Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween Middle Grades CCSS Reader's Theater and Craftivity Fun Pack

Tis' the season for Trick or Treatin' and some more writing...

My brain was on overload today!  So much that I wrote another reader's theater and came up with a craftivity to go with it. 

The Happy Halloween That Almost Wasn't... is the perfect reader's theater for this festive time of year.

Your students will love reading about the characters of Parkersburg Elementary School and how their Halloween traditions and celebrations were cancelled, then reconsidered due to some thoughtful 6th grade brain power.

In addition to the 5-page, 11-character script, students are given 3-reader response questions that requires them to cite evidence from the text.  A plot organizer allows students to track the events of the story.

Finally, the pack is complete with a Halloween-Themed Shirt Making How-To Craftivity and a recipe for a "Spooky Snack Sack." 

The craftivity came from the story.  In the story the characters come up with an alternative for buying and parading around in expensive costumes.  They decide that re-purposing old t-shirts and turning them into Halloween-wear is a better alternative.

Using an old pajama shirt, fabric scraps, ribbon, and steam-a-seam, I came up with what I think looks like a fairly recognizable Frankenstein.

 If you are looking for a fun way to celebrate Halloween, this reader's theater fun pack is the way to go! Your Halloween week of instruction will be planned and well-received by your students!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crash: The Beginning-A Middle Grades Reader's Theater Inspired by the Novel

So, it was a writing kind of day.  I have had this idea in my brain for about two weeks now, but couldn't figure out how or where to start.

Have you ever read a novel that ISN'T actually a movie with your students?  These days it can be hard to come by, for sure.  Hunger Games, Because of Winn Dixie, Holes, Tuck Everlasting, Bridge to Terebithia, and on and on...However, each of the years I read the novel Crash by Jerry Spinelli, my students' first question upon completing it is, "Is this a movie? I want to see it!"

I am always grateful that it is not because I have my own idea of what every character looks like, and I want to keep it that way.  I might date myself a bit, but I visualize some of the old Wonder Years cast as some of the characters...

So back to the "it was a writing kind of day..." After designing the cover page and determining the cast of characters, I finally settled on the fact that this reader's theater would only be able to focus on a snippet of the text, otherwise it would end up as long as the novel.  I chose the beginning of the novel-the flashback part where Crash and Penn meet.  Selfishly, it has some of my favorite parts.  I love when Crash goes to dinner at the Webb's house.  Certainly that had to be included.

If you have read this novel and are looking for a little fun with your class, this reader's theater is perfect for our crew.  I promise it will be a hit!  They will love playing Crash and Penn and re-enacting how they met when they were six.  While it is a fun 8-character, 6-page script, I also included a compare and contrast focus activity, as well as three reader response questions that focus on the script.  The focus CC standards are listed as well.

While I can't wait to share it with my students next year, please share with me how it all went down with your students.  Here is a preview...

More to come, I promise.

Monday, October 14, 2013

MIddle Grades Reader's Theaters and Novel Units...My TPT Obsession!

As most who read my blog know, I am on maternity leave for this 2013-2014 school year.  For a teacher like me, that is a really tricky thing...

I adore being home.  Having this time with my family has been a true gift.  Getting to coach soccer, being able to take my 7 month old to Babybees (baby gymnastics, kind of ridiculous, I know, but it is FREE) on Tuesday mornings, watching my daughter at Tumblebees (not free and very necessary) on Fridays, attending PTO meetings at my son's school, volunteering more, and the walking my son and daughter to and from school has been incredible!  The moments I am getting to experience that I would not have if my son Landon hadn't blessed our lives, are priceless and I am truly grateful!

But...there are moments in my day when I think about the last 15 years I have spent working my tail off as a teacher!  I LOVE being a teacher.  I love the excitement of a lesson that goes off without a hitch, the enthusiasm of the students when they find it impossible to put down that AMAZING novel, the feedback from a teammate, and the day-to-day tasks that go along with working with kids.  There is not a better profession, aside from maybe being an ice cream taste-tester!

So, I have had to come up with a balance of my new reality.  While I am home experiencing all of these great things with my family, I have also kept my foot in my teaching world.  Enter Teachers Pay Teachers...

 While I will not be the next Deanna Jump making a million plus dollars selling resources I have created, I have enjoyed fine-tuning some of the tried and true resources I have developed and utilized with my students in order to place in my own Teachers Pay Teachers store.

While my Crash unit, Because of Winn Dixie, and Boxcar Children, and Young Cam Jansen bundle have been fun putting together, my newest obsession is writing reader's theater scripts.  I love utilizing these with my students, as I have talked about in previous posts.  Allowing my students to get lost in a character all while working on fluency and comprehension is learning at its best!

I have written three high-interest, CCSS, realistic fiction scripts that I can not wait to try next year!  They are all based on true events, which allow for a whole lot of positive discussion: "what would you do in that same situation?"In addition, each comes with reader response questions and summary organizers to enhance student comprehension.

So if you are looking for some Middle Grades Reader's Theater scripts with 12-13 characters to try right away with your students, check out my most recent labors of love!)

This Reader's Theater Bundle consists of three different scripts. Each script has 12-13 characters and is 8+pages in length.  Reader Response questions and a summary organizer follow each script.  I have truly loved writing them and would love to hear what you and your students think!

Until my next link to the teaching world is ready...

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Reading Intervention Tools-What to do when everyone isn't reading on grade-level...

Teaching is profession that is tricky in so many ways!  Understatement, I know!

In addition to all of the RTI, MAP data, DRA, and DIBELs work we do, most importantly we need tools to teach our students!  Once all student data is placed into our hands, we are faced with the WHAT NEXT?!?!

Once data came to our team last school year, we did an overhaul with our students.  We rearranged students into classrooms that would benefit them as much as possible, in addition allow us to provide the most support to the students that were most in need.

For me this meant I had two classes of MOSTLY on-grade level readers, but a group of 12 that ranged from kindergarten level to fourth grade reading level.  Clearly working in our Reading Street text and reading novels like Crash by Jerry Spinelli and Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was not going to be effective with this group!

So, what did I do?

Spelling lists were modified from 25 words to 5-10 words, writing tasks were still taking place, but instead of focusing on complete essays and multiple page narratives, we focused on sentence and paragraph structure, and I began finding high-interest books on their level to read in our reading groups.

I headed to the book room to find books that we had multiple copies of and I READ and READ and READ in order to come up with reader response questions that could go along with these books.  My goal was to help these struggling readers LOVE reading by finding books they could read and connect with.

Some read alouds I used were: Chocolate Fever and Frindle.

Reading group texts for the two different groups were: The Boxcar Children series and the Young Cam Jansen series.  If you are wanting to utilize these tools with your readers, I have posted them in my Teacher Pay Teachers store.  I can attest that they are tried and true and my students made tremendous gains as readers last year.


It is a challenging process to move struggling readers in the middle grades, but when gains are made, it is such a thrill!  Best of luck in your classrooms, keep moving those mountains!

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