Sunday, November 29, 2015

Analyzing Images

You would think looking at an image and explaining what is happening and how it helps you to understand reading would be a pretty easy concept for a lot of students. Not true, as I have learned the hard way. Many kids just don't take the time stop and look closely and use everything they see to help them comprehend what they are reading.  So...that is what led to many discussions and activities using photographs.

I used this anchor chart to introduce the different types of media and some of the ways questions may be asked about photographs and illustrations that accompany our reading.

To practice really looking closely at photographs and making inferences and predictions, we used photographs from The New York Times.  They have an amazing collection.  This is a great activity to do every morning to start some real conversations and practice really looking at photographs to notice details.

Check out this blog post with ten sample pictures and ideas of how to use them in class for close reading:
I used this blog post to practice with my class. There are 10 pictures listed on this blog, so I made this page to go with the activity. Students write their thoughts, inferences, questions, and captions for the photographs.  This activity not only provided many great opportunities for deep discussions, but it was also so fun for the kids...and the teacher.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Open House

I'm just stopping in to post a quick idea for open house, curriculum night or any other school event that brings visitors!  I did this for our open house last night. 

I had the students create a video about themselves using ChatterPix.  This is one of our favorite apps!

Students completed an introduction page just to get their thoughts in order.  Then, they took a selfie and recorded their introduction in ChatterPix!
Here's the page we used:


For open house, I linked our ChatterPix videos to a QR code so the parents could scan and watch when they came to school.  We put the QR code on a getting to know you page along with a student picture.

Here's my example. :)

Here's the page...

Friday, June 5, 2015

Makerspace: A Creative Answer for your Classroom

This year I added a makerspace area to my classroom to encourage creativity and design.  This station was a favorite in my classroom! Here are some ideas from my makerspace this year!

Create a station in your classroom!
*Provide guidelines and directions to get everyone started
*Provide research materials
*Add a writing component to your station
*Make it cross-curricular

Here's what I have at my station:


I always have some type of writing that is expected at the station.  Here's the page we started with:
Our first makerspace experience was with recycled crafts.  I checked out several books from the library to give them some ideas to help them brainstorm.  I added whatever craft supplies I could find in my cabinet and we used recycled paper from our recycling basket.   We also found a few great websites with some fun ideas.
Another great idea that my class loved was Origami.  I checked out several books from the library again to get them started. We also found some really great sites too.
Another fun idea is doodle art!  We love the doodle art alley website.  They have a lot of free printables.   The kids colored a doodle example from the website and we discussed how they added doodles to a regular picture to make it look more interesting.  Then, the kids created their own doodle pictures.
Check out this amazing website:
Here are a couple examples from my class:

We also made a stop motion video of them coloring their doodles.  Here's a short example!
I also had the students research a topic of their choice at the makerspace and then create a poster and video to display their facts.  To see a complete blog post about this idea, click HERE.
Here are a couple examples of the videos the students created.
Next, I created a design station for my makerspace.  The kids had to choose a design card from the bag that told them what they had to create. They used graph paper to create their design.  I again had them write about their design.
Probably one of our favorite things to create is Flextangles.  I found this idea on this website:
This site has a lot of great crafty ideas! We will definitely be going back to this site to find some more things to create.
After making the Flextangles, the kids created videos with music to show their designs.
LEGO StoryStarters are super fun and really get the kids thinking creatively. Visit their site to learn more about it!
When I have the Legos at our makerspace, I have the students create a scene with the Legos.  Then, they use the planning page to plan out a story that they want to create. Here's the planning page they use.
There is also a great app that allows the kids to take a picture of their Lego scene and add special effects, text boxes, and word bubbles.  It's a lot of fun! 
Here's an example of what one of my students quickly put together using the StoryStarter kit and the app.
Sphero is a super fun ball that you can use to make ANY activity super fun.  Here's a link to their site so you can learn more!
Little Bits are also a great addition to the makerspace.  Here's a link to their site too!
Here are some great coding apps that would be awesome at the makerspace! Check them out!
Check out this Symbaloo for some more links to coding ideas!
Here's my complete presentation on makerspaces!

Monday, May 11, 2015


Last week we jumped into learning about drama.  The kids were super excited about this!  I introduced the basics using this anchor chart:

As always, the kids took notes to add to their reader's notebooks.  Here's the page we used:

The next day, we took some time to review our notes with a partner.  Then, we completed this cut and paste page for a review.
The best part of the week was actually performing a play!  We found some great plays on Pinterest.  We decided to perform How I Became a Pirate.  The kids practiced for several days and also made their own props.  This was a big hit! 

You can find some free plays to download here:
I wanted to make sure everyone took this project seriously and got involved, so I made a rubric for them so they would understand the expectations.
It was a fun week!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Persuasive Text

This week we reviewed author's purpose a little bit and dug a little deeper into persuasive text.

I introduced the lesson using an anchor chart similar to this one that I found on Pinterest:

I always have my students add some form of the anchor to their reader's notebooks so they can refer back to it during the unit.  We made this anchor chart into a flip book and added our notes.

Then, I read aloud The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry. This is a great book to show how the characters are persuading the man in the story.  We discussed why they were persuading him and how they were persuading him.  We also discussed how the book persuaded US as readers to think about taking care of the rainforest.  (It was just Earth Day, so this was a great time to read this book!)
The next day, I read aloud The Principal's New Clothes by Stephanie Calmenson. 

This time the students had to write about how the characters persuaded others and give evidence from the text to support their thinking.  We used this page to write our thinking.
A couple of other great books to use for persuasive text are...
The Pigs' Picnic
by Keiko Kasza
Absolutely Not
by Matthew McElligott
We then talked about nonfiction texts.  The book Should There Be Zoos? by Tony Stead is amazing! (but hard to find)
Before reading, the kids thought about how they felt about zoos and then voted yes or no on the topic. We created a graph to show our votes.  After reading, the class discussed their thoughts again and we thought about how the book persuaded some of them to change their original vote. 
The next day, the kids read the persuasive article Should We Pay for Plastic Bags? on their own. I downloaded that article HERE. 
They completed this writing page to list how the author persuaded the readers and then wrote evidence to support their thinking.
It was a fun week with lots of great discussion!

Friday, March 6, 2015


This week we have been discussing theme.  We started off with an introduction to theme using this anchor chart.  I found an example similar to this chart on Pinterest.

I always like to create a "mini" notes page that goes with our anchor charts so the kids can add them to their reader's notebooks.  That way they can use them at any time, even when the anchor chart has to go away because we ran out of wall space!

We focused a lot on the three questions from the anchor chart.  This really helped us think about and determine the theme.
What did the characters learn?
How did the characters grow or change?
Why did the characters act this way?
We used these questions after reading a story to figure out the theme.  We used a flipbook to write our evidence based on the questions.  Then, we wrote our theme for the story.  We added our flipbooks to our reader's notebooks.

Some great books to use to get started with theme are...
by Christopher Myers
Theme: Bullying, Be proud of who you are, Be loyal to your friends
by David McKee
Theme: It's ok to be different, Be yourself
A Porcupine Named Fluffy
by Helen Lester
Themes: Be kind to others, Friendship, It's ok to be different

Friday, February 6, 2015

Research Ideas!

We have been reading a lot of nonfiction articles in class and perfecting our note-taking and paraphrasing skills!  This week we put those skills to the test by working in groups on a research project.  The students took notes on a research topic of their choice.  Then, they created a small poster page with their information. 

Their final project was to use an app of their choice to create a digital project of their information. To learn about some of the great apps we used, click HERE!  (Their favorite was Chatterpix!)

We were so excited to share out digital projects, so we made a QR code linked to the digital projects and added it to the research page.  Now everyone can scan and see the videos!

Here's the research page we used:

To see some more research project ideas, click HERE!