Sunday, November 25, 2012

December Double It

     Just a quick post to let you know that I created a simple to play, Christmas-themed game to help students practice their doubles facts.  This could be used for centers, math workshop, or you could print enough copies for your whole class to play in small groups at the same time.  All you have to do is print out enough game boards and recording sheets for each student and it's ready to go.  Click on the pictures below to check it out.  It's on sale for less than a dollar through tomorrow (Cyber Monday).

      Students draw a card from the deck and double the number (playing cards or number cards will work).  If the number is on an ornament on their tree, they cover it with a counter.  Then, they record it on their recording sheet.  If not, they tell the answer, and then it's their partners turn.  Simple and fun!  

Game board

Ornament counters

Recording sheet

      Enjoy your last day of Thanksgiving break!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Story Elements and a Sale

      I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  It's been nice to be off for a few days and spend time with my family.  First of all, I want to let you know that my Teacher's Notebook store is 25 % off now through Monday.  Plus, you get an extra 10 % off from the site for a total of 35 % off any item in my shop.  Click on the picture below to visit my shop.

      We only had school on Monday and Tuesday last week so I spent some time trying to help my students take what we learned the week before about story elements and "put it all together."  They all came in with solid background knowledge on characters but surprisingly many of them did not know/remember setting from first grade and plot was completely new.  They all know that stories have a beginning, middle, and end but in second grade, I introduce them to the words plot, conflict, and resolution.

     Since we are learning about culture right now, I read aloud a book called My Two Grannies.  It's about a little girl who has two grannies from different cultures- one from England and one from Trinidad.  They argue about what to do, what to eat, etc. with their granddaughter when they are babysitting her because they are part of different cultures.  In the end, they agree to take turns choosing activities.  It's a cute story about how culture can create conflict and how to get along with others who are different.  Click on the picture to check it out.

      As I read aloud, we filled out a story map together using sticky notes on a class size chart.  After we had everything filled in except the resolution and the important events at the end of story, I showed them the following anchor chart (without the words setting and characters written by beginning, conflict by the middle, and resolution by the end).  As I explained how stories are like roller coasters because they start slow and the excitement builds...I could see lightbulbs going on for many of my students.  

     Students were able to tell me which part of a story we meet the characters in and learn the setting, in which part we learn the conflict, and in which part we figure out the resolution.  We added that to the chart.  Then, we finished reading the story and filling in the story map.  The above chart was inspired by one I saw on Pinterest from First Grade Fresh.  That chart is below.  I used the same picture idea and changed some of the words I added to the chart to match what we were learning.  

    The Common Core Standards address this content in both first and second grade in the following standards:
    1.RL.5  Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types.
    2.RL.5  Describe the overall structure of a story, including how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

    Those standards are why I wrote "All fiction stories have plots" on my anchor chart because I want children to start to recognize the difference between fiction stories and non-fiction texts.  The roller coaster was a big hit with the kids and definitely caught their attention!

    How do you teach story elements to your students?

    Don't forget to check out my Teacher's Notebook shop while it's on sale.  I know I will be getting some things from my wish list.  :)  


Monday, November 12, 2012

Election Fun

      Last week my kids could not have been more excited about the presidential election.  To capitalize on it, we did a writing project where they got to imagine being president.  First, we read My Teacher for President.  Click on the picture below to check it out and get a copy for your classroom.

      We made a chart about all of the things that presidents do as we read the book.  This was great to give kids some background knowledge that they could use when writing.  Second graders don't come in with many concrete examples of different responsibilities that presidents have or things they do regularly.

     Then, we brainstormed what they would do if they got to be president.  Some students used ideas from the chart we made and others thought of their own ideas.  Check out a few examples of their writing below.  I adapted a great freebie from Primary Practice to accomodate my students.  They needed more room to write.

She is thinking about all the people affected by Hurricane Sandy.

If I were president, I would abandon cigarettes and plant apple trees and take care of the world.  And, take care of people and take people places they can't get to.  I will play with people that don't get played with. (How sweet is this?)

This one makes me laugh...because I want more people!

     I displayed these in the hall above their lockers with a sign that says, "If I were president..."  They love seeing their work on display.  I usually tell them when a project is going to be put in the hall or hung in the classroom because it gives those few kids that need a little push a reason to work hard and makes everyone pay a little closer attention to their writing.  :)

    One more thing...after the actual election happened and Obama won, we wrote congratulations letters to him so we could get mail back from the White House.  We had a nice discussion about what it means to be a good sport so even those people that voted for Romney can still say congratulations to the winner because that's being a good sport.  Regardless of our actual adult political opinions, this is a good lesson for kids to learn.

    This picture is just a rough draft but I wanted to share it with you.  It was so funny.  He asked the president, "Are you rich?" :)

    Let me know what you think and feel free to follow me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Brown Turkey, Brown Turkey and a Freebie

     Even my second graders who have heard Brown Bear, Brown Bear and the other similar books since kindergarten still love them!  Early on in the year we read Baby Bear, Baby Bear and then created our own class book called Second Grader, Second Grader.  This is a great beginning of the year activity and helps students learn each others names.  Click on the picture below to download your freebie of this class book page.

      To continue the fun, I created a Thanksgiving version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear to read with my students.  I also included a black and white smaller version to use with students in guided reading.  This book would be great for students working on reading color words, other sight words, and books with predictable text.  To download the full page color version along with the half-page black and white student version, click on any of the pictures below.  To see all of the pages, download the preview file by clicking on any of the pictures to get to my Teacher's Notebook store page.

How cute is this little pilgrim?!?

         I hope you can use this great story with your kiddos!  

         On an election day note, my students were so darn funny today!  We had an election in our classroom and used the awesome freebie mini-unit from Katie Knight of Teacher to the Core.  We voted on the secret ballots and tallied up the results.  Romney won 12-11.  Tight race...;)  Later this week I'll post pics of their writing about what they would do if they were president.  

       We had to have a chat about being respectful of all people's opinions, even when they're different from our own.  It fit in perfectly with our unit "It's All About Culture" that we began this week.  More to come on that later...

       Happy hump day tomorrow!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reading is Thinking

       In the beginning of October, our Daily Five was finally up and running smoothly.  I only give my students two choices during our Daily Five block: read to self and read to someone (independent reading and partner reading).  We do word work during a separate time of day and also during centers time when I am doing interventions.  So, to get my students on the path of understanding that reading is thinking, I used a series of lessons from the book Comprehension Connections.  You can click on the picture below to check it out.

       So, first we made a "real reading salad."  We used green paper for lettuce to represent the thinking and red paper for tomatoes to represent the text.  As I read aloud, I would point to the book when reading the text and point to my head when thinking aloud.  I had two student volunteers add a piece of "lettuce" each time I pointed to my head to share my thinking and a "tomato" each time I read more text.

Our salad part of the way through the book.

      I used the book Amazing Grace for this lesson.  It is a wonderful story about a little girl who is told she can't do something because she's a girl and she's black.  She shows everyone that she can do it!


     After the read aloud, I showed kids the reading salad and asked them what they noticed.  They noticed, "There's more thinking than text!"  Ding ding ding!  They got it.

     The next day, we made the following anchor chart to show what we learned from the real reading salad.

      The third day of thinking about "real reading," I let students practice thinking aloud with a huge thought bubble.  They loved this!  I posted an anchor chart with the following (sorry forgot to take a pic):

Thinking sounds like...
I'm noticing...
I'm thinking...
I'm wondering...

    As I continued reading aloud from Amazing Grace, I would stop every few sentences and ask the student with the thought bubble to share his/her thinking.  

     All of these concrete models really helped solidify for kids that reading is thinking!  For more details on the lessons, please check out Comprehension Connections by clicking on the picture at the top of this post.  It is a great resources with lots of practical ideas.

    Please comment with what you think and feel free to follow me for future ideas. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

We Scare Hunger and SMART board freebies

      Yesterday we went on our We Scare Hunger walk to collect food for our local food shelter.  The kids dressed up in their Halloween costumes and we went "trick or treating" for canned goods.  They had such a blast!  My class just had once block to collect from and we came back with a heaping wagon full of food to donate.  They felt so proud that we were able to help others.

      Unfortunately, my camera battery died almost as soon as we left so I only got a few pics of their costumes before we ventured out.

Our "nice smiles" before we left.  Look at my wonderful aide in her cute red riding hood costume!

Our silly faces

        As a school, we collected over 600 cans/food items to donate to our local food bank!  Please leave a comment if you participated in We Scare Hunger and let me know how it went.

        Before I go, I wanted to share a few freebies with you.  As I've mentioned before, my school uses the Words Their Way program for word study.  See my previous post for more info.   Each week, I introduce our new word sort/word study focus for the week on the SMART board.  I have not been able to find any Words Their Way resources for the SMART board, so I started creating the sorts myself in the Notebook software.  You can click on any of the pictures below to download the files for free to use with your class.

This sort helps students notice the difference in long and short a words (how they sound and how they look)

Long/short i sort

Long/short o sort 

Long/short u sort

    To introduce a new sort, first we read each word together and discuss meanings when necessary.  This is important and allows all students to be actively involved even if they wouldn't have been able to read some of the words on their own.  I usually point out homophones and have students practice using those words correctly in sentences.  Then, I model thinking aloud about the first few words and how I decide where they go.  I say the word slowly and then say the picture heading slowly to see if the middle sounds match (i.e. job, sock....job, bone.  I hear o in job like on sock).  After modeling the first few words, I invite students to help sort the rest, making sure they explain why they put a word where they do.

    Finally, we read each word in a column to double check and make sure they sound right.  Then we check to see if they look right (all follow the same pattern like CVCe).  

   After using the SMART board sort for an introduction, the following day I give students a paper copy of the sort, and they cut it out and sort it on their desk.  We store them in envelopes to re-use throughout the week.

   I hope you can use these sorts, too!  Happy Friday tomorrow!

  Feel free to follow me so you don't miss out on future freebies and products.