Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to School Book Favorites: The Recess Queen and a Chit Chat Card FREEBIE



What back to school books do you love to share with students on those first days of school?  I have a bunch that I have adored reading aloud to my my own children and my enthusiastic 6th graders over the years, but the picture book The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill has quickly become one of my newest favorites and one I can't wait to share with my 6th graders.

The Recess Queen is a fun, rhyming story with perfect illustrations that truly showcase the impacts of bullying and how bullies truly have the ability to negatively impact those around them.  Quick summary-"Mean Jean" wants to be included in recess activities, but has no idea how to go about playing thoughtfully with her peers, and she bullies them.  So a new girl, Katie Sue, arrives at school, not knowing Jean's reputation, and asks Jean to jump rope.  Jean's bullying ways change immediately, and she realizes how nice it is to have someone to play with at recess.  It is a light-hearted look at a serious topic that is overwhelming students in our schools today.  I promise, even 6th graders will love it! 

This book opens up the opportunity to discuss with our students, "How can we be less like a Mean Jean and more like a Katie Sue?"  To encourage even more discussion with this text I have created these FREEBIE chit chat cards to get students thinking, reflecting, and chatting.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Recess-Queen-Chit-Chat-Cards-for-Grades-3-6-1988688
Simply...
•Print and laminate Chit Chat Cards. You will need a few sets for student work/chit chat.
•Read the picture book The Recess Queen.
•Pass out the Chit Chat Cards.
•Partner students and allow them time to read through and discuss the Chit Chat cards.
•Have them discuss as few or as many as time allows.
•Bring group back together for a whole class discussion

Your students will love this book and the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas about this thoughtful book.

Best of luck combating bullying in your classroom and school setting!  I hope this resource gets your students talking, thinking, and reflecting on ways to make bullying a thing of the past.
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Check out these other great Back to School favorite reads...


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Student Conversation about Text in the Classroom Using Chit Chat Cards


I have to admit that as a 6th grade language arts teacher, I LOVE a quiet classroom.  I do not like CHAOS, I do not like LOUD, and while I am in complete confession mode, I can't stand when things are not organized and out of place!  I know, I am one of those teachers!  In my classroom I prefer students in a structured routine, under control, and highly productive.  If I am speaking your language, read on... 

What I also realize is that I have to offer my students opportunities to engage with one another, which can get a little louder than normal.  In addition, I have to allow them the chance to shift around the room to work with others, which can get things out of place, and it is ALL GOOD.


In considering the needs of my students and my own personality, I came up with an idea to allow students more time to engage in thoughtful discussion with one another, but in a productive and meaningful way.  My idea also comes with the added perk of having one less thing to GRADE...Chit Chat Cards.

I have taught 6th graders for 15 years, and one thing I can tell you for sure is that they LOVE to CHIT CHAT with one another. Because our day is so fast-paced and so much needs to be crammed into class time, and minimal time is set aside for student discussion, I came up with the idea for CHIT CHAT CARDS.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reading-Literature-Chit-Chat-Cards-for-Grades-4-8-1970897                  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Informational-Text-Chit-Chat-Cards-for-Grades-4-8-1973449

Instead of writing down all of their thoughts or recording their responses, they have cards that keep them focused, on-topic, yet able to listen, speak, and discuss. As teachers we don’t need one more thing to PHYSICALLY GRADE! These CHIT CHAT CARDS can be used as a formative assessment after reading any fiction or nonfiction selection and can be used during partner time, small group, whole class discussion, or for reading conferences. Genius, right?! Use them how you see fit, but use them. These CHIT CHAT CARDS are also a perfect tool for reading intervention. I promise your students will love the time they have to interact, share, and discuss text.

Simply...
  • Print and laminate Chit Chat Cards. You will need a few sets for whole class work.
  • Have students read any fiction or nonfiction selection.
  • Pass out the Chit Chat Cards.
  • Partner students and allow them time to read through and discuss the Chit Chat cards.
  • Have them discuss as few or as many as time allows.
  • Bring group back together for a whole class discussion.
  • Allow students to listen, share, and discuss their thoughts.



My plan is to print a class set, laminate, attach to a ring for easy, accessible use, and distribute for student discussion upon the completion of a text.  With this fun classroom resource my students are focused, engaged, and interacting, in a structured, controlled, and productive way while enhancing their understanding of reading literature, informational text, and speaking/listening standards.

Grab the BUNDLE here...

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chit-Chat-Cards-Bundle-for-Grades-4-8-1974814

Happy Productive Chatting!

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Best Books for 6th Grade: A Summer Blog Party and FREEBIE

This week I am linking up with my friends at The Reading Crew to share some of our favorite books to fire up readers at various grade levels.  As a 6th grade teacher, I want to tell you all about my choices of...

First, I truly adore this grade!  I find students at this level are kind of all over the map when it comes to reading.  Some "<3" reading and never want to put their books down, some read because they "HAVE to", and others love to share their "HATRED" for reading! I think I was destined to become a 6th grade reading teacher because I detested reading as a 6th grader!  While I am confessing, I hated playing the piano, too!  I don't remember who helped me resolve my hatred of all things reading, but I can tell you that having a special job stamping check-out books in the school library and finding The Babysitter's Club series, transformed me as a reader!  So-I take it personally if my students have not left me at the end of the school year and found "THE BEST BOOK EVER! 

So-onto my list...I must admit that I am a realistic and historical fiction nut!  I love knowing that stories have or can actually transpire, so my list is full of these genres.  I am actually really honest about books with my students because it helps them understand that even though I am a reading teacher, I can struggle with books, too.  I often share that except for the Hunger Games series and Among the Hidden, science fiction can be a challenge for me to stick with.  Dare I say that I was not a big fan of Harry Potter after the first two novels?!

I have compiled a list of 10 of my favorite books to share with students at this 6th grade level...If you click on the title, you will see that I have created novel units for each of these texts due to my strong LOVE for these books! You will also find a FREEBIE character analysis resource to share with your kiddos...

Best Book #1:  Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Best Book #2:  Crash by Jerry Spinelli

Best Book #3:  Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Best Book #4:  Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Best Book #5 and #6:  Stargirl and Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Best Book #7:  Woodsong by Gary Paulsen

Best Book #8: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Best Book #9:  Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Best Book #10:  The Lottery Rose by Irene Hunt

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Character-Analysis-Task-Cards-for-Grades-4-6-RL1-SAMPLER-1728602

I would love to hear more of the texts you LOVE to utilize with your 6th graders...I am always on the hunt for "Best Books"!  Now, race to your library and GRAB these AMAZING works!  Your students will thank you!  Happy Summer Reading! Check out these other perfect book ideas to FIRE UP your readers...

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Daily 5: Tried and True Resources for Grades 4-6


Have you read this book?  

I can promise that it will transform the way you teach in your ELA classroom. The premise of this must-read resource is "students select from five authentic reading and writing choices, working independently toward personalized goals, while the teacher meets individual needs through whole-group and small-group instruction, as well as one-on-one conferring."
The Daily 5 choices include:

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Read to Self is a time where my students focus on their own independent reading of a text and incorporates novel units, close reading passages and poetry.  While we utilize novel units, close reads, and poetry for whole group instruction as well, students need to be able to read independently and engage with text that is at their reading level for age-appropriate periods of time. I have created as many novel units as I can create in order to engage my students in their Read to Self time.

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Read to Someone is a favorite time of my students because they have the chance to interact with a text and a peer.  They can share ideas, insights, and discuss the text they are working to navigate through.  I LOVE walking around the classroom during Read to Someone and listening to the thoughtful commentary taking place between my kiddos.  I will have students partner read novels and other close reads. 

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Listen to Reading is essential for my 6th graders.  I utilize reader's theater scripts, picture books that I share, and novel read alouds for Listen to Reading.  While many of my students are on-grade level readers, hearing fluent reading and listening to text being read aloud enhances their listening comprehension and imagery skills.  I LOVE when we are getting ready to switch classes and my students are bummed and wanting me to "just read one more page!"

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Word Work incorporates both spelling and vocabulary in my classroom setting.  Word Work begins our class with morning or bell ringer work and is a focus in various texts we read.  Students need continued work with vocabulary-using context clues, identifying synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, suffixes, and roots  in order to tackle more difficult texts and comprehend what they are reading.  For Word Work I target instruction with Word of the Day, Context Clue Task Cards, and BOGGLE.

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Writing is always taking place within my 6th grade classroom.  There is always a piece in progress, a response getting evidence gathered, or a prompt being considered.  It is necessary for students to be able to respond to text, respond to prompts, and share their ideas and insights on paper.  I utilize end of book projects, writing units, and journaling in order to cover all of the elements of writing my students must grasp before moving on to the next grade. 

I am certain that you are incorporating each of these components into your daily ELA work with students...the tricky aspect is allowing students to have the opportunity to choose what they want to work on during a given amount of time, which is a Daily 5 concept to promote independence and choices. This aspect continues to be a work in progress for me, as well.  That is my work for this summer-strategizing the best way to help my students work to become more independent with their Daily 5 choices where I feel as though they are working and not wasting the time that is given...I, like my students, am a work in progress...
 
While I am still working to implement all of the components using the choice method with my students, what I have nailed down and want to share are the resources I have created to coincide with my work with the Daily 5 in my classroom.  I want to make sure students are getting all 5-components and are finding success through their growth as readers, writers, and listeners.  You can click on the cover image and grab the preview...

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/ELA-Made-Easy-An-Upper-Elementary-Resource-BUNDLE-for-Language-Arts-1925339

Within this 20-resource bundle, I have included each of the tools and how I utilize them with my 6th grade students to enhance their work with the Daily 5.  Take a peek at how I have organized this Daily 5 Bundle of Resources for Grades 4-6...
  
  

I would love to hear how you help your students make the best choices while working to instill choice and independence through your classroom Daily 5...Keep me posted and share any insights you have below!  I am all ears!
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer Stock-Up: Classroom Organization



I am a huge advocate of including my students in as many classroom procedures as possible.  I want them to take ownership of the classroom, so they feel more compelled to take care and show respect for our learning space.  Therefore, they get jobs...


My 6th grade students love to help out around the classroom.  I often have students arrive early each morning in hopes of having the opportunity to tackle some small task around the room.  My students truly enjoy feeling responsible for different chores that make them feel as though they are contributing to their learning environment.  And so, I created this Classroom Jobs for BIG KIDS resource.

Ideas for Classroom Use… 

PRINT, LAMINATE, DISPLAY, EXPLAIN!
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Print and laminate each of the Job Titles and Lanyard Tag pages 

Cut and display the Classroom Jobs in a visible spot as a reminder to both you and your students.

Explain each Classroom Job and display the job descriptions so students are aware and can perform the job accordingly.

Use clothespins with student names and clip them to the displayed Job Titles-clothespins are inexpensive and stay in place.

Allow students to wear the Job Title Lanyards upon entering the classroom and hang up upon their departure.

Rotate the jobs weekly, or as you see fit.  I rotate in alphabetical order.

One way to make everyone have a weekly job is to make everyone a project manager.  Even BIG KIDS like to feel like they are serving a special purpose.

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Enjoy some time this summer knowing you have the perfect classroom jobs resource for making students accountable for different tasks around your learning space!  Happy Summer! 

https://www.facebook.com/ThePrimaryGal/ app_208195102528120

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Blog Party Kick-Off

Happy Summer!  I hope this blog hop finds you ready to tackle some summer relaxation and fun!  For my family, we are in the midst of tournament play for baseball, attending various sports camps, spending lots of time at the pool, and enjoying time with friends.  We will be heading to the beach for a week in August, but for now, we bask in the warm weather and minimal schedule.
Despite our busyness, one thing we continue throughout summer is reading.  As a reading teacher, I enforce daily reading time in our house.  I say enforce because grabbing a book and slowing down is NOT a favorite past-time among my kiddos.  My littlest can sit and read book after book, my middle loves to be read to, and my oldest knows that his allowance gets reduced if I have to ask him to complete his daily reading more than once.  If a friend calls for a playdate for my daughter, or a knock comes at the door for my oldest, reading is the last thing on their minds.  Therefore, I have to mandate that it happens. 
I have given up on the idea that my kids should want to read. I want them to want to read, but ideally, if my children could be outside playing every moment of every day, that is what they would prefer to do! And so, before we head outside and grab for any type of technology, reading occurs.  Some might argue with this strategy, but it works for my family.  There are no written rules, no chart to keep track, just the expectation that for 20 minutes a day, we read.  Very manageable.

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My heading into 4th grade son has tackled Chocolate Fever and is on to Frindle.  I am offering him the chance to choose the books. I am not making him complete any novel units to accompany his reading, but they are available, just in case.


My heading into 1st grade daughter is tackling Level D books and inspired me to create this FREEBIE text unit for my intervention students.  She loves Young Cam Jansen books.  She struggles a bit to read them independently, but loves when we read them together.  This unit is perfect for reading comprehension for grades 1-3, and an intervention resource for students that might be struggling a bit in grades 4-6.  If you are a teacher in the midst of summer school, or a parent wanting to help your child with comprehension, this text resource is ideal for you! It includes: directions for use, lesson plans, character analysis work, context clue word work, chapter by chapter reader response questions, and post-reading writing prompts for FREE!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Young-Cam-Jansen-and-The-Double-Beach-Mystery-Unit-1910410

It is a forever FREEBIE and I would love to hear how you put it to use at home or in your classroom.  Grab some more HOT resources as you move on to the next stops!  Michelle from Big Time Literacy has a great one!  Grab it at the next stop!  Happy Hopping!

http://bigtimeliteracy.blogspot.com/2015/06/summer-blog-party.html
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Friday, June 5, 2015

A Teacher's Life in Summer!

So this happened!

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This was our last walk to school day because these sweet faces finished kindergarten and third grade, respectively, and were anxiously awaiting the fun of summer!  In the last 7 days since school has ended we have...

planned and hosted my daughter's 6th birthday party, attended a friend's birthday party, taken two trips to the zoo, had four playdates,  attended basketball camp, played at some local parks, grabbed summer reading books from the library, begun our summer reading, played countless games of Uno and Go Fish!, eaten too many ice cream cones and popsicles, gardened, grilled, ran, biked, swam, stayed up too late, and snuggled!

The next weeks will bring more of the same and I can't wait!  Baseball, soccer, and cheerleading camp will be attended by my oldest kiddos, and I have some sweet time with my littlest.  I am attempting to sneak in some teacher work here and there, before all three kiddos wake up and at night.  I also try to get it in when I have a napping two-year old and big kids busy with friends.  I am happy to report that I did complete a novel unit that I am testing out on my son, which will be much to his chagrin, of course, but a boy's gotta read, right?!

So despite the urge to prepare for next school year, I am making sure to make the most of this summer with my kiddos.  While a teacher's work is NEVER finished, be sure to take some time to just BE and ENJOY!  I don't say relax because there isn't much of that happening at my house, so I assume it doesn't happen in other busy households either.

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Happy Summer!  I would love to hear all about how you are spending yours!

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