Monday, October 20, 2014

Seed Topics and Hooks

Happy Monday!

We usually have our Monday Literacy time blocked off for teaching writing and writing skills, and I wanted to share what we did today!

We are starting a personal narrative unit, and I wanted to show them how to really zoom in and narrow their topic so they would have an effective story.

Enter-an anchor chart!
We talked about how you can start with a big topic, and keep narrowing it down until you are talking about a specific moment.

They then did this awesome sort so they could see how the topics kept zooming in.

After they did the sort and we talked about narrowing a little more, I had them complete the organizer again, but this time choosing their own topics-one of which they would eventually pick to write their narrative on.
Once we had shared a few of their topics, I showed them how they could really 'hook' their reader with a great intro!

(On a side note, when I typed in writing leads to the Pinterest search bar, one of my older charts popped up-that's so cool!)

We did this one together, and I picked my seed story of fireworks on the hill to show them how they could write different intros for one story.

After we had talked about different intros, I had them go back and pick one of their seed stories to start and write three different intros with it.

We didn't quite have enough time for them to write their leads three different ways, but at least it got them thinking about how to make their leads interesting!

We'll continue to work on this, and will be working in show, not tell and figurative language into our writing as well. We just have to start our stories!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Character Traits, Theme, and Main Idea

We have been working hard the past month and a half learning all about character traits and characters, what main idea is, what theme is and the difference between the two. (There's been lots of learning going on! :)

While we had been learning about character traits, I taught the kids how to FAST (which I got from the link). They really enjoyed it!

I've made it into one of the ways they can do a reader response, and have even taught my Guided Reading Groups how to do it.

Of course, it all started with a chart :)
I've also made a mini-version that fits into their notebooks.
We've also practiced it a bit
Hey look! You can also see a 321 Response and my very neat grading labels :)

After spending most of September on characters and character traits (which I'm going to move closer to October next year!), we moved onto main idea.
We started with main idea and determining importance first, because I wanted the kids to have a good handle on it before I introduced theme. We used our Scholastic News a lot for this!

After I felt they understood what main idea was, I introduced theme.
We had talked a little about theme before, but hadn't really defined it.

We scaffolded by doing Jessica's Big Idea and Theme activity (as a whole class with one book, then in partners and small groups with others)

To continue our practice on it, we did a reader response about theme.
My example-which stayed up for a few days!
They did pretty decently on this (graded most of them today!)

Now, as I was teaching all this, I got sick. :( And, miracle of miracles (a true miracle, since I never take sick days-PD days, but not sick days!), I took a sick day (after convincing from my teamie and the school nurse).

So I had to leave something for the sub that the sub (whom I didn't know at the time it would be) could do, and my kids could do pretty independently.

I had the sub read Ish, by Peter Reynolds, and had the kids come up with the themes of the story (very similar to what we did with The Dot-although they didn't get a chance to do their pictures).
When they moved into small group time (where they have independent work while I pull reading groups), I left Teaching with a Mountain View's Main Idea and Theme task cards. (We've also done her free sort!)
They did pretty well!

We did have to do a little reteaching on both, as we didn't do so well on the test-but we'll be taking a main idea test from my massive ELA assessments that I got from Kristine Nannini (we'll take the theme one after we learn about summary :).

We've now moved onto making inferences, and from what I've seen so far, we've been doing an okay job on that. We still need some more practice :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Made It

Happy Monday! It's truly a happy Monday for me, as I have it off! :)

My first made it this month is binder spines! I finally had too many binders to keep them without, so I had to make spines so I could tell what I put where, so I didn't have to keep pulling random binders to find what I was looking for :)
Please ignore the disaster on top of the binders :)

I did color code them by subject-but that's just me :)
I've also started work on a new afghan-this one in jewel tones.

I love how it is turning out! You can get the pattern here.

I have been going a little painting crazy! I've started a series of paintings-one for each season.
Right now, I have Winter, Spring and Fall. I will be adding leaves in to represent the seasons. :)

I did do one that I thought would work for Summer, but once I finished it, I didn't think it 'fit' as well as I liked. But...take a look and tell me what you think!
I haven't added a tree-I might use it for something else.
I've also started a set of three for my bathroom, although I'm working on it in stages.
Definitely a crafty month for me!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, October 10, 2014

Making Inferences with Pixar Shorts

Happy Friday!

We've been having a great time the past two days in reading-using Pixar Shorts to help us!

I introduced our newest skill-making inferences, which is always a tricky one for kids to do and explain.

I busted out an old chart, and made some additions to it.
I then told them we were going to watch a video and make inferences while we were watching it.

We did "For the Birds"

I stopped in about 4 different places to ask a question, and had the students write down their answer on paper (explaining how they knew, of course!)

They did a pretty decent job!

I sent them to practice with some inference task cards from Teaching With a Mountain View (seriously awesome task cards here!)
We started with the red set, which has guiding questions on them.

Today, we did it again with a different movie.

First, I modeled how to write a response using evidence by showing "For the Birds", so the kids knew what I was looking for in their responses (something I noticed after the first day!).

This time, we watched "Partly Cloudy"

This was a cute one too-and they did  better!

We practiced with the blue task cards-no questions, but same passages/pictures.
We're going to play inference scoot on Tuesday to practice some more.

Hopefully, using these fun tricks helps the students realize they make inferences everyday, and easier to explain it.

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Writing off of Pictures

We have finally started actually writing stories! It only took a month to set everything up. :)

For our first trimester, we are focusing on narratives. The easiest way (I thought), to work on an imaginary narrative was to start with a picture.

After we finished discussing paragraphs, and how to write them, when to change them, etc. we were ready to start.
An updated paragraph chart-with my famous hamburger (miniaturized!) I love seeing it pop up on Pinterest!
I started the process by using a strategy call "I See, I Think, I Wonder" from Making Thinking Visible (seriously, go check out this book!).

I popped a picture up on the SMART Board, and had the students write down all the things that they saw in the picture. I gave them about 5 minutes to do this-I wanted them to notice all the little details.
After a few minutes, I had them turn and talk with a partner. The partners then shared different things that they noticed.

I then asked them what they thought was going on the in the picture-based only one what they could see! They had about 5 minutes to write it down, and then we did another turn, talk and share.

They had some interesting things to share! I loved hearing what they thought, and of course, I asked one of my favorite questions-Why do you think so? :)

After we had shared our thinks, I asked them what they wondered about the picture. They made a list of things they wondered, and then we shared. They wondered some pretty awesome things!

After they shared their wonders, I told them that they were going to write a story about the picture-and it had to answer their wonders!

I felt that this gave them a good place to start, as well as a direction to go in.

They took took this like ducks to water-I've never seen kids write so much in a short period and with such concentration!

After a few days of writing, we went over some editing symbols, as well as what to look for when editing.
I'm having them self-edit their writing when they are done and turn it in. It's not going to be a graded piece, but a piece for them to see how far they've come by the end of the year.

They're pretty interesting!

Next on our list is brainstorm ideas, small moments, and writing an interesting lead. 

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Five for Friday


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My SMARTBoard was finally fixed!!!!! :D
This is the SMART Board in the computer lab-I wanted to start a writing activity before mine was fixed-although this picture has been up on my board as well :)
It only took 5 months, some emails back and forth, and a new projector (that's crooked on the screen-but I'll take what I can get!)

My teaching life is SO much easier now-and more interactive! I heart my SMARTBoard :)

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We are using the picture above, and our paragraph chart to write a story about it!
Stay tuned for how I introduced it-I want some student work examples to go along, so it may be a little bit-but they had a lot of fun with the introduction!
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The Book Box came!
I held a raffle for the books I had ordered (a la Book Whisperer)-the kids ate it up! I'll definitely do it again. :)

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I've been working on a painting at home-it's going to be one of four (for the 4 seasons).
This will be either spring or summer (or fall!)-I want to paint the others before I decide. One will have a gray background (winter), one a blue and the last a pinky-plum color.

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So I'm thinking of getting a tablet-but I need some help! What do I choose?

Galaxy or Ipad? (or something else?)

Regular size or Mini?

How many GBs? (I'm thinking 32, if possible)

Suggestions, comments, and opinions, please!

Have a great Friday!

Smiles and Sunshine,