Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Let's Go Shopping!

Who's ready for a SALE?? I can't tell y'all how excited I am for this TpT sale and I can't wait to share with y'all what's currently hanging out in my cart, just waiting on me to click "purchase". Everything in my shop will be 28% off. Need some phonics packs? Just click the page above that says "phonics fun". It's the perfect time to snag these best sellers (and some of my favs!):

Poetry Month is quickly approaching! I always liked to do a fairy tale study during April.... Check out these resources:

Click here to visit my shop! :) Happy shopping, y'all!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Creating Higher Order Thinking Questions-Tuck Everlasting

Hi friends! This post is primarily for upper grades, but I wanted to share with my first grade friends too. It *could* be modified to fit the needs of lower grades, but it went really well in my classroom today so I thought someone might be able to use the idea.
I feel like one of my weakness is definitely questioning effectively in the classroom. We've had many trainings on this subject, but year after year I struggle with it. I feel like I always ask "right there" questions, but I need to get my students to start digging deeper. I decided to inform my kids about the different types of questioning so that they could be aware of it. I went to good ole Google to find a handout of the Bloom's Taxonomy verbs. Here's the one I use from Teach Thought.

We discussed (and discussed...they had lots of questions!) the verbs under each category and talked about reasons why some verbs required more thinking, preparation, and info. We used this to help us create and develop example questions about the chapters that we read today in Tuck Everlasting. This went perfectly with our weekly comprehension strategy: questioning.
Here's the objective and essential question for today's lesson:

My kids recite both the objective and essential question at the beginning of each lesson. I've started making them take a sticky note and answering the essential question at the end of the lesson. This way, I can see who is still struggling with whatever I'm teaching. It's working really well!
We read Chapters 11-13 today and only worked with the first level in Bloom's Taxonomy: Knowledge. First, as a group, we created 1-2 questions using a verb from level 1. After I felt that they had a firm grasp on how to do this, we worked with a partner. Then we did one on our own. You know- I do, we do, y'all do, you do! They did a great job and this led into the discussion of Thick questions and Thin questions. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Fun Way to Start Class!

A few weeks ago as I was teaching away, I noticed that my kids were completely bored. This is a big pet peeve of mine. Yes, I know that every day in a classroom can't be a fun party, but I HATE when my kids aren't engaged. I feel like I'm wasting not only my time, but their's as well. No one is learning. I decided then and there to come up with a fun way to get my kids excited about our reading class. Thus, the Happy song was created.
Have y'all heard this song? It's adorable. And what's better than that, you can't help but be in a better mood after hearing it. I knew this would be the perfect way to liven up my kids and get them interested, but I also knew I couldn't afford to waste 4 minutes of our class time just listening to a fun song. We've been working hard on practicing dictionary skills and using a thesaurus, so I decided to do a little something using these.
Each day as soon as class starts (and I mean AS SOON AS class starts) I turn the music on and the kids know that's their signal to grab their sheet of paper and get start. It's so fun to see them immediately stop talking and start grabbing their binders and getting ready! No complaining whatsoever. What's their sheet of paper look like? This:

As they ready their paper with the date, one person grabs the basket of thesauruses and starts passing them out. Each student searches for a synonym that describes how they are feeling (no 'happy' or 'sad' is allowed...they have to find a more descriptive way to describe themselves!) and uses it the sentence frame: I feel ____________ because ____________. If someone does use a "boring word" such as happy, sad, mad, etc, we work as a class to find a better way to describe their feeling. 
The kids have exactly the length of the song to find their word and complete the sentence frame. If they finish up early, most of my students have taken to creating a little dance in their seat. 
When the song is over, I ask who would like to share. I pass a pink pom pom that I collected somewhere over the past few years and that person shares. After they finish reading, they ask who would like to share. This goes on for 5 turns, which the students must keep track of. When the 5th person is finished, they return the pom pom to me, which signals to every one to put everything up and one person goes around and collects the thesauruses. 

I have noticed a big difference since we've started doing this little warm up. The kids are more alert and ready to start class. It's also helping with finding more descriptive words and using a thesaurus- a win win! :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

#LAeverday2014 Weekly Recap

Be sure and follow me on Instagram at msleslieann01 :) Here's Week 8 Recap

{Day 38- New blog design!}

{Day 39- Working hard while staying at my grandparents}

{Day 40- Tuck Everlasting charts}

{Day 41- My favorite activity using your handbags to draw conclusions}

{Day 42- Snow Days mean magazines and hot chocolate!}

{Day 43- One of my favorite magazines ever. Thankful for the snow day so I can devour it}

{Day 44- Great Mail Day!}

{Day 45- Valentine's Day in Lilly}

{Day 46- Family Night at my grandparent's for Pawpaw's Birthday Day}

{Day 47- Manicure time :)}

{Day 48- Am I rushing spring? Maybe, but I couldn't wait any longer!}

{Day 49- Gorgeous afternoon...Reese and I throughly enjoyed it!}

{Day 50- Nothing like waiting until the last minute to create tomorrow's charts}

{Day 51- Finally broke down and bought a Mac Desktop...I'm in love!}

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Fun Formative Assessment Activity

Hi friends! We had a training during plan this morning where we did a fun little formative assessment activity at the end. I loved it so much that I decided to try it out at the end of today's lesson. All three of my reading classes absolutely LOVED it and were begging to "play" it tomorrow. Here's what we did.

We are deep into Tuck Everlasting and I swear you could hear a pin drop while we're reading. The kids are SO into the plot. We've mostly learned about the character of Winnie Foster, but today we were finally introduced to the Yellow Suit Man and Jesse. I want to make sure that my students have a concrete understanding of our main character so each day we have been reviewing everything we know so far and any new info that we've learned. We add to our character maps and charts and today, I used this new version of formative assessment to quickly see who still needed a little more help. 

We grabbed a piece of paper and wrote one fact about Winnie. I told the kids to stand behind their chair as soon as they finished writing their fact but they absolutely couldn't talk. 

When everyone finished writing their first fact, I told them to crumple the paper into a ball. They all looked at me like I was crazy. :) Then I set some ground rules that they absolutely had to follow or they wouldn't be able to participate (I'm proud to say not one person misbehaved during this!)
Ground Rules:
1) Do not throw the ball at someone
2) Do not run or dive for a ball of crumpled paper
3) Do not throw the crumpled paper where you cannot see it.
4) Keep your eye on where you throw yours so we don't lose any

On the count of three, we threw the balls of crumpled paper into the air.

Next, they had to find another ball of crumpled paper and then return to their seat. It could not be their own paper. Once they returned to their seat, they read the fact on the paper and shared with the class. As a class, we determined if the fact was correct or not. After a couple of people had shared, I told them to write another fact about Winnie that was different than the fact that was already on the paper. 
Then, it was the same process: Stand, throw, grab, read. This went on for five rounds. Each round was a little more difficult because you had to think of facts that hadn't already been included on the paper. 

As they are writing their facts, I'm walking around looking at their responses so I can monitor and clarify when needed. There are so many ways you can use this activity in your classroom. It's sure to be a hit! :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tuck Everlasting Day 2

"It's starting to get good!" 
I love overhearing this from my sweet students! And they're right...Tuck Everlasting is getting good! We are starting Chapter 4 tomorrow and we are continuing to do lots of activities that help our comprehension. 

We starting making Character Maps today with Winnie. Each day we'll create a new character map until we have done all the characters in the story. This helps us remember important facts that pertain to certain characters.

 We also added character characteristics to our chart. By the end of today's class, we completely understood the character of Winnie (so far anyways!)

We finished today's class by answering this questions, which leads into tomorrow's reading. :) 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Roll a Sentence: A Dental Health Activity

One of my most popular blog posts featured this little center activity:
I used this center all the time in first grade, and I sometimes created themed versions for different holidays. I'm currently trying to get these organized and uploaded onto my TpT store and I've just got the first one done: A dental health themed version! 

Sometimes you roll and it creates a sentence...

Other times it doesn't, so it provides a ton of practice for sentence making. 

Click the picture to snag a copy for your classroom! :)