Monday, December 9, 2013

Writing to the Kid President

I have been working on developing a stronger classroom community this year. My current students are challenging because their personalities are all strong and unique. I found a common interest that they have and I thought I would use it to build some positive relationships toward this end stretch of the year. Since this common interest is from a somewhat mainstream and pop-culture person their own age, I knew it would hook my students.

My students enjoy watching the Kid President videos. So I created a writing lesson which allowed them to write a list of ideas with him as their audience. We watched his video 20 Things We Should Say More Often (click on the title to view the link). Then students wrote their own lists of things they think people should say more often.

If you watch the end of the video, you will see that Kid President adds in a bonus idea that people should dance more. My students and I decided that at the end of the day we could dance if 5 people are on outstanding at the top of the behavior chart and no more than 5 people are at the bottom of the behavior chart.
Here are some of the ideas that appear on our list, Things We Wish People Would Say More Often:



And just like Kid President, a couple of students made a Bonus item on their lists:
Yes, written above are the lyrics to Boom Boom Pow by The Blackeyed Peas!! Below you will see the lyrics to the song What the Fox Says!!


Pirate Construction Zone

My literacy blocks will be transitioning from the unit Book Clubs: Books in a Series to the unit Navigating Nonfiction. To prepare students and to pique their interest, I turned the nonfiction section of my classroom library into a construction zone. 

I think my decorating design meets the criteria for the Teaser Hook and the Real World Hook from the book Teach Like a Pirate. Students know that something new is coming, they just aren't exactly sure.  Their brains are activating their prior knowledge of nonfiction while at the same time they are thinking about construction signs they see in the community.  They are wondering how the two will possibly fit together for our next reading unit.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Clubs: Books in a Series

I wanted to share a couple of anchor charts and some of the organizational tools I am using for the beginning of my current unit, Book Clubs: Books in a Series.
I decided to use a hot pink star as a visual cue for my students. 

I placed hot pink stars on the baskets of series books in the classroom library.

I added a hot pink star to the focus board to show students were studying a new unit, book clubs, but were still focusing our learning on following characters into meaning.

Students will have their first book club meeting tomorrow, so check back for more details!

Students use the following chart to help guide their Book Club conversations.

Students came up with reading behaviors that demonstrate what Book Clubs look like and sound like.

Words Their Way...THEIR Way

I found this spelling activity on Pinterest and I thought my students would enjoy it because they are a very kinesthetic group. I thought they would enjoy a break from Speed Sorts, Blind Writing Sorts, Word Hunts and other typical Words Their Way activities. I am new to Words Their Way, so maybe adding in a different type of activity that is not part of the program in a no-no, but I know I need to keep my students fresh and hooked. They understand the routines used in Words Their Way, but every now and then it is good to disrupt a routine with something new.
They worked with their writing partners to roll a number cube and complete a corresponding activity.

This may seem like a simple activity for 3rd graders to do, but some of my spellers practiced their words more times than I had ever seen them do before. My reluctant writers and spellers enjoyed this activity because it was a novelty.

Some of the students used their sorting mentality from Words Their Way and wrote similar words in columns using the activities from the number cube activity!

Tic Tac Toe Reading Partners

I was browsing through some materials I collected at a training I attended at some point in my teaching career. I found this handout meant to remind teachers of different ways readers can work together. I thought it would work perfectly as a Tic Tac Toe game because that's how a Pirate Teacher would use it--hook them with a game!

I had it copied on green paper so that it would stand out. Students put it in their Literacy Binders under the category Reading Strategies.


The students were on-task and active. They had targeted conversations and were cooperative.

During Independent Reading, students met with their partners and completed 3 of the boxes in the grid to complete tic-tac-toe.

So teach like a pirate and turn plain old buddy reading into tic-tac-toe partners!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Welcome to Opal's Party

Did I teach like a pirate? No, I taught like a superhero for this lesson! A pirate superhero--argh! My lesson was on pirate overload!

I used the Chef Hook. I also changed the lighting and added ambiance in the classroom using music. I recreated a scene from the book.  When my students entered the classroom this past Friday morning, they felt like they had entered the book Because of Winn Dixie.

I set up the party that Opal had in Gloria Dump's backyard. I had the pictures of dogs that Sweetie Pie brought for decorations. I had Miss Franny Block's Littmus lonzenges (butterscotch candies). I made Gloria's Dump Punch (using the ingredients listed in the book). I even brought Otis' big jar of pickles. I used lights for candles inside of brown bags, just like they did in the book. 

On the Smart Board I played the soundtrack from the movie. The students were amazed and their comments were priceless.  One girl wanted to go get her sister from another classroom so she could see it. A parent asked what was happening today and a student told her all about the party from the book--perfect retell.

Being able to actually participate in Opal's Party was a wonderful experience for my students. One student said, "this looks exactly like the mental movie in my head!" Another boy was drinking his Dump Punch and he told me it tasted just like the punch in the book!  A boy was sucking on his Littmus lozenge and he said he could really taste the sorrow. What better way to show children the purpose of a skill or strategy than for them to experience it? 

During the party, students took turns making jottings on the Smart Board. They shared their thoughts about the book using empathy, envisioning, predicting, and character traits.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Character Traits the Common Core Way

One of the more difficult skills to teach third graders is to reference the text and provide evidence for their thoughts. During our current unit, I think I have encouraged and/or required my students a million times to show evidence from the text .
I try to provide them with a variety of activities to practice this skill. Some students catch on to the skill and are able to use it simply by writing a jotting on a sticky note. Other students need a template while still others must have a fill-in activity sheet to follow exact steps in a process.
Whatever type of response my students use, I always post examples on the Focus Board so they can reference it whenever they need to during their Independent Reading time.
During the unit, I was on Pinterest searching for some anchor charts to use. I found a couple of ideas I liked and tweaked them to create my own charts.
Pinterest Chart--above


My own chart--above

Student response activity after a lesson using the anchor chart

Pinterest Chart--above

My own chart--above
Student response after a lesson using the anchor chart
Student response after a lesson using the anchor chart
Student response after a lesson using the anchor chart...and what I discussed with the student during conferencing
This is what one student wrote about the character traits for the dog, Winn Dixie, in our read aloud lesson! Check out what he said for the evidence!


Students posting their jots about character traits

Student jots
Student jots
I conferenced with the student about how to find evidence in the text.