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.
•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...

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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.        

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.

  • 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...

Happy Productive Chatting!

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