Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sharing Sunday: December Goodies!

I hope you guys had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!! I can't believe it is over.  My pants can't either.

And now I don't feel guilty for listening to Christmas carols...I *might* have started playing them in the car for a week or so. I tried to delay until AFTER Thanksgiving, but gave into the temptation!

At least I waited until the END of November, right!??!!?

Things are about to get hairy at school.  I had a love/ hate relationship with December. I LOVED the excitement and activities and fun.  I HATED the end of term grading and report grades and paperwork! LOL!

How about a few freebies to make it all easier?!?!?

Click on the image to download the pdf to get TONS of freebies!!!

 Looking for even MORE goodies? Head back to the Primary Peach for MORE December fun and freebies.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Wish List Linky Party

I am joining up with Jen over at Teaching in the Tongass to share  my top wish listed items in my TpT store.

It was so interesting to go back and see the most wish listed products in my store.  I am terrible business person.  Like horrible.  My sweet, dear, husband with a business degrees just shakes his head at me. I am NOT a numbers person so I don't really look at my statistics too much.  This fascinated me!

So, here are my TOP wish listed items from my store:

I was a bit surprised until, though, "Duh.  RTI." RTI is SO hard. I wrote this when I was struggling in the classroom and just needed reading resources in one spot.  

I was so touched by some of the feedback!  Look at that sweet note!  Hopefully, you won't need this product TOO many times during the school year (because THAT many kids on RTI? GAH!).  However, hopefully, you can pull it out and reuse it year after year.

I am not going to lie. Out of all the things I have made, I think I am most proud of my interactive math notebooks.  I love how it combines hands on activities that are engaging with math practice. Plus, it was REALLLLLLY fun for ME to be creative and make the activities! I liked the challenge of creating rigorous activities that allowed enough math practice, so that the cutting and pasting was NOT the central focus.

I am so glad that people are interested, because I am a believer in them!

It is so funny!  This product started out because I need something for tutoring.  When I posted it on TeachersPayTeachers, I really wasn't even sure if there was a need out there for nonfiction resources. When I was in the classroom, I struggled to find resources with all the features, but I thought that maybe that was just me.  I got so many sweet comments and feedbacks on this one and the several others I have written just like it.

I actually had such a good time writing these and had such a wonderful response, that I decided to make another similar product.  It is  BRAND NEW.  I wanted to provide another format instead of the article.  I created printable nonfiction books that are perfect for guided reading AND are differentiated by level.  This series is written on a third grade level (beginning, mid, and end are included in every pack).  I also wanted to give teachers all the resources needed to work with the text in small groups!

So far I have a pack written on hibernation and snow.  These are the other topics I have planned!

Is your cart ready for the big sale?  Mine is over flowing! Gah!  Want.So.Much! LOL!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Snowy Day: Reading in a Winter Wonderland

Hello and welcome to our second annual Winter Wonderland link up!  Last year, The Reading Crew sponsored a winter literacy hop, but we decided to run it a little different this time. Instead of hopping with the potential of dead links, we decided on a closed link up. What this means is that there is a "map" of the blogs at the bottom of each post, so you can hop through them all at once, visit some today and some later in the week, or see what best matches your literacy needs. 

On each blog, you will see a word in blue font. This is the blog's mystery word. Please be sure to record them because you will need each word for a five point entry in our raffle. To help you keep track, you can print and use this form. We are raffling off two wonderful prizes. We are giving away a copy of each book featured in our posts to two winners (K-2 group) and the (3-up group). Each prize package will include 12 books (K-2) and 13 books (3-up). 

On each blog, we will be sharing a mentor text lesson using the book we've chosen. The lesson will be modeling a reading skill (comprehension or writing typically, but some at the primary level may target vocabulary, fluency, or word building).  The materials that are shared may be forever freebies or may be free for a limited time. Please take note of this as you visit the blogs. 

Again, we welcome you to our blogs and wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season.

I love the simplicity of the books by Ezra Jack Keats.  His illustrations are so eye catching and simple.  The text is straight forward and I liked to use it as a model for children's writing- especially for struggling writers.

The lesson for this book will focus on using evidence from the text to discuss the character's feelings about a major event. I like to use this book because the text and pictures are a great place to find evidence for your thinking!

Set up your anchor chart prior to the lesson.   Glue down the text lifted from the story (on the snow piles), arrows, and the blank snow balls.  My anchor chart only has two pieces of lifted text since I had smaller chart paper.  I included black and white pictures and color pictures of the lifted text to help you save on ink if you want.

Before reading the book, The Snowy Day, have students review how events can make characters feel. Explain that we need to make sure we are backing up our thinking with evidence from the text (reasons), and not just our own lives.  We can gain evidence from the text from the words and pictures in the book.

Read the story aloud to students.   Stop your read aloud when you reach a section of lifted text.

The first event on the anchor chart is that, “He put on his snowsuit and ran outside.”   Model thinking aloud to the students.  Explain how Peter must have been excited because he ran, instead of walked outside.  Write this onto the snowball.  You might also want to write “text” next to the snowball, so that students realize this evidence was gained from the text.

For the next pieces of lifted text, have students talk to a partner before sharing their thoughts whole group.  Then, record the students thinking on the anchor chart (snowballs).

I also included several other freebies to extend this lesson.  

Retelling Graphic Organizer- Since The Snowy Day has such a clear, sequenced story line, it is the perfect text to allow students practice retelling stories. Students can retell the structure of the story using beginning, middle, end with included graphic organizer.

Retelling Book- Also included in this pack is a printable book perfect for retelling with temporal words.  Copy the sheets front to back.  Then, cut along the dotted line.  Stack all the papers in an order that makes sense and staple.  Students can retell the events of the story, using the temporal words on snowflakes to help them organize their writing.

Cause and Effect- Since the text is so simple, this is a great text to use to introduce cause and effect.  Included in this pack are hats with a place to write causes and effects from the story. These can be used to create an anchor chart for a whole group lesson.  They could also be cut out and stapled together to create a book for students to complete independently. A blank page is also included for students to find their own example of cause and effect, or find in another text.

Peter Craftivity- The last activity included in this pack is a craftivity.  Students will create a Peter “peek-over” after writing about the story.  Students will predict what will happen after the book is over based on previous events in the text.  This is an open ended activity with several reasonable answers. Students could write about how Peter and his friend have a snowball fight since he was not able to play earlier with the big boys. They could also write about making tracks and playing with sticks since that is  also mentioned in the story.

You can get a your copy of this temporary freebie below!  Just click on the picture! This freebie will be available until December 5th, 2015.

Before you go, I will remind you that my mystery word is Peter. You can enter it onto your sheet or into the rafflecopter below. Good luck to you, and I hope you'll come back soon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Pin for Later:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Taking the Pain Out of Editing and Revising

Editing and revising can be so difficult with students.

It can be be straight up painful.

As in Dr. Pepper and M&M's stat in order to survive.  Amiright?

I am not going to sit here and tell you that I ever mastered teaching this area and my students' writing was flawless.  However, I did discover a few tips to make it less painful.  So I could drink Dr Pepper instead of booze.  Just kidding. Kind of.

So let's dive into those suggestions and save the M&M's of the world.

I know most people are already rolling their eyes before even reading this section.  We all talk about expectations when writing ALL.THE.TIME.  

Here is another spin on it.  Choose a mentor text that is wonderful for the text type or genre.  It can be another student's writing or a published children's book.  After reading it with students, analyze the writing to figure out WHY it is so good.

Then, create an anchor chart listing all the elements.  This can be posted as a guide for students.  These are the elements that THEIR writing needs to have.  Since they helped CREATE the expectations, they are more likely to apply them.

You can also print small copies of the checklist and have students look over their own writing before publishing to make sure they have these elements in their own stories and writings.

When teaching writing it is so tempting to try to teach it ALLLLLLLLL- interesting characters, sequencing, great leads, end marks, commas in a series, punctuation dialogue, and the list goes on and on.

Time is precious and short.  Focus your instruction.  For every published piece choose ONE revising skill and ONE editing skill to teach an explicit mini lesson on. Then, have students apply that skill in their writing.

Create a running list.  Here is an example of the revising list from 4th grade.

Each time we learned a new revising skill we added it to the anchor chart.  The chart hung up year round.  It was pretty short in the beginning of the year, but by the end, it was full (you can't even see it all in this pic!).  

Students were required to use the list to revise and edit and as the list got longer, so did the expectations.

When considering which revising and editing skill to teach for each published piece, try to make sure they best fit the writing type or genre and can easily piggyback on each other.

For example, when teaching narratives, teach students how to add dialogue as a revision technique and then how to punctuate quotations as the editing skill.

When teaching informational writing, teach students how to use adjectives and adverbs to modify nouns and verbs.  It is easy to choose adjectives and verbs to describe animals and people, which many teachers choose for research projects. 

You can read how I taught students to revise with adjectives and adverbs when writing about Jimmy Carter here.

I always require students to revise and edit their own work before peer editing.  It is much easier to let someone else find all the mistakes, right ;)?

First, I have students read aloud their own writing to their partner. This can help them catch mistakes they may have missed.  It can also help if your students are struggling writers and the writing is very hard for others (especially kids) to read.  It gives everyone a more even playing field if they have heard the story first. 

I have assigned peer editors to kids and I have also let kids chosen.  I am not sure it really makes a huge difference, UNLESS it is an exceptional case.  If the child is a VERY high or VERY low writer, you may want to consider hand picking a partner.

Also, don't always make your strong writers conference with weaker writers.  It is not their job to always be the teacher.  Consider putting higher students together so they can push each other even further.

I do suggest having students use a checklist for peer editing or it just becomes a hot mess. There are tons of great, FREE checklists on TpT.  

Here are a few of my favorite  FREE ones!

I like this ESL Peer Editing checklist by crunchy apples because it is color coded and easy to read.

These checklists by Jodi are great because she has several different ones that match different types of writing, they save paper, and are short and to the point for beginning writers.

This is another great checklist by Katie Crystal that includes color coding. 

I really liked this one by Siri Hamilton because she included EXAMPLES of how to revise and edit. 

I may sound like a broken record, but I do believe in holding the kids accountable. If the piece of writing is going through the writing process, I like to have editing conferences with students before they publish. The problem with this is that I feel like I am fixing their mistakes for them and that means I am doing the work.  I want the KIDS to do the work.

I leaned this great tip from a veteran teacher while ago. Conference with the kids and help them edit the paper for more difficult errors- especially things like sequence or verb agreement or plural nouns.  However, all our kids should be held accountable for capitalizing sentences and using end marks, but we all know that just doesn't happen. Boo.

So here is my tip.  Tell students that every time you notice a missing capitalize letter or end mark, you will put a tally mark at the end of that line on the paper. Students then must go back and find the incorrect capital or missing punctuation mark.

This does two things.  It puts the work back on the students.  It gives them a visual cue to help them isolate the error so they are not overwhelmed by the whole piece- they know the error is on that line somewhere.  It also becomes a visual cue- if their paper is filled with tally marks at the end, maybe they need to work on their editing and be more careful (if they are careless writers).

 I think many students just aren't cognizant of how often and careless they really are- it is not an ability issue. This can be a gentle wake up call for some students. 

Did I miss any tips?  Do you have any great tips for strategies to help with editing and revising in your classroom?  I would love to know!

You can see the other posts in this series below.


I hope this post gave you some a few helpful hints to trouble shoot your writing time!  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Teaching Nonfiction {Informational Text}

I must be crazy.  I love teaching informational text.  There is just SO much out there and you can do so much with it! And kids NEED it.  So much of the text students are expected to access is informational. 

So, how can you teach informational text?

Here are a few tips to get started!

Really take the time to dive into the features.  Student may recognize a text feature, but not be able to name it, or even more importantly, discuss its importance.  

Readers need to know the purpose for each feature so they know how to "unlock" them and use them for additional information.

Keep a running list of all the text features you have learned about.  This keeps the terms fresh in every one's mind.

To start our informational unit in third grade, we listed all the names of features students brainstormed during the mini lesson.  I pretty much just asked kids what text features they had heard of before.  I wrote them around the heart.  As we introduced or reviewed each text feature over the course of the unit, I highlighted it on the chart. I also added any new features that were not brainstormed.

Have students looked for text features while they are reading.  Have students mark the page with a post it note and write how it helped them as a reader.  Then, photocopy the best examples of text features and create a class chart.

Here is one we created in third grade.

Here is another example we created in second grade.

I got lucky and found an old Scholastic Newspaper that had several features that we cut up.

This keeps kids constantly on the lookout for text features as they are reading AND thinking about them as a reader.

I have done this several different ways in my class.  We have created a text features book as a whole class.  I modeled using and finding the features with my own text feature book with a big book.  I made it out of half sheets of poster board and then bound it with binder rings.

I included the name of the convention, its definition, and what the reader learned using the feature/ convention.

You can find a blank copy of the Nonfiction Convention book above in my Nonfiction Features Unit.

Students can create their own book using any informational books  from their own book boxes.  It is a perfect activity for independent work during reading centers. The unit includes several other things like posters with examples, matching card game, and an assessment.

If you are looking for a similar activity, but without all the searching, check out my Animal Bites series.

Students read an informational article, answer comprehension questions, and find the main idea.  I specifically wrote each article to include as many text features as possible.

After students read they article they can actually CUT the article up to create a text feature book! I reduced the article so both pages fit on one page to save copies ;).  No more hunting for copies of features!  It is all in one place!

Right now I have the following articles in this series and I hope to add more.  ALL of them have text feature hunt books!



The BEST part about informational text is that you can use it to tie in social studies and science. I shared several ideas (and some freebies)  over at the Primary Peach!

In second grade we had to study famous Georgia figures.  Our social Studies series came with these wonderful big books.  I often used them in reading AND in social studies.

We went through the big book and labeled the text features with post it notes.  Then, we created questions using the table of contents and answered them as we read.  

In third grade, we found the main idea of the Frederick Douglass readers.

And then we turned the ideas into a paragraph about each figure.

In second grade we did something similar, but created a web to organize student thinking. We did this over several days- each color, or main idea of each section, was done a different day.

I hope this post gave you some a few helpful hints to trouble shoot your writing time!  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!