Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Magic Squares

I was recently given a book to take a peak at and let me tell is simple, easy, and has wonderful ideas to help amp up some of your word work and phonemic awareness lessons.  The book Recipe for Reading is now a go-to for me.  I wanted to share a simple and fun way to get your students excited about thinking, writing and using sounds.  These magic squares were a great way to warm-up our brains before beginning guided groups, plus it required higher-level thinking to generate their own set of words.  Here is a quick peak at how it works.

I start off with a quick warm-up using the boxes.  Each child gets a box with a vowel pattern we have been working on (r-controlled, diphthongs, etc).  I set a timer for 2 minutes and have them generate as many words as they can using the vowel pattern and the consonants provided inside the box.  After the time is up, they read and share their words.  I also have them circle one and write it in a sentence on the table top.  

A student might see: chirp, third, bird, first, sir 

The book also has sentences for dictation and sentences for reading using the sounds within the boxes.  I recently made enlarged magic squares using familiar vowel combinations.  You can grab some sample magic squares by clicking the image below.  I am in the process of typing the reading sentences up so my kiddos can practice making words, writing the words in sentences, and reading them.  This short 10 minute activity can cover so many concepts in a short amount of time.  Can you say perfect for RTI and guided groups?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Apps Worth Downloading

There are so many applications out there right now that it can become a bit overwhelming.  This year my grade level made the switch from Android tablets to iPads and the possibilities with the iPad are so much greater. I really love to use applications that enhance my lessons and encourage student creativity.  Here are just a few applications I use on a daily basis and love. 

This app is a favorite in my classroom and is used almost everyday.  They have a lite version and a paid version.  I currently have the lite version (free) and we can still do so much with it.  This is used as a web organizer.  We have used this in math to show a variety of ways to make numbers, retell and character traits in reading, and even creating multi-syllable words.  Here are some of our samples.  

 Click here to listen       

2.   BookCreator

This app can be used in so many different ways.  I have used this for creating class books and sharing with parents.  My kids love to record themselves reading their writing and uploading pictures from their stories.  We have also used this with the app Chatter Pix to create facts about animals.  This application does cost money but it is so worth it.  It even allows you to generate QR Codes for the books that you create which makes it easy to share with parents.  I just add the QR code to my weekly newsletters and I’m done. Check out our most recent books.

3.   Flipgrid
This app has both a paid version and also a free version.  I currently have the free version and it has been great.  This application is used for sharing information within your classroom and others.  I love this because I can create a grid and then share it with other classrooms in my building, city, and state.  This is a great way for my students to collaborate with others.  We recently started learning about how to be a better bystander.  We did a class read-aloud and then the students created a grid discussing what they could do to be a better bystander.  We shared it with our school and others had the opportunity to add to it.  Check it out below. Click the link below to view the grid.

What are some of your must have applications that you use to increase student learning and enhance your lessons? 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Writing with Sensory Details

As my writing course is coming to end I would like to share an activity that we worked on last week using sensory details.  Good writers know that their reader will need to visualize when reading their story.  It is important to have your students adding details that help the reader to see, hear, touch, feel, smell, and even taste.  This adds so much to the student's writing and is a quick way to spice up a bland writing piece.  
I have posted some of my professors favorite picture books to use for sensory detail along with a quick lesson to get your students using sensory details when they write.  It is very quick and simple and could easily be used as a modeled lesson. 
Before the Storm By: Jane Yolen 
Sense: Smell 

Come On, Rain! By: Karen Hesse
Sense: Smell 

My Father's Hands By: Joanne Ryder 
Sense: Touch 

Night In the Country  By: Cynthia Rylant 
Sense: Sound

Oma's Quilt  By: Paulette Bourgeois 
Sense: Smell

Owl Moon By: Jane Yolen 
Sense: Sight, Touch & Sound 

After using these mentor text to model good examples of sensory details in writing it is also a great idea to create a sensory word chart for each category and have the students add words from the story to the chart.  Here is a good example that Mrs. Radka's class used. This chart would be perfect for students to refer back to and use during their independent writing time. 

Lastly, I created a Sense-O-Gram activity to use as a modeled lesson to teach this strategy or even a quick check for partners to do for extra practice.  Here is a sample of a competed Sense-O-Gram along with a link to four more extra practice pages that could be used. Click the picture to view more samples. 

Hope you found some ideas to enhance your writing workshop time! Happy Teaching!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Writer's Workshop - Author Findings

I am so excited to finally be back on here.  I had a mini meltdown last week when I noticed my blog design had been taken over by a third party.  Talk about annoying.  Thankfully Emily over at Blogaholics could help me out and get me back up and running.  If you ever need any help with your blog design I highly recommend her.
Usually during the summer months I am out of commission because I am out of my classroom and with my little Nora enjoying our time together, but I have decided to change that because I am learning too much stuff in my masters classes not to share.  I am currently taking a writer’s workshop course and wanted to share some things I have picked up.

Some of the things we researched in our last class were author’s pages and how to incorporate them into your lessons.  I found two really awesome sites that are wroth using in your classroom.  I am in LOVE with Oliver Jeffers books and his site had great video summaries over his books and also some awesome videos that he makes to explain what writes do and the writing process.  The other author that has a great site is Robert Munsch.  Did you know that you can send in your writings and pictures and he will display them on his site? Talk about an incentive to write.  He also uses the stories that kids send in and pictures to give him ideas about his own stories. I loved the idea of using one of his picture books for a mini lesson and then having kids send in their work afterwards.

I love this video that Oliver Jeffers created.  It would fit perfect in the beginning of writer’s workshop when you are discussing how to get ideas for your writing. Plus he is a BIG goofball and the kids will love him.

Some of Oliver Jeffers’ books I love for writing lessons are Stuck and It Wasn’t Me!  I love stuck to teach ellipsis and introducing the use of callouts in illustrations.  I really love to use It Wasn’t Me to discuss author’s voice and craft.  This book had tones of callouts and the Jeffers’ uses lots of all caps in words and bold words to show feelings and voice.  This would even be a good book to use when discussing which punctuation mark he used and why.   

The use of callout boxes in It Wasn’t Me is great because it uses pictures not just words to help describe what the characters are feeling.  Here are some snap shots from inside the book.

Here are some great picture books By: Robert Munsch to use for mini lessons.  I really loved the snowsuit lesson idea. It’s a great excuse to get outside when the weather is snowy/cold or even just a fun activity to do inside during the weather.

Thomas’ Snowsuit is perfect for describing words/adjectives within their writing.  Have them describe their snowsuit with awesome adjectives.   Andrew’s Loose Tooth is perfect for small moment introductions.  Most of my first graders have lost a tooth and could use this as an idea for a small moment writing piece.  He also does a great job with word choice and character feelings in this book. 

Sorry for the extra long post but I also wanted to let you know that my all time favorite author for teachers came out with a writing strategies book!!!!! If you liked her reading version you will love her writing one too!! It has so many awesome ideas for short 10-minute mini-lessons for your writing block.  They are so easily organized by teaching point and grade.