Favorite Things and Mentor Text: Jamie O'Rourke

Hope you all had a great weekend! I hosted Easter dinner at my house- it was my first holiday cooking for my family, and I'm pretty proud of myself! So now I'm sitting down to catch up on all the blogs I missed out on while I was prepping in the kitchen all weekend.  (I started on Friday night!)

First up, Latoya's Let's Get Acquainted Linky.  I've seen these around but haven't joined in.  No time like the present.

1. Favorite place to shop: 

Oh boy.  Well, much to my husband's chagrin, that would be Sur la Table, where just last night, we took a cooking class and bought some gadgets for the kitchen.  

2. Favorite TV show: 

Well, you all know how much I love Ina Garten, so Barefoot Contessa is pretty high up there.  But seriously...I will drop anything and everything for...

3. Favorite sweet treat: 

Creme brulee.  I have yet to attempt it myself. 

4. Favorite food: 

Lobster.  Lobster any way, any day, any time.

5. Favorite restaurant: 
This is an Italian restaurant from my college town...so many good memories!

That was fun!

I am linking up to share a mentor text I used recently to teach Cause and Effect.  I used it around St. Patrick's Day, and my students really enjoyed it.  

After we shared our predictions about the book, I read it aloud.  I had previewed the concept of cause and effect with some real-life examples, and after the book was finished, we discussed our predictions and then started a Cause and Effect anchor chart together.  The illustrations in this book really lend themselves well to retelling, main idea and detail work, and cause and effect realizations.  You can add this book to a genre study about folktales as well. 

When the book study was over we did a Reader's Theater, which was a blast and so great to improve fluency and prosody.  As an added benefit, it taught my ELL's a little bit about a different culture and tradition that many of them are unaware of.

Thanks, Amanda, Stacia, and Latoya, for hosting these linkies!

Daily 5 and Guided Reading in My Room

Hello! We are ACCESS testing this week, which means a crazy schedule and no teaching, so I thought I would look back in my files and share some more of my classroom procedures with you.

I start each class with a Problem of the Day.  Once each student has completed their POD, they can make their choices from my chart.  It's just a pocket chart with laminated cards- nothing fancy.  I don't have a listening center, and my room is pretty small, so we don't do R2Someone.  So really, this should be called "Daily 3 and Guided Reading in My Room."  Students choose R2Self, Work on Writing, or Word Work.  They shop for books once a week when we go to the library, and also as needed during R2Self.

Here's a picture from far away of my D-5 (3!) chart.  It's practical and somewhat utilitarian...it goes on the list of "things to change for next year."

Once the choices are made, we disperse to our choices.  If you were to walk in during Daily 5, here's what you might see.

Students working at my guided reading table with me, and one student is working at the writing center.  There are lots of story starters, like Tara's story bubbles, monthly prompts, and sometimes flip books that I borrow from my teaching partner.

Students reading or writing on the rug.  Normally there are two students stretched out on the rug with a stuffed animal.  I do "Hug a Book Hug a Bear" in my room, since these kids don't have many stuffed animals at home.

You might see students doing Word Work in pairs, or practicing for a Reader's Theater.  That's the only time we do R2Someone.  Otherwise it's just too loud in such a small space.

In the foreground, students are doing Word Work.  There are staples, like BOGGLE, task cards, and a few other things which rotate monthly.  I try to include math word problems in my word work.  I really like Sunny Day's word works by month- they include so many practical and useful skills in a fun way!  You can see my guided reading table (no room for a kidney table) and tablet.  I put my guided reading lesson plan and links on my tablet, and then just move it over to the table when I'm working with a group.  (My school is going paper-less.)

We use Fountas and Pinnell Fiction Focus for guided reading, which has worked so well for our students this year!  They do not have a lot of background knowledge in the content areas, so it's great to be able to give them those experiences through literature.  The current trend in ESL is toward non-fiction reading, and all content-based language; that's great for students who come to the US with some education and a strong first language- mine do not.

After we do one round of Daily 5 (3!) we check in.  I will usually do a read-aloud, start an anchor chart, or play a speaking game with them at that point.  Here's what I get to see.

After check-in, we do our second round.  It's not until after our second round that I teach any mini-lessons or start any new units, unless I preview it during check-in with an anchor chart or a book.  I think my students have really grown from using Daily 5 (3!).  Their writing has improved, their willingness to write has improved (two different things) and they are reading books on their level.  Plus, they get to have fun and make their own choices about learning every day...what kid wouldn't want that?

Things to change for next year:
1. Get a listening center and/or student computers. (I only have my tablet and I use it with my groups)
2. Change Daily 5 sign...make it prettier!
3. Get some pillows and cushions to make the reading area more comfortable.
4. Do more writing mini-lessons during check-in.
5. Change Word Work more often. (Problem is, I haven't found many that I like. Let me clarify.  I haven't found many that are appropriate for my students.)

I think that's a pretty good, achievable list!

I got so much inspiration for D-5 reading teacher blogs over the summer.  They helped me figure out what when where when!  What the Teacher Wants and Fourth Grade Frolics were the absolute best for learning how to put it all together.  I recommend starting there if you're stuck! What does Guided Reading look like in your room? Do you do a version of D-5?

Disclaimer: The Daily 5 & CAFE resources are unofficial adaptations of the Daily 5 by Gail Boushey & Joan Moser. This blog is not endorsed by the 2 Sisters. http://www.thedailycafe.com

Have a good week!


Jamie O'Rourke and the BIg Potato Reader's Theater

We read Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato and did a Reader's Theater.  When I did the read-aloud I put on my best Irish brogue...but I couldn't get the kids to do it.  It was enough to get them to understand why Jamie says "Me back is sore." Check out the Reader's Theater if you need something to do for St. Patrick's Day- it's super fun!


A little bit of everything!

A few posts back I mentioned that I was having some difficulty keeping some of my motor-mouths quiet.  Well, I found the solution.  Quiet critters! Although I debuted them around Valentine's Day, so I call them Love Bugs.  Voila!

I also made this super-fun "board" game that we started playing today during my Daily 5 groups.  I'll get through all my groups and then let them play during Word Work.  It's so great for speaking and listening! So far my kids have loved it. Check out the preview and then grab it here!

Here's what I made to help my sweethearts learn about seasons, months, clothing, and weather!

I hope you found something you could eat, make, or use today! 


Read Across America Classroom Activity

What a great week it was! My school celebrated Dr. S's birthday a week after the rest of the country, but I started my Read Across America competition with my students in the middle of last week.  I used this pack, which I am going to reference throughout as Read Across the USA, because that's what it's called on TPT (copyright rules!).

I started by creating my bulletin board, which is how the game is played.  I let my students help create the sign, and I turned it into a cooperative learning activity (completely a teachable moment- this was not in my lesson plan!).  P.S. I have a sign on my desk that says "Keep Calm and Pretend This Was On the Lesson Plan."

Here's how I made the bulletin board: I projected a map of the USA onto my whiteboard and traced it onto white butcher paper.  Then, I stapled that on my bulletin board and added ribbons for "time zones."  I didn't add enough time zones to start, and this week, I added more to the West Coast to slow my kids down!  

They kept track of their reading by using a book log that came in the Read Across the USA pack.  I decided to have them read for 40 minutes at home.  Some students really took advantage of it, and would read for 80 minutes a night!
On Thursday, I had three of my girls tie for first place! They each won a gift card to Walmart, and they were all over the moon excited about it- I held a little awards ceremony today in class and handed out their gift cards with some snacks.  

 Included in the Read Across the USA pack were bookmarks featuring American song lyrics, which I laminated and gave out to my students.  They were familiar with some of the songs, but didn't know all of them, and liked reading the lyrics over and over again.

As a culminating activity today, we played a game similar to 4 Corners, but with the song lyrics.  I put up posters with the same lyrics from their bookmarks around the room, and gathered them in the middle of the room, where I had pushed the tables together.  I created a playlist on Youtube so I could click through the songs quickly, and had the kids listen for the lyric, then walk to the lyric they heard.  If the music stopped before they got there, they had to sit "on the island," and if they went to the wrong lyric, they had to sit "on the island." It was a great listening exercise, and a really fun way to teach them some American melodies they didn't know from music class.

We had a great time Reading Across the USA, and some of my kids have asked me if we can do it again! I think it would be a great activity for Memorial Day, or the 4th of July, if you are teaching summer school.  My students were so funny today- some of them said, "Can we keep reading even though it's over?"

I think I might have keep this guy up for the rest of the year.


Teaching Persausive Writing

Write About It Wednesday Graphic

The 8th grade students that I have struggle a lot with writing, especially getting their ideas on paper.  I try to do a lot of process writing with them in order to make their organization just a little more efficient.  My teaching partner has them for a period of guided reading and vocabulary, so I focus mostly on writing and grammar. 

I think persuasive writing is the hardest to learn but the easiest to write, as long as you have the format down.  So we have been practicing with lots of different prompts and examples, to really get to know the practice of brainstorming.

I started by introducing this, which you can find here, at Our Cool School.  Yes, we ate Oreos...their favorite part, I believe!
Persuasive Writing OREO

In most of the prompts I have come across, it reads "state whether you are for or against...".  That language was difficult for my students, so we went back a step, and learned about pros and cons, and practiced for a few days with those.  

You can grab this freebie here!

Our pros and cons became our reasons, and we learned that our first opinion wasn't always our last opinion. Then it came time to write examples to support our reasons.  I used this persuasive map from Read Write Think.  But, the one my students really liked was this one, I think because of the layout.  Find it here.

The last thing to do was write! We responded to three prompts, and I chose them based on what I know will be on the standardized test, and also what I know my students have background knowledge and interest in.
1.  Should students go outside for recess every day?
2. A dinosaur fossil was found outside your school.  Should the school keep it or donate it to a museum?
3. Should students continue to wear student uniforms?

They did really well on all of these prompts! I worked slowly to a timed prompt, which was the last one, and it definitely helped them learn how to organize their writing.  Now, if we could get organization and correct punctuation and grammar to all magically end up in the same essay, I would be a happy girl! For more great writing ideas, check out my Pinterest board! Follow Everyone Deserves to Learn's board ESL Writing on Pinterest.

Link up with Across the Hall in 2nd and Second Grade Sparkle to tell about how you teach writing!


March Currently

It's my birthday month! Yay! I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her monthly Currently.  I love these things!

Look how pretty it is!


1. I wish cable plans came with "choose your own channel options." There are approximately 17 channels that we watch, the two most popular being ESPN and Food Network. Why waste time with all the others you have to scroll through? FIOS, are you listening?

2. A few weekends ago, my husband went to Target to pick up shaving cream and potato chips and came back with a kitchen island.  I'm in love!

3. Our school is doing Dr. S week next week, and I realized that I do not have a great selection of his books in my room.  Why is that? Where are they? So I have to go to the library.

4.  Ok.  Last Currently, I said I wanted to get back into Zumba.  Well, I was driving home one day and passed a new dance studio that's opening in a town near me and it's a mix of ballet and Pilates and Zumba and I can't wait to try it.  But it's still under construction! Ugh!

5. 7 days and counting.

6. 3 M things.  Macklemore.  I pretend to be gangster when it comes on the radio.  People in other cars must think I'm insane.  Money.  Who doesn't? Mud.  Not on my carpets, thank you.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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