Friday, December 2, 2016

How to Make a Giant Bow with Bulletin Board Paper

My mama taught for 33 years, and during her tenure, she not only taught her students a ton, but she managed to make bows for every occasion at school. School plays, weddings for her teacher friends and their family's, door decor, bulletin boards; you name it, she decorated it!

She also taught me how to make a bow out of bulletin board paper as well.

The best part about this is, is that if you mess up, toss the paper in the trash, and cut another sheet.

When cutting strips, remember one thing: they lines do NOT have to be perfect or straight. I just fold the bulletin board paper and cut along the creases. If it's straight, great. If not, who cares! haha

Give this a try! You'll love it!

I'd love to see your bows! Post them on Instagram and tag me (@primarypolkadots) so I can see your awesome creations! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Halloween Blog Hop

Welcome friends to the 1st Annual 3rd, 4th and 5th Grades Halloween Blog Hop! We have some super SPOOK-tacular TREATS just for you!

If you just knocked on Amber's "door" from her blog, Third Grade is Fun, then I hope you are pleasantly surprised to see me behind the "door".
I know you're here to collect some treats, and I hope you are excited about what I have for you today!

Keep reading so you can "knock" on the next door to find out who you will be visiting as you Trick-or-Treat on this blog hop!

First, I am excited to share with you my Halloween Fluency cards for FREE! Kids love them and they are a fun and different way to practice fluency and comprehension skills.

There are 4 sets of cards, and each set includes 4 steps to practicing fluency. Each set is intended for one week during the month. 

To find out how to use these task cards in your classroom, watch my quick YouTube video about these by clicking {HERE}!

To snag up these *Halloween Blog Hoppers* exclusive freebie, click on the Trick-or-Treat bag below! {P.S. - Keep reading IF YOU DARE for even more goodies and PRIZES for you!}

Next, I want to share with you my *favorite* Halloween activity to do with my kiddos! I've done this since my first year of teaching and my kids have loved it each time! It's great way to bring in Playdoh (...because who doesn't love Playdoh?!) in the upper grades as well as applying the skill of identifying character traits of a main character in a story.

I present to you, my gorgeous goblins and sweet spooks, Character Trait Tomb Stones. 

In 4th and 5th grade, I used an abridged version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow that I found free online years ago. We read the abridged version over the course of 2-3 days. We used lots of close reading skills to identify character traits, as well reviewing the skill of making inferences and identifying the parts of a plot. 
{Some abridged versions of this story you may want to check out are HERE and HEREHere is the Disney video free HERE.}

Of course, you could use any spooky book when doing this activity! It's so versatile! 

After finishing the story and a few other activities focused on character traits and such, the students were given a little container of Playdoh. 

I used this pack from my TpT store after finishing the story with the students. This pack reviews character traits, plot, what an epitaph is, and how it is determined for each person. The pack includes reproducibles, directions, and a Powerpoint. The kids always had a great time reading this story and completing these activities. For more information about this companion pack, click {HERE}.

Finally, I have a chance for you to win the ultimate Teacher Treat bag!

Want a chance to win more TREATS, OOZING with Halloween fun?!
Check out the TREATS (no tricks here) that are EERILY EXCITING in this giveaway!
This CAULDRON of TREATS features fabulous TpT products for grades 3rd-5th, as well as a TEACHER TREAT BAG that is to DIE for!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Knock on the door to see who you will be Trick-or-Treating with next! Get your treat bag ready, I have a feeling you’ll need it again!

{Click on the door image below.}

{Happy Haunting from Door to Door on our Halloween Blog Hop! Be sure to keep looping to collect each treat for your goodie bag!}

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September 11th in the Classroom

It's hard to imagine that the little humans that sit in our classroom day in and day out won't remember September 11th. The day that changed our Nation in a huge way. 

I remember where I was:  I was a Junior in high school and we watched it on television all day long.

The scenes from that day will forever be in our hearts and minds. Because of the horrible actions that took place that day, so many things in our country have changed. Airport security, the use of the word terrorism that is used far too often on the daily news, our thoughts about large cities and the caution that we have whenever we travel or see a suspicious person.

...but, how do we honor this day in our classroom, without reliving every single terrifying detail for our students?

Here are a few resources for you to check out:

First, I love this video from Brain Pop! It's a great, kid friendly introduction to the events that occurred that day. Also, it's free! I've used this video when I have taught grades 3rd, 4th and 5th. 

After the video, a great way to process the main idea of the video is to take the key words from the day's events (many were mentioned in the video) and dig into them a little deeper.

I have a great {FREE} September 11th interactive vocabulary activity. The vocabulary words that I chose for this activity are great conversation starters. Plus, it allows the teacher to direct the conversation as it flows.(You can click the word 'FREE' or the image below to download your copy!)

You can have a student look up the definition as a whole group, or pair students to work together if they are older and have dictionary skills under their belt. 

After students write the definitions of the words underneath the flaps, a great way to practice word association, as well as higher-order thinking skills is the vocabulary triangle. My mom used this in her classroom for years and my first year teaching, she introduced it to me. I would use this all of the time (in a morning message, while reading a story, keywords from a text book, weekly vocabulary words, CCSS key words, and on and on and on). It really challenges their thinking.

The students simply choose any 3 of the words from the list. I chose positive words from the list, but the students could complete this activity using any combination of the words associated with September 11th and Patriot Day.

The students just create a triangle, with a box on each point. They write the vocabulary word in the box. Then, on the lines in between the 2 words, they write a sentence with both of the words in the sentence. They do this for all 3 sides. In the middle of the triangle, they sketch or illustrate something that has to do with all 3 of the words and their meanings.

I also have a great Close Reading Lesson Plan Mini-Unit in my TpT Store for only $2! It includes a suggested lesson plan aligned to RI 1 (grades 3-6), an interactive KWL chart, a close reading passage, and text-based comprehension questions.

What resources do you use to remember September 11th in your classroom?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trade Book Tuesday: Just a Dream {Skill: Asking & Answering Questions}

I am so excited to to kick off my Trade Book Tuesday feature again! I started this years ago, but dropped the ball after school got crazy busy. 

However, my sweet friend Tess from The Krafty Teacher encouraged me to start this again, and then get ya'll involved too! So, we partnered to turn this into a monthly linky! (Stay tuned to the end of this post to see how this linky works!)

I am so excited to share with you one of my favorite books to teach Asking & Answering Questions with 3rd-5th graders. I love using all Chris Van Allsburg books in my classroom. They spark interest, intrigue and most of all, cultivate rich, deep discussion and questions. With that being said, pretty much any one of his books would be great for teaching students to talk back to a text through questioning. However, I chose a unique and thought provoking book for this post; Just a Dream
This book, Just a Dream,  follows the journey of a young man named Walter who aimlessly lives in the world, littering and not caring about the environment. Walter dreams of a life in "the future" with robots that sort his trash and and lots of machines. He doesn't understand why his neighbor Rose loves plants and why he should have to separate his garbage or recycle.

The story causes students to think deeply about the content in this book, ask questions about the character, and make text connections. The reader faces their own feelings about the environment, as well as questions about their author's point of view verses their own, as well as the author's message to the reader. Formulating questions before, during and after reading this book is not hard. In fact, it's a must as the reader connects with the text and with Walter, the main character. 

Here are my visual lesson plans for a week of teaching Asking & Answering Questions with my students using the book Just a Dream. As you scroll down, I'll briefly explain how the mini-lessons work, following the gradual release of independent learning. 

(Asking Super Questions {HERE}, Ask and Answer Questions: NO PREP Center {HERE}, & Pop the Question: A Game for Fiction & Nonfiction Texts {HERE})
Mini-Lesson #1 (No longer than 15 minutes):

  • When introducing questioning techniques, students must already need to know how to make text connections and recall information.
  • For real readers, we want them to be able to ask deep questions that allow them to connect with the text.
  • Students need to ask deep questions that give them juicy answers. In order to do this, we have to ask questions that are more than "Who is the main character?" or "Where is the setting?" Although these questions are important, they aren't meaningful in connecting with the characters, the author's purpose/word choice, making inferences, drawing conclusions, and understanding the author's main message to the reader. 
  • To begin the discussion of making deep questions, show students a bag. Tell them in order to find out what is in the bag, they must ask meaningful questions.
    • Example of Meaningful, DEEP Questions:
      • "Is the thing in the bag necessary for living?"
      • "Where might you find someone with the thing that is in the bag?"
      • "What is the thing in the bag's purpose?"
      • "Why might I need what is in the bag?"
      • "Who makes what is in the bag?"
      • "How will what's in the bag make a difference in my life?"
      • "Is the thing in the bag simple or complex? Why?"
    • Examples of Non-meaningful Questions:
      • "What color is the thing in the bag?"
      • "Is the thing in the bag big?"
      • "Is the thing in the bag ugly?"
      • "Is the thing in the bag light of heavy?"
  • Explain to the students that this is how we connect with a text. It's important to ask meaningful, deep questions to really comprehend what we are reading.

Here's a simple anchor chart that explains to students that not only do we ask deep, meaningful questions while we read, but before and after we read as well. 

Mini-Lesson #2 (No longer than 15 minutes):

  • During this mini-lesson, you will be modeling how a reader asks questions as they read. 
  • Before I read the book aloud to my students, I read it and labeled my questions before-hand. This is optional, not a must for the teacher.
  • Because the mini-lesson is only 15 minutes long, I created my anchor chart (see below) before the lesson began.
  • Also, I only read the first 8 pages with my students, modeling how I formulated questions while reading. (Refer also to the illustrations to ask questions)
  • While I was reading, I wrote my question, the page I was asking the question about, and the answer to the question as I came upon it. Sometimes, I had to infer my answer (if this is not a skill your students are familiar with, this would be a great time just to introduce inferences just in conversation).

Mini-Lesson #3 (No longer than 15 minutes):

  • Today with my students, I use a collaborative teaching method with students.
  • I modeled for them yesterday and today, we will work together to formulate questions.
  • I continue using the book Just a Dream, and I give each student a Post-It note* to write down one question they have while I read aloud the book (*NOTE: If you follow a reader's workshop model, you may have already covered how to quietly record your thinking on a Post-It note by asking only deep questions while reading. If not, this is a great time to introduce this skill).
  • I first model formulating a question and writing my ? on the Post-It note and placing it on the anchor chart I would have created before the lesson.
  • Then, students put their Post-It notes on an anchor chart as you read. (My students were always at the carpet with me for mini-lessons. They simply stood up quietly, placed their Post -It, and sat down).
  • After reading a few pages, I would stop, reference the students' questions they posted and discuss why they asked these questions. If we found the answers, together as a class, we would identify the answer. 

Mini-Lesson #4 (No longer than 15 minutes):

  • Today with my students, I used a guided approach when conducting my mini-lesson. 
  • I would finish reading the book Just a Dream.
  • Today, I would guide students' thinking when having them formulate questions to ask after a reader finishes a book/passage.
  • After reading a book, students should ask:
    • "What was the author's purpose for writing this text?" (F & NF)
    • "What is the author's point of view of this text? How is the same or different than mine?" (F & NF)
    • "Did my opinion/point of view of this topic change or stay the same after reading this text?" (F & NF)
    • "What character in the text did I connect with the most? Why? How could I have learned from this character?" (F & NF)
    • "What is the lesson/theme/moral of this story?" (F)
    • "What was the text structure?" (NF)
  • Together with the class, create a graphic organizer on an anchor chart with these questions, and discuss them as a group.
Mini-Lesson #5 (No longer than 15 minutes):

  • Today with my students, I would use a collaborative approach with my mini-lesson. The students would be paired with a buddy at the carpet.
  • Students would be given the "Asking & Answer Questions" graphic organizer (a FREEBIE below) and a mini-passage (I just used mini-passages from reproducible books that came with our reading series).
  • With their partner, the students would read their mini-passage, then formulate questions before, during and after their reading using the graphic organizer (a FREEBIE below).
Here are some {FREEBIES} that go along with my mini-lessons for the week! Download them by clicking the picture.

Here are some other activities I would use in differentiated small groups and literacy centers to reinforce questioning skills (see my visual lesson plans above):

I hope you found this post helpful for introducing or reviewing questioning skills with your kiddos!

What trade book do YOU use? We want to know! Link up with us!

How it Works:
  • The third Thursday of each month, we will be featuring one of our favorite trade books that we love using to teach a reading skill
  • Follow us on Instagram (@shastess and @primarypolkadots) to see what skill we will be focusing on for the month
  • Write a blog post about using a favorite trade book to teach a specific skill and link up with us!
  • If you feature a paid product, you must offer a freebie in your post.
  • Link up either under the K-2 or 3-5 linky!