STEM Picture Books!

Saturday, July 27, 2019


 My goal this year is to focus more on STEM and what STEM actually means. I thought that incorporating picture books on each individual letter would be a great way to show students what each letter means...and possibly motivate them to read one! I was excited to highlight my favorite STEM picture books on these wooden letters I bought (from Amazon) click on the pics of the letters below to find the individual letters. If you are feeling crafty, you will need the wooden letters, modge podge, and pictures of picture book covers. If you would like to use the ones that I used, below you will find links to each of the books. You will need to screenshot each picture and insert into a powerpoint slide.  Size the pictures about 2.4 by 2.4 inches for sizing (or around there!) and about 9 photos will fit on one 8.5x11 slide (portrait.) 
I also have a detailed blog post about how I introduce STEM into my classroom with a few free printables. You can find the blog post here!
Science Books
Technology Books
Engineering Books

Math Books

If you have any good suggestions for other STEM books, leave a comment below!


Symbolism Island Projects!

Saturday, August 25, 2018
I was so excited to start my year off with a project with some getting to know you projects. For a few years, the projects of Ms. Lopez in the Art Room have caught my eye! She does these amazingly colorful autobiographical island projects that are absolutely beautiful. I thought this would be an absolutely great way to get to know my students in the beginning of the school year!

First, I introduced the concept of symbolism after reading, What Do You Do With a Chance, by Kobi Yamada. This is a lovely story about a boy not taking chances when he becomes discouraged from repeatedly failing.  Throughout this story, a butterfly will appear around the boy.  The students easily make a connection that the butterfly symbolizes possible opportunities and chances at a better life for him, but the question is, will he be brave enough to take a risk? This book is a GREAT way to introduce a project on symbolism! 

I also introduced the concept of symbolism with the following passage.  
This gave my students some background knowledge on the concept of symbolism! 
Next, students think more in depth about symbols that represent their personality and how they would like to shape their island.  I gave them the following directions page so that they could think about their plan.  Click on the picture below or here to grab this project!
Here are some amazing examples below! 
I LOVE how these pictures brightened up my room!
Example #1
Example #2
Example #3
Example #3
Example #4

If you would like the link to the FREE printables, click HERE!

Starting the Year in a Digital Classroom

Monday, July 23, 2018

The last couple of years I have been slowly transitioning into a digital classroom! At this point, my students complete many of their assignments on Chrome Books, so I have been busy trying to catch up with transforming my resources digitally.  I would like to share this welcome survey (both digitized and paper versions) so that you can get to know your students better! 
 
Students are all at at a different places with technology, and of course some students 
feel more comfortable using Google Classroom than others.  
Taking this into consideration, I always like to give my students a technology survey.  
Click the picture of the survey below to grab the paper OR digital version!
Click on the picture below to download this survey!
There are a few projects I am extremely excited about incorporating into my classroom this year in hopes of becoming even more digitized.  This year I plan on having my students reflect a few times a week on their own digital learning wall in their Google Classroom. 
CREATING a DIGITAL LEARNING WALL!
How will the digital learning wall work? Students will complete the date, subject, and any key learning concept that jumped out of them for that day! Students can choose the subject and concept! At times, after a really important lesson, I may stop and have everyone go into their learning wall and add their learning.  The fun part??? After each learning concept, students will add a hashtag to describe their learning.  Hashtags allow students a great way to think of the MAIN IDEA and details of what they learned.  Students can get as CREATIVE with this as they like! 
Here is an example of what the September slide may look like!
If you are interested in implementing this in your classroom, 
there are templates for each month of the year! 
Click below for the link!
To get a bundle of all of my digital products, click the pic below!

How are you incorporating technology this year? Please share!

Upping Student Engagement! (Teacher Cheat Sheet Freebie!)

Saturday, April 7, 2018

It is so important to encourage student to collaborate during a lesson!  Not only so they have the opportunity to exchange ideas, but to take the focus off of the teacher, and back on the students.  Partner collaboration will definitely up your student engagement if you feel that students are sitting idle or appear "bored"! 

With this in mind, I always feel like it is important to change up my own delivery.  When I find myself in a rut, or saying the same things over and over again to my class we can often sound like broken records and let's face it…the students can get bored!  

I developed a "cheat sheet" that I can have right next to me while teaching so that I remind myself to use different ways for asking students to work with a partner, soliciting a response from them, responding to each other, and affirming their responses.  If you would like a copy to use in your classroom, click on the picture below! 
What phrases do you use that help students get involved? Please share! :)


2017 Free Holiday Card Template!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Are you in need of a QUICK, fast, and adorable holiday gift?
Below is the holiday card I have been having my students work on this year! 
Just a few fingerprints, a poem, a picture, and you are good to GO!
Holiday Card, Free Holiday Card, Parent Gift
Inside the Card
On the inside of the card, I gave my students a poetry template that they can add their own touch and creativity to! 
First, students drafted their poems on the template, and then they published their final copy with a picture.  Depending on your students writing abilities, they may want to write something completely original for their card! I only gave them the template as a jump start. 
Some used it, others wanted to write something on their own.
                   Poetry Card, 5th Grade Holiday Gift, Christmas Card, Student Christmas Card Template
Download this FREE template by clicking on the pic below!
Hopefully your students will love making their card! Happy Holidays!
Other Holiday Goodies:
   

Literacy Rotations in the Upper Grades

Saturday, January 21, 2017
One of my New Year's Resolutions was to differentiate more in my classroom with the use of literacy rotations. Let's face it, organizing small groups in a way that works can be a rather daunting task, especially in the upper grades. If you are like me, you may face challenges such as limited space, large class size (34 to be exact!), lack of materials or just deciding which materials to use, and finally LETTING GO (for my fellow control freaks!) Due to these challenges, it has always been hard to wrap my head around how to organize everything, but I finally laid out a plan that has been working for me (and hopefully for you as well!)

Schedule
The first I did was find time in my schedule.  Over the break, I revamped my entire day so that I was going to teach the things that I seemed to have trouble fitting in FIRST. My morning schedule looks like this.
Morning Schedule (Language Arts)
8:15 Homework/Morning Warm Up
8:30 Read Aloud
8:45 Writing
9:45 Literacy Rotations
10:15 Recess
10:35 Rotations Continued
10:50 Close Reading/Book Groups

Choosing Groups
The first thing I did was decide that I wanted to have heterogeneous groups mixing up the ability levels of my students so that they could help each other when they were in different rotations without me.  Since I have a group of focus students in my class that I target through their previous year's test score data, I spread these students out.   

My target students are chosen for different reasons.  
#1) Students who are close to benchmark (proficient) 
#2) Students who just barely met benchmark and are at risk of falling behind
#3) Students who are far below proficient
I spread these students out so I have only 2-3 focus students in a group of 7.

Setting the Stage
Before starting rotations, I have students move ALL of their pencil boxes to a storage location so that their desktops are completely clear.  This allows for the students to completely move around and we are ready to set up the centers. I meet with the students prior to centers beginning to let them know where they will be going/doing using the following cookie sheet. I love using this since I have limited space in my classroom and it is extremely portable.  

Click on the picture below to grab the labels for the pockets and the title card!
Portable Rotations
Since I have limited space, I need PORTABLE centers. A basket that the students can take with them to set up.  I can dream about having enough space for permanent centers, but that is definitely not my reality! I usually choose a CENTER CAPTAIN that is in charge of getting the center tote and setting up, which is a great chance to give students leadership roles. I found awesome totes, seen in the pictures below at JoAnnes for 19.99, but I found them 40% off and I used an additional coupon! I LOVE them because they are canvas and have handles so the students can easily grab and take. 

What are the students doing?
Figuring out what the students will be doing is the most important task. I change the activities on a weekly basis, but the premise of the center stays the same.  The centers are broken down into:
Rotation #1) Word Work
Last week, students worked with the root word SUB. The students filled out the template seen below with their group researching along the way with the help of our classroom chrome books, iPad, and dictionaries.  The students LOVED making NONSENSE words on this organizer! They got pretty creative here!
Rotation #2) Read to Self
Last week for the READ to SELF rotation, my students worked on BOOK TASTING.  Students grab the portable basket seen below (from JoAnne's) filled with books that I have picked up with my Scholastic points.  Instead of putting them in my classroom library right away, I like to put them in the BOOK TASTING basket! The timer is set in 5 minute increments, at the end of each 5 minute block, students are able to decide if the book leaves a GOOD taste in their mouth. If so, they continue reading. If not, they are able to make a new choice!
Students used the BOOK TASTING template seen below to keep track of their work. 

Rotation #3) Comprehension
Since I taught the lower grades for many years , I have tons of picture books. Last week, I threw a bunch of picture books into a basket. Students chose a picture book. After, students explored the "theme" of the picture book with the template you see here. Grab the template seen below by clicking on the link. 
I also incorporate my ENGAGEMENT STATIONS into my literacy rotations. You can read about them here. Here is one of my engagement stations where the students explore theme and develop slogans about the themes of different fairy tales! 
Click HERE to be taken to this engagement station!
Click HERE to be taken to my ENGAGEMENT STATION bundle!
Rotation #4) Non Fiction
I receive TIME for KIDS every week. To be completely honest, it was getting pretty overwhelming trying to fit them into my daily schedule, but I think I have found the answer. Last week, students browsed through the TIME for KIDS and chose one article that interested them.  After reading the article, they wrote a NEWS BROADCAST using the template seen below.  After completing the template, students practiced their broadcast for their group.  Eventually, students will record their broadcast into their GOOGLE CLASSROOM account so that they have a record of their performance!
Rotation #5) Teacher Time
After guided reading, last week we focused on COMPOUND sentences and used the following template to discuss the purpose for each coordinating conjunction. This was truly eye opening since students tend to get confused when to use each conjunction.

Click here to purchase my LITERACY ROTATIONS TOOLKIT!
GUIDED READING IN THE UPPER GRADES, GUIDED READING
How do you organize your Literacy Rotations?

6 Mini-Lesson Ideas for Teaching Effective Dialogue

Thursday, November 10, 2016
The past couple of weeks I have incorporated 5 different mini-lessons that 
taught my students to effectively add dialogue to their writing. Hopefully! ;)
Mini-Lesson #1: Dialogue Models
I used the form seen below to introduce basic dialogue models to the students.  Under each individual model, the students wrote their own example.  Students also looked through the novel they are currently independently reading and hunted examples of each model.  
dialogue models, upper grade writing, dialogue lesson, 5th grade writing
Mini-Lesson #2: Color Coding Models
In the next mini-lesson, I gave each student 4 different colored index cards which they cut apart and arranged into the different models.  This provided a good visual as long as they stayed with a consistent color pattern.  The pattern we used was:

ORANGE: subject or speaker
PINK: speaker tag (how the speaker spoke)
YELLOW: what was spoken by the character
GREEN: quotation marks and commas

Students are keeping this in their writing folder so they can pull it 
out throughout the year when needed!
speaker tag lesson, dialogue lesson, color coding dialogue
Mini-Lesson #3) Speaker Tags
Students brainstormed different ways to say more basic types of speaker tags like the ones seen below.  After students independently researched these speaker tags using the chrome books, we made a classroom anchor chart where students came up and added one word to each square.  This created a good discussion tool as some of the words were great examples or synonyms for more common speaker tags, and how others were not very good examples or wouldn't make sense. 
synonyms for said
Mini Lesson #4) SAID is not DEAD!
As teachers we often use the expression SAID is DEAD! when teaching dialogue. However, said can actually be a very powerful word when it is paired with a prepositional phrase. As we were looking through novels that the students were reading and finding examples of dialogue, we noticed that many authors used long phrases to explain how a character sounded or looked when they were speaking.  Since we had been previously studying prepositional phrases, students were able to incorporate this into their writing.
Examples:
"Watch out! The bowl is going to tip over!" My mom said.
"Watch out! The bowl is going to tip over!" My mom said with a distraught look on her face.
Mini Lesson #5) Writing Dialogue with Comics
Students were so excited when I pulled out this comic of Charlie Brown talking to Linus. The students rewrote the comic using dialogue models.  This allowed the students a lot of practice with writing speaker tags to create the appropriate mood and tone as well as changing speakers. They loved it!
comic strips in the classroom, comic strip mini-lesson
Here is another example! We talked about how important it is the vary your dialogue models so that there is variety in your conversations.
5th grade, writing mini-lesson, narrative writing with dialogue
Mini-Lesson #6) Students Create Comics 
Finally, it was time for students to create a comic based on their narrative draft that we had been writing.  The students read over their narratives and pinpointed a place where they would want to add dialogue.  They used the template seen below to draw the comic. 
After students drew the comic, they wrote the conversation below and finally added it to their narratives! She was able to add this conversation to her narrative and it really took her writing to the next level! 
writing, 5th grade, panicked teacher
Click on the image below to get this free template!
Other templates seen in this blog post can be found in my narrative writing unit! 
Click on the link below to be taken there!
Please share your tips or tricks for adding dialogue!

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