Monday, March 16, 2015

I Read to Write by Zaner-Bloser

When ZB asked me to review their new I Read to Write kit I didn't know what to expect. What I got was informational texts that have students respond in a variety of ways.  My students were thrilled to delve into the texts!

Here's what I like about the program:

-It's cross-curricular, including Science, Social Studies and Math.  With the new standards it's is so important to integrate in any way you can and this makes it easy.

-The students were highly engaged in each text.  The pictures brought the topics to life and the topics were of interest to my readers.

-The texts are complex but grade level appropriate.  As a teacher, it is so important to expose all learners to grade level texts and you can do it with this program.

-The program sets it up by first reading, then thinking and then writing.   Plus each subject area gives you two sources to refer to.

-One change with the standards is being able to cite text evidence and each lesson provides practice by having the students analyze and respond.  Citing evidence directly correlates with the testing my students have taken this year...and we all know any practice helps!

-The language used is the same language from the standards. I teach to the standards and I use the language from the standards, as do my students.  It fit right into our reading and writing block. (Ask and Answer Questions; Identify the Main Purpose; Use Text Features; Identify the Main Topic; Describe How Reasons Support Specific Points; etc.)
 - Narrative, Informative and Opinion writing are all included.  There is also a rubric for each one which is a major time saver for the teacher!

-After we used the texts for their intended purpose, we started using them during other lessons.  Each text can be used again and again!   As a teacher, I am always searching for grade level informational texts and this puts it right in every reader/writer's hand.
The text in the picture focused on asking and answering questions and using text features.  The next time we used the text we looked at the focus of specific paragraphs was about to determine the main topic.

Everyone in our classroom enjoyed this resource and we will continue to use it again and again!
If you are interested in this product, check it out here:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Once Upon a Time...

For the past two weeks we have been investigating Fairy Tales, Folk Tales and Fables.  I have always loved these stories but I think my students love them even more!

This unit is covering many of the literature standards, which is great.   Even better is the engagement from the students.  It's one of the best feelings as a teacher when you hear, "When will reading begin?"  "I can't wait for our lesson today!"  "Did you know she's reading ___ to us today?!"

We started out by reading a fairy tale and looking at the elements that made it so.  Then on to folktales and finally fables. (I blew their minds when I told them fairy tales really are folk tales!)

Then we started reading versions of The Three Little Pigs.  Story elements, comparing/contrasting, and character responses were pulled in all week and it was seamless.

On to week two!  We are reading different versions of Cinderella.  There are so many but we are really enjoying our choices.  The standard that is taking the main stage is comparing and contrasting.  I found that students stayed at the surface level during the first week and didn't push their thinking very deep.

We are also using theme to compare and as a class we decided that from person to person theme might be differences because we all think differently.  As long as you can share your thinking and provide text evidence (and talk to it) then we are good!

After a week in reading, we started to look at the genre in writing.  Our anchor chart transferred from the reading section of the board to the writing section.  The nerdy teacher that I am gets really excited when the students realize that the work you do as a reader helps you as a writer...or vice versa, the work you do as a writer helps you as a reader.

The first day planning, I realized that this will be there FAVORITE unit in writing.Their planning conversations were filled with high pitch, fast talking!

Now they are drafting and when they finish their fairy tale we will move on to fables.

Next week, we are going to use fables in reading to help us with central message.  In writing, we will be planning and drafting fables.  The first thing we will plan is the moral of the story then we will move on from there.

Today I have a reading and/or writing freebie for you.  You can use these graphic organizers as a response to reading or use them to plan writing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

YouTube Love

We are so lucky to have almost everything at our fingertips due to technology.  It has change so much during the past decade and has truly enhanced teaching in a very positive way.  More and more kids aren't experiencing what we once thought of as simplistic events that happened in our daily life and the language is lacking.  But we can let them experience it due to the creative minds like Mr. M (check him out in the first video). Today I am sharing a few of my favorite YouTube videos for the classroom.

This one is just for fun!

This is my students' favorite!!

I love to show my students this to get them excited about presenting their inquiry information!

Now I'm wondering which are your favorites??? Link below to share!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Math Fact Fluency

In the primary grades, it is so important for students to gain math fluency.  It will help them the rest of their lives.  But some get it quick and others need LOTS of practice throughout the school year and beyond.

One thing that I think promotes fluency and my students just love is our daily math password.  Every day I write a problem on the board and as the students come into the classroom they whisper it in my ear.  Sometimes I help them with the problem by suggesting a strategy (count on).

Another whole group game that excites my students every time is what some call the Snowball Game.  I have my students sit around the carpet facing out with whiteboards on their laps.  When I say "GO!", they grab two snowballs, open and add.  This game has so many uses...and it's FUN!

One other thing that we do to gain fluency with math facts to 20 is practice on our desks with dry erase markers.  The kids are so quiet on the days that we do this which is an added bonus!

 I also  try to use objects and problems that the students might find in the real world.  I want them to see math is important and is useful.

I created a pack of no prep activities to print and use at any time that my students need more practice with fact fluency.  This pack is great for whole-group, independent practice, centers or even homework.  These activities are a fun way to help support all learners.

At the end of the day, I just want my students to go to the grocery store and be able to do mental math and not be the person counting on their fingers!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dollar Tree Ideas #1

We all know that teachers are cheap....we have to be!  Today I was at the Dollar Tree and I bought a couple things for my math centers.

First up is Calendar Addition.  I purchased a calendar from the Dollar Tree and wrote numbers on each day.  The idea is to add numbers in the calendar.  What's great about this center is that it is differentiated.  So it can be used for various levels within your classroom.

I created task cards and a recording sheet at different levels.  This FREEBIE is here for you --->  Calendar Addition

This calendar had an extra page.  Students could add the columns for an advanced challenge.

Next, is Parking Lot Addition.  My students love anything to do with cars!  I thought it would be fun for them to park the cars and add the numbers from the parking spaces.  Again, I differentiated for practice at various levels.  I think this one will be a hit!

I hope your students enjoy!