Friday, November 28, 2014

Book Recommendation: Making Thinking Visible

I wanted to share a wonderful book that I have been reading this year.

I've been working my way through Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart.

As you can see, I've marked a lot!

I really like this book. The first part is a little dry and tough to get through (especially if it's summer ;), but one you get to the routines, it's a lot easier.

The different routines explain how to use them, as well as give examples from different classrooms. There is also a DVD that features clips of using some of the routines.

The routines are definitely thought-provoking, and having used some of them in my class, they definitely pull thinking out of the kids!

The book also has a matrix of routines, which I took to make more user-friendly for me, as well as adding in my post-it notes about each routine.

I've used two different ones so far-See-Think-Wonder...which led us into writing robot stories.

It was a good way to get them thinking/brainstorming about their stories!

We've also used Chalk Talk in Social Studies-to see what we already know.

Even though most of their thinking was incorrect, it was super interesting to see what they thought before I taught it!

 I highly recommend this book-it'll get your kids thinking in different ways, as well as showing their thinking!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Guided Reading~Easy Prep Lessons


This month has been crazy for my Guided Reading groups! Between trying to benchmark everyone for report cards, trying to get DIBELS Next Fluency for everyone for report cards and kids missing/or not having it due to Science lessons (We have a local naturalist center come in to teach our kids about Rocks and Minerals-it's great lessons, but and hour and a half each...), we have not have the time to do 'traditional' books.

Enter some creativity!

One thing I used a lot of was Diane's Close Reading packs-I found them great, because I could have the kids read while I was benchmarking/fluency-ing others. Plus, I could give them the attached sheets to either work on in group, or to work on in their class.

When we finally finished all of that, there wasn't enough time to do a full book. I didn't want to carry over a full book, so I brainstormed.

I pulled out some wonderful task cards from Teaching With a Mountain View (seriously, check this girl out!!)

I pulled out her Character Change Task Cards, because that is something that we had previously learned and talked about in both my groups, and it's always good to have a refresher!
The colors don't look like this-my printer was running out of ink when I was printing and I didn't realize it!
I read the titles of each one and had them pick their cards (I usually do picking within small groups by playing the number game-I'm thinking of a number between....).

Their job was to read the card and in their notebook, they needed to write what the character was like at the beginning and end, as well as what happened to make that character change.

I did it twice with one group and once with another.

They LOVED it! They asked if we would do it again (of course I said yes!), but we would be starting a book after break.

Another activity I did was to pull out some NatGeo Nonfiction on Animals.
I deliberately went with easier readers (and animals!) because I wanted them to be done fairly quickly.

We've been working on summarizing in my class (and this group all belongs to me:), so I had them pick a book (again, by playing the number game), and told them that they need to read their book because they were going to teach their friends about their animal by summarizing it.

I did have them doing the reading for two guided reading days-just to make sure their work was up to par :)

They loved this as well! They were so excited to pick their own books, and loved sharing about them (except for one 44 word sentence-which led to a run on sentence lecture!)

Easy Prep lessons I used:

Easy Prep Lessons #1- Diane's Close Reading packs
Easy Prep Lessons #2- Teaching With a Mountain View Task Cards (she has tons-for pretty much everything!)
Easy Prep Lessons #3- NatGeo Kids Readers

These easy prep lessons can be used at any time, and the kids love them. I'll definitely be using all of these again!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Can't Live Without It!

Whoo! Vacation! (Well, close-we have PD days Monday and Tuesday, but I like those so it still feels like vacation!)

I'm linking up with Fun in Room 4B's new linky today!
What I can't live without is grading pens!

Now I have a stack of Bic Flairs that I love-and I bought the big pack a couple of years ago...
But I've found a new set of grading pens that I'm head over heels for.

Meet my new grading BFF...the G2.
I first got these as a present from a teamie (a set with the 4 colors on the right).

I love the colors and how they right-they're a gel that almost never skips when you write. The colors look great and the kids like to see which one I'll pick next :)

A couple of weeks ago, I had to put in another purchase order to get more expo markers-since my kids have been going through them like crazy people (we get a budget amount to spend at the end of the year for supplies-I still had some left over), but I needed to reach $50 in order for it to go through.

Perfect time, I thought, to pick up more of these beauties!

I LOVE them. The new colors (along with duplicates of the ones I already have) are just as bright, and now I extras when my favorites run out. I highly recommend these pens! They make my grading more fun, as I switch colors for every paper-makes my grading sheets look very interesting! :)

What can't you live without?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Math Fun

Today was the kid's last day for a week-although I have PD Monday and Tuesday, I still consider it vacation :)

I wanted to do something holiday themed today, but still practicing some math skills. We're learning about division, and although we have a loooooong way to go, I wanted to end on something fun.

Enter TPT! I found some really awesome Thanksgiving themed math activities for free!

I choose which ones I wanted.

Here are the resources I used-although you can find many, many more (for free!)

*Thanksgiving Turkey Place Value
*Thanksgiving Algebraic Reasoning Puzzles
*Turkey Talk Word Problems
*Thanksgiving Word Problems
(Thanks to all the fabulous sellers who make and offer wonderful resources for free!)

I printed the cards and recording sheets last night.

I created a recording packet this morning

And cut out the task cards
I then took stickies, wrote the instructions on them (I only had the kids do small sections of each-so they could easily switch around :)

I also spread out where I put them, so I didn't have too many kids crowded in one area.

I explained the instructions, and told them that they could go in any order they wanted.

They immediately spread out and got to work!

They loved it!

I think varying the activities was important-it kept them interested! Plus, 95% of the cards were review-just to keep those skills fresh :)

We only did this for one day, but I could easily see this as a 2 or 3 day activity!  I think we'll be doing something similar for the Winter break!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


In addition to the hustle and bustle that has been going on this past week, we've been focusing on our summarizing skills!

We discussed what summarizing was, and created a chart. :)
We explicitly talked about the different between a fiction and nonfiction summary.

We also talked a lot about how you need to include an ending, and that you don't want your summary to be too long-you want to hit on the highlights-not everything that happened. We decided 5-8 sentences was a good length! :)

First, we focused on a fiction summary.

I used the book How Many Days to America? (our mentor sentence book this week!), to show students how to write a fiction summary.
Then, I set them free on some picture books I pulled to have them write their own!
Some needed some redirection...

And some did awesome first time out...

Next up was how to write a nonfiction summary.

I used the Santa Maria article from an old Scholastic News.
Modeled it on the Elmo, discussing what I as doing as I did it-using the main idea, important words, supporting it we key details.
The students got a new Scholastic News to write a nonfiction summary on.

Another nice job!

Yes, I can see that they copied the first parts of my summary. I think that it is okay-I'm showing them how to write a good summary, and I want them to write a good summary.

They'll eventually bring their own voice into and have different beginnings. And since I'm giving them something similar to what I did and not exact, it'll be different enough anyway. :)

Our next step was to summarize something...non-traditional.

I brought back the Pixar shorts to help with this!

I specifically picked ones that we had seen before, to make the process a little easier.

I modeled how to do it with Partly Cloudy (after re-watching it, of course! ;)

Then we re-watched For the Birds and they wrote them summary.

For their work that day, I laid out Teaching with a Mountain View's Fiction Reading Skills Task Cards.

I told them to ignore the questions on them and to just write a summary :)

They did okay-we'll definitely need to continue to practice! Next, we'll add summarizing-both fiction and nonfiction to our notebooks.

Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Modeling Division (with regrouping!)

We've started wading our way through long division-a little earlier than I like, but I'm 'following' the program (Math in Focus-this is our first year with it!)

One thing I do like about it is how I'm teaching them long division to start with-with my favorite tool from MiF-the place value chips!

So far, we are three days into it.

The first day, we talked about what division was, and I modeled it on the board with the e-tools.
I had the kids following along a bit, and we also did some discussion of the groups and the process.

The next day, we sat in a circle-in clock partners- and we worked through the problems together.
 First, we just did the problems by moving the chips on the charts.
 Then, I had them start writing the algorithm while they did it, so they would have practice with it. 

The last few problems they did on their own.

On our third day, they worked in clock partners again, but no help from me.

This allowed me to supervise groups and pull students who I noticed didn't get it the day before.

Next up-doing it without the place value chips! I know some kids are ready for it-but it can still be a little nerve wracking!

When do you teach long division?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thinking Marks

Happy Friday!

We only have one week to go before vacation :) (We have PD days the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week-so it truly does feel like a vacay!)

One thing I wanted to focus on and learn more about this year is close reading. Now, I'm still at the very beginning of my journey (I have a workshop on it in December!), but one thing that I've seen a lot of is marking up the text on your first read.

I've been using Diane's Close Reading (she has some freebies that you can try out!) in my Guided Reading groups for the past few weeks, since it has been so crazy.

One of my favorite things about these products is not only the 4 different levels, but that it includes a think mark sheet to help the kids mark up the text. 

Combined with her awesome think mark sheet included in her products, and this pin and this pin, plus some of our own needs, we created a chart of think marks that would work for us.
This will be able to grow with us and we can add as we need-and we've already changed two of them!
Some of the kids found it hard to draw the thumbs up or down, so we modified it a little-although they can still draw it if they want to!

They'll also have a copy of this in their notebooks (they asked me to make on today!) for easy reference.

Now that we have the think marks, we need to use them!

Inspired a bit by Jivey's post, I modeled how to do/use the think marks using a Scholastic News (it's an old one, but we just opened it today :)

One thing I emphasized to the kids, is that they needed to start their think marks on their first read-while they are reading!

I showed them how to do this as I read the article aloud and had them follow along-making comments as I wrote my marks.

They were also told that they needed to have a think mark for each paragraph. Some paragraphs could be more difficult to find think marks for, but we talked it out how you could find one-by agreeing or disagreeing, finding something important, the main idea, etc.

After we think marked, I wanted them to expand on their think marks a little more-so I showed them how to talk about them!
I wrote this quickly, but I made sure to tell them that they should have the name of the article in their response-I had made a mistake by not doing one!
For their work today, they had to think mark the opposite page of the Scholastic News and write a response!

I had them put their responses in the second section of their reading notebooks (which are going so much better this year!)-which is were all our reader response go!

They did a nice job (from the ones I've seen so far-only about 1/4 of the class) for their first time!

Some of them even did an excellent job!
I love how this friend not only explained his think marks, but also added in his voice with some little side comments!
This is definitely something we'll practice again, and do again! I really enjoyed reading about what they think marked-it gave me a little peek into their process/brains! :)

Smiles and Sunshine,