Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gingerbread and Meeting Those Common Cores...

Hey everyone...Lindsey here and I am slowly coming out of my shopping exhaustion and starting to prepare for next week.

I am having a hard time pulling myself out of my weekend to focus on work but I know it will be Sunday night and I will be regretting my laziness so I better hop to it!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the gingerbread stories. Aren't they fantastic???? There are so many versions, some that are just hilarious, and are great for so many different 2nd grade common cores! This is just a glimpse of the amount of these stories that I have. The first thing we are reviewing, because I already taught it but they can ALWAYS use a review, is retelling. Not only do I look for key details in their retells but I also am looking for their descriptions. How well can they describe the beginning? Middle? End? Are they summarizing or retelling? We work on this in both reading groups and whole group.

I also love these stories for problem and solution. There is enough variation in the different versions that the problem and solution can have a little variety while being similar enough to understand the concept.

We use this organizer to keep track of these two concepts for different versions of the story.

Now you may be saying to read all those stories???? How do you keep track???? WEEELLLL... we use a process grid of course!

I keep track of all the different stories on this GLAD chart. Now, the students also have a smaller version of this chart. I DON'T have them fill it out for every story! Believe me...hearing "my hand hurts" over and over again is no fun! I do have them fill out some significant versions like the basic Gingerbread Boy, the Gingerbread Girl, The Runaway Pancake, etc. I like them to have a variety because they will take ALL of this information and create their own gingerbread story. Already with these stories we are hitting retelling, problem and solution and story structure. BUT we aren't finished!!

One of the most difficult cores for me is comparing and contrasting two versions of the same story. The reason this is so difficult is because they need to be able to do this while reading a grade level text. Unfortunately, I don't have enough books to allow the class to do this. AND finding good books for this concept is hard. problem. Literature...big problem.

Enter some passages to save the day!

These are our gingerbread passages. We made two versions of the gingerbread story. There is The Gingerbread Man and The Gingerbread Shark. I can give the kiddos a copy of both and they can read them and compare all on their own. Voila! Now, I like to use the T-chart over a the Venn diagram but we included both versions in our packet. These passages are also leveled which allows me to have them reading a grade level passage and demonstrating if they can meet the core. It also allows me to give out different levels, I usually copy them all on the same color, so that those who can't read a grade level text can still feel successful without standing out as having a different passage. 

If you are interested in these Gingerbread stories you can click on the picture:)

We focus on gingerbread stories for two weeks because we take it into our writing as well. I'm telling you...these books cover so much! Then we will spend the last week before break focusing on different holidays around the world. This helps to keep those kiddos engaged when they are getting a little antsy! If you focus on holidays around the world make sure to check out our passage sets for those as well!



Or we offer them all bundled together if you would like them all (it's a better deal:))

I hope that you are all ready to go for the week:) Only a few weeks until Christmas break! We can make it!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Five for Friday!!

Hey, hey, heeeeyyyy! It's Friday!! I wish I could say that we were starting Thanksgiving break, like all the other posts I read (insert jealousy here) but we only have 2 and a half days so I won't complain THAT much:)

Lindsey here, and I am linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching this week to bring you my Five for Friday:)

So we had a bit of a cold snap this past week. I drive a pretty big car that won't fit in the garage, not that I would have room in my garage anyways, SO I have to park in the driveway. Hello frozen car! I lack patience. I HATE defrosting my car. H.A.T.E. I have been known to pull an Ace Ventura while leaving my driveway just because I couldn't wait. My mom, who I would never tell that I drive with my head out the window sometimes because she would probably freak out about it, came to the rescue!!!

This AWESOME invention is called the Frost Guard. GENIUS!!!! It hooks over your mirrors and is weighted on the sides, no wind blow-over like when you use newspaper, and all you do is unhook it, roll it up and throw it in the back. CLEAR WINDSHIELD! Where have you been all my life????

I am a mom. I multi-task. Not that you have to be a mom to multi-task. If you are a mom, you have to multi-task. So, the other day I made my son toast. Gave it to him. Then went to do my daughters hair. That's when it happened. I don't know who did it. They all looked guilty.

Notice...the toast has no jam. The jam has been removed. My son was in a high chair. He couldn't reach it. Suspect 1: Gracie...always looks guilty....would eat all the toast. Suspect 2: Daxter....refused to make eye contact...would eat all the toast. Suspect 3: enough to leave the toast...hoping I wouldn't notice....hoping I would blame the dogs....doesn't care either way.

I think I know the guilty party.

This week we wrote about things that we were thankful for. We read our I Am Thankful passage, click here to get, and then brainstormed what we were thankful for. We wrote about it and then made our turkeys. 

This kiddo wrote all about me. Each thing she was thankful for was a reason she was thankful for me:) After my own heart!!

The last few weeks we have been working on research projects. The kiddos worked in partners to research an animal, then they wrote a research paper about their animal and created a powerpoint. This is the first year I let the kiddos make a powerpoint. Boy, did I learn some things! I wanted to give them some creative freedom so they picked their own designs and clipart. Some of them got a LITTLE excited about the clipart...

This is our first experience using the computer to create something. Next year we will learn about spellcheck. We also may limit the amount of pictures...but they all turned out pretty good, even if the information was on the wrong slide, and the kiddos LOVED sharing their work with the class. It's always a learning process, right????

I am starting to move into Christmas mode...slowly. I can't officially switch to Christmas until the night of Thanksgiving. I just can't do it. Not until black Friday shopping. (Yes we are black Friday shoppers) But this year I am starting to shift early. Maybe it's peer pressure? Maybe it's store pressure? Maybe it's the red Starbucks cups? So, as I switch gears I wanted to give you a sneak peek of our holiday passages. (Just in case you are switching gears too)

We've got a lot the major holidays covered, we hope. We hope to have this set posted by the end of the weekend...but Mockingjay is coming out and I HAVE to see that first:)

Don't forget...we also have Gingerbread passages which include the classic gingerbread story, a fractured gingerbread story and how to make a gingerbread. We also included a compare and contrast page, a how to writing page AND a new word game, similar to Candyland.

We are almost to break....we are almost to break...we can make it! I hope you have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Let's Ask Some Questions!

Hey everyone! Lindsey here...

I wanted to share with you all the big task we are taking on this week...questioning. Phew...its a big concept that's always hard for my kiddos. I'm not talking about simple questions, but questions that are in-depth. Questions that really get them thinking about the text. My team and I were just discussing at our planning meeting the other day some ways to effectively teach this strategy and I wanted to share with you how I do it:) Hopefully it is something that will be helpful!

Like I said, this is TRICKY! My kiddos are good with the simple questions, "Who is the main character?" "How did so and so solve their problem?" We've got those down pretty well. For some kiddos that might even be as far as they can go right now and that's okay. But to raise the rigor, I've got to push them. Whenever I'm getting ready to teach a big strategy I always turn to my tried and true, most favorite teaching book...

I don't know if you can tell...I use Reading with Meaning A LOT!! ALL the time! If you haven't read this book you DO NOT know what you are missing! Click here to get it. Debbie Miller is AMAZING when it comes to getting kiddos to dig deeper in the text.

To start off our week we are going to use this anchor...

This is straight out of Reading with Meaning, page 136 to be exact. We use post-its to share the information we already know and will also use it to add new information we learn. I LOVE this style of anchor because the kiddos really take ownership of it.

We then move on to a rich text. My book of choice is How Many Days to America? by Eve Bunting, click here to get it. This is great for many reasons. First, the kiddos ALWAYS have questions. Second, it connects to Thanksgiving. Third, it gets them thinking about worldly issues, which always brings up more questions.

I model questioning while I read this to the class. I use post-its and place them right in the text. This also works for teaching them about annotating, which is something we do a little later on in the year. After I model asking questions, we categorize our questions by who, what, when, where, why and how. Usually, I have all those types of questions and this helps emphasize those key words. Next, we set about answering our questions by re-reading the text. This is done on day two. I also introduce this questioning web. It is also from Reading with Meaning, page 141.

I LOVE this web because it just has them focus on one question and allows them to use multiple strategies to answer their question. It also allows them to record their answer. Debbie Miller has done a great job with the web because it really forces them to think in-depthly about ONE question instead of rushing into multiple questions. We will move on to multiple questions BUT when we are just starting out I really want them to come up with one in-depth question and answer.

These tasks alone will take us the whole week. I will continue to model with other books that are all Thanksgiving focused, HELLO CONNECTIONS:)

We are also going to be working on this in groups. I have pulled some of my differentiated lessons from Margo Southall's Differentiated Small Group Lessons book, click here to get a copy.

Along with those activities, I will also be using some of our reading passage sets for groups which you can get by clicking on the pictures.


How do you teach questioning? Do you have any tried and true methods that really work for your kiddos? We would love to hear in the comments below:)

Have a great week!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Five For Friday

Oh joy, oh joy!  It is Friday!  We're linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for our Five For Friday! I know we've said it before, but we just LOVE reading Five For Friday posts and seeing what you have all been up to!  It's one of the highlights of our week!

This week we have had the most AMAZING weather!  Very cold, but clear and sunny.  Just right for making the beautiful fall leaves stand out so well!  Enjoying the beautiful weather, and thoughts of Thanksgiving coming our way made me think of all the reasons I am so thankful to live in the Pacific Northwest!  Here's five of those reasons!

Starbucks!  Yep, I know, I all have been posting your red cups.  Well of course, because they give us a little joy in anticipating the upcoming holidays.  But I had to add mine to this post because here in Seattle...well...we are THE home of Starbucks.  It may be found world wide, but no one else but us can claim the fame of being THE home of Starbucks.  And everyone knows that teachers run on Starbucks, right?  So I am thankful to call Starbucks "our hometown" fave.

The Seahawks!!!!!  Superbowl Champs!  'Nuff said on that one.  Go Hawks!!!!!

Kayaking!!!  Oh can kayak many places.  But I would argue that we have one of the most beautiful places in the world to kayak.....Puget Sound! And bonus!!  We don't have to worry about great white sharks like they do other places.  Shivvvvvverrrrr!!!!  Scary, those things!  And those teeth!  Eeeeek!!!!  Anywho,  I'm out there as often as I can be in the summer, and dream of it all winter.

Dungeness Crab!  Yummmmmmy!  You have absolutely not lived until you have enjoyed a fresh caught, spent-the-day-on-the-boat-in-the-sun,  Dungeness Crab feast!  Best crab in the world! Whoa baby! That's good stuff!


This school!  Yep, it's mine.  Well, okay not mine exactly, but I have proudly called this wonderful place my work home for 20 years, and it is fabulous! Bonus....I get to work with my daughter!  You won't find a better staff! They work tirelessly and happily to help our students overcome all the hard stuff that life throws their way, so they can achieve great things!  I am so thankful for Horizon Elementary and all of its staff!  Salute to you, staff!

Okie dokie!  Well there you go!  Five reasons that I think living here is the best.  Hope you all share what you love about where you live too, so we can see peeks into all the great places in this fabulous country.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Start Slow to go Faster?

What a beautiful day here in the Pacific Northwest!  Perfect day for taking a walk to reflect on all that our Veterans have done for us, and for what all those who serve in the military do for our wonderful country each day!  Thank you Veterans!!  Rosie says thank you, too! She dressed especially for you today!

Today we're switching it up a bit.  Let's talk about going slower to go faster and starting lower to go higher in the end!  Huh?  Yeah...that's what I said.  Slow down to go faster.  Start low to go high. You know, like when you learn to ski and you start on the bunny slope????   Then soon you are up on Razor Back or Seventh Heaven gliding through those moguls with the best of them!

What am I talking about? see...... I work with between 35 and 40 sweetums everyday for whom reading is a bit of a struggle.  And I've noticed that for most if not all of them, the pace in the classroom is just way too fast.  I see that a lot with kiddles whom I don't serve, too.  On top of that, we now have the call for more rigor.  Before you get upset with me....just know that I am all about more rigor.    But....we have to be careful at the same time that we don't leave kiddles in the dust.  So when you get second through fifth graders every year who simply struggle because the rigor was too high too fast for them, it just breaks your little heart!  Most of the famous reading experts tell us that kiddles need to work in their just right realm and their ZPD to make the most growth with the quickest pace.  What do you do then so you don't leave any kiddles in the dust?  Start lower...start slower, build that foundation strong... make sure they get it, then move on.  Here's what I mean.  This is a fourth grade reading group who are working on analyzing text, determining important versus unimportant information, and noticing how the author grouped that information to make it easier to comprehend.  (They are visually categorizing the information by color coding it with highlighters.)

This group of student's instructional reading level is normally DRA 30 or Guided Reading Level N.  But here we are using a text that is at DRA 14/16 or Guided Reading Level H/I.  Why so easy?  Because they are just beginning to build a strong foundation in being able to analyze text deeply, determine important versus unimportant information, and categorize that information.  Whew!  It takes a lot of brain energy to do that when you are just learning, and by using an easier text, the students can concentrate on coordinating and using the new skills in their brains instead of on decoding or trying to figure out vocabulary and nuances that are found in more rigorous text.   We spent three days on this simple text, then quickly popped back up to their instructional level to use the same skills again.  Because we started low and slow (on the bunny slope) to build the foundation, we were not only able to go higher quickly, but now the kiddles are experts at using these new skills.  If I had started at a higher level, these students would not have been as strong in using their new skills and it would have taken a lot longer to get there.  So give it a try!  You'll soon see your sweetums moving on up to those "moguls."

And if you are looking for the ideal texts to use, check out our Leveled Reading Passages.  They allow you to teach a topic but also to differentiate for all the levels of your students because there are passages for levels A - I on that same topic. We have them available for many fall topics and are just getting the final polish on holiday and winter themes, with many more to come.  Hot off the presses today...Winter is Here! You can grab it here.  We'll let you know as soon as the other new ones are posted.

Hey, have yourself a great rest of the week!  And I'll see you on the bunny slopes!