Monday, March 31, 2014

Mentor Monday Linky 3/31/14: Visualizing with Poetry and Stories Julian Tells

Can I just say that I love using small snippets of text and picture books to teach different topics, so this linky makes me happy to link up to!  Thanks to Emily at The Reading Tutor for hosting. I hope to get some new books to add to my list of mentor texts!

I think visualizing is a fun reading strategy to teach, and also a fun reading strategy to learn!  When I think about the opportunities for students to express their creativity within this strategy, I want to teach it even more.  They learn the importance of word choice, creating images, and author's choice both by reading and then in their own writing.

Since it is Poetry month (well tomorrow anyway!), I thought I'd start with my good 'ol pal, Shel Silverstein.  I remember as a child checking out Where the Sidewalk Ends over and over again to the point where my librarian asked me to check it out every other time so that other students could read the book.

Anyway, I love starting with Shel Silverstein because it spurs students to rediscover their love of poetry or to at least appreciate some humor in it.  Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout is a great poem for visualizing because you will get so many different images of the poem.  I typically read the poem aloud without showing them the illustration and then give them a copy of the poem without the illustration for them to create their own visualizations.

Here is the visualizing worksheet if you want to use it! 
I especially love the last question and enjoy having the classroom discussion after the lesson.  

 The Stories Julian Tells is a wonderful compilation of short stories.  I really like this text because they are short stories, there are pieces of humor, and also imagination.  Visualizing the scenes from this book are easy and also help them see how it might help them later in the text as they attack the other short stories.

That's it for me for now!  I hope you enjoy visualizing as much as I'm enjoying our beautiful weather today!  Gotta run!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday, Sale, and a Freebie (for Friday only!)

Whew!  It's been a great week of blogging, finding great resources, and cleaning out closets/sorting baby clothes!  In honor of spring weather coming our way next week (fingers crossed big time!) it's SPRING CLEANING time, and my store is 20% off through Monday!  Check out my TpT shop to get some great new resources for your files and to make your life a bit easier for the end of the year!  

Want to see ALL of the great sellers who are discounting their stores this weekend?  Check out Valerie's blog at Georgia Grown Kiddos for the entire group of Linked Up Sales!

I'm joining Five for Friday to highlight some of my products that may be of use to you, especially since they're on sale.  And be very, very careful, there might be one product that is FREE on Friday!

Okay, first things first.  Don't forget to go back and review previous products you've already purchased and rate them and leave comments.  You get credit for these toward more purchases!  To begin, I'll highlight the product that has the most reviews: Weather Super File!

 *Jam-packed 57 page unit with great weather foldables and only $4.00!

Here are some of my students using their Weather Super Files to review and study!

April is National Poetry Month!  Be prepared with this great Poetry Unit with graphic organizers, writing paper, and mini posters for each type of poetry!

 Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice Posters!  These are a great resource for students to understand the fundamentals of math beyond just the daily lesson and workbook pages.

A new product this week is an added I have...Who Has? Game.  This one is for the skill of multiplying decimals.  Oh, and by the way, it's FREE all day on Friday!  Free FRIDAY!!  Don't forget leave some love in the feedback section if you download it for free.  

And finally, I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Spring Break Season!  Although I'm home on maternity leave, my district is starting their SB today for the next 2 weeks.  Everyone deserves some recovery time to reenergize for the last drive of the school year!  If you're already returning, then best of luck in your remaining weeks of school!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Brain Breaks to a New Level with GoNoodle!

Ever had one of those days when it's too cold to go outside, it's been overcast and snowing for days, and your students are going crazy?  Oh wait, that has been almost all winter for a lot of us here in Indiana!  Well, a great new website and resource is now here to help ease your Winter Blues and those mid-year burn out days.

Have you heard of GoNoodle!?  It is an awesome website with brain breaks and an interactive avatar that students get to build upon and follow.  What I love most about these brain breaks is that they are categorized by your intent of the break.  Are you wanting to energize your class?  Focus them?  or Calm them?  GoNoodle lets you channel your students' energy based on the breaks you select.  I love that it is more intentional than the brain breaks you might find on Pinterest.  They each have a focus, and students have some choice.

Once you sign up and log in, you get to personalize your experience for your classroom.  Do you have several different classes?  They'll let you create more than one classroom.  After that, you choose a "Champ" (digital mascot or avatar) to reward students for their work.
Here are some of the Champs to choose from.  To get students on board, they would obviously make the choice of the Champ they'd want to start with, but they are all super creative and fun!

After this quick set up, you're off to the races to pick your brain break and start stretching, exercising in place, or doing breathing activities.  The reward?  Student engagement!!   
So head to the website and get started.  If you already use it in your classroom, I'd love to hear what your students think about it. 

Also...a big announcement!  A bunch of bloggers will be having a Spring Cleaning Sale very, VERY soon!  Check back for the details! 

Well, today instead of running, I walked around the mall with my mom and the baby for a long time!  I'm going to count that as my exercise.  Oh yea, and Gap was having a 40% off sale - never a bad thing!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Math Madness Wednesday: Subtraction!

I must say that math has always been my favorite subject to both learn and teach.  In my district I am on the district Math Committee and have always taken a liking to all things math.  I'm joining Krista at Teaching Momster for her Math Madness Wednesdays Linky.  This week's topic of subtraction is especially intriguing because I think it's a challenging topic for students to grasp and truly understand.  In my post I have some tips and tricks for teaching subtraction and then some fun games I've created for subtraction!

One area that I see often when I'm observing in classrooms is that teachers go from a visual representation of something straight to the abstract.  There needs to be other pieces in between these two steps where students have opportunities to make meaning with the manipulatives and have scaffolded opportunities to move from the concrete to abstract.  In order to do this there are several steps to think about.

1. Student exploration with materials and attempting to solve the subtraction problems.  Here is a student using paperclips to explore measurement.

2. Teaching with visuals and manipulatives to solidify the student exploration, clarify misunderstandings, or directly teach a brand new concept. Also, this doesn't just mean one form of manipulatives.

3. Highlight specific content words that will be necessary for explaining the process of subtraction.  This would include difference, subtraction, etc.

3. Student talk about subtraction.  In order to understand the concept, students need to be able to display their thinking visually and talk or write about it using the specific content vocabulary from #3.  This needs to be both teacher supported and collaboratively with peers.

4.  Once these pieces are in place, then I think it's appropriate to move to the abstract or formula-based solving of subtraction.

And finally, students need to have FUN with subtraction!  Once there is a conceptional understanding, games are a blast to play, and they make subtraction a little less stressful for students.  Here are some really easy games to print and play that I've created for subtraction.
This is the easiest version with just basic subtraction facts.  Use this game as a small group review game or to practice fact fluency add a timer to the game! On TpT for $1.00!

 This game includes double digit problems with regrouping.  This is definitely one of my best-sellers - it's only $1.50!  Use this as a whole class review game with students using dry erase boards at their seats to solve all of the problems.  A great class game or to use when you have a substitute teacher. 

This game has 2-digit problems with and without regrouping.  Put this at a work station for students to solve and put the cards in order based on the answers they get when solving each problem.  A great way to encourage practice through a fun game! Again, just $1.50!

Happy subtraction to all!  Gotta run, err continue to walk post-baby for a while!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mentor Monday: Memoirs and Motherhood!

Thanks to a friend of mine, Krista at Teaching Momster, I am back on the blogging bandwagon and couldn't be more excited!  For one reason, I will be home for the next few months on maternity leave and for another, I have lots of ideas I've been wanting to share and discuss!

I am joining up with the Mentor Monday Linky highlighting books that focus on the teaching of memoirs.  Krista is actually guest hosting it this week from Emily's blog, and I love the organizer she created to get started with memoirs.  I think the best way to get started with a memoir is to use mentor texts and to model it through your own writing.  Actually, I believe this is the best way to get started with any unit: mentor texts and modeling.

What picture would I use for my small moment right now?  Well, this one of course!  Our baby will be 3 weeks old tomorrow.  I can already think of many different moments to write about.  And memoirs were a perfect topic for me to brag and share about our absolutely perfect little guy!

Okay, back to the classroom application.  My go-to texts for memoirs is always Patricia Polacco - and maybe to a fault - but I just love her style of writing and the messages in her stories.  I love how she depicts a moment so vividly and can pull a reader into her life so quickly.  I think Polacco is best used for the older grade levels since the text complexity is a bit higher.  With so many picture books, she has many options to choose from, too, which is why I like to have a collection in the room that students can read independently if they choose.

Two of my favorites are My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother and The Junkyard Wonders.  I like these because one is about family and siblings which a lot of students can relate.  The Junkyard Wonders is an amazing story about a group of "special" students or misfits, who realize they are truly genius-level thinkers and creators.

One Big Teaching Tip for Successful Memoirs by your Students:
- Give them many opportunities to discover their topic.  The topic(s) they choose to write about needs to be memorable, special, important, or hit home.  They need to be passionate about it and want to write about it.  Students will spend a lot of writing time with this moment, so don't force something for the sake of time.  Give them several mini lessons with mentor texts depicting various moments to spark their own memories and find something they just can't wait to talk about, write about, revise, and share.

Gotta run, well actually walk right now, but soon enough!  The baby and I are going to head out for a walk despite the 40 degree temps here in Indy!  At least it's sunny.