Saturday, January 31, 2015

Super Bowl Sale!

If you're like me and not so into the Super Bowl this year...except for the commercials, food, and half-time. Then check out my store today and tomorrow. I'm running a "SUPER" sale and my entire store is 20% off including bundles! The sale will run 21 - 2/2!

Graphics and Font by: Ashley Hughes, I Teach What's Your Super Power, KG Fonts, Melonheadz, and Glitter Meets Glue Designs.

I have a few items perfect for Black History Month. The Freedom on the Menu lapbook is a freebie! Please leave some feedback if you use it in your classroom!

I also just updated my Maya, Inca, and Aztec Interactive notebook pages. It now includes pages for the Mississippian culture. It's a stand alone product or you can bundle and save! It also comes with Native Americans of North America bundle.

Please leave me some feedback and enjoy the big game!
Let's Go Seahawks! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin's Big Words Freebie!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I know many people are not as lucky to be off today to celebrate and I know this freebie comes a little late but I thought I'd take a minute and share a quick activity for anyone studying Martin Luther King Jr. or readings for Black History Month.

My fifth graders come with a lot of knowledge about Martin Luther King Jr. from previous grades. One of my favorite books to share with them is Martin's Big Words. This book has so many great quotes that can really open up conversation about so many social issues or social injustices. You can check the book out from the library or watch it here on You Tube!

After watching the video, I assign each student a different quote from the book. You could also let students choose a quote that speaks to them. We do a huge display as a wing out in the hallway so I try to make sure all quotes are represented.

Students spend time thinking about their quote. Researching how their quote relates to Dr. King's life or how they see his quote realized in our world today. This activity is a great 1 - 2 day activity to get students thinking and talking about social justice.We use this during our Civil Rights study during Black History Month. This is a great introduction activity to get kids to see the power of words!

Here's what the handout looks like:
{Grab it here from Google Docs or click the image}
What are your favorite MLK books or activities?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tried it Thursday: "PEELS" Response
Linking up with the wonderful Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for a Tried it Tuesday, Thursday style! A little late to the party, but with a great resource to share! With PARCC testing approaching in March, I've been looking for an easy way for my students to organize writing for their Performance Based Assessment. A co-worker suggested the super easy PEEL(S) model!

First, we glued this handout in our Reader's Notebooks. 
You can grab your own copy from Tracee Orman's TPT store - for FREE!

Then I modeled and went through the process with Maniac Magee. Our prompt was to choose one theme from Maniac Magee and support the theme with evidence from the text.

Here's my model: {Want a copy? Click the image to grab the PDF}

Then students got to work and started writing their own PEEL paragraph answering the same question about their book club novel.

Look at all this writing about reading! And evidence, evidence, evidence!

So, happy I tried this organization method. My goal is to do a quick flash drafts of short essays using PEEL each week until we take the PARCC. Students can choose to create the organizer before writing or they can go straight to the paragraph but I will be checking and monitoring all the PEELS parts during Reader's Workshop "Writing Days."

What have your tried to help students write about reading?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hump Day Highlight: Freedom on the Menu

Happy Wednesday! Since it's hummmmmp day, I thought I'd link up with Mrs. Standford's Class for my first Hump Day Highlight!

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, I knew I needed to start gearing up for our Civil Rights Movement unit and Black History Month. Plus, I'm currently reading Maniac Magee to my class which describes segregation and discrimination although no time period is ever mentioned. I knew, I needed a resource to help pull in some of my favorite Civil Rights picture books.

One of my favorite's is Freedom on the Menu by Carole Boston Weatherford. I've been using interactive notebooks this year so I created a FREEBIE that includes interactive notebook pages or a lapbook version that aligns to the book {and of course Common Core standards}. I'll make sure to take some snapshots once my students complete their notebook pages!

Here's a preview:{Click the images for a direct link to download!}

Here's some of the 5th Grade standards covered:

If you download, please leave some feedback for this freebie! Happy Wednesday! 

How are you preparing for MLK Day and/or Black History Month?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Clubs: Accountability & Freebies!

There have been several teachers inquiring about my book clubs and how I use them in my classroom. I'm going to try and add in some different posts as part of my "Book Club" series. Hopefully, it'll answer some questions and offer some insights into my favorite part of my day! Our current book club is so popular, I have students on waiting lists for books and asking for more books by that author! So, I added a collection of additional "free choice" books that students may want to pick up.

Today, let's talk student accountability. You can't read EVERY book. AR quizzes are really, really not so hot {not even luke warm} for testing and monitoring true comprehension.  

So how to do you hold students accountable for what they read?!

First, give students choice but make sure you know the books they will be reading. My teaching partner and I usually split up the books so we don't have to read them ALL the first year. That gives us some time (especially in the summer) to get caught up and read books that we'll be using. We try to have at least 8-10 choices so students have lots of options. Plus, with our "book previews" we really talk up these picks! Our general rule is that students must choose at least two of our books to read during book clubs and then can move on to free choice books.

Here's a sample list from our character book club:
I don't have time to do individual conferences. I've tried it and it's nearly impossible for me. I know many teachers are total reading conference rock stars - but it's a struggle to get it all in.  Between running a small reading group for my struggling readers and keeping up with the day to day of workshop, I never seem to have enough time. Group conferences have really helped me touch base and hold readers accountable. Here are some questions I pinned a while back... (I wish I could find the original owner & give them credit). Click the image to grab a free copy from m Google Drive!
I also hold regular notebook checks or will sit-in with a group of students while they're working on an activity. Typically, students only work together on Fridays so that most of the work is independent with some support from friends reading the same book if they get stuck. I NEVER take notebooks home. Even my biggest Vera would never fit nearly 60 notebooks. So, I call on tables or student numbers and I do a check of an activity or two looking for understanding. Most of the time these checks are not "graded" but a way for me to check-in on students and their reading progress. I always give students a fair warning before a check and then I create smaller groups, make notes,  or pull students that needed additional help.

Here's an example activity that my students completed today... 
 For this activity, I'd be checking that students can identify a theme in a novel (this is review) so I'm looking for mastery of this concept using our class read aloud and their book club novels.
Last, for a grade and a more formal form of check-in, I like to give quick general quizzes. We discuss in class that students are PROVING that they are reading the books by using character names and giving specific details. These quick quizzes are easy to grade by also hold students accountable for their reading during class. The idea behind these quizzes were a wonderful teacher in my wing {Shout out to Miss Sheets!} and then I adapted it to fit my teaching points and book club theme. I usually give a quiz in the middle of book club and a final quiz at the end.

What do you use to hold students accountable for reading in your classroom?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Three Favorite Read Alouds!

Using my "cold day" to stay warm, get caught up with grading, and blog! This morning I thought I'd use some spare time to link up with The Teaching Trio for their Three Favorite Things linky! Since we just started a new book club, I thought I'd share my three favorite read alouds for 5th grade! This a monthly linky so check it out and don't forget to check back in February for my fabulous trios!

Every year my partner and I evaluate our read alouds and book club choices! We have lots of great readers but we also have a lot of really reluctant readers each year. Many students just plain HATE reading... until we start some of the best read alouds!

We start the year with Love that Dog by Sharon Creech. Not only do we cover a lot of figurative language and introduce students to poetry right away, it's also a small and very approachable book. The story weaves famous poets and poems into a great story about a boy named Jack who absolutely HATES poetry until he reads a poem by Mr. Walter Dean Myers! I always convert many "haters" of poetry after reading this novel! This book is also a great start to building that community of readers and writers in any classroom.
My next favorite is The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. No one can weave a story like Kate DiCamillo. I love so many of her books but this is my ultimate favorite. I love this book because even though it is fantasy it's so approachable. Many of my students don't enjoy fantasy, including my teaching partner, but the lovable Despereaux makes this genre easy to love for so many readers. It has suspense, love, bravery and a Princess Pea! This book is also great because it is told in three parts with an often non-chronological order. This is great to get students sequencing, thinking, and talking about events in the book. However, my favorite aspect about this book is that is has the BEST, BEST, BEST audio version! The narrator's voice is memorizing and those reluctant readers can instantly visualize this complex story. Click here for a preview. My students beg for "the man on the CD."

Lastly, my favorite read aloud for the entire year is.... Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. Call me sentimental but this was one of my favorite books growing up as well. I remember bring the book on vacation to Florida and reading it twice during our trip. I simply could not let the story end! Jerry Spinelli has so many great books including Stargirl and Crash but no one can compare to the legend of Jeffery Magee. This text does so many great things. It brings in elements of historical fiction and folktales while using so many great author's craft techniques. Jerry Spinelli is so artful in his writing it is truly a work of art. However, the story itself brings about topics of conversation about bullying, racism, and homelessness. These are big issues that are real. I simply love the conversations that this book generates.

If you're looking for some other great books for reluctant readers here's a few of my fifth graders' favorites from Book Club!

What's your favorite read aloud?

Monday, January 5, 2015

January Pin-spiration!

Today, was our teacher work day. It was a relief to have time to get things organized before meeting up with our students tomorrow. On break, I had a lot of time to look at Pinterest and search the internet. I was looking for some specific resources and found a few great items that provided me with some pin-spiration!

So, today I'm linking up with PAWSitively Teaching for her Pinterest Pick Three Party!
Click any of the images to be taken to their "home" location!

First up, I'm starting Maniac Magee this Thursday. So, we need to do a little Folktale refreshing before we start our Maniac Close Reading Activity. I found this great chart that would perfect to glue into our Reader's Notebooks.

We're also going to start prepping for PARCC testing in February. To go along with some test prep, we;re going to be gathering evidence for our literary essays. I found this free PEELS bundle on Pinterest that helps struggling students gather evidence and state their opinions with this easy to use acronym.

My last pin-spired post will help during my intervention block. We are teaching "mini-classes" on the topics of our choosing. Each of my partners will get assigned a "class" of students and we're going to do rotations so we teach the same thing to a new group every so many weeks. I usually run a reading or social studies class. Personally, I love social studies and think it's important to help students practice map skills and complete projects we've never have time for in the classroom. I've done state float projects in the past...

But, since we've spent a lot of time on the United States this year... I thought maybe we could tweak the project and have students research a province of Canada! I found this nifty graphic organizer that could help students get started before creating their Canadian float!

I'm excited about starting this project and getting it organized! I'll be sure to share and blog about my students' (sure to be) amazing floats.
I've also been using some of my downtime to finish out some of my Social Studies Interactive Notebook & Lapbook pages! Now, that my units are wrapped up, I have officially created several bundles! All bundles save you at least $2 dollars on buying individually and give you bonus lapbook pages. Right now, all bundles are an additional 20% off in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

You can also check out all my pins by following MsAPlusTeacher on Pinterest!

What has pin-spired you?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

What are you teaching in January?

Saw several primary folks sharing what they'll be teaching as many of us head back next week, so I thought I'd do the same. Here's what I'll be teaching my 5th graders as we head back to school...
Graphics courtesy of Ashley Hughes & Fonts are KG Fonts.

We are starting our interpretation unit on Tuesday. This unit is one of my favorites because we get to connect all the books we've read this year and read so many great new books! Maniac Magee is a personal favorite and usually a student favorite as well. This unit is like an "pumped up" character unit. I'm out for a PD on Wednesday to actually tweak the unit but we're starting with the basics and sharing some new amazing book club novels with our students! We'll be practicing our writing skills during this unit for the upcoming PARCC testing and ending with a literary essay.

In Social Studies, I'm behind. I need to finish Regions of the United States and then start Mexico. Hopefully, we can get Mexico finished by the end of January so we can start our Civil Rights unit in February.

Here's some of the resources I plan on using in January to help me tackle it all...
Click on the images and check out the resources yourself!

What are you teaching in January?
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