Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thematic Thursday-Native Americans

Thematic Thursday is a weekly teacher linky party focused on the sharing of ideas for a different theme each week. This week's theme is "Native Americans", and bloggers are asked to share their favorite resources, book ideas, activities, and suggestions to help students learn about Native Americans including Pocahontas, Squanto, and any other famous Native American.  Please grab the image above as well as the template below, write up your post sharing your ideas, resources, and anything that fits the theme, and link up your blog name and intended grade level for the resources and ideas you share.  (Example-Comprehension Connection-4th and 5th)  Please remember that this link up is for blog posts only.  No store links will be allowed even with freebies as the hope is for readers to return to these themes later in the year or when they wish to focus on the theme.  Many themes can be used any time of year. The image below can be used to plan out your posts and once completed works beautifully for pinning. [This board] has been formed to collect our planning sheets as well as other themed resources.  I look forward to reading your posts.  Now, on to mine...

As we move from Halloween to Thanksgiving, I thought it was the perfect time to study Native Americans.  For my students in fourth grade, Pocahontas is studied as part of Virginia history when our students learn about the Jamestown Colony and the interactions between the Powhatan and English settlers. Since we've been reading a biography about Pocahontas, I also opted to compare/contrast her life to Squanto's life with a second biography about him which also ties in the Pilgrim settlement too. The resources I'm sharing will focus on these topics.
Book Ideas
Book list from PreK and K Sharing
Craft Ideas
There are so many fun craft ideas that can be incorporated into each region's tribal studies, and the internet provides the opportunity to see authentic examples.  Here are a few projects I liked, but I have pinned quite a few others on my board.  {Here} is the link again
Thanksgiving - Native American necklace     Thomas Elementary Art: 4th Grade Totem Poles....what an awesome project for your students as you study native Americans :)

Notebooking Ideas
Even though crafts are so much fun and teach children more than we realize, the content is the heavy part.  These resources offer foldables, sorts, graphic organizers, and projects to help students learn the content about Native American homes, hunting methods, habits, and traditions.  

Free Native American Lap Book  FREE Native American Foldable - East Woodlands, Plains, So NATIVE AMERICANS- Social Studies Notebooking- Intro & Voca
Do you have favorite Native American resources you use and are willing to share?  Feel free to share your ideas in the comments, link up, or email me (and I'll add them to my post).  

Many states teach Native American tribes and traditions, so I hope this will be well received and useful to you.  

Have a great weekend (and feel free to link up through next Wednesday readers).  

Check out this and other linky opportunities at Teacher Karma by clicking the image below.

Teaching Strategies that Work...Motivating Struggling Readers

Displaying Blog Hop Circle Button.png
I was so excited that Celeste at The Education Highway sent out the invitation to link up and share our favorite teaching strategies as we roll out our Tsu pages.  I had a number of ideas buzzing in my head. Should I talk about Close Reading, Interactive Notebooks, Anchor Charts, or Reader's Theatre?? Well, I opted to focus on the topic of ...
We are all motivated either internally or externally.  You want to eat that chocolate because it tastes yummy, satisfies your sweet tooth, and is sitting right there on the plate all by itself just calling you, BUT, are you motivated to give it away or pass it up??  Like eating chocolate, we need to find what motivates our students with reading, homework, or other educational tasks we require. In my room, the focus is reading, so here are the top 10 ways I motivate my readers.
Many school divisions are providing workshops on increasing rigor, unpacking the standards, and on matching the Bloom's level to the standard. Although this knowledge is important for teachers, I believe student motivation is of equal value if not more important.

Motivation, especially for children who struggle or who lack support with their work at home, can provide the student with the drive and stamina needed to stick with difficult work until it's understood. Student motivation shows in higher levels of achievement, but it is also linked to other aspects of student success and happiness with school and a positive self-esteem. Students need to feel that they are capable of accomplishing what is being required of them. We have all seen students lose motivation when a book is too hard or when they are not prepared well for work. If we are unable to motivate our students, they get too discouraged to stick with their books or have no interest in taking the time. Perhaps the ideas that follow will help keep your readers on the right track. 

From Zeek's Zoo
Help your students make the best match.  At our school, books are color coded by level to make selection easier.  Teachers provide students with the level that works best for them.  This isn't necessarily a novel idea, but it is critical to reading achievement. Too many children try to push up in level before they are ready only to abandon the book before they finish.
From Ginger Snaps
Learn what your students are interested in and be ready to share books that tie into those interests.  Interest surveys are a great way to learn about your kids.  Once you know interests, you might check out websites like Good Reads.

Track your students reading time or number of books.  I just found the website, Learn2Earn, and I set up my class to use it.  It is a free site that students can use to record their reading time, review books and interact about them with their peers, and work as a group for class incentives.  I love the interaction piece to the program, and I think it will lead to the students gaining momentum from each other.  There's nothing better than kids recommending books to other kids.

Where Wild Readers RoamAnother way to build class motivation for reading is to use what is meaningful to the kids.  Kid LOVE technology, so using Edmodo, blogging, IPads, and Kindles are all ways to talk about and get books in kids' hands.  I recently started blogging with the fourth and fifth grade students at my school.  We haven't posted much, but the enthusiasm for it is just wonderful.  The children are writing up posts on their own at home about the books they've read, special school events, and things that mean a lot to them.  I know the book reviews will build up over time, and I hope to eventually have our students commenting to give feedback about the book choices and reviews.

Reward PunchcardsUse personal incentive charts or punch cards to help your students keep track of the number of books they've read.  Kids like to see how they are progressing.  That's why timed repeated reading charts work well.  Kids can see visually how their Words Per Minute are rising with each reading. Incentive charts show visually too the growth in reading numbers or minutes (whichever you choose). This reward punchcard set can be used right now, but others are available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Just search the word, punchcard, to see what you can find.

Sometimes, it's difficult for students who struggle to access books that really interest them.  If that is the case, we can help them by reading great books to them.  Finding high interest books by the best authors provides students with the opportunity hear great stories AND fluency.  For suggested read alouds, you might look on Good Reads or Amazon to see what is selling.  For the upper grades, I'd recommend [these].
For the lower grades, you might try [these]

When you give time for kids to read, let them get comfortable. Encourage partner reading and talking about what they're reading. You might start a Friday share time where students give a quick talk about their latest books, whether they'd recommend them and why. Here's a picture of my set up, and I will say...they LOVE the beanbags.  I just wish I had my groups longer and could give them more time to just read.

For many of my kids, books in a series work best.  They get familiar with the characters and confident with the level.  Here are a few of the most popular ones in my room currently, and I am so lucky in that the librarian in my school will order books by request from the students. (if money is available of course)  One of my little guys ran right through the Captain Awesome books she had, so she ordered him several more.  How awesome is that??


One way for kids to get time to read at home is to get family members on board.  Encourage families to select books they can read together.  If it's difficult to carve out that time, using audio books works well too.  Students can listen and read along while getting ready for bed.  

Finally, celebrate reading with fun project to display showcasing the books (and your students work). Last year, we held our first Book Fair, and I don't mean time for selling books.  We had our students use trifold displays to create a book advertisement.  Students decorated the boards and we displayed them for parents, community members, and other students to see in our hallways.  Lapbooks, cereal box projects, visual models and such are all fun ways for students to get creative and share their book impressions. There are so many book project ideas out there.  Just google to see what ideas appeal to you.  Kids love making them and showing them off.

Well, I hope you feel motivated to motivate your readers, and if I left out something that has worked for you, please comment and share with me.  Before you go, join in on our hop giveaway.  We are glad you are hopping through and hope you come back soon.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, October 27, 2014

Take a Tour of Your State Projects

Last week, my teammate in fourth grade had our fourth grade students bring in their end of unit projects for social studies, and I was thoroughly impressed with how they turned out. I just had to share her idea with my readers even though they were not "literacy" projects.  I think the concept could be easily modified to "Books on Parade" or "A Parade of Science Fun".  

The children were just bubbling with enthusiasm about their projects, and each was asked to research their tourism site, make a visual model of it using a tissue box as the base of the "float" with wheels of their choosing, and write up a one page report about it.  
Check them out and feel free to take the idea and give it your personal flare. If you're from Virginia, do you recognize these locations?  If you're not from Virginia, you might add these places on your list of places to visit.
If you have creative ways for students to show their learning, I would LOVE to hear them.  We're getting ready for our annual Book Fair for National Education Week, and I can't wait to see how these projects turn out.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Savings

One more quick post...

I'm linking up with All Things Apple in Second for Sunday Savings. I chose my Concept of Word Fall and Winter Bundle that includes 28 COW poems that come in chart form, booklet form, with a word list, and with a student page to save for later.  The poems are seasonal as well as thematic for any time of the year.  Some of the topics included are  fall, apples, leaves, pumpkins, turkeys, Thanksgiving, spiders, bats, transportation, mice, owls, school, friends, snowmen, gingerbread men, mittens, farm fun, camping, cookies, penguins, reindeer, fishing, and polar bears. (28 topics total).  

This bundle is 30% off through Tuesday.  You may get more information and purchase this bundle {here}.  Have a great week!

Five Sunday Reflections for Friday + My Sunday Scoop

Holy Macaroni!  What a week, but ohhhhhh...what a glorious weekend!  I am going to make this a double linky (I think).  I'm going to share five highlights from last week to link up with Kasey at Doodle Bugs Teaching, and my Sunday scoop since I'm all rested up!  So here we go...

Cartoon Number OneFirst on my list this week is that we had our first parental involvement event of the year.  It was our annual NFL event.  NFL=Night of Family Literacy. We do it each year, and it is the biggest hit with our families. We start with Tailgating food and fun and end with entertainment.  This year, we had a storyteller come and do campfire tales.  He was perfect for our event since his specialty was Appalachian Stories and Songs.

Cartoon Number TwoOf ours, we also finished up the end of the first quarter.  Our Accelerated Reader goals were due from the children along with grades, comments, and on top of that, my Professional Growth plan.  It meant a long week of record keeping and such, all got done.  I'm so proud of my kids' hard work too.  During the week, we worked on fluency with this freebie from my store, so my students asked me to bring in pie for them if they all made their goals. Well, I guess I get to do some baking.  Good thing I found a produce stand along the way home today that had fresh apples,  Yum!

Cartoon Number ThreeOn Thursday, believe it or not, I managed to get my Thematic Thursday Linky up.  I still can't believe I got everything done.  This week, it was about The Human Body/Skeletal System.  I only had one person link up, but the feedback has been great for the posts.  I sure wish more out there would link up with me though...please, pretty please??  Here is the calendar for the rest of the year with all the themes I will be covering.  Next week is Native Americans, Pocahontas, and Squanto (since Halloween will be the next day).

Cartoon Number FourWell, I could not wait for Friday to come this week because I got to spend the weekend away with this guy.  We had a blast this weekend. We've been married 24 years, and it's been ten since we've been away overnight from our kids.  We were extremely overdue!  

Cartoon Number Five
I will end with pictures from the weekend.  Virginia is just gorgeous this time of year.  

And now for my Sunday Scoop with The Teaching Trio...
Guess it's time to get busy on this list.  Have a great week readers, and be sure to download the freebie I added.  The kids had a great time with it this week.  You can use it during the coming weeks as Thanksgiving approaches.  


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