Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Close Reading: Poetry Style

Earlier this week, we worked on some of our close reading skills. Using what I've learned from my workshops, we close read some poetry.

We started off with 'Let It Go'. I had my paper passer pass them out blank side down, and then I had the kids flip them over at the same time.

The reactions were awesome! There were some cheers, as well as lots of moans and groans. Most of my kids have little siblings who constantly play the song/movie :).

I had them do the first read on their own, and write down what they thought the message the author was trying to get across was.

After we shared, we came together to do the next part.

I read it a second time, asking them to listen for figurative language as I read. There were some giggles during this, as I was trying hard not to sing...and I guess it came our serious/sarcastic to my kids!

We marked up our text together, numbering the paragraphs, different types of figurative language and rhyme structure.
Then I had them find two examples (from the text-one group somehow got a little confused-even though everyone else knew it was text evidence) of the author's message we came up with. I had them work in pairs for this part, so they could discuss it.

Then I showed them how to do the Poetry sheet I got from the Mailbox ages ago.
Now it was time for them to do it on their own! And by on their own, I mean with partners :)
I had them do the same steps we did for 'Let It Go' for a Robert Frost poem I typed up a few years ago.
Some groups worked very well together, and some needed a little more guidance.

But all of them worked fairly hard!

This lesson took a lot longer than I thought it would-the whole afternoon! I definitely this is was worth it to expose them to more poetry and get those thinking caps going!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, March 23, 2015

Guided Reading: Main Idea and Summarizing

Happy Monday!

I wanted to share how I've been working with my two guided reading groups.

Both of these groups are at S and T (now T and U), above expectations for fourth grade right now.

However, my S group is struggling with the main idea of a text, and my T group is struggling with summarizing!

So I've pulled together some quick, easy lessons for us to do-that works with any book! (Although we are focusing on Nonfiction for this)
Now, my S group is made up of kids exclusively from my class. And I taught them main was one of the first skills we worked on!

But they were still struggling with finding a main idea, so I decided to dedicate a whole book and block of lessons to work on it.

The book I choose was from the wonderful, amazing reading series that we have. I do actually like most of the guided reading components of this!
This book is divided into four sections-one for each of the seasons. I though it would be perfect to focus on a season at a time.

It starts with summer, so I had them read it (independently) and come up with what they thought the main idea was.

The next day, I had them tell me their main idea. I wrote each of them down, and we discussed them.

We slowly put together main ideas that had things in common, weeded out those that were in left field, and came together with one, cohesive main idea.

After we had a cohesive main idea, they needed to find details to support, as well as read the next section and repeat.

The next section went much better.

We started out by sharing our ideas again.
Our main ideas were a little closer together this time!

Then when went through the pages and wrote down the most important idea of each one.
We discussed what they had in common-what they needed to be successful, and came up with an answer.
Which then helped us form another cohesive main idea that included elements from each one!
It's been very interesting to see what each student thinks is the main idea.

I sent them back to find supporting details, read Spring, and come up with the main idea. We'll repeat this throughout the book-and hopefully have stronger main ideas by the end!

My T group is made up of a mix of kids from all three classes. And while I know that they have had summarizing, I don't know how it's been taught or how much it has been practiced.

I had noticed that when I have asked for a summary from this group, most of them have been giving me retells. So I thought a quick lesson was in order!

I wrote down the components of a nonfiction summary-like I had discussed with my class-and had them copy it down in their notebooks, so they could refer back to it.
I modeled using Thundercake, which was our Mentor Text last week.

Then, as we just finished the book you see peeking out, I sent them to work on summaries for it. 

They did well! I was much more pleased with the quality of summaries than I had previously gotten-let's hope they keep it up!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Close Reading Workshops

This year, one of my professional development goals was to learn more about comprehension strategies and close reading.

So far, I've attended two workshops, as well as reading a variety of blog posts (though I don't think those count for PD credit!), and some books.

The first workshop was very technical and very much focused on the components of a close reading lesson, without much practice. No lie, it was a little boring-and overwhelming.

The one I went to earlier this month was more focused on us doing close reading lessons and experiencing close reading. I also attended this one with two coworkers. I felt that I had learned more at this one-and am better able to do it with my kids now.
It was a BER workshop, so you can check to see if it is coming to your area-I recommend going if it is!

I also got some validation during this one-which was nice after a difficult few days.

Here are some of my notes-although Mini got a bit of a workout too~I did an interesting mix of tech and paper :) (I have an Evernote Notebook created with the workshop info-if you would like it, please send me an email-I can share it with you!)

It was super interesting, and I've been applying some of the easy to use strategies in my class (the next day!).

She also recommended some books, which I just had to pick up!
Baloney is by Jon Scieszka-the camera cut it off
Of course, strange things happen when you are ordering from Amazon, and books mysterious appear in your cart :)
The top two are new Mentor Texts, and First Day Jitters is a replacement-with all my moving, my original got lost somehow!

I'm thinking of making a close reading binder this summer, using the resources I've found from my two workshops, blog posts, and Pinterest. That way I can have everything in one place! :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Story Mountain

After spending quite some time on the characteristics of nonfiction, it was time to shift the focus back to fiction!

I start out by pulling out my plot mountain chart I made a few years ago.
I pulled out two of my favorite stories to read with my class, The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, and Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester.
I read The Paper Bag Princess first, and as a class, we plotted out the story (the yellow stickies).

We talked about what each thing meant at the point in the story, and wrote it down.

Next, we did Tacky the Penguin (which my 4th graders thought was hilarious! :) and plotted that story out (the green stickies).

The next day, we added plot (and setting!) to our notebooks.

Now that we had practiced together and discussed it, it was time for some partner practice!

I laid out some books for them to choose from, as well as one of Kelly B.'s  organizers (which I bought WAY back when-in 2012!)

Away we went! I had my students pick their partners (and for the most part, they made good choice partners!), and they read away.

Some groups choose to fill out the organizer independently, and some choose to work together-and that's okay! I wanted them to have a little more practice before I move them to totally independent.

After our partner practice, I wanted to see what they could do by themselves. I passed out Shawn the Speedy Snail (from ReadWorks)
and had them do their story mountain as a reader response in their notebooks.

I loved looking at all their mountains-they were as unique as them!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

No Worksheet Wednesday

Happy Hump Day!

I'm linking up with Primary Chalkboard for their No Worksheet Wednesday linky!

This year, I've been a lot more thoughtful about the work I am assigning to my students-trying to make it more rigorous/thoughtful for them, as well as cutting down on the amount of work I have to grade!

One of my favorite things that I have done (and refined from previous years!) was my Reading Notebooks.
Kids record their responses to reading, task cards and other things in their middle section-totally cutting out worksheets altogether!

Plus, there is plenty of space for them to respond and show their thinking-a must in my class!

Of course, we set everything up with a table of contents.
I've taught them many different ways to respond...sometimes I let them pick, and sometimes I want to see a specific skill.

They are graded-but I've set up quick, easy labels to just pop in-much easier than grading all those papers!

Today, we focused on Story Mountain...allowing some drawing in there!
Definitely something I'll continue next year-I love the depth of thinking I see with this!

(You can do these with guided reading groups too-each of my kids have their own notebook! :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, March 6, 2015

Five for Friday

This has been a very long week...glad it's over!


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I started off the week by going to the New England Blogger Meet-up-it was a lot of fun!

I think I won for traveling the furthest! :)

Thanks to Amanda for hosting!

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I started off my week at a close reading workshop-which was very good!

We also happened to take a detour to Barnes and Noble on the way home :)

Of course, I couldn't leave without picking up a few things for the class!

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I found out last week that one of my students has leukemia, so we spent some time in class create a pillow (which was a BIG hit when I visited today!)

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I also worked (somewhat frantically) on an afghan for my student.
You'll see the finished product for Monday Made It. :)
Divider 5

I went and visited my student today...and felt so much better once I saw how much better they looked. We had a nice visit (and I got my butt kicked playing war), and I also got a leukemia ribbon-which went directly onto my lanyard!

So happy for the weekend to be here...this was a mentally and emotionally exhausting week (and extra drama at school this week was not helpful-why can't we act like the adults and professionals we are?!)

Here's hoping to a better next week!

Smiles and Sunshine,