Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What a glorious problem to have...


Slowly but surely over the school year, my small reading groups have transformed from good readers to avid, insatiable readers.  They try to sneak books (usually sequels) off my bookshelf and read ahead of their group.  They try to check books out of the library early and will sneak in during their lunch time because they think I won't find out.  

They gasp at certain parts which is normally fine...expect when they're reading after their CRTs (standardized tests) and are supposed to be quiet.  

They've set their own reading goals, which tend to be far more ambitious than I would give.  They argue over which group meets with me first (I meet with two groups per period).  They diligently watch the timer to ensure that the other group does not get additional time.  I've made literature-hungry little monsters.

They will recommend a book to anyone, anywhere...whether or not they're asked.  

I couldn't be more proud.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Character Analysis Cards

Many of my students struggle with character analysis.  They can describe the physical traits of the characters, but often have difficulty providing thoughtful answers.  I can usually get surface level descriptions: he's a boy with brown hair who is kind.  But for fifth graders, that's not enough. 

So to assist them, I made character analysis cards:

I also included synonyms underneath to help my students both understand the character trait and expand their vocabulary.  In all, 88 different character traits are included in the bundle pack, available here.

I've used these cards with both whole group read alouds and with my small group novels.  They're very user-friendly and encourage students to use more descriptive, age-appropriate vocabulary words.

Before using the cards with any particular novel, I had my students sort the character traits into "good" and "bad".  We created an anchor chart from the list, which helps students with their assignments when the cards aren't readily available.

Snag your set today!  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Teacher's Guide to the Red Pyramid

After forty-one chapters of Sadie, Carter, Zia, and the Egyptian gods, I'm pleased to announce my newest teacher guide is available on TpT!

At forty-two pages, this teacher guide contains pre and post reading questions, homework suggestions, vocabulary words, comprehension questions (with suggested answers) and more!

Flash Sale

From now until tomorrow evening, I'm having a flash sale on my TpT site!

That's right, everything is ten percent off until tomorrow evening.  Stock up on novel guides and reading resources now!

Tech Tip: Video Streaming and Notetaking

With the Common Core standards, the integration of technology is crucial for students.  We have been reading informational text about monarch butterflies so I was thrilled when I found a video on Discovery Education about the topic.

I wanted my students to be accountable during the video so I had them set up a T-chart to take notes.  On one side, they wrote information directly from the video.  This included facts and information they saw or heard.  On the right side, they recorded their reactions to the information presented in the video.

I think they did a great job with our new strategy: 

Another tip I tried was showing the video twice.  The first time, they focused on the content.  The second time, they focused on the note taking portion and vocabulary words.  

They really liked the strategy and I can't wait to try it again!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tech Tip: Silence is Golden

We finished our FOSS kit last week and due to testing, I had two days after the assessment with my final science group.

(We departmentalized the science kits, so I taught the FOSS landforms kit to each of the four 5th grade classes.)

We tried a new strategy with our video streaming.  We watched "Thar She Blows", a short video clip from Discovery Ed on the eruption of Mt. Saint Helen's.  

The first time we watched, I had the students just watch for content.  The second time, they wrote down the crucial vocabulary words they heard.  After the second viewing, we made a list on the board:

The third time we watched, I turned off the sound.  Yes, we watched the video without sound.  The purpose was to allow the students to "be the expert" and narrate the video, using the vocabulary words.  They did a pretty good job with being the volcano expert.

I'll definitely be using this silence is golden trick again!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


So I'm cleaning out/up my classroom because standardized testing is literally right around the corner...it's tomorrow morning.  

So instead of covering up the posters with more paper, I just took them down.  Instead of recycling them, I sent them home with students after CRT boot camp.

I came home to find a message on my teacher facebook from one of my students.  Attached was a picture of her bedroom wall where she'd proudly hung up those anchor charts.  Yes, that was the decor she wanted in her room.

These are my students.