Teaching Main Idea

Monday, October 8, 2018 No comments
*In order to bring you free resources, this post does contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from the links on this page I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog.

Teaching Main Idea can be tricky. I mean, after all, how many different ways can you demonstrate the same skill?

My team and I use the Lucy Calkins reading and writing units of study. We are currently teaching Reading the Weather, Reading the World - our first nonfiction reading unit of the year. In this unit we really focus on the understanding of identifying the Main Idea and key details after reading a portion of text.

My team and I have a created a "Conferring Quick Guide" to use while we meet with students one-on-one or in small group. Over the years we've pulled strategies from a variety of resources. This year, we've worked to compile them in one quick place to use while we're working with students.

Take a look...


When you reach the FREE DOWNLOAD at the end of the post, you'll notice that the "Conferring Quick Guide" is organized into an approaching, a level 2 and a level 3 format. We used the Lucy Calkins progression for to assess what our students ARE doing. We then use those strategies to move them to the next level.


The strategies in our "Conferring Quick Guide come from Jennifer Serravallo, our IRA Book and the spiral from our unit of study.

One of my all time favorite books is Jennifer Serravallo's Reading Strategies Book. I firmly believe this should be a staple in ALL classrooms. Check it out if you don't have a copy yet.


Another thing that works for us is that we create small handouts of the anchor charts or strategy steps. This is what we leave with students after our time with them. Students then have the chart as a reminder and a tool to apply the strategy independently. 


I used clear pockets on the backs of my pages to hold anchor charts. It's a great way to store these small slips of paper without taking up too much room.

Finally, the last thing I bring with me while conferring are my demonstration books. We have selected two books that support our class read aloud for the unit. Throughout these books I've marked up places where specific strategies can be modeled and then tried in a guided practice format. Having these books marked up ahead of time helps to keep my conferring time short and sweet! It also provides real application of the skill, rather than work on a worksheet. I notice that when my students are able to practice their strategy in a book, they're more likely to transfer the work to their own books as well.



The books we used in our "Conferring Quick Guide" are Hurricane and Tornado and Drought and Heat Wave Alert. In the download you'll notice that there are pages and sections marked in each book to use for modeling and guided practice.

    

Finally, here's the part you've all been waiting for! The FREE DOWNLOADS!

Click here to access the CONFERRING QUICK GUIDE.
Click here to access the STRATEGY CARDS.
*You will have "View Only" rights to these documents. To edit them, click file "Make a Copy" and then you'll have a personal copy to edit/change/share/etc."

Thanks for taking the time to check out our Main Idea resources! I'd love to hear your best strategy for teaching Main Idea in the comments below!

Back to School Postcards

Sunday, August 5, 2018 1 comment
Who doesn't love getting a handwritten note in the mail? With so much technology in our lives snail mail has become somewhat of a novelty.

I love sending back to school notes to my students. I send a letter to my previous class and a post card to my new kiddos.

 


Many of you have been asking about my Back to School postcard template. I've uploaded this Freebie to the blog for you to use. I, personally, print these from Vista Print in bulk. However, you definitely can print at a local print shop like Walgreens or CVS.








Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I hope this free resource helps with your back to school prep! If you would like to support my classroom please check out our class wishlist.

My End of the Year Activities!

Friday, June 1, 2018 No comments
You're done with state testing, you've got 5 days of school left and you're looking for something to keep your kids engaged and.......calm. Hey! We've all been there. Here are some of my favorite end of the year activities!

I typically introduce them whenever I can find the time and then use them as my go-to "time fillers" when I can sense we need to switch things up ;)

**All of the links below will take you to "View Only" versions of a Google Doc, Slide or Form. Click "Make a Copy" and you'll be able to edit to fit your needs.

End of the Year Trivia!



This was a HUGE hit in my 4th grade classroom. And the best part was...they were SO quiet while they played. I did not read the questions and I didn't leave the questions up for longer than about 30 seconds. My kiddos quickly learned to stay quiet and work together. In this download I kept the generic rounds that would work for any group of kiddos. Feel free to use the template to add your own rounds. We ended up with around 30 rounds of trivia when it was all said and done.




Create a Board Game



At our school we are paired up with a buddy class. My 4th graders are paired with a 1st grade class. For our last get together of the year we played board games that my kids designed to help the 1st graders with their Accountable Words (also known as Sight Words). My students loved the opportunity to be creative and it was super motivating knowing that real students would actually be playing these games.




Letter Writing



This awesome idea came from a teammate! She stashes the "letters to your 5th grade self" away until January of the next year and then delivers them to the kiddos. I just started these letters this year and I can't wait to deliver them next year :)


These are just a few of my favorite End of the Year go to activities. What End of the Year traditions do you have in your classroom?

My End of the Year Checklist

Sunday, May 20, 2018 No comments
The end of the year is always an exciting time! For me it means wrapping up the current school year while bouncing around new ideas for what I'd like to do differently next year. This summer I've got big plans to revamp my Flexible Seating classroom (read more about that here) so I'm going to need all the time I can get! Did you know there are little things you can do right now, at the end of the year, to save you time at the beginning of the next school year?!


Think about all the forms you'll need to start the year and RESTOCK! 


That means making sure I have plenty of F&P and IRA reading forms in my classroom. Since I just wrapped up my end of the year testing, I make sure to refill my binder so I'm ready to go in August.


PRINT and PREP back to school handouts! 


We host "Sneak a Peek" night and I know what handouts I will use, the same ones I used last year! Take 2-3 minutes now to print them and stash them away. It's one less thing to worry about when you're running around like a madman making sure your room looks perfect for your new bunch of kiddos!


Write your student notes now!


I don't know about you, but I always find a way to strategically plan a movie to land during the last week of school ;) I use this time to write my student notes that will get mailed out in August. Each year I send out 2 sets of student notes - 1 set to my current class, wishing them good luck in their new class and another set to my new kiddos, welcoming them to 4th! I won't know the names of my new students until late July/early August, but my message is done and I'll have to do is fill in their names!



Update Technology

  • Google Classrooms - As we get to the last week of school, I clear out my Google Classrooms. I update the names for the next school year and prep my slides so kids are ready to join as soon as we get back to work in August.

  • Blog/Class Website - I take about 30 minutes to update my class website. Chances are your parents will take a peek once they find out you're going to be their child's teacher in the fall. The last thing you want is outdated information!


What do you do at the end of the year to make your transition back to the classroom easier? I'd love to hear from you! Share your best tips and tricks in the comments!

American Revolution Resources

Sunday, December 31, 2017 No comments

This year my school district fully adopted the Lucy Calkins reading and writing units of study. My team and I have spent hours working to align both units so that we can teach them at the same time. 

Of course, Lucy suggests having 30-55 texts in each classroom for students to use throughout the units. Even with an amazing school library there was NO way we were going to have that may books per classroom (we have 4 sections of 4th grade). 

I started by finding all of the online resources that I could, I mean these are FREE after all!

 

You can grab these QR Code printables from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.


Then I spent some time going through Lucy's suggested book list as well as other recommendations I found online to compile a list of my favorite American Revolution books for you! 

I started by adding ALL of these books to my Amazon classroom wishlist. Then I tuck that little link into each of my weekly newsletters. My team also spent some of our PTO money on a few of the texts and then of course, like all teachers do, I've spent my own money to get some of these texts for my classroom.


The Boston Massacre


      



The Boston Tea Party


            



Paul Revere's Midnight Ride


These two books are from Lucy Calkins' Recommended Book List for Unit 3: Reading History:

   


The following books are additional books my students found helpful during this unit:

      



Battles of Lexington & Concord


   



The Declaration of Independence 


This book is from Lucy Calkins' recommended book list for the unit:




These are additional books my students found to be helpful:

         



Women of the Revolution


This book is from Lucy Calkins' recommended book list for the unit:


These are additional books my students found to be helpful:

           



Spies of the Revolution


This book is from the Lucy Calkins' suggested book list for this unit:

   


These are additional books my students found to be helpful:

           



General Books on the American Revolution


             

Do you have a favorite resource for teaching the American Revolution that I haven't listed? If so, leave me a comment with the details! I'd love to check it out. 

*This post contains affiliate links.

Lewis & Clark Expedition - A Google Earth Activity

Saturday, December 9, 2017 No comments

As we wrapped up our Early Settlement unit in Social Studies I stumbled upon the internet's best kept secret, Google Earth Voyager! These interactive maps take you through all kinds of new learning. I was super excited to see a Lewis & Clark Expedition and knew that I just had to try it out with my kiddos!


The first thing I loved about this was how seamless it was to push out in Google Classroom. We are 1:1 with Chromebook in my 4th grade classroom, so any chance to push out work through Google Classroom is fine by me!


As students work their way through their interactive journey they follow Lewis & Clark's path. The interactive map allows for an aerial view or ground view and you can even manipulate the map to see what other things are near by. As you see on the right hand side, students also have the opportunity to watch videos and read more about the Expedition as they move along.

I pushed out this independent learning activity and gave my students two 45 minute sessions to complete it. They were engaged throughout the whole activity and asking for more Voyager activities by the end. 

You can check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store for the companion activity I assigned with this activity. This was a great accountability piece and helped my students take thorough notes as they went through the voyage.






Cyber Deals for the Classroom!

Saturday, November 25, 2017 No comments

I have to admit, I love that retailers aren't sticking to just one day of sales anymore. I've been online shopping since our break started on Wednesday. Here are some of the best Cyber Deals I found for the classroom.

*The links below are affiliate links.



Canon MX492 Wireless All-IN-One Small Printer with Mobile or Tablet Printing, Airprint and Google Cloud Print Compatible
This printer was $99.99 -- get it now for $39.99! Click here to shop now.


Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens, Medium Point, Assorted Colors, 12-Count
Our beloved Flair Pens are down from $19.99 to just $5.60! Click here to shop.


Expo Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Chisel Tip, 16-Pack, Assorted
Because we can never have enough dry erase markers! Grab them now for just $5.81, down from $12.00! Click here to shop.


Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point, Assorted Color Inks, 7-Pack
If you aren't using Frixon ERASABLE pens yet, please do yourself a favor and try them out! These are the only pens I write with in my plan book. They are magical!
They are currently 49% off at only $10.65! Shop now.



Echo Dot (2nd Generation) - Black
It's time to add Alexa to your classroom! Erin over at Erintegration has some fabulous ways to use Alexa in the classroom. Check them out here.


Right now you can score an Echo Dot for just $29.99, down from $49.99! Shop now.


Scotch Thermal Laminator, 2 Roller System, Fast Warm-up, Quick Laminating Speed
This laminator is an Amazon #1 Best Seller and I can see why! The quick heat up is exactly what you need when you're running around putting together a last minute station.
Originally $29.99, you can snag this for just $18.99. Order yours here.



That's all for now! I'll update throughout the weekend with more ways to save. If you find a good deal, let us know in the comments!
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