I am joining in with other amazing teacher-authors at TpT for a little spring cleaning sale!
Click on the image below to hop over to my store and save 20% off EVERY resource through the end of March!
I am joining in with other amazing teacher-authors at TpT for a little spring cleaning sale!
Click on the image below to hop over to my store and save 20% off EVERY resource through the end of March!
April is National Poetry Month! I have a few tips for you that have worked so wonderfully over the years when introducing poetry to my classes.
Some students are natural writers and can jump write in when asked to write poetry.
Other students will stare at you like a lost puppy, suddenly develop a stomach ache, have to go to the bathroom, call their mom because they forgot their lunch, or just simply want to run and hide!
So, how can we get all our students writing poetry? How can we challenge those already eager writers while bringing those reluctant writers along?
Step One: I read, read, read a ton of poetry to the class. I let them spend several days just listening and enjoying some great poetry as readers. Sometimes we share our opinions, questions, and thoughts about the poems. Other times, I just read for pure enjoyment.
I make sure to have at least three overflowing bins of poetry collection books of all varieties. I usually get these from the school library and my own collection. Here are some of my favorite poetry collections:
Each day after I read, read, read, I put the bins of poetry books in the middle of the carpet. I then tell the kids to choose one book that interests them and begin reading those poems independently. I make sure to have enough poetry books so that there is at least one per student and they have lots to choose from!
We repeat this process of reading poetry for several days. There is no pressure to begin writing poetry yet, just enjoying what has already been written!
Step Two: To transition kids from reading poetry for enjoyment into beginning to think about poetry as a writer we move into step two. During this stage I continue reading great poetry to the class. But, during their independent work time I have students copy poems they really enjoy.
They simply choose a poem that stands out to them as something special and copy it exactly as it is written.
By doing this for a few days, there is still no pressure on kids to come up with writing their own poems. Here are some great benefits to this step:
1. Every student can be successful at copying a poem
2. Students are building a level of enjoyment for poetry
3. It is a great assessment to see what types of poems each student is really interested in
4. It builds a great sense of community as students share their favorite poems after they are copied
5. It introduces the ideas of line breaks, spacing, and font changes in poetry
Step Three: After students have copied several of their favorite poems, ask them to choose their absolute favorite. Choose a class favorite from all the poems you have read. On a large chart paper, write a poem similar to your favorite. Ask the class to help you write the poem, inviting them to share their ideas with the class.
After the class poem is finished, instruct students to do the same thing with their favorite poem. Tell them there are no wrong answers and that they can be as creative as they would like. That's what makes poetry so great!!
These three simple steps have saved my students from the pressures of having to instantly write poetry. They have also saved me a lot of headaches when trying to force students into writing poetry when they have no clue even where to begin!
I hope these tips will help you and your students during National Poetry Month!!
If you are interested in learning about the month-long common core poetry units of study I have created for both the reading and writing workshops, you can click on the links below.
Best wishes to you all!!
Well, hello again friends! Thanks for stopping by during the bright ideas blog hop!! There are so many fabulous ideas from my blogging friends, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet.
I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips for using picture books with older kids. I have taught grades 3-6 and found that students in all these grades enjoy listening to reading, even shorter texts the we may think only younger kids can enjoy!
I have found that shorter picture books, rich in meaning, can offer great reading and writing learning opportunities for older kids.
Before introducing the text to the class, read it over and decide on 3-5 teaching objectives you can focus on before, during, and after reading the text to the class.
Share your thinking that focuses on teaching objectives by stopping during reading and modeling what you are thinking.
Invite students to share their thinking before, during, and after reading by having them turn and talk with a partner about what they are thinking as they are listening to you reading. (This way, everyone has a chance to share their thinking, not just the one or two students that always raise their hands and answer for the class.)
LISTEN to students' thinking as they share with the class. Let their thinking direct your instruction. Take notes on the things they are noticing/thinking during reading. The things they are thinking about will lead you to create intentional future teaching that is highly engaging and appropriate.
|Do NOT be afraid to get those big kids on the carpet!! It's a great way to keep them focused and making time to talk with partners quick and easy!!|
*** Here are just a few of my favorites short texts to read aloud with older kids. Check out the list of teaching objectives that would be great to use to develop deep meaning.
1. Build a sense of classroom community by having each student share items they have slept with when they were younger. Or have them share something their brother, sister, cousin sleeps with.
2. Recognize rising and falling tension in a story.
3. Judge the main characters based on the things they do and say in a story.
4. Identify problems and solutions in stories.
5. Analyze how characters attempt, but fail, to solve problems.
6. Compare how the main characters are alike and different.
1. Form opinions about real people in biographies, using evidence from the text to support your opinions.
2. Consider how illustrations in a text add to the meaning of the words.
3. Identify the setting (time and place) and consider how the events would be different if the time in which the events occurred were different.
4. Infer the reasons behind the main characters' actions.
5. Identify the author's purpose and message
6. Consider different possible solutions to problems in a story.
As you can imagine, the list of teaching objectives from just these two books could go on and on!
So, the next time you see a picture book, don't think it is too easy for your students. And don't even worry if they have read it before. They are older now; they will look at the book with a new perspective. If you look closely and keep an open mind, you will likely find countless teaching opportunities!!
If not, just read it to the class and ask them what they are thinking. Their ideas will spark so many teaching opportunities you won't have enough time in the day to cover them all!
Next up on the blog hop is Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B. Elizabeth has a great post for
you all about getting all those task cards organized! Just click on the button below to check it out!
Alternatively, you can search by topic using the link-up below and move along to any
other blog on the blog hop!
Best wishes to all and happy teaching!!!
I am so excited to share with you that I spent my entire weekend putting together a bunch of free resources! Each one of these free resources includes one or two reading/writing lessons and printable assessments. They are all part of larger units available. You can click on the images within each free resource to see many more common core lessons and printable resources!
Also, Teachers Pay Teachers is celebrating a great milestone this week. They have reached 3 million subscribers!! Wow, it's hard to wrap my brain around how big that number is! That is 3 million teachers working together to create the very best classrooms possible for our students. Talk about one big group of phenomenal collaborators!!
So, this Thursday (2/27) and Friday (2/28) you can enjoy 28% off all the resources in my store and in many other stores on the site!!
Click on the image below to start filling up your wishlist and get ready for the big sale!
Hold on to your coffee with both hands because this post is gonna get a little intense, and possibly quirky, but that's just me!
I have been thinking a LOT about how my students learn best. I know they need to be actively involved in their learning, instead of sitting and listening to me talk at them all day long.
But, then I started thinking, it's probably NOT enough to know they need to be actively involved in their learning.
They need to be passionate about what it is they are learning. They NEED to care; to be motivated; to KNOW their learning matters. To know what they are learning will benefit not only themselves, but the world around them. They need to see the big picture in what they are spending their days learning and doing.
All kids are passionate, creative, unique individuals. They all have passion. Some just have different passions than others.
Take my own 12 year-old daughter Malaya, for example. She is just a bit dramatic (insert thick sarcasm on the word ‘just').
*** Sidenote: Now I know there are those certain subject areas that are a must to learn. They are part of our standards in school. And, no matter how hard we try to make it fun for everyone, it just isn't always that awesome for all.
What if we had some time carved out during the day where students could learn about something that they are really, really, really, really, really passionate about?
or better yet…
What if we didn't carve out time during the day to allow students to learn about what they were passionate about? What if we started integrating the passionate topics that matter to our students into our reading, writing, language, art, music, science, social studies classes every day?
How would they feel if teachers began taking into consideration the topics that mattered to them?
How much more engaged would they be? Passionate? Involved?
How much more learning would occur?
How much more impact would we have in the longitude of our students' lives?
What are they really thinking?
What are they really learning?
Do they understand what they are learning?
And, more importantly, do they understand why they are learning this?
How is this going to be a lasting life lesson that my students will value in their future?
Do I really know my students?
Do I know what excites them? What drives them? What matters to them?
I didn't really know my students. Sure I knew them. But I didn't really know them.
I didn't really know what excited them, or drove them, or mattered to them.
Because I was spending all my time getting through the textbook and keeping them quiet. Getting through the workbook and checking off completed assignments, so that I could say I taught everything by the end of the year. I couldn't really say for sure I motivated, or engaged, or excited my students. But, they sure did listen to me move through the daily lessons. They had a full workbook and graded tests and were very well behaved. They listened and followed traditional school rules.
Best wishes to all and happy teaching!!!
I wanted to let you all know that I have just completed a new month-long unit of study! This unit has been in the works for a loooooong time! I am so excited to have it completed.
To celebrate, I am offering this resource, for grades 2-6, at a special 20% off price through Friday, January 31.
***These units have the same mini lessons in each grade level. The only difference is that the grade level Common Core State Standards are attached to each unit.
Best wishes to all!!
In case you are unfamiliar with how I ended up traveling to Africa to train teachers, you can click on the image below to find out how this journey all began.
1. To empower teachers
2. To open teachers' minds to a different way of teaching that will promote active learning in all students. (To move from a traditional style of teaching to a more inquiry-based style)
* In Uganda, all teachers use a traditional style of teaching that involves mostly lecture and memorization. There is no real critical thinking involved and no real way for teachers to assess if students are really
* Many teachers believe: ‘it is my job to present the information, and it is the students' jobs to understand. Once I have taught the lesson (via lecture, memorizing definitions from a text, or restating facts) then my
work is done.'
* Teachers use this traditional approach because that is all they know. They were taught with the same
rote memorization approach, and were trained only in this style at their teacher colleges.
3. To show teachers the importance of making connections between what is known (backgrounnd knowledge) and new information (what is being taught).
4. To show teachers how language and the written word are the keys to all other learning.
* In Uganda, there are over 50 different mother tongue languages, but the national language is English. That means that every…single…student is learning English as a second language. They require, but are not currently receiving, a bilingual education curriculum. Everything is taught in English only.
* The new curriculum we are writing for Uganda will be bilingual. Students will learn in their mother tongue the first week. The second week, they will receive the same instruction in both their mother tongue and English. The third week they will receive very similar instruction, but in English only. In this way, students will be able to make connections across the two languages and connect their second language (English) to their mother tongue.
5. To learn just as much from the teachers (if not more) than I could ever teach them.
|Teachers are the bridge responsible for connecting what students already know to what they are expected to learn|
|Teachers trying out some inquiry lessons that they wrote together!|
|The drama was about a bus driver who lets all kinds of negative influences onto his bus while he keeps pushing Jesus to the back. It was such a great message!!|
I wanted to let you all know that I will be in Uganda from December 6- December 18. I will not be available to answer any questions during this time.
You may be asking yourself, so why in the world are you going to Africa!? Over the past few months, I have begun writing curriculum for the schools in Uganda and South Sudan.
None of this would even be possible if it were not for Teachers pay Teachers. Because of TpT, I was able to stay home this year and focus on my family. Little did I know at the time that God had bigger plans for me. I never dreamed I would be going to Africa!!
Teachers pay Teachers got the ball rolling. And here is how the rest of events happened that led me to the other side of the world…
1. My family moved from WI to AL this summer
2. Within the first month of being in AL our pastor announced to the church that we would be supporting a missionary couple in Uganda. He said that if anyone was an educational author, teacher, or knew publishers to contact the church. I felt like he was talking right to me!
3. I contacted the church and began talking with Lisa, the missionary in Uganda.
4. The mission of her and her husband was to create a curriculum for the children of Uganda and South Sudan.
5. After just a few weeks of communication, Lisa felt strongly that she should come to America and work on beginning to write the curriculum with me.
6. Lisa arrived in the United States at the beginning of October.
7. We have been working together almost daily since then. So far, we have created a framework for the curriculum and have written some early year lessons.
8. We began discussing the importance of training the teachers on the new curriculum. We knew that if the teachers were not on board, the education would never reach the millions of children we are trying to teach.
9. So, we decided I would travel to Uganda and host a week-long training session for teachers on the new curriculum. Most teachers in Uganda have the equivalent cognitive levels of a freshman in high school. So, the curriculum needs to be very scripted. They do not know how to comprehend text or think critically. These are of course major skills that will be included in the curriculum. So, in order for teachers to be able to teach reading comprehension and critical thinking, they need to learn it themselves.
10. The training will take place the week of December 6-13, with approximately 60 teachers present and some government officials.
1. It needs to be bilingual. English is the national language in both South Sudan and Uganda. But, in both countries there are over 50 different mother tongue languages spoken at home. So, kids come to school with no English.
2. It needs to be taught with little to no resources. In most schools, the only available resources are pencils
and thin paper. That's it. No crayons, markers, posters, math manipulatives, scissors, glue, etc, etc, etc. There is no ability to make copies or purchase workbooks.
3. Teachers with a 9th grade educational level need to be able to understand and effectively teach the lessons.
4. All the curriculum needs to maintain and African perspective. Our goal is not to ‘Americanize' the next generation of Ugandan children. We want to build a generation of critical thinkers, who value the written word, are able to reason, and can develop morals and beliefs that will positively affect every aspect of their lives.
Again, thank you all for your patience while I am out of the country. I will be sure to update you with pictures, video, and all the amazing adventures when I return to the United States.
Best wishes to you all!
Well, it's that time of year again for another BIG sale! This Monday AND Tuesday (December 2-3) you can enjoy 28% savings on everything in my store. Visit my store by clicking on the image below!
There are so many other amazing teachers having sales in their stores as well. Find some of their great work by hopping around this fun linky party! Click the image below to get started.
So guess what!? November 20th is my birthday and I am turning 30-something (NEVER ask a lady her real age). I wanted to offer 20% off everything in my store for one-day only.
|Click on the image to visit my TpT Store!|
To add to my birthday fun, I put together a birthday celebration you can share with your students. Help them remember that special day with this freebie!
|Click on the image to get this FREEBIE!|
I have teamed up with some other great bloggers to share some incredible books written by Julia Cook. You can check out all her books on her website by clicking here.
|Click on this image to link to other great blog posts about Julia Cook Books!|
What makes this book so special is the way Ms. Cook describes the physical way in which Louis feels right before he interrupts. Kids can easily relate to the feelings Louis has right before he blurts out his important words. We all feel like our words are important, and they are! But, just like Louis, we all need to learn the appropriate time to share our words.
Ms. Cook then describes a practical way to stop oneself from interrupting. Louis learns to bite down on his tongue and breath the words out through his nose. This keeps Louis from interrupting. He learns to wait until it is his turn to talk.
I have read this book in my classroom during the first few weeks of school for a few years. Even my fifth graders were engaged in the story! It is an excellent mentor text that helps set classroom expectations.
During the story, I stop and ask my students if they have ever been a Louis. I tell them, be honest! Almost everyone raises their hand!
I ask students to turn and talk with a neighbor about a time they have been a Louis. Then I ask a few of the students to share a few times they have been like Louis.
We talk about how all our words are important. I tell students that I really want to listen to everything they have to say. But, it is impossible to listen when more than one person is trying to talk to me at once.
And, sometimes we run out of time in class. Not everyone can share their very important words with the entire class.
We finish reading the story of Louis. We practice biting our tongues and breathing through our nose to keep from interrupting.
After reading, I ask students to sign an interrupting contract. Please enjoy this free resource by clicking the image below.
Another strategy I introduce to my students after reading is the idea of writing down their very important words. I set a stack of index cards next to a teacher mailbox. I let students know they can write me a message of their very important words any time we run out of class time. I will read their important words after school every day.
My students LOVE this! It makes them feel special just knowing that I really care about everything they have to say.
I hope you all enjoy this blog hop and get some great ideas for your classrooms! I would LOVE to hear how you are using some of Julia Cook's books as well. I welcome all your comments below.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. A group of great TpT friends have decided to gather together and share our thanks with teachers! We are offering giveaways on each of our blogs to express just a few of the things we are thankful for.
I am most thankful for TIME this year. Like so many, my days are filled up so fast that I have very little TIME to just enjoy some of the things I love. One of those things is reading. So I am looking forward to spending time reading! Here are three books I hope to read over the break: “Kisses from Katie,” “Gifted Hands,” and “Anything.”
To share in my thanks for TIME to read I am offering a $25 gift card to Amazon, and 4 fabulous guided reading resources worth $27.50!
Enter my giveaway now! Good luck friends!!
On top of our own giveaways, we are hosting a group giveaway and it is HUGE. Who doesn't LOVE gift cards!? Especially right before the holidays. So, we are offering 3 gift cards for $100 each!! They are for Amazon, TpT, and Target.
Enter the gift card giveaway now! Good luck friends!!!
Thank you all for stopping by. I wish you all a restful Thanksgiving break, where you can enjoy your TIME!
And, spend some time hopping over to these great blogs, where my friends are hosting some amazing giveaways of their own!!
I know it has been Fo-ever since I wrote on my blog. I have a bazillion (just feel like making up words tonight because I'm so excited) things to share and zero time to get them out in the world!
I'm keeping this post short and sweet. I wanted to let you all know that TpT just reached 100,000 followers on their facebook page…wowzaaa!! To celebrate they are offering 10% off at checkout to all buyers. I decided to throw a sale too so that you all can save an additional 20%!!! So stock up on those bundles and have fun shopping!
Click on the image below to visit my store to see EVERYTHING on sale through Monday, Oct. 14 at midnight (Hawaii time).
Writing is my
absolute favorite subject to teach because it is the time in the day when I
begin to understand my students the best.
Through their writing, I can see their experiences, beliefs, values, and
so on. It is a magical time when their
creative minds are at work! But, before
I can begin teaching writing, I have to ask myself what it is I want my
students to be able to do as writers when they leave my classroom.
Here are my best
answers to these questions:
do I Understand Writing to Be?
a difference with the written word.
valued with what we have to say.
do I Understand Writing NOT to be?
is not about everyone in the class writing about the same topic.
is not about simply responding to a prompt.
is not only about correcting poorly written sentences.
is not at all about trying to write with someone elses idea.
is not about learning how to follow directions.
is not just about learning about paragraphs, indenting, spacing, etc.
writer brings a unique set of experiences and beliefs to writing. A class of writers can not produce the same
response to a prompt.
is no right or wrong answer.
are reflective…they think about their personal experiences.
As you begin teaching
writing this year, ask yourself these 3 questions and make your own list! You may find that the third list makes a
great set of teaching objectives. After
all, we all want to teach our young writers to do their very best!
I’d LOVE to hear your
lists and thoughts! Send me a message
and tell me how you are planning to instill a sense of value and purpose in
your young writers!!
Best wishes to all the writers out there!!
It's BACK to SCHOOL which means TpT is throwing a MONSTEROUS SALE and ATUE is joining in!
We are guessing that many of you have been adding items to your wishlist (or the wishlist in your mind!) and this is THE time to stock up on all the resources that will make your teaching better and your planning easier. Whether you need something “extra” to spice up a unit or are ready to try something brand new–this is your chance to get amazing resources at an even more amazing price.
Make sure to stop by all of our stores and stock up on the amazing savings! UP TO 28% OFF in each of our stores!!
I am so excited to wrap up this amazing summer book study! There has been some great conversations regarding the ELA Common Core for grades 3-5. If you missed any, check out these other posts!
are consistently worded across grade levels, like a continuum.
W- (What I Want to Know)
W- (What I Still Wonder)
I have been getting a lot of questions about the units of study available in my Teachers pay Teachers store. I think it's great that you all are asking questions!! I love to help teachers in any way I can. So, I decided to create this post of FAQ's that I have received so that you all can have additional information in one spot. I will add to the list of questions as needed.
Q: I do not have the read-aloud picture books that you recommend for the lessons. Do I need to buy them?
A: Absolutely not! The picture books that I reference in all the lessons are merely suggestions of titles that go along nicely with the reading/writing strategy for that day. The lessons are focused on teaching students reading/writing strategies that they can apply to reading any text or writing in any genre. They are not lessons that teach to the content of a specific text; therefore, any text can be used to model the skills taught. Any read-aloud texts that you have in your classroom can work with these lessons. Some people like to have the exact titles, but it is NOT necessary. It is completely up to you if you would like to use the titles I suggest.
Q: What order do you recommend teaching the units?
A: The order in which you teach the units is completely up to you and how your school/district maps out the curriculum. I do suggest beginning the year with “Launching the Reading and Writing Workshops” (although this unit can be taught at any time; some teachers use it again after winter break). I teach the personal narrative unit next because I have found that students have an easier time writing about themselves than anything else. This unit is a great way to get all students involved in writing! After that I usually teach the informational unit so that I can introduce some nonfiction. Each year varies after the third unit. Again, it is totally up to you and what order works best.
Q: Are you making units for first and second grade?
A: Yes! I am planning to create units for first and second grade! These will take some time though. I do a heavy amount of research before I begin to develop each unit. I take creating these units very seriously as I want to develop the best lessons for the appropriate grade levels. I am hoping to have units for first and second grade by the end of 2013!
Q: Are these units based on Lucy Calkins Units of Study (I get this question all the time!)?
A: I have heard of Lucy Calkins and think she is doing some amazing things with writing! But, I have not studied or taught with any of her units. I have been trained at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA with Irene Fountas and her colleagues as a Literacy Collaborative Coordinator. I believe that many of the ideas from Irene and Lucy are similar and align with best practices in the area of literacy instruction.
Q: Are the lessons the same from grades 3-6 in your units?
A: Yes, the lessons are the same in my units from grades 3-6. The only difference between the grade level units is the Common Core Standards that are attached. Teachers always have the opportunity to change some vocabulary in the mini lesson statements so that their students can understand each lesson. Every classroom is filled with unique students that only that teacher knows best. I would expect the language in the statements to change slightly based on student needs. I have taught these units in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. They are appropriate for each level. Of course I have found with the older students that I can go deeper with them. I can challenge their thinking a little more, which makes the lessons fun and new each year!
Q: Will your units for grades 1-2 have the same lessons as the 3-6 units?
A: The units will likely be the same genres, but the lessons will be much different. The vocabulary, expectations, and activities will change to fit the needs of first and second graders. I fully understand how different primary is from intermediate and I want the units to reflect the needs of primary. This is another reason why these units will take a while before they are published.
Q: Can you create SMART Board lessons for these units?
A: I would LOVE to be able to create SMART Board lessons for the units. However, I do not have that software.
Question #8 (Added August 16, 2013)
Q: Based on the reader's/writer's notebook dividers in your units, how many pages
do you recommend having in each section?
A: This is what I would recommend for Reader's Notebook:
*About 10 pages for the ‘reading log' section
*Split ‘mini lessons' and ‘reading responses' in half
This is what I would recommend for the Writer's Notebook:
*The first half for ‘gathering seeds'
*Split the second half with ‘mini lessons' and ‘word work'
I hope this post has helped answer all your questions about my units of study!
***Please add any additional questions you have in the comments section. I am here to help 🙂
It has been so long since I have been able to blog and create educational resources that even I am asking myself, Where have I been!?!?!?
Well, let me give you a few hints…
Yesterday was the last day of school for me and my fifth graders. We went out in style with a dance party/yearbook signing/pizza party! The kids LOVED dancing to songs on youtube from Just Dance 4. These are all FREE videos that you can show in your own classroom too. They are also really fun to do throughout the year as brain breaks!
Here are just a few of the videos we danced to yesterday…
It’s that time again…for another BIG Teachers Pay Teachers
site-wide sale! I am so excited to let
you all know that you will be able to save 28%
off ALL my resources (and many other amazing sellers as well) from May 7-8. All the people at Teachers Pay Teachers want
to celebrate and say thank you for the wonderful work we all do for our
students across the world!! Don't forget to add the code at checkout to get the most savings!
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