Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beginning of the Year Team Building Updates!

How has your summer vacation been going? Mine has been both relaxing and busy at the same time. I have been working like a busy bee planning for my mid-August nuptials! If you follow me on Instagram, then you're definitely up to date on all things wedding!

I've also been making more of an effort to unplug on the weekends and spend time with family and friends. The picture below is my fiancé and I on his birthday. I surprised him with a trip to Northern Michigan to tour all of the wineries. It was such a great weekend!

I also promised myself (and my amazing blog readers) that I would have my HUGE 5th Grade Math and English Language Arts Daily Morning Work pack out before the beginning of the year. I am working so hard every single day to keep that promise! It has taken on a life of its own and is even more awesome than I originally anticipated. 

Stay tuned for more news on the release date! 

Last, I wanted to let you know that I've given my Beginning of the Year Team Building pack a huge facelift! Click HERE to check it out! 

I have added new games and activities, clarified the directions to make them easier for you, and I've added printables to help you easily implement these games and activities in your own classrooms! Below is a quick look at just SOME of the additions/printables I've added. Click HERE to check out the preview to see more of the updates! 

Starting your year off on the right foot is crucial. Building a community of learners is one of the first things I tackle at the start of the new school year! You want your students to feel welcomed and safe in your classroom. If you want to read more about how I use this Beginning of the Year Team Building pack in my classroom, see these blog posts HERE, HERE, and HERE

If you already own this resource, click HERE to redownload it on TpT to grab your updates for FREE! If you don't own it yet, I have it marked 20% off until midnight EST tonight! 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Role Playing with the American Revolution {Freebies Included}!

Social studies has always been one of my absolute favorite subjects to teach. I get so excited about United States history, and I do my best to make a potentially boring topic come alive for my students! There are a lot of opportunities for hands-on, get out of your seat lessons and projects in the classroom (especially on those hot and extra wiggly days)!

So, on this particular day, I decided to throw out my original lesson, and get my students up and moving instead for one of my favorite lessons, The King's M & M's (or our version of it at least)! This lesson is not my original idea, but it is most definitely one of my all-time favorites!

The object of the activity is to get students to understand why American colonists were upset with British tax laws, like the Stamp Act, after the French and Indian War. The activity will also help students understand the idea of Taxation Without Representation. Since this activity involves role play, students will have the opportunity to simulate a scenario of what happened when the colonists were being taxed by Great Britain. It definitely gives them a better understanding of what the colonists felt during that time.

Here's what you need to do to prep for the activity:

{Side note: Since this was not a planned lesson, of course I forgot my nice camera and had to use my phone, and I scribbled all the role card signs together during my lunch break. It's what we do, right?! I have made some prettier signs for you all to use, and you can grab all of the freebies at the bottom of this post!}

1.) Choose one person to be the King.

2.) Choose two people as parliament members/tax collectors. 

3.) Print out the role cards/signs that say King and Tax Collectors. Hole punch them, and tie string around the signs for students to wear the signs around their necks.

4.) Print and cut out the tax cards.

5.) Give each student a paper plate (or cup!) with 10 pieces of candy, and instruct students not to touch them. 

Luckily, I had some red plastic cups in a cupboard, and a huge batch of gumdrops from a science experiment we did the week before! ;) 

Before you start the activity, you may want to pull your King and tax collectors to the side and explain their roles:

When the tax collectors go around the room to collect the candy pieces, I typically divide the room in half and let each tax collector collect the candy from their side of the room only. I have the tax collectors collect the candy from each student in an individual cup. Then, once they collect the candy in their individual cup, they pour all of the pieces out on a plate so students can see all of the candy that accumulates throughout the activity. 

Once you have all of your materials ready, invite the King and his/her tax collectors to the front of the room. Introduce them to the class as the King and his tax collectors, and then tell the rest of your class that they are the colonists. I typically make a big fuss over the difference between the two groups.

Have the King explain to the class that he/she will be taxing everyone for various reasons. 

*The man above is actually my dad! :) He would come in to my class to help every once in awhile, and my kids adored him! What better person to play the king, right!? They all got such a kick out of it! 

Once the class is ready, the King can start reading the tax cards, and the parliament members can start collecting the taxes. Watch how upset your students get! It's kind of hilarious!

Make sure the King points out all of the tax money (or candy) that is piling up!

I typically only read about four or five tax cards. This seems to be the perfect number that leaves many students with no candy pieces, and some students with just two or three of their original candy pieces. 

Once all of the taxes have been collected, have the King tell the colonists that the tax money now needs to be dispersed! For their work, each of the tax collectors will get 10% of the tax money (or candy), and the King will get the rest for him/herself. Now your students will probably go bonkers! Typically my students show some definite feelings of displeasure, and the students that are the King and parliament start gloating a bit. 

At this crucial point in the lesson (and to calm them all down!), I talk to students and get them to understand how the colonists reacted to the tax collectors and the various tax laws from the different acts. In small groups, I had students discuss these questions:

It's amazing how many lightbulbs go off during this activity, and how many big smiles will be plastered on their faces! 

Then, to finish out the activity, I found this awesome video on TeacherTube called, Too Late to Apologize - King George

The video is hilarious, educational, and very relevant. Your students will love it! Mine even shared with me that as soon as they went home, they got online to watch it and show all of their family members! Score! And of course (the most important part), hand out the leftover candy pieces for them to eat!

Side note: If your students are going to be handling food, and later eating it, make sure they use gloves or some type of utensil. Because this lesson was done last minute, I did not have gloves or utensils to use. So, we did not eat any of the candy pieces that were touched by students. Instead, since I had an abundance of gumdrops to get rid of, I opened up a new container of gum drops for the students to eat at the end of the lesson.

Click HERE to grab all of the freebies to use in your own classroom! Enjoy! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Sale!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! While I personally think teachers should be appreciated all year long, I do hope this week is extra special, and that you are all  feeling the love!

To celebrate, I am participating in the huge Teacher Appreciation sale on TpT which takes place on May 6th and 7th!

Thanks to The 3am Teacher for this cute sale button!

I will have my entire store marked down on Tuesday and Wednesday, and TpT is offering an additional discount when you use the code: TPTXO. That's a total savings of 28% off every product in my store!

Below is a preview of just some of the items from my store that will be on sale! 

Click HERE to check out my best selling English Language Arts/Literacy Assessments and Teaching Notes! These packs come in handy as not only assessments, but as supplements to use in your classroom all year long! Every single standard has resources that are ready to use in the classroom! 

Have you had a chance to check out my Color by Number for Big Kids Packs? My kids are obsessed with these. When the end of the year gets a bit crazy, these packs will come in handy as both a math review and fun activity! Click HERE to check them out!

Want to start your year off right? Get organized with my Student Data Tracking Binders and my Standards Based Assessments!

Click HERE to check out my Student Data Binders, and then check out your grade level's Standards Based Assessments!

Don't forget about keeping yourself organized! Check out my Teacher Data Tracking and Grade Book packs HERE!

There are over 800+ pages jam-packed with resources to keep you organized when teaching, grading, or tracking the Common Core!

There is SO much more in my store that is also on sale! Click HERE to check it out! Happy shopping and Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Schoolgirl Style Classroom Reveal Giveaway!

I am so excited to share some fabulous news with you all! I have teamed up with the always fabulous Melanie from Schoolgirl Style for an incredible giveaway! 

Melanie and I taught at the same school during my first year of teaching. So, I got to see her gorgeous decor in person! It was seriously such a treat, and she is so incredibly talented! 

To celebrate the opening of her brand new shop on her website, Melanie has been revealing a new classroom design each day. There are 16 stunning new designs!!! To say she has outdone herself is an understatement! When I opened my email and saw her Turquoise, Black, and Gray Classroom Couture Collection, I could barely contain myself! It's sophisticated enough for an upper elementary classroom, and those polka-dot poms add the perfect amount of detail! I could sit and look at these pictures all day! 

And now, onto the good stuff!! You can win this entire collection! Seriously! Is that not the best thing you've heard all day?

One lucky winner will take home:
Isn't that incredible?

Make sure you're following Schoolgirl Style on FacebookInstagramPinterest, and Twitter so you don't miss out on any of her classroom reveals! Also, make sure you're following her social media accounts for your chance to win! 

To win this gorgeous decor, follow the directions on the Rafflecopter!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest will expire on Sunday, May 11th (Mother's Day!). Make sure you enter before then! Good luck!  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Compare and Contrast Two or More Characters in a Story {Freebies Included}!

I'm back for the next part of our character development lesson using Verdi by Janell Cannon. For this lesson, I will be sharing how we used the book to compare and contrast two or more characters in a story, drawing on specific details from the text.

To read the first blog post in this series, and to grab the free Inferring Character Traits Graphic Organizer, click HERE. To check out my other blog post series on character development, click HERE and HERE!

Since our last lesson on inferring character traits through dialogue, my students learned that there are a number of different ways that an author reveals information about a character in a text. An author reveals information about a character by writing about their:
  • physical traits (both explicit and inferred)
  • actions
  • thoughts
  • dialogue
  • interactions with other characters
Once my students had a solid understanding of characterization, we jumped right into comparing and contrasting. While rating and dating our understanding for our Student Data Tracking Binders, I quickly had students show me their level of understanding for comparing and contrasting. With a quick rate it/date it, I learned that my students had very little background knowledge on this concept. Not a big deal! A quick mini-lesson on comparing and contrasting did the trick! 

With this anchor chart, we discussed the terms compare and contrast. I guided students with the idea that authors create relationships between characters, settings, and events in a text by developing the interactions among story elements. Good readers can identify the relationships between story elements by comparing and contrasting them. 

While I love using venn diagrams, an even better tool (in my opinion) to compare and contrast in the upper grades is a double bubble thinking map. 

The reason I like using a double bubble thinking map is because it requires a bit more depth of thought by the students. I love that contrasting requires students to think in terms of point and counterpoint. I promise you they are extremely easy to use!

Some guiding questions that students need to keep in mind in order to compare and contrast and to help them construct their double bubble maps include: 
  • What are the similarities and differences between these two things? 
  • How are these two things alike and different? 
  • Which similarities do you think are most important?
  • Are there any details that are unique to one thing and not the other? 
Even though the standard calls for students to also compare and contrast settings and events in a text, for this lesson we only focused on characters. After re-reading Verdi an additional time, we worked together to construct our double bubble thinking map. 

Side note: color coding your double bubble thinking map is a great strategy for students that may need additional help, especially if this is the first time they are seeing it. I've included this as a freebie that you can grab at the end of this post. 

I think this is such a phenomenal visual that perfectly hits the standard on comparing and contrasting two characters. 

Even though we worked together as a class to fill out this double bubble, students also filled out their own.

Once we filled out the double bubble thinking maps, as a formative assessment, students wrote their own written responses to compare and contrast the two characters.

You can grab this free formative assessment and a free double bubble thinking map at the end of this post!

This formative assessment is a great way to quickly gauge your students' understanding of the standard. 

Throughout the rest of the week, students used double bubble thinking maps to compare and contrast the characters in their own self-selected texts. 

At the end of the week, I gave them their summative assessments to assess them on standard 5.RL.3 from my 5th Grade Common Core ELA/Literacy Assessments and Teaching Notes

I had to get an extreme closeup of this answer because I have to say, I am pretty impressed with their responses!

On top of that, my teacher heart skipped a beat when I saw this on a student's reading passage! He was annotating the text without any prompting from me! Best day ever!

Check out these reading passages and assessments to use in your classroom HERE!

Grab a free copy of my Verdi formative assessment and color coded double bubble thinking map HERE!

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Inferring Character Traits Through Dialogue (Plus a Free Graphic Organizer)!

Have you ever come across a mentor text that literally covers five standards and you squeal with delight? Or am I the only crazy person that gets excited about these types of things?!

After reading Verdi by Janell Cannon with my students, I just couldn't contain myself!

I have so much to share with you about how we used this book to cover so many standards, that I plan to break it down into two separate blog posts.

Click HERE to check out part two: Comparing and Contrasting Two or more Characters in a Text.

Each year, studying characters is one of my favorite units to teach, and this year is no different. You can see my two other big character blog posts I wrote last year HERE and HERE

The reason I love teaching characters so much is because of all of the wonderful characters out there that my students can connect with. Whether it's Katniss Everdeen, Percy Jackson, or the unique August Pullman from R.J. Palacio's Wonder, the characters, in my opinion, keep my students coming back for more!

When studying characters, it's important that students understand that we’re talking about what character is, not who some characters are. If I ask my students who the characters are in the books they are reading, most of them can probably name them. For instance, they know that August Pullman is  the main character in Wonder. 

But, character development is more than that. 

The English Language Arts standard requires students to compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g. how they interact).

Before you jump right into this, it's important that students understand the different ways to determine a character's interactions. To understand their interactions, we need to look at each characters' actions, their dialogue, their thoughts, and their emotions. By looking at these details, they give us insight into how these characters view and/or react to each other, giving us information about their interactions.

To teach this concept, I read Verdi to my students. During this first reading, I allowed my students to sit and listen. But, while listening, they were to pay attention to each characters' personality and physical traits that the author came out and explicitly stated in the book. For the purpose of this lesson, we compared Verdi with the group of snakes called the greens. The greens' names are Umbles, Aggie, Dozer, and Ribbon. Once we finished this first reading, I gave students about two minutes to whisper the explicit traits of the greens and Verdi that they recalled from the text.

Next, we discussed the fact that authors don't always come out and give every detail about a character. Sometimes, the reader has to infer based on the dialogue in the story.

Now that we had read the story once, each student received their own Inferring Character Traits Graphic Organizer to fill out during our re-read and mini-lesson.

I went back and re-read some important pages from Verdi and picked out pages where the author used dialogue to show the characters' personality traits.

As I was reading the pages, students gave me a thumbs up when they heard the author use dialogue to show the characters' personality traits.

Then, focusing on just one character (or group of characters e.g., the greens), we worked together to pick out some of the best quotes from the text that we could use to infer personality traits based on the characters' dialogue.

Students worked with me to fill out their own graphic organizers for the dialogue portion, but it was up to them to do the inferring.

I gave students about four minutes to write down their own inferences, and I walked the room to glance over their shoulders and help students that needed some re-teaching.

After about four minutes, we shared what we could infer about the greens based on their dialogue in the text.

This graphic organizer is a free sample from my Analyzing Characters Pack {Common Core Aligned} found HERE!

Click HERE to grab the free Inferring Character Traits Graphic Organizer!

Grab a copy of Verdi to use in your own classroom!

Click HERE to check out part two of this series: Comparing and Contrasting Two or More Characters in a Text. Make sure you grab all of the freebies in the post!

Thanks for reading!

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