Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How to Make AMAZING Bulletin Board Letters

I don't have a Cricket machine and as much as I would like a cutting system, it isn't in my budget.  That said, I really wanted to make a new inspirational quote for my office door that was trendy, modern and eye-catching. 

Step 1: I wrote my quote and played around with the fonts that I wanted to use for impact.  I purchased AGFonts, Volume 1 and used two of the fonts:  AGSorrynNotSorry and AGRunningLateisMyCardio.  This set of fonts can be purchased HERE.  I also purchased the font, JuniperCaps from The Hungry JPEG.  Check it out!

Step 2:  I had no idea how to make these OUTLINE letters so that I could run these off on brightly colored paper.  Watch THIS video and you will not need to look anywhere else!

Watch THIS video for a little extra if you are obsessed as I have quickly become!

I set my text to "no fill" and set my outline color to black at 8 point.  My font size for each letter was 300 except for the word, DON'T, which I set at 422.

Step 3:  I put as many letters on one slide as I could. (Sloppy for the first time trying this.)

Step 4:  I selected colored paper to print for each word, printed and then cut these out.

Learning to do this was way simpler than I thought it would be.

Thanks for stopping by.  I made this into a FREEBIE at TPT if you want it!


Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ~ High School - Adult Lexile 910

In an age of growth mindset, Paulo Coelho's book, The Alchemist was the perfect read.  As I read this book, I jotted inspirational quotes and started to organize a High School UBD in my mind.  What an amazing springboard book for excellent discussion about life events and how to take these as opportunities instead of failures or difficulties.

From the book jacket:

This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of treasure buried near the pyramids.  Along the way, he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest...But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.
The Alchemist is a must read for everyone ~ This is a timeless classic.  LOVED!

Novel Study: The Tale of Despereaux Updated File Folder Journal

The Tale of Despereaux I Can Statements, Fantasy anchor chart and 4 parts of the story anchor chart are now updated!  Check this out HERE.

If you are looking for a character study file folder journal, I JUST finished updating this and it is beautiful!

Up next, I will be working on how to teach conjunctions.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

How to Use Cornell Notes: Part 2 Note Taking Grades 3-8

When starting out teaching students the organizational strategy of Cornell Notes, I follow the process outlined pretty thoroughly.
  1. Write the title at the top of the page.  I use NEWSELA.  It is the first place I look for nonfiction texts.  This example has a current article about ocean garbage and the amount of plastic waste floating in it.  I picked the first two pages of this article to focus on.
  2. Write the tile at the top of the page.
  3. Write the words that repeat that you circled down the left-hand side from top to bottom of the article.  Note:  When there are similar words that repeat like garbage and trash or sea turtles, seabirds and ocean life, I teach kids to make a list and write them to the side. We select one of those words to add to words that repeat. 
  4. Write a sentence CONNECTING the words that repeated to the title of the article.
  5. Write any questions you may have at the bottom.
  6. Take your Cornell Notes in order of notes, and write a clear summary paragraph.

From these articles the process of MODELING how to write a topic sentence, combine ideas into complex sentences and then finally add higher level thoughts as part of the conclusion is PRICELESS.  When teachers model these skills and practice with students, strong comprehension, critical thinking and writing skills develop.  These are lifelong abilities that we need to scaffold throughout every school year.

I recommend Cornell Notes and summary writing grades 3-8 following the exact process for articles without headings.  We tweak this format just a bit when heading are included.  That is a future post!

You can find this FREE reference sheet HERE.

Happy reading,

Sunday, April 8, 2018

How to Use Cornell Notes with Close Reading Part 1: Words That Repeat

Grades 3-8 have adopted Cornell Notes as a springboard for close reading and summarizing.  I have modified this note taking strategy to integrate close reading with the Cornell Notes format.  We teach students to close read using this strategy in two different formats.

The first format is the foundation where students look for words that repeat.  We then use these words to write a basic summary paragraph of information.  This is the cornerstone for summarization throughout the grades.  When working with teachers, we really haven't standardized the process, so this is my attempt to help teachers "staircase" their teaching between each grade level.

Our teachers use this strategy OFTEN for students who need targeted reading  skills as part of our comprehension strategies at the Middle School grades.  I cannot emphasize enough that this is a foundational skill that needs to be mastered.

There are four steps to taking Cornell Notes with a basic paragraph, starting with close reading for words that repeat.
Note:  This is for a one page article that does not contain headings.  The second form of Cornell notes will be utilized when we talk about headings.

  I usually give kids a copy of the step 4 sheet (below) to glue into their interactive notebooks for reference.  It makes sense to use loose-leaf paper to teach this strategy from the start.

I have created the reference sheet below as a poster and as an interactive notebook for students to glue and use when learning this strategy.  If you find these useful, grab the freebie HERE.

First read of article:
 Second read of article:  Note that we don't always read something three times.  Twice is usually plenty to look for key words that repeat.  We call these words "juicy" words that show up more than one time.  When we noticed that students were circling common words instead of key vocabulary words, a "Words That Repeat" anchor chart was needed to clean this up a bit.
Teaching students how to use bullets and line up key words with each bullet seems simple, but is a key skill in taking usable notes that can be referenced.
 Think-Pair-Share is a crucial step to digging deeper into an article for discussing questions we still might have related to the topic.  It is the beginning of thinking critically about adult topics like bias and viewpoint.
For more information on Cornell Notes, check out the following you tube video.

If you would like to purchase the posters, the link is HERE.

My next blog post will be to show you a few student samples in action.

Best wishes,

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Using Word Families to Teach Syllable Patterns: Set 1 -ack & -ake

Our elementary school has worked all year this school year to staircase and tweak our curriculum within and throughout all grade levels.  One of the decoding and spelling discussions that we have spent quite a bit of time on is how to use spelling patterns for generalizations in writing and reading words.  Students who have basic reading skills can usually decode and write CVC words.  Beyond this, our first and second grade students are struggling with understanding syllable rules and how to apply these to basic patterns.

As part of our curriculum alignment, we decided to start teaching open and closed syllables in first grade and throughout each grade.  This goes hand in hand with identifying and APPLYING short and long vowels as well as digraphs and blends.

We have used Words Their Way and will continue to incorporate this differentiated word study in all of our grades.  The focus on generalizing patterns will happen at the universal level and be integrated into our WTW times as well.

Our second grade teachers have decided to add in the 37 most common rime families that make up over 500 words as researched by Wylie and Durrell, (1970).  We are layering a secondary focus with adding -s, -ed, and -ing suffixes as well as common prefixes as the year progresses. That way conjugating and teaching syllable patterns and rules will have the repetition needed to "cement" learning.

I just created the first week of activities focusing on the -ack and -ake activities.  There is a little freebie for you at the end of this post.  ;)

These activities are going to be used for whole group instruction, but could easily transfer to RTI individual or small group instruction as needed.

I created syllable trick posters as well as syllable rules for reference.  Students will also have their own individual bookmarks to help while completing word study activities.  There are 10 ideas for teachers to use:
1.Syllable trick posters
2.CVC and CVCe syllable rule posters
3.-ack and –ake word cards
4.Individual bookmarks with syllable references
5.Syllable pockets for sorting patterns
6.Zap! Cards
7.Sorting t-chart
8.Fluency practice
9.Spin and write sheet
10.Spelling/writing check sheet for “cementing” patterns 

HERE is a freebie for you  to get started!

Happy reading/happy teaching!

Monday, March 26, 2018

In the Tall, Tall Grass: Activities

Wow!  It has been quite a year!  My new role as instructional coach in addition to Reading Specialist duties has taken up ALL of my time.  This has allowed me to work in classrooms a lot more this year than the past four years.  I have found the coaching part of my job to be very rewarding and a fantastic way to connect with teachers and kiddos alike.

I picked up the book, In a Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming when I was working with a student last week.  It reminded me that spring is coming and a few cute popped into my mind!

Here is a cute you tube link of the book. 

I felt that this book needed an interactive activity for our younger kiddos, so I made a prop where kids could draw their faces.  (See clip-art below.)
This prop is perfect for reviewing concept of word.    
Option 1:
Teacher says a page.  
Students hold up their prop as they speak each word. 

 Option 2:  
Teacher reads a page and students hold the prop to say the rhyming words.  
IE:  Teacher reads, “Crunch, munch, caterpillars munch!”  
Students hold up the prop and say, “Crunch! Munch! Lunch!”

The noun and verb posters are for whole group exposure.  It is always fun to have your students ACT like the Noun.  IE:  Dart like a hummingbird.  

This cute interactive notebook is for working with adding the "s" to the end of a word introducing plural nouns. Younger students can draw two or more of each noun.  Older students can write the noun with an "s" at the end.  
These can be found on TPT.
Happy spring!