Graphic Organizers Make the World Go Round!

Well…not really…!  But they do seem to make life easier in the classroom!  They provide students with a way to scaffold their thoughts AND they can help them retain information.

I love to use graphic organizers across all subjects, and I hope that by the end of the year my fifth graders feel comfortable making their own organizers to showcase their thinking!  One of my favorite subjects for graphic organizers is Social Studies.  Here are some examples at the different grade levels:

In fifth grade:

Students are comparing historical figures from a time period.  They are expected to record that figure’s contribution and have room for more information.  I like to use these organizers in interactive notebooks for students to access later.

In second grade: 

Students first focus on the Cherokee culture………..then they can compare and contrast that culture with present day!

Finally, their graphic organizers can prepare them to do some writing:

In first grade:

      Students can focus on an individual historical figure to look at their accomplishments.

 Next they can focus on comparing their life with that figure!

 And finally, they can reflect on the character of that historical figure!

 

How do you incorporate graphic organizers into your students’ learning?

Tis the Season: Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins!

It may not officially be fall, but Starbucks is serving PSL, football is on, and the weather is cooler!   All of these little shifts have me thinking about one thing…pumpkin activities!!

I LOVE seasonal lessons in the classroom.  They are naturally engaging, fun, and exciting to plan!  My favorite primary lesson has always been a pumpkin unit!

I always got little pumpkins for all my kids and one BIG pumpkin for the class.  I would let them decorate their “baby” pumpkins, and then we would integrate math, science, and writing by making a Pumpkin Book!  It’s such a fun, hands-on unit.

Some ideas for a pumpkin book…

-Use a table of contents!  You can have nonfiction text features discussions AND students will feel so mature!

-An introduction or “Meet my pumpkin” page (Think of a baby book):

  -Math, math, and more math: You can have students measure their pumpkins, decorate their pumpkins with shapes, graph different features or measurements of their pumpkins, do pumpkin word problems, the list goes on and on!

-A daily journal to encourage writing:

-Some informational writing: students could write about the life cycle of a pumpkin or a how-to pumpkin recipe!

-Don’t forget a fun cover!

You can snag a copy of my pumpkin book with integrated standards for first grade or second grade at my Teachers Pay Teachers store, or I want to hear your pumpkin lesson ideas!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

 

Scavenger Hunts: Making Grammar Fun?

My favorite way to teach grammar and language standards is definitely mentor sentences.  I like the authenticity of instruction, and I love how engaged each student is during this time of the day.  By the end of the year, students are asking questions and recommending mentor sentences. It’s fun to see them talking about grammar!

However, I have another trick for authentic, engaging grammar instruction: an old fashioned scavenger hunt!  I have been using these since my first year, and they are so great!  You pick the standard and students go look for it in actual texts they are reading!  For example, if you have a standard on conjunctions:

-You do some explicitly teaching/reviewing on conjunctions and what they are/how they are used.

-Then you model finding a conjunction in a text and writing it down.

-You send students off on their own hunt!

-The conversations and comparisons afterwards are AMAZING!  Students always find unique examples and ask great questions.  Sometimes they make mistakes and find the “wrong” part of speech or skill, but that makes for awesome conversation and discussions!

I have a few of these grammar scavenger hunts prepared for you in my store!  You can check them out one-by-one or by them in a whole bundle. The bundle includes a hunt (and review) for interjections, prepositions, conjunctions, and commas!

I even have a free sample of one of these hunts

I hope you and your students enjoy these resources.  Let me know what you think!  What methods do you use to make grammar instruction engaging, meaningful, and long-lasting?

 

Close Reading

With the beginning of the year there comes all the joy of re-teaching routines and procedures.  This week, I kicked off close reading and all the routines and strategies that go with it!  We started by reading the John Mayer song “Belief”.  I like to start with a song because it makes close reading a little less intimidating, and it’s fun!  I modeled using the close read poster below on the first two stanzas.

After I used this strategy, students worked in small groups to try this with another stanza. I encourage them to annotate and write their thinking on the song lyrics so I can see their thinking.

Then today students broke into groups and tried close reading on new poems based on their Lexile levels.  They were having such strong discussion, and I loved reading their journals and notes after school.

                                                 

You can grab this poster to use in your classroom (AND to put in students’ journals) by clicking on the image below!  There is also a black and white version or color with a white background, so you can get what you need!

Enjoy!  Do you have any tips for making Close reading meaningful for your students?

Mentor Sentence: Freebie!

I love using mentor sentences in my classroom!  Jeff Anderson has made the idea of “notable sentences” very popular.  Students use an actual sentence from an author’s writing (mentor text) and study it/break it apart/learn from it.  There are so, so many ways to do this in your classroom.  I am a BIG fan of routine (and alliteration), so this is the format that works for me:

I love that students are guiding their own learning by starting the week by pointing out all the “minute” details.  This is almost like a pre-assessment for the week and shows me exactly what they already know about the language of a sentence.  Each day I have them think and write quietly in their journals.  After a few minutes, we start sharing our thoughts and I track their thinking on an anchor chart.  By the end of the week their journal page looks like this:

                                              

I love how independent they get by studying mentor sentences!  They start trying new things in their writing and pointing out new examples in their reading.  Usually in the spring/end of third quarter, I have students bringing suggestions for mentor sentences to me!  I love how this way of studying language and grammar fits in with my student led classroom!

I have some mentor sentences that support fifth grade standards on my Teachers Pay Teachers store including a FREEBIE for the poem Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout by Shel Silverstein!  Each resource comes with:

-Explanation of how to use the product with grade level standard
-Weekly plan including student samples and daily focus (Monday-Friday)
-Copies of mentor sentence for students to glue in their journal
-Assessment for students to take at the end of the week:


-Key for weekly assessment:


Click on the image below to go grab this FREE resource and kick off (or continue) mentor sentences today!

Do you use mentor sentences in your room?  What schedule do you like?  Do you have any tips for making it more authentic??

 

Student Led Closings

I LOVE using student led closings to end workshops! Closings are so powerful in general and when students are listening to their peers: amazing! Instead of an adult getting back in front of the class or a quick (often ineffective) turn and talk, I love to let a student get up and show examples of the day’s mini-lesson.

However, this takes a little bit of planning to do well.  You have to make sure to identify a kid who is trying out that day’s mini-lesson or has a great example of something else that is relevant for the day.  I identify these kids during conferences, and then I use this sheet to help them plan their thinking (also available in black and white):

Then the trick is patience and repetition!  In the beginning of the year these closings and discussions can be a little awkward.  As the year progresses and students practice leading a closing (and rehearse speaking and listening standards), they will continue to get better and better.  By the end of last year, my students did not need a planning sheet.  They were ready and eager to share because of their practice with this scaffolded model.  The best part of these closings is seeing students try new things and ask each other questions the next day!  I love seeing a community of writers form in the classroom!

Beginning of School

There truly is no tired like the beginning of the year teacher tired!  Setting up routines and expectations can feel exhausting and repetitive.  However, we all know how important it is to set up clear guidelines…and to set them up well!  I also strongly believe in setting up a Student Led Classroom from Day 1.  This means a place where students feel they have a voice AND their voice is heard.

By the end of the first week of school I begin setting up class jobs.  I like to wait a few days to let students experience school and see the need for jobs in the classroom.  When I roll out the idea of class jobs I let students discuss the jobs, suggest names, and vote as a class on the final decisions.  Some years students are extremely creative, and some years the names are much more literal.  It’s so fun to see the personalities come out in different groups!

This Class Jobs Student Led Set Up resource can help you give students a voice in your classroom:

This resource includes pages for students to plan brainstorm jobs, creative names, and includes a ballot for the class to vote on their final decisions! What tools do you use at the beginning of the year to set up great classroom routines?