Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Tale of Despereaux Lapbook Final Project

It is finished! ~ The Tale of Despereaux final project lapbook is finished, printed and looks amazing!  Sadly, I have not yet finished the day by day breakdown of lessons with accompanying activities, but they are not far behind!

This lapbook can be used in conjunction with our fourth grade target standards OR you can use the generic printables to create your own writing assignment.  This lapbook takes 3-4 days to assemble and write extension ideas.  It is well worth the time and students LOVE their final products!

Purchase link {Here}.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Annotating With First Grade ~ Animal Tracks by Arthur Dorros ~ Lexile 540

Part of my job as a Reading Specialist is to work with high flier students.  Today, I worked with first graders, who are reading Animal Tracks by Arthur Doros.  We paid special attention to the raccoon in this story because I knew that we were going to annotate a Nonfiction paragraph after reading.

Because this book is filled with woodland animals, I found several nonfiction articles to expand these kids' vocabulary base.  We circled words that were "juicy" and wrote their definitions or a synonym in the margins.  We then underlined interesting facts that were new to us.  I modeled annotating while the students annotated in their notebooks.

This was a fabulous, engaging introduction to annotating that was developmentally appropriate and engaging.

To find the close reading articles that we are using, click {HERE}.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau ~ Lexile 680

Right now I have the best job EVER!  My most favorite part of my job, other than working directly with kids, is writing curriculum.  I am blessed to work in a district that values quality literature and strong writing skills, so we write our curriculum based on research-based BEST PRACTICES!

As a Reading Specialist, I live in many worlds.  Right now, my worlds are:

  1.  A Castle ~ The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
  2. On top of Mt. Everest ~ Peak by Roland Smith
  3. In the town of Manifest during the Great Depression ~ Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  4. Today, my newest world is in the city of Ember well below the ground where the lights are growing dim.  

Jeanne DuPrau is the author of this book.  Click {HERE} for her website.  I don't think there could be a  better lead for this book than the book synopsis below.

Book synopsis from DuPrau's site:
The lights shine in the city of Ember-but at the city limits the light ends, and darkness takes over.  Out therein the Unknown Regions, the darkness goes on forever in all directions.  Ember - so its people believe - is the only light in the dark world.  And now the lights are going out."

 Our fifth grade students are going to LOVE this book.  I have posted the anchor charts and key integrated comprehension & writing strategies that we will focus on.  This book unit starts in one week.  

Based on our "I Can" statements, I decided that using Think Marks would be the best format for this unit.  We will only use Think Marks related to the statements for this book.  We are also reading several more texts this year and I plan to extend the Think Marks throughout those books.  Below is the interactive journal and corresponding anchor chart to start the unit.  Each of the 4 areas will be expanded with an additional anchor chart outlining more ideas.

The fabulous clip-art that I used came from Teachers Pay Teachers and it was FREE!
Click {HERE} for the direct link to Science in a Box for this clip-art.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Tale of Despereaux ~ Week 1 ~ Anchor Charts and Text Structure

The students are IN LOVE with The Tale of Despereaux.  Here's how our team organized our teaching:

The first anchor chart that we reference daily is understanding characters.  Students need to be able to clearly understand a character's thoughts, actions, motivations, feelings & emotions, words and traits in order to understand cause and effect text structure.


Our second main anchor chart is cause and effect as stated above.  We chose two sentence starters to practice through writing that was most developmentally appropriate for fourth grade.

This one is Mark's and I told him that I would mention his AMAZINGLY cute anchor chart directly in my blog today.  Go Mark!  Go team! (Who REALLY made it for him??!!)

 The final anchor chart is from the beginning of the book.  Despereaux is divided into four parts.  In order for students to understand connections within each part and to understand that all four parts make a complete story, we are referencing this chart at the end of each section to pull in the main ideas.

I am mighty happy with how the journal turned out for students to organize their work.  Some of our teachers used file folders and others used construction paper.  The key is that students have the SAME information that is on the anchor charts as reference tools.  I took pictures of how these were put together.

We stapled the character pages together.  Each of the main characters has an area where teachers and students record a character's thoughts, actions, motivations, feelings & emotions, words and traits.  We complete this whole group so WE scaffold their thinking.

The back side has elements of a fantasy story. Periodically, we stop the story and ask how The Tale of Despereaux contains these elements.

Below you will find links to these resources.
You can find the fantasy anchor chart HERE.
The character and cause/effect lapbook is now HERE.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo ~ Lexile 670 ~ Grades 3-5

Our fourth grade teachers are off to a fabulous start with teaching the Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo.  This book is a John Newberry Award winning story (2004) and is a captivating tale.  The vocabulary and effortless use of author's craft has left our fourth graders already begging for more reading time!  This is an excellent text to teach about character thoughts, feelings, emotions, motivations, reactions and traits.  Cause and effect text structure rounds out this juicy book.

From Kate DiCamillo's Site:

"Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tillling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories and a princess named Pea.  It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world with light.  And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish.  These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives.  And what happens then?  As Kate DiCamillo would say:  "Reader, it is your destiny to find out."
It is my turn to be lead in planning a unit, so I started with rereading the entire book and annotating everything that stood out to me, which was much of the text!  My partner, Heather, is leading the Nonfiction portion of this along with a few STEM tie-ins.  In addition, Heather makes ALL of the copies and mock-ups for the team.  I am so thankful for Heather!!!

Next, I identified the key standards that should be be incorporated or addressed to enhance the understanding of this book and wrote them as I Can statements.

All of these were put on posters to reference so students knew their goals for this unit.  Reader...Notice... most of the goals are in more deeply noticing the story.  (A little Despereaux humor there...)

Next, the elements of a fantasy story/fantasy genre were directly taught to be referenced as students make connections.  I think our teachers' anchor charts turned out grand! Last year's version:

This year's version: (We are getting lazy and tracing from a master copy.  maybe not lazy, just more efficient!)

As this is a book that needs time to sink into, we decided to have longer periods of time for students to read.  As students read, our main focus is on character's thoughts, feelings & emotions, motivations, actions and traits along with cause & effect text structure.

As I said earlier, Despereaux is beautifully written and full of figurative language.  We will be integrating phrases from the story to focus on.  Our fourth grade teachers already have a wall of figurative language categories.  They choose a student to write the example on an index card to staple under the appropriate category. (Some of the teachers print these 4 to a page instead of index cards.)

Finally, extending written ideas through the use of coordinating conjunctions has been very powerful.  Teachers are modeling FANBOYS and students have given this style of response through brainstorming in small groups and partners.  I am currently updating these posters.

I am absolutely thrilled with the start of this Universal book in our fourth  grade classes!

More to come...