Saturday, December 29, 2012

Higher Order Thinking Questions/Syllables

Want your students talking to each other about their understanding ?  Teach them to ask and answer questions.  Model...model...model and then model some more!  I use these questions using Kagan structures to get my students thinking about their thinking...metacognition.  Try it and give me some feedback.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Syllable hand signals



                                                               Sneaky E

                                                                 Bossy R

                                                                Vowel Team

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kagan and Dry Erase Boards

This is one of three articles by Laura Candler on this site.  All are good reads.

6 Guided Practice Strategies for Dry Erase Boards

Effective lessons often start with whole class instruction and include guided practice through cooperative learning, small group instruction, one-on-one assistance, or learning centers.
Try these dry erase board strategies for the guided practice portion of your lesson. These methods work well to actively engage students in practicing a skill with a partner or group, but you’ll want to follow up with an independent assignment for accountability.

Task Cards Examples
Use for Partner Pass, Pairs Compare & Showdown
Card Descriptions Task Descriptions
Sentence with underlined wordWrite the part of speech.
Math problemSolve problem and record the answer.
State nameWrite the capital city.
Science review questionWrite a short answer.
Number in standard formWrite the word name or expanded form.
Present tense verbWrite the past tense form.
Definitions of key vocabularyWrite the correct term.
Partner Pass
Pair students of similar abilities and give each pair one dry erase board and a marker to share.
Next, give them a set of task cards with questions or assign a page of problems from a textbook. Be sure to provide an answer key for the assignment.
As they complete the assignment, students take turns being the Recorder or the Coach. The Recorder solves the first problem and/or answers the question while the Coach watches and coaches as needed. The Coach checks the answer with the key and they switch roles for the next task card.
To see an example of an appropriate set of task cards for this activity, download the Subject and Predicate Task Cards. You can create your own task cards using the blank task card template from Teaching Resources. Starter ideas are included in the side bar.
Pairs Compare
For Pairs Compare, both students will need their own dry erase board and a marker. Create pairs of students with similar abilities and provide them with task cards or a textbook assignment as described above.
Both students work the first problem independently without talking. They place their boards face down when finished. When both are ready, they flip their boards face up, compare answers, and discuss solutions. They check their answer with a key or use a calculator to check math problems.
For Showdown, students should be seated in cooperative learning teams. For each team, you’ll need a set of task cards as well as a reference for checking answers, such as an answer key, a textbook, class notes, or a calculator. The task cards are stacked face down in the middle of the team and students rotate the role of Leader.
The Leader flips over the top card and all students silently solve the problem or write the answer on their dry erase boards. They turn them face down to show they are ready. The Leader says, “Showdown!” and they flip their boards face up, compare and discuss.
You can find a page of kid-friendly Showdown directions on Teaching Resources.
Showdown Team Management Tips
Teams of four are most effective for Showdown, but teams of three or five will work as well.
Teams can be created as mixed-ability groups or similar-ability groups. However, if your mixed-ability teams vary greatly in skill level, please be sensitive to the need of your at-risk students. In my experience, these students get really frustrated with Showdown if they are the only one getting the problem wrong. If this seems to be happening, you may want to pull those students out to work with you in a special group or allow them to work with a tutor or assistant at this time. Another solution is to regroup the entire class into similar-ability teams and differentiate with leveled task cards.
Small Group Instruction
Dry erase boards are great for working with kids in small groups. Keep a stack of boards along with a box of markers in the middle of your small group table.
When you ask a question or pose a problem, have students jot the answer down on their boards before sharing with the group. This step keeps everyone on task and serves as formative assessment while you are teaching a new skill.
One-on-One Instruction
If you have a teacher assistant, parent volunteer, or peer tutor, there’s nothing better than a dry erase board for working with students individually.
The tutor can write a problem or question on the board and watch closely as the student solves the problem or responds to the question. The level of difficulty can easily be adjusted for each new task according to how the student responded to the one before it.
Learning Centers
Many center games involve recording answers or solving problems; for example, math games often require students to solve a problem before they can move their marker or cover a space on a game board.
Dry erase boards are terrific for these activities because they save paper and allow students to correct their mistakes easily. When assigning students to work with a buddy, have them use Partner Pass or Pairs Compare to provide structure and individual accountability.

Friday, October 5, 2012

YouTube Tools for Teachers

Handy YouTube Tools for Teachers

YouTube TeachersIn Steven's Web20Classroom blog, he shares his top 5 favorite teacher tools on YouTube.

Many districts are realizing the potential that YouTube learning can have in the classroom. There are lots of great videos and channels out there on 1000's of topics.

I have put together a list of some of my favorite tools to use with YouTube. Some are for the creation end, while some are for the consumption end.

Overall, they hopefully will give you a good start on getting more out of your favorite video service.

YouTube Video Editor

When it comes to video editing, my skills are definitely lacking. And lets face it, sometimes Movie Maker won't cut it or you just don't have the funds for iMovie. The YouTube Video Editor is a great alternative. Upload your raw video and you can make cuts, transitions and add text to your movie.

Do you find you are missing something for your video? Do a Creative Commons video search right there and find what you need. You can also upload sound tracks to ambiance. Once done, the video saves right to your YouTube account. Easy!

Quiet Tube

We all know there is some junk out there on YouTube, whether it is in the related videos or in the comments. Quite Tube might be the answer for you. This is a bookmarklet that, when you are on a video you want to watch, you click and it strips away all the content on the page except for the video.

No annoying comments. No inappropriate suggested videos after. Just the video you want to show.

Tube Chop

There are some videos where all you need is a small portion. When I am designing Moodle courses, I will sometimes only need small parts of videos to embed. Welcome Tube Chop.

Take the URL of the video you want to chop and trim both the beginning and end to what you need. You can then share it via a link or embed the chopped video on your site or page.

Drag On Tape

There may be times you need a series of videos and they would be better off watched one right after another. Drag On Tape does just that. Insert the videos via their YouTube URL. You can trim to the sections you want, add another video and another and another, creating your own personal mixed video that you can then post via a link or embed.


Sometimes watching a video as a group is just what you need. Watch2gether does just that. You create your own, private screening room. You then share the room via a link with your group. They enter and you can watch the video, synced together. There is an option to create playlists and the chat feature works great for collaboration

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Non Fiction WooHoo!

This is a must read article!  It has great resources for teaching non-fiction structures.

WONDERFUL Stuff From Beth Newingham!  Thanks Beth for sharing!

My March Top Ten List: Nonfiction Reading Resources

By Beth Newinghamon March 24, 2011

  • Grades: 3–5

Last month I shared my favorite resources for teaching fiction reading, and this month I'm focusing on nonfiction.
Last month I shared my favorite resources for teaching fiction reading, and this month I'm focusing on nonfiction. Students (and teachers) often choose to read fiction texts in the classroom, but it is crucial that we expose our students to nonfiction texts as often as possible.
Nonfiction texts allow children to experience the wonder of the world. Facts come alive when books about animals, people, or objects are read to children. Nonfiction texts build on children's interests and increase vocabulary and background knowledge. When we help our students become proficient readers of nonfiction texts, we help them become successful at school and in the “real world.” Research shows that about 85% of what adults read on a daily basis is nonfiction. Teachers have a great responsibility in teaching students to tackle this genre.
READ ON to check out resources for teaching nonfiction reading concepts, including posters, links to great Web sites and articles, printables, an exciting new way to make current events interactive, and much more!

1. Using Text Features to Successfully Navigate Nonfiction Texts
Before I can teach students to gather information, determine importance, or find supporting details, I must first show them the tools that they will be using. Those tools are the predictable, common features of nonfiction texts. I created text feature posters to help my students recognize, name, and understand the purpose of the most common features. Below are nine of the 23 posters I created. (Special thanks to Charla Lau, the reading specialist at my school, for the idea.)
CaptionDiagramGlossary Graph Heading MapTable Photograph Table of contenst
Download a PDF slide show of all 23 of my Nonfiction Text Features posters. Since it is a large file, right click on the link and choose "save target as."
2. Text Feature Scavenger Hunt
After students learn the different text features, I want them to start paying close attention to the text features they find in their own books. In the primary grades, students may simply do a scavenger hunt where they check off the features they find, but in the upper grades, they also need to be able to determine the purpose of each text feature and explain why it helps them read the text. Below are activities your students can use to accomplish these goals.
Text Feature Scavenger Hunt Text Features and Purpose

Download the "Text Feature Scavenger Hunt" and "Using Text Features" recording sheets pictured above. I've posted them as MS Word files so that you can adapt them for your grade level.

3. Teaching Students to Recognize Different Text Structures
P1100662Content textbooks are often above the reading level of the grade for which they're intended. If some students struggle with grade level texts, how can they comprehend history and science textbooks? One strategy that can aid students in breaking down informational text is understanding text structure. Research shows that an awareness of text structure facilitates a greater ability to recall important information in expository texts.

Text Structure Posters: Knowing the elements of text structure is an effective tool in understanding nonfiction. Each structure can be identified using “signal” words. Words such as “then,” “next,” and “afterward” are indicators of a sequencing pattern. When students learn the key words and can recognize the predictable patterns, they will be better equipped to scan the text and pinpoint the information they seek. Below are posters that I created to teach my students about the most common structures found in nonfiction texts. Download a PDF slide show of the text structure posters. Since it is a large file, right click on the link and choose "save target as."
Description Sequential Compare and Contrast Cause and Effect Problem and Solution

Professional Books & Lessons: Of course just introducing the text structures is not enough. Below are three great Scholastic professional books I have used. Click on the books for more information.
You can also check out this great text structures SMART Board lesson created by Marcia Jones. It has tons of activities to help you teach your students about the different text structures.
4. Have Students Create Their Own Text Features and Text Structures Books
IMG_1595 [Desktop Resolution]Some teachers at our school have students cut out examples of different text features from magazines and paste them into blank versions of the text feature posters in #1 of this post to make a book. Scholastic News is a great source of text features for a project like this. The "My Text Features Book" can be an ongoing project throughout the school year. Students may cut out one or two text features from each new edition of Scholastic News as they read it in class (or any other magazines or newspapers they have access to). Download a PDF slide show of the "My Text Features Book" (shown below) in which I have included templates for 23 different nonfiction text feature pages that you can print and use with your own students. Since it is a large file, right click on the link and choose "save target as."
IMG_1597 [Desktop Resolution] IMG_1598 [Desktop Resolution]

Students in older grades should start recognizing that the articles in magazines and newspapers typically follow one of the five text structures I described in #3 of this post. Students can cut out and paste entire articles onto each page of a "My Text Structures Book" to show examples of text structures. Download a PDF slide show of the "My Text Structures Book" (shown below) in which I have included templates for these text structures.
IMG_1594 [Desktop Resolution] IMG_1600 [Desktop Resolution]

5. Make Current Events an Interactive Experience!
Magazine [Desktop Resolution]With all that is currently happening in our country and around the world, I find it more important than ever to keep my students informed of current events. I use Scholastic News not only because the weekly editions are written at an appropriate level for my 3rd graders, but because they also include a new “whiteboard-ready” interactive option with the subscription. Check out the photos below to see how this new feature can spice up your teaching of current events.

The digital edition can be displayed on your interactive whiteboard — a great option for sharing reading in primary classrooms!
Full Screen
Highlight important text, use shape tools to circle text features, and add “digital sticky notes” with student ideas. Tap the purple W next to important new words to reveal the definition.
Definition final
Students can watch videos related to the text to find exciting additional information.
Video Final
Teachers can access both current and previous editions at any time. Teacher editions, skills sheets, and even alternate versions of the cover story written at a lower reading level are also available.
6. Comprehension Strategies for Reading Nonfiction Texts
Laura RobbAuthor Laura Robb presents several classroom-proven strategies that enable students to construct meaning from nonfiction in her book Teaching Reading in Social Studies, Science, and Math: Practical Ways to Weave Comprehension Strategies Into Your Content Area Teaching. These include asking open-ended questions, skimming text, and making connections.
You can use her lessons "Posing Questions," "Skimming Text," and "Connect & Apply" to model each strategy. They will help you improve student reading and support learning in different content areas.

7. Evaluating Internet Resources
5ws1While publishing companies work hard to create quality nonfiction texts for our students, the Internet is also a valuable tool — when used effectively, that is!
My students are currently doing research on a country from which their ancestors came to America. While we have checked out lots of great books from the library, we have found that many of them are outdated. For the most current information about population, government, etc., students must use the Internet. However, it is more important than ever that students (and teachers) learn to evaluate Web sites. I love Kathy Schrock's "5 Ws of Web Site Evaluation" handout.
Brent Vasicek, the Scholastic classroom advisor for grades 3–5, also wrote a great post a couple of weeks ago titled "Danger on the Internet: A Lesson in Critical Thinking." In it he includes some great lessons to help students distinguish the “real” from the “fake.”

8. Make Research Exciting and Memorable!
P1020121International Festival: As I mentioned, my students do country research each year. In addition to a traditional report, we host an international festival as a culminating activity. The festival allows students to share what they have learned about their country through a performance, fashion show, and taste-fest. To learn more about this memorable event, read my post from last year "Host an International Festival at Your School!"

Joey39African-American Wax Museum: Our 4th grade students do research on a notable African American during Black History Month. To make their research more purposeful, they do a presentation at the annual Hill School 4th Grade African-American Wax Museum. All classes take turns visiting the museum to listen as the wax figures come alive and talk about their lives and achievements. To learn more about this special event, read this post I wrote a few years ago.

How do you make your research come alive? Perhaps you bring visitors to your classroom, take virtual field trips, or plan special events at your school. I’d love to hear how you make your nonfiction reading or research units come alive for your students!

9. More Nonfiction Materials and Lesson Ideas
Angela My Top Teaching colleague Angela Bunyi wrote a great post titled "Taking a Look at Nonfiction Conventions." In it she provides tons of resources and ideas for teaching the conventions of nonfiction, including great mini-lessons and anchor chart/bulletin board ideas. She includes lots of photos of projects in her classroom and printables to download.

10. Nonfiction Reading Sources and Strategies
Brent jpeg1 Brent Vasicek recently posted another great piece describing purposeful ways to weave nonfiction into your curriculum. He provides teachers with a list of sources to use for nonfiction texts and describes three creative nonfiction comprehension strategies: “Mind Mapping,” “In Three Words,” and “RCRRC: Read, Cover, Remember, Retell, Check.” Read his post "Nonfiction Reading Sources and Strategies" to learn more!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Only One Me!

Several years ago, My fellow R.I., Brandi, and I wrote a grant called "Two Teachers are Better Than One".  It was used to purchase tape recorders.  Yes, that is old technology but still very useful. Every K-3 classroom at S. G. should have one.  Get them out and dust them off!
  How many times have we all said, “There’s only one of me!”  Using your recorder can double your teaching time: create your own audio books with a twist.
Record your own voice reading a story, but include guided instruction for the students to follow. For example, if students are learning how to write a response to something they are reading, in your recording, you can ask students to stop at certain points in the story to record informationt. If you are focusing on a reading strategy such as making connections, you can ask students to stop and discuss or write about a connection to the story. It’s like having you sit right next to them!
You can also have students create their own audio book for the classroom library. If you have a  reading group working on fluency rate or expression, they can record their reading of a book. When they have mastered the rate and expression, have those students record the story and add it to the classroom library for the other students to listen to at the listening center.