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Opinion Writing Tips and Tricks

Opinion writing can be so hard for kids, partly because it requires such a strong structure to make sense.



How can you make it easier?  Check out these tips, tricks, and mentor texts suggestions!

Find a topic that truly motivates kids.  Think about what your students like.  We have done favorite kinds of cookies or candies, complete with a taste test. My favorite was taste testing the different kinds of M&M's such as the dark chocolate, peanut butter, and plain! Then, we wrote about or favorite and least favorite! Yum!



However, students can also tackle opinions on bigger topics such as a 4 day school week. I would suggest these more complex topics after writing about some simpler topics.


Allow students to get to know their topics very well.  Invite students to brainstorm the "pros" and "cons" of the topic.  That will give students a chance to really cement their opinion, and provide reasoning for their opinion.



Once students are able to provide reasons, they can back their opinion up with useful facts.  In order to do this, students need to feel confident differentiating between fact and opinions. This can be a difficult concept for some and they may need many exposures to fact and opinion.  I love using sorts to identify fact and opinion.



I know that format such as OREO (opinion, reason, explanation, opinion) are popular for teaching opinion writing.  I have used them myself.  However, I would caution against using this as the ONLY format for teaching opinion writing.  Students need to realize that expository writing has a format across all purposes (writing to inform, describe, or explain). Before using OREO consider, discuss and participating the simpler format of topic sentence, details, closing sentence and THEN relating this format to the OREO method. OREO only works for one purpose of writing, but the other works across purposes.

After reviewing the text structure, students can  order opinion paragraphs so that they make sense. This allows students to analyze a small portion of text (a handful of sentences) to  identify topic, details and a closing before applying it to their own writing.


Like all these activities?  You can snag them in my Exploring the Opinion Paragarph Pack here!



Are you looking for some mentor text suggestions?  Check these out! These book suggestions are affiliate links which means that if you clicked on a link and made a purchase I may receive a small commission.  THANK YOU!!!




Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!



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!

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4 Easy Ways to Help with Reading Comprehension

I wrote a post at the end of November about how to support struggling readers.  You can check out that blog post here.



I will be continuing this series to focus on several strategies to support ALL readers!  Today's post will focus on supporting students that struggle with reading comprehension.

Personally, I feel like these are some of the most difficult readers to work with.  They sound beautiful and fluent when they read, so there are no external "clues" of where the break down occurs. So how can we "fix" the problem?

Here are 4 EASY tips (with FREEBIES to match!) to help with students that are struggling with reading comprehension.




Does the student monitor for meaning?  If not try the "Monitoring Monster." Ask students to draw a  monster on the bookmark.  It can look anyway they want it to. After students draw their monsters, explain that this monster helps us monitor, or make sure we are understanding the story. It will help us as we read.

Younger students can simply read a page and then tell their monster bookmark what they just read about.  Older students can read and use the checklist at the bottom of the bookmark as a guide to understanding what they read.

This strategy is a great and simple way to make students aware they have to think about what they are  reading. Some kids do not realize reading is much more that word calling!

I have two veresions of this freebie.  This one is perfect for younger readers.

This one is better for older readers!




Some students may have difficulty retelling a narrative story.  A simple way to help with this is to teach students the Retelling Hand.  This gives students a kinesthetic way to help remember story structure.

To begin, you can write the story elements on the matching fingers of a gardening glove.  Students can put on the glove, and touch the word prompt while retelling the story. Then, students can retell the story but simply looking at the picture of the Retelling Hand.  When students are ready, they will be able to retell the story without any picture or glove because they have internalized the story structure.

A larger poster and small posters (2 to a page) are included.



Another way to keep students thinking about their reading is the Reading Red Light. This is a way for students to realize that we think about our reading before, during, and after we actually read the text.

  Show students the stoplight.  Then, explain that just like a stoplight has three parts, so does our reading.  We think about our reading before, during, and after we actually read.

You can color code the red light hand out (red, yellow, green from top to bottom).  Give students matching colored post its (pink if you can't find red!).  Then, before reading the text ask students to orally answer the questions from the "Ready" section and have students write them on the pink post it.  Allow students to read part of the text.  On a yellow post it, have students answer some of the yellow "Read" questions. Finally, after reading the text, have students answer the "remember" questions on a green post it.

Explain to students that we may not always write these answers, but we always need to be thinking about them as we read.





Jump in the Story is a great strategy for students that have difficulty with inferring what is happening in the story, as well as inferring about the characters.  It is best to use this strategy with a text with great illustrations.

While reading the book, stop on a page with a great illustration.  Then ask students to jump into the story.  This means that they pose and move to look like a different character in the story.  Basically, create a visual tableau of the picture from the book.

Explain to students that they are the character they are posed as.  Ask students inferential questions about the text.  Have students answer as the character. "How is your character feeling right now? Why do you think that?" This literally "puts the students in the character's shoes" and can give them a better reference for answering questions.

Want to snag your freebies?  Click below!



I have already written a few other posts about reading comprehension.  If you want to read more, make sure to check out these posts.  

This post gives strategies of what to do in a guided reading group when the child has no idea of what they just read.  

This post gives some more strategies for students struggling with comprehension!

     

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!



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!

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Center Storage and February Math Centers

This January has had such wild weather.  We were all tucked in for a fabulous winter storm that left our yard looking more like a skating rink than winter wonderland. Now it is 70 degrees, but we could have flurries next week?  I dunno, but Mother Nature must be in a dizzy lately!



Let's talk about how to keep teachers out of the winter ups and downs! February is right around the corner.  NOW is the time to get prepared.  Let's talk centers.

Center Organization 



Once you spend all that time printing, laminating, and cutting out centers you want to be able to use them year after year.  However, they are so hard to keep organized!  SO.MUCH.STUFF! LOL!



I found I was best able to keep up with my centers when I used the large clasp envelopes. I would print out the cover sheet and directions.  Then, I glued them onto the envelope.  If I was realllllly sweet to the laminator and it was in a good mood, I would run the envelope through.  Before running the envelope through, break OFF the metal clasps.  These can sometimes jam the laminator.  After cutting out the envelope, I would run my scissors along the opening and slit the lamination.  Boom!  Custom, durable center envelope! All the cards, recording sheets and materials could be stored in the envelope.


I stored all my centers in large plastic totes.  I LOVED these. They are the letter size "Show Offs" by Sterilite.  I bought mine awhile ago at Wal-Mart (hence the solid blue top). You can also buy them on Amazon here.


You can pack TONS of centers in these! Some of mine are even in baggies (when I was lazy), but I prefer clasp envelop method above.


I kept all my center totes (I had several!) in a storage closet in school.  This made them easy to access, but out of the way.  They are also perfect for storing on top of cabinets and shelves since they are contained and the boxes will keep the dust out!


I grouped the centers by concept.  The box pictured was my addition box.  It contained all my centers for addition.  However, you could also divide yours by month. If you are looking for EASY, monthly centers, I have just the thing!

February Math Centers

I have differentiated math centers all for the month of February.   Six of the eight centers are tiered so all students can be working on the same skill, at a different level of difficulty. Counting all the differentiated activities, this pack actually contains 19 different activities. The following concepts are covered:
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Place Value
  • Time
  • Fractions
  • Money

 

Adding- Adding three numbers using a hundreds chart. 


This is a differentiated activity with two levels: adding using a hundreds chart with hints and adding with a hundreds chart without hints. Please note all the problems are the same, only the presentation is different.


Subtraction- Subtracting problems and then sorting the difference into one of two different categories


This is a differentiated activity with six levels: two digit subtraction with no regrouping and sorting differences into even and odd, two digit subtraction with regrouping and sorting into regrouping or no regrouping, two digit subtraction across zeroes and sorting differences into evens and odds, three digit subtraction with no regrouping and sorting differences into evens and odds, three digit subtraction with regrouping and sorting into regrouping or no regrouping, three digit subtraction across zeroes and sorting differences into evens and odds.



Place Value- Comparing numbers with <, >, or =.


This is a differentiated activity with three levels: comparing expanded and word form, comparing with mixed up expanded form and word form, comparing with mixed place value review. Please note all the problems are the same, only the presentation is different.


Time- There are two different centers for telling time.  


The first center is telling time. This is a differentiated activity with three levels: telling time to the nearest hour, to the nearest half hour, and the nearest five minutes. The second center is a puzzle activity matching time to the nearest five minutes in digital, analog, and words.


Fractions- Identifying halves, thirds, fourths and wholes. 


Please note, this is the only center without differentiation.


Money- Two different centers are included for money. 


In the first center students match the collection of coins to the amount. 


In the second center students solve money word problems. This is a differentiated activity with two levels.  The problems are identical but one set of cards provides coin pictures as cues.

In addition to the centers there are three different extra practice worksheets to remediate for each academic skill/ center.  These would be great as assessments, independent work, or an early finisher activity. There are a total of 18 extra worksheets.  Answer keys are included when possible.

I have a sweet treat for you!  These centers are 20% off until February 1st!


Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!



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!



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