Sunday, April 26, 2015

Are You A Poetry Detective?

April is one of my favorite months because it's Poetry Month! I love working on poetry with my students - both writing them and reading them.

Today I want to share an idea with you that can be used for a center or independent work. It's a great way to expose kids to lots of poems and help them to be active readers!

First, I used the color copier (shhhhh!!! Don't tell!) and made copies of several poems from books in our library and in my class. I put them in sheet protectors and on a metal ring. If you choose to do this as a center, you could definitely have a tub of poetry books available for kids to choose from.

Each group of students perused the poems and looked for things they noticed. Before they went off on their own, we brainstormed ideas of things to look for - figurative language, rhyming, imagery and other techniques that poets use. As they read the poems, they recorded what they noticed and found on this graphic organizer.

After they had a good amount of time to read and record their thinking, we gathered together and created a Poetry Mentor Text anchor chart. We read 2-3 poems together and recorded what we noticed as a class. (You could also make the anchor chart first, and then send them off to read and notice on their own!)

I know many people have been spending a good amount of time assessing for the end of the year, but if you have time this week this is a great way to celebrate Poetry Month! You can grab your copy of this FREE Poetry Detectives graphic organizer by heading over to my TPT store.

I hope your students enjoy reading and analyzing poetry as much as mine did!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Free Coding Lessons

There are so many free resources on the internet.  The trick is figuring out which ones are worth your time.

The 4th through 6th graders started out using Khan Academy to learn to code.  The enthusiasm around school was refreshing.  Now all of our 3rd through 6th graders are learning Math with Khan Academy.  This was all started by a specialist on my team that teaches in our computer lab.  If you'd like to read more about it, she recently did a guest blog post for me here.

Khan Academy can be a great motivating early finisher activity.  If you are looking for a free math website, that motivates kids, I highly recommend it.  (They haven't asked me to say any of this.)

Recently some of our 5th grade girls were at an ALPs event and I made these signs for them.  They had a great time sharing their coding skills with people from around our district.

Maybe you'll find a use for them as well. :)  Download them here.

What are your favorite free math websites?


Surfing to Success

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Character Traits through Inference

Whenever I teach a lesson, I try to combine as many different standards as I can.  For this particular lesson, I decided to combine what we had already learned about character traits with making inferences based on evidence in the text.

Our class novel, Tuck Everlasting , is filled with vivid descriptions of the various characters that lend themselves to deep inferences.  So I asked the students to think about a character that they connected with, and list 10 character traits that could be used to describe the character.  (They used this chart that we had previously glued into our journals from Read, Write, Think)

Once they had the list of character traits, the students had to list text evidence from the novel that supported their character trait inference, AND their own schema that led them to the inference.

After the list was complete, the students did two things.  First, they wrote a paragraph describing the character from the story using the character traits and the inferences.  I had them use this form (which you can download for free here) to help them really keep organized.  They also had to work to reference the text, direct quote, and list the schema to create a cohesive paragraph that adequately described the character.

Then, each student was given a little man cut out.  On it, they had to write the character trait in big letters.  Under that, the direct quote and the background knowledge schema was written.  This formed a visual representation of the paragraph.....that the kids really enjoyed making!

The final product was pretty neat looking, and made a nice, standards-based bulletin board!

How have you taught/reviewed character traits and inferring?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Clock Partners: Pairings That Make the Teacher and Students Happy

It's spring and if your classroom is anything like mine, then students are getting a bit antsy. In my classroom, I like to do a lot of paired work so that students can work together to share their thinking abut a recently learned concept. This is especially important in math since I have so many different levels of learners.

I love to offer choice in my classroom, but if I allow students to choose their own partners every day, then they will end up working with the same partner again and again. Many years ago, I watched a science resource teacher use clock partners with my students. I was amazed at how well they chose partners and I love that it meant that they were interacting with more than one person. That was my second year of teaching and I still use clock partners in my classroom eight years later. At the start of each new month, I give students a clock partner sheet. I give them the following directions.

"You have four times on your sheet, 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock. Each time represents a different partner that you will have. When I say you may begin, you may get up and move around the room. You will ask other students to be your partner for different times. You cannot have the same partner twice and each boy must have at least one girl and each girl must have at least one boy. When someone agrees to be your partner, you will write their name in the time slot that they asked for. For example, if Christine asks me to be her 12 o'clock partner, then I will write her name on my 12 o'clock line and she will write my name on hers. You will keep going around until you have your four spots filled up, at which time you should return to your seat to let others know that you are no longer available. You will have three minutes to fill your sheet. If you have any blanks spaces at the end of those three minutes, come see me."

Students are usually great about this, but you will have a few that are timid about this that you may have to help to fill in their sheet. For the students that I have left at the end, I first work to pair those students with each other if they have the same time slots available, then I make some trios with other pairs if necessary, being careful to put the students with classmates that they are not already working with.

You can click below for a free copy of my clock partners reproducible!