Category Archives: Sharing is Good

Another Graphic Organizer for Summarizing

Each week my Resource Room students have to complete a reading passage and comprehension questions at their specific ability level. This ranges anywhere from Beginning-Low to Intermediate-High. I like to use stories from ReadTheory.

Students are expected to complete these one page readings independently. The last few times we did this activity, I made them circle the text that supported their answer. This forced them to go back, locate the “evidence” and confirm their answer. I’m happy, and not suprised, to say their scores have drastically improved since I starting enforcing this rule.

To get the most out of this leveled reading I created an additional activity which students have been completing in groups. On the first page, students have to identify:

  • title
  • setting
  • character
  • conflict
  • resolution

Short Story Summary

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Identifying the conflict in this story was challenging. My students couldn’t understand why a woman would leave a baby on a bus.

On the second page I decided to throw in some grammar/language and vocabulary. Note the small boxes in the right hand corner of each. This is where I can modify the assignment for each student. I put a number in each box to tell them how many nouns, verbs, and adjectives they need to find. I do the same for the vocabulary words.

Short Story Language and Vocabulary

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This ended up being a great review of parts of speech.

This activity takes them quite awhile and is very challenging for this group of students. I direct them to their journal notes or the Part of Speech bulletin board to figure out what they are looking for. It takes about 20-25 minutes for most groups to complete it. This provides me with some time to circulate and talk to all the students and note what they are having trouble with. It also gives me time to point out things like capitalization of names and cities.

The way I designed this, it can work with any short story. If you think of any ways to improve or to add additional skills let me know.

Easy Access to All My Handouts

You may or may not have noticed I created a page called “Easy Access.”  I decided to put all of my graphic organizers and handouts in one place, organized by subject/topic.

I will be updating it regularly, as I post new handouts and notes.

As always, please feel free to use these and let me know how they are working (or not working) for you.

Today’s Special: Lesson Planning

I was sorting through some old teacher files in my basement a few weeks ago as part of my “reduce clutter” goal and I put some interesting things aside.

I am just now getting to the pile and one of the things I found was a great Lesson Planning Menu. I don’t know where I originally got this list (and I’m not taking credit for it) but I found it online here: Lesson Planning Menu

Many tried and true activities are included.   Some of my personal favorites are on there too.

But more exciting….there are many activities I am not familiar with, so I’ll have to do some research, or maybe more my speed….make up something  based on the name.

Enjoy the list. Let me know if you find any “must try” activities.

Watching History Unfold in the Classroom

So, I have mentioned before that my boyfriend, affectionately referred to as Admiral Bodee, is a 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher. He recently shared a really great idea with me as we were discussing non-fiction books and pirates…

(I know, totally random. More on that later.)

Anyway, CNN has an online segment called CNN Student News. Each day CNN produces a short 8-10 minute newscast on current events. Each day he starts class with this newscast and students have to complete a daily summary. Here is his email with directions to his co-workers.

I decided to make a weekly sheet for them to fill in to learn more literary terms along with current events.

The “A” story is to be for Monday viewing, the “B” for Tuesday, and so forth. When you turn the page over, C and D are for Wed/Thurs. Then, they do a summary on Friday for the whole week of news casts.

I attached both pages to be copied back to back; having holes punched in them is helpful, too.

Check out his templates here: CNN TEMPLATE page 1  CNN TEMPLATE page 2

So, how exactly did this work in the classroom? I tried it today.  We watched the news cast  this morning for the first time and of course, it was all about the election. It featured a clip of President Obama’s acceptance speech. If you watched his speech last night  then you will recognize where he said,

I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I looked over and one of my girls was quickly wiping the tears out of the corner of her eyes. It was then that I knew this was a very good thing. You see, right before we started this activity, she said, “We’re watching the news?? I don’t ever watch the news. We don’t got cable.”

And here she was, obviously deeply moved by a current event, a moment in history, that she otherwise wouldn’t have seen.

So my thanks go out to Admiral Bodee for a great classroom activity and to all of the voters who gave President Obama a second term. I was thinking about it this morning….His re-election kind of goes with my philosophy: Everyone deserves a second chance. 

Updated Parts of Speech Graphic Organizers (Plus Conjunctions)

As I learn more and more about iDraw, the perfectionist in me has felt the need to improve my graphic organizers. I only made some slight changes (a little color and more uniform) but I am happy with them now. I also made notes for conjunctions. To find the originals click here. The updated PDF files are below.

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Noun

Action verb

Adjectives

Adverb

conjunctions

And what would be a post about conjunctions without this video?

Learning the Six Land Biomes

My 7th grade inclusion science class is studying the six land biomes. As they read with small groups, they completed an outline the teacher had made for them. I used that information to create some review sheets for the quiz this Friday. The notes have simplified wording, diagrams, and photographs.

I was able to quickly make these handouts on my iPad with an app called iDraw. It is $8.99 and worth every penny. You can easily pull in photos from the internet and position them wherever you want (much faster than using Word).

You can save the files as PDFs or images and straight to Dropbox or your photos. This is how I’ve been designing all of my handouts lately and each time I use it I get a little quicker with it. (Actually, Tweedle Dee plays with it from time to time and she has taught me some tricks.) I posted the PDF versions below if you would like to use them.

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Biomes

Tundra

Taiga

Desert and Grassland

Tropical forest

Temperate forest

Stumbled Upon: Free Language Stuff

I stumbled upon this great blog with hundreds of free worksheets in both Word and in PDF versions. These activities were created by a speech therapist and are great for elementary and special education students.

FreeLanguageStuff.com

These activities are simple, varied, and unique…a sentence mazes, sentences drops, bulls-eyes, and many, many more neat ideas.

Here is a menu from the blog to show you the topics that are covered.

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If you are looking for bell ringers, independent work, or simple ideas you can easily put up on the SMART Board….check it out.

The wheels are turning….so many possibilities!!
How will you use these resources?

Author’s Purpose

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I made this for this week’s instruction on Author’s Purpose. As with all the handouts, they will glue this in their journal for future reference.

PDF of Author’s Purpose

Summarizing Short Stories: Story Elements and Conflict

My Resource Room students have been reading several short stories in our literature book and I have been teaching/reviewing story elements and conflict.

These are the notes they pasted in their journal and what we will reference each time we discuss these ideas throughout the year. I try to always come back to the same notes/handouts each time we work on a concept. I think the repetition and consistency helps with their retention and association.

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There are many variations on definitions for the different parts of a plot diagram. These may or may not match what you use in your classroom.

Now before you laugh at my artwork, which I honestly don’t think is that awful, there is something to be said about teacher created artwork…especially if you can laugh at it. Kids remember these drawings. These are not stock clip-art images. These are never-seen-before renderings. They are real and they are authentic. These pictures also increase my credibility with my students.

A student once told me in reference to a similar handout, “Geez…you MADE this for us? In your free time? You really work way too hard.”

My students totally enjoyed (laughed at) these pics when I passed this out.

In addition to these notes, students have been completing these graphic organizers as well. The first few times we use this organizer, I will model for them and provide more guided notes. Eventually, I’d like to see them fill it out independently.

This is a screen shot of all the parts from SMART Notebook on one page. You can see that I give them a lot of guidance in the first few boxes. Starting is usually the hardest part.

Please feel free to download these for you classroom.

Plot Diagram (PDF)

Conflict (PDF)

Short Story Summary (PDF)

 

Two Things I Need To Survive 8th Grade: Coffee and Mnemonic Devices

When I first started teaching 8th grade, the curriculum was all new to me. I was the inclusion teacher in four subjects, as well as teaching two of my own resource classes.

Few things are less intimidating than being unfamiliar with the curriculum and learning it just a few days ahead of the students. One of the first things I had to learn was the Scientific Method.

I needed a quick way to memorize the steps:

  • Ask a question
  • Form a hypothesis
  • Test the hypothesis
  • Analyze results
  • Draw conclusions
  • Communicate results

I also needed to think of a way to help my students memorize these steps for their test.

Fortunately I had been in band and knew the “Every Good Boy Does Fine” trick to learn the notes on the staff. Since then, I have always been a big fan of mnemonic devices. And, as luck would have it, the science teacher I worked with usually had a cup of coffee in her hand every morning as she greeted the students in the hallway.

So this is what I came up with:

A fun snapshot of the science teacher with her morning cup of coffee would make a great poster for the classroom.

Totally unscientific, but trust me….silly things like this work!

Tweedle Dee used this same strategy to help her in her science class this year and last year. (Being a teacher’s kid, she learns all kinds of crazy ways to memorize things!)

I am certain I will never forget the steps to the Scientific Method and I bet there is a good chance you won’t either.

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