Sunday, September 27, 2015

Five Things I've Learned Outside the far

Hey all!

So before school started, I planned my year and my units for grades 3, 4 and 5.  Well...surprise! I'm also teaching 2nd grade also!  So far, it's been nice.  I have intervention groups in the mornings and then I teach 3 or 4 classes in the afternoon.  Life outside of a traditional classroom is different than I thought it would be.  I made a couple of mistakes that I correctly quickly and wanted to share a few things I've learned in the first few days of school.

1.) Classroom Management FIRST
I should have know this.  But I thought the kids would be sick of talking about rules and expectations by the time they reached my room, so I sat them on the carpet to read.  I didn't make that mistake more than once.  I had a group of excited third graders who just loved A Bad Case of Stripes and called out again and again.  In the next class we set the rules and I introduced Class Dojo.  The turnaround was almost instantaneous for almost all of the students.

2.) Same lesson plan, totally different lesson
NYC is kind of crazy about writing lesson plans.  They are basically novels.  One nice part of seeing 3 fifth grade classes is that I can re-use my lesson plans.  The interesting part of that is how much difference you see in the lesson based on the kids sitting in front of you.  Answers to questions vary and the lesson takes an unexpected turn.  I've used mistakes and misconceptions from my students in one class to make my questioning and teaching more precise in the next class.  In a traditional classroom you can do that also, but it's often a year before you teach that lesson again.  I'm teaching the same lesson on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but to different kiddos.  I can refine my lesson right away.

3.) Our school has a lot of kids.
Another "duh" observation, but I teach EVERY second, third, fourth and fifth grader in our school.  I haven't done an official count {because I don't really want to know!} but I estimate that I've met 400 students.  Luckily, I know some of the kids because I've taught their older siblings, but for the most part, learning 400 names is a Herculean task that I have not completed. I continually ask kids to say their names before responding to questions.  I'd guess that I know about 100 names.  {Also, our school has at least 5 sets of twins and this is slightly delaying the process.}

4.) I'm a celebrity.
I can't walk anywhere in the school without having kids (who's names I do not yet know!) wave and say hello.  It's an awesome feeling.

5.) Lower grades are cute, but fifth grade has my heart
I love the conversations that are happening in the second and third grades. I can see how hard their teachers get them to work on accountable talk and listening to the speaker.  They are so eager to please also!  But when you are looking for depth in your conversation, fifth grade is where its at!  Some kids are just bursting with big ideas about the text.  Lower grade students seem to have greater difficulty addressing the question posed. Upper grade students are much more productive in that regard.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Peek at My Year - Fifth Grade Literacy

This is my final post about my year long plan for the position I've taken for next year.  I'm teaching a supplemental literacy program for grades 3, 4 and 5 and I get to design it myself! Because it is a supplement, I didn't worry about covering all of the standards, just creating units to engage my readers.

Today I'll share my plan for my favorite grade - FIFTH!

Just like in grades 3 and 4, we will begin with typical reader's workshop mini lessons.  We will share Because of Winn Dixie.

In November and December, we will work on a character study.  Students will conduct their own in their independent reading books and I will model using Wonder.  I'm so excited to share this book with so many readers this year!

In January and February, we will repeat a unit that was a favorite from last year - celebrating black history through literature circles.  I offered books that focused on African American characters and even some nonfiction that dealt with African American history.  My students loved this unit because it coincided with our reading of Heart and Soul and my students learned SO MUCH.  It was such a positive unit that my students asked me to repeat the book offerings so they could keep the unit going! The books I offered were: One Crazy Summer, Sounder, I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, Who was Harriet Tubman, What Was the Underground Railroad.  

In March and April, we will examine nonfiction.  I plan to use text sets about space.  We will begin with a basic text about space to fill in any gaps in their prior knowledge and then move on to more detailed text.  We will also read a first hand account from Buzz Aldrin to differentiate between expository and narrative nonfiction.

Credit: Amazon
Our final unit is to read like a fan.  This is another of Lucy Calkin's units that I am going to adapt.  We will read books by our favorite authors.  I plan to share more of Kate DiCamillo's texts during this time.  Students will choose their favorite authors to study. 

Only a few more days until school begins!  I hope you all are off to a great start!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Peek at My Year: Fourth Grade Literacy

Last week I shared my third grade plans, which you can read HERE.  Today, I want to share my outline for fourth grade.  I used very similar ideas, but tried to elevate them for fourth grade.  Also, the texts we share will be more sophisticated.  Remember that I am teaching a supplemental program, so I'm not trying to cover every single ELA standard.

September and October for all grades will focus on those beginning of year workshop mini lessons. Students will learn how to choose books, set goals and we will review fix up strategies as needed.  I plan to read aloud Stone Fox and The Tiger Rising.  

For November and December, all grades will work on character study.  We will refer back to The Tiger Rising for most of this work.  We will share another text, but I haven't chosen it yet!

For January and February, we will study biography.  My students have loved the Who Was Book Series last year. 

For March and April, we will work on historical fiction book clubs.  I'm thinking of offering Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,  Sarah, Plain and Tall and the I Survived Books.

For May and June, we will deepen our analysis of text.  We may use short text because you know how the end of the year is!

In my next post, I'll share my fifth grade year long map and my favorite unit from last year!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Peek at My YEAR - Third Grade Literacy

I wanted to share some of the planning I've done for my role as literacy teacher this fall.  If you missed it, I will be working with third, fourth and fifth graders this fall.  I'm going to be push in with classroom teachers in the mornings and teach literacy in the afternoons. I'm hoping to have each class twice a week, but I haven't seen the schedule yet, so I don't know!

My objective is to help students love to read, so to do that, I've done a ton of reading about reading.  Thank goodness for the Internet!  There are so many great reading units and year long curriculum maps to pull from!  A quick side-note: because I'm supplementing a reading curriculum, I didn't try to cover every single CCSS standard.  I'm focused on reading literature, but each grade will spend time reading non-fiction as well.

Here's a look at my year-long plan for third grade.  I'm sure you'll notice that I borrowed heavily from Lucy Calkins Units of Study.

This little map shows some of the mini lessons I'm planning for my readers.  In September, we will share Horrible Harry Moves Up to Third Grade.  I'm expecting most of my readers to be below benchmark, so this book should work well.  I have other Horrible Harry books that we will read after that.

For November and December, we will most likely move onto another book series, probably The Magic Tree House.  I'll keep Horrible Harry books available for my readers to read independently.

In January and February, we will move onto a nonfiction study. I like using book sets - first read a book with basic information, then a more detailed book and then an even more detailed text - to teach readers to become experts.  I will read books about sharks and my readers will choose their own book sets.

For March and April, I plan to teach using book clubs.  The classes should have begun literature circles, so I will build upon those literature circles.  For these clubs, I plan to offer Cam Jansen, Encyclopedia Brown, A to Z Mysteries, etc.

Finally, in May and June, students will read books that include social issues. { I'll wait until after school begins to see what levels we are working with before I choose books} 

Tell me: If you have favorite books in L-O levels, please let me know! I've been in the S and up levels for so long! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Each Kindness - A Book to Notice and Note

Hey, friends!  I have two more Fridays before school starts, so I'm finally sitting down to write some actual lesson plans. I spent part of the summer writing unit plans and this week mapped out my first units for Grades 3, 4 and 5.  {If you missed it, I'm teaching literacy to Grades 3, 4 and 5 this year.  I'll likely work with guided reading groups in the mornings and then see full classes in the afternoons.  I'm crazy excited about it!}

One of the books I plan to share with my classes is Each Kindess by Jacqueline Woodson. She is the author of Brown Girl Dreaming {link to previous post about this AMAZING book} and The Other Side.  Her picture books are gorgeous and teach important lessons.  This book, obviously about kindness, is also about thinking about the choices we make and how they make other people feel.

In the book, a new girl named Maya appears in class.  It's obvious that Maya comes from a less fortunate family.  Her clothes look old and her shoes are for the wrong season.  When Maya sits and smiles at Chloe, Chloe avoids her and moves away.  This pattern of avoiding Maya's attempts at friendship replays itself through the first half of the book until Maya finally gives up.  Soon after, Maya's family moves away and Chloe's teacher discusses kindness with the class.  Using the image of a rock in the middle of a pond surrounded by ripples, the teacher says "each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world."  The final half of the book follows Chloe as she grapples with her behavior and lack of kindness.

It's a unique book about a more silent form of bullying.  And also unique in that unlike books like Thank You, Mr. Falker, the book focuses on the bully, not the bullied.  Chloe isn't awful to Maya, but she is unkind. Chloe bullies Maya by excluding her from the friendship of the group.

Another part of my summer was spent reading Notice and Note.  After reading Each Kindness, I can see ways to use this book to model some of the signposts from Notice and Note.

1.) Again and Again - Maya tries to be friendly to the girls by smiling and showing them different toys she's brought to school.  Each time she asks them to play, the girls say no.  Students can notice and note by asking "why does this keep happening?"

2.) Words of the Wiser - In this case, the teacher is the wiser.  Her words "Each kindness...each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world."  We can help students by asking "what is the lesson here?"

3.) Aha! Moment - When the teacher asks the kids to drop a stone and tell her kind things they had done, Chloe can't think of anything.  We can help our students by asking "how might this change things?"  This could also be a Tough Question, as we might assume the teacher asked "what kindness can you share with us?"

4.) Memory Moment - When Chloe is alone, her "throat filled with all the things I wished I would have said to Maya," one can view this as a memory.  We can help our students notice and note by asking " why is this memory important?"  For older students with experience studying characters, I would probably ask what it reveals about Chloe.  Perhaps this scene could also be a Contrast and Contradiction, as before Chloe had nothing positive to say to Maya, but now her throat is filled.  If I used this scene for a contrast, I would ask "Why is the character doing that?"

It's definitely not my goal to try to teach all six sign posts in one text, but it is nice to see them in play and know that I'm now in the practice of "Noticing and Noting" when I read.  It is also a quality, short text that can be read and re-read throughout the year as you work on the signposts.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Two New Products - in time for the TpT Sale!

I'm popping on today to let you all know about two products I've recently posted on TPT.

First, I created a set of centers based on the place value standards for fifth grade.  I love the theme: Space!

I really love these.  I printed them out and cut out all the individual planets to give the centers more of a tactile experience.  I love variety.  Anything I can do to keep my kids engaged!  There are SEVEN centers included in this set and a complete teacher's answer key.

I always post new products at a discount, and these are discounted even more with the sale happening right now!  You can check them out HERE.

I also added a set of print and go pages for 5.NF.A.1 and 5.NF.A.2.  These two standards focus on replacing fractions with equivalent fractions to add and subtract. This is a half page booklet but there is a ton of content packed in there.  Each student booklet is 18 work pages, plus a cover sheet.  A complete teacher's guide is included as well.  This book is so easy to prep and only uses black ink for the student guide (the teacher's guide has a few color graphics).

You can easily use these to teach or review content.  I used the half size pages last year to save some paper!  You can see them HERE.

Be sure to leave feedback for all of your previous purchases to get TpT credits as well! Don't forget to use TPT code: MORE15 at check out to save an additional 10% off your purchase!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Football Themed Decimal Math Centers for Fifth Grade {with a freebie!}

Hey everyone :-)

I wanted to share my latest set of math centers with you all!  I'm a huge believer in math centers.  Math center work is critical to my math workshop.  I use math centers to give my on-level students additional practice while I work with students who really need small group instruction to master skills.  I also find it useful to have centers available for students who need a review later in the year, say around testing time.

These centers are designed to be used at any point during the school year.  While I LOVE seasonal centers, I'm not sure many students want to revisit Halloween centers in February!  These football themed centers focus on three decimal standards for fifth grade math: 5.NBT.3a and b, 5.NBT.4 and 5.NBT.7.  Each center has 6 cards, a recording sheet and an answer key for the teacher.

Take a look:

 In this center, students add and subtract decimals.  They can match their answers to the answer cards provided.  This makes the center self-checking!  There is also a multiplying and dividing version included.
 In this center, students work with decimals to the thousandths place.  They round to the underlined digit and record their answers on the sheet.

 On each card, students read two similar decimal numbers.  They compare the values using <, > or = symbols.
In the writing decimals center, students practice writing decimals in word form, standard form and expanded form.  You can grab this center for free right HERE or by clicking the image above.
And one final center: problem solving.  Students apply their operation skills to word problems!

As always, new products are listed at a discounted price!  You can get the full product HERE.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Keeping Track of Reading Conferences

Hi all!  I just wanted to pop on to share how I keep track of my reading conferences.  I use a really simple form which you can download at the bottom of this post!

I write the student's names in different colors to indicate their reading levels.  Red pen is for students who need frequent reading conferences.  {Truthfully, you can have a higher level reader who still needs frequent conferences but that's another post!} Yellow/orange pen is for students who are approaching grade level expectations.  Green pen is for students who are reading at or above their grade level.

My struggling readers need the most support, so I try to make sure to check in with them every few school days.  I particularly like to check in on Mondays to make sure they have been reading over the weekend and that they have the books they need for that day.

Ideally, I try to confer with every reader once every 10 school days.  The dates that are circled in red above are when it was longer than 10 days since our last conference.  Since I don't like seeing those red circles, it keeps me on track with who I need to see and when.

It's a simple form, but it works!  You can grab the PDF HERE and the editable PowerPoint HERE.

I try not to over plan my conferences.  I know some teachers really thrive on schedules, but I like to indicate a reader or two who I plan to confer with in my plan book and then leave myself some flexibility with conferring with other readers.  The more conferences you have, the more likely it will be that a reader will request a conference with you.  This is how you know your conferences are on the right track!  When readers find them to be helpful and valuable, they will ask for your assistance!

Don't forget that today and tomorrow are the back to school sale at TpT!  My entire store is on sale, including the bundles!  Don't forget to use code BTS15 at checkout to save an additional 10% off.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming: A Review

Hi everyone! Last week I shared The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, the winner of the Newbery Award in 2015.  Today, I'm back to share Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, a Newbery Honor book.  Like The Crossover, Brown Girl Dreaming is written in verse.  Each chapter is it's own poem, with the entire book being a memoir of Jacqueline Woodson's early life.  It is beautiful, powerful and relevant to the times we live in.

The story begins in Ohio, where Jacqueline was born and lived with her mother and father until at a young age, the mother moves the family to her home state of South Carolina.  The year is 1963 and the nation is embroiled in the battle over civil rights.  The move to South Carolina means that the family must sit in the back of the bus, where the mother whispers to her son "we're as good as anybody."  While in South Carolina, Jacqueline lives with her grandparents and has experiences that will provide her with nostalgia for the south when her mother moves the family to Brooklyn a few years later.

"It's dawn and the birds have come alive, chasing
each other from maple to pine and back
to maple again. This is how time passes her.
The maple will be bare-branched come winter,
Mama says. But the pines, they just keep on living.

And the air is what I'll remember.
Even once we move to New York.

It always smelled liket his, my mother says.
Wet grass and pine.

Like memory."

I think most of all, I loved the relationship between Jacqueline and her grandfather.  Savvy readers will predict his fate pages before the narrator reveals his failing health.  His story made my heart ache.

The story Woodson tells is easy to follow.  Although the story is recommended for grades 5 and up (according to amazon), the text is complex and layered.  A fifth grade reader will likely comprehend the story as one about a girl growing up and moving between the north and the south.  An older reader with more prior knowledge will understand the themes of prejudice and racism.  These readers will pay attention to the change from civil rights to the black power movement.

"More than a hundred years, my grandfather says,
and we're still fighting for the free life
we're supposed to be living"
This is not a book about civil rights so much as it is a book about a girl witnessing the civil rights movement.  From this text students might realize how protesters were trained to sit at Woolworth's counters and how civil rights supporters could lose their jobs for protesting.  These readers might benefit from seeing images of the civil rights movement so they can envision these protests, particularly the sit-ins at Woolworth's counters.  I think this would be a great way to help students empathize and possibly better understand some of the current issues with race in South Carolina.

So who is this book for?  I think this book would speak to many girls.  The review from the New York Times questions the appropriateness of the title "Brown Girl Dreaming" as opposed to just "Girl Dreaming."  I love the title.  I think that Jacqueline Woodson wrote her story for other little girls to see their own story mirrored.  In the story, Jacqueline tells about her first time finding a book with African American characters:

"If someone had been fussing with me
to read like my sister, I might have missed
the picture book filled with brown people, more
brown people than I'd ever seen
in  a book before.

If someone had taken
that book out of my hand
said, You're too old for this
I'd never have believed
that someone who looked like me
could be in the pages of the book
that someone who looked like me
had a story."

Personally, I am excited to add this book to my library and will be looking for the perfect reader this fall!  I'd also like to add a set to my literature circle options!

Tell me: What are you reading right now?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday, everyone! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share a few random things about my week!

My kids started camp this week!  My son, Jacob, is in sports camp for half the day and my daughter, Leah, is in #bestsummerever camp through her preschool for three days a week.  They love it!  It's just a bit of a scheduling nightmare for me....I drop her off at 8, him at 9, pick him up at 12:30, her at 3.  So I have about three hours to myself...and I will take what I can get!

Leah, on her first field trip!  The class went to see a performance of Cinderella.  The highlight of the trip was going on a school bus, of course.

I'm taking a new position next year!  I'll be the literacy teacher for grades 3, 4 and 5.  I will push into classrooms to work with small groups in the mornings and I'll have classes come to me in the afternoons.  I plan to use a workshop model to spread the love of reading amazing books to our older readers!  I am so excited :-)  I've been pinning away....thinking about guided reading, library organization and my favorite novels for older readers!  You can take a look at my pinterest HERE.  Leave yours in the comments!

As part of my new position, I've been reading kids books like mad this summer! I've already blogged about the Crossover by Kwame Alexander.  I also read Brown Girl Dreaming, which I will review on Monday's post.  Check back!

I made our Disney fastpass+ this week!  We are spending two days at Magic Kingdom and one day at Animal Kingdom at the end of August, very beginning of September (I know that it will be crazy hot...).  We went to DIsney last summer, but didn't get to go to Animal Kingdom because I was too busy geeking out at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  I made fastpass+ for the safari,  It's Tough to be a Bug (DH and Jacob), Character Meet (me and Leah) and the Lion King show.  Any Animal Kingdom experts? Does that sound good for a 6 year old and 4 year old?  We will hit dinosaur as soon as we get to the park.

This would be perfection if dirty wasn't spelled wrong! 
This is my life right now.  I love summer because I can workout so frequently.  I hate summer because I'm in the shower twice a day.

I hope you all have a great Friday and a fab weekend!  Be sure to link up with Doodlebugs to share your five for Friday!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Crossover

Let's all just pretend that I've been updating my blog regularly and it hasn't been sitting, getting dusty in some corner of the Internet, okay? :-)

An apology: new evaluation system in NYC nonsense/first grader involved in too many activities/dissertation length lesson plans/marathon training/death of my doggie/adoption of a puppy/maintaining a marriage = something had to give.  And now that it's summer I hope I'll be able to blog more regularly (although my soon-to-be second grader is still involved in too many activities!).

I did, however, have time to read the best book I've read in years.  The Crossover by Kwame Alexander won the Newbery Award this year and it is fabulous.  The book is written in free verse and in the vernacular of today's kids.  When I read the book aloud to my class at the end of the year, one of my students kept remarking that she could tell the book was "modern" because of the way it was written (love that!).

The story is narrated by Josh, aka Filthy McNasty, an African American boy who loves LOVES basketball and is great at it.  He is the only seventh grader on his team who can dunk.  His father played professional ball for a European team and won a championship ring before he was sidelined by an injury.  Josh is also a twin.  His twin brother Jordan, or JB, also plays basketball, but develops a new interest in girls, leaving Josh feeling alone.  The text brings you through the changes that Josh unwillingly experiences because of the choices of people around him.

My students loved this book.  I had so much fun reading it aloud to them.  It's filled with basketball trash talk and rhymes (See, when I play ball,/ I'm on fire./When I shoot,/I inspire./The hoop's for sale,/and I'm the buyer.)

Entwined into the story, the author wove several vocabulary words that have their own chapters and Basketball Rules, which are really rules for life.  My favorite rule is #3: "Never let anyone lower your goals.  Others' expectations of you are determined by their limitations of life.  The sky is your limit, sons.  Always shoot for the sun and you will shine."

While this is a text that refers to basketball (A LOT) I don't think it just appeals to kids who are interested in sports stories.  This is a highly engaging text that will appeal to many readers in your classrooms.  I especially think that this is a book for your most reluctant readers.  Kids who are entering their tween and teen years will relate to the drama of young love and the chapters are short and easy to digest.  Pertinent vocabulary is explicitly defined within the text as well.

I'm currently planning a novel study for my fifth graders next year using this text.  I've posted a comprehension booklet on TpT:

 This packet includes 22 pages of higher order thinking questions, a project choice board and a full answer key with teaching ideas for the teacher! I've also included a CCSS anchor standard alignment, which you can see in the preview.  As always, this resource is posted at a discount from today until 7/10 around 9pm.

I also wanted to share a free resource: a vocabulary trifold for The Crossover.  You can use this download to help students define the vocabulary from the text or to write sentences using the words they've acquired.  Click on either image to download from Google Drive:

Tell Me: Has anyone else read The Crossover? The next book on my list is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson.  I have quite a few books for older readers, but I need more current books for third and fourth graders.  Any suggestions?