Sunday, March 30, 2014

Student Accountability for Small Groups and Book Clubs

One of my ongoing goals is to help students keep track of their participation in small reading groups and book clubs.  It helps give some of the ownership to them and takes away the need for me to constantly remind them of their responsibilities.

I have used the Small Group Points Sheet for several years with great success.  It works much like a rubric, allowing me to clearly state my expectations ahead of time. It also provides a sort of checklist for the student.

 

You could print one for each student or use it to keep track of an entire group's progress. I print it double-sided and collect points until both sides have been filled. Since I see my small groups at least every other day, it usually takes about two weeks to fill. I then tally up the points for each student and calculate their participation grade. 

This Small Group Points Sheet is editable, so you can change the categories to suit your needs. The example below is geared towards small reading groups and book clubs. You can pick up a copy by clicking here

Do you have a system for small group accountability?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Author Study/Genre of the Month: Jacqueline Woodson

In the past couple of years, I have started to do a "genre of the month" during reading class.  This is loosely based off of The Book Whisperer.  By the way, it is a fantastic and quick read that you won't regret buying.  I highly recommend it!

February's author is Jacqueline WoodsonThe genre of the month is Poetry.  I thought it was a good genre, considering April is National Poetry Month.

As with the other months, I put out a bunch of his books to be displayed for the entire month and I choose one to read aloud. Woodson doesn't often using the traditional rhyming patterns, but she does use rhythm in her books.  It mimics a conversation or monologue, especially in Locomotion, which I read aloud.  I love discussing how this is still a form of poetry, even though it doesn't sound like what we're used to thinking of when we think of poetry (heavy rhyming).


Some other greats:
The Other Side
Show Way
Peace, Locomotion

I also have websites available for students to research Woodson  and find more books that they want to add to their "To Read" lists.  Harper Collins Publishers has this website called the Author Tracker and Reading Rockets has many more authors on this site.
 
Do you have a genre of the month or an author study?  I'd love to hear what you do with yours!


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hiatus for the Arrival of My Bundle of Joy

I am writing this in advance of the birth of my baby boy in February.  I love sharing my teaching experiences through this blog, but I have a feeling I may not have time for it once the baby is here.

So...I'm apologizing in advance for either my absence of or sporadic blogging until this fall (maybe a bit later).

In short, I love all of you that read my blog.  So keep checking back. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Virginia Studies Foldable of the Week: Roles of Virginians During the American Revolution

I just love foldables.  It's kind of like getting to do a craft or art project while still learning the core information.  The students love them, too.  So I try to use them as often as time will allow.

The one that I'm excited about this week was created by Susie Orr for Fairfax County Schools.  It's on a website I've mentioned in a previous post:  STAR (Suffolk Teaching Activities & Resources).  It covers the VS.5 SOL about roles of Virginians during the Revolutionary War.

Here's the first page of the foldable:


There's a total of 3 pages, but when cut out and made with flaps, it ends up being two in the students' notebooks.  You can browse the site or go directly to the foldable by clicking here.


Other websites that give you great foldables and activities:
VA Studies-Cool Stuff: The activities are organized by tabs at the top of the screen that include the VS SOL numbers. 

United States History: This one's more for 5th Grade U.S. History, but I like seeing what students will have to know next year and how it connects to what I'm teaching.

History on Tap:  Includes numerous review activities, including refrigerator magnets.

How about you?  Do you use foldables in social studies?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Author Study/Genre of the Month: Kate DiCamillo

In the past couple of years, I have started to do a "genre of the month" during reading class.  This is loosely based off of The Book Whisperer.  By the way, it is a fantastic and quick read that you won't regret buying.  I highly recommend it!

February's author is Kate DiCamilloThe genre of the month is Fantasy, and DiCamillo nails it with the vivid mental pictures she creates. 

As with the other months, I put out a bunch of his books to be displayed for the entire month and I choose one to read aloud.  For DiCamillo, I like to read aloud The Tale of Despereaux.  I just love a good underdog story, especially when the underdog is unshakably upbeat no matter when negativity is thrown at him!  This is also another book that has a super cute movie in case you want to do a little comparing and contrasting between the book and the movie.


I really love this author!  Some of my other favs:
Because of Winn-Dixie
Any of the Mercy Watson series
The Tiger Rising

I also have websites available for students to research Kate DiCamillo  and find more books that they want to add to their "To Read" lists.  Harper Collins Publishers has this website called the Author Tracker and Reading Rockets has many more authors on this site.
 
Do you have a genre of the month or an author study?  I'd love to hear what you do with yours!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winter Haikus

I love haikus.  They're one of my most favorite forms of poetry.  They're also like a shot in the arm for our waning excitement for writing during those dreary days of winter.  Thus, the winter haiku idea was born.  Write a haiku with a winter theme, attach it to a snowflake on a piece of construction paper.  What could be easier or more fun?

Another thing I love is making paper snowflakes.  Except, I don't like having to explain how to cut a rectangular piece of paper into a circle over and over again.  Enter the coffee filter snowflake.



There's even a YouTube video with a stinking cute boy named Ethan making them step-by-step:



I'm loving the way the haikus and snowflakes are turning out so far in the classroom!  I'll have to share more when I have the finished products.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Where do You Gather Your Educational Videos?

YouTube is great ...  most of the time.  It sometimes makes crazy recommendations after we're done watching the video that I don't want my students to see or comment on.  So, what alternatives are there?

One of my most favorite (and FREE) websites is WatchKnowLearn.   



Why do I love it?  Let me count the ways:
  1. It gathers videos from TeacherTube, YouTube (yes, I still use it), and a host of other websites so you don't have to go looking at all of them at once.
  2. You can change the age filter so it only searches for age-appropriate material for your students.
  3. Teachers can even directly upload the videos they've personally created. 

In short, it's a lifesaver for me.

How about you?  What website do you rely on for quality educational videos?