Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Interactive Classroom Walls

I believe strongly in the use of visual anchor charts that are displayed and referenced all year long.  These charts are MADE by teachers with students as part of instruction.  The teachers I work with also own this belief as evidenced by the amazing anchor charts in use as I walk through all of their classrooms.  

It is obvious that we are all Pinterest stalkers!  The neat thing about the interactive classroom walls is that each classroom has a word wall, word study, CAFE board and anchor charts that are used on a daily basis, which is best practices in action!

Here are a few pictures that I snapped in a second grade teacher's classroom last week.  I like that her anchor charts are cleanly displayed and easy for kids to use when reading and writing.

We borrowed the anchor chart idea from First Grade Wow: Windows on Wonder's blog, {Link Here}. We spiced it up to add book covers that are read throughout the year.  That way, teachers incorporate reviewing the elements of fiction and nonfiction texts all year.  

Another amazing example of fabulous teaching!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Valentine Writing Paper {Freebie!}

I heart the teachers I work with!  To celebrate, I linked up with Classroom Freebies to share my Valentine writing paper.  It is simple, cute and can be used for almost any writing activity.  I know our first grade teachers will love this.  *Wink!*

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Click the paper and it should download for you.

I have also uploaded this as a free product through Teachers Pay Teachers.  {Link}

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Iris and Walter by Elissa Haden Guest ~ Lexile 330

Iris and Walter by Elissa Haden Guest is one of my new favorite stories about moving, feelings and finding new friends.  This book also ties in beautifully with our second grade unit on urban, suburban and rural communities Excerpt from Elissa Guest's website:

 When Iris's family moves to the country, Iris is mad.  There's nothing to do and no one to play with.  The country is as lonely as Mars.  But then Grandpa suggests a walk.  And down the road, around the bend Iris finds a huge green tree, an inviting rope ladder, and maybe, just maybe, a new friend.

My son read just read this book with me and asked if there were more in the series.  My Amazon cart runneth over.  Check this book out for your children in grades 1-3.

The Iris and Walter unit I created focuses on prior knowledge, characterization, commas in a series, shades of meaning and comprehension.  Click the link below to check it out.

Happy reading!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Amelia Earhart ~ National Geographic Reader ~ Grades 2 & 3

We are studying Amelia Earhart next week in third grade.  The anchor text that we are pulling from is Amelia Earhart National Geographic Reader.  Our additional instructional texts are Amelia and Eleanor and How People Learned to Fly.  

Students will be learning about text features as well as the main idea and details.  To "cement" their learning, small groups will use chart paper to outline their ideas.    Below is the teacher modeling chart that our team will present on Monday.  It includes a section on annotating text headings, group thoughts and a main idea table to outline the topic and supporting details.

One of the graphic organizers for students to use is below. 

I am super excited about the integrated grammar which is focusing on adverbs.  Shades of meaning includes all of the words for flying.  They will be creating a clothesline timeline and writing to compare the 1920's and 1930's to today.  Special focus in on including at least 3 conjunctions in their paragraphs.

Students will be constructing paper airplanes, measuring their distance over 5 trials and creating  graphs.

This type of integrated, focused literacy targets the Common Core State Standards, yet engages students to think deeper because all of the ideas connect and are not taught in isolation.  This is just best practices and I am so thrilled with our team!

If you are interested in the complete unit, click the link below for Teachers Pay Teachers.
Happy Reading!

Four Year Old Kindergarten Literacy Development

Our school district has a brand new 4K program this year with two new teachers who are collaborative in their approach to working with young minds.  This is very exciting!

We have finalized a format that will be tweaked monthly to incorporate developmentally appropriate and engaging activities into literacy development.  The four focus area include vocabulary, a literacy activity, a poem or song and a sort.  We worked out a daily format for targeting each area.  See chart below.  Vocabulary includes learning and owning words as well as incorporating music to cement learning.  I clapped when a student yesterday said that anxious means afraid and nervous.  YES! 

 Yesterday's words:

On Thursday mornings, the helper for the week picks two words to put up on the class word wall.  Students read  the wall together.

The literacy focus for this month is to engage students with picture cues in understanding the beginning, middle and end of the story.  On Thursdays, these darling children put a puzzle together in pairs and discuss if their picture puzzle is at the beginning, middle, or end of the story.  When I visited one of the sites yesterday, the students were having a blast with this!

Beginning, middle and end of a story organizer:
Story puzzle:

The weekly poem or song focuses on rhythm and rhyme.  We have added concept of word through placing one thematic picture (snowflakes this week) over each word.  Students point to each snowflake/word as they print match and read with the teacher.

Finally, you can never sort too much or too often.  Our 4K teachers daily model sorting by color, shape, size, attributes or categories.  

Every activity is left out for students to play school with each other during choice time. 

If you would like to download a copy of this lesson plan, click {here}

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Close Reading with Snowflake Bentley ~ Wow! Amazing!

Today I was absolutely thrilled when I was  invited to demonstrate close reading with a third grade class in our school.  Third grade students just finished reading Snowflake Bentley, so we used a quote by this famous inventor.

 We used the following format to process through our first session.  I modeled annotating  and writing thoughts in the margins and then students were given one close reading guide and one copy of a famous quote to practice in partners.  Mrs. A. and I walked around the room and guided students with circling interesting or powerful words, underlining words or parts they didn't understand and writing in the margins.  It was cute that they didn't want to write across the words on the pages, but got the hang of it quickly. 

 After practicing, we regrouped and made a class annotation. I would like to point out a few ideas.  The back slash is where I stopped modeling and students took over with their partners.  Notice that photograph is circled.  We have been working on roots and students were able to say that photo means picture and graph means on paper~Bonus!  Next, students used iPads to look up what exquisite means.  They underlined the words, "attend to" because they were old-fashioned language.  We had a little history lesson with understanding that the daily quarts of milk were delivered in glass bottles.  My FAVORITE notation made me tear up when someone underlined, "But I think I am giving them something which is just as important."  He said that meant I MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Students are so amazing!

Bottom line~this is how we work on deeper thinking with out students.  There isn't a fill in the blank or multiple choice question in sight because they only look at the bottom level of understanding.  This type of working with students promotes the thinking skills we use in every day life.  

Happy day!! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Community of Teachers

On the wall of my office, I have the quote, "I am a part of all I have read."  This fits my job as a Reading Specialist perfectly.  That is the message I wish to help teachers convey.  When you find a great book, you become a part of a book, which is like nothing ever.  Reading a book that is engaging for YOU is the best movie you will ever see!

When I came to work this morning, I had coffee waiting for me from one of the elementary school teachers.  I am blessed with a staff to work with who leaves me random acts of goodness in the form of coffee and breakfast on a frequent basis.  I then  reflected about my wall and decided that I needed another addition.  "I'm a reflection of my community."  When you work together with amazing people, you become amazing as an individual and as a community of teachers.  Good stuff!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood ~ Kindergarten though Grade 2 ~Literacy Activities and {Freebie!}

It's my week to create the Kindergarten team's literacy outline of objectives and activities and our book is The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood.  This book is such a delightful book filled with sequencing and vibrant illustrations!

As I started digging deeper, I also realized that The Napping House has a beautiful shades of meaning activity built right in.  There are several words that mean the same as sleeping.  These words snoring, dreaming, dozing, snoozing and slumbering.  I added more word cards including nodding off, napping, hibernating and resting as well as t-chart headers for sleeping lightly and sleeping soundly.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Below is a freebie that is included in the complete 34 page literacy unit I uploaded to Teachers Pay Teachers.  Students cut out the pictures and glue in order on a strip of construction paper.  Depending on the grade level, students can number, write sequence words or write a sentence starting with a sequence word under each picture.

 Click the picture below to be directed to the master for this activity.

My complete K-2 Literacy Unit can be found at TpT.  

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Visual Lesson Plans ~ What Works!

Visual lesson plans are amazing!  They keep a team of teacher on track and give visual clues to the progression of activities.  Our teachers are using visual lesson plans to create common anchor charts, keep track of universal texts and additional instructional and/or read-aloud texts for their units of study.  We have weekly visual lesson plans with long-term end products for project-based learning as well.  We definitely borrow anchor chart ideas from Pinterest as well as create our own as we target strategies and skills.

The three page example below is from Snowflake Bentley.  The first snip is our texts, focus vocabulary, anchor charts, CAFE Strategies and I Can statements that directly relate to the CCSS (Common Core State Standards.)  Our elementary school teachers have created grade level literacy guidelines that integrate the CCSS and recommendations from the Continuum of Literacy by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.  We use these  literacy guidelines to plan universal instruction and WIN groups (What I Need), which our our skills-based groups depending on what children need to work on in reading.

Creating visual lesson plans for each grade level is new this year and our plans are changing as the year progresses and we find what works for each grade level team.

Overwhelming feedback from the amazing teachers I work with is that these plans lend themselves to better continuity between classrooms and within grade levels.  Teacher are collaborating to develop these plans and the team building is fabulous.  I am so thrilled to be a Reading Specialist and working with these terrific teachers!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Clothespin Clippers ~ Plural and Possessive Nouns ~ Interactive Activities

Our second grade team is looking for an interactive way to "cement" the understanding of plural and possessive nouns.  I created clothespin clippers.  Students are given several circles.  Each circle has one plural or possessive rule written on it.  As the teacher explains a rule, students clip it to their clothespins.  As learning progresses, the teacher then holds up a word and asks the students to clip the circle that has the correct plural or possessive rule on it.

In addition, I created several task cards to be laminated so students can practice writing singular and plural possessive nouns.  These task cards are pulled directly from the book, A House is a House for me by Mary Ann Hoberman.  I am thrilled with these interactive activities!

These interactive activities can be found at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store under Trifecta Book Reviews.

A preview file is below.