Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Native American Graphic Organizers for Informational, Historical Fiction, and Biographies

We are currently studying Native American culture in social studies. To guide students in research and their historical fiction book clubs, I created a set of graphic organizers.

We started the unit with a "Who Were the First Americans" Prior Knowledge Questionnaire. The prior knowledge sheet has a "before research" side and an "after research side" so that students can show what they learned from researching different tribes with informational books. After completing the before research prior knowledge, I had students do a "gallery walk." Students used a chart to record similarities they noticed, questions they had about other people's comments, things they found interesting, and other thoughts they had. Our staff often uses the gallery walk strategy to learn from other grade levels and groups during professional development. It was interesting to see my students gather information from their gallery walk and actually seem to enjoy reading what thoughts other students had.

Students used the "Culture Detective" graphic organizer to research at least two tribes (we did this on two separate days). I asked students to try to choose tribes from different regions so they would learn more about the variety of cultural aspects of Native Americans. They looked for information on government, economy, geography/climate, and technology, then were able to pick 4 other topics they were interested in from a list of culture related topics. After researching two different tribes, students completed the "after research" section of their graphic organizer.

My favorite part of the graphic organizer set is the Culture Collector Logbook. Students are using these logbooks to collect evidence of culture from their historical fiction books. (We are using Guests by Michael Dorris, Dear America: Standing in the Light by Mary Pope Osbourne, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich). Students are looking for:

-evidence of land/location
-skills children were taught/the people were good at
-interactions with others (tribes, settlers, colonists)

You can get one of the graphic organizers as a FREEBIE at my tpt store.

Next week, we are going to focus on "When Cultures Meet." I created a cause-effect like graphic organizer for us to record ideas/evidence/examples of what happens when Europeans and Native Americans meet. I'm going to model this idea with Encounter by Jane Yolen and then students are going to use an enlarged version of the graphic organizer in their book club group to facilitate a discussion about what has happened in their book when the "two cultures" meet or interact with one another.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Super Awesome Totally Fabulous Free Math Resource K-5

Tomorrow is really Friday! And if you are like me, you are working on test prep and review right now. I thought this nine weeks would give me some downtime because my kiddos are so capable...needless to say, I am using my downtime to revise my plans based on what happened that day. (Of course!)

As you get ready for next week, I thought you might LOVE these problem solving powerpoints as much as I do. They are from Cumberland County, NC and aligned to our NC EOG, but they cover all math concepts in the NCTM (Numbers and Operations, Data and Graphing, Measurement, Algebra, Geometry) and have been created for K-5 and divided into 9 weeks. (or if you are like me, you are also fantasizing about next year when things will be different, better, magical--so go ahead and download for the future).

The best part of these powerpoints is that although they can be used for test prep, they include multiple choice, short answer, and "task" based questions. The questions can be used in multiple ways--problem of the day, centers, for fast finishers, as "test prep" like questions, displaying on the smartboard, tutoring, etc. My suggestion is you download them now to your files before they disappear (hope this doesn't happen, but we are shifting to common core!). To use for fast finishers, I printed them off one problem per page.

PS-I don't teach in Cumberland County, just found their awesome resource!

Happy counting, multiplying, and finding common denominators! :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

List of Read Alouds through Themes and "Theme" Bulletin Board Labels

This year, I have worked on building students' understanding of theme to get ready for the "theme" and "central message" standards for Reading Literature in the Common Core. As I encountered the standards related to theme, Beth Newingham's theme bulletin boards stuck out in my mind. I always thought it was a great idea for displaying class read alouds, but never took the time to implement the idea in my own classroom. But, with the necessity of getting ready for our new state standards, I decided to get a jumpstart on theme this year with my students. I am so glad I did. I used to think theme was a complicated topic that was addressed in high school literature classes. Now that I have discussed theme with my students and helped them learn to identify the themes in some of our favorite read alouds, I totally think the objective of teaching theme is age appropriate and something students can handle.

Through my reflection and research, I decided to define theme as "a common message that shows up in many stories across many genres and cultures." I defined "author's message" as an author's take on a theme.

In my planning, I also created a database of read alouds that could be used to address specific themes (family, home, individualism, identity, sacrifice, accepting others, friendship, etc). I'm happy to share this database with you and hope that you can use it as a quick reference for books on a theme you are looking for. A second goal for my theme focus (and my year) was to increase diversity in my read aloud choices. You will see this diversity in the read aloud database. For quick reference, I also classified the read alouds by specific countries or nationalities in efforts to try to "read around the world."

You can download my theme label cards (including the definition posters and posters of the common core related standards for grades 1st-5th) at my teacherspayteachers store.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Throwing a Sale to Push Over 1000 Products Sold

I just noticed I have sold 999 products on Teacherspayteachers. That sounds like a great reason to throw a sale and CELEBRATE! :) The sale ends Friday night. If you are a 5th grade "Tarheel State Teacher," now is a great time to pick up my All NC Science Units EOG Vocabulary Mats, my Geometry Flash Cards with a game option, my Geometry Vocabulary Activities and graphic organizers, or my metric/customary conversions measurement packet (all aligned to the NC EOG).

Happy shopping and teaching!

Monday, April 2, 2012

BIG THOUGHTS Bookmark Freebie (Foldable for Reading)

I am so inspired by the idea of foldables lately. Foldables are such a fun way to update my approach to teaching, allows me to put tools like math journals and reading notebooks to more use, allows students to be more engaged in the process of learning, and foldables have so many potential uses, it's insane. To give credit where credit is due, I was inspired by Jen at Runde's Room's Math Journal Sundays.

I just uploaded a foldable as a new freebie to teacherspayteachers. It's a Big Thoughts Foldable Bookmark. This is an update on the old Fountas and Pinnell “thinkmark.” Students use this bookmark to track their thinking before, during, and after reading. The thinkmark is created by copying the two pages back and front. Students cut along the dotted lines and fold along the middle. Students record one big thought in each block as they read, lift up the flap and record evidence from the text and/or an explanation of what led them to their thought.

This bookmark can easily allow you to explain/review different types of thinking at the beginning of the year or when students need a refresher.
Here are some Tips for using the Big Thoughts Bookmark:
* Make enough copies to have extras in the classroom and set up a place where students can get their own bookmarks when needed.
* Expect students to complete at least one thought block per independent reading session.
* Students will most likely need more than one bookmark per book. They can simply get another sheet and fold it inside of the other to keep their bookmarks for one book together.
* Make the bookmarks a critical tool during student conferences, guided reading sessions, minilessons, partner meetings, and debriefing sessions.
* During conferences, the bookmarks will allow you to quickly assess how students’ reading is going. You can use their comments to say “Tell me more about…” if the student needs to work on explaining their thinking (in writing and/or verbally) the bookmark is a tangible tool to gauge progress and use to teach them to elaborate and show evidence for thoughts.
* Since all students are using the bookmark, you can use it to individualize strategies and focus on different aspects of comprehension based on students’ individual needs.
* Teach students to turn in their bookmarks when they have completed a book. This will allow you to fully assess their thoughts. You could even develop a rubric to put on the backside of the foldable or simply use the back to record comments. (I have students staple the bookmark into their reader’s workshop notebook so that they are developing a collection of their thoughts and to use in conferences with parents. You can also expect that students get the bookmarks signed after you comment on them to keep parents more in the loop with their child’s reading.)
* Teach lessons on how to use the bookmark thoughts to write lengthier responses to reading (many teachers require this once a week). 

I am also participating in the foldable link up party, so look around to see what other foldables might inspire you.

Happy life, love, literacy! 


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