Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Simple Approach to Close Reading


Hi friends! Today I wanted to talk about a simple way to start practicing close reading with your kids. I usually start by using the symbol card in my Close Reading Toolkits, but that seemed to be overwhelming for some of my kids this year. I decided to simplify the method by coming up with three different "things" to look for and highlight/annotate. This worked out really well, so I thought I would share!

I displayed this printable on the whiteboard and told the kids to grab three highlighter colors. This was super easy because we keep art boxes that contain TBE highlighters on the table so we just used this. Each kid made a color key at the top of their text to show what color meant what. 

We looked for characters, which included new characters, characteristics, character interactions, etc. Anything to do with characters, we highlighted with our character color. 
Next, we choose a different color for setting. Again, anytime the setting was mentioned, the setting changed, a description of the setting, we highlighted.
Finally, we grabbed another color for 'feels'. This means anytime you have a reaction to the text, we highlighted that part with the third color. It could be a question you have about what is happening, a connection you've thought of, a part that shocked, saddened,angered,etc you. Anything you felt got highlighted with the third color.

After that, it was time to read! For this lesson, I used a passage from ReadWorks. We took a paragraph at a time and worked in groups of four. After a few minutes, we read the paragraph together and shared what we had highlighted. 

Simple and Effective!




Monday, January 30, 2017

Sticky Stroll: An Engaging Activity for Citing Evidence


I'm always trying to get my kids up and out of their seats! When kids move around the room, they are instantly more engaged in the lesson. When I saw Miss 5th's "Wisdom Walk" with her students, I immediately knew I had to recreate it! And thus, "Sticky Stroll" was invented. I posted a picture on Instagram and a lot of you wanted to know more about it, so I thought I'd write a blog post about it. :)

This activity can be used for a bunch of different content. In Miss 5th's version, they kids were using it for math problems and I used it to practice citing evidence by quoting directly. It made this sometimes difficult and time consuming skill much more fun!

First, figure out what your content is going to be. Since mine was citing evidence, I created 8 different questions about the novel we are reading. I typed each question on a piece of paper and then attached the paper to a piece of oversized scrapbook paper. I displayed each poster around the room. 
After each poster was displayed around the room, we partnered up. Each partner group stood at a poster. I turned on some music (I used the song 'Walkin' on Sunshine) and when the music played everyone walked around the room in a big circle. We added a little dance to spice things up while we strolled around the room! When the music stopped, each group had to find a poster (kind of like musical chairs except everyone will always have a question to answer). Each group worked together to create a constructed response to the question. They had to cite direct text based evidence for each question!

I had a lot of questions about the numbered sticky notes. Once each group finished, they stuck their answer to the poster. In order to prevent another group from coming along and copying down their answer, each group took another sticky note, wrote their number (each group had a number) and stuck it on top of their answer.

When we finished, the kids went back around to collect their sticky notes from each poster. They stuck their answers on a piece of paper. 
Then they typed their answers in a Google Doc and shared them with me. They had the best time with this and worked so hard! I'm definitely going to use this activity to practice more skills in the future! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Digital ReadWorks- Your new BFF

Hey y'all! If you follow me on Instagram (lifeinfifthgrade), then you know how much I absolutely LOVE Digital ReadWorks. I've posted about it several times and I always get a lot of questions about it so I thought I'd just write a blog post. :)

Okay, so let's start off with the basic question: What is it?

ReadWorks is a FREE site that has a ton of text passages, both informational and fictional. Here's what I LOVE about this site:

-Passages are leveled (by grade level and/or Lexile Level)
-You can search by text type OR by skills! I LOVE using the skills feature to easily find a passage for whatever comprehension skill we are working on. 
-Each passage has a set of questions included
-Some texts have paired texts that include a set of questions that you can use to compare the two texts.
-You can "bookmark" your favorite passages or passages you want to come back to.

You can visit ReadWorks here. The site is FREE and you can print and copy to your heart's content....

BUT....
If you have the resources available for each student to work on the digital version, then you MUST visit Digital ReadWorks. 
Let's talk about this amazing site!
Digital ReadWorks is a different site...same company, but a different site. You can visit this site here.
**If you have an account on the original ReadWorks site, you still have to create another account on the digital version. It can be to exact same info though!

I'm going to include screenshots of the basic features and my favorite parts of the site.
When you log into the site you'll see this screen. 
The arrows are pointing to what I would call a dashboard.
1) If you want to see all the articles they offer, then click "Find Article". That's the page the screenshot above it taken from. You can sort through and filter out what you want and don't want on the left.
2) If you save passages, they will be in the "my list" part of the site. This is like the "My Binder" part of the original site.
3) Assignments! This is the part of the site that you'll be visiting the most! More on that below. 
4) Class Admin- This is where you go to see all of your classes and what students are enrolled in which classes. 

So here's what the passages look like when you assign one:
The kids can highlight the text and make annotations when they click on the speech bubble. Here's a look at a text that has been close read. 

Now, let's jump into the 'assignments' link and see what's so great about this site. 
I created a fake account so I could share screenshots in case you are wondering about the student names :)

This part of the site is where you can see what you have assigned to what class. You can also see how many of the students have submitted their assignment and how many have not. If you click on 'class results' you can see individual scores, as well as the overall class.

Once the students have submitted the assignment you can see which ones need grading. If you click "grade these" under the written assignments, it will take you to each students' work. For this particular passage there were only short answer. 
This is my favorite part! It makes grading short answer responses SO MUCH EASIER! You can see each students' answer and you can simply click "correct", "incorrect" or give partial credit. As you can see, Chuck and Serena answered the question with TBE, but Blair did not. 


Once all work has been graded, you can see the overview to see which students missed what and their final grade. 

How great is this FREE site??? I just love how easy it is to use and how much valuable practice it provides the kids! 

Do you use Digital ReadWorks? What's your favorite feature? Is there anything I didn't mention that I should know about?? Please share!

***This is not a sponsored post! I just really love this site and wanted to share with y'all!