Sunday, May 3, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Sale

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Enjoy up to 28% off regular prices as a thank you!

Monday, April 6, 2015

 As part of our 4th grade unit on the revolutionaries of the past, we look specifically at poems and non-fiction texts that address the key people of the American Revolution.

We read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Ralph Waldo Emerson's poems about the Battle of Lexington and Concord.  We compare and contrast the form and content of both poems in venn diagram or In Regards To graphic organizers.  For example, students compare length and time period written.

We also read these texts in small groups:  (Click on individual pictures to find the books on Amazon (Affiliate linked).)











Students choose which texts appeals to them and they read them aloud together. The groups get to decide which way they read---either choral or taking turns. 

As they read, they take notes on the important people in their books.  In Heroes of the Revolution, there are multiple people, and I have them write notes on each.  

After they complete their reading, I have them synthesize their notes into a poster.  They choose facts to share about their character and draw a representation of the character.  Here are just a few examples of the work I get.  



I have students create the posters on easel paper. I keep a stash in my room at all times for days just like this one.  I just cut off how much I need and go about my day.  That way if students make mistakes, I have the paper right on hand, and I don't have to run to the workroom for more.  (Affliate link).


The students really like learning about the American Revolution and the stories behind the people.

Colleen

Revolutionaries From the Past

 As part of our 4th grade unit on the revolutionaries of the past, we look specifically at poems and non-fiction texts that address the key people of the American Revolution.

We read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Ralph Waldo Emerson's poems about the Battle of Lexington and Concord.  We compare and contrast the form and content of both poems in venn diagram or In Regards To graphic organizers.  For example, students compare length and time period written.

We also read these texts in small groups:




 





Students choose which texts appeals to them and they read them aloud together. The groups get to decide which way they read---either choral or taking turns. 
As they read, they take notes on the important people in their books.  In Heroes of the Revolution, there are multiple people, and I have them write notes on each.  
After they complete their reading, I have them synthesize their notes into a poster.  They choose facts to share about their character and draw a representation of the character.  Here are just a few examples of the work I get.  



I have students create the posters on easel paper. I keep a stash in my room at all times for days just like this one.  I just cut off how much I need and go about my day.  That way if students make mistakes, I have the paper right on hand, and I don't have to run to the workroom for more.  (Affliate link).



The students really like learning about the American Revolution and the stories behind the people.

Colleen

Friday, April 3, 2015

PEEP in for a Sale


Hop on over for 20%  your savings at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  All of my store will be 20% off on April 5th only!  

Is it time to open your own TeachersPayTeachers.com Store?  Use this link to get started. 

Hoppy Easter! 

Colleen



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Joy in a Jar

On my desk, a small glass jar sits.  Each day, my students fill it up with notes to me from students and with what we call virtue tickets (or good news prize tickets).  Notes range from nice to know things like “I like your dress and please copy my essay for me” to need to know like “Suzy hit me or Johnny is being bullied”.  

Students mostly feel comfortable enough with me to write their names on their notes and if they don’t in case someone else sees it, we have code words that are picked at a different time.  The little notes are our little secret unless of course it’s something that needs to be addressed.  It’s nice in the hussle and bussle of our day to have a place students feel comfortable expressing themselves.  It feels good to be heard even if it’s by a paper ear.  
To my surprise one day recently, a student left me a larger than normal note .  Most are scrawled on paper scraps or sticky notes.  This particular note was handwritten in Sharpie on a piece of full sized notebook paper and was addressed with “Please Read” and even requested “Please Retern”.  This in itself intrigued me.

I opened the carefully folded paper and found it was a story written by the student.  I read the title which suggested a scary story was about to be told.  I read the story word for word.  

I was so impressed with this student’s willingness to share this with me.  I was even more impressed with how it ended.  I would not be able to come up with a more suspense-filled ending to a scary story.  I am hoping this young author continues the story. Or at least leaves me more! For this language arts teacher, it was like finding a little love note.
Do you have a system for your students to tell you things? What are some ways your students leave you little "love notes"? Leave me a comment with your answers.

-C

Monday, March 16, 2015

Which, That and Who versus Whom

Relative pronouns and adverbs may come easy to some people; however, they often allude many. Take for instance who versus whom.  It is one of them most misused elements of grammar, yet there is an easy way to remember it.

I teach my students who versus whom by giving them the hint that who replaces he/she and whom replaces him/her.  I point out that him ends in m and thus needs whom.  I tell them to replace him with her if it's a female and then revert back to him. 

It's little tricks like that that make studying these nuisances of the English language more bearable for the faint of heart (or patience).  

In discussing relative pronouns, we look at the difference between which and that.  That is used when the information is necessary to the meaning of the independent clause.  The pronoun which is used when the information is not necessary.  This dependent clause is offset by a comma in front of which.  
A little trick I use to help my students remember if it's which or that is if it's need to know info or not.  I liken it to reporting versus tattling.  You need your teacher to know THAT something is not safe.  I explain the information in the dependent clause with the pronoun which is often something nice for the reader to know instead of what they must know right now (just like in tattling).  I also reference the comma that when tattling the teacher doesn't always need to know so you could sometimes wait to tell him/her.  A comma is a pause so I let them know that a comma is like the waiting time to tell the teacher.  Silly and sounds complicated, but they really seemed to get it.  

I have placed my Clauses, Relative Pronouns, and Relative Adverbs on TeachersPayTeachers.  It includes definitions, hints, and examples.  I use these notes in my students grammar interactive notebooks.  They just cut around the border and glue right in. The corresponding slide presentation can be seen here:  Relative Pronoun and Adverb Slide Prentation.

 TeachersPayTeachers Link



Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sink or Swim

I drive about an hour everyday to and from my school.  It gives me a lot of time to prepare for the day and reflect on it on the way home.  I had a meeting recently about a student and on the way to school that day, I was thinking of what I needed to share and I thought about my ultimate goal for the child -- independence.

One thing I always find in these meetings is that everyone involved wants what's best for the child, but may differ in what we feel is best.

I also got to thinking about how sometimes children are puzzles.  They cannot always tell us what they need, but their actions usually will give us some clues.  For some, it's that their distract-able and that impacts their learning (or lack there of).  Others, it shows that they might have cognitive impairments that get in the way. Sometimes, they spend so much time processing things, that they get overwhelmed and melt down. Occasionally, they just refuse to even start for fear of being wrong.

As teachers, it is our job to determine student needs and help meet those needs within the confines of the system we are in.  Most of the time, this is relatively easy.  Other times, especially in the area of cognitive deficits, we are tasked with a daunting task. The data suggests one way, parents another, and teacher instinct another.  How do we reconcile this?

I liken it to when I used to work in a summer daycare.  We would take the kids to the local high school for swim lessons on a weekly basis.  I did not care for this day, because inevitably one of the kids would freak out and nearly drown me.  I love water, but I have nightmares of drowning.  I have a feeling it has something to do with my brother dunking me under whenever he got the chance when we were younger.  But I digress . . . At the end of the summer, the treat for the kids that excelled at their lessons was to allow the off the diving boards.  We were tasked with "catching" them or at least making sure they came back up.  One particular time, a kid jumped off the diving board, freaked out and clung to me for dear life.  In the process, he pushed me underwater and it was difficult for me to get him back to the side of the pool without injuring myself.  I succeeded, but it took some extra effort.

Some children take that extra effort in school.  They are afraid if they are expected to be independent that they will fail (or drown).  So instead of working on their lessons by themselves, they expect us to "save" them.  It's sometimes hard to determine if they need us to catch them or to do the work with/for them.  Do we chance it and pull farther back or do we allow them to be dependent a little more than we would normally and maybe they'll "float".

Our ultimate goal as teachers is to "raise" independent young adults who can think and do for themselves.  But what about the ones that still need us to rescue them?  What service are we giving them?  Are they eventually going to be come independent?  Where do we draw the line?