Falling in Love with Text Structures - Chapter 4

 It's week 4 in our Close Reading book study and I'm back, linking up with Diana at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching.





1. Figure 4.2 refers to a chart. It is the same type of chart that has been shown in every chapter of this book with the process: Reading through lenses, Use lenses to find patterns, use patterns to develop a new understanding of the text.
What changes in the chart each time is what we are reading for (i.e. word choice, nonfiction, fiction, and in this case, structure). In terms of how this may compare to my current instruction - I found this very similar to teaching about author's purpose. However, this appears to take it a step further. Instead of just determining if the author wrote this to persuade, inform, or entertain, what techniques did the author use? I believe that in order to look for this in close reading you need to also be able to understand this in writing - themes, central ideas, a character's development. I see them being very much related. I think students need a foundation of these terms before they can begin to tackle this piece of close reading. 

2. Again, as a lower (or primary) grades teacher close reading is new(er) for me. I think this made me realize there is a lot of this I don't do with my students but that doesn't mean they aren't capable. These are terms and concepts we touch upon, why not go just a tad bit further with them? It can only help our students in the future!


Falling in Love with Words - Chapter 3


I'm back this week, linking up with Dianna at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching.







1. Do you have any ah-has, questions, comments about this chapter?
This chapter was a lot of what I expected in terms of the words we choose. However, it was more about looking at the words authors choose in order to relay information or tell a story. The chapter suggests beginning this lesson with an advertisement and looking at the words in an ad to get the students to weed out the important. I thought this also could be done in lower grades perhaps with the lyrics of a popular song they love. This reminded me a lot about how we think and teach about Author's Purpose. I thought it would be great to tie these lessons in together. 

2. What is different from how you have taught close reading to students?
In all honesty, I am not an expert, nor have I fully taught this for an entire year. I started mid-year last year with one high reading group. This year I would love to be more thorough in my practice. I, myself, am a big word person. I love quotes and try to hang them around the room. In terms of needing to analyze the words or phrases, I think it is a challenge to some but it can be a lot of fun. 

The most important thing to remember is this: "No longer are we simply helping students find information, we are now in the position of empowering them with the vital habits of carefully sifting through all the sources that vie for their attention." (Lehman & Roberts, pg. 32)

We are not giving students the answer or the easy way out. We are teaching them how to find the answers. Much like this well known quote: 


Happy reading. Be sure to enter our giveaway and follow these other great bloggers to find out what they thought of chapter 3. 



Two for Tuesday


Happy Tuesday. I'm linking up with the Teaching Tribune for Two for Tuesday.
I'm very passionate about teaching science and making it as hands on as possible. I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed putting them all together.



I've marked my two newest products down 50%.

The first one is my Phase of the Moon Match Up.


This set of vocabulary cards contains 3 differentiated versions so you can pick and choose for the needs of your students. Each set (1 page of the names of the phases and 1 page of definitions) also contains a printer-friendly black and white set. You can use these cards to play memory, as a simple matching game, or as vocabulary cards for an interactive notebook. 


The other product is my interactive notebooking for the phases of the moon, These are the Phases of the Moon!


This is an interactive notebook for science about the phases of the moon. All pieces in this are differentiated to meet the various needs of the students in your class. 

For the front of the flipbook there are 4 options: 
1. The flaps have both the name of the moon phase and its image. 
2. The flaps have only the images of the moon phases. 
3. The flaps have only the names of the moon phases so your students can draw their own image. 
4. The flaps are blank. You can use the labels from the following page to have your students label the phases in order - or - you can have your students write and draw the names and images. 

For the inside of the flipbook there are 3 options:
1. The inside flaps have only the definition of what each phase is. Your students can draw an image if you'd like for them to. 
2. The inside flaps have both an image of the phase and its definition. 
3. There is a blank page for inside flaps so your students can write their own definitions. *You may not need this page if you want to glue the top page down and have students write directly in their notebook. Otherwise this page would need to be glued down first and then glue the top page on top of the wide strip for the bottom page. 

There are challenge pages with 3 options (these pages have everything mixed up and out of order): *This could make a fun assessment. 
1. There is a page that has the definitions with the images but they are mixed up and put of order. 
2. There is a page that has only the definitions and they are out of order. 
3.There is a page with the labels for the front that are mixed up and out of order. 



I hope everyone is having a great day. Go to The Teaching Tribune to check out all the other products that are on sale today! There are some talented bloggers and teachers. 

Falling in Love (with Reading Closely) and a freebie




Welcome back! It's another week of joining in with Dianna at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching. Last week we looked at the basics of Close Reading and what it might look like. This week in Chapter 2 we get to dig in a little more about the process and how to proceed. 




I know a lot of people in this book study were questioning how this might look in a primary classroom. I personally thought this chapter was full of awesome ideas. As with just about anything it is all about differentiation. In many cases, that can be just toning down for our younger ones. I think we still use the same terms (don't change it because they will see them as the years go on), but we can add examples or modifications. 

For example, the first step is called: Reading through lenses. For my students, I wear glasses and contact lenses and I could use this as an example of how if I don't wear one of these items I cannot see anything at all, but when I use my lenses I can see a lot better, and a lot more!

(*sidenote: in the party section at Target are these awesome glasses. I have 5 and am going to use them on my reading bulletin board. I thought of them the whole time I was reading this chapter and thought it would be so fun for our kids to wear them if we had them in a small group doing this.)

The basics of reading through lenses is gathering text evidence. We're looking for the details. In a fiction text this may be something like looking for what a character says/does/thinks/feels. It may also be how a setting or place is described. In an informational text we can gather these details from facts, descriptions, even photos and their captions. 

In terms of how this may be similar or different to word choice I would think (word choice is addressed in chapter 3) that with word choice we are going to look at the type of language used. Whereas with text evidence we are looking for details and information, we're not analyzing the words. 

The next step (or step 2) is called: Using lenses to find patterns. In basic terms I think of this as analyzing the details we just uncovered during step 1 (notice I didn't say analyzing the word choice, but the details). I also thought of this like sorting - sorting the details that go together. Maybe you want to to sort it by color coding, maybe you want to circle one set of details that go together and box another set. It's up to what works for you and your students. What I did like about the coding/sorting is that they mentioned making a key, like a map key -- what a great way to tie in some social skills! 

The third step is: Use the patterns to develop a new understanding of the text. What I love about this step is it is the actual process of basically, how have our thoughts or ideas changed about this character/or whatever non-fiction piece you are studying during this process?

In fact there are even sentence frames and prompts that were provided. I love that there are sentence frames because it is so valuable to my ESOL students. I've put a few reminder/prompt cards together for you. Click on the picture to be taken to the free cards (please leave feedback if you like these)!



Now I have to tell you my favorite part of this chapter was the suggestion of teaching a lesson with song lyrics first in order to introduce this whole concept. So you will use the lyrics of the song as what will be read closely, or analyzed. They used the example of a Justin Bieber song, and while my 2nd graders know who he is, I was thinking more along the lines of Let It Go from Frozen. 
So the idea behind this is that some people will already like the song and some won't which is the perfect combination for this (my 2nd grade boys were so over this song last year...but I still played it cause I liked it, hehe). 
So you would play the song once and then post the lyrics (I would also print out the lyrics and have a handout for each student). You can look at the lyrics to try to determine what message the song is trying to convey. 

So here is how I envision this: 

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I'm the queen.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I tried!

Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know
Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!

I don't care
What they're going to say

Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me

Can't get to me at all!

It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through

No right, no wrong, no rules for me I'm free!
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry!

Here I stand
And here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on!

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast

I'm never going back,
The past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

The blue highlighting is about her power and what she can do. 
The orange is about how everyone knows and she is dealing with it.
The yellow is about how she had to stifle herself and couldn't be who she was. 

Obviously getting the students to see all of these things will take training. So maybe in the beginning they receive direction about a certain theme to look for. **Please please take into consideration that this is not official, I am not an expert, these are just my ideas for how I would teach this to group of 2nd graders who are mainly ESOL students. There is not a right or wrong with this set of lyrics or any of it.** How do you want the lesson to go? What standard are you teaching? Just make sure that as your students are practicing this independently (when ready) you are assessing their work in order to help you decide your next steps.

Happy Reading!
Make sure to enter our giveaway and check out the other bloggers in this books study (I know there's a freebie along the way). 

Let's Fall in Love (with Close Reading)!




Welcome to our book study with Dianna at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching. Close Reading is certainly a "buzz phrase" going around the teaching world. There are a couple of book studies taking place about close reading, but when Dianna put a call out, I knew I wanted to participate in this one. 


We've chosen to study this book, Falling in Love with Close Reading, by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts. Christopher Lehman also authored the book Pathways to the Common Core. My old principal had us read that book two years ago. She didn't require us to do a study of the book but she always said during her observations that she could tell the teachers who had read it. 

I also was fortunate enough this past school year to attend a professional development in my county called Vision. It met one Saturday a month from September to December. A book we delved into closely during that time was Notice and Note. So alas, close reading is not new to me. I attempted it midway through the school year this past year with some higher level reading groups. Time did not permit us to get very far. What I know from that experience is that I have more to learn. I also know that if I begin this process from the beginning of the school year both my students and myself can only get better with it. That's a good thing because I head back to school is just 23 days (yikes)! So without further ado:


Chapter 1 is really just an overview of what exactly close reading is and what it should be in a classroom. Before I go into the questions, I have to tell you that the very first paragraph was a brilliant analogy. Without having read anything in this book I was already aware that part of good close reading is reading a text or passage over and over again. Think about the things and people we love. We know them so well because we study them, and spend time with them, over and over again. It's as though we study the things and people we love. Think about it - how do you come to know a friend so well? You listen and listen over and over again when you have conversations. Close reading resembles a similar type of studying. 


1. Close reading is 1. involves rereading; 2. an interaction between the reader and the text; 3. making careful observations about a text and then interpreting them (or digging deeper); 4. It is something we should teach students to do, rather than just show them, do for them, or do to them. 
*It's important to note that the views of what close reading is has changed over time and adapted as common core became part of the everyday. 

2.  Powerful close reading instruction has several 'musts'. It must: 
- raise engagement
- lead to student independence
- be just one piece of your reading instruction, not all of it
- allow students to read for extended periods
- be repeated, allowing time for practice and refinement
- be designed to meet the needs of your students, not just 'work' with a book you are reading

3. Currently in my close reading, I always introduce new vocabulary. We read, and we read again. Maybe the third time we underline/highlight what we think is important. We have discussions. I know I am not perfect in this and what I am most excited to uncover in this book is methods and differentiation (especially for getting students to actually want to read something over and over again. 

Be sure to come back next Sunday for chapter 2, as I begin to uncover some of the aforementioned methods. 

In the meantime, make sure you enter our giveaway. 
And, make sure you go visit these other blogs participating in this book study, there are some great blogs and teachers to learn from.








They Say I Must Be One of the Wonders - July Book Club with Ramona Recommends

Hi!! Welcome. I am so glad you have come over here to join me in July's book club. I am so grateful to Courtney at Ramona Recommends for allowing me to host this month. These books will run from July 2nd - August 6th. You've got lots of time to discover the magic in the following two books!


I must be honest and say that I had originally selected a different book (The Lemonade War). However, after having read this month's selection I knew I had to email Courtney and change it.


Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Whether you have read this book or not already, I urge you to join us this month and reread it. The moment I finished this book (which was less than 24 hours after I started it) I knew I needed to discuss it more with people (and teachers)! It also made me a little sad that I don't teach a 4th or 5th grade class so I could really teach and study this book. Maybe one day. For now, I've been researching and reading every article I could find about Wonder. I've been thinking about how it could be toned down for lower grades. While I'm not sure the actual book can be toned down for lower grades (I teach 2nd), I do think the principles in this book are some that are never too early to teach to students, regardless of age. This book serves such a valuable lesson (or lessons). There are so many sayings that can come from this book. 

I have my personal reasons for choosing this book. I'll save that for another post. Here are some questions to help guide you as you read it. I have also included some lesson ideas and resources. 

*If you are new to book club please introduce yourself, your blog (if you have one), and the grade you teach. 

Questions to Wonder About:
1. What did you think of this book? Did you love it as much as I did?

2. Did it make you think about things and your actions differently?

3. I have provided lesson ideas below, but how might you teach this to your students? I'm thinking that Choose Kind could really be a mantra all year long for a class. What do you think?

4. I would love to know what your precept would be - I have created an editable postcard template. Please share your precept either in a blogpost or share it with me via e-mail. I would love to compile all of them and create a teacher collection of precepts. 

Click on the image below to be taken to the editable Google Docs file. It is meant to be printed back/front.



Lesson Ideas to Keep Your Students Wondering: 
1. What does it mean to wonder? vs. What does it mean to be a wonder to someone? (reference the lyrics from Natalie Merchant's song, 'Wonder' - "They say I must be one of the wonders..."; You can even post all of the lyrics to the song and disect it - how does it relate to the book Wonder?).

2. What is a precept? What would your precept be? <--this could even be monthly, or choose a different student each month. 

3. How can you choose kind? What does it mean to choose kind?

4. What does it mean to be a friend? How is being a friend different from being friendly?

5. Do you believe bullying exists in our school? How can you help change that by choosing kind? <-- this could be an excellent writing assignment. 

6. One other lesson idea is to discuss the different points of view the story is told from - what was the author's purpose in doing this? Why do you think some characters didn't tell their story (i.e. Julian)?


Resources About Wonder:
1. I created a Pinterest Board for Wonder. There is a great lesson idea about character traits and using Tagxedo.

2. There is a great teacher guide at RandomHouse

3. This is the author's site. 

4. This is the page for Choose Kind.

5. The Children's Craniofacial Association has resources and gear. I emailed them for a teacher packet and two are being sent to me. The email address to contact is on their page. 

6. Pages of quotes from Wonder. I bet you could even use one or two for a mentor sentence. ;)

 I am so excited to hear from you and hear your thoughts! If you have questions for me, feel free. 



Primary Teachers: this one's for you! 


Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae

I wanted to choose a book that went along the same lines of self-esteem, believing in yourself, and being kind. This book has long been a favorite of mine.

Ideas: 
1. Writing - what are your strengths? What makes you special? Is there something you want to be able to do better?

2. Rhyming book

3. Adjectives

Questions: 
1. Why did Gerald feel sad? Were his friends kind?

2. How can we use this book to teach about being a friend and being kind?

3. Do you think you would use this book more to teach students to believe in themselves or as a being a friend book?

Resources: 
I have seen numerous resources and activities to be done with this book. If you have others please share. 
1.There is a link here at Scholastic that includes a free lesson plan. 

2.This offers a variety of different connections with Math and Literacy. 

3. You can find a game for Giraffes Can't Dance here.

Search on Pinterest, there are really so very many ideas for this book. I think you'll love Gerald and cheer him on! 

Thanks for joining us. I hope you have fun. 

created by me



Currently and Books

It's July! I'm linking up with Farley. Come join in.


Okay so I put this all together this morning before summer school and then ran out of time, so we'll go with it. 

Listening: self explanatory but if you must know, at this very moment I am listening to Law & Order SVU and am about to listen and watch General Hospital (It's my vice but I love it). 

Loving: tomorrow is the last day of summer school. I have worked til 3:15 every day and then my mom meets me and we go down and work in my trailer til about 6. We're exhausted since it's be in to 90's temperature wise. 

Thinking: I need to take some time off of school stuff. But the brain just can't. How do y'all unwind from school?

Wanting: it to be July 7th. My new niece or nephew arrives that day. I'll be an aunt for the third time and am just as excited as the first. 

Needing: to finish getting the trailer set up. I want to walk in at preplanning and be done so that I can actually plan (oh and we go back July 29th!). 

4th of July Plans: Nothing. I intend to sit by the pool, or better yet float on a raft in the pool. Maybe partake in a delicious drink ;)


I am also linking up with Courtney at Ramona Recommends



I want to share a book from my hometown that is very special to me. My friend Jenni illustrated this book. Jenni is an artist and art teacher. I met her years ago at an art festival. I made a purchase from her and from then on I have continued to make purchases but we have become friendly. I would see her at numerous art festivals. She even got me to submit my stuff and be in one, so that was fun. I've been to her house for painting workshops. It's such a great outlet for me.

When my Donors Choose project funded this summer quicker than we were thinking some people hadn't had a chance to donate. Jenni decided to donate one of her books.

I was so excited when this book arrived. I know that sweet orange bunny, Clementine!

She wrote the sweetest note.


The book is about a bunny who doesn't like reading because it is hard for her. Through a lot of practice and the help of patient teachers she begins to learn to read and may just discover that reading isn't so bad. 
The author of this book has children who attend the Atlanta Speech School. This book was created for part of the art portion of the annual Language and Literacy Gala. The profits from this book benefit the Atlanta Speech School's scholarship fund. 
You can purchase the book on Jenni's blog on the right sidebar. This is not an advertisement, but Jenni was so sweet to me and I absolutely loved the sentiment behind this book, especially since I had rising first graders this summer and they need a lot of help reading. 

I hope you'll come back tomorrow. I have some exciting news!




Summer Stock Up - OCD Much?! (and a Freebie or so)





I'm fortunate to be part of an awesome Facebook blog hop happening this weekend. There are some very talented teachers out there. I'm just an amateur (slightly kidding, she said sarcastically). We wanted you to be able to stock up early and avoid the 'back-to-school' rush. I know most of you are in complete summer mode - beaching, pooling, chillaxin'. Nonetheless, if you're around, hop along with us. Find some new blogs, new ideas, new resources, and maybe even some freebies (*that's correct you may have to read to the bitter end, gotchya). 

So okay, peeps here's the deal - I'm finally going to share some things I spend hours making on my computer. Most of the time I think, oh I just make this because it works for me and there is stuff like this out there. However, the people I work with like the stuff in my room, so here goes...

Now, I know, I know, there are a TON of binder covers already out there. I can't say that the idea for binder covers is something new and original. I can't even say that I made the designs, because I'm not a graphic designer. BUT, I am OCD to the nth degree. Allow me to take you back to a photo from the days of yonder:

                             

Nothing about this is fancy. Yet, here is what I love about it - the bins are clear. I can see what is inside. The labels are from a regular 'ole label maker by Brother (the brand). I own 3 - one for school (actually, my favorite L snagged it- if you've been around this blog, you know who she is - da bombdiggity), one for home (those are two that just print white tape), and one a tad fancier and it does fun colored tape. Again, what I love about this is that no color ink is used. No laminating pouches are bought. There is no cutting. These pictures are from my very first classroom. These bins still exist with the same labels. I know, you're probably thinking 'get with the program already!'). But, it does the job. 

With all this said, I will also say that I love decorating.  I've also recently discovered my love of fonts and clip art. So I am getting slightly with the program. The clear plastic bins are still in my room. The pops of color I use are book baskets and such. I like things clean and simple. I like things organized. I like that at the end of the year when teachers move into my classroom (yes, I move every year) they say, 'if I'm moving into a room, at least it's your room.' And so, here's my: 


Binder Covers
Labels
Desk Trays 
A place for this, a place for that
Are you still reading?


Let me answer some questions about what I have for you. 

Binder Covers


This image is of my, personal covers, so they are uber detailed (hence OCD, with which 9 weeks, etc.)



1. SO - what makes my binder covers different? Absolutely nothing! Hey, I'm about as honest as they come (and sometimes that gets me in trouble, but you will always know what you get with me). 

2. Why did I create them? When I first started teaching at my school five years ago I had one filing cabinet in my trailer and it didn't work.  I used a two drawer plastic thing made by Sterilite and everything else went in binders. I didn't really have a system back then. I think I was just kinda, reading, math, yadda, yadda, yadda. Ya know, when you're a first year teacher, it's more of a stay afloat method. Put this here, and that there. Just make it out alive and sort it later. Well, I've evolved and developed. I've learned my standards (both personal and professional ;) and learned them well. I dare say I make some of my teammates sick. So, each subject has a different pattern/color, yet they still coordinate. 

3. How do I organize my binders? That's a really great question. I'm still a work in progress. Aren't we all! I used to have one big binder for each subject, and then each binder was divided by tabs for each unit, but the binders were getting big and it was hard to turn the pages and it just wasn't easy. 

So, I started reorganizing this year (I think I just start to reorganize things when I get stressed, anyone else do that). I began with Science and Social Studies. I created a binder for each unit. Then, I also created a spine for the binder and a matching square label to go on the front of a white magazine box/file (I use the white ones from Ikea). The magazine file holds all mentor texts or laminated  hand outs/posters I have for the unit that do not fit in the binder. On my shelf behind my desk I have binder/magazine file, binder/magazine file, etc.

4. Other ideas/options - I will probably not use as many binders for writing or reading. For writing, for example, I will either use 4 binders, one for each 9 weeks, or just one for each type of writing we teach (narrative, opinion, informational, friendly letter, I know I'm forgetting one, etc.). So clearly next week when I set up my trailer, I will still figure a few things out. 

 
Just so you can see, it's clean and simple. I've put the topic, below is the subject, grade level, and which grading period/quarter/etc. Obviously, you can edit them however you see fit. 

I put the unit, then topic, then the standards
on the bottom I put which 9 weeks/quarter - again these are mine so they are super specific because I am following my county common core standards.  

Here are some for you:  


_________________________________________________________________________

Desk Trays
I saw this idea on Pinterest and an awesome teacher blogger pinned it too and gave me the idea. I can't find hers but I totally want to give her credit. If you see hers please let me know. Naturally, I made my own. 




Note: the black looking S to the right is a doodle, I rotated it to appear as an S since it is my first initial. I took it out in the editable version since I didn't think many people would want it. Please let me know if you do. 


1. Why I made it? Well I think it's pretty. Ha, but also because I am constantly looking for ideas to conquer the paper mountain! My kids give me drawings and parent notes ALL the time. This past year was the worst. My kidney table would start off clean almost (note my use of the word 'almost' as a qualifier) every morning and at the end of each day it was disgusting. I had three girls that came up each day and said, "Can I clean your table?" Yes, yes you can!

2. Again, what makes mine different? Again, nothing! I may be OCD, but I also like options. I move my decor and rearrange. I'm learning change is okay. Options are good. Which design do you like best? I can't decide!

3. It's FREE. It's Editable. If you like it, take it, use it, enjoy it. Be kind. You know the drill. Click here.

Hope you enjoy and get lots of ideas. Let me know if I have left something out or you need something I haven't thought of. :)