Monday, February 11, 2013

Reading and Viewing with a Critical Lens: Monday's Minilesson Magic

This quarter in readers' workshop, we have been working on reading informational texts (specifically opinion-based informational texts). We have focused on previewing, knowing whether a text is for, against, or neutral, summarizing, previewing to try to figure out the structure of the text, note-taking, and talking back to the text. Last week, we worked on reading and viewing texts with a critical lens. We learned to analyze the text with a number of critical questions in mind.
For our minilesson models, we have been focusing on the "chocolate milk in schools" debate. For my lessons on critical literacy, we analyzed two texts that we had previously used in other minilessons that have two opposing views on chocolate milk in schools,  an ad from the National Dairy Council and the Jamie Oliver Foundation.

We chose to read our Jamie Oliver article critically first because it would push us to think critically since we are leaning towards limiting chocolate milk in schools for our opinion essay. Next we analyzed an advertisement from the National Dairy Council titled "Five Reasons Why Flavored Milk Matters." We had previously used this text in our "talking back" to the text lesson. We realized that Jamie Oliver was biased (he says "chocolate milk does not belong in schools" AT ALL) because he is trying to fight the obesity epidemic and sees processed foods and extra sugar as a contributor to the obesity epidemic. The National Dairy Council is biased because their main goal is to get people to consume more milk and have specifically targeted increasing consumption of flavored milk. We discussed how the NDC uses fear to try to manipulate parents and schools into thinking that the main way to help kids get their nutrients is through flavored milk. ("Kids like the taste!") We discussed how this is the easy way out and does not require schools and parents to TEACH kids to like the taste of white milk and other foods that will provide them with the same nutrients.

For more practice, we used a commercial recently put out by Coca-Cola. I prompted students to think about what messages the Coke company was trying to send us and what they were trying to get us to believe. Next, I showed the video again and asked students to look for visual and auditory methods the authors of the text used to send us their messages. Through these lessons, I hope my students are getting more critically intelligent. I also shared with students the recent Fooducate blog post that brought this video to my attention. Fooducate is well-known by my students as we used the fooducate app in our science/nutrition unit last year. I explained to students that Fooducate typically does a great job with critical literacy. They are trying to help us navigate the world of food where food companies are trying to convince us that the products they make are healthy and nutritional for us.

I just found this video where someone has taken the Coca Cola commercial and put in the "real" information that we need to know in order to critically understand this video. Can't wait to show this to my kiddos this coming week to show them critical literacy IN ACTION!

For our unit, students have been reading opinion-based articles and blog posts on debatable topics (like athlete salaries, school uniforms, technology money spent in schools, e-readers versus books, single-gender schools, competitive sports for young children, etc.). Basically, they are doing the research for an opinion-based essay during our reading time so that writing time can be spent learning the techniques of essay writing and using evidence based terms within a researched piece of writing.

 I found a lot of the texts we are using through the Teacher's College Reading and Writing projects website if you are looking for Opinion-based articles. As students have honed in on their topics, we have also had to search for more articles on their specific topic through our handy-dandy friend named google.

For me, the whole point of critical literacy is to teach students to consider whether or not a text is trying to send them an ulterior message and to think about the goals of the author, company, or organization that has created the text. While I don't think critical literacy will stop us from having chocolate milk or soda now and then, I hope my students do not let the media convince them that these are HEALTHY choices.

By the way, you can download the chart above at my TPT store. It is in a one page format and 1/2 page format for student journals/reader response notebooks.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Math Practices Made Easy # 2

This is the second math practices made easy. If you missed the first one, you can find it here.

Today's teaching technique is one I found on the the The teaching technique (routine graphic organizer) is called "Choose 3 Ways."

You can download the Choose 3 Ways word document from the teaching channel website. Check out the whole video below. This video is a solid example of how you could use the workshop model in math and I'm sure you will pick up on other useful techniques as you watch. Definitely worth the 5 minutes!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Why I LOVE Task Cards in Math: Top 10

Have you embraced task cards in your classroom? This year, I definitely have used task cards as one way to revolutionize my math classroom. Here is my Top 10 List of why I LOVE task cards in math.

10. Students think we are doing something fun because they get to move around the room. We are, but you'd think we were having a party sometimes. 
9. Students seem more willing to ask for help (maybe because the room is in action with everyone moving around and it feels safer than when they are only sitting at their desk).

8. ANSWER KEYS: easy checking! Immediate feedback!

7. If I am using them for two days, I can use the first day's results to create a small group for the following day.

6. My task cards usually provide two days worth of practice--easy, engaging, and effective lesson plans! I make more than enough task cards so that no one is able to complete them all in one session.

 Multiplying and Dividing Fractions 5th grade common core5. After using task cards in a whole group lesson, they are EASY PEASY to move to a station for more practice or review, use in an intervention group, or to differentiate for students who still need to work on the concept.

4.  Students seem more willing to persevere!
 Multiply Divide Fractions Task Cards 5th grade common core

3. Self-motivated students have the opportunity to push themselves. (They often are less likely to do this when the instructional mode is...textbook textbook pg...wait...discuss. Anyone else use Math Expressions and have this problem?) 
2. After I explain how to work a problem to one student, I can ask that student to be the expert on that problem.

1. When it's time to go to recess, the kids yell "No. I don't want math to be over!" So rewarding! I would love to skip recess and keep doing math, but they never agree to this trade-off :)

Click here to check out my engaging task cards (each on a theme that you can use all year long). Although task cards are great for centers and stations, I always use them in whole-group instruction first.


Friday, February 1, 2013

All Over the Place-Linky's and Super Sale

Hi Everyone,

This blog post is going to be "all over the place" with Friday Funnies,Sunday's Super Sale, and some teacherspayteachers LoVe. Isn't teaching AWESOME?!?!

So my Friday Funny isn't exactly a funny, but an "awwwwww" that made me smile even more than a funny. So, I'll use Friday Funnies from Ashley over at Primary Teacherhood to share my warm-fuzzy moments from today.

1) My kiddos had to go to the gym today to practice "Man in the Mirror" with the rest of the 5th graders. (We have a partnership with Habitat for Humanity in our county and have a now annual Moms vs Moms basketball game. The game is NEXT WEEK!! Our kiddos perform a few songs during the bball game as their contribution to the kick-off). Anywayzzz---it was 11:50 on a Friday in a classroom and they were all "Michael-Jackson-white glove-hat down--turn around-gonna make a change--jazzed up," after practicing at their seats before heading to the gym, so I reminded them that our music teacher would be trying to lead 80 kiddos in the gym and would need them to listen and follow directions. I made the comment "and when we get in there, don't buddy up with all of your friends like it's mix-up time at lunch." As everyone who is still wound up keeps on being loud and rowdy, one of my sweeties said, "But we're all friends." Busted---then I had to explain, "I agree, but you know what I mean." Our community and kindness stuff IS WORKING! :) Love abounds in our class! Here's more proof:

2) I had a few helpful kids come in from afterschool today to help me grade the quizzes we took in math. (These are my future teachers and always great assistants). I was also meeting with a parent at the time in the room across the hall. About 15 minutes later they came in looking for a broom with a long handle. "We want to sweep." Okay, I'm not going to stop you. When I came back to the room, I asked "What's going on? Are you guys just not wanting to go back to afterschool?" What they said is the best. "Ms. Russell, you told us to pass it on so we are cleaning the room for you." Ahhh, that melted my heart.

So, no funnies, but definitely reasons to keep on loving kids and what comes out of their mouths.

And, I'm sure you have heard that TPT is holding a SITE-WIDE Super Sunday Sale. Remember, TPT only holds a few site-wide sales a year, so this is a truly big deal. Many sellers will be putting their entire stores on sale. I am putting all of my items on 10% sale which means you can save 18% off of everything in my store by using the code SUPER at checkout for 20% off from tpt. I hate to be cheapy and only do a 10% sale on my items, but I really strive to reasonably price my products for the work that I have done and the longevity of the product. Only my Words Their Way Word Searchers are over $5 at 6 bucks each (which means that through this sale you can get them for $4.32. That's a steal in my book for something that I use ALLLLLLL year long.) And, did I mention my paycheck went DOWN this month? (Probably yours too thanks to a social security increase, but MAN, I didn't think it could get any smaller.) So, tpt really supplements my income in that it allows me to pay for things periodically that I wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise. Did I mention that I bought a house last February (and I'm single:)? After a year of homeownership, I am feeling the crunch. (By the way, do you LOVE this Sale button by Ashley Hughes? He's squirreling away his footballs. How CUUUUUUUUUTE!)

I will be making some purchases on Sunday too and will be so happy to send some of my payday cash to another teacher. I LOVE teacherspayteachers and feel that it has totally revolutionized the teaching profession. I mean the time and energy we put into creating useful lesson materials that are also engaging and better-than-the-publishers is just amazing to me. I get so much pleasure out of purchasing your great products. I know you are on the other end checking your daily statistics just like me. And, I know we work hard to make amazing products because of the encouragement and feedback we get from being a part of teacherspayteachers and the blogging world. When I am making new products, I feel like what I do is worthy of my time because it will not only be a great lesson for my kids, but for lots of other students.

Anyway.....what if we all showcase what we are planning to purchase on Sunday? I am going to work on my wishlist tomorrow and maybe I will have time to post what I am looking forward to grabbing up.

And for a little INSPIra-cion, here's "Man in the Mirror" for you. Enjoy!

Wow, did I say this post would be all over the place? Hope you had a great wrap-up to your week today!



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