Build Online Student Research Skills

Build Online Student Research Skills

These key ideas are important for research skills! Get a skim and scan anchor chart as a free bonus upgrade to help with online research too

Research is one of the many tasks that students need to develop especially in today’s classroom with many inquiry projects, google and student led activities. Building student research skills is so important, and how to sort through too much research to find what they need, especially at their reading level is important.

By grade 4 students are finally ready to conduct some simple independent research.  However, up until this point, they often have very little experience with doing this.  This is one of the many tasks that needs to be explicitly taught.

Here are some tips to help your students research

Teach Them How to Skim and Scan

This skill will help them to determine if the text they are reading is a good fit for what they are looking for.

Skimming is a skill that involved students determining if the article is appropriate for what they need so that they don’t waste time reading a whole article that isn’t relevant.  They will skim through the not fiction text features to find out if they need to read more or skip it.

This skill is best modeled for students by the teacher.  Show them exactly what you want them to do and talk through your process to doing it.  This can be repeated as necessary for students in guided sessions if they need additional support.

Scanning goes a little deeper to determine if what they read answers their question.

Once they have skimmed the text to determine that it is a good fit then they need to skim the sections of the text for the facts that answer their questions.

This is also easily modeled to students and this skill can be practiced.  Use this anchor chart to help your students to follow along with key steps to help them skim and scan.

Skimming and Scanning are best taught in conjunction with summarizing.  This skill is essential to help students to get the GIST of the article that they are reading to make sure that they pulling out key details.  Summarizing and research are two skills that work very well together.

Get your skimming and scanning anchor chart here now.

Teach them How to Google

When I was in school I was taught how to use the Dewey Decimal System.  Today as teachers it is important to teach them how to Google. (is it just me or do you hear the song “Teach them how to Dougie”)

I use the analogy with my students that they wouldn’t walk into a library and yell “How many years does a bear live?” and expect a book to fly off the shelf and hit them in the head.  They would also not expect to see a book titled “How long  a Bear Lives”

They would look simply for a book on bears.

Google works the same way.

They cannot ask Google a  question and automatically get the information they are looking for.  We need to teach them how to google.  Here is a helpful page to use to help you learn how to google more effectively. 

Learning how to Google is an important skill and this lesson can also touch on many cross-curricular expectations to make these lessons a good bang for your buck.

Assessing Websites

Once your students know how to skim and scan a text. They understand how to summarize a text and they can google effectively it is now important that they learn to sort the good, the bad, and the ugly (fake news)

To build student research skills there are things that students can look for to help them determine if a website is a good quality site that may be reliable.

Recognizable Brand

Sites like National Geographic, Scholastic, Encyclopedias, PBS, BBC and other news agencies are reliable and recognizable websites that are good places to start with student research.

Look at the URL

The URL gives many clues about how credible the source.  Web sites that have the domain of .edu, and .gov are restricted and can only be used by certain institutions.  These are generally considered reliable.  If you are looking for information from specific regions the country domains such as .ca will let students know what country the website is from.

If you are looking for information from specific regions the country domains such as .ca will let students know what country the website is from.  This will support student research when they are looking for content that is region specific.

Complicated URL sources with long unrecognizable names or blogs that are not simple .coms may be someone’s personal site and the information should be validated on multiple sites.

About Me and Bias

Web sites for student research should be clear about who the author is and who is producing the content.  The author should be identified on the article themselves with a bio.  If this is not present there should be a detailed about me page that identifies who wrote the information.

Authors should be experts on the subject area.  Are they credible?  Sometimes many popular research sites are not curated by experts and some are even student created websites.  This is fine to use as a source but again the information should be validated in multiple places.

Another factor is bias.  On the web, anyone can post their opinion.  It is important for students to understand bias and how to recognize this in what they are reading.

Plagiarism

Whenever you talk about student research skills you inevitably talk about plagiarism. This is a great time to introduce your students to the concept of plagiarism.  Today it is easy for students to simply just copy and paste what they read online into their notes then copy their notes into their own writing.

For me, this is a very simple concept.  The original author owns the sentence.  They have put the words together into a sentence.  This is something that you cannot copy.  However, at this age, they are not doing research into topics that may be unique or based on original research.

So this means that they can use the fact from the sentence but they cannot use the whole sentence.

student research skills with skimming and scanning

Help your students to skim and scan a text to help them build their student research skills.

Again this is where the ability to teach your students how to do a GIST summary will help.  Extracting the keywords from what they read.  They assembling them into a summary is a very specific strategy that is similar to making research notes.  They have to focus on the key ideas and ignore the fluff to write a summary.  This is the same skill that students use when extracting information for researching too.

More information about the GIST strategy with summarizing can be found here.

Don’t forget to grab the Skim and Scan Anchor chart page that goes with this blog post.

Researching by using the web,  is an important skill for student to master

inquiry, research, Madly Learning

Join Madly Learning in the Teaching with Inquiry Facebook group

Did you know that this post originally started off as a Facebook Live Video? This and many other things are talked about every week in my Teaching With Inquiry Facebook group.  If you aren’t already a member click here to join us and learn more about how to start using inquiry in your classroom.

 

Ignite Student’s Passion for Writing!!

Ignite Student’s Passion for Writing!!

Encourage student writing in your class and ignite their passion for writing! Click through to learn how to create a class that loves to write.

Writing is a challenge to teach.  It is more than simply just teaching students how to write.  There is an underlying challenge that can predict a student’s success and this is often dependent on the messaging that students tell themselves about their ability to write.  A student’s attitude towards their skills as a writer are very important to ensure their success in their ability to write.  Writing was the last subject that I taught as a teacher where I felt like I was doing a great job at getting students to write.  Many times I felt that my writing program was sucking the fun out of writing and making the task feel so foreign and unrelatable to the real world of writing.  This change coincided with my also beginning this blog.  Through blogging, I felt that I reconnected to my enjoyment of writing that perhaps had been sucked out of me.  Understanding that sometimes just the act of getting your ideas out of your head and on ‘paper’ is a great feeling.  I needed a way to translate that into my own teaching.  Writing needed to be connected, the act of writing needed to be just as important as the conventions and style elements of writing.  Student engagement needed to increase and a fire and passion for writing needed to be ignited within my students.  Even with the most reluctant writers.

This need for a change also aligned with using inquiry in science and social studies.  The power of student conferences, guided instruction and increasing a student’s voice and choice in the classroom were powerful tools to get students hooked.
Encourage student writing in your class and ignite their passion for writing! Click through to learn how to create a class that loves to write.
I changed my approach to how I teach writing and now use a cyclical/spiraling method of teaching writing instruction which is tied very closely to reading instruction as well.  Allowing students the ability to choose what they want to write about, how they want to write it and when has changed by teaching of writing and completely transformed the level of engagement and excitement in writing within my classroom.  The progress I see with students in their ability to write is amazing.

However it is more than just giving them less structure and rules to follow in their writing.  This would lead to chaos and triple your work load as you had each student doing whatever they want. There are systems and guides and a great deal of structure that goes into preparing your students to write in this manner.

To get this started there are three things that I use to help me get started to establish writing in my classroom.

 

Student Writing Folders

Students will still need a place to put their writing.  These writing folders will help you to support students as they work through the writing process.  Within the pockets of these folders students are given anchors that will help them brainstorm ideas, plan, draft, edit and revise their work.  Each anchor can be taught separately and added to the folder in a purposeful way.

Writing Anchor Board

This is displayed on a bulletin board for your students.  This support will be a reference for students to remind them of the different writing forms they identified as being interested in as well as provide them with success criteria charts and exemplars as students write them, and any anchor charts that you create with students throughout your responsive lessons.

Story Wheels

These story wheels will help students to generate ideas.  If you have students that struggle with generating ideas for writing different types of stories then these wheels will help you to support these students.  Students will either create personal wheels or you can support them to create class wheels in small groups or as a whole group depending on need.
Want more information about how I implement my writing program in my classroom sign up now to join the waiting list for my upcoming ebook – Ignited Writing: a Differentiated Cyclical Approach to Writing. 

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Instagram in the Classroom

Instagram in the Classroom

Up your game with classroom technology: learn how you can use Instagram in the classroom! Click through to learn about Student Instagram Reporters.

I joined Instagram awhile ago but personally, or professionally didn’t quite know what to do with it.  I posted a few pictures of my kids but wasn’t really sure how to use it.  Fast forward and a few other blogger friends talked me into opening up a Madly Learning Instagram account.  I have found it to be a great way to connect with other bloggers and to see what others are doing in their classrooms.  I also noticed that Instagram was what my 4/5 students were using as their chosen social media platform.  So all of this got me thinking.  How can I leverage student interest in Instagram with my desire to teach 21st century skills, media curriculum expectations, and empower students to share what we are doing in our classroom with the world? This is when I came across Kayla Delzer @topdogteaching.  She has done a TED talk, which speaks to my teacher heart. She so very much captures what I think and feel about technology in education.  Following her on instagram she shares that she has her classroom Instagramming their adventures throughout the day.  Well this inspired me to get my students Instagramming too.

How I Use Instagram in the Classroom

I have made a schedule for students to Instagram.  They each have one day that they will be the class reporter.  They are tasked with taking pictures that show students meeting our learning goals in the classroom.  We are in the midst of our first month still (I had to wait until contract issues were settled) students are taking pictures of what is happening in our classroom and writing a caption about what it is they are doing.  I have a class iPad supplied from the school and this iPad is the reporters for the day.  They also get to use it to complete their assigned tasks too.  They are responsible for taking pictures and making a collage of our activities on PicCollage.  They add some text and write a caption.  Other than making the first calendar I have been pretty hands off.  I approve the final draft before it is posted but this really has not added any more work to my already busy and full schedule.  The students love it and so do the parents (well at least the ones on Instagram).

I have also learned some things too…  My students have a lot to learn about social media and etiquette.  This generation of students will live their lives online and developing a positive digital footprint is essential.  This is the entry point for many of my students at this age.  They are beginning to get online but they have not yet made any serious mistakes about what they are doing online.  This is a perfect teaching opportunity to teach them how to be responsible online.  Teaching students how to post, what to post, what not to post, how to be responsible, how to comment, and how to collaborate online is important.  I also have future lessons on how to take a picture, layout, colour, and creating a digital collage that tells a story. (all of which meets media curriculum) This beginning into student Instagram reporting is a great way to do all of this.

Think a Student Instagram Reporter is something you want to try see my tips below.

  1. Get Permission – now I do not mean that you need to beg parents for permission to do this. I did not send a lead letter home explaining this nor did I make a separate Instagram permission form.  My school board has a general form that covers all photo consents and sharing of information through social media.  This covers what I am doing.  In my first student news letter I  let parents know that I will use various social media to inform them of what is happening in our classroom.  I would look into making sure that you have this permission, or go get it,  before you start any of this.
  2. Hardware – You will need a device that students can use freely throughout the day.  I have an iPad touch that would have worked too.  But we use our class iPad.  All you need is a device with a decent camera, and an internet connection.  Having apps such as Instagram is necessary as well as a photo collage app such as PicCollage or even WordSwag is great.
  3. Have Rules –  establishing rules about how Instagram will be used is important before you begin.
    • Ask permission before you post a picture of someone.
    • Do not post names of students
    • Stay Positive – we try to focus on the postitive aspects of our classroom.
    • Add Value –  we don’t just take a photo to take a photo what we post contributes to our feed.  (we are going to work on this one)
  4. Have a code that allows students to sign their work without stating their names.  I use SR:PF to indicate that the photo was taken by a student reporter:student initials.  I also use #hashtags such as our school board hashtag.  My goal is to use more hashtags in the future such as #inourclassroom and others that I find together with my students.  These will help us share our message further.
  5. Keep Track – Make a calendar for students so that they know when their turn will be.
  6. Students Training Students – I only had to show the first few students how to be the student reporters.  Then they did the rest and previous reporters would help out the new reporter to make sure that they knew what to do.
  7. Instagram Goals – As I started my first round I wanted the students just to do and discover how to Instagram.  We weren’t focused on doing anything really well, just on doing it.  Once I am through my first round I will work with students to come up with a list of best practices about how to Instagram our classroom out to share with others.  Such as….
    • Take a picture that shows evidence of our learning goal.  What did we do today that met our learning goals in _________.
    • Choose your colours carefully.  Use complementary colours between background and text.
    • Pictures are the most important.  This has been an issue with my class they show a lot of background colour with tiny pictures.
    • Focus on what is important
    • Respect Privacy – this has not been an issue but I have a few students that personally don’t want to be photographed at all.
    • Make your comment specific – We are reading books (many times this is what is posted) but we will soon be pushing students to be more specific with We are reading books because…
  8. Be Careful Who you Follow – Screen who you follow and watch who follows you.  You can make your profile private and this helps but I really wanted to be open with what we were doing in our classroom so I have left our profile open.  As a result I often pay attention to who is following us and who we are following.  I had a night club following us at one point, I blocked them quickly as they have no purpose in following 9-11 year olds.  I also have had to stop following many people due to the content in which they post.  Having students post does not seem to be something that is very popular right now.  (or else I just haven’t found them yet) Therefore there are many teachers, however for this Instagram account I want it to be for kids not teachers.  (so if we don’t follow you back….don’t worry we still love that you follow us)
  9. Be Picture Ready – or at least don’t worry about it.  I never know when a student is going to snap a picture of me during the day.  I am often in the middle of writing out a sloppy chart paper when I hear the sound of the iPad camera.  You really just have to be okay with this.  Your picture is and could be taken at any point during your teaching.  This did take some getting used to.  (well at first it was my student teacher that had his practicum documented through our Instagram feed). But on the bright side, sometimes a child yawning early in the morning,in a photo, looks like they are super excited about your new math concept. So there is that.  Now I do require that students check with me prior to posting work and I learned my lesson early on to pay close attention to spelling as spelling errors were a problem at the beginning.  However when pointed out to the student, I think that was a learning moment for him to realize how important it is to use our/are correctly.
  10. Cross Post – if you have your class on other platforms then cross post to those platforms.  Instagram is great to cross post to Twitter and allows for updates on multiple platforms which is great so that parents and other followers don’t need to follow you on every platform but can use the platform that they are comfortable with to connect with you.  I will eventually even get our feed posted to our sidebar on our classroom website and would love if I could find a program that would sum up our Instagram feed and create a blog post for this automatically.
Are you ready to instagram with your class? Why not start by following my very own classroom reporters @45in205 on Instagram or @madlylearning

 

Spelling and Grammar – How to Teach in Context

Spelling and Grammar – How to Teach in Context

Is there a better way to teach spelling and grammar? Yes, there is! Learn how to teach spelling and grammar in context using mentor texts!

Spelling tests teach kids how to memorize not how to spell.  This is why I don’t use spelling tests in my classroom.  I am sure that you have been told many times in your teaching career that you need to get rid of your spellers, stop doing spelling tests, and teach kids how to spell in context right?? Of course you have.  So you throw out your spellers and promptly never teach kids how to spell a word correctly again (primarily because you don’t know how).  Ok maybe you try but really, you have read their writing…their spelling is horrible and grammar?? Who needs to know what nouns are anyways. But then you feel guilty because they don’t know what a noun is sooooo….ummmm….. you teach a lesson on nouns.  Yes! Eureka! Teacher of the Year for Grammar goes to…..  Ok so perhaps this is me or you share a similar cluelessness about teaching grammar and spelling.  But you know what I am starting to figure this predicament out  I may just have a solution.

It has been my quest to solve the problem of how to teach grammar in context.  If you have read through some of my older blog posts you will know that I love picture books and use them in my classroom weekly.  You may also know that I have a slightly obsessive need for things to match and coordinate within my classroom. (Yes I colour my staples to match my Bulletin boards…but that is a different story) So this desire to have everything match in my language lessons persists.  If I am to teach spelling and grammar in context where is the context in which I am supposed to teach it.  Well I look at a whole picture book and wonder this is so large and there are so many concepts how am I supposed to pick just one to focus on? Which one should I focus on?  Then I came across a book by Jeff Anderson called Mechanically Inclined.  In his book he talks about teaching the concepts of grammar in context of good literature such as a picture book but that you need to strip back the layers of the book and just choose a sentence.  Just one sentence that highlights a concept in grammar or spelling that students are having a hard time with.  I teach junior so getting into the complexities of comma splices (something I admittedly struggle with) and clauses may be a bit beyond my students ability and need.   However they do need to know what a noun and verb is and how they are used in sentences.  How to make complete sentences and where to use a comma.  How to use quotation marks, spelling rules for suffixes, homophones, apostrophes for possession or plurals, etc.

Last year I started this with some of the grade 2 students I teach once a day for Core English.  (This is a prep coverage – no worries I am not leaving my 4/5 anytime soon.)  I started experimenting with simple grammar concepts like nouns and verbs, pronouns etc.  I WAS SO IMPRESSED with how well they were picking up age appropriate grammar concepts.  Sometimes I wondered if they had a better grasp of spelling and grammar than my 4s and 5s.  I only started using mentor sentences with junior students at the end of the year and although I didn’t see the same progress because I didn’t do it as regularly. These mentor sentence lessons did help students make specific corrections to our final reports that they were writing.

How to Teach Spelling and Grammar With Mentor Texts

A) Look at the curriculum

get a general idea of what spelling and grammar ideas you are expected to cover.  Next look at the grades previous to you and determine what they needed prior the grade you are teaching.  Make a List.  Below is my developmental list for my grade four and five students.  Numbers four and five are for my class and the previous parts of the list refer to the grade level expectations prior to my grades.

Spelling and Vocabulary

  1. High Frequency Words Spelled Correctly short vowels and simple long vowel patterns, rhyming patterns,
  2. High Frequency Words. Spell words out loud, segment words, sort words by common sound patterns. Follow rules for adding suffixes
  3. Spell familiar words correctly short and long vowel patterns, visual similarities, rules for changing base word when adding suffix
  4. Spell subject specific words correctly. Silent letters, syllables, Apply knowledge of vowel patterns to new words. Letter patterns and combinations regular and irregular plurals
  5. Subject specific vocabulary. silent p divide words into syllables, irregular plurals,
Grammar and Mechanics
  1. A capital letter and an ending punctuation mark.  Nouns and personal pronouns
  2. use punctuation question marks, periods, exclamation marks, commas, some quotation marks
  3. quotation marks, commas, capital letters and final punctuation. Use the parts of speech appropriately Proper Nouns, possessive pronouns, action bears in present and simple past tense, adjectives and adverbs, and question words
  4. the apostrophe to indicate possession, and quotation marks to indicate direct speech. Common and Proper Nouns, Simple verb tenses.  Subject Verb agreement adjectives and adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions
  5. use of the comma beforehand or but used to join principal clauses.  Quotation marks for direct speech and punctuation marks placed inside quotation marks. Common Proper and Abstract nouns, collective nouns, adjectives, comparative adjectives, helping verbs. adverbs

B) Use a writing sample.

Have the students write you something.  See what they need.  Look at the list above and try to determine if they have the grammar and spelling background knowledge to be able to meet your expectations.  If most do not then I would recommend started with a lower grades expectations are covered enough that you can move on with your curriculum.

C) Choose a story and pick a sentence

Choose a story that fits the other components of your language program.   From the story pick a sentence from the book that highlights that concept for your students need or will be learning about.  Post it for students to see and ask them what they notice about the grammar and mechanics of the sentence.  Only pick one focus a day.  One day you could focus on spelling patterns and the other day you could focus on grammar and mechanics.  Keep is Simple and just pick one spelling and one grammar concept per week/sentence to focus on.  Try to avoid the too much to soon trap.

D) Mini Lessons and Independent Work

Because I am choosing to integrate these into word work centers.  I teach mini lessons (5-10 minutes) to work on the teaching phase of the mentor sentence.  According the Mr. Anderson this means getting students to notice things about the text.  There should but a guided focus on the teachers part to steer the lesson in a direction that is conducive your planned teaching lessons.

In my Classroom

I have structured my language block to be able to accommodate word work centers.  Centers will focus on grammar and spelling (and some printing and writing because that is always a problem) Students will work through these centers during the week to supplement their Readers and Writers Workshop.  They have 40min of a 100min block for reading and writing in a day.  I only expect that these word work activity centers will take about 5 -10 min a day.  They are easily accomplished during a weekly writing cycle.  My centers are
  • Focus on Grammar – Using a Mentor Text Sentence
  • Focus on Spelling – Using a Word Sort
  • Focus on Writing – Imitation sentences that use the spelling or grammar focus in a new sentence modelled after the Mentor Text Sentence.
  • Focus on Printing or Cursive –
 I also will spend 5-10 min each day on a spelling or grammar mini lesson that uses a mentor sentence (both grammar and imitation), word sort, or printing/cursive writing.  If you are interested in seeing my Mentor Text Word Work Centers you can check them out here.

 

How to Schedule your Language Arts

How to Schedule your Language Arts

language arts | school | curriculum | grade 4 | grade 5 | elementary | organization | schedule

Every day I am given 100 minutes of uninterrupted language arts time in my schedule.  In that time I must plan out how to get everything done.  My goal is to plan all of my lessons so that they flow together and fit, not so that they are a disjointed mess of “LETS CRAM IT ALL IN”  I do this by focusing on Themes, Mentor Texts, and Student Choice.

One of the things that I am asked most by new and old teachers is how do I structure my language block so that it makes sense and is not a planning nightmare.  This is especially important in a split grade because in reality you are dealing with twice the curriculum.  (this doesn’t affect my planning as much as it does my assessment of language skills)

If you haven’t already read how I set up my physical classroom space for literacy instruction check out my previous post here

What does my Literacy Block Include

 

  • Read Alouds
  • Shared Reading
  • Student Conferences
  • Independent Reading Responses
  • Creative Writing/Writers Workshop
  • Grammar and Work Work
  • Reading Mini Lessons
  • Writing Mini Lessons
  • Guided Instruction

Yes all of these things are included in my language arts time.  However not everything happens in one day.  I take a whole week to make sure that I do these things.

Here is a sample of my schedule

So a brief overview of this schedule. (perhaps some future posts may be needed about these elements in more detail.

1) Independent Reading – I strongly believe that students need to read for enjoyment everyday.  I don’t monitor it, I don’t track it, I don’t value one type or reading over another.  Students read what they want to read during this time for fun.  This also serves as a quiet activity after recess to help them regain focus and prepare for their language arts time.  As a student I loved reading but hated that teachers ruined my reading time by making me write down what I was reading or picked what I should be reading.  So I don’t do it.  I monitor the students, especially my struggling readers, and make sure that they are reading.  I have a larger classroom library that I am slowly weeding out old books (I am a bit of a book hoarder) as students are using more digital books and materials to read. Some of my students favourites last year were TinTin, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Video Game review sites and forums, and Wonder.

2) Read Aloud –  I LOVE PICTURE BOOKS!!! honestly I think this is my favourite teaching material in my classroom.  I use picture books as my read aloud/Mentor Text every week.  I choose books that fit my theme for the month (see my long range plans) and I focus on specific reading strategies such as determining importance, finding the main idea, making connections, making inferences, point of view, synthesizing (putting it all together).  My read aloud is the basis of my entire language program.  I usually take about three days to read a picture book because I only read what I need to that day to help the students focus on the mini lesson that I am using.  I know in my schedule above it has read aloud and mini lesson but really these two components work together.  My time between these two components is flexible.  (see my post on my language unit on questioning and predicting)
Reading independent practice is a time for students to apply previous lesson independently.  I like to think of this as a two week cycle.  I teach them through modelled shared and guided instruction how to do something in week one then they practice this in guided or independent time the following week.  Their independent activity each week is always based on something I taught them prior to the beginning of the week.

3) Word Work – Mentor Text Centers – If you haven’t heard of mentor sentences they are based on a concept by Jeff Anderson. After reading his book I was inspired to integrate some of his ideas in to my word work centers.  It essentially helps students learn about grammar in context of well constructed sentences.  I am sure that you, like me, have been told that teaching spelling and grammar out of context is pointless as students do not internalize these lessons and apply it to their writing.  ME TOO!! My dilemma was that my use of mentor sentences needed to rely less on photocopy handouts and more on interactive centres.  Think Daily 5 meets Mentor Sentences.  Here’s how it works:

  • Look at your students writing samples, or formal writing assessments and determine a grammar or spelling rule that they are struggling with.
  • Go to your read aloud and choose a simple sentence that has a spelling pattern or grammar concept that want to cover.
  • Print out that sentence on chart paper (and with younger students make a copy that they can glue in their book)
  • Read the sentence with students and have them “Examine” the sentence (and when your principal walks in you can even tell them you are doing inquiry learning in language too) Have them look for parts of speech, suffixes, rhyme, or whatever else is appropriate for your grade level.  Use this sentence to form the jump off for your word work centres or activities.  Use word sorts, practice cursive or printing with the sentence, build a word wall, etc. etc.
  • Then students develop their own look alike sentence based on the mentor sentence and using the key learning from the week in their look alike sentence.  So if you focused on adjectives then their look alike sentence would have lots of adjectives.  Or if you focused on suffixes then they would try to integrate words with suffixes into their sentences
  • For example “Whisker’s claws caught on the string, scattering buttons like sunflower seeds” – Memory String by Eve Bunting.  Students would notice the parts and elements in the sentence you might focus on similes or irregular past tense verbs or suffixes, and then finally their look alike sentence could be “Joe’s long jagged toenail tore through the sock, ripping a hole as big as the Grand Canyon “
Writers Workshop – I have really come to enjoy this time with students.  This part of my writing time is also focused on student choice.  (Which I firmly believe increases student engagement)  I have a wheel of writing (found for free in my store) I show students the various options and then they vote and choose the three that they are most interested in. These are what we focus on.  I may do guided writing activities when they are writing or whole class lessons based on the student interest.  I post this wheel in my classroom and students can write any form that is on the wheel but they always have a choice.  When students are ready they move on to another form of writing.  Students also write a different draft of writing each week for me.  This can be intense and sometimes it is almost two weeks for a draft but they are drafting constantly.  This means that not everything goes through the writing process.  Once per term (we have two terms in a school year) students will choose a piece of writing and take it through the writing process.  This way students learn to love writing and not worry so much about the tedious parts of editing and revision.  It also allows them to choose a writing sample that they are very passionate about.
My writing Mini Lessons are a combination of what I need to teach and what the students need to learn.  Much of what I teach during this time is generated by the information that I gather from reading student work.  For example last year my students struggled initially with organizing their ideas, gathering data, and asking questions.  This was a main focus.
Shared Reading – This so far has been the most frustrating part of my language program.  I have many shared reading posters and workbooks but they all seem a little disjointed.  Shared reading for me is reading that the students do with me that is much more focused on a particular reading strategy. My frustration is that these seem very disjointed from the rest of my reading program.  This is a goal of my to remedy this year.  I will let you know how this goes as I am developing as I go 🙂 (who knows perhaps there might be a product in there that I can share with you too)
Well I can already tell that this is something I need to revisit again…if you would like more details on any of the above please leave a comment below and I will address it in future posts.

 

 

Literacy Unit: Making Predictions and Personal Recounts

Literacy Unit: Making Predictions and Personal Recounts

Click through to check out a literacy unit on making predictions and personal recounts! It integrates character traits lessons with reading comprehension. | literacy | teaching | elementary | students

My first language unit is ready.  If you have downloaded my long range plans then this unit is for you.  This unit integrates character traits lessons, with teaching the reading comprehension strategies of and Making Predictions.  Along with teaching students how to write a personal recount.

My Language block is structured in 100 min blocks.  Students are given three independent work times including one of those times for independent reading.  Mini lessons and time for goal development are included in daily in this schedule.  Guided reading or teacher conferencing based on student needs occurs during these independent times.

A diagnostic assessment for both the reading and writing tasks is included as an indication as to students level of understanding and skill in these areas.

Pieces of Me is a great lesson that students record possible writing prompts that are personal for them and that fall under four categories.  Students fill the puzzle pieces with ideas and examples of things or ideas that are important to them.  Students can go back to this work throughout the year for inspirations for creative writing tasks.

Teaching students how to recognize an Author’s Purpose is an important task to do at the beginning of the year and to continue to build on throughout the rest of the year.  This poster is included so that students can reference this throughout the year and also have a copy in their Reader’s Notebook.

This is my weekly schedule sheet that I use with students.  On the left are the weekly tasks for students to check off when completed and on the right is their schedule for what they would like to complete each day during their independent time.

I feel that it is important for students to have a scaffolded structure to use when they are first learning how to write a specific form of writing.  For some students they will continue to need this to organize their work.  For others they can continue on and write out a recount in a notebook.  This organizer helped my students produce great recounts that they could be proud of.

In reading it is also important to use organizers at the beginning of the unit to help students focus and collect thier thoughts when reading.  This organizer helps students understand the relationship between text clues, questions and predictions.

A recount full of facts is boring to the reader so I encourage my students to expand their writing by including thoughts, feelings, ideas and sensory ideas.  The goal is to write so that the reader can picture what the event was like and connect to the experience.  This brings it further then a simple factual retell to an interesting recount of events.

At the end of the unit carefully assess the students work using a rubric that target specific skills such as  knowledge, thinking, communication, and application.  Both the rubrics for reading and writing are included in this package.

If you are interested in this unit please visit my TPT store and download this great unit.  Click the photo below to ling to my store.
Happy Teaching!!!

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