Sunday, November 25, 2012

FREEBIE: An Interactive Reader's Notebook Page

Our focus this week is making predictions and hypothesizing about information in a text.  While this is an extension of our learning with inferential questions, it is vocabulary that students need to have to understand what it means to predict and hypothesize. 

My hook...the students will walk into the classroom to find a bucket of water balloons on the floor in front of the classroom.  I will ask them to predict on a post-it what they think the balloons are going to be utilized for?  They will display their post-its on chart paper.  We will then read aloud the different predictions. 

Possible prediction: We are going to throw them at the 5th graders as they head out to recess.

Upon completing their prediction post-it, I will ask them based on their prediction, what they hypothesize might happen if the water balloons were utilized for that purpose?  They will then record their hypothesis onto another post-it and place it on chat paper.  We will share again.

Possible hypothesis: We will have to clean up the mess, we will be in a HUGE amount of trouble, and Mrs. Beers might not be our teacher any longer for allowing us to make this poor choice...

Here is a simple interactive Reader's Notebook flap that I created for students to utilize when discussing this concept and to keep as a tool they can utilize later in the year.   While I don't suspect they will soon forget what it means to predict and hypothesize, we will create an anchor chart with the same terms displayed, discuss the meaning of these words based on our water balloon hook, and add this information drafted on the anchor chart under the flaps. 

While I am NOT planning to bombard 5th graders with water balloons before recess in freezing cold November, it is a way that I can make a concept stick with my 6th grade learners.  The more outrageous-the more memorable!  Happy Cyber Monday!

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Liebster Blog Award?!-Thanks, Friend!

It has been quite a Thanksgiving break!  One that I feel I needed tremendously.  It has been a joy to take time to PLAY, bake, and wake up whenever we wake, not due to an alarm.  THE BEST!!! After planning my week of learning, creating lessons, etc.  I logged on to find this very sweet blog award nomination.  Just what I needed to start off my week, thanks, Em.

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.

The rules:

- You must post 11 random things about yourself.

- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.

- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.

- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.

- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

So here goes for my 11 random things:
1. I LOVE cleaning.  I could vacuum, clean the floors, and wipe every countertop surface everyday.  It may seem a little OCD, but I truly feel it reduces stress to have things clean.

2. I am a morning person-I am happy to be up with a cup of coffee, tackling the day.

3. I am a thrifty shopper.  I LOVE deals and HATE to pay full price for anything.

4. I eat Greek yogurt and pretzels for lunch at school everyday.  I have for as many years as I can remember.

5. I LOVE to bake cookies.  My favorite is gingerbread M&M.

6.  I have run 9 marathons, including Boston, but will only run half-marathons from now on.  The training is a killer!

7. I gave up candy for Lent and still have yet to have any.  I give it up every year, but this is the longest I have ever been able to go without.  I eye the Milk Duds and Red Vines at Kroger every shopping trip.

8. I have two AMAZING kiddos with another on the way in March.  We did not find out the gender for any of them before they were born. 

9. Obviously, I LOVE surprises.

10. The only channels I watch that are not full of children's shows are: Food Network and the Cooking Channel.  I should be much more of an expert in the kitchen.

11.  I am a 6th grade reading teacher, but hated to read when I was in the 6th grade, funny enough!

Questions Em asked...
1. What wakes you up in the morning?

I love to wake up in the morning.  I love to peek into my son and daughter's rooms to see them still fast asleep.  I am usually up and ready to head out for a run or to the gym and back before anyone has stirred in my house.  Coffee also makes me smile in the morning. 
2. Do you have a hobby that you enjoy?

I can't live without running! It truly keeps me sane!

3. Do you have a recipe that you can't live without?

Watching Food Network as much as I do, you would think I should be an unbelievable cook!  No favorite recipe, but I have yet to harm a family member with my meals.

4. What is your favorite movie?

My favorite children's movies are now: Cinderella, Snow White, and Tangled.  My favorite movie of all time is probably Pretty In Pink.

5. Why did you decide to start blogging?
I started blogging because I try to make a pact/goal with myself each summer that I will try something new.  This summer my goal was to enhance my blog that had been created at a district in-service and learn more about Teachers Pay Teachers.  This summer I had so much fun learning as much as I have about the blogging world.  I still have a WHOLE lot more to learn, however.  That is what makes it so inspiring, though.

6. If you weren't teaching, what would you do instead?
When I retire from teaching in 15-20 years, I want to go to culinary school to become a chef.  I do want to explore administration before I retire, too. 

7. How long have you been teaching and in what grades?
I have been teaching for 15 years.  I began my career in a small Catholic school teaching self-contained 5th grade for 2 years.  I then got a job in Norwood as a reading "recovery" teacher for grades 6-8 for 1 year, and then have been in 6th grade ever since.  I gess I have taught at the 6th grade level for the last 13 years.  YIKES!

8. What is your favorite household chore?
There is a tie...windexing counters, vacuuming, and cleaning the floors.  Windexing and spot vacuuming take place at least once a day, though.  I have small kiddos!

9. What is a holiday tradition that you love to do each year?
Opening new PJs on Christmas Eve. 

10. Where do you like to shop?
I love so many stores.  Target is the go-to for random items.  I love Gap and Old Navy for clothes.  Nordstrom is my pick for shoes.

11. What is your favorite pin on pinterest?
I have found so many awesome things in Pinterest.  Crafts, home ideas, school lesson ideas, etc.  Aside from recipes, I get my daily fill of funny e-cards.   This pin was one that we found for my son's Halloween party at school.  I think I like it best because he was able to teach his classmates how to make this lollipop spider, so they could make their own.  Pretty cool.
 spider halloween crafts

Now for the questions I have for the bloggers I have nominated to answer...
1. Do you have a hobby?  If so, what is it?
2. What is one item that you could not live without?
3. What is your favorite teaching resource or tool?
4. When did you start blogging?
5. What is your favorite TV show?
6. What is your favorite Holiday to celebrate in the classroom? 
7. How long have you been teaching?  What grades have you taught?
8. What is your best teaching memory?
9. What is your favorite holiday dish?
10. What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
11. What is your favorite sport or team?

Blogs I nominate for the Liebster Blog Award.  Thanks for all of your impressive work with kiddos each day!  Your blogs are full of inspiration, clever ideas, and dedication.  I not only utilize your ideas in my classroom, but with my kiddos at home:

1.  Leever's Lessons
2.  The Lightbulb Lab
3. Dancing in our Teacher Shoes
4. Not So Wimpy Teacher's Manual
5. Math is Elementary
6. Sixth Grade Scribbles
7. Taking a Walk on the Teaching Side
8. The Balanced Classroom
9. Drowning in Paperclips
10. The Happy Teacher
11. Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

I have been lucky enough to find each of you in the blogging world.  Don't forget to link back so I can hear all about you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I am THANKFUL for my TEACHER...Linky Party

I linked up with Amy from The Resource(ful) Room for her "I am Thankful For My Teacher linky party." 
Amy has an incredible blog that I find so useful for various ideas for my various ability level students.  In fact one idea I am snagging borrowing immediately are her awesome PIE strips to review author's purpose for any of my 6th graders that were not as successful as I had hoped with this concept.  Thanks for the clever learning tool, Amy.  I am thankful for you!

As I reflect back on my own learning I had some AMAZING teachers.  It all began in kindergarten with Mrs. Shea.  The best thing about kindergarten in Granville, Massachusetts was that I had a jungle gym inside my classroom.  I wished I had that "center" activity everyday.  I have debated exercise equipment in my own classroom at times.  

Mrs. Cavanaugh, my 4th grade teacher was another teacher I am grateful I had the opportunity of learning from.  I was Alice in our Alice in Wonderland play and loved the fact that she had a writing center that we could rotate into each day.  I still remember my Cabbage Patch Kids writing folder filled with writing that I completed based on her inspiring writing prompts.  

Junior high and high school had some other clever characters and fun learning experiences.  My high school trigonometry teacher taught me that you could get away with a whole lot of silliness "back in the day."  He used to take the dry erase marker and mark across our foreheads as we headed up to the board to complete math problems.  Imagine trying that with your kiddos today?!

College allowed for me to have the chance to have some incredible learning experiences.  My student teaching in Lakota Schools at Shawnee Elementary with Amy Burns was the best experience I could have possibly had as a "soon-to-be-on-my-own-classroom teacher."  Amy was a young, vibrant fourth grade teacher.  She oozed with enthusiasm for teaching and was always so motivating.  Collaborating with her and all of her professional guidance was just what I needed to be ready and confident as I embarked on my first year as a self-contained 5th grade teacher.  I had the opportunity to develop novel units, incorporate technology, create science experiments, and dozens of displays and bulletin boards.

I ran into her at Walmart--10 years into MY teaching career.  Two children later, and an attempt into the role of assistant principal for her, she was still as energetic as always talking about her role as a classroom teacher.  I am both thankful and grateful for my time with her.  I still have the paper-cutter that she gave me at my last day of student teaching party with each student's signature neatly written on the bottom. 

Today I continue to be inspired by the educators that surround me in my own building each day.  My team is amazing, and my teacher friends, and fellow bloggers keep me motivated and most enthusiastic about this profession 15 years in...I am truly lucky to have had such superstar educators as inspiration!  I am especially thankful...Thanks, Amy, for reminding me to take the time to think about those teachers I am THANKFUL to have encountered!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Teaching Author's Purpose...what resources do you use?

The learning target for this week-"I can identify an author's purpose and target audience for a text."

I was inspired after some "Pinteresting."  A blog I follow is Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher.

She is a superstar teacher with some refreshing strategies that I have been able to utilize in my classroom this year.  A favorite of mine is her Interactive Notebooks, which I have incorporated into my students' learning this year to really emphasize the various concepts my students are responsible for learning.

I began these binder/notebooks with my students on the very first day of school.  The Reader's Notebook section is filling up with each week's learning target.  This week our focus was on author's purpose.  My students quickly grasped the PIES acronym for persuade, inform, entertain, and share as they completed their interactive notebook page and filled it in with the information we developed as a whole class. 

Students cut, fold, and glue the page to a piece of loose-leaf paper.  The notes get documented in their
Reader's Notebook.  We fill in all of the necessary information on the back of and under the various flaps as a
whole group.  We refer to the notes all week and whenever needed in the future.  I feel this strategy is more memorable than simply recording notes on notebook paper-it gives a visual to remember the concept.
Reader's Notebook Table of Contents
A snapshot of our anchor chart and additional notes needed to grasp the concept.  
The interactive notebook flap can be seen at the bottom of the anchor chart.
Derrick answering reader response questions focusing on author's purpose.

Working on author's purpose through Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith

I utilize my Interactive Notebooks with all three of my reading classes.  While the other two classes are reading Hunger Games and applying their learning at a different level, all of my students no matter their current reading level, are able to benefit from and utilize this effective organizational note-taking system.  Each of my different groups were able to grasp a concept at different levels, but through the use of one effective learning tool.  I am glad I found this idea and will continue to implement it with my students for years to come.

Here are a few other resources I utilized this week for author's purpose...

  •   A jeopardy game reviewing the concept for all three classes...I utilized this for two purposes for my two higher groups...1) Once in teams, the student that had chosen the question had to read it aloud to the entire class to work on fluency, 2) students had the opportunity to challenge their learning for the week in a friendly interactive review game format.
    FYI-there are two slides with typos so check them over and fix them before sharing them with your group.  One misspells the word entertain.  The other uses the word "humped" instead of "jumped."  If you want to give your students a good laugh-let them find the errors. I wasn't so daring!!!

    I am working on grading this week's assessments of our learning target, but I am pleased with the progress my students made as readers and the work they put forth.  After our data charting...onto inferential questions next week...wish me luck!

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