Sunday, April 26, 2015

The City of Ember Complete Literacy Unit

 I finally finished The City of Ember unit and I am so excited to share this print ready unit that incorporates best practices in literacy instruction.  This book engages ALL students and the unit is infused with metacognitive strategies and thinking marks.  It is sure to be a hit with your students!

Daily plans are based on 45 minute class periods.  This is a suggested progression that you should  adjust per your literacy block and the student needs in your classroom.

Our students were still having trouble writing a main idea sentence, so we added in a “big idea” anchor chart where, after reading a series of chapters, we followed the Somebody-Wanted-But-So-Then format and wrote one or two sentences.  This really helped firm up their understanding of this strategy.  We emphasized that as we write these key sentences, they relate to the “I can” statement of explaining how a series of events connect together.
Visualization, determining importance, asking questions and inferencing were taught through mini-lessons and applied through marking our thinking assignments.
Teacher modeling of all strategies has been built into lesson plans.

Think notes and rubrics are utilized through the gradual release of responsibility throughout this unit.

Here is the {LINK} to my unit at Teachers Pay Teacher.  I have added the preview slides below as well.  

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen ~ Lexile 1020

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is such a treasured classic and  Newberry Honor Book as well!  Although the lexile is high, 1020, our Fifth grade teachers pick this book as their final universal text because it is engaging and captures our students' attention from the beginning!

Summary from

On a trip to visit his father, 13-year-old Brian is the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness. With only the clothes on his back and a hatchet he received as parting gift from his mother, Brian begins to shape a life for himself in the wild. This splendid coming-of-age story has sold more than two million copies. 
The following posters are a list of 5th grade "I can" statements that are directing our teaching.   The focus is on learning more about the FAST-C Strategy where students will elaborate on student understanding the main character's feelings, actions, saying thoughts and story conflicts.  Along with the FAST-C strategy, we will utilize shades of meaning to cover all of the emotions in this book, focus on context clues and focus on character change.  Each grade level has focused on the QAR (Question-Answer-Relationship) strategy to help students understand depth of knowledge and different responses to questions.

Below is the anchor chart teachers will use to explain and model the FAST-C Strategy.

One last anchor chart~ This is our anchor chart for modeling context clues.  I created a Power Point to model these ideas for students.

Here are 3 pages from the Power Point from Chapters 1-3 of Hatchet.

I will continue to add more ideas as we progress through this unit.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Annotating Nonfiction Texts

Our AMAZING elementary school has a 30 minute WIN (What I Need) block of time for differentiated instruction with skills. The next focus area with differentiated levels of texts is on nonfiction.  Our fourth grade team discussed that they needed new think marks for annotating nonfiction texts and that these should be different than fiction.  In each classroom, students have chosen a nonfiction text at their instructional level for literature circle reading and discussion.

 We decided that three areas would be focused on over the next four weeks:

1.  Text Structure
2.  Text Features
3.  Connections

I made a simple anchor chart with key ideas for teachers with a corresponding chart for student interactive notebooks.  See below.

We downloaded the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction explanation for text features and text structure to elaborate on each area. These are the BEST explanation and elaboration on each of these areas that I have seen.  These were shrunk to notebook size and placed in student interactive notebooks for reference during literature circles as well.

 {LINK} for Text Structure explanation

{LINK} for Text Features explanation

Students will be given on large piece of anchor chart paper and a pack of notebooks.  Each day, students pick one area to focus on, write it on their Post-It note and place this on their anchor chart to utilize as a springboard for discussion.

OF COURSE this process ALWAYS starts with teacher modeling!