Standardized Test Review Words

      With our MAJOR standardized test coming up, I made this powerpoint movie of key words they need to be able to read to process the questions. We are treating them like sight words and strictly gaining fluency with this particular activity. We have discussed in length what each word means, but since they are tough to read (encyclopedia, punctuation, personification) I don't want them to get the question wrong because they can't figure out the word.

        ALL of my students know what each of these mean, its stressing out and giving up when they see a HUGE word like this and deciding to just check any answer :(  I have had SOOOOO many kiddos go "Oh that's alliteration (or whatever hard word it may be) ...that's easy now that I know the word" and then they get the answer correct.

         So use at your leisure and hopefully it will help some of those kiddos who can't digest these HUGE words and help them to recognize them more easily.

Differentiation Frustration

        I have to say that differentiating is the greatest thing for my students. 
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Albert Einstein

But differentiating is a lot like knowing what foods will make you skinny, but it is more expensive and takes ALOT of ENERGY!!!!! Differentiating is the ultimate way of teaching, but I sometimes feel like it takes sooooooo much time. Don't get me wrong, I know there are easy ways to differentiate, but when you are in elementary and you add 5 subjects, 18 second graders, 6 ESE students, 4 ESOL students, and 2 gifted gets to be a little too much!

        We just started Marzano's evaluation system and with EVERY point...if you haven't differentiated, then you will not get the desired marks. Luckily, I did great but cant really put my finger on exactly what I did. According to the Principal "there are things you just do naturally"...but I would like to know for sure what it looks like.  I know there are more "tricks" I can learn to differentiate for my students and I look forward to hearing from you all about what you do to differentiate.

Here is one thing I do:

Differentiating Dice:
  1. Each color represents one my Reading groups. 
  2. After we read our "leveled" readers that are already differentiated, each student takes a turn to roll the dice. 
  3. This determines what "Written Response" job they will have for that day. 
  4. Then they write in their Reading Journal their job task for the day.
My higher group's dice include the more difficult tasks from her packet.
My lower group's dice includes simpler tasks such as write a letter to a character, a conversation between characters...etc.

Here is how they are differentiated:

Click on the picture to take you to her store.

Examples of what some of the tasks are: 
  • 1.New Beginning
    2.New Ending
    3.Book Cover Makeover
    4.Comic Strip
    5.Venn Diagram Fun
    6.Diary, Diary!
    7.Be a Character
    8.Problem Solving
    9.Persuade Me
    10.Setting Switch
    11.Letter To the Author
    12.Letter To a Character
    13.A Good Conversation
    15.Next, Please!
    16.Illustrate It
    17.What Would They Say?
    18.Cool Connector
    19.Sequence Chain
    20.Character Compare and Contrast
    21.Card Game Creation
    22.Extra! Extra!
    23.Movie Time
    24.Nonfiction News
    25.Research It

Problem and Solution

My students have been practicing how to make their own graphic organizers as a way to "extend" their thinking. To make it even MORE exciting I let them draw on the tables which they always LOVE. 

I saw a cute way of organizing problem and solution with puzzle pieces so this has been our "theme" for this comprehension piece it together. They drew the graphic organizer, wrote in each piece from our story we were reading, and then shared with their table.

Vocabulary Foldable

      After trying to spice up my Vocabulary center, I added a fun vocabulary foldable to enhance their learning.

Here is how to make the foldable:
1. Take 3 different colors of paper.
2. Layer them about an inch apart.
3. Fold them over to make the 6 layers.
4. Staple the top to keep the pages together.

The students are given (pre-made) foldables and have to match the word, definition, and picture. I get the words/definitions/ and pictures from our Reading Series so it is an easy Center to throw together each time I do it. So if you are looking for something different to do this is a fun and easy spicer-upper :)

Here is how they turned out:

Problem and Solution

     This week's comprehension skill is Problem and Solution. I am overjoyed that it is one of those skills that is fairly easy for them to grasp!

Here are a few goodies to share: Click on the pictures to get your copy!


A Song:
I found foam puzzle pieces at the dollar store (9 of them!!!!) They were "Cars" and "Disney Princess" themed down the toy aisle.
They even had numbers on the front which ended up being great for self monitoring.
I turned over the pieces and glued "Problem" and "Solution" sentences on the back for them to "Piece" together.

Problem: My bike had a flat tire.          Solution: I pumped it up with air.

Problem and Solution Story Writing: 
  • The students chose one slip from the "Problem" bucket.
  • They had to find the "Solution"from the other bucket and put them next to eachother. 
  • They then wrote a story using both.
  • For my "higher" kiddos...they randomly chose one from each and then had to creatively come up with a story and link the two together...This was a challenge to make the story make sense!!! 

A Packet with Graphic Organizers: 
Click HERE to download the packet. 
(Thanks to Stories From Second.)

Water Cycle...Yee-Haa!

I reckon that our class LOVES to sing and perform. It is truly my secret weapon this year. I have no idear what I am going to do if I get a class next year that don't like to sing n dance!!

Mosey on over the picture to get a copy of this here song:

Here is our Water Cycle Song and Moves:

Author's Purpose Song

I just finished my evaluation!!!!  Good news is I did good! I am thrilled! I was teaching Author's purpose and when I couldn't find a song for them to sing...I had to make my own!

It is to the tune of "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" and the kiddos really loved singing it!

Click on the picture below to get a copy of the song.

My kids always get a kick out of the song being posted on "YouTube" or this blog so I posted it for you all to hear what GREAT singers they are :)

Cause and Effect with COMICS!!

    We just finished the comprehension skill of Cause and Effect. I wanted to give my students a FUN way to seal the deal. So I found comics that showed cause and effect and the rest is history!!!!!!

1. I gave each student two comics to read.
2. After MANY giggles and laughs they had to identify the cause and effect relationships in their comics.
3. They added this to their foldable and wrote the cause and effect in sentences under each comic for a final product.

Here is how they turned out:

I love the challenge they had while having so much fun with it!
It was THAT funny! He was cracking up...I love it!

Classroom Meetings

     I am a big believer in classroom meetings. Research shows that when the students work out their issues together in a safe environment it is more beneficial and truly solves problems in the long run. There are MANY ways to conduct a classroom meeting, but here are some things I do.

I have a sign (Marzano) for students to know when the "Next Meeting" time will be. I also have a white board for them to write their name down to "Make an appointment" to talk about an issue. 

You can see in spot #3 that someone had an issue to talk about...but worked it out on their own so they were able to erase their name. WoO HoO! This is the whole point!
Reasons to have classroom meetings:
#1 The whole point is to participate in general discussions and problem-solving strategies. "Findings indicate that meetings are effective in improving children's behavior and that this improvement carried over from classroom meetings to the larger classroom setting"...Isn't this the goal of EVERY CLASSROOM!!!!!! Sign me up :)

#2 These meetings provide excellent opportunities for students to practice communication and
socialization skills mandated in the curriculum. These skills are difficult to develop unless students actually practice them. Classroom meetings provide the perfect forum. Just like everything else...they have to be TAUGHT how to problem solve and communicate. 

Key things to keep in mind:

1. A tight circle is by far the most satisfactory arrangement.
2. Have a "Talking" stick...without don't talk.
3. Have an agenda (next meeting time, list of who will talk, other things to discuss)
4. We use specific names and specific examples.
5. It is not a tattle time (we really practice the difference between a tattle and a problem worth talking about). 
6. No one ever gets in trouble based on what they shared in the meeting.

Here is an outline of my meetings: 
  1. Compliment time: Students raise their hand to share a compliment from the past week to someone in our class. After they share they give a high five to that person (or an "air" high five if they can't reach). I take as many as possible (usually 1 per child). 
  2. Goal-setting meeting: Discuss the goals for the meeting. 
  3. Problem solving time: Students who are "signed up" are allowed to talk. If there name is not on the list...they do not share at this classroom meeting.  The student shares and talks directly to the person they have an issue with. That person is first to share how to solve the problem, then we open it up to others to give input. This often ends in apologies, but are not forced.
  4.  Teacher Talk: This is where the teacher congratulates them on working out problems, shares things the class is doing great as a whole, and then thoughts to think about until next time. 

Anchor Charts

I am so obsessed with Anchor Charts lately so Mrs. M's Linky Party could not be more perfect right now. Head over to her blog and check out all of the amazing Anchor Charts. Just click on the images below and let the browsing begin :)

Here are some of my favorites I use ALL the TIME!
Our county is using Marzano's evaluation system and this is one I use. The students rate themselves on where they are at in their learning.
I have vocabulary notebooks and I use this anchor chart as a reminder anytime I am introducing new vocab and they are filling out a Frayer on a new word.
My kiddos love this one. They rate themselves on the quality of their work in centers.
I think this is the most used anchor chart in our classroom :)

My kids were having a ROUGH time with written responses to a reading passage on a test. We went over it and over it and now they are fabulous. I even have one kiddo that highlights in the different colors to make sure that I see he wrote with all 4.
Great for our geometry unit. They each made their own using popsicle sticks.
I saw this on Pinterest and HAD to make it. This is such a great chart for those little reminders such as capitalization.