Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Teaching Writing

Remember how I said teaching generalizations scares me? You know something else that can be added to that list? Teaching writing! I teaching Reading/Language Arts/Spelling and I hate to admit it, but writing gets pushed back A LOT! There just isn't enough time to teach everything, but writing is super important! I decided to use Presidents Day as the perfect excuse to start writing our informational essays and I thought I'd share the process with y'all! 

I'm going to divide this series of posts into 5 different parts, using the 5 steps of writing as a guide. I'm teaching my kids about this process using my writing posters. 

You can find these posters here 
(They are also included in the Presidential Research Unit)

This week, we started our Presidential Research Project:

On Monday, we each randomly chose a president to write our informational essay on. We used the site to gather information about our president. I made sure that we only used this site to ensure the content would be appropriate (lots of other sites included the sexual relations issue with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and I wanted to steer clear of that!** This site does mention the impeachment part, but just says he lied about something. No details!) 

I created this info sheet to record facts about each president.

Once everyone completed this sheet, they grab a copy of the fun facts page and used the same site to find three fun facts about their president and draw a portrait

Once we had gathered all our information, it was time to organize it! We used several graphic organizers to help with this step (lots of my kids couldn't believe all of this was in step 1! I told them it was a long process!)

By this point, students are very familiar with their topic (in this case, their president) and have their info organized. Writing the 1st draft should now be easy! We'll start that part Friday! :)

You can find all the printable mentioned in this post here. :)
Happy hump day, y'all! 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Star Reading Growth Report Freebie

Hi friends! I'm back with another freebie today! Does your school use Star Reading as an assessment? (If so, be sure and check out this post!)There are 3 screening dates throughout the school year (fall, winter, and spring) and we took the winter benchmark back during the first week of December. I feel like there's too much time in between those screening dates, so I usually test mine (as a group) once in between. Today we took the test so I could see how much growth (or lack thereof!) my students have made since the beginning of school. I was really pleased with my kids' scores! I ran the growth report to see the numbers and realized how valuable this information would be to parents. Yes, I know there are many reports, including a Parent Report, that you can print off and share with the parents, and I send those home, but I like sending this kind of "report" home for several reasons:

1) It's easier for parents to understand
2) I feel like they are more likely to look at it since I have written comments on it (Plus, they are required to sign off on it!)
3) It allows me to think about each student and reflect on their learning. If I just print off a report and hand it out, I don't have as good of an opportunity.
No, I don't teach Jim and Pam :) I just wanted to show y'all an example of one filled out. 

I thought I'd share if y'all want to use it! Click here to grab your copy! Let me know if you want a math version and I can post that too! :) 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Groundhog Day Evidence Freebie

Groundhog Day is coming up this week! Celebrate using a freebie from my February Comp Files unit. You can grab your freebie here. If you want more like this, you can grab my February Comp Files or save and purchase the bundled file here. :) Happy almost February! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Teaching Vocabulary

Hi friends! Today I want to chat about teaching vocabulary. I tried out a new way of introducing the words today and it went really well, so I thought I'd share. 

Have y'all ever tried

This site allows you to create your own newsletters. I learned about this site at a PD class last year, but I never found a good use for it in the classroom. My coworker who teaches math uses it everyday for her lessons, but I could never find a way to routinely use it. Over the weekend I thought about trying it out for a little vocabulary introduction. For all your Reading Street teachers, this week we are covering skills from the story Exploding Ants. I used those vocabulary words and made a slide for each word in Powerpoint.

And then uploaded them to the online flyer (smore)!

If you're teaching these vocabulary words and want to use the flyer, you can find it here. Since all of my students have their own Chromebook (I know, so lucky!) I simply email them the link to the smore and everyone has access to it.

We discussed each word and created this little study guide as we went along. It's amazing how adding a sticky note makes it fun! ;)

Lastly, we did a modified version of my Quick Draws. I gave them 15 seconds of brainstorming time and then 1 minute on each word. They HAD to justify their drawing when the time was up and they couldn't use an example from the smore...they had to create their own!
We talked a lot with the word 'critical' about how it could also mean 'serious'. For example, a person might be in critical condition after a car accident. They had to use the word as the definition said. This student drew a vet giving a dog a shot. She said it was critical that the vet gave the dog the right medicine. :)

This example was for the word 'enables'. The mailbox enables the mailman to deliver mail in a safe place. 

I LOVED using smore in this way! It's my new favorite way to teach vocabulary! 

Have you used smore in your classroom? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Teaching Generalizations

Confessions: Teaching generalizations scares me. This is SUCH a hard concept to teach, right? Or maybe it's just me. 

I decided to find some good resources to help me and I ended up spending several hours on Monday (our day off!) working on my lesson. It wasn't all rainbows and unicorns, but I felt like my students really have a better understanding on identifying generalizations, what makes a statement a generalization, and how they add to the plot. Are we experts? Nope! But we're getting there! 

Here's how I taught the scary skill of generalizations. 

Like any lesson, I started off by making an anchor chart. I use this one from Deb Hanson as inspiration!
We HAVE NOT covered valid and faulty generalizations yet! My original plan was to cover this part of the concept this week, but I quickly saw that it would be too much info! 

We then focused on the definition of a generalizations. Many of my kids were unsure of what the term 'broad' meant, so I showed several examples of how the word meant covering a large area or wide range; nonspecific. I used the example of how the entire 5th grade class was a broad subject whereas one student was more specific. This seems to help. 
Then we started the powerpoint. I found this great Powerpoint Presentation from Deb (I just realized the chart AND the PP presentations was from the same person! I'm definitely loving Deb this week!)
The presentation came with this notes handout page, which we used.

Once we determined what it really meant when we said a generalization was a BROAD statement, we moved onto how it must be 2 things: logical and unproven. Again, some of my kids didn't understand the term 'logical', so I made up a "secret handshake" on the spot. We grabbed a partner and  clapped one hand and then the other while saying "Logical means" and then we clapped both hands twice while saying "it makes sense". They LOVED this! It made me think about using secret handshakes more often! #channelingmyinnerkookookangaroo

We started practicing with examples from the Powerpoint Presentation and with each example, the kids had to prove why it was a generalizations (In other words, they had to tell me why it was logical and unproven)

Next we moved onto the practice book page. My basal series is Reading Street, which I have a love/hate relationship with. The last two years, I've relied on JUST what the book provides for generalization practice. This year was the first time I pulled outside material and it was SO MUCH MORE SUCCESSFUL! It made this practice book so much easier and more meaningful. 

 The passage contained the generalization (thank goodness we didn't have to determine one on our own!), but it was included as part of a longer sentence. We determined what part was actually our generalization and what we needed to eliminate/add to it in order for the statement to makes sense.
Messy, I know! But it helped writing the sentence and eliminating the parts that weren't part of the generalization. 

Tomorrow, we are practicing some more using Rachel Lynette's task cards! I'm proud of how well the kids have listened and worked this week! Generalizations are enough to make anyone hate reading (sorry if you love this skill! Anyone out there??:) )

Do you have a great strategy for teaching generalizations? I'd love to hear them! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Motivating Students

Motivating 5th graders can be challenging anytime of the year, but the holidays are especially difficult! Students are wanting to do anything and everything EXCEPT what we are doing in school, so we as teachers have to get creative and make learning extra fun. I have two main areas that I struggle with student motivation: reading and homework. Luckily I found two fabulous ideas with The Mailbox Gold Toolkit. I was so excited about these fun, creative ideas that I made a video about them. Check it out!

Psst! There's an AMAZING giveaway brought to you by The Mailbox Company at the end of this post... be sure and enter! :) :) 

Want to win a $100 Visa Gift Card from The Mailbox Company?? Who doesn't! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win. I'll announce the winner Friday night! Good Luck! :)

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