Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thinking Clouds

Over the past week I have been phasing out my word study centers and bringing in literacy centers that focus more on reading strategies such as Reading is Valuable and Cootie Catcher Reading. I turned to my current favorite website The Third Grade Wiki to help me find a way to have my students develop their metacognitive skills while using reading strategies. I found a great resource called Thinking Clouds.

I used the Thinking Clouds as a teaching strategy during Literacy and Social Studies for a couple of lessons before I set the students loose to use them independetly in a literacy center. I simply glued the Thinking Clouds onto paint sample cards and laminated them. As students read they place the cards throughout the story whenever they have that certain thought. If they finish reading and have cards left, they go back and read the story again. If it is a specific reading passage that I want them to read and answer questions with, then the students use a sheet of Thinking Clouds, cut them out, and glue them onto the passage at the point where they had that thought.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Figurative Language Fun

Once again I discovered some fun new practice activities for my students on FCRR and The Third Grade Wiki! Each site has a section for figurative language resources. I also found a simile Bingo game on the Collaborative Learning website (which is from England so some of the similes are odd in America).

My students have been working with similes and metaphors, so that is what I focused on in this center for now. I will add in more elements later. One is a matching game, one is sets of scenarios with questions, and the third is the bingo game.

Making Inferences

Making inferences is a skill that I have my students practice all year.  I put together my two favorite resources, FCRR and The Third Grade Wiki, and was able to create a center that gave students multiple ways to practice this skill. If you have not visited either of these websites, do yourself a huge favor and set aside some time to will not be disappointed!

Some of the activities in this center are simply scenarios with questions glued to construction paper or paint sample cards, laminated, and held together with a binder ring. A couple of them are games that have a board, cards, and chips to cover the spaces. My independent readers work with partners, while my lower readers work with me in a small group setting.

orange-2nd-3rd grade reading level

purple-4th-5th grade reading level

The set of inferencing cards above came from Pinterest. I can't find the blog from which I downloaded it.

hotglued clothespins on the wall to hang the activities

Sight Words from the Sunshine State

If you are a teacher and are not familiar with The Florida Center for Reading Research please do yourself a huge favor and go to the link now. They have amazing instructional materials for students in grades K-5. I give them full credit for the materials found in the sight words center I am about to share with you.

FCRR has basic fluency practice sheets for students with passages, but I have third grade students who still have not mastered the Dolch sight word lists. There is an activity on the FCRR website that uses common phrases instead of whole passages or individual sight words. 

There are two versions of this center. For the first one, I put each phrase on a card so students could practice them like flash cards. There is a record sheet where they can keep track of how many cards they can read in 1 minute. My students use a simple turn-over timer from an old board game. For the second version, I put the phrase papers in a sheet protector along with the record sheet so students can keep track of their practice. This second version let's them practice in the familiar left to right sweep. My strategic readers enjoy this activity and are always asking to practice.

Sharing is Caring

Teaching is a wonderful profession because not only do we get to teach children new skills, but we have THE best network of collaboration between professionals.  I have to give some love to a wonderful wiki that has provided my students with terrific learning activities.

I stumbled across this website while looking for some new comprehension activities for my students. What I discovered was many new literacy center opportunities just waiting to be made! Now that my student teacher has taken over my first block literacy class full-time, I actually have the luxury of spending time creating some new centers for my afternoon literacy block. 

These are easy centers to make and do not require you to buy anything special. Most of the centers are laminated construction paper (or paint sample cards) with questions and answers that are linked together with a binder ring that I hang on the wall with either a pushpin or a clothespin hotglued to the wall. My independent readers work on them with a partner, while my strategic readers work with a small group or they complete the cards with me during Guided Reading.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

But Aren't Centers Noisy?

Students working on literacy centers can get noisy if they are not properly managed. This means you need to be proactive and expect to have to tell your students they are too loud. Be prepared by setting up procedures and materials to handle this occurrence. 
  • have a variety of places in your room for students to work: tablecloths, blankets, carpet squares, clipboards, cookie sheets, small desks, in the warm weather I let them sit outside the classroom window
  • have a signal such as a bell (try out the Whisper Bell idea from Teacher Tipster) or a clap to let students know they are too loud so you can signal without words if you are working with a small group
  • I saved my broken computer headphones over the years (just cut off the cords) for students to either wear when they are in a center or to wear if they are completing an assignment while the other students are in a center. The headphones are hanging up where students can get them whenever they want to use them. They aren't Bose noise-cancelling headphones but they do the job!