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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Timeline of Scientific Discoveries of the Solar System

In Virginia, we learn about how our understanding of the Solar System has changed immensely over the years.  We also focus on the scientists that made the discoveries that made those changes possible.

In this activity, students cut and glue the pictures and descriptions of the discoveries of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Galileo in order to create a timeline. This is great for interactive notebooks!  You can pick up your copy at my TpT store by clicking here

Do you do any similar activities?  Do you use interactive notebooks in science?  I'd love to hear more!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Santa Research

I read the "Yes, Virginia" letter to them on this website. We talk about how she's much like them and has many questions about Santa.  Fourth graders are at an age where they are either questioning Santa's existence or they've already decided he doesn't exist.  Either way, this is an excellent time to approach Santa scientifically.  I've actually had kids change their mind and become believers because of this!

We then watch the short "Yes, Virginia" movie.

I start out by reading Santa Who? by Gail Gibbons.  This book is great for talking about where Santa actually came from and the different cultures and countries that celebrate his existence.

We then use the following websites to research his culture and origin of all his different names.
This website goes into detail about the culture of each country.
This is a blog that lists Santa's different names.

We then write a letter to a newspaper editor (can be real or imaginary).  This is an excellent opportunity for me to talk about the difference between friendly and business letters.

So, I have incorporated research, technology, multiculturalism and letters.  What do you do for the holidays that is fun, yet educational?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winter Creative Writing Unit

Anytime I can get the kids writing and enjoying it, I feel a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.  I have found that kids really like writing about food, especially if I ask them to use their five senses to do so.  This is the third year I've used this writing unit, and it's been a hit each time.

This PowerPoint guides students to fill in an organizer with sensory details in a bakery setting and the foods within. Suggested mentor texts are included in the rest of the PowerPoint so that students can collect good sensory words as they listen.

You can pick up a free copy at my TpT store by clicking here.

Do you use food to motivate students to write?  I'd love to hear how.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Personification Writing

I had about a week before Thanksgiving break, and I didn't want to get into anything too involved.  So, I designed this short writing assignment to review figurative language (personification) and help students write a step-by-step narrative.  Since everyone loves food, I thought I'd capitalize on that.

This customizable PowerPoint has students writing about a chosen food's journey from farm to table at Thanksgiving. It includes an organizer that asks students to draw the steps before writing about them. It also includes an optional activity in which students will create a "Missing" poster for the food that was consumed.

You can get your free copy by clicking here.

Do you do anything special for your writing assignments during this time of year?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Great Fiction Read-Aloud to Talk About Primary Documents

I recently read a great historical fiction book that would work well as a read-aloud.


One minute, middle-schoolers Hannah, Jackie, and Nick are exploring an old cave, and the next they find themselves whisked through time to Texas, circa 1840. In this sixth book of the “Journey to” series, the teens find themselves in the middle of a war between the Comanche Indians and Texas Rangers. Hannah and Jackie are captured by the Comanche, who treat them as enemies. There only hope is to use Hannah’s magic ring that allows her to speak and understand the language of anyone she meets and convince the Comanche that she has powerful “puha”, or magic. Nick finds himself on the other side of the war, befriended by William “Bigfoot” Wallace, one of Texas’s most famous rangers. Will they find each other before someone gets seriously hurt? Will they ever make it back to their own time? It’s going to take a miracle! Teachers will find the historical facts tucked into the book useful to explore primary sources such as paintings, engravings, and maps of the Battle of Plum Creek. The book also begins with a mini biographical section on the major historical characters and a timeline of the events that occurred during this battle.  

I love it when a read-aloud ties in with other subjects!  How about you?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jamestown Charters Cloze Activity

My students were having a hard time understanding what the charters that established the colony of Jamestown meant.  We read about them, we discussed them, and... still couldn't explain them in our own words.  Then I remembered an activity I had tried a few years ago. 

The complete document has the three charters written by King James I for the Virginia Company of London.  One set has blanks for students to fill in, and the second set has the answers filled in.  I use the second set not only as an answer key, but also to differentiate for students that are unable to copy notes from the board.  If you teach Virginia Studies or World History, these will really help students remember the details of these historical documents that were the basis for the establishment of Jamestown.

You can pick up a FREE copy at my TpT store by clicking here.

Do you teach Virginia Studies or World History?  How about the charters?  What do you use for this?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Teaching Character Education with Read-Alouds

I am continuing my morning meeting time.  This is our chance to start the day off thinking about a positive character trait or by solving problems we've been having as a class. 

I often have students answer a journal prompt related to a good trait I want them to focus on, or have them brainstorm solutions to a problem we're having.  I them read a mentor text aloud that demonstrates the trait or solutions to the problem.  This is great for several reasons:
  1. It gives them time to think critically and encourages problem solving
  2. I can reinforce the writing curriculum by talking about answering prompts correctly and reminding students about proper capitalization, punctuation, and indentation.  Bonus:  I occasionally take this as a writing grade :)
  3. Some students aren't willing to share their problems or solutions as a class, but I can read their responses aloud without anyone knowing who wrote the response.  This validates their point of view and builds confidence.
  4. The mentor texts are a great tie-in to reading
  5. You are never too old to be read to.  This kids love it!

Here are some of my favorite mentor texts I've read so far this year:
I did this early in the year to reinforce the "personal bubble" that everyone needs.  We practice with a piece of newspaper.  We "newspaper dance" and spread our arms to show the right amount of space for classroom activities.
We talk about how upsetting this is and how we can deal with people that act like this.
This is also one I read early.  We make a t-chart with "Tattling" on one side and "Emergency" on the other.  I introduce them to the "Tattling Turtle" after reading the book.  This is a poster where students can write a "tattle" on a sticky note and attach it to the poster.  I can then check the note later when I have time to respond to it and open a dialog with the student about the next steps.
Are there any other good mentor texts you use to teach good character traits? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Teaching Algebraic Equations with Concrete Materials

My students had trouble understanding exactly what they were doing when they were solving equations.  Sure they could figure out the value of the missing number, but could they explain WHY? No.  So we did a simple, yet extremely effective, activity that really helped.


Do you use any other concrete materials to help students understand algebra?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Great Fiction Read-Alouds

Amanda at The Teaching Thief blog has this great feature called Fiction Fridays.  It's a linky that allows teachers to share their favorite fiction books.  The last installment of this was in August, but I have a feeling she'll have another before too long :)

In any case, I have had the chance to do reviews on some neat fiction books lately.  I have read a few books with a journal theme.  Here are a couple of my latest favorites:

As a paleozoologist, Dr. Wiggins traveled the globe looking for the remains of plants and animals that became extinct centuries ago. During his transatlantic journey, Dr. Wiggins discovered some alarming patterns: Each species has a part in their own demise.  What began as a research project ultimately turned into a cautionary tale. For example, the Amazonian Whispering Vince, which perished because it was too busy listening to the sound of its own voice that it didn’t fight off its attackers. There were also the Goldeaters in the Valley of Mexico, whose greed led to their downfall, or the Dreaded Gossip Peacocks of the Bayou. Will humans be the next to wipe themselves out, or will they learn from the doctor’s findings? 
Fans of the “Spiderwick” series will enjoy the similarities between the diagramed pictures of the ancient plants and animals in the journals, which are similar to the images in the “Spiderwick” series. Reluctant readers will rejoice at the frequent maps and pictures that accompany the test every few pages and the footnotes that often define difficult or obscure vocabulary in the text.
In this installment of the “Seven the Series” books, Adam’s grandfather’s will specifies that in order to receive what was left to the family, each of his seven grandsons must go on a separate journey and complete a task. Adam learns that he must go to France to claim his inheritance. After being thought of as the wimp of the family, Adam sees this as his chance to prove himself worthy of having his name on the McLean family tree.
The book is a quick and interesting read, with letters from Adam’s grandfather giving insight into the reasons behind the tasks Adam must undertake. Larger font and short chapters will also appeal to reluctant readers. While the vocabulary is appropriate for elementary-aged children, there is some mild adult language in the book, which may not be appropriate for younger readers.
Have you read any good fiction books with a journal theme?  How about good fiction read-alouds?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Electricity, Magnetism, and Inventors, Oh, My!

We've been researching the contributions of Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday, and Thomas Edison to electricity.  We started with some books and print articles.

  • Now & Ben: the modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Baretta (also a short video)
  • Michael Faraday: apprentice to science by Sam and Beryl Epstein
  • Thomas Edison by Paul Joseph
  • Thomas Edison: a brilliant inventor by Time for Kids
  • Thomas Edison: a photo-illustrated biography by Greg Linder
  • I had to supplement the book on Michael Faraday with several kid friendly articles because the book isn't exactly an easy read.

The goal is to find the following information and turn it into a newspaper article:

            Inventor Name

            Contribution to Electricity

            3 Interesting Facts About Their Life

            Illustration of Contribution and/or Inventor
After students get all the information they can from the books, students go to the computer lab to further research using websites.  The ones we use are:
Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday
Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin

Once the draft is written on notebook paper, students input information into a newspaper generator template.
What alternatives to the basic research report do you use?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I've already taught the majority of what I plan to teach for figurative language through my poetry unit.  This year, I plan to do things a little differently.  I plan to read "reminder" mentor texts and then have students write a paragraph using the figurative language concept from the mentor text. 

For example, I plan to read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day to reiterate hyperbole.
Students will then write a paragraph (4-5 sentences) about a bad day they've had, but over exaggerate it until it becomes hyperbole.  I have a "cheat sheet" with examples they may use, but they must write it on their own.  I want to see if they can:
A) Answer a prompt 
B) Complete a thought in paragraph form 
C) Apply the figurative language concepts I've taught them

Some other examples I plan to use:
Do you have any great mentor texts for teaching figurative language?  How do you use them?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Teaching Nonfiction Text Features

Normally, I wait until later in the year to teach identifying nonfiction text features.  This year may require me to teach it early and and often throughout the year.

So I decided to compile all the best resources I've found to date in one PowerPoint.  Most of the slides in this PowerPoint are customizable, with the exception of the task cards at the end. It includes the following:
~Teaching how to find "cloudy" and "don't know" words
~Using fix-up strategies to figure out "cloudy" and "don't know" words
~A nonfiction text feature scavenger hunt
~Newspaper/Magazine Center task cards

You can pick up a free copy at my TpT store by clicking here.

What do you use to teach nonfiction text features?  Do you teach them in other subjects besides reading?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Helping Students Retain Math Concepts

In fourth grade, we start introducing some brand new math ideas and ask students to start using the information they previously learned in advanced ways.  For many students, this is stressful and they experience "brain dump."  Essentially, brain dump is where you "learn" something long enough to take the test and then dump the information from your brain for good.

So how do I help them retain the information?  A "Problem of the Day."  I'm working on the problems they will be required to complete after the first couple of months.  I want it to directly relate to what they've already learned, but also what they will be learning.

This is a PowerPoint presentation.  I print the slides and either laminate them or put them in page protectors.  Then I can use a dry erase markers to change the information.  I have students complete one or two of the activities each day as a warm up before math and then we discuss.  You can pick up a FREE copy at my TpT store by clicking here.

Do you use a review activity before each math lesson?  How do you get your students to practice and retain previously taught information?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Celebrating Grandparent's Day

Grandparent's Day is on September 9th this year.  Our school always celebrates this special occasion by inviting our grandparents and caretakers to join us in our classrooms.  My class has been hard at work on poems to let our loved ones know how we feel about them.

I start out by reading some mentor texts aloud to the class that demonstrate how other kids describe their grandparent's and the experiences they share.  One that I read this year was Grandmama's Joy by Eloise Greenfield.

This one is a little sad at points in the story because it's about a little girl who is trying to cheer her grandma up because they are losing their house.  She also lost her parents in a car wreck, so it might not be best for little guys and girls.  It does speak to many of my students who live with their grandparents for various reasons.  I share how I was mostly raised by my grandparents.

Another book I think I'll check out next year is Grandmother’s Book of Promises by Karen Hill.

After reading the mentor texts, students interview their grandparents and use that information to write a poem in their honor.  On Grandparent's Day, the students eat lunch with their grandparents and then read their poem to them.  It's really sweet.

You can pick  up a FREE copy of my unit lessons at my TpT store by clicking here.

Do you celebrate Grandparent's Day at your school?  If so, what mentor texts do you use?  What activities do you do with the grandparents?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lunch and Attendance at the Same Time

I just finished my first week back at school.  I don't know how, but mornings just got more hectic than they ever have been.  One of the ways I manage it is with a form that doubles as attendance and lunch count.

This is an editable form that I use for taking attendance at the same time as the student is making their lunch choice.  I assign a student the job of "lunch count", and they return the form to me when everyone has checked in.  I put it in a page protector and use a dry erase marker to mark the lunch choice.  I circle the names of students who are tardy or absent.  When I'm done for the day, I simply erase and it's ready to use again the next day.

You can get a FREE copy of it at my Teachers pay Teachers store.

Do you have anything that makes your hectic mornings go more smoothly? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Two-Voice Poetry

What is two-voice poetry?  Well, it's poetry that written from two different points of view.  It's read aloud by two different people, each representing one of the points of view.  I ran across this idea recently when I was cleaning out my student teaching files.  Sad, right?

I want to incorporate more poetry into my writing station this year.  Then I found this baby.  As they say on The Big Bang Theory, "Bazinga!"

This is a customizable PowerPoint that can be used at a poetry station or to help the whole class write a two-voice poem. It includes:
  • Instructions
  • Suggested Topics
  • Examples

You can pick up a free copy of this activity at my TpT store.

Do you use literacy stations?  How about a poetry station?  I'd love to hear your examples!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

DIY: Teacher's Toolbox

I admit, I put off doing this because it looked like it would take a lot of time and effort to make.  Then, I saw Layla's post at Fancy Free in Fourth.

This is a woman after my own heart.  Hello, polka dots!

First step, buy the toolbox from Lowe's for about $20.

Next, print out the cute labels.  Thank you, Layla for the freebie!

Attach the labels to cute scrapbook paper to make them stand out.  I think I've settled on this color scheme, but I have to wait until the tool box arrives.

I'm going to laminate mine so I don't have to do this for a good long while!

Have you given in to the siren song of the Teacher's Toolbox?  I'd love to know how yours turned out!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

DIY: Book Boxes as Organizers for Teacher Materials

I was inspired by Jodi at Clutter-Free Classroom to get my teacher materials in order.  She did a really helpful post on how to make cheap, quick, and yet incredibly cute labels that go on cardboard book boxes.

Aren't they great?

First, I ordered book boxes from Really Good Stuff.  I've heard that some people get these for cheaper from Ikea, but I'm not that lucky.

Next, I used scrapbook scissors to cut decorative paper to size.  I used decorative scissors because they are more forgiving with someone with me.  Why?  Because I can't cut a straight line to save my life!

I then stapled the two papers on to the box. 

In case you couldn't guess, there HAS to be polka dots!

Then I used a stencil set to trace the gift tags and letters, cut out the tags, and attached them with a dot of hot glue.  This took awhile.

I chose to use stencils because the placement of the letters was too hard to do on the computer to fit the shape of the tags.  Plus, I love to scrapbook, and this was a good excuse.

Are there any DIY projects that you've tackled lately?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Things I Wish I Knew When I Was New to Teaching

Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6 is having a link-up for teachers to share their advice to new teachers.  She has some of the most wonderful advice in this post!

 Now, I am no veteran teacher (I'm only going into my fourth year), but I do remember how tough it can be.  So I feel like I still have some valuable information from that perspective.

  1. Use fabric for your bulletin boards and leave it up at the end of the year.  I've heard that some people use twin bed sheets, but you need to iron it before putting it up.  I bought 4 yards of fabric, tacked it up to make sure it was even, and then stapled it down.  It still looks fabulous a year later.
  2. Surround yourself with positive people, even if they are in another grade level.  Sit near them at staff meetings, lunch, and pep rallies.  Don't be afraid to politely excuse yourself if conversations become negative and you're not required to be there.
  3. Make 5 extra copies of class worksheets.  Someone will always lose one, and five is enough to cover that.
  4. Recycle those extra copies once you're done with them.  They usually end up as clutter if you don't.  Keep one copy for next year if you don't have a digital copy.  On that note...
  5. Try to make everything digital.  Then you won't have to worry about making extra copies because you can just print one out when you need one.      
  6. Force yourself to take a break.  You need at least one or two days a week on which you do nothing related to school after you leave school.  On those days, you need to leave at a reasonable time, too.  This might seem counter-productive, but your body and mind need a break to work at full capacity.  When you're tired and stressed, it will take you twice as long to get things done.
Now it's your turn to help pass on the good advice.  What do you wish you knew your first year?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Virginia Blogger Get-Together

Calling all Virginia bloggers!

Head over to Mrs. Stamp's Kindergarten to let Karen know you'd like to join us. 

Andrea from One Teacher's Take and I will be going.  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

School To-Do List Linky Party

Lorraine at Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies is hosting a linky party for all of us to share the loooong to-do lists we have for the beginning of the school year.

First, let me say that my list is much longer than most of the others that I've seen on the linky.  That probably means I'm stressing too much and my type A side needs to chill.  So there's benefit number one:  a perspective on how I can let some things go and just breath.

In that spirit, here is the must-do part of my to-do list.

To Do:

__ Work on/adapt Daily 5 PowerPoint
__ Correct/reprint first newsletter
__ Get cds/tapes for listening center
__ Update jobs bulletin board. 
__ Fill in lunch count/study hall/caught being good forms with new student names and reprint
__ Get behavior management system ready
__ Go over/set up bulletin board themes & posters
__ Write student names on Popsicle sticks
__ Write student names on birthday months
__ Make copies of “Room Parent Information” for meet the teacher night and back to school night
__ Class copies of math division/multiplication fact tests
__ Put math/SS textbooks, manila folders (incomplete folder), socks/markers, pencils, whiteboards on desks.
__ Put science/reading/grammar/reference books & book boxes on group shelves.  Fluency phones go in book boxes.
__ Back to school/welcome poster for door
__ Update School Center website/homework calendar
__ Write homework on agenda on the board.
__ Make copies of reading log.
__ Print several copies of “Buddy Reading Planning Sheet”. 
__ Plan/Print “First Week’s/Month’s Lesson Plans”
__ Set up “Miss Welsh’s Hot Reads” book display rack. 
__ Reserve dvds/materials from lesson plans
__ Set up plants in window.
__ Make several copies of “Buddy Book Sign Out Sheet” and place in basket at reading center.
__ Copy/laminate/tape to desk: “Test-Taking Checklist”
__ Put welcome gift (pencils) on desks
___ write in important dates in monthly lesson plans
___ make name tags for students
___ write morning message first day of school
___ hook up all computers
___ revise substitute folder (include new schedule, class roster, allergies of students, emergency plans)
___ confirm specials times with teachers
___ order reading/math/social studies books/workbooks for new students
___ review/revise the morning meeting PowerPoint
___ Go through student files to see special needs/behavior issues
___ stuff home folders with forms for the first day of school

Wow!  Still REALLY long, huh?   Do you do anything like this?  Is your "list" much shorter?  I'd love to know how much more I can probably cut out!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Teaching Figurative Language Through Poetry

One of my favorite writing units comes at the beginning of the year for me.  How lucky am I?  Actually, I make it that way so I'm kind of creating my own luck ;)

I love poetry, music, and figurative language.  When you put all those together, what do you get?  MUSIC!

I created an activity that involves looking at song lyrics to find figurative language.  It focuses on hyperbole, similes, metaphors, and personifications.  You can check it out by clicking here.

Do you explicitly teach figurative language using poetry or music?  I'd love to know how.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Daily 5 Chapter 5: Read to Someone and Listen to Reading

My post on Daily 5 Chapter 5: Read to Someone and Listen to Reading is up on We Read, We Blog, We Teach

Come read my tips and add your own suggetions.  All comments and suggestions are welcome and appreciated!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lovely Blog Award

I have been given an award by the wonderfully creative Bayyinah, AKA: the Queen Bee, at On the Road to Accomplished Teaching.  Don't you just love her name? :) I am honored to be named as one of her 15 choices for this award because her list contains some truly accomplished bloggers.  Thank you, Queen Bee!

There are a few rules that go along with this award:

1. Follow the person who gave you the award
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award

3. Pass the award on to 15 bloggers

4. Highlight your favorite awarder’s blog post to share with others!

Now I get to name some of the bloggers that bring loveliness to my days.  I need to shorten the list to 5 because many of the blogs I follow (understandably so) have already been awarded with this.

Rachel at Sub Hub
Anna at Smarty Pants Teaching Resources
Sara at Smiling in Second Grade
at Jasztalville
Jordon at Life is Better Messy Anyway

I follow so many creative bloggers that inspire me to be better each day.  Come check out these wonderful blogs!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award!

I want to thank Jackie at Third Grade's A Charm for giving me this award! 

How sweet it is to be chosen out of the big bloggy community for this!  I am extremely honored.

There are 7 rules you're supposed to follow when you get this award:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.  Done!  Shouldn't that always be first?

2. Include a link to their site. Done!  Only seems natural :)

3. Include the award image in your post. Yep.
And now.....

4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
  • I'm double-jointed.  Makes yoga harder, if you can imagine that.
  • My cat has been missing for two days, and I'm in a tizzy about it. :(
  • I like the sand part of the beach, but not the water as much.
  • On the other hand, I like the water in a lake, but not the shore as much.
  • I love to cook.
  • I strongly dislike doing dishes.
  • I hated math as a student, but love teaching it now :)
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.  The tough part because there are so many good ones!
  1. Kayla at Fourth Grade Freebies from the High-Tech Teacher
  2. Mary at Artistry of Education
  3. Kristin at iTeach 1 to 1
  4. Sandy at Fearless in 5th
  5. Josh at Mr. B's Beach Brains
  6. Suzanne at Krazy Town
  7. Mrs. Wilson at Mrs. Wilson's 4th Graders Are on the Road to Success
  8. April at Wolfelicious
  9. Mary at Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives
  10. Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade
  11. Leslie at Engaging Learning in the Upper Grades
  12. Jessica at Mrs. Stanford's Class
  13. Jana at Thinking Out Loud
  14. Heather at Heather's Heart
  15. Britney at Mrs. V's Adventures in Teaching
6. When nominating, include a link to their site. Done!

7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.  Will do!
Today is a good day!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Upper Grades Daily 5 & CAFE Book Study

Calling all upper-grades teachers (that means you, third- through middle school teachers)!  The Daily 5 & CAFE Book Study blog is officially up and running as of today!  Click on the link and join us!

I am just getting into Daily 5 & CAFE for my reading and writing blocks, but I'm super excited about it!  In my humble opinion, the books are written more with a primary classroom in mind, but I also feel like they are easily adapted to suit the needs of upper grades teachers.  Thus, the upper-grades book study!

You can stop by just to pick up suggestions, or you can leave your own experiences in the comment lines.  All suggestions are appreciated and welcome!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Read Alouds that Compliment Curriculum

Amanda is hosting a "Fiction Friday Link-Up" at her very cool blog: The Teaching Thief.  This is a great opportunity to share some of the fiction books we all love to use because, let's be honest, no one can tolerate ONLY nonfiction books all the time!

I chose to stick to Virginia Studies and Science for my read-aloud books this time.  I could do an entire post on nothing but Language Arts books, but I'll save that for another day ;)

Historical Fiction

A Friendship For Today by McKissack, Patricia
This is a chapter book about integration in the 1950s and a friendship between two girls that overcomes prejudice.

A Good Night For Freedom by Morrow, Barbara Olenyik
This is a picture book about a family of Quakers that house runaway slaves and describes the resulting danger in which they find themselves.

Freedom On The Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Weatherford, Carole B.
This is a picture book about the integration/desegregation period and passive resistance. 

Sounder by William H. Armstrong
This is a chapter book about a sharecropping family that is torn apart when the father is imprisoned for stealing food.



The Great Kapok Tree by Cherry, Lynne
Not only is this great for discussing ecosystems (rainforest in this case), but it also has a great tie-in to writing.  The animals are trying to convince the human not to cut down their home.  I use this to discuss persuasive language and which styles/phrases are most effective and human impact on ecosystems.

What fiction books do you use for read-aloud?  Come join the link-up and share your favorites!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Music for Learning and Bonding Link-Up

I know I already posted about this, but Amanda at Teaching Madness is having a music Link-Up.

I have always been a big fan of using music to set the mood in the classroom. This past year, I really started exploring using it as more than just "background music."  Here's some of the songs I love and the ways I use them.

To signal that it's time to transition or clean up.  Usually, these are upbeat songs with heavy rhythms.  They dance their way to their seat or the next station until the music stops.  These are just some of my/their favorites.
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Time by Kidz Bop
  • Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Pokerface Hits
  • I Like to Move It by Madagascar Team Players
  • Born This Way (Lady Gaga Karaoke Tribute Instrumental Version)
  • Celebration by Kool & the Gang
  • Rockin' Robin by Bobby Day
  • Mambo No. 5 by (Karaoke Instrumental Track) in the style of Lou Bega
  • Whip It (Karaoke Instrumental Track) in the style of Devo
To reinforce math concepts
  • Lemonade Stand (Liquid Measurement) by Teacher and the Rockbots
  • You Can Multiply by Twelve by Teacher and teh Rockbots
  • Long Division by Karl Roemer
  • Nonagon by They Might Be Giants
 To reinforce science concepts.
  • Things in Space (8 Planets) by Teacher and the Rockbots
To reinforce language arts concepts.
  • Prepositional Phrases by Mr. Duey
  • Synonym Antonym Homonym by Rockin' the Standards
  • Writer's Song by Rockin' the Standards

Monday, June 18, 2012

Watching Movies AND Teaching the Curriculum

As more and more expectations were piled on my plate at the end of the school year, my grade level colleague and I came up with a plan to get it all done.  We had read many of the same authors and/or books during our read-aloud time.  Why not show the movies that went with those books?  Our two classes watched the movie in ONE room.  This freed up one of us to go other places if need be (to the office to get student files, for example). 

Of course, I didn't want it to be all fluff and no curriculum.  Here's how I made that happen.

  1. Read the books during read-aloud or small group time. 
  2. Have your normal vocabulary, comprehension, author studies, etc. discussions.
  3. Watch the corresponding movie.
  4. Compare and contrast the movie with the book.
 To extend this idea, I thought about doing the following activities after watching the movie.
  1.  Create a "sequel" to the movie:  Brainstorm what happened to the characters after the end.  Create a play, skit, or short story to demonstrate. 
Here are some tools:
    • Use Storybird to create a story with pictures.

 You can see how I used all of this in more detail by clicking here.

2.  Create a commercial advertising the sequel. This is a great opportunity to review or teach persuasive writing.  You could film this if it suits your needs.

Here's a list of the books/movies I have done at least part of this with or would like to:

I like the "old school" version of this movie or the BBC version. 

I wish there were more movies to go with Kate Dicamillo's books!  And on that note....

Our school has the 1985 version of this movie. The newer version might be too "racy."

Do you use movies in coordination with your curriculum?  If so, which movies do you find most closely adhere to the book?