Sunday, May 12, 2013

Peek at My Week (this week and last!)

Hello all,
I missed Peek at My Week last week. I had all intentions of getting things shared before the week was up but I spent a lot of time on my Thinking through Reading Tests product and even revised it a little the day after I originally posted it.

If you missed my lessons on sorting question types, check it out. It's three days at least of meaningful test-prep plans with strategies that kids can use forever for all reading-type tests and even for open-ended questions. Heck, I think I will teach my QAR lessons from the beginning of the year next year.
I even had time last week to finish up a new product, Multiplying and Dividing with Decimals Task Cards. These questions are exactly like my Multiplying and Dividing Fractions task cards with the house plans theme, but the kids won't really care, will they? I teach those concepts so far apart, it will be nice for them to see the connections between decimals and fractions with these questions.

What did we do last week? You know, we worked on a lot of questions from released packets in math and used our questioning strategies on a passage a day during reading.

In science, we learned about Gregor Mendel and genetics. I had some good freebie resources I wanted to share with you in case you teach that too.
Peas in a Pod: Mendelian Genetics from Mensa for Kids. It looks like they have A LOT of other good resources that fit my science curriculum, so I will definitely be checking them out for more stuff later.
I made questions to go with the first two lessons from the Mensa for Kids Genetics lessons. You can grab it from my google docs to use with your students.

Finally, peek at my week, visually!
Morning Meeting:
Inspiring Kindness Video (song in video is GREAT!)

Hope you enjoyed peeking at my two weeks. What do you have going on?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Reading Tests: Questioning Lessons

Earlier this week, I shared my Thinking Through Reading Tests materials, including Reading Question Sorts for Grades 3-8th based on the NC ELA Released Test. (Since the test questions are Common Core aligned, I believe the sorts will be useful to many other states as well).

What’s the purpose of having students sort questions independent of reading the text?
Allowing students to closely analyze questions helps them to make generalizations about the types of questions they can predict will be on the test and that they can expect for specific genres. Yes, you can do the sort for them and hand them a list of questions, but allowing them to come up with generalizations about the test questions takes your “test prep” from teacher-centered to student centered and considers testing a “genre” or “type of text” rather than an unpredictable “test.”

Today I wanted to share how our questioning lessons are going.
Day 1:  I had students work in partners to sort the questions into categories that made sense to them. It was interesting (and telling) to see what kind of categories students came up with on their own. I went around from group to group listening to their ideas and pushing them to reconsider some of the questions they had placed in different categories. (We completed this sort prior to the kids reading the text--based on my experience, you can decide what kind of question MOST of them are without reading the text yet.)

Day 2: I gave students a copy of my Question-Answer-Relationship handout. I went through each type of question (which was review from last year) and then had them meet with their partner again to sort the questions into these four categories. Now, not having read the text, there are a few questions that fall between two of the types of questions.
Day 3: During minilesson,  I gave each student two of the question cards and decided to start the lesson with the ones I had leftover. (Totally random, no strategic planning here). I called out one of my questions and we discussed where we would place it~"Right There/There and There," "Inferencing," "Overalls," or "Apply Prior Knowledge." Then, I asked students to raise their hands and share if they had a question like the one we had just categorized. Students read their questions one-by-one and we decided as a class if it fit the category. We continued until we had grouped and classified all questions. You can see our findings in the picture below. Each of these categories helps students tap into what skills and strategies they should use to answer the questions given. For example, if I have an overall question, I am going to pull from the beginning, middle, and end of the text (or a specific paragraph).

Here's how our questions fell into the categories:
"Right There/There and There"
* Literal Questions-We can go right back to the text and put our fingers on these.
Example: "Based on the selection, how did Roberto get to see the game?"
* Compare/Contrast Questions (need us to use information in two different places in the text)
Example: "How are butterflies and mosquitoes different?"; "Which statement shows a way some insects are similar to spiders?"

* Interpreting Figurative Language questions, using context clues for unknown words, and comprehension questions that go beyond the literal
Examples: "In paragraph 19, what is meant by 'Roberto's heart was in his stomach"?; "In the selection, what can be inferred about how the people viewed the old man?"; "What does the word shabbily mean as it is used in the text?"

* Main idea, summary, theme, generalizing, author's point of view, etc.
Examples: "Which statement summarizes the theme of the selection?"; "What main ideas are supported by the selection?"

"Apply Prior Knowledge"
***We talked about how none of the questions on our test would be true "prior knowledge" questions and that all of the questions were text-dependent. Now, when we take our SCIENCE EOG, ALLLLLLLLLLLL of the questions will fall under "prior knowledge." Interesting findings!

What are some ways I can use the questions for sorting?
• I think all sorts should be completed with partners or in small groups to encourage students to discuss what they are noticing and negotiate the categories.
• Allow students to sort the questions into any categories they see and then discuss as a group. (This would work well before you have introduced any of your Question-Answer-Relationship lessons and your “how to answer questions” lessons)
•After teaching your QAR lesson, have students re-sort the questions into the 4 categories (“Right There/There and There,” “Inferencing,” “Overall,” and “Apply Prior Knowledge.”) Within the 4 categories for QAR, see if you can come up with different types of each category. For example, “overall” questions include main idea, summarizing, theme, etc. while “inferencing” questions also include context clue questions because you use the text and your mind to infer word meaning.

My full Thinking Through Reading Questions Bulletin Board/Minilesson/Questioning Strategy Materials can be found here! 

~Multiplying and Dividing Decimals: House Plans Themed Task Cards~

Do you use my Themed Task Cards in your math classroom? I just made a set of DECIMAL multiplication and division task cards based off of my Multiplying and Dividing FRACTIONS: House Plan themed task cards. Get students to work on accuracy with multiplying and dividing decimals as the work to solve area problems and recreate the given house plan.

Check out the answer key to see the types of problems students will solve.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Teacher Appreciation 2013

Today I received 18 Resee Cups and a bag of the unwrapped small ones. I received a bouquet of flowers, cupcakes, truffles, and brownies. This can only mean one thing....
This is my favorite week of the year. Our PTA makes each day themed: Monday--treat day, Tuesday-Teacher Tools Day Wednesday-Catered Lunch with raffles (always a favorite day!), Thursday--Thank You Notes, Friday-Flowers! Honestly, Thank you Notes Thursday is my F~A~VOR~ite day! I love handmade cards with thoughtful notes from my students. They know the year is winding down and they will soon leave, so I love to hear what they are thankful for. must mean....a TPT Teacher Appreciation Sale! To show appreciation for all of my wonderful followers (bloggy and store) and my die-hard customers, all of my products will be 20%. Add that to the 10% from TPT and everything is 28% off.
Thanks to Zip a Dee Doo Dah Designs for making this great TPT Appreciation Sale Logo!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Thinking through Reading Tests~FINALLY!

 My test prep product is finally ready to share. I have created a "Test-Prep" Minilessons Bulletin Board that I use to review strategies for reading comprehension that I have taught students all year long. This board allows me to move from what students KNOW about reading in general to how that applies to reading for a reading test.

This method considers “test prep passages” as another reading genre that students develop an understanding of how the test/passages are designed. (I’m sure you have done this all year with poetry, nonfiction, realistic fiction, science fiction, fantasy, opinion-based articles, etc.) Together, you and your students discover how a test is put together AND how what you have taught them to do all year as intelligent readers still applies in the setting of “test reading.”
My version of Question-Answer-Relationship is based off of the types of questions on our Reading EOG. All questions can be classified as "Right There"/"There and There," "Inferencing," "Overalls," and "Apply Prior Knowledge." Once studnets realize what question type they are working with, they can then go about the appropriate steps to figure out the right answer. I love these four types because it helps me remind my students that there are questions that ARE NOT directly answered by the text. The test will require them to THINK (at least a little) for themselves and use the knowledge they have learned.
I use a 4 step method to help students when they are finally answering questions. (WE do ALOT of work before we ever touch the questions!) I guide them through learning how to reword the questions (when necessary), mark out the obviously wrong answer (or 2), collect clues for the other answer choices, then make an educated decision (not a guess!) based on the information they have collected. Students are also required to write evidence (for or against) for each of the 4 answer choices. By the time they do this, they have typically figured out the right answer. You may decide to only use one of these questioning strategies (as I have in the past).

We are still in the beginning stages of our test prep because I know what my kiddos were capable of last year. We are still reading our independent books and I am conferring with students during our independent time. I'm sure we will dabble in reading and answering some of the passages this week, but I didn't want to get them started to soon (as 5th graders) and then have them burn out closer and closer to the test. Our first few lessons this week will be analyzing the types of questions they will be asked and talking about how we should think to answer those types of questions. I have typed up all of the Reading EOG questions from 3rd-8th grades for a student sorting lesson. This is included in the test prep download, but I have also uploaded it as a freebie (since I didn't write the questions myself, but made the sort so that we could use the questions in a different way). You may want to check out the grade levels before and after you as you work with students. I was uber surprised that 5th grade had no text-based features types of questions (we have NO NO NO graphics in our released set at all), but looking at 3rd or 4th (can't remember), they did have some text-feature based questions. Of course, I don't want my kiddos to be surprised by anything.

Although I am preparing my students for testing (3 weeks away), I have lived by this ALL (of-my-teaching-career) YEAR!
Sorry if this post is choppy or less-than-explained! But, I spent almost~the~whole~day trying to get this product together (and ready for me to use this week!) so I really wanted to get it shared with you all!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May Currently

Listening: Hall of Fame is going to be one of our 5th Grade Recognition performance songs. I used it this morning in Morning Meeting to start introducing the kids to it. (What am I talking about? They already know the words because they are sooooooooooo hip!)
Loving: I just upgraded my 2 year old HTC. And, wowzer! I love love love my new one. Best of all, it only cost a dollar with a $50 gift card promotion and $120 from the buy back program at Best Buy. I used the giftcards to prepay for my phone insurance. (Didn't I kind-of just pay for the phone? But man, I sure did love that insurance when I busted my phone last year!)

Thinking: Finally F~R~I~D~A~Y!!~~!! Okay, I am NOT typically one to countdown to the weekend. (Have you realized that just makes the week, month, year fly by faster?...which correlates to me getting older and older...)So, I tend to not pray or wish for the weekend or for tomorrow or for summer or for next month. I like to take things one day at a time and try to enjoy what it is. HOWEVER, this week has been a tough one for me and I have just been hoping for the weekend. (Maybe it is this cold front that is plaguing NC and making everyday overcast and indoor recess-worthy...I guess my "needing" should really say "Some dag-own SUNSHINE, please please please please!")

Wanting: To go along with my dagone tough week and need for sunshine, I stopped by Chick-Fil-A today. This is not part of my normal eating habits and to tell the truth ~I am not one of those crazy Chick-Fil-A people. But, I hit up some waffle fries and a chicken sandwhich with cheese. Why do I want to take it back? Those handy dandy nutrition facts on the menu now let me know that the combo would hit me at about 1000 calories. AWESOME, especially since I had already polished off the carrot cake in my fridge. (So, seriously need some sunshine to help me get out and run this off tomorrow!)

Needing: To rest and work on some TpT/classroom products! (Wow, that sounds like an oxymoron--needing to rest and work). I should just stick with asking for SUNSHINE!

Summer Bucket List: I have been stalking the Governor's Ball in NYC that is in about a month. The tickets are crazy-costly, but some of my favorite bands--Lumineers, Avett Brothers, Kings of Leon, Feist, Of Monsters and Men, Erykah Badu, and some other noteworthy musicians like GUNS-N-ROSES! and Kanye West--will be there. Just waiting for a few things to fall into place before I secure those tickets. Crossing my fingers for this bucket list fun.

PS--One more day for my 300 Followers Appreciation Sale! Hope you can check it out!


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