Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Frightening Monster Diagrams: A Spooky Nonfiction Text Features Lesson

I along with all teachers across the nation am panicking, dreading, eagerly anticipating tomorrow, October 31st, and all the crazy sugar-high shenanigans that accompany Halloween falling on a school day this year. To prepare for this calm and relaxing day (never!), I wanted to have lessons that keep my students engaged, allow them to release some of their "I can't wait to dress up as __________ (mummy, ladybug, jellyfish, scary masked creature of some sort... you fill in the blank)!!!" energy, and still LEARN.

We are currently studying nonfiction text features, and this week, our focus was on diagrams. My students have been asked to prove their answer when reading a diagram so many times that they are becoming zombies when they use the sentence starter, "I know this because it said on the diagram..." Needless to say, I wanted diagram to become a part of their academic vocabulary. :)

To really make diagrams stick in my students' schema while getting a little spooky, this is the lesson I have planned for tomorrow. I did it with a small group last week during workshop, and it was a HUGE hit!

Diagraming a Monster

1) Read aloud I Need My Monster By: Amanda Noll. (If you haven't read this story before, it's very cute! It's about a little boy who really just wants his own monster, Gabe, who has gone on a fishing trip, to return to his usual spot under the bed. In the meantime, the boy has all of these monsters try to fill in that quite simply aren't scary enough. They come with painted, manicured nails, a bow on a tail, green drool, but they just can't match up to the true terror of Gabe.)

2) Review a diagram (a picture that gives information) as well as labels.

3) Explain to students that today, they will be creating a diagram of their very own monsters. Brainstorm ideas to label on a monster diagram (has eighteen eyes, breathes fire, has a spiked tail, etc.).

4) Model how to draw and label a monster diagram--remind students that this is a diagram, NOT a picture, so you need labels, labels, and more labels!

5) Let students run wild with their creativity as they make their monster diagrams.

6) Have students share their diagrams at the end.

With this lesson in hand and maybe a few Butterfingers, I think I can brave tomorrow! :)

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Listen to Reading and Accountability

Listen to Reading is always a popular choice during reader's workshop, and it is a great way to have students tackle a text that is above their independent reading level and ultimately grow as a reader. My students have just been loving it! However, I want to make sure that my Listen to Reading station is more than just fun but also rigorous. Thus, I have been creating study guide packets to go along with all of my audio book choices so that students have fun AND are building their comprehension skills, expanding their vocabulary, and becoming critical thinkers while they listen to what they are reading.

Since Magic Tree House is a great fit for many of my second graders (and I have the first 10 books on audio cds), I started there with my study guides! At this point, I have created study guides for Mary Pope Osborne's book #1 and #8 in the Magic Tree House series. My plan is to now work to fill in all the stories in between and eventually make study guides for the first 10 books. Maybe more??

Click on the picture below to access the study guide for Magic Tree House #1, Dinosaurs Before Dark.

Here is the study guide for Magic Tree House #8, Midnight on the Moon.

Answer keys are included so that you can monitor your students without having to read each book from cover to cover.  I have also listed the CCSS for 1st-3rd grade that the study guides address.

I have a group of students working with these study guides right now, and I quickly realized I needed to come up with a way for them to keep all their materials organized since it is a chapter book they will be working with for a period of time. I took gallon sized zip-lock baggies and wrote each student's name in permanent marker on the bag. Then, inside the bag, students keep their chapter book with their book mark as well as their study guide packet. This way, each day, their supplies are easy to find and organized. Then, when they are finished, I take the baggies home with me, and they are all there organized and ready for me to grade. It's a system!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Word Work

The Daily 5 has been running smoothly in our classroom, and word work has been a very popular choice. I completely revamped my classroom materials this year so that the weekly spelling homework from my Spelling Menu Pack does not overlap with word work activities in the classroom. This is meant to keep both areas fresh and fun. So far, I have introduced 5 different word work choices, and at this point, "Stamp It Out!" has been the most popular. There's just something about getting messy with ink so that I have to pull out the Clorox Bleach Wipes each day that gets students motivated. :)

For "Stamp It Out!" I created a template where students have to write it in pencil, stamp it, then write it again. To download a FREEBIE of this template, click on the picture below!

Another favorite is the "Beads and Pipe Cleaners..." well as the "Scrabble Tiles" (grab the "Scrabble Spelling" Template FREEBIE from That's So Second Grade) and "Rainbow Roll and Write," another awesome FREEBIE from Cupcake for the Teacher! Our fifth word work choice is "How Much Is Your Word Worth?" that math lovers go crazy for.

We will continue to add choices over the next month or so as students have mastered the expectations and routines, but so far, so good!

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