Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Flying Books

I want to be selfish and take the iPad cart at my school. I want to take all 30 devices and hide them in my classroom and never give them back!  My students were rock stars today!  They were creative and innovative and artistic and focused and successful.  You just had to be there to experience their joy. 

Today both of my literacy blocks created projects using the free app, Flying Books. I heard about this app from a fellow Twitter teacher. 

Students create electronic books by using photos, typing the story, and then narrating it. 

My students chose a piece of writing from their Writing Notebooks. Some students drew their illustrations and then photographed the drawings. Other students used peers and props from the classroom.

The students acted like movie directors when they used their friends to act out parts of their stories for the photos. The students worked on this project for about 90 minutes. Every child was able to share a finished product with the class.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Metacognition Jottings

I don't normally buy things from Teachers' Pay Teachers. I usually create all of my organizers and templates and keep them as basic and simple as possible. I am not a cute glitter and bows type of teacher. However, my class this year has some challenging behavior issues and I need to find ways to keep their attention. If it is cute clip art, then I will go with it!

I purchased a file of jottings templates. It was only $3 and it has great stems to help lead reluctant writers to make more detailed jottings about their books. Today's lesson focused on metacognition. This can be an odd skill to teach students and sometimes an even harder skill to assess.

I am currently teaching Lucy Calkins' Reading Workshop unit, Following Characters into Meaning. I am using the book Because of Winn Dixie as the read aloud. I was impressed with the thoughts my students jotted after I read Chapter 4 from the book. In this chapter the main character, Opal, learns ten things about her mother who left her when she was young. The students were more insightful than I expected.
I'm thinking that Opal's mom is going to come home but have the same problem.
I'm noticing that Preacher does want his wife back but does not want the dog.
I'm realizing that Opal wants her mom back but not to fight.

I'm noticing that Preacher is very sad that Opal's mom is gone but at the same time he is happy because Opal's mom was not going to be a good role model.

I'm realizing that Opal misses her mom even if she doesn't remember her.

I'm thinking that Opal's mom was very bad because she left.

 I'm realizing that Opal loves the dog more than mom.

I'm thinking that Opal's mom would love to go back to see her daughter but Opal's mom is afraid.

I am thinking when Opal's mom left it had something to do with her drinking.

I'm thinking Opal's mom is filled with different personalities.

I think the Preacher is lieing about Opal's mom.
Well, when I came across this comment I knew I definitely needed to have a conference. Even though this jotting put a smile on my face, I had a feeling that this isn't what the student meant.

And...that is what she meant! So I had a nice conversation with her about the other things on the list that could show mom was smart. The student referenced the text and noted that if someone knows all of the constellations then that would mean they were probably smart. Such a better jotting!

This conference was delicate because alcoholism is difficult for children to understand. I talked with the student about the book so far and led her to the conclusion that this book is not about mom's drinking, but it is about Opal's relationship with people. So the student revised her jotting...
She told me she didn't think that someone could be drunk and run. She said the person would probably fall down. I suggested that it was odd that someone would do something healthy and unhealthy at the same time.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Multiple-Use, Self-Assessment, Interactive Rubrics?!

I know that title is a mouthful, but I wanted to get your attention! I created a new way for my students to complete their self- assessment rubrics for their reading habits and reading logs. I have Teach Like a Pirate to thank for the inspiration. I remember reading about the Taboo Hook and wondering how I could put it in play for third graders.

Today during my Block 1 Reading Workshop, I told my students that I was going to give them their VERY last copies of their Reading Life rubric and Reading Log rubric. I made it very dramatic when I passed them out. I even made the copies on pink paper so they seemed special.

I had the students put the rubrics in a plastic sleeve in their Literacy Binder. I use the binders like a notebook, but it is more manageable for organizing a variety of activities. Then I showed the students how to use small sticky notes to mark their score for each category. Then I discussed with the students how they would be able to revisit the rubrics and simply move the sticky notes to reflect their thinking. Students will be able to physically move their reflections and note either improvements or areas they need to strengthen.

I know this isn't technically a "taboo" subject to hook students, but when you tell third graders it is the last time they are going to do something it becomes an exciting idea. The students really thought they would never have to do another rubric...guess what, kiddies? I  just meant that I wouldn't be running off copies of the rubrics anymore!  Causing excitement and helping the environment.



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reading Wands

The Teach Like a Pirate prop hook was a success again! I bought some glitter-covered leaves and pumpkins stuck on bamboo rods at Dollar Tree and I told the students they were reading wands. Yes, reading wands!

I used the wands during a Reading Workshop focus lesson. Students brought their Literacy Notebooks to the Meeting Area. They had four sticky notes prepared with the labels Tricky Words, Real Life, I Wonder, and Favorite Part. We had been practicing these types of jottings throughout the week.

As I shared a chapter from our read aloud novel, students would tap their reading wands onto the sticky note that matched their thinking. Students loved this because they were able to jot in their heads without writing a single word!

After the lesson, students used this same set of sticky notes to write their jottings during Independent Reading.

Just placing a simple prop in their hands motivated my students to improve their thinking and kept their minds and bodies engaged during reading. The lesson was taught over a week ago, but the students still use the reading wands every day. I guess I will need to look for new ones as the months and seasons change!