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Friday, July 15, 2016

Restating the Question Lesson


Am I the only one who adds this skill to her plans ASAP for the new school year? As. Soon. As. Possible. It's crucial, and it's one of those skills that kids tend to resist a little bit because they don't understand WHY it's so important.

We start with a lesson about how to restate the question. PQA! Put the Question in the Answer.  This can still be tricky for some kids, so we make an anchor chart together that shows them exactly how to do it.

Restate the Question Anchor Chart
First, I explain that they need to identify WHAT it is asking them to find out, and most often, the easiest way to do that is by looking for one of the 5Ws-- Who, What, Where, When, Why, and of course, How.  They underline what the question is asking in RED because they don't need to include those words in their answer.  This prevents students from answering questions awkwardly.  For instance, without taking this step, they might say, "How long it takes to get to the mall is 20 minutes."  When they eliminate that question word, it sounds more natural.  

Then, they underline the keywords that they are going to use in their answer in green.  You can see all of this in answer chart above.

When we first start this skill, I have them use red and green to write their answers.  The green part matches the words that they underlined in the question.  The red part is their answer to whatever question is being asked.  So, for the first question, they underlined "How long," and they write "20 minutes" in red to show their answer.  This really helped my students to see how to format their questions.  Eventually, it becomes natural, but at first, this is a great way to scaffold the skill!

Next, we do some group work to show WHY it's so important to restate the question and to also see some of the incorrect ways that students sometimes write their answers.  

I wrote six different answers to questions on a piece of chart paper.  Each group of students came up with the QUESTION that was being answered.  For this first one, the answers were ALL OVER THE BOARD! The answers had almost none of the question in them, so it was nearly impossible for the students to figure out what question it was answering.  It was fun to read some of the questions the kids came up with because they were all different.  We went through and talked about what made it a "bad" answer.  Then, I gave them the actual questions that were being answered, and they loved it!


Question 1: Why didn't you eat your bacon for breakfast?
Question 2: Why did mom burn the cupcakes?
Question 3: What time does the stadium open for the game?
Question 4: Why are you still sitting on the dock?
Question 5: Why did the family move to California?
Question 6: Why didn't Jack use his blankets?

Then, I gave them the same task, but with excellent answers! (Side note-- you can really do this activity in any order.  There are merits to both ways.)  Almost every question they wrote was identical, because the questions HAD been restated in the answer.  They completely understood WHY it was important to restate the question!


The next day, I had them do the same task with a partner to reinforce the idea.  They each got two GREAT answers and two terrible answers.  They wrote the questions, and then I gave them the sheets with the actual questions and they could compare what they wrote to what the actual question was.  You can download these sheets for free HERE.


Finally, I had the students work through some scaffolded task cards to start applying the skill to reading passages.  The cards on the left (pink) have the key words in the question underlined AND the answer underlined in the passage.  They don't have to think too hard about the answer, but they can focus on writing the answer correctly.  I had them do 8 of these.  Then, I had them do 8 of the blue cards, which don't give them any clues. You can find these task cards at my TpT store HERE.


After this task, it was time to start applying it to their literature-- the whole point of learning the concept.  They all had a solid understanding of how (and WHY) to put the question in the answer.  I hope your students do, too!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

(Almost) All The Resources You Could Ever Want. Ever.

I get a lot of different requests for new resources, but the requests that I get the most are for BUNDLES! I can't count the number of times someone has asked me if I have an entire bundle of all of my math task cards or all of my math projects.  So, for the past 24 hours, I have hunkered down and created THREE more ULTIMATE bundles of task cards and math resources!  Since it can be a little bit difficult to navigate and make sure you don't get any duplicates, here's a quick guide to my math and reading bundles, so that you can easily figure out what to purchase without getting duplicates.


The Ultimate Math Resource Wish List

If you are ONLY interested in math projects, you now have two options for purchasing. 


There is absolutely no overlap between these two bundles, and when you buy both, you will be the proud new owner of 19 different math projects to last you throughout the entire year.  If I create more math projects in the future, I will also add them to these bundles for free.

My 8 SEASONAL Math Projects are based around a specific time of year and they typically cover many different math skills.

My 11 CONCEPT-BASED Math Projects are based around a specific skill or concept taught in math.

If you are interested in purchasing the vast majority of math task cards in my store, you now have one option for purchasing over 2,000 math task cards (YES! 2,000!).


This bundle includes 7 of my task card bundles PLUS 9 Additional Sets of task cards that are not in any other bundles.  Seriously, consider yours math centers PLANNED! 

 There are some task cards that are NOT included in the above bundle, and that's because they appear in Resource bundles, and not task card bundles.  My Resource Bundles usually include my error analysis tasks, the math project for the concept, and some task cards or other activities to completely supplement your units.  I bundled all of those Resource Bundles together, too.


Now, here's where it gets a little bit tricky to make sure you aren't overlapping.  You can buy these two bundles (the Math Resources Bundle and the Math Task Cards Bundle) and have absolutely NO overlap in resources.  However, since the Math Resource bundles include the math projects, you do NOT want to purchase the Concept-Based Math Projects as well.  The only Concept-Based Math Projects that are not included in this bundle are the Addition & Subtraction Math Project, Geometry & Measurement Math Project, and Graphing & Data Math Project.  At $3.50 each, it is a better deal to buy those three projects individually and the Bundle of all Math Resources Bundle.  Got it?  Tricky, right!? :) 
In a world where you want to own almost every single math resource I have created, here is your ultimate wish list:

The Ultimate Reading Resource Wish List

Luckily, my reading bundles are a little bit easier to navigate!  If you want to purchase MOST of my concept-based Reading Task Cards (Over 1,000 task cards), here's what you should purchase.


This Bundle of all Bundles is a fairly comprehensive set of all of my reading task cards!

I have three more bundles of Reading Task Cards that are NOT included in this bundle.  
They are all FULL YEAR bundles.

  

I use these seasonal cards for early finishers and monthly in my centers.  I love to add some seasonal flair to our routines! 


In a world where you want to own almost every single reading task card I have created, here is your ultimate wish list:

Monthly Reading Skills Task Cards
A Full Year of Inference Task Cards
A Full Year of Oral Reading Fluency Task Cards


Believe it or not, this isn't even close to all of my resources, but I'll stop there for now! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an email.  I'm happy to answer any questions.  Happy teaching!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A New Task Card Organization Solution

Happy summer, teachers!  Summer time means organizing, planning, and prepping for the new year! I love that I can work at my own pace and still feel nice and refreshed for the new year.

Recently, I received a message from a teacher named Tara, who had found the most wonderful task card storage solution.  I have a number of different places that I store my task cards (HERE is a post about how I store all of my fraction Task Cards, and HERE is a post about how I store all of my early finisher task cards.)  However, I loved the look of these containers so much that I ran right out and bought these organizers that Tara mentioned because they are brilliant, and it's as if they were MADE for task cards!


These organizer tubs have 16 individual containers inside of them.  Each container holds about 100 task cards, so I can fit a few sets in each one.  I decided to go ahead and use these containers to organize the task cards that I most often used in centers.  I love the idea of being able to pull out the container with the cards and put it in the center.  The task cards would stay nice and contained, and they would be easy to find and keep neat when kids were using them.




I have another pair of tubs coming to store all of my seasonal fluency and reading skills task cards and one for my creative and critical thinking task cards.  I can't wait to slide these babies into my cupboard and know that they are so, so organized!

While I was shopping for this, I knew in the back of my mind that I really needed something for my half page task cards, especially because I am using them a lot more now.  I came across this card storage container by the same company, and it's perfection!  It is small enough to not take up a ton of room, but it fits a TON of half-page task cards.  It even has built in dividers to make it super easy to keep them organized.  Love!


You can download my labels for FREE!  The cute elements are from I Teach, What's your SuperPower?
HERE is a link to a PDF of the labels with the text I created.
HERE is a link to an editable, blank file.  I used the font CCSweetEmma from Cara Carol and alternated the font colors! Just insert a text box and click "duplicate pages" to add as many as you want.

If you are looking for the tubs, you can buy them on Amazon by clicking the link below.  You get TWO of them for that price, which is about the same as getting one 50% off at Michaels.  You can also get them at Michaels, but make sure you wait until they are 50% off or you have a coupon! :)



If you are looking for more task cards to add to your collection, be sure to stop by my store!  All of my task cards are classroom-tested and were made for my classroom.  Enjoy!


*This post contains affiliate links


Friday, May 13, 2016

End of the Year Activities for Upper Elementary

It's here! It's here! The end of the year is here!  Now, I always vacillate between being terribly sad the year is over and being so excited for a fresh start come August.  My first few years teaching, I always scrambled the last few weeks trying to find engaging but still meaningful activities for my students to do those last couple weeks of school.  I wanted it to be EXCITING and FUN but I still wanted to maintain control of my classroom and keep them learning.  It was always a challenge.  I figure there must be other people in my same boat-- searching endlessly for the perfect end of the year activity-- so I compiled a huge list of the best end of the year activities I have found and use.


This compilation of 25 ideas is specifically geared towards keeping bigger kids (grades 3+) engaged the last few weeks of school.  I hope you can find an idea or two! (Note: For more information on each activity, click the link directly below the picture.)

End of the Year Writing
This activity caught my eye immediately.  It's a great twist on the typical assignment to have kids write a letter to the incoming class.  Instead, it's something of a list/poem that explains the best way to be a fourth grader (or any grade level).

End of the Year Reading Activity
This End of the Year Reading Activity was created because my kids LOVE their yearbooks so much! I thought about creating a comprehension sheet to go with our yearbook, but then I realized how time intensive that would be and that I wouldn't be able to use it from year to year.  So I created this fictional, 8-page yearbook with a super fun scavenger hunt to go with it.  It can be used in printable form (as shown) or with the task cards that are included. 

End of the Year Newspaper
I can't find an original source for this idea, but I love it!  Here is what the original pinner wrote: "I created a basic newspaper template and then had my students write mini-articles on what the fifth graders can expect when they come to sixth grade next year. Students wrote a brief bio on about the teacher and then articles about tips to surviving sixth grade, favorite memories, sixth grade camp, etc. We then passed them along to the fifth graders so they could read them and get an idea for what sixth grade is about. This was a really fun activity!"

End of the Year Bulletin Board
Have each student hold a dry erase board with what they want to be when they grow up.  Then, turn it into a bulletin board with their graduation year.  What a GREAT send off for an entire grade level-- especially 5th graders! (Source unknown)

End of the Year Hand Self Portrait
I love incorporating art into the classroom, and the end of the year is truly the perfect time to do that. This activity has students create a "Hand Self-Portrait." They can make the hand's patterns and symbols reflect who they are, and on the outside they can write about their school year.  (Source unknown)

The Ultimate Paper Airplane Competition
So, I will openly admit that I completely stalk The Thinker Builder.  He has amazing ideas, and this one is no exception.  I can't WAIT to do this activity this year.  I know the kids are going to flip out over it!

End of the Year Math Project
When I started creating math projects, I realized how engaged my students were with every new one that I pulled out.  That meant I needed one for the end of the year! I created this End of the Year Party Planner to review all of the math skills we had worked on but also to let their creative juices flow.  I always love seeing the games they come up with, how they lay out their field for the party, and more. 

Road Trip Math Review Project
This year, I had three weeks at the end of the year after I had finished all of our math standards.  I decided to pull out my Road Trip math project which I originally created to review skills at the beginning of the year.  It has been PERFECT for the last few weeks of school.  It reviews so many math skills, and I've been so impressed at the critical thinking my kids have shown.  Since it's road trip themed, my students have really been getting in the summer mood, too!

End of the Year Memory Wheel
These  memory wheels could be used for so many different purposes, but I totally dig the idea of using it to showcase memories from the school year.

Mystery Person
How fun is this?  The teacher comes up with a clue for each person in the class and then everyone has to guess who it is.  I made a free editable template to easily create your clues.  Even more fun? Have your kids come up with a clue about themselves or others!  Free template HERE.

3 Words End of the Year Reflection
I blogged about this idea years ago, and it remains one of my favorite end of the school year traditions.  We do this as an entire school and then make a big end of the year slideshow to watch as an entire school.  So sweet. 

STEM Sports Challenges
Our science kits are headed back to our district science center, so these STEM Sports challenges are PERFECT for the end of the year.  I plan to do these challenges the entire last week of school. 

End of the Year Book Party
Oh, how I wish we were allowed to have all this food at our school! I would love to have each kid choose a book and bring a treat that goes with the book.  What a FUN addition to our usual end of the year read-a-thin!

Countdown on the Last Day of School
This one has made its way around Pinterest and the Blogosphere for years now, and I adore it every time I see it.  Your kids would love it, too!  Use all of the ideas from this post, and put one in for every time on the balloon.  Your day will fly by!

End of the Year Activities Using the iPad
What a great collection of ideas for using the iPad at the end of the year!  She has included so many wonderful ideas.

End of the Year Turtle Compliments
Each child gets a paper plate to put on their back (their turtle shell).  They walk quietly around the room giving each other compliments on their turtle shells.  <3

Field Trip to the Next Grade
I know my students would be so excited about taking a field trip to their next grade, and they would be equally excited to host kids coming to 4th grade next year!  SUCH a brilliant idea.

Claymation Projects
If you have iPads in your room and a little bit of time, you absolutely MUST do this claymation project.  Seriously.  How cool is this!?

End of the Year ABC Memory Book
We always make an ABC book for one of our novels, so this would be a fun activity, too!  They can create a memory book based on their school year.  She includes a free template and lots of other great end of the year ideas in this post, too!

End of the Year Memories Task Cards
I made these three years ago to use as our morning work during the last two weeks of school.  Each day, students picked a new task card to use to create a memory project for the school year.  Some cards took kids just one day to complete whereas others spent a good chunk of time on their task.  I always love the variety of displays I get out of these memory task cards!

Keeping Students Engaged Until the End!
Kelsey has some awesome ideas for keeping students engaged right until the very end.  Since we just finished our study of fossils, I know they would love this!

Book Tasting Party
Described as book speed dating, this activity could truly be used any time of year, but the end of the year-- after all the books kids have read-- would be the perfect time to host this book tasting party!

End of the Year Math Glyph
Steph from Teaching in Room 6 is one of my favorites-- she has the most brilliant and engaging ideas for EVERYTHING and this end of the year math activity is no exception! 

End of the Year Portfolios
If you do portfolios, you HAVE to see this blog post.  They are some of the most gorgeous portfolios I have ever seen!

End of the Year Awards
And finally... my VERY favorite end of the year activity happens in the last few minutes of the last day of school. End of the Year Awards! I start thinking about who will get what awards toward the middle of April and always have such a fun time choosing the perfect one.  As a result of having SO many different personalities over the years, my End of the Year Awards have grown into a HUGE bundle of more than 80 editable awards!  I truly can't wait to hand these out.