aren't interested in doing it, right? ONE ANSWER...Project Based Learning.

Duke says, "If you care about kids' interests, skills, and background knowledge, you'll get better comprehension results." She cited Jerry Brophy's study on ways teachers motivate kids. According to his study, teachers should:
Model interest in learning
Induce curiosity and suspense
Make abstract concepts concrete through demo lessons
Make the lesson objective clear to the learner 
Provide informative feedback 
Adapt tasks to interests
Give choice for tasks 
How does Project Based Learning mesh with these?  Why does Duke feel PBL is the way to go? Well, she began by describing a PBL experience that was done with 3rd grade students. The teacher introduced the idea with a read aloud about pesky animals such as earthworms, spiders, bats, and snakes in the book, Animals Nobody Loves by Seymore Simon. (Would this build curiosity and suspense? Yes.)  
Then, the students selected animals that they wanted to research further. (Would this be adapted to student interest? Yes.) Once the research part was complete, the students were asked to persuade others to LOVE the pesky animal and create a project that demonstrated WHY they should. (Would this task allow choice? Yes.) (Will students get immediate feedback? Yes.) Doesn't this sound like fun? As she described this project, I thought about how excited my students would be doing a project like this. The most interesting point she made though was that this was offered to ALL students in a low SES school. The results were very, very positive, and here is why.

Project Based Learning...

takes an extended period of time
achieves a purpose beyond school requirements
uses different learning styles (building, creating, answer deep questions)
is interdisciplinary
offers choice and voice
integrates reading and writing
taps into student interests, beliefs, and attitudes
is linked to standards (research strand is ideal)
gives students purpose for reading
AND allows students to reach a NEW audience

We know when students have a deep desire to read challenging texts, motivation will help them push through to complete it. We also know that reading multiple texts on the same topic deepens understanding of the content as well as related vocabulary too, so there is certainly research to support using PBL with ALL students.

How to Get Started

To prepare for this post, I reached out to my blogging friends to find additional blog posts and resources that teachers could use. First, I'll share posts for additional reading. If you are just getting started, you are sure to have lots of questions. These posts will hopefully take care of those and help you see a few more PBL examples.

This post is from Matt at Digital Divide and Conquer, and if you visit Matt's blog, you'll find a plethora of resources as well as informational posts on PBL I liked this post for explaining step by step how to dig into it. It's a MUST read, and his PBL units have been recommended by several who have used them.

PBLArticle
This post from Performing in Education explains what PBL is, how it looks for teachers and students, what the process is, and (lucky you), it includes a sample resource. 

Cyndie at Chalk One Up for the Teacher has jumped into the PBL pond, and explained a PBL experience she had with her students. I just loved this example, and I know my students would love it too.  This one is a great example of PBL in the primary grades. Cyndie's students began with reading books in The Magic Treehouse series, and these books led to "inquiring minds". Having a leading question is important because it drives the exploration. Be sure to check this out if you're teaching grades 1-3.

Finally, I had to share this project from my friend, Sandy at Sweet Integrations. She has quite a few PBL sets in her store, and this post on her blog really caught my attention because we've read about the Iditarod with my fifth grade groups. The kids read Stone Fox in early fourth grade, so they had a little schema for dogsled racing. I had also used the book, Dogteam by Gary Paulsen for descriptive writing, and we had read a Close Reading article about the Iditarod too. Sandy's project would have been so perfect for them. (another year I guess) Anyway, she offers great ideas in her post about it if you think your students would be interested in learning more.


Free Sets to Get Started

Insect Intrigue, PBL SamplerShark Security Force! Project Based Learning:  Freebie EditionThe Leprechaun: Project Based Learning, Lucky Charm Edition
    
Project Based Learning - Holiday Tea   Project Based Learning: Teacher for a Day Fractions, Decim
Now, doesn't this sound like fun? Remember, Project Based Learning is not just a teaching idea for your Talented and Gifted students. Project Based Learning is a great technique for ALL. 

Have a great day, and I'll see you next month. 

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