Sunday, September 22, 2013

More Reader's Theater for the Middle Grades-The Cafeteria Catastrophe

As I continue on with my teaching hiatus/maternity leave, I find that teaching is constantly still on my brain.  Upon my return to teaching next school year, I will be tackling the common core standards.  While I know it has been a gradual transition, I need to have my act together and be prepared to jump in head first.

In preparation, I continue to spend some time each week writing, working on lessons, and following favorite blogs in order to keep my mind from turning to "mommy mush!" My latest writing is another Reader's Theater that I know all middle grade students will love!

As teachers, we are often inspired by our students.  This piece was definitely inspired by a scenario that took place last school year.  I learn a tremendous amount from my students...mostly good, but sometimes my findings can be frustrating.  All names have been changed, but milk was stolen from our cafeteria and students were faced with varying consequences.

If you are looking for a piece that has your students working on fluency, engaged,  and making TONS of inferences, make sure you check out The Cafeteria Catastrophe Reader's Theater on my Teachers Pay Teachers site  This 15-page resource comes with 5-reader response questions, a summary organizer, and summary answer guide.  Here is a sneak peek:

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Common Core Novel Based Questions for Crash by Jerry Spinelli

One of my favorite novels to teach at the middle grade level is Crash by Jerry Spinelli.  In fact, it is the perfect text to begin the school year with because students will be able to make personal connections as the characters begin their school year as well.

The story begins with the narrator, John Coogan, explaining through flashback how he got his nickname, Crash.  He then goes on to share how another major character, Penn Webb, came into his life.

Flash forward to the first day of seventh grade, and the story takes off for student readers.  While I love this book as a read aloud, it is also a perfect literature circle text.  Chapters are short, holding student attention, and each chapter ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, begging for readers to continue on.  I can't tell you how often I HAVE to stop reading due to needing to switch classes and students are shouting, "ONE MORE PAGE!"  It is that good.

Over the years I have taught the novel in different ways, but I have utilized the same 67 questions for student response to check for understanding.  I generated these questions with the idea that students would read them before reading the text, list page numbers where they could go into the text to find their answers, and respond in complete sentences with correct capitalization, grammar, and punctuation. In addition, I wanted my students to answer both literal, inferential, short answer, and extended response questions.

If you are looking for a novel to teach with common core based questions that go chapter by chapter, check out this 18 page resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Common Core Journal of the Week Prompts Power Point-Encouraging Student Writers

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Student writers begin each school year at varying levels and with differing enthusiasm for writing. With the incorporation of common core standards, students now have even greater responsibilities as reflective and responsive writers of text. Last school year, my team and I worked to incorporate a reading/writing intervention/enrichment time into our daily schedule twice a week in order to enhance student reading and writing.  We knew that taking some additional time to focus on our student readers and writers would greatly benefit them in the long run.  

I HEART motivated writers!
As I provided different writing topics, projects, and assignments for my students, I realized just how little many of them wanted to write.  Upon giving instruction, modeling, and getting students ready to begin their work, I was confronted with the same question, "How long does this need to be?"  I HATE that question!!!  I realized that I needed to do my part to inspire my students a bit...So I generated 40 different journal prompts that I believed would motivate my student writers.  Here is a sample entry from the power point.

My purpose for creating this teaching tool was to provide my students with high-interest prompts that encourage enthusiasm for writing, so I would no longer be attacked with the above question.  I utilized the BING, BANG, BONGO strategy to develop my students' paragraph/essay writing and we began tackling journal entries with thoughtfulness, detail, and organization. 

If you are looking for a tool that gets students motivated to write, incorporates common core standards for grades 3-8, and offers rubrics for teacher/self-evaluation, check out this resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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