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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?

Reading Comprehension Strategy: Ask Questions

Asking questions seems to come so naturally for students, doesn't it?  Natural until asked to do so about what they're reading.  Then, it seems to need a lot more prompting and modeling from the teacher.

I choose my mentor texts for this strategy based off of how many plot twists the books have or the higher level of vocabulary.  The following are some of my top picks:

Most books by Chris Van Allsburg will keep the reader guessing about what's going on.

Mr. Peabody's Apples will keep the reader guessing about the moral character of the main characters.

We use the "Before, During, and After" reading organizer and the following language to begin our questions:

I wonder...
I am not sure why...
I am curious about...
How does...
I was confused when...
Why didn't...

Do you use any particular texts or organizers for Asking Questions?  I'd love to hear them!