Test Prep Prep

Excited to roll out my latest posters for test prep strategies! Just in time for spring testing :) stay tuned 

FREEBIE! President's Day Writing Prompts!

I am so pleased with how these writing prompts turned out. Great for lower elementary students! 
Click on the link to my store or any of the pics to find out more. 

I created a mini book comparing our current president with our first president.

 I can't wait to see what the little darlings come up with for their pictures. :)
 Compare and Contrast after reading mini book.
 This prompt is open-ended. I would start with a class brainstorm on famous presidents and what they have accomplished. I've also created a prompt with a sentence frame for kinders. You might even want to pull in some picture books or posters to help with brainstorming!

Happy Teaching!! XO

Elements of Literature designs - 3 to choose from!

So I went to bed last night and couldn't sleep. I had to make my Narrative Elements posters more fancy. Here you go! Click on the link to my store or any pic to download these beauties! Now there are three designs to choose from, and I included blackline masters! Enjoy! Please let me know how they work for you.

Narrative Elements Posters! So excited to share!

What a week so far! I am plummeting back into the world of literature with my fifth grade darlings, and my students were so excited to see their new Literature Circle Reference Posters, as I like to call them. They've been in the works for a few weeks now, and have been tested this week. I refer to these during language arts lessons when we are skill-building, or when students are directing literary discussions about our newest favorite book or author during Lit Circles. (By the way, I was pumped up to hear about the new chapter books they received as gifts or from the public library over Winter Break, and they couldn't wait to share those titles with me.)  I am also thrilled at how often we've used these posters during our guided read-alouds! Model, model, model!

Click on the link to my store, or on any picture to find out more!

Protaga-what???? New vocabulary for the words "main character" can easily throw off even the most confident reader.

I love to partner-share about our favorite villains throughout literature (including movies) in order to cement this vocabulary term.

 Past, present, or future are relative terms for upper elementary students. Sometimes they just can't see that a story takes place in the "past", or, "present day". If it's not happening to them, then they have little care for it!  I find it helpful to ask simple questions such as, "Could this story (or passage) take place today?" or "Can you picture a time when this might happen? Could you be there, too?"

 This is what I like to call the GOOD vs. BAD comparison. In other words, good plus evil equals battle.
 I am always surprised at how quickly students grasp the concept of types of conflicts, once these types are introduced through a read-aloud.

 Giving students a bank of THEMES to choose from will produce higher quality responses. Especially when given the chance to bounce ideas off of each other, you will be dancing a happy gig with what they are capable of recognizing as the theme of a novel. Again, it's all about choosing a quality read-aloud to draw in the audience and capture their own genuine emotion to allow them to recognize it as a theme. They also get a kick out of writing their own themes. My students impress me daily with what they discover during our read-aloud!

I hope you find this useful!
PS I have a bank of read-alouds for upper elementary that are high-intensity and high-interest. 
Let me know if you'd like to hear more! 


Starting Sassy in the New Year

In my mind, the anticipation for tomorrow is building. In my district, teachers are given a workday prior to students returning after every break. That's right, after every break. It's a blessing! Students return tomorrow, and we are hitting the ground running in my classroom.

As I plan away at my computer, I can't help but be haunted by the anchor chart hanging over my head. According to my own plot chart, I am  peaking. I am at the top of the proverbial plot chart with my level of anxiety and anticipation. However, as far as the school year goes, well, we are halfway done. Which would make me over the proverbial hill. YIKES!! Still so much to do to prepare my fifth graders for the challenges of junior high. Maybe I should move this anchor chart away from my computer... outta sight, outta mind?

Happy 2014! Looking forward to a peaceful RESOLUTION. The plot thickens...

(Don't worry, I'll refrain from the cheesy teacher jokes. What is it about teachers and the ability to make absolutely anything into corny rhetoric?)

CLOSE Reading for Upper Elementary Grades!

Okay! I was too excited! Had to get some posters made for my upper elementary colleagues
Here it is! Click on the link to my store or any of the photos to find out more! 

Students often times don't want to do a "cold read" on unfamiliar texts. They feel most successful when given the opportunity to annotate freely. When Close Reading, I always give students their own copy of the text with which to annotate. Even though a Close Read might be a passage from a larger text, it's important to remember that the passage chosen should be short. 

I cannot say this enough! Comparing with others provides students the opportunity to feel successful in a nonthreatening way. Students are not going to get the entire "gist" of a text upon first read, but they will surprise themselves (and you!) with their thoughtful responses regarding what they annotated to begin with.

This is where teacher planning comes into place! Don't forget those text-dependent questions. I LOVE using Step 3 as a chance to point out the particular craft or tone of an author. You could also choose to require they listen and look for a particular skill or type of figurative language within the passage. I'm also a firm believer that ALL students, no matter what age, should be read aloud to!

Quick writes work well here. It could be a summary of what they think the passage os mostly about, or what students have learned during the Close Read up until now. Great to refer back to as you continue the Close Read, and great informal assessment for you.

Here's the chance to explicitly teach children how to cite the text! I find that sometimes teachers forget that this must be taught.

Responding in writing in Step 6 could look different, depending on what you want to accomplish with your students. Are they ready to tackle a persuasive piece on author's purpose? Or do you think this could work better as a summary? The choice is your. I always love to see how much my students have grown from the first sample of writing to this last sample of the Close Read.

Happy Teaching!! 

Close Read Steps and a FREEBIE!

Close reading is so important when teaching with the Common Core.  It helps students to dissect more complex texts. Some students benefit from a step-by-step visual aid to help them with their close reading.  That is why I made these Step-By-Step CLOSE Read Posters!  Click on any of my pictures or the link to my store to find out more about this freebie! 

Introducing how to "Close Read" a particularly tough piece of text shouldn't be a surprise to students. They love to be able to hear (and see) what is expect from them throughout the lesson. You might even minimize these steps in order to give students their own copy to keep at their table, at a center, or in their reading journal.
I use Text Codes in my classroom, such as a star symbol for important information, or a question mark for something that is confusing. Younger grades can underline unfamiliar words or sight words they recognize.
I love to partner-share! Students get feedback on what they noticed, and often find connections to others about what similarities they have found in what they thought they read.
Upper grades can be given a specific mood or tone to listen for. Beginning readers can listen for the author's voice or craft.
Another chance to share, often to wrap up day 1 of the close read via exit slip or journal writing. Sometimes this is a good way to begin day 2 of the close read and refresh the students' thinking.
Independently reading pieces of higher text complexity allows all learners to be exposed to literature rich in vocabulary and craft. I always use a short piece of the reading to Close Read in cases where you are studying a larger piece of text. For younger grades, choose a commonly read but not always commonly dissected piece of writing to read together in a Close Read.
Citing the text is key! So often educators forget the importance of teaching students HOW to cite the text. We just expect them to DO it, but don't show them what it looks like. 

That's a post for another day, though ;)

I have also created an anchor for upper grades. This was my inspiration!