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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Using Pictures to Teach Key Reading Skills


I blog a lot about how I use pictures to teach key reading skills, and I’m passionate about their impact on student learning.  If you’re familiar with my blog, you have probably noticed students working with pictures in many, many ways.  If you’ve never tried it, I know you may be skeptical of its value. Trust me when I say that It is incredibly impactful, engaging, and it sticks with students for years to come.


Almost any time I introduce or review a new reading skill, I do so using a picture.  Why?
·         So many kids are visual learners.  Kids love reading picture books, and there is a reason for that!  As students get older, we tend to teach skills using isolated passages (which, please don’t get me wrong, is vitally important), but taking a look at it visually—with no text—is invaluable to some kids who need to learn a different way.

·         It is easy differentiation!  Using pictures almost always requires students to generate their own ideas rather than answer a multiple choice question or put a sequence of events in order.  The options are limitless with pictures—you can have students do a most basic task within the skill or you can get highly complex, involving inferences, predictions, schema, etc.

·         I can include science or social studies topics in my pictures, making the learning transdisciplinary.  When students are prepping for big tests in other areas, I can select a picture that relates to that topic and use it in conjunction with our reading skill.  Double dipping at its finest!

·         We use different levels of texts to teach different ideas.  Each student has their instructional level and independent level.  Using pictures when I’m teaching is a little bit like teaching them to read at their instructional level.  They can understand a picture, so before they have to wrap their heads around applying a new concept to texts (that they are still having to decode, comprehend, etc.) they can understand the new concept using something that is familiar to them—real life!

·         Kids are ENGAGED!  I have never had a student moan or groan when I pull out a big picture to dissect.
For these examples, we spent about 5 minutes at the beginning of reading each day this week to review a number of skills.  We generated the ideas together, and I or a student recorded them on the paper.  You could do the same thing to teach the skill (rather than review it), and you could use it as a carousel activity, too, which is on my favorite ways to do this!



I also frequently use one picture to review several reading skills, like this:



Here is a brief list of skills I have reviewed using pictures…



I have also used pictures to teach language skills as well.  Here is an example of one we did to review nouns and verbs.  I have also done it for adverbs and adjectives.

If you haven't tried it, print out a picture next week, and see what fun you will have with your students!


If you want more great ideas, please consider visiting me on FACEBOOK, checking out my teaching resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, or following my PINTEREST boards!


And before you go, be sure to hop around the other 150 Bright Ideas Blog posts!  There are always so many great ideas during this link up, and I'm honored to be a part of it again!  You will find great teaching ideas, classroom management tips, and organizational solutions. Settle in…you will be reading for a while!




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ratios and Mysteries!

Sometimes I'm hesitant to post anchor charts because I don't have a ton of information or activities to go with them, but I thought I'd go for it anyway!  These are two that we have done this week as we get started on our next units.

In math, we are beginning to do some work on ratios and rates.  This is a totally new concept to these 5th graders, so an anchor chart was definitely in order!

Ratios Anchor Chart

Then, we began a mini-unit on mysteries!  We are reading The Westing Game (which is a semi-mystery novel), so I wanted to throw in some elements of mystery as well.  We will be doing a few activities here and there as we read the novel, and the kids are so thrilled!  If you have any suggestions for activities or lessons in a mystery unit, please feel free to share!  I am still in search of some ideas.

Elements of Mystery Anchor Chart

My students saw my new Math Mystery Detective Task Cards on my desk and are itching to start them.  Great cross-curricular connection!

My students and I tweaked the definitions a bit, but I got the list of elements from THIS website.  I'm not sure if that's the original source, but if you know what is, I'm happy to link to it!

I hope to pop back in this week to share a few activities my group of 3rd graders did to support perimeter and area!

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fiction Comprehension

We spent a few days before state testing doing some quick review activities for answering fiction comprehension questions.  We had spent A LOT of time on nonfiction over the past several months, but I wanted to be sure we were still sharp on our fiction comprehension skills and answering comprehension questions.

I began the review by creating this anchor chart with my students.  I knew the 8 "types" of questions I wanted them to come up with, but I did guide them through making the chart.  We talk so much about literal vs. inferential questions, but I also wanted to remind them of the specific types of questions they might come upon.

We talked about first deciding whether the question was literal or inferential, and then considering if it fit into one of these categories of questions.  I emphasized that there are MANY MORE types of comprehension questions, but these were very common and showed up in a lot of test questions.


When we finished brainstorming, we made a comprehension foldable for review.  To be honest, there wasn't a whole lot of rhyme or reason to what we wrote inside.  As a class, we brainstormed all of the thoughts and reminders we had about each type of question and each reading skill we had worked on.  It's basically a collection of notes about each one, totally tailored to my class!



Here is a look at the inside a student's foldable. 


You can download the template for the foldable for free HERE. Thanks to Erin at Lovin' Lit for the template!

Then, in small groups and centers, we worked on my fiction comprehension task cards.  In small groups, they glued one onto a piece of paper,  we underlined specific evidence in the text for each question, and wrote answers in complete sentences.  The kids liked the short, manageable paragraphs, and the 4 open-ended questions for each one.  We talked about what type of question each one was, and they wrote I or L next to it to denote whether it was literal or inferential.


After we had done one or two cards together, they worked on several of the cards on their own.  If I had noticed they were having trouble when we worked on them together, I gave them more black and white copies to glue onto their paper so that they could still underline their evidence.  Otherwise, they got a laminated copy and wrote their answers on a piece of paper.

Fiction Comprehension Task Cards
You can buy the fiction comprehension task cards at my TPT store HERE.  I also have the same type of cards in informational text format HERE.

The next day, we used some more of the task cards as a warm up.  Then, we went out into the hall to do some quick comprehension review!  My kids LOVED this activity!

That morning, I gathered 8 books that had intriguing first pages.  I did that so that I could ask several inferential questions.  I asked our librarian if it was legal to copy only the first page of the book, and to copy it only once, and she assured me that under fair use laws for teachers it was okay!  So, I copied the first page of each book and wrote 3-5 comprehension questions (both literal and inferential) about the first page.  I taped them up all over the hall, and the kids walked around with clip boards answering the questions.


They couldn't get enough of this.  There was something so intriguing to them about reading only the first page!  I made sure to keep the books checked out and on display so that they could read the rest of the book in their down time.  This took me very little time to prep, and it was a GREAT way to review comprehension questions.


Each one took the kids about 5 minutes to complete, so we got in a lot of comprehension practice (using authentic texts) in a short amount of time.  PERFECT test prep for us.

Update:  Several people asked for the books and questions I used. Here they are, along with the questions I had on the papers so that you can use the questions if you have access to the books!  They are all excellent books in whole, and you could even use just one or two of them to accomplish the same thing!


Comprehension Questions for Comprehension Quicks

Togo by Robert J. Blake

1.  What can you infer about the qualities Leonhard is looking for in his "perfect dog"?
2.  Why was Seppala so eager to give away Togo?
3.  Where might the setting of this story be located?  How do you know?

The Memory String by Bunting/Rand

1.  What inferences can you make about Laura and Jane? Use evidence!
2.  Describe the setting of the story in your own words.
3.  After Laura shook her head, what did she do?
4.  Find examples of vivd images the author paints on this page.

When Charlie McButton Lost Power by Collins/Lester

1.  What do you know about Charlie McButton?
2. What does the author mean by, "his whole world lost power"?
3.  Make a list of 5 other likes and like-nots that Charlie might have.
4.  Infer: What is the main problem in the story? Predict: What will be the solution?

Lemonade in Winter by Jenkins/Karas

1.  What can you infer about the setting of this story?  Use evidence!
2.  What can you infer about Pauline?
3.  Based on what you read, make a prediction about the success of her lemonade stand.

Hurricane by Wiesner

1.  Why do you think the family just went to get groceries?
2.  Find two pieces of evidence that help you infer that a storm is coming.
3. Who is Hannibal, and why is the family worried about him?

Tea With Milk by Say
1.  What are two things the author compares and contrasts on this page?
2.  Why might May imagine San Francisco as a city of  many palaces?
3.  Are the underlined sentences facts or opinions?

A Very Important Day by Herold/Stock

1.  Find evidence to support the idea that Nelia was too excited to sleep.
2.  How are New York City and the Philippines different, according to the text?
3.  What might be so important about this day?  Make a prediction.
4.  What will cause the rest of the family to be awoken early?









Sunday, March 16, 2014

Figurative Language Review

I have been trying to write this post for two weeks now!  Between home, school and a few new products I have been working on, I haven't had a spare second.  So, here it is.  I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking.

I had two class periods to review figurative language before state testing.  We had done several activities with it last year, and I have the same kids this year, but we really needed to work on interpreting it and using context clues to understand it.

We made an anchor chart, and the kids made a foldable from Lovin' Lit's INB Resources.

Figurative Language Anchor Chart
The kids LOVED coming up with their own examples in the orange column.  Some of them stretch it a little bit, but I just love including student examples on anchor charts.

Figurative Language Foldable
Then, I did an activity similar to what we did last year, but I took it a step further.  Last year, we did this, and I blogged about it HERE:


This year, I grabbed some pictures and wrote a few quick sentences that used figurative language to describe what was happening.  They had to sort the figurative language by type, and generate some of their own to describe the picture as well.  I only included Similes, Metaphors, Hyperbole, and Personification in the sort.

Figurative Language Sort

Here are links to each of the pictures to use in your classroom.  It is my understanding that it's okay to use them in your own classroom under the Fair Use rules.  If I'm wrong, someone let me know, and I'll take the links down! :)

Mountain Climbers
Snow Storm Bus Stop
Basketball Game
Monkeys at the Zoo

Here are the sentences I threw together in about 5 minutes that go along with the pictures.  You can download them free HERE!

Finally, I had the kids sit in a circle and we passed figurative language task cards around the circle.  Two kids shared theirs, explained what they thought the simile or metaphor meant, passed their cards down two spaces, and then got new cards.  It was a fun, fast way to do a little bit more review.
Figurative Language Task Cards
The cards also have another set that doesn't have the figurative language underlined, which is actually the set we used!  The simile and metaphor task cards are available for $2 at my TpT store HERE.

Happy Teaching! :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Anchor Chart Storage Solutions

Happy Sunday, and welcome to another month of Bright Ideas!  I am teaming up with Shelly at Teaching in the Early Years as well as over 150 other bloggers to bring you a monthly "bright idea."


I'm a little bit sheepish about this "Bright Idea."  It's not super bright, and I am willing to bet that a ton of you do this already, but something had to be done about my anchor chart storage drama.  Yes.  Drama.  Every time I went searching for an old anchor chart to reference, I would take one look in my cabinet, shut it, and say something like, "Okay, you remember that anchor chart we made 6 months ago?  Yes?  Good!"  I wanted to be able to pull them out and use them, especially now, around test prep time when we are reviewing, reviewing, reviewing.



I have seen brilliant ideas on Pinterest about anchor charts, including putting pictures of them in a binder or taping a hanger to the back so that you can hang them up.  Except, I don't have anywhere to store them that would work to hang them, and I wanted to be able to leave them up for several days at a time when we review.  Also, I admit that I couldn't quite bear to just throw away some of my more aesthetically pleasing charts. :)

I have a small space between my file cabinet and a bookshelf where I could fit something to store them, and here is what I came up with.


I went to Target hoping I could find an adorable bin that would be tall enough to keep all of the charts in check but also large enough to store them all.  I didn't find anything.  So, I resorted to an 8-gallon black trash can.  It was actually the perfect size.  As gorgeous as a black trash can is not, I had to do something about it.  After all, I couldn't chance letting the custodian throw away all of my anchor charts after I spent so much time making them.

I went to Hobby Lobby searching for some vinyl dots to decorate the trash can with, and I lucked out and found some big dot stickers that were only $2.99 (Plus a 40% coupon).  


They worked perfectly!  I also printed out a title and put it on with double sided tape.  It definitely doesn't look like a trash can anymore.


I neatly rolled up each of the individual charts and put a single rubber band around each one.  I also wanted a way to be able to easily find which chart I was looking for.  I bought an inexpensive set of colored labels at Target, and despite my urge to print them out in fancy fonts, wrote the topic of each anchor chart in Sharpie and put the little sticker at the top of the rolled up chart.  It won't interfere at all with the chart itself, but finding the chart I'm looking for is a breeze!  I labeled all of my math anchor charts with a yellow sticker, and all of my reading and language arts anchor charts with a pink sticker.



That's it!  Nothing fancy, but it accomplished my goal.  I organized my anchor charts, I can easily find the one I am looking for, and it looks pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself (and my husband also says so, and that must mean something.  Right?)  

This was a breeze to put together, and it will be so easy to keep up with.  Just a rubber band and a label, and I can plop each anchor chart in, ready to access when I need it again!  

Now, before you go get your trashcan Bin of Adorable Anchor Chart Organization ready, continue hopping through these other bright ideas from my fellow bloggers!  

Make sure you stop by Molly at Classroom Confections to see a neat way to use calculators to teach expanded form.  How cool is that!?

Classroom Confections

And look through these other bloggers to get even more "Bright Ideas"!


Friday, February 28, 2014

Teaching Point of View

We have been busy working on point of view, and most specifically, on how an author's point of view impacts how a story is written or told.  I loved some of the activities we did, and I'm excited to share them with you!

We started the unit by creating an anchor chart together. (Are you shocked!?)

Point of View Anchor Chart
My students had an idea of what point of view was, but they needed to solidify their understanding of the types of third person point of view and well as second person point of view.  We have referenced this chart (and the foldable they made) SO.MUCH. during this unit. 

Then, we did one of my favorite activities of the unit!  I grabbed pictures off of the internet (I can't share them here because they weren't public domain.  I typed in things like "learning to ride a bike" and "scored a soccer goal.")  and glued them each to a piece of large construction paper.  I separated the page into five different sections.  Perspectives, First Person Point of View, and then the three types of Third Person point of view.



Point of View Activity with Pictures!
We talked about how similar perspective and point of view are, but that they are still a little bit different.    The students got into pairs and were assigned one of the pictures.  The first round, they wrote all the different perspectives that were possible in the picture.  Then, they rotated to a new picture, and they all wrote a brief narrative of what was happening in the picture in first person point of view using one of the perspectives they had identified.  We rotated around until they all had practice writing in each of the points of view.  The students truly enjoyed this point of view activity, and it was a good way to help them see the difference between perspective and point of view.


This was a favorite picture for my students.  There were some great perspectives here, and they had fun with it.
Then, I did some work with small groups.  We used a short (53 second) clip from Toy Story (You can see it on YouTube HERE).  We watched it several times, and we discussed the different perspectives that each of the main characters in the clip had.  Then, we did some more writing, and we rewrote the scene in first and third person.  For kids who were still struggling, instead of generating the words, I quickly wrote paragraphs for them to identify the correct point of view and perspective.  It was an easy way to differentiate, and it helped drive home some ideas about how different points of view and different perspectives can have an effect on how a story is told.
Using Toy Story to teach Point of View & Perspective

You can download the differentiated pages for free HERE.  You will need to watch the clip with your class in order the use them.

We had a 20 minute block of time to use some task cards, so I pulled out my Point of View Task Cards, and we got busy!  We actually used them with board games, and the kids had a blast.  You can read about how I used board games with task cards over at my Task Card Blog, but here is a look at the task cards.  They are differentiated, and you can use them for different proficiency levels, or for scaffolding.  One set includes simple sentences, another includes paragraphs, and the last set includes types of writing, and students must identify the point of view from which it is most likely written.  Each group turned in a recording sheet, so it was an easy way to assess where they stood. These cards generated some great discussion in class!

You can purchase the Differentiated Point of View Task Cards at my TpT Store HERE.


Finally, we are still working on an assessment.  The students each selected a "meaty"picture book.  They read it, and now they are doing some analysis of the narrator, the point of view that the narrator wrote from, and how the book would be different from a different character's point of view.  


:) Happy Weekend!



Monday, February 24, 2014

A $25 Gift Card Giveaway & A Sale!


Happy Monday!  This is a Monday I have actually been looking forward to (not that it made the sound of my alarm clark any less harsh, but I digress).  So why is this such a happy Monday?  Because I am joining up with some of my favorite teacher blogger/authors to announce a gigantic TpT SALE and a huge TpT Gift Certificate GIVEAWAY.

Thursday through Friday, Teachers Pay Teachers is celebrating 3 million users with a sale!  TpT is offering 10% off your entire purchase, and my entire store will be 20% off, for a total of 28% off all of my resources.  Now is the time to fill up your wish list!  Be sure to check out some of my most recently posted products, including all of my new informational text task cards!  If you are looking for a fun way to review math skills, pop over and take a lot at all of the extensive math projects I offer.


To say a big "THANK YOU" to our followers, I have joined up with a group of fantastic bloggers, most of whom I'm sure you all know!  Each one of us is giving away a $25 TpT gift card.  That's right, there are 19 $25 gift cards up for grabs!  All you have to do is HURRY, HOP, and WIN!  You only have two days to enter all of the giveaways and hop through our blogs.


In conjunction with the giveaway, I will also be doing some mini product giveaways over on my Facebook page.

You can enter my giveaway by following my Facebook page and my TpT store.  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

After you've entered here, be sure to enter all of the other wonderful giveaways.  Hop over to the marvelously talented Kristen at Ladybugs Teacher Files to sign up for her giveaway, too!  Then, continue the hop to be sure to enter all 19 giveaways.


Good luck, and remember to stop by my Facebook page for periodic product giveaways over the next two days!