Jul 22, 2014

PIC-TORY {A Close "Reading" Strategy for Social Studies}

While riding with my family to and from DC (8 hours for us), we decided to make the most of this educational trip and download an audio book about American History. YAY! (Okay, I decided!:) )

My search led me to: 
We downloaded the app and book...and off we went!

While listening to the book, I kept tapping the icon replay the previous 30 seconds, and of course, this led the teacher in me to think about how I could use this to teach the IMPORTANCE of RE-READING.  

The more I listened, the more I realized how many new details I was picking up as I replayed each section and the nerd in me wanted to take notes!   How fun would it be to draw what I learning so I could remember it?!  

SO....the strategy of PIC-TORY was born!

Here are my thoughts.
  1. Each student will set up a page in their notebook for our "game." ;)
  2. I will play a bookmarked section of the story once for my students to draw and label what they hear on their first "read." 
  3. I will then replay the section a few more times asking my students to add details to their picture each time they notice something new in the text.  
  4. At the end, we will see just how many details they picked up!  :)
The end result should be a personal anchor chart that shows the comprehension of an historical text!  Lots of standards, strategies, and skills all tied together in a fun way.

Hope you can use this strategy!

Jul 5, 2014

Author Celebrations and STRESS-FREE Portfolios

I've blogged before about AUTHOR CELEBRATIONS.  You can read about them here if you would like more information.  :)  Here's the short version so we can get to the STRESS-FREE PORTFOLIOS.

We spend about a month on each of our ELA/SS integrated units/topics.  During our units, we compile information through picture books, short stories, articles, research, etc. as we work toward a culminating project.  This project is a demonstration of all our work and learning throughout the entire unit!  At the end, we want to celebrate this project with an authentic audience and special guests!  We use sticky notes and "Walls of Fame" to celebrate and interact with the audience!  It truly is a wonderful experience for the kids and their parents. :)

Here's the beauty of this celebration.  I. JUST. WATCH!  That's right...our guests and students do all the work, and my students do all the filing!  It's a beautiful system in which my students take the lead!  

What makes this so simple is our FILING and PORTFOLIO procedures!

I teach 2 blocks of students.  So I need 2 class sets of files.  Each class gets a different color folder.  I use hanging files with numbered folders, so that I don't have to make new folders each year.  

For example, hanging file #19 has a red 19 folder and a manila 19 folder.  Block one is red, block 2 is manila.  I have a set of drafting file bins and a set of portfolio file bins.  During the unit, my students save their outlines, research, rough drafts, etc. in their drafting folders, filed in the DRAFTING BINS.  They do all the filing and take all the responsibility.

After the Author Celebration, my students pull their portfolio folders from the PORTFOLIO bins, hole punch their projects, add them to their portfolio rings, along with their "Walls of Fame," and file it away for safe keeping along with all their other projects and "Walls of Fame" from previous units.  

Other than training my students and grading their projects, they take all the responsibility and do all the work!

A couple of tips for the set up:
  • I use 2 small filing bins for our drafting folders.  Students numbered 1-13 go to a bin on one side of the room, and students numbered  14-26 go to the other side of the room.  That way there is less traffic at the bins.  :)  Small bins work well for drafting folders because there is only one project's worth of papers in that folder at a time.  I can still get 26 folders in a bin.   BUT, because there is only one class in my room at a time, I only have 13 students using each bin during a class period, so very little waiting in line...I hope that makes sense. :)
  • I use 2 LARGE filing bins for our portfolios because they will contain at least 8 projects, and 8 "Walls of Fame" before the end of the school year.  Those get rather full.  I do however, use the same system of splitting the class into bins on different sides of the room to help with traffic flow.  

That's it!  I hope you can use Author Celebrations in your classrooms and I hope our system of DRAFTING FOLDERS and filing PORTFOLIOS makes life a little easier for you!

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Jul 4, 2014

You Don't have to Teach Grammar in ISOLATION...There's another WAY!

As teachers, there is never enough time in our day!   I try to combine lessons as much as possible and get as much "bang for my buck" with each activity as I can.

I read a lot of picture books to integrate Social Studies into my ELA lessons.  Thanks to Ideas by Jivey and Collaboration Cuties, (These ladies have some fabulous sets all ready to go with texts they've chosen.) I have started using this process after reading a picture book to my class.  We pick a sentence or paragraph from the text that we love!  This really makes the kids look at the text. ;)  Then we follow the following steps.

It takes a lot of MODELING for kids to pick up on the grammar techniques and skills used by the author, but they eventually start to notice some pretty cool things!  I stop after each STEP to model my own thinking, but I eventually have my students doing the steps alone.  This gives me a chance to share "what I noticed, how I would make it better, and then what I learned myself.  During these little "stops," I can throw in any grammar skills I was hoping they might have noticed on their own if they missed them!  Just like magic, when we do our next MODEL TEXT, they look for the things that I pointed out to them using the previous picture book!  (Another great resource for this concept is The Writing Thief by Ruth Culham.  She offers some wonderful suggestions.)

So I get reading standards, writing standards, language standards, and even social studies standards from one book by the time we're done with it!  Hope you can use this task card.  If you are interested, click on image of the card itself or GRAB IT HERE!

Here's a sample from a student's notebook using a sentence from The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss.  Yes, I love Dr. Seuss, even in especially in the upper elementary grades!  If you are interested, you can read more about how I use Seuss HERE. :)
Thanks for reading!

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Jul 2, 2014

"Stuffing Turkeys" during a Social Studies and ELA Literacy Block

I must admit, I did not come up with this name.  A sweet student started calling one of our small group activities "STUFFING TURKEYS," and because I'm a bit crazy like that, I asked her why?.  Here's the answer I got...

"You are always making us pull the facts out of one side of the paper and stuff them into the other.  When we don't have enough facts, you tell us to keep stuffing our work space until we have addressed every single fact from the article. So we have to keep re-reading it until we have stuffed enough facts into the box to make you happy with our PLUMP TURKEYS, so we call them TURKEYS!"  WORKS FOR ME!

Here's a sample of a PLUMP TURKEY!

A few things to notice:
BLACK ARROW: The kids must draw lines to separate the sections or paragraphs to show me where exactly they are pulling the facts from.  That way I know if they pulled each and every fact!

RED ARROW:  The kids are allowed to use texts, but it shouldn't be the text from the article.  Someone already wrote that.  It has to be something in their own words that reiterates the facts.  

BLUE ARROW:  The kids may use pictures.  This particular child drew Sputnik in outer space and a very happy member of the Soviet Union celebrating.  I bet she will never forget which country had the first visit to outer space!

We often "stuff turkeys" at the beginning of each unit using our GUIDING TEXT.  Once my students have pulled all the facts out of our overview of the unit, they are ready to dive deeply into exploration of the topics related to that unit!  It's a win-win for all of us.  I get CLOSE-READING from my students, they get a great preview and background knowledge at the beginning of our unit!

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Jul 1, 2014

Guiding Text for ELA/Social Studies Integration

What the heck is a GUIDING TEXT?  Frankly, I'm not sure "GUIDING TEXTS" is the best name for this document, but this seems to be what  I always end up calling it!  Yes, it's our NOTES.  It's our "story." It's our social studies facts.  It's lots of things in my room!  It's even a resource for "TURKEYS"...long story for another day!

But at the end of  the day...it feels like it "guides" everything we do, so it has become our "GUIDING TEXT."  Feel free to suggest a new name in the comments.  I'm open to suggestions. :)  Here's what it is, and what we do with it!

Our guiding texts is a condensed version of everything we cover during an integrated ELA/SS unit.  It gives us a nice starting point in the room.  It gives the parent's a nice resource for studying, and it gives me something to build our unit around.

It includes most of our vocabulary. (Some of our vocabulary is covered at a Word Work Station where my students work with affixes and roots.) It includes all of our Social Studies facts, and a few of our reading skills.  It also provides a tremendous resource for my students when they are working on their CULMINATING PROJECT at the end of each unit.

You see...it guides our integration.  :)  From here I choose articles, primary and secondary sources, stories, and picture books to use as I teach my ELA standards and  I get to "kill two birds with one stone," so to speak!  By the time we've read and analyzed approximately 4 weeks of additional texts based on these topics, we have more than covered our social studies lessons!  And, in the eyes of my parents, these are great notes for the kids to study when it is time for a social studies test.  My parents and kids always know they can find these near the TAB in the Workshop Notebooks. :)

It's actually a very easy way to teach social studies and a great way to buy more reading time for you and your students! ;)

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Jun 30, 2014

Integrated Literacy Block Notebooks

Hi Teacher friends!  Recently I've had a few questions about NOTEBOOK ORGANIZATION!  I must admit...I am an ORGANIZATION~AHOLIC!  Things must be organized or I feel completely lost.  I imagine that my students and parents must feel the same way, so I work very hard to keep us organized. Since, we put ALL of our WORKSHOP work, including both SOCIAL STUDIES and ELA into our notebooks, it's important that I am clear on my instructions.  Here's how we do it in my room!


I know what you are thinking.  How is that a novel idea?  Well, we use the TABS fully to our advantage!  My students are only allowed to TAB the beginning of each unit on their NEWSLETTER page.

Their NEWSLETTER page includes all important dates, reminders, vocabulary, essential questions, and skills for our UNIT.  Perhaps best of all, it is always followed by our GUIDING TEXT that encompasses everything that will be covered in our unit for social studies.  I'll post later about how we use our guiding text, but for now, just know that my students (and their parents) know that all the facts they need to remember for social studies can be found in those texts.

After the TAB SECTION, you can find ALL of our station work, small group work, vocabulary work, grammar word, etc.  You name it, and we include it in our WORKSHOP NOTEBOOK.  But, most importantly, my students (and their parents) know that everything they need to know for the entire unit is located near the TAB!  It's actually very simple!  Hope this helps!
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Jun 29, 2014

Literacy Block Organization

Happy Sunday!  This morning I stumbled onto a fun little party over at Where the Magic Happens that apparently has been going on for quite some time and I've been so busy that I've missed the boat. :( I'm jumping on mid-stream to link up!

Literacy Block Organization

Book Talk Time (30-40 minutes)

Each day I begin class with a brief greeting about how much I am enjoying my current novel and why I can’t wait to pick it back up. I may mention a great kid’s novel that I just heard about, or one that I noticed one of them reading.  This is not a lesson, just a conversation with my fellow readers.  Then I tell them that they may begin reading whatever they would like, but I do give them a few reminders about how they should read. Sometimes I use the metaphor of being a zombie.  I suggest that they should crawl out of their bodies and into their books and onto whatever adventure their main character might be experiencing at that point in their story.  This often gives them a visual that they can relate to. Another great visual is to say that they should feel as though they are watching a movie.  If they can't "see" the movie as they read, then the aren't doing what we call "REAL READING!" Some might be reading mythology, some adventure, some even realistic fiction about kids their own ages.  
Next, I meet with each child individually throughout the week to document and talk about what they are reading, their progress, and work on whatever skills they need to successfully grow as readers.  At the end of this time each day, I hear moans and groans because my students do not want to stop!  What more could a reading teacher ask for?

Mini-Lesson, Shared Reading, Read Aloud (20 minutes)

During this time I usually begin my Social Studies integration.  I might read a picture book that models a specific WRITING CRAFT that I want to talk about or maybe there is a specific READING STANDARD or strategy that we will be working on in small groups that I want to introduce.  If you've read my blog before, you are probably already aware that I LOVE picture books for social studies, so maybe, just maybe, I am reading the book to my students simply because I love it!  There is ALWAYS something that can be taught through a good picture book.

Guided Reading, Small Groups, Literacy Stations (60 minutes)

This gets a big complicated, but my kids are trained in my procedures and our workshop runs like a well oiled machine.  :)

During this 60 minutes, we do 3 rotations of approximately 30 minutes each depending on when we get started. (Sometimes our mini-lessons run a bit long or I spend some extra time modeling expectations and we end up with 20 minutes for each rotation. I check the clock; calculate our time; and divide by three before we get started.)  During this time my students follow the chart above.  They simply follow the cards by their names.  Each child will visit SMALL GROUP plus 2 other STATIONS during our workshop each day. I then rotate the cards and they visit the available stations other days so that they have visited each station by the end of the week. Typically they will visit 2 of the following each day.
  •  a WORD WORK station where they work on affixes or roots
  • an AMERICAN HISTORY station where they read and interact with an article that dives a bit deeper into our social studies topic
  • an EDMODO station where they watch and respond to a social studies video 
  • a CURRENT EVENTS station where they might visit NewsELA and read articles and quiz on them, or might watch CNN News
  • a SPECIAL OCCASION station (Who knows what I might throw in there?!)
These are our standards but others like POETRY, WORD GAMES, NONFICTION, MAGAZINES, READING CAMPGROUND, etc. pop up from time to time. :)

Journal/Blog Time (20 minutes)

This is a time when creativity and social butterflies BLOOM!  Although my students visit the writing lab twice a week for writing instruction and we ALWAYS culminate our units with a big writing project and an AUTHOR CELEBRATION, I like to give my students time to write freely and explore topics that interest them.  We journal almost everyday, but at least twice a week I try to allow my students to blog on Kidblog.
Kidblog provides my students with the authentic audience of their peers and their parents.  Students may write about any appropriate topics that they like on their blogs and may comment on each other’s blogs to discuss their topics or simply to compliment the writing of a classmate.  Each student is aware that I must first monitor, assist, and publish their pieces and comments before their writing is visible to their peers.  This allows me the opportunity to work on their writing, spelling, and grammar skills in a real life setting that is important to them and specific to their individual needs, rather than a canned type of activity which would have no meaningful attachment to it.   This also allows me to monitor their interaction with their peers, the community, and the online world while developing many technology and writing skills at the same time.

Not much will be changing but I am adding a few additions!
I attended and loved a conference by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst on their book Notice and Note!
I created these BOOKMARKS,

and these matching POSTERS to go along with what I learned!  

I will definitely be incorporating these into our BOOK TALK Time.

I also attended and loved a conference session by Christopher Lehman on Falling in Love with Close Reading.  Since BOOKMARKS seem to be my thing, I created these.  Feel free to grab them if you like.  :)

Most EVERYTHING will stay the same except I will be adding some new content.  Instead of teaching 2 ELA/SS BLOCKS that are strictly fifth grade, I will be adding fourth grade to the mix which means I will integrating their social studies content as well.  That's right...I will be teaching one 4th grade block and one 5th grade block.  I will be teaching from the LAND BRIDGE THEORY to present day HISTORY IN THE MAKING!

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it...I don't have a TPT store, so what you see is what you get.  I guess you could count my posters and bookmarks that are attached above as my "PRODUCTS" but they are FREE!  Help yourself by CLICKING on them if you are interested ;)

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