NOTE: This is a repost/upgrade from last fall. In this updated post you will find some improvements and changes. My apologies to anyone who tried to access the missing video or the activities that were blocked in google drive. Everything should be accessible now. If not, PLEASE comment so I can fix the links.
I also added a new Prezi for the short story.
This coming week my Resource Room will be reading The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. The Lexile is 1350L which is definitely challenging for my class. Luckily, the book I use, Bridges to Literature, has an abridged version which will better suit our needs (580L). We will also watch this short video, The Tell-Tale Heart, and compare and contrast it with the textbook.
Some of the reading skills we will cover with this classic story include:
- character motive
- point of view
- setting and mood
- vocabulary (vulture, precisely, mortal, and cautious)
I created this Prezi as an upgrade for my 7th graders this year: The Tell-Tale Heart Prezi
This story, much like The Green Ribbon, just lends itself to a comic strip activity, so we will revisit that activity this week too. This time I am going to require them to use the four vocabulary words in their summary. (Shout out to Follower 100!)
In my search for other materials and ideas, I found some other resources that you may be able to use. I am going to take bits and pieces from several and add to my SMART Notebook file. (As always, if you’d like a copy of the SMART Notebook file, drop me an e-mail and I’ll send it to you.)
It’s almost the end of the 1st nine weeks and I am wrapping up our first novel, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, and moving into an informational text unit.
I wanted to do a review game/activity on the iPads but couldn’t choose an app. I decided this was a good time to try Quizlet, which has been on my “Want to Learn About” list since July.
I created these two set of cards this morning:
I haven’t upgraded to the $15/year or the $25/year option yet. I want to see how it goes with the class week, but I am optimistic.
First impression: I love how easy Quizlet is to use.
- You type in the terms and choose from a list of “auto-definitions” or type your own. I am a very fast typist so I had them done in no time. Actually, after I got started, I realized I could copy and paste from the PDFs I already have.
- You can switch the terms and the definitions with one click. Sometimes it is better to present the definition first and ask students to recall the term. Other times, it’s more appropriate to do it the other way around. I
- Quizlet has a “Speak Text” option, which will be great for my class. (I just picked up cheap headphones for the iPads. I have issues with a lot of noise and this should help. A few students also have ear buds of their own.)
- There are hundreds/thousands of sets already created on Quizlet and I spent some time a few weeks ago searching for something that would work.
Now that I’ve realized Quizlet is so easy to use, I shouldn’t have wasted my time searching for an almost-perfect fit, and should have gone this route. Now I have exactly what I want for my class based on what we have studied. (I used the exact definitions we used in our Interactive Notebooks to be consistent)
I was able to quickly link the two card sets to my Schoology course and I will introduce Quizlet tomorrow after our reading quiz (also on Schoology).
The real trick will be if the kids can remember their logins for Schoology!!
What are your thoughts on Quizlet?
How do you use Quizlet in your classroom?
Would you/Did you pay the extra $15 or $25 to upgrade?
Maybe most importantly, how do you get kids to learn their usernames and passwords to multiple online accounts? Our students building-wide are dealing with our new g-mail, Schoology, Chrome books, Khan academy and online text books and it’s been quite a challenge!
My class has been working on their Interactive Notebooks, which we now refer to as “Interactive Journals.” “Journal” is the term we use school-wide for composition books. It is a habit and just easier. Same idea.
I am really happy with how it’s going. They are engaged and they are responsive. It’s cute how they remember definitions from last year and suggest we put them under the flaps (as if I didn’t already think of that!)
I have learned that I need to show some of my students the sample I have created – allowing them to touch and lift the flaps.
Others seem to enjoy figuring it out on their own and are pretty good at it. One of my struggling readers is by far the best at this and it is so nice to build his confidence by asking him to help others.
This week I am actually going to post the directions (included in the bundle I purchased) on the SMARTBoard. I think that will be very helpful to a few of them.
There are some things I need to refine and improve on:
- Cutting is difficult for a few of my students and the pieces are really hacked by the time they are done. This morning I decided to trim some the handouts and larger pieces with the paper-cutter. Hopefully this will save some time and some paper. (I’ve also been making two extra copies for major cutting disasters.)
- Coloring might need to be a homework thing or done in study hall – they are really into the coloring, but it is a little time-consuming. I am going to use my Joann’s coupons and try to buy some more Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils because my pencil sharpener is destroying my colored pencils.
- I need to allot more class time for reviewing and using the foldables. Right now, I am not sure they know how to interact with the things we have made. Some are also lacking study skills. I need to do a better job referencing the foldables and encouraging them to use them during lessons.
- On that note, I tried to incorporate more activities that would require some response to the foldables in my lesson plans this week. An extension, I guess you would call it.
- I also want to print out some of their creations from the iPad and glue them in to help make a connection between the two activities.
I will post an update in a few weeks and let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, if you have any tips or ideas, be sure to share them in the comments!
To go along with my Prezi, I decided to create mini-lessons for the five text structures.
The plan was to spend one day on each, using the Prezi as an intro, taking notes in the Text Structure Flip Book I created, and then doing corresponding activities.
The activities took me a little longer than five days but ended up making a great unit.
I used many of the graphic organizers from a PDF I found online (Comprehension and Text Structure Graphic Organizers)
I also used many of the nonfiction reading selections from www.readworks.org.
Here are some highlights from each mini-lesson.
Students used a graphic organizer that really helped them think spatially as they described our classroom. I gave students the option of describing their bedroom if they wanted to.
Compare and Contrast
For this lesson students rotated in groups to three different stations. Each station had a nonfiction selection from ReadWorks.org. I picked a variety of Lexiles and highlighted some text features like footnotes, headings, bold words, and captions.
At each station they had to record three details showing similarities and differences.
I used the questions that come with the selections the following day as a review of test taking strategies on the SMART Board.
Cause and Effect
I used the cards and activity that begins on page 29. I cut the cards and students picked one from the bag. They then wrote their “cause” statement on their paper. I played some music and students walked around until the music stopped. They plopped down and wrote one “effect” on the paper. We repeated this process about 5 or 6 times and each time the students had to read all of the effects listed and come up with something different. I loved the creativity of some of their responses and they loved walking around and writing on their classmates papers.
Sequence or Process Writing
For sequence writing, I used three nonfiction selections spread out over a few days. We completed these individually just like we would the OAA – I read the directions and questions, they read the selection, and I repeated the directions (per their IEP accommodations). This provided some practice and forced them to pay attention to detail and read headings.
- The Scientific Method 600L
- Scientific method questions
- Colorful Crayons 630
- Crayons questions
- Magellan Was First 790
- Magellan questions
Problem and Solution
I turned this mini-lesson into a speaking/listening/social skills lesson where students had to rotate with small groups to 6 different “problems.” For each problem they had to come up with a good solution and they had to use a signal word from the list on the Prezi in their response. After reading some of their solutions, I realized we needed to work on some of our social skills so I will be coming back to this activity later this week.
The final activity was a matching activity and part of the PDF file.
Wow! That is a lot of information. I hope I provided enough information to show the variety of the lessons. The last thing I wanted to do was bore them with a bunch of worksheets but with the OAA coming up tomorrow I wanted to be sure to cover a lot.
And on THAT note….I should probably wrap this up and relax a little before the fun starts tomorrow! If you happen to be in Ohio, or are taking any sort of achievement tests this week….Good luck! It’s all downhill from here!
This ReadWriteThink flip book is quick, customizable, and easily made on a copier. All students have to do is cut on the lines.
Flip books make excellent study tools and reference materials.
I have seen this most often used for vocabulary words or for math formulas/processes.
Flip books will work for any concept that can be broken down into smaller parts:
- The characters of a novel
- The biomes
- Types of energy
The large white space provides room for drawings and diagrams, as well as text.
We recently made a flip book (using the generator at ReadWriteThink) which included important literary terms for our upcoming novel. This served as a review of concepts we’ve already covered and will be a good tool for them as we complete our reading.
Our tabs included:
- Narrator and point of view
- Flat and Round Character
- Static and Dynamic Character
- Internal and External Conflict
- Foreshadowing and Flashback
Looking ahead to the last three weeks before the OAAs, I am going to be hitting on a few final things.
Next up: Text Structures.
Be warned: I had to put in an annoying, but popular Spongebob segment, because I felt like this Prezi was lacking as far as media. This commercial is strategically placed right before I ask students to do more practice!
I’ve also created a page for all my Prezis, which you can see in the menu bar at the top of my blog.
I might go back and hit Author’s Purpose again.
Maybe I’ll make a hodgepodge of OAA type questions.
I’m open to your ideas!
I have been struggling with two things in particular lately.
1) How to best use the limited technology that I have available to me
2) How to increase my students’ vocabulary
I am trying at all costs to avoid: looking words up in a glossary, copying definitions, matching words and definitions on a test, and completing worksheets to teach vocabulary. It’s boring, it’s ineffective, and I’m not seeing results.
Vocabulary instruction like this does not help kids make connections and any memorization that may occur…simply doesn’t last.
I wanted something authentic, interactive, and hopefully technology-based for use in our small, fairly outdated computer lab.
I spent over two hours researching ideas the other night and ended up with way too many of the same old ideas, nothing that I envisioned as I started out, and a headache.
Feeling overwhelmed and guilty I wasted two hours of my night during the busiest time of year, I took a break and came back to the computer after dinner with a plan in mind.
I used the “Polls” on Edmodo to create 6 vocabulary-based questions for our upcoming novel, Stargirl.
I chose some particular vocabulary words that I knew I would need to explain to my students as we were reading the novel: mesa, saguaro, ukulele, cactus, canyon, and porcupine. Students also had to understand a little about Arizona and where it was located.
Here are my six questions: (and their votes)
What is a “saguaro”? Research the word and make your choice. Find a picture and insert it into a Word document. Be sure to label the picture.
- a type of boat 0 vote(s)
- a type of flower 0 vote(s)
- a type of cactus 75%, 3 vote(s)
- a type of car 25%, 1 vote(s
Which of these would not be found in Arizona? Find pictures of the three found in Arizona.
- canyon 0 vote(s)
- mesa 14.29%, 1 vote(s)
- grass 57.14%, 4 vote(s)
- cactuses 28.57%, 2 vote(s)
What animal has quills? Find a picture of this animal.
- a shark 0 vote(s)
- a muskrat 0 vote(s)
- a porcupine 100%, 7 vote(s)
- an octopus 0 vote(s)
Which state does not touch Arizona? Find a map that shows this.
- Utah 0 vote(s)
- California 12.5%, 1 vote(s)
- Texas 87.5%, 7 vote(s)
- New Mexico 0 vote(s)
What instrument is a “ukelele” related to? Find a picture.
- a trumpet 0 vote(s)
- a guitar 100%, 7 vote(s)
- a piano 0 vote(s)
- a harmonica 0 vote(s)
What is a road runner? Find a picture of a famous one and a real one.
- a type of internet service 0 vote(s)
- a very fast bird 100%, 5 vote(s)
- a type of race 0 vote(s)
- a car part 0 vote(s)
I reminded my students how to enter a search term in Google, locate an image, and create a mini-poster using Word. We’ve been working on computer skills lately, so this was good practice of the steps for inserting a picture and formatting the picture.
The students had to answer the poll questions while doing their research. Because there was no “right answer” given, students were not as likely to share answers with their neighbors.
Students had two windows open on Firefox and a Word document open. They had to turn in the assignment on Edmodo when they were finished.
It may not seem like a lot, but for my students this was a big task. These kids were multi-tasking and learning.
When we return from break, they will share their posters on the SMARTBoard.
So, this is not the most traditional use of a poll, but it provided enough motivation and variety for my students to keep it interesting and help them learn the vocabulary.
Here is what I loved about this activity:
- Students didn’t touch a single worksheet during this lesson.
- Students were not asked to memorize or write a definition.
- Instead, students found their own definitions by researching.
- Students had to use some logic and reasoning skills to eliminate and determine search terms.
- Students practiced computer skills (Word, Google search, and Edmodo)
- Students now have a visual for when we start the novel after break. Students will share their products on the SMARTBoard when they return.
- Students were engaged for two 40-minute periods in an authentic learning activity.
- Students have made meaningful connections with half a dozen words that they had little prior knowledge of.
- I am inspired to create more activities similar to this one.
How do you teach vocabulary? Do you have some ideas that will meet my goal for authentic vocabulary instruction? Share your ideas with the comment link at the top of this post.
Awhile back I posted a list of instructional strategies I found online. This lesson-planning menu covers many different types of activities, assessments, and projects.
I decided I was going to keep this list in my lesson planning binder and research one every week and try to incorporate it in my class.
The first one on the list is the Affinity Diagram.
A quick search for a definition gives me this: “…a business tool used to organize ideas and data. It is one of the Seven Management and Planning Tools…” (wikipedia.org)
I looked at a few websites and quickly decided how to incorporate this into my lessons. I have posted pictures below with an explanation of how each affinity diagram came to be. I tweaked the process each time and each time, the students surprised me (and themselves) with their understanding.
Preparation is simple. You need post-it notes, butcher paper, and a Sharpie.
- Students were rotating through stations one day. One of these stations required students to look at a pile of nonfiction books on the topic of pirates (which we had been reading about).
- They were asked to write two new facts down – one per post-it note. They put these post-its on the butcher paper.
- The next day, as we visited the library, students were invited to go to the paper and move the post-its around on the paper into some sort of grouping. Those were the only directions I gave them.
- Day 3 – We gathered around our large round table and discussed the groupings and students decided on keywords for the headings.
- Students received three post-it notes and were asked to write down three things they wanted for Christmas.
- We gathered around the large round table and shared our wish lists, placing each item on the green butcher paper.
- We then categorized the items into groups which they chose: Electronics, Clothing, Video Games, Shoes, Sporting Goods, Music, and “Girl Stuff.”
- They were able to take it a step further and divided those categories into smaller groups yet, as you can see in the photograph.
- Students received 2-3 post-it notes at random. I had already written the words – which included a variety of holiday/winter related words.
- They shared their post-its and categorized them as a class. (Lots of shouting out and over-riding ideas….I had to put a stop to that.)
- I chose the words myself for a few reasons: variety, spelling, and time.
- After we completed the diagram, students made suggestions for additional words to add to each category.
- Again, I passed out post-it notes with what they determined to be “Snacks (Junk Food)”.
- As you can see our discussion and our categorizing went much further this time. They wanted to get very technical, breaking down the items as far as they could. I didn’t shoot down any suggestions unless they were blatantly wrong (ex. Milk Duds are not fruit-flavored.)
- Students supplied some additional ideas for each category as well.
The students were really into this activity and it was often hard to contain an excited student with a great idea, as I mentioned above. As I hung the 4th chart on the bulletin board, one student noted how detailed they were this time. “Wow! We keep getting better and better!”
I can see this activity being used in many ways with an endless list of topics. I think it demonstrates a student’s ability to understand a topic and make connections.
Other ways I may try to use affinity diagrams:
- Exit tickets – “What did you learn?”
- Pre-reading – “What do you know about…..?”
- Group discussion and Debate – Groups of students would have the same lists and would have to categorize and then defend their reasons.
How would you use an affinity diagram in your classroom?
Share your ideas with the comment link at the top of this post.
Here is a link to my newest Prezi, “Identifying Mood.” I incorporated this mood lesson into March Madness as we will be completing this next week when we get back from Spring Break.
Students will have to identify the mood in songs, images, and text. (I chose 4 poems about basketball. These may need to be changed for a younger audience.)
Happy Spring Break to everyone if you are off this week!
We are supposed to get 6 inches of snow tomorrow night. Not. Cool.
My other Prezis
As we finished up Stargirl,I knew I wanted to do a final plot diagram activity. I found a pretty good Prezi of a story map for the novel. I had to change some of the vocabulary to make it appropriate for my class. (The fact that Prezis are editable and reusable is one of the things I love about the whole Prezi concept.)
I printed out a PDF of the plot line and passed out the pages randomly. I challenged them to put the events in order correctly. As we sat in front of the bulletin board,which I temporarily covered with a giant plot diagram, we took turns reading and placing the events in the appropriate place. We used push pins so that it was easy to rearrange when we needed to.
The final result was pretty impressive and showed me how they understood the story. They loved doing this activity.
Big impact. Little preparation. No worksheets. Win-win-win.