Saturday, August 30, 2014

Take Home Folder Cover Sheet Freebie

It's the last weekend of summer for us here in Michigan!  We start back to school on Tuesday and in preparation, I'm stuffing these cute cover sheets into 32 take home folders.  If you use the plastic take home folders maybe you'll be able to use this template also.  It's editable so you can add your student's names.  

The folders we use can be found HERE.

The folders have a clear front plastic cover to protect the cover sheet.  Inside they are labeled with "keep at home" on one side - this is for notes and graded work, and "return to school" on the other side - this is for homework and notes that need to be returned.  Look how adorable they turned out!  Click HERE for the freebie.  

I know most of you are way past needing take home folder templates, but hey, maybe you'll want to pin it for next year!  I know I'm constantly pinning ideas in my Back To School pinterest board, even in December.  LOL

I hope everyone enjoys their Labor Day Weekend!  My plan is to relax and stretch out these last few days of summer before the school year craziness begins!!  What are your plans?!?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Word Study Unit

Hello everyone, I'm Kathy from...

I know, I know, I know...What is a first grade teacher doing here?

I am a first grade teacher at heart, but currently a literacy coach that teaches in grades K-5 classrooms. I spend most of my day in 5th grade working 5th graders who need extra support in Reading, ELA, and Math.

I have been working on some 5th grade word study activities with Greek and Latin roots and thought this was the perfect place to try them out.

(There's a crossword puzzle with sentences, also!)

Click on the pics above to grab a copy. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Shared Reading in the Upper Grades - FREEBIE

Even big kids need shared reading!  It's the perfect way to model/practice comprehension strategies, summarizing and build oral fluency. The best part is that it only takes 10-15 minutes a day.  Since I love Shared Reading so much, I'm here to share my Shared Reading in the Upper Grades FREEBIE with YOU today on FIFTH GRADE FREEBIES!!  This resource outlines how we share reading each day in room 206 and it includes our shared reading note-taking graphic organizers.

So how do we share reading in room 206?  Each week I choose a 1-2 page short story, drama, poem, or nonfiction article.  Highlights Magazines, Time for Kids, Scholastic News, Zoo Books, and Kids Discover are my usual go to's.  But there are tons of great websites that offer FREE short texts too.  This text is the piece we examine all week during shared reading time.

On Day 1, (preview and predict) before I pass out the text, I give students the headline/title of the piece and they predict the genre.  First they think on their own, then write their predictions on the shared reading graphic organizer I've included HERE, secondly they share their thinking with a partner and eventually we discuss the predictions as a class. Great conversations occur from their predictions and they can't wait to see the text of the week. I pass it out and students preview the text and predict what it will be about on their graphic organizers. (think, pair, share again)  We put the text and the graphic organizer away in our reading folders for safe keeping.

On Day 2, (fluency and wonderings) I read the text aloud.  This is the day we practice our oral fluency.  You can play all kinds of fun games to enhance oral reading fluency.  My favorite is just reading a paragraph at a time and having the students repeat it when I'm done - just like I sounded.  I call off random groups of students so they never know who's next to read and it keeps them engaged.  I might say "everyone who brought cold lunch please read paragraph number one after me," or "everyone wearing blue, or sneakers, or with brown hair," or "everyone who loves video games, or animals, or pizza," etc.  It's fun and they have to listen carefully while I read, so they can read it with the same expression and fluency.  Plus, the class is hearing each paragraph twice so it increases comprehension.  After we finish the text. Students record their wonderings on their weekly shared reading graphic organizer, share with a partner, and then we discuss as a class.

On Day 3, (author's purpose or perspective) depending on the genre, students reread the text with a partner to determine the author's purpose for writing the piece and the point of view of the author (nonfiction) or perspective (fiction). Students again write their notes on their shared reading organizer and we talk about how the author's purpose, point of view/perspective influence the text.

On Day 4, (text structure) students reread a few sections of the text (that I've determined ahead of time because they contain organizational clues) independently. They take notes on the organizational structure (cause/effect, problem/solution, etc.) or the story, drama or poetry elements.

Lastly, on Day 5, (determining importance/theme/summarizing) the students reread the entire text independently and highlight the main ideas from each paragraph (nonfiction) or the evidence of the theme (fiction). Students use all of the information on their shared reading graphic organizer notes to compose a summary of the weekly piece.

There you have it!  I would love to hear how you do shared reading with your upper elementary students.  I love getting new ideas!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Birthday Bulletin Board Tags

Do you create a bulletin board that lists all your students and their birthdays?  Usually in the past, I haven't but all too often I would forget about a student's birthday until the day of.  :-(  So this year I decided to hang them all around the calendar so I would remember.  Go grab a copy of the birthday tags I created for free. :-)

How do you celebrate student's birthdays?



Friday, August 15, 2014

Parent Communication Cover Letter

As every teacher knows, communicating with parents is essential for a productive and supportive school year.  At my school, we have what we call a Tuesday Packet.  This packet consists of the following items:
Sample Packet Cover Letter
  • Any papers, forms or notes from the office
  • All the student's work from the previous week
  • A Packet Cover letter (which is slightly different from teacher to teacher but contains the same general information)
Each student takes all of these items home in a weekly envelope that parents sign off on saying they received the items within it.  

By doing this on the same day each week, it eliminates the overwhelming number of papers that we know can go home throughout the week.  Also, parents know that they can expect to receive their child's graded work from the week before.  One of my favorite things about this system is that it requires me to stay on top of my grading!  Of course, sometimes I don't get EVERYTHING done but that is seldom.  This system also helps alleviate the possibility that a specific poor test or other assignment might go missing.  Why you ask?  Simply because the Packet Cover letter gives a brief list of what items the students completed that week.  See my example Cover Letter below to see just how brief my list is.  I don't go into great detail - just give a bulleted list.  This is nice for the parents so they can see what their child covered in class and what assignments they should see in the packet. If I have a test listed, they know that test should be in that packet.  Additionally, the packet letter let's me communicate with parents with any general announcements and comments or I can write specific ones to a particular family.  I also list any points in behavior or work habits that their child received from the week before (this is part of our school-wide behavior plan).  

This system really works for our school and parent feedback on it has been very positive. If you'd like a copy of my Packet Cover Letter, head on over to my TpT store and download it for free.  I provided it in doc format so you can tweak it to suit your needs.  I hope you find it useful!



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Getting to Know You!

I love the first few days back to school! Even thought it's completely, utterly, mind-blowingly exhausting, there's something about the newness of everything that makes my heart happy.

I love new supplies. (I actually might have a problem. Intervention, anyone?)

New furniture arrangements. (Meaning the one I settle on after moving everything 15 times.)

New ideas to try. (Thank you TPT sale!!)

And of course, getting to know my new class of kiddos.

I love doing the fun get-to-know you games and team building activities. It's exciting to see how a new class interacts with each other and with you. It sets up the tone for the year and gives you insight on how to proceed.

And at the end of the week, we are ALL ready for bed. At 3:30.

I like to end the first week (or even the first day, depending on your preference) with an easy way for students (and myself) to reflect before heading out the door. This quick organizer asks kids to reflect on what went well and what questions they have, and it allows them to think ahead to something they are excited about.

One of my favorite things about this activity is that everyone can have their voice heard - even the kiddos who are still too shy to raise their hand or share their ideas.

Here is the 3-2-1 Back to School Graphic Organizer! Click the picture to take you over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store where you can download the first day and first week versions for free.

Have a great first week back, if you haven't started already!

The Craft of Teaching

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Day Student Questionnaire

On the first day of school, the students walk in, quiet and ready to work.  I take advantage of this and have them complete this questionnaire for me.  Not only does it give the students something to do immediately, SILENTLY, when they walk into class, but it answers some burning questions that *I* have about the students as well.

Click here to access the questionnaire
Once I read over the questionnaire, I have a better idea of who they are, what life is like for them at home, how long they have been at my school, who their friends are, etc...I also get to see their work habits right off the bat.  This simple little questionnaire (which takes them about 20 minutes to complete) gives me a wealth of knowledge about the students.

What is something that you do on the first day of school to get to know the kids a bit better?

Monday, August 11, 2014

All Set for Social Studies!

My freebie today has been a couple years in the making!  My district started using the MAISA units created by Oakland Schools for Social Studies a few years ago. They are packed with activities that get the students much more involved and interested than the boring old social studies book.  I did struggle with a couple things though.  One problem was the same one we have in every subject area...the lack of time.  I discovered that with my allotted time for teaching Social Studies, I would have to really pick and choose which activities I would use so that I could still get through all the units in the year.  The second thing that drove me crazy was the abundance of handouts for students. Some students have a hard time keeping track of where their textbook is let alone several different handouts for each lesson.  

So, two summers ago I spent a great deal of time going through the units and deciding which activities I would do with my students.  I retyped all the lesson plans only using those activities I felt I had time to use and built in time for vocabulary quizzes, study guides, and tests.  I also broke the lessons down into more manageable class period sections and reorganized the colonies units.  

Then over the last two school years I created all-encompassing packets for each unit that contain all the handouts the students would need.  Here is a preview of what one of the packets looks like.  

I even created typed answer keys of these packets for my special education inclusion students.  These packets made my life so much easier!  The students knew they would be collected and graded at the end of the unit, and it was their job to guard that packet with their life!  If a student was absent, I could just let them borrow a copy of the key to help them complete the activities they missed.  

The students really seemed to appreciate having the packet too because it gave them an idea how long the unit was and where we were at in it.  

Since I finally have everything compiled, I'm ready to share! 

If you would like the lesson plans and student packets that will last you for the entire year, simply comment on this post and let me know you would like them.  Be sure to give me your email address so I can send them to you, and I would love for you to become a follower of my blog!

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If you would like to read more about how I use these materials for Social Studies, you can read about it here

I hope someone else besides me can get some enjoyment and use out of them!


Social Studies Giveaway Update!

I have emailed everyone who requested the materials through Marcie below. If you have stumbled across this post since then, I'm still happy to share.  Click on the logo below for directions on how you can still get all the materials.

Forever in Fifth Grade

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Start off the the year with Place Value Review - FREEBIE

Hello Fifth Grade Freebieland!  I know, I know, today's FREEBIE says 4th grade at the top, but don't worry 5th grade teachers - this one is for you too!

If your students are anything like mine, they've forgotten a teeny bit LOT of those 4th grade standards over summer break.  So I always start out the year by reviewing 4th grade material.  These Common Core aligned place value exit slips are perfect warm-ups to do just that.  Each exit slip contains less than 4 tasks to complete and is designed to take only 5 or so minutes to complete. Plus, all answer keys are included! This is a great way to get in a few minutes of precious review each day.

I'm planning to start class every morning with a 4th grade exit slip - but I'll actually be using it as an entrance slip. Looking over these slips daily will give me some data on who remembers which 4th grade skills.  I'll be able to quickly plan my intervention groups and fill in some of those gaps early in the year.  Then after our mini-lesson and workshop time, we'll end each class with a 5th grade exit slip and I'll have some amazing data on who has those skills in place as well!! 

The best part of these 4th grade place value exit slips ----- they're FREE ----- just for you.  So snag them up now. Download, print, copy and your first two weeks of math warm-ups are complete!  That's my plan at least!!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Incorporating Daily Writing

I don't know about you, but it seems like writing always gets the shaft in my room.  I start off every year with this grand scheme to make sure my students write daily, yet when something needs to go off of my schedule, it always seems that this subject is the one on the chopping block.

Honestly, it just isn't fair to my students.  They will not become better writers unless they are actually writing.  So what I started to do, to ensure that they would write daily, was begin a Paragraph of the Week.

The basic idea is simple.  The students are given a prompt to write a paragraph about and they have the week to do it at home.  However, I knew that if I just gave my students a prompt and let them at it....all heck would break loose.  They *needed* some scaffolding and a bit more accountability to decent sentences than that.

So I thought and thought about what it is that I do to get the kids to proficiently write a paragraph.  I thought about how I scaffold it and how it all works together to form a cohesive, thoughtful, structured paragraph.  I then broke all of that down into four days worth of writing time for my kids and, viola, Paragraph of the Week was born! truly is something that has changed my writing block.  Heck, it has changed the way I even view writing.  What makes it so amazing?  The kids just "get it".  They understand how to write now because they see it not as a huge, daunting task, but as a short, systematic structure.

But don't take my word for it.  Here it is just for you!  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Building Character

Have you seen this video?

One of my 5th grade classes adopted this as a theme song a couple years ago.  Honestly, I was a little shocked.  I thought they'd be anti- Sesame Street, but maybe from the Black Eyed Peas brought in the cool factor.

I love the message of empowerment.

I created a worksheet for my students to fill out and choose some positive adjectives that describes them.  This was a great beginning of the year activity because I learned quickly which students struggled seeing themselves in a positive way and it helped me develop a positive relationship with them early on.

Then, we turned their main adjective into a classroom art project.  Click on the picture to be taken to my TPT store and download the freebie with directions.

When it came time for writing adjectives, I played this version of the video so the kids could see the words.



Surfing to Success

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

iPad Rule Posters

I am lucky enough to work at a school that implemented a 1:1 iPad program back in 2012-2013 school year.  Originally, it started and was piloted with just my class but then in 2013-2014 it expanded school wide.  Of course, with all those iPads out, we had to set some expectations up for our students.

The first thing we established was the "Hands Up" & "Apples Up" rule.  What this meant was if a teacher/staff member came into any classroom and said "Hands Up" all the students were to stop working on their iPads immediately, put their hands up, and listen to the speaker.
Typically it was a quick announcement which then allowed the students to get right back work.  However, if a teacher/staff member said "Apples Up", students were to stop what they were doing on the iPad, close it up and put it on their desk with the apple facing up.  This command is used when students are doing working with the iPad or the teacher needs the students' attention for a longer period of time.  Of course, we had the basic rules as well which were standard in all the classrooms.

Hopefully you are lucky too and have some iPads at your disposal.  :-)  If so, you can get your very own set of the iPad Rules Posters too.  Just head on over here and grab them!



Monday, August 4, 2014

Close Reading

Close reading is kind of the new buzz word in education. Our AEA gave us some training in it this past spring, and it just makes so much sense - to me and the students. We were able to close read sections of our basal text and make a lot of connections and observations that we would have normally missed. It's very worthwhile.

I ended up making copies of a few pages of the basal that we would be close reading. That way they could write on the story itself and make those connections. Anytime I tell my students they can use a highlighter, I have immediate buy-in ;)

That experience inspired me to make some differentiated nonfiction texts to use with my students. I also created some pieces to use in our interactive notebooks. I decided to go with a monthly theme, but I avoided all of the obvious holidays. For example, my August close read texts are about s'mores, swimming safety, Hawaii (they joined the Union in August), and state fairs. If you are interested in taking a closer look at close reading in general, you can get several freebies in my TpT store. There are also full topics in the previews of some of my paid products. Just click on the picture below to get there!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mentor Text & Interactive Notebook Pages: The Perfect Combination!

Hi everybody! I'm April from Performing in Fifth, and I'm so excited to bring you a freebie for your 5th grade Reading block! I began using interactive notebooks during Reading, Writing, and Math in my classroom a couple of years ago. Interactive notebooks are a great way to allow students to be creative in the classroom, while taking notes that they can use all year! 

One of the issues I had when I first started using interactive notebooks during Reading time was that my notebook pages weren't necessarily filled with concrete examples. I had cute pages for theme, character traits, plot, and more, but none of the pages had examples from actual books. I love using novels in my classroom, but I needed something quick and easy to go with my interactive notebook mini-lessons.

After using Mentor Text in my classroom to model writing, it dawned on me that I could pair this same text with my interactive notebook pages to give great examples of the standard in a short, understandable story. Then, I could transfer this learning to different chapter books at differentiated levels for each student. Below is a free download of the mentor text mini-lesson for Common Core Standard RI.5.3. 

Do you use Mentor Text in your classroom?

Performing in Fifth