Jul 28, 2013

Google's Newspaper Archives {Social Studies Mentor Text}

I do love Sundays! A day with my church, my family, and Collaboration Cuties Mentor Text Linky Parties! A perfect day!

Do you use Google News in your classroom?  Google has a collection of primary sources that is phenomenal!  They have an entire newspaper archive that is easy to zoom in for individual close reading, or for display for shared reading.   You can also zoom out to get the big picture of the older newspapers.  This gives an authentic feeling of the time period you are reading about.  Original advertisements, editorials, articles, fashion, etc. are right there waiting for you!

If you haven't explored Google's newspaper archives to research articles for your time period, you can start here!  I must warn you, you can get lost in all the details of history. It is truly fascinating!
Pic from Google images
An example of how I use Google News is as an accompanying piece to HISTORICAL FICTION.  Are you familiar with Forty Acres and a Maybe a Mule?  If you know your history, you are aware that forty acres and a mule was a promise that was made and never actually fulfilled in American History.  What a fabulous opportunity to pull in informational text pieces to test the validity of facts in an historical fiction novel. If we can get our students hooked on the characters and emotions of a novel, and then give them the primary sources that either relate or conflict with it, they can make better connections to the facts that we want them to learn.  Those connections will allow them to actually apply the facts to something that is familiar to them, rather than simply memorize the facts because that is what is expected.

We will read Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule as a shared novel study during our Reconstruction unit.  When we reach a point in the novel that spurs interest in the conflicting or related historical facts we are studying, we will put the novel on hold to address those interest through informational texts and research. Those informational texts, will then be our shared reading for a few days.

In the archives of Google News, I found a wonderful article written by Roy Grimes for the Victoria Advocate in 1964 titled, Forty Acres and a Mule.  He explains the confusion behind the concept that has been misunderstood for many years.

Another article I will use, provided by Buffalo News, is Broken Promises: The truth behind '40 acres and a mule.'  This editorial offers yet another intriguing opportunity to pull in informational text standards that you might be focusing for your particular lesson.

Today is SOCIAL STUDIES day over at Collaboration Cuties, so if this particular piece of historical fiction doesn't address a time period that you cover in your classroom, I'm sure you can find a fabulous option linked up for the party over there!  After you find the perfect book, take a look at Google News and see if you can find a few primary sources to go with it!

Thanks for reading!



This is a SIMPLE "2 CLICK" GIVE-AWAY for all my Bloglovin' Followers!  $20 to TARGET. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

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If you're a blogger and you blog about this little give-away, there's something extra from STARBUCKS in it for you to help jump start your first day of school!  Email me a link to your post and I'll email you a little treat!

Papers by Collaboration Cuties :)

Good luck and thanks for following!

Jul 23, 2013

A Visual Reminder to Read Critically

These are our READING GLASSES!  I use one pair to demonstrate recreational reading, and one to demonstrate CRITICAL reading. :). Recreational reading and critical reading truly do require very different methods of attack and do not need to be "viewed" through the same eyes.  I like to give my readers a visual to solidify the differences between the strategies used for these types of texts.  Can you guess which works best with each type of reading?

I teach fifth grade, and although you might think glasses without a lens are a bit silly, these work beautifully as visual reminders of how I want my students to read.

I model these pink beauties while reading silly poems, or maybe just a fun novel. When introducing the glasses the first time, I explain that these colorful glasses are for fun reading when you can kick back, put your feet up, and relax!  Stress-free reading time!  It is my goal that my students truly see reading as a pleasure and this is just one more opportunity to point out that pleasure reading is a big deal in my world.

Now these glasses have a very serious job. These glasses are for when you need to read CLOSELY with a pencil in hand. These glasses work well when re-reading several times is necessary to fully absorb the text. This particular cutie-pie is reading a Social Studies comic book. :)  I have several pairs of these CRITICAL READING GLASSES at my small group table, and my big kids earn them by showing lots of evidence of CLOSE reading. :)  Even big kids, including boys, love this stuff!

Now, before you go...

I have had so much fun blogging this summer, that I want to do one last give away to help you get started on  a project you might need for your classroom.  :) 

This is a SIMPLE "2 CLICK" GIVE-AWAY for all my Bloglovin' Followers!  $20 to TARGET. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

Follow on Bloglovin 
If you're a blogger and you blog about this little give-away, there's something extra from STARBUCKS in it for you to help jump start your first day of school!  Email me a link to your post and I'll email you a little treat!

Papers by Collaboration Cuties :)

Good luck and thanks for following!

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Jul 22, 2013

Social Studies Story Board {Monday Made-It}

History is one long story filled with many characters and details, right? I sure do love to tell a story! :). For this week's MONDAY MADE-IT, I've made a SOCIAL STUDIES Story Board.

First let me explain the "WHY" I made it, then, if you're sold on the idea, you can stick around for the "HOW" I made it, part of my post. :)


When starting a content area unit, I like to introduce the important names and vocabulary right from the start to avoid any frustration that might come up when reading a text. I am a firm believer that vocabulary is learned and retained best in context when it is relevant to the learner. So here's how I plan to set this up.

I will display all the necessary words, names, dates, etc. on our Story Board at the opening of our unit.  My students will receive a copy of incomplete notes that address the framework of our unit, including all terms, dates, names, etc. intentionally left blank. These notes will give them an overview of the time period and will address all the facts and details that our state standards requires my students to know.

I will then dim the lights for effect, and tell them the brief story, as dramatically as I possibly can, in time period costume, (okay, maybe just a hat) of our selected moments in history.  As I tell the story, I will make sure to hit all the important vocabulary words, names, etc, that we have intentionally left blank in the student copies.    My students will refer to our story board for reference, spelling, reassurance, etc. and complete the empty portions of the notes in their notebooks, thus hitting all the required names and vocabulary for the unit. This BRIEF introduction should give them the BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE and INTEREST to BEGIN the unit of study with ENTHUSIASM and CONFIDENCE. :)


Once we've covered the bare bone facts of the time period, and we've sparked our interest in the topics at hand, we'll begin diving into PRIMARY SOURCES, PICTURE BOOKS, NOVEL STUDIES, etc. to cover our ELA COMMON CORE STANDARDS, and to further deepen our knowledge of the topics that were introduced. As we cover each artifact during our study, we will add it to our story display board for reference.  The words, names, pictures, etc. will be displayed and readily available throughout the unit for revisits, inspiration for writing, reference, etc.

At the completion of each unit, I'll move our artifacts to a large timeline display that will wrap around one half of our classroom along the edge of the ceiling. Shhhh...please don't tell the Fire Marshall my plan.  Our timeline is still in progress.  We'll save that for another Monday MADE-IT post. :)

Thanks for reading and don't forget to click over and visit Tara to see what else your blogging friends have made this week.


I believe in our Social Studies Story Board so much, and I have had so much fun blogging this summer, that I want to do one last give away to help you get started on your own story board, or any other project you might need for your classroom.  :)

This is a SIMPLE "2 CLICK" GIVE-AWAY for all my Bloglovin Followers!  $20 to TARGET. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

Follow on Bloglovin 
If you're a blogger and you blog about this little give-away, there's something extra from Starbucks in it for you to help jump start your first day of school!  Email me a link to your post and I'll email you a little treat!

Papers by Collaboration Cuties :)

Good luck and thanks for following!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jul 21, 2013

Taking Atlanta By Storm :)

What happens when 9 bloggers plan a meet up in Atlanta?  Lots of good food, good conversation, and of course, good shopping!  Truly a wonderful day! :)

Here's the roll call from lunch:

From left to right:
Brandee (me)- Creating Lifelong Learners
Stacia & Amanda - Collaboration Cuties
Alison - Eberopolis
Elizabeth - Fun In Room 4B

Of course, there were fabulous decorations and treats.  What do you expect from a group of teachers?  :)

Pics from Google

And then there was the shopping, and more shopping, and more shopping!  This was my first trip to IKEA.  I was surprised to say the least!

Luckily, there was still enough room left in the car for us to ride home!

It was an absolute pleasure meeting, and spending the day with a group of ladies that share such a strong passion for education.  If you are ever close enough to join in on a Blogger Meet-up, I strongly encourage you to make the trip!

Have a wonderful day!
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Jul 19, 2013

A Few Quick Pics and a Bit about Twitter Chats

Happy Friday Friends!  I'm sharing a few quick pics and thoughts from my week.  Have a great weekend! :)

Monday was MOVING DAY!  I am still the kid that gets all excited on the first day of school, except as teachers, we get to have that day twice.  The first hit of adrenaline is the day we move all our new goodies from summer into our classrooms to set up.  I'll share more on Monday for Monday Made-Its, but here's a quick pic of my car as we began loading!

Tuesday we headed down to the BEACH!
Here's another beach pic.  This one is quite obviously of my sweet boys playing in a fountain. :)

I posted earlier about the need for teachers to be readers.  I accomplished this task with great enthusiasm this week. :)

I didn't play all week! ;)  Last night I participated in a Twitter Chat with the IRA (International Reading Association).  Have you tried this?  Twitter chats are great ways to connect with people with the same interests all over the world.  This particular chat was on DIGITAL WRITING in the classroom!  A wonderful hour of professional development.  The format is easy.  Someone poses a question with a "Q" and a number, for example "Q1," and the hashtag that matches the chat.  (#irachat)  Then fellow tweeters answer and discuss the question by starting their tweets with "A1," for ANSWER, and the correlating number of that question.  Super simple and super easy!  All you need is a free TWITTER account, and you are ready to learn!
If you are interested, there's a follow me button in my right sidebar.  Link up and come learn with me!
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Jul 15, 2013

Readbox, QR Codes, Book Trailers with IMOVIE and a rubric ~ We've been busy! { Monday Made Its }

I am lovin' MONDAY MADE IT this week!  My whole family worked together on this project.
It all started with this.  Ahhh...Pinterest! :)
I have been dreaming of my own READBOX for months.  Hubby is quite the handy man.  Here's some pics of his MONDAY MADE IT. :)  He's a trooper!

After the creation of our READBOX, we needed some BOOK TRAILERS to display.  I have been stalking and reading about classroom made book trailers for several months and working on a plan.  I have explored ANIMOTO and IMOVIE.
I decided to go with IMOVIE for our first project.
I played around a bit and learned a few things before I tackled this with my boys.
  • IMOVIE provides themes with preset transitions and music for convenience.  Very cool feature and a great way to talk about the theme, tone, and mood of a book. :)
  • IMOVIE provides an outline for your trailer. (super easy)
  • IMOVIE provides a storyboard to help you organize your text and pics.
  • IMOVIE allows videos or pictures.  We kept it simple and only used pics this time.
  • I'm sure there are many useful built-ins that I haven't found yet! Please share them in the comments if you are familiar with this app. :) Your tips will help me, as well as other readers.  :)
After my exploration, I grabbed my 8 and 10 year old boys, made a really super big deal about how much fun we were going to have creating our model example, crossed my fingers, and dove into IMOVIE!  (If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I am a big fan of enlisting kids to create models for other kids.  It is amazing the results you can get from approaching a project this way.  You can read a bit about it here if you like.)

First step: We started by choosing our THEME.  Since both boys have read CHOMP, they wanted to use the EXPEDITION theme, music and transition included, of course.  That's what makes it so easy. ;)

Second step: I printed a template from here, to give the boys a structure to work with.  The template made our planning super simple!  This site provides a template for each IMOVIE theme, but I did find some discrepancies, so please double check before you use them.

Final Step: Using the very user-friendly Storyboard built into IMOVIE, the boys either chose pics from Google or took their own pics, simply by clicking on the silhouette inside the Storyboard.
Easy as pie! :)

Here's their final project!  Notice the name of the studio is "THE GREEN SCREENS."  My youngest wanted our "studio" to be named after all of us.  We are the Greens. ;)

Not bad I'd say for a first try on a Sunday afternoon. :)  The mom in me loved that we did it together, and were actually talking about books as a family. :)  The teacher in me had to try very hard to stay quiet as the boys made a few mistakes as they worked.  :)  I kept telling myself it was all part of the learning process.

Here are my teacher thoughts on Book Trailers with IMOVIE.
  • This is a fun way to share books and could be very motivating.
  • Simply choosing the right present theme offers a great conversation about tone and mood. 
  • The template requires a very limited amount of words, so our students will need to determine the important parts of their books and stick with that.
  • Talk about summarizing skills!
  • Adding pictures to a trailer really requires a complete understanding of the text.  (I would like to think that my students would begin to think more deeply while reading because they just might be creating trailers in the minds as they read, thus noting more details.)
  • Tons and tons of technology skills are needed to complete a trailer from start to finish.  This is a good thing! :)
  • A rubric might be necessary to rein in the creativity.  I let my boys simply have fun with it, but I created a rubric to use in my classroom.  You may grab it here if you like.

Once our trailer was complete, we printed a copy of the cover of the book and attached a QR code. (We created the code in REDLASER.) Our code linked straight to our trailer loaded onto KIDBLOG.  Now, whenever a student is curious about whether or not he would like to read CHOMP, or any other book displayed on our READBOX, he can simply scan the code to watch the trailer for the book.
My final thoughts on BOOK TRAILERS with IMOVIE:  

I LOVE them!  The process requires a lot of work, training, and structure on the front end, but I plan to pass over the responsibility of maintaining our READBOX very early in the school year. :)  Plus, the benefits of all the skills that will be practiced over and over make it very worthwhile for my classroom, and quite honestly, it was just plain FUN! :)

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Jul 13, 2013

Snapshots of my Saturday :)

Happy Saturday Teacher Friends! I'm linking up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera to share a few pics from my day. I know, I was suppose to take pictures all week, but for the moment, today's shots are all I have. :). It's been a great day with my guys!

We started early here...
Then, against their will, we did a little shopping!
And NOW...
Have you read Ladies Night yet? Mary Kay Andrews is one of my favorite "me" time authors.  Sassy and fun!

By the way, I'm posting from my iPad using POSTS! It's a great free app and you should check it out if you haven't already. I also used A Beautiful Mess and Instacollage for my photos!  LOVE THEM!  Check out my post here, A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words, if you would like more info!

Have a wonderful evening!

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Jul 11, 2013

It's a Throwback and a Throw-down kinda Thursday! {Literacy Workshop Management}

It's a THROW-DOWN and a THROWBACK kinda Thursday!  I've only been blogging for 3 months, so I can only THROWBACK so far!  Today marks my 3 month BLOG-aversary.  I was hoping for 400 followers by today, but unless you guys really help me out today, I'm not going to make that goal! *hint, hint*

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Today I'm linking up with I'm Lovin Lit for a Thursday Interactive THROW-DOWN and with The First Grade Parade for a THROWBACK to an old post!  I'm throwing you all the way to April 18th, 2013!  I know...major time travel! ;)

Below you will find a re-post of how I run my literacy workshop.  It is very interactive because I keep them hopping to something new every 20 minutes!  No time to get bored, and no time to be off task, my students learn quickly that there is not a moment to spare.  Research shows that students begin to lose their ability for optimum focus after around 20 minutes.  OPTIMUM focus is what I want, so we restart their focus clocks with a timer, and a new activity, just when they start to drift off.  Our day flies by!


Originally posted on April 18, 2013 ~ Post #5 for me. :)  And it's a long one...my apologies! :)

In my previous post I told you guys about our 20 minute BOOK TALK time at the beginning of our workshop.  This is when my students read and respond in writing to a novel of their own choosing while I conference one on one with my readers.  They get additional independent reading time later in our workshop, but I find that my sweet "tweens" begin to lose their highest quality of focus after about 20 minutes, no matter how engaged they might be.  I have noticed that if they simple change locations, they can regain that optimal focus ability.  (If I keep them moving, I can eliminate behavior problems that often start to crop up when they get a little stir crazy.)  I wrap up BOOK TALK time with an app called PICK STICK.(see post here)  Students prepare themselves for a moment of public speaking about their novel by thinking in advance what they will say if selected by the app.  They know they need to tell the class the title of their book in case a classmate is interested, a little bit of details from their book as evidence of their reading, and a lot of thought from their book using thinking stems posted in the classroom as evidence of their thinking.  We also SKYPE from time to time to share our BOOK TALKS with other classes, so if you are interested in SKYPING with us, shoot me an email or a tweet and we can set that up!  We love to connect with other classes to share our books and to discover new ones for ourselves!

Today I want to talk about the structure of the rest of our time together.

I typically have a 10-15 minute mini-lesson where I share a mentor text and/or model a sample of writing that we might be working on.Then we quickly review the expectations for our workstations, the students review their agenda for the day by checking the chart, and I answer any questions they may have about their plans for workshop. When everyone is fully aware of and prepared to meet the expectations I have laid out for them, we move to our first assigned rotation via the chart. We work at that station for approximately 20 minutes, then a timer (set by me) dings and we have a 10 count to move to our next assigned station. My kiddos know that they need to be on task at all times in order to meet all the expectations in our workshop.  There is rarely a second available to waste. In the picture you see the 3 rotations. Each child simply follows his or her own row. For example, in the close-up pic, these students will go to WORD WORK, READ TO SELF CAMPGROUND, and then SMALL GROUP MEETING WITH ME. Some stations are independent, and some allow them to work together with a partner, or with a group.

If you were to walk into our classroom during these rotations, you would see a lot of different activities going on all at the same time!  I have planned for only one or two activities that involve collaboration to be simultaneously happening to control the noise level.  Even then, my workers are aware that anything above a whisper tone buys them a ticket to “workbook world.” (Which kind of explains itself I think! ;)  One trip to “workbook world” and you remember to work quietly on task for the rest of the year. :)

Here are a few examples of things 
you might see:

At our WORD WORK STATION you might see:
  • practice activities to review prefixes and suffixes 
  • practice activities to work on parts of speech 
  • other activities that focus on any type of words 
 In the picture, my reader is using an app called GRAMMAR JAMMERS…fabulous app to work on parts of speech. It plays a short video, and has a quick check game to practice that part of speech. When he is done with the assigned video and game, he will write a paragraph about anything he wants but he will need to focus on making sure he using at least 4 examples of the assigned part of speech correctly in his writing, and he will highlight those as his evidence from the station.

  • any activities that involve reading, writing, and researching different types of informational text 
We use leveled readers that align with our science or social studies standards, kid-friendly magazines, or texts that relate to our project we might be working on in our current unit.

Our SPECIAL OCCASION STATION is a free for all! I use this station as a place to add activities that might not fit well into our other categories, but are activities that are valuable none-the- less. In the picture, I have provided post-its and biographies for the kids to research and make notes about a famous person of their choosing. This station typically has activities that relate to our projects we are working on in our unit, but sometimes the activities relate to a seasonal or community topic. 

At our WRITING STATION you might see 
  • writing related to our project for our unit 
  • free writing about anything they want (If they choose to do a free write, then they will need to make a note of a trait from 6+1 that they used to help them with their writing, or a note explaining how they improved their writing in general. 

Other stations you might see:
  • READ TO SELF CAMPGROUND (comfy chairs to read BOOK TALK books)
  • SKILLS STATION (I co-teach with a special education teacher during one of my 3 ELA blocks.  From time to time, we see a need for some remediation with some of our shared students.  This is a station that she manages and works on specific skills with any student that needs it.)

No matter what is going on in the other areas of my classroom, you will always see a SMALL GROUP MEETING happening at my SMALL GROUP table.  During SMALL GROUP, I use texts and activities related to our projects that will be due at the completion of the unit.  For example, we are currently working on an autobiographical/biographical narrative unit, and at the completion of the unit, the students will have 2 published pieces, and example of each type of narrative studied.  So, during our small group meetings, we are reading and discussing related mentor texts, researching pieces that relate to our unit, or working on writing/research skills that relate to narratives.  My units are project based and integrate research, reading, and writing Common Core standards. I meet with every student during for a SMALL GROUP MEETING everyday.

Your turn!  As I have stated in an earlier post, my workshop is always changing and growing as I learn from other teachers with similar focus and passions.  Please take a moment to tell us something you do in your workshop that I, or another reader could use.  

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