5 Ways to Use TumbleBooks

Once upon a time, there was a frantic ESL teacher searching for ways to meet the diverse needs of her varied proficiency level students.  As she was searching and searching for books and centers that would allow her to differentiate instruction and allow students to work independently, she came across a kind media specialist.  The media specialist waved her magic mouse and said, "Why don't you try TumbleBooks?"  With a click of the mouse and a quick Google search, a beautiful website popped up, full of books, games, and puzzles.  Best of all, they were free!  The frantic ESL teacher jumped for joy, and they all lived happily ever after.

Here are 5 ways I use TumbleBooks in my classroom: 

1.  Whole-Group Read-Alouds:  I will project the book on the screen and let the class listen.  In most stories, the phrases are highlighted as the book is read to you.  You can pause, rewind (who says rewind anymore??) and fast forward. 

2. Independent Reading: For certain students, I will choose books based on Lexile, and others I'll let choose their own book.  If you are an AR school, TB has your ratings, and if you click on the number, it will pull up all the books in that score. I love that this library is constantly updated whereas my library is just...not. 

3. Partner reading: Since the words are highlighted in the lower level books, it makes it easier for struggling students to follow along.  I will often have two students share a tablet and take turns picking a book.  My kids really like the Math Stories when they partner read, since they can do the activities together.

4. Non-Fiction/Informational Text Selections:  TB has an awesome section full of science and social studies videos, which correspond to books in the system.  Right now we're working on habitats, so we'll be watching and reading about the Rainforest. 

5. Puzzles and Games: Many of the books have puzzles or games at the end, but there is a whole section of puzzles, memory, word catch, and others at the top navigation bar.  In fact, because of a book we read, my newcomers played their first puzzle.  (Note to self, buy some puzzles for the classroom...)  I love the puzzle app within TB- it's "smart" so it will move your piece into place if you're just a little off. 

Here are 2 of my newcomers doing their first puzzle. Ever.. Now they can't get enough!
Have you used TumbleBooks in your classroom?  If not, many libraries have subscriptions, and you can enter through their websites.  Any other awesome book sites or apps you know of?

Happy Friday!

Summer Bucket List

I'm linking up with the talented Deanna Jump to share my Summer Bucket List!  We have 17? (18? I can't remember) days of school left and my thoughts are definitely on that last bell of the year.

1. Make a climbing rose trellis to go behind my herb garden. 
 New England Arbors VA68201 Eden London Trellis - Outdoor Living Showroom

2. Go to the library! I try to read 3 books a week in the summer since I don't read during the year.  I don't have a book list, I just go to the "New Fiction" section in the library and browse.  That's one of my favorite summer things to do. 
2014 Must Read Books - list looks great!

3. Teach summer school! I'll be teaching 3 days a week for a few hours a day, just enough to keep me busy.  I'll be teaching my 3rd-5th graders...I'm thinking about reading this book whole group, then using our F&P readers for guided reading. 
 Pirates don’t wear pink sunglasses. | 31 Life Lessons Learned From The Bailey School Kids

4. Get a dog.... well, we need a fence first.  But we're working on that and I think over the summer would be the perfect time to train a puppy. My husband and I both like Australian Shepherds. 
australian shepherd puppy

5. Spend some quality time in Long Beach Island.  
Aerial Photo Long Beach Island, NJ

6. Visit some flea markets for antique treasures, just like on Flea Market Flip- love that show!
bits of the flea market through french larkspur's lense- great display idea for mirrors and misc. china

7. Go to some of NJ's great wineries- one we like has Down the Shore wines which are perfect for the beach! 

'Down The Shore' Wines from #Laurita #Winery in New Jersey

8. Try lots of new recipes! Here's a peek at my Everyone deServes to Eat board on Pinterest...there are recipes stacking up that I haven't tried yet but definitely want to.  Like the eggplant, prosciutto, pesto and roasted pepper sandwiches...yum!

9.  Be outside more.  Our neighborhood is nice and peaceful, I'd love to get out at night and take some sunset strolls. If you go to the top of the hill by our house, you can see the Philly skyline.   There are also some really nice parks, trails, and yacht clubs around, which we haven't explored much yet.

10. Enjoy it! Last summer was very stressful- we were house-hunting, I started my post-grad program, and I was teaching summer school.  I'm hoping to wake up each day a little bit more grateful for the time off that I do have, while enjoying the things that do come across my path. 

"You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf."

What's on your bucket list?  Link up with Deanna Jump! 

Picture Writing Prompts for ELL Newcomers

We are chugging right along in Newcomer Class!  Today I had my students mark their place in their interactive notebooks with one finger and go back to the first and second entries, when they were tracing their names and using counters to count to 5.  It was sweet to hear them say, "Wow, we know a lot more now!" And we do! We are writing sentences, adding fractions, and learning 3D shapes.

Writing has been something my students were very slow to make progress with, so I made it a priority for when we came back from Spring Break and testing.  I had been doing picture writing prompts with my more proficient students for a few years, but this group was just not ready.  Finally, we dove in! Here's how it works: I surprise them with a picture from my Pinterest board, which you can find here.  I try to choose funny, slightly scary, or thought-provoking pictures. Today's picture was this gem:

"Baby elephants throw themselves into the mud when they are upset, like a temper tantrum." hahaaa

For my more proficient students, I have a template I like (I think it came from Read Write Think several years ago).  I modified the template to suit my lower proficiency students, and even further adapt it when needed.  Feel free to pin/save to your own writing boards to use with your classes!
In Newcomer class, I turn this into a speaking activity by having the students tell me their answer before they write.  This often gives other students a chance to turn an idea into a bigger/better sentence, or expand on something they were going to write.  

Here is one student using his "blue book" to look up a word.  This was the best purchase I've made on TPT, and it came from Kristen Vibas' store- it's a Newcomer Vocabulary Office, and it has most all of the words my students need to know.  Over the summer I'll put them in binders, but until the end of the year these are just in folders with brads.  This has cut down on the "how to spell" question, which is a problem I didn't have until I started doing writing prompts with this group!

They write, then they switch papers.  I do not check for spelling/grammar/punctuation unless they ask for help.  What I've learned is that my two more proficient students (on the ends) will do the editing for me! (I can't believe I can say that...it really is amazing!)  So I give them colored pens to peer edit.  They read their friends' writing, edit, and then have 15-20 seconds to illustrate the story, then we switch again.  What's great about having them read the writing of their peers is that it is writing on their level, using words they know, with some higher level vocab thrown in from a higher proficient student here or there.

By the end of the rotation, all four kids have read each other's stories and will quiz each other like this: "Why you write he? Is she? Elephant is girl or boy?" And, "Elephant no fly!" (We had to watch a clip from Dumbo after that one!) I give them 5 more seconds to finish their pictures, then they explain their drawings.  

My students write exactly the way they speak, and that is A-OK, because they are writing and enjoying it!

This exercise has really helped them develop their skills in the four domains of reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  I know picture writing prompts are nothing new, but making them interactive has allowed my students to become authors, editors, and audience all in one activity.  If you aren't a picture person, try using speaking or writing prompts to get your students engaged.  I have some geared for all levels of ESL!

 I'd love to know what you think! Do you do structured picture prompts with your students? For more great writing prompts, check out my ESL Writing Pinterest Board! 
Follow Everyone Deserves to Learn's board ESL Writing on Pinterest.

30 Minute Skillet Enchiladas

Boy, do I have an easy weeknight meal for you!  I just happened to make this on Cinco de Mayo, but you could make this dish any night.  It comes together really quickly and can feed quite a few people!  I thought the tortillas in the middle wouldn't soften enough, but they did and had a great texture while holding the filling together.  

30 Minute Beef Skillet Enchiladas
adapted from Jamie Cooks it Up

1.25 lb ground beef (80% lean, 20% fat)
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloved garlic, minced
salt and pepper (I use Papa Joe's)
1 small can sliced olives
1 bunch scallions
1 can mild (or medium) enchilada sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp peppr
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
12 flour tortillas 
2 cups colby jack cheese
2 cups cheddar cheese (or just use 4 cups Mexican blend cheese)

To make: 
Brown beef, onions, and garlic in a deep, oven proof skillet until beef is cooked through.  Add salt and pepper.  Drain if necessary, then add enchilada sauce, chicken broth, salt, pepper, sugar, and butter.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.   Remove to a bowl, reserving one cup (enough to cover the bottom of the skillet).  Layer 4 or 5 tortillas over the sauce, then add half the remaining sauce, half the cheese, half the olives, and half the scallions.  Repeat with 4 or 5 more tortillas, the remaining sauce, and the remaining cheese.  Pop it into the broiler for about 4 minutes (be sure to watch it!), then top with the rest of the green onions and olives.  Serve with sour cream and salsa on the side. 


Also, in case you haven't heard...there's a huge sale going on over at TPT!  My store is 20% off, plus the additional TPTXO 10% off which magically equals 28% off...not sure how but it works! This is why I teach English.

May Currently

Happy May! I'm linking up with the fabulous Farley for currently.

1. It's funny, actually- he was out mowing, then he went back in the garage and came out with a wheelbarrow full of dirt and dumped it in his front yard and went back inside.  I haven't seen him since.  It's amazing what you see when you sit by your front window!

2. I am fortunate to tan easily, and although I was practically neon-white for a few months this winter, a few days in the sun fixed that right up.  Don't tell my dermatologist!

3. I was just about to hit "submit" to TPT last night when I had an idea for an addition to a product, which I turned into a freebie.  It's called Roll, Graph, and Write. Check it out!  I can see doing this for various seasons, holidays, or themes...what do you think about that idea?

4. Actually, need.  We currently have two broken plastic adirondack chairs on our deck, so don't expect to be able to sit down if you're coming over for a party this summer!  I've already been to Blue and Orange and Bullseye and didn't find a single thing I liked...we are off to shop again this weekend. 

5.  For real, need.  Technically they aren't due until December.  But there are 4 of them.  And I'm not one to leave things for the last minute, unless they are dishes or laundry.

6. My surprise blog is Second Grade Sparkle in Sixth.  I really like her writing style, and best of all, she knows what it's like to move from lower elementary to middle school.  Check out this post- it's hilarious!

Have a great weekend!

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