Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mentor Text More Than Anything Else

I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties for their weekly Mentor Text Memo.  I have always loved the book More Than Anything Else about Booker T. Washington.  My Daddy used to call me "Booker T." and ask me where the M.G.s were (apparently a band - Booker T and the M. G.s was popular in the sixties) when I was little, and still does every once in a while.  
That bit of randomness really has nothing to do with why I love this book, but it's funny how text-to-self connections come to mind when you're writing about books.  Back to the story...

"A fictionalized story about the life of young Booker T. Washington. Living in a West Virginia settlement after emancipation, nine-year-old Booker travels by lantern light to the salt works, where he labors from dawn till dusk. Although his stomach rumbles, his real hunger is his intense desire to learn to read. A moving and inspirational story." - School Library Journal, starred review

Not only is this book absolutely beautifully illustrated, it is heart-wrenching to read of the life of young Booker T. Washington, as he works in the salt mines alongside his father, with the salt cutting into his tender young hands.  After dark, when it's safer, young Booker practices learning to read words written in the dirt with a stick.  I use this story to introduce biographies, discuss equal rights, study Black History Month, and to remind my students of how lucky they really are to have the right to education.  It's moving enough to get through to the toughest kids I've ever taught, making them think twice, even if for only a moment, about being lucky to be in school!

With the common core standards' being implemented, there are so many ways to use this book.  Of course, there is close reading, for vocabulary, for the facts about Booker T. Washington, for biographical elements, and for how their thinking changes from before their reading to after.

This year, I'll definitely be pumping up the lessons I do with this book, but I don't have my ideas quite together yet.  Stay tuned for some reading responses and lesson ideas to use with my favorite social studies mentor text!

And be sure to drop by for Monday Made-It tomorrow.  I can't wait to show you my up-cycled Goodwill and Salvation Army finds, including a chevron nightmare!

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Whole Lotta Learnin', Movie Day, and Workshop Wednesday

This week, I've been taking a class in how to evaluate teachers, according to our state and district evaluation system, the SAFE-T.  I learned SO much more than how to evaluate others...The presenters had us doing some learning activities that I will DEFINITELY be incorporating into my class this year!  Let me share some of them with you.  Then I have some movies for you, and I'm linking up with Jessica for Workshop Wednesday.  Hang in there - it's a long post, but well worth it!  

The Shaken and Stirred Up Class:
 As a review, the presenters had all of us make a semi-circle facing them.  Then they divided us into groups of four (an arbitrary number, determined by the number of students in the room).  Next, each group counted off, making everyone a 1, 2, 3, or 4.  The presenters projected a review question on the board.  The foursomes all discussed the same question, and all four members voiced their opinions.  Surprisingly, the 1's weren't called on to share with the whole group, but were told to shift to the left, and share, with their new groups, what their previous groups discussed.  A new question was posted, our slightly modified group discussed it, and then the 2's moved on.  This continued for several questions - maybe six.  It was a great way to get different perspectives, without having to wait for every single group to share with the whole group!

The Quiz, Quiz, Trade:
Each student in the class received a question, typed out on a slip of paper.  At the bottom, was the correct answer.  This was a vocabulary introduction for our class, but could be used for a variety of skills in any class.  Each person in the room carried his class glossary with him, and found a partner.  We asked each other our questions, for which we knew the correct answers, and tried to find the corresponding answer in our glossaries.  Once we answered each other correctly, we traded questions and found a new partner.  The ante was upped by trying to make as many trades as possible in the five or so minutes we "played".  SUPER FUN! and very effective. 

The Jigsaw Quiz:  Okay, I know, everyone knows this one, where groups are assigned a particular reading section, studies it, and then teaches the group, but we also practiced for tests in this way, filled out parts of practice evaluations, and even took a quiz using the jigsaw method.  It was all good, because, of course, we learned from each other, were actively engaged, and it saved time, but the best thing I thought about it was taking the quiz.  The quiz was in preparation for a final exam we'll take later.  Half of us began at the end and worked backwards, while the other half began at number one and worked forwards.  Most of us finished, or nearly so, but then the instructors went over the correct answers, allowing for clarification and discussion of the correct answers. Somehow, it felt like less pressure knowing I didn't have to do the whole quiz!  Imagine how our kids would feel...
These things, I learned from the ladies I sat with...

You've all seen the Marzano's Clip Chart on Pinterest for a couple of years.  Well, a new friend I made showed me a picture of her clip stick. Huh?  Her assistant principal painted a meter stick for every teacher in her building, in the colors the school decided to use for their clip charts. They have the charts posted in their classrooms, but the clips are actually attached to the meter stick.  It TRAVELS!  DUH!  I can never remember who had a compliment in the hall, or had to move a clip down at lunch, and related arts teachers each have different ways of communicating student behavior to classroom teachers, so the meter stick goes to related arts, too!  Brilliant!!!
One of my besties sat next to me, and had heard someone on the radio one morning talking about her own children.  She said, "I have learned to accept my children for who they are, not who I want them to be."  I thought that was a great way to think about everyone, not just our own children, but also our students, our spouses, our co-workers, bosses, and on and on.  Someone needs to make one of those awesome looking quotes I see all over Pinterest and pin it.  Maybe I can!
Call me crazy, but I've never watched American Idol, Britain's Got Talent, or even Survivor.  Nope, not one single episode of any reality TV show.  During this training, our presenters showed us this YouTube video, asking us to watch the judges and audience members before, during, and after the performance.  You've probably seen the show, or at least the clip, but watch with those instructions, only.  No peeking ahead!
SO, how about those judgments we make on first seeing our students?  Their parents?  Even our rosters? WOW!  You know we do it.  Everyone does it, in every profession.  Teachers even have the unique position of being "warned" by the student's former teachers.  Just think of Susan from now on.  Again, having never watched the show, I'd never heard her sing.  I have chills and get teary-eyed listening to her AND watching her.  She is extraordinary, and so is every. single. kid. who walks through our doors.  We have to find their talent!
Jessica, from Ideas by Jivey told us about some training she'd attended and presented at last week.  She linked up just about the most impressive video I've ever seen.  It featured close reading in a FIRST grade classroom (BTW, they were reading Newsweek magazine!).  You simply must head over and check out her link and post!  I have now bookmarked the entire collection of  videos from Fisher and Frey (there are 30). My second favorite, after Jessica's, is this first grade class learning how to partner talk.  I've been using a lesson I made up called "I'm Going to Teach You How to Steal Today" for years.  It's about writing answers in complete sentences, by "stealing" words from the questions.  The teacher in this video uses the exact same technique, without the mention of thievery (maybe she's not teaching like a pirate, Dave?), and goes on to teach the students exactly how to hold a great partner talk.  Partner Talk.

And, in honor of Jessica's Workshop Wednesday, I also love this second grade geometry lesson.  It's not exactly about how to set up the math workshop, but it's really effective teaching, and incorporates math workshop.  I haven't thought quite as far ahead as Jessica, but wanted you all to see this video.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Must Read Mentor Science Text & I DID IT! Facebook Freebie

It's Sunday, which means I'm linking up with Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties for their Must Read Mentor Text party.
My Must Read is actually a series of non-fiction life cycle books from Books Are Fun.  They are all completely amazing, perfect for second grade readers, offer a variety of topics, but all within the same genre and unit of science study, and have non-fiction text features galore!
Y'all, the whole set is only $14.99 (for all 8), and I ordered a whole class set of each title last year.  We LOVE them!  I wish I could show you an inside shot, but you'll have to click on the photo above to go to the exact page for Books Are Fun and take a look for yourself.  Their website doesn't like the "save photo" feature!  If you didn't happen to see Amanda and Stacia's graphic organizer, take a look at it, too, because mine is almost exactly the same!  I'm putting mine here for you, because of the second page, which I use as the back.  It defines each non-fiction text feature as a reminder for my little ones, and can be used alone (in reading journals) or with the graphic organizer.
First, we use these little flip books I made to study non-fiction text and graphic features.  The kids glue the title pages to the definition pages, but only along the center vertical boxes.  Then they cut apart the left and right flaps and can "reveal" the definitions.  Stay with me, here.  Finally, they glue the center vertical box (of both pages, already glued together) to a piece of construction paper and go to work searching for examples in magazines.  When they're finished, they can see the name of a feature, flip the first flap to see its definition, and then flip the definition flap to see an example they cut from a magazine and glued to the construction paper!  The whole thing takes about a week to complete, but it's powerful learning!

After a week of studying the features, with my mentor texts, we choose a different text to read independently, or with a partner, and complete the scavenger hunts (with the definition pages copied onto the back) for a grade.

Now for the I DID IT!!!  I finally got my fan gate up and running on Facebook.  So, if you'll head over to my page, I've left you a Freebie.  I'll update my freebies often - you never know what you'll find there!

Hugs to My Friends,

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Friday, July 19, 2013

My Own Five for Friday with a Techy Bloglovin' Tip

I know, Kasey at Doodle Bugs Teaching is taking some well deserved time off from her Five, but I have five things!  (can you hear my whiny voice?)

WOW!  I cannot believe a whole week has gone by without my blogging once!  I'm sorry!!!  It's been quite the week...

I had to run over to my school Tuesday to drop off a couple of million things I've accumulated this summer. Otherwise my car was no longer going to fit in our garage!  My new classroom's floor has been waxed, so I knew I was in the clear to make my delivery.  While I was there, I took some measurements and pictures so I could start thinking about how to lay it out.

This is the front of the room, with my carpet all fresh and clean!  Yea! 
The view from the door shows my wonderful wall space (I am SUPER excited about having walls!!!)

As you take a look around, you might notice I have A LOT of stuff in here...but, look, there's even more wall space!

Um, did I mention lots of stuff?  Yep, that's stacked to the CEILING!

And, we've come full circle.  YIKES!  I'm slightly intimidated by where to begin!  And remember, I was bringing in MORE stuff!!!
It'll get there!  I found the best bookcases ever at the Salvation Army - that's right - Salvation Army!  They ROCK, and I can't wait to reveal them later, along with all the other fabulous finds I've been snatching up this summer!

We have been looking at houses this summer.  The one we currently live in is my absolute dream house, but we are renting it, and might not be able to buy it when our lease is over.  That puts me in panic mode, so I've dragged my husband and kids all over the place looking to see "what's out there".  This week, as we were looking, a huge storm came in.  I'm talking a Nebraska storm (I know because I lived there for five years). It hailed.  It rained.  It lightninged.  It thundered.  The wind blew.  A tree fell on my parents' house.  What?That's right.  A tree fell on my parents' house.  OH MY!!!

This is the end of the house, where the tree literally broke in half over the roof.
We've been experimenting with hairdos and went to a birthday party, where they came up with this one. Isn't she beautiful?  She's mine.

I made my big girl some new curtains to go with her new big girl room re-do.  Okay, so, really, I just ironed a duvet cover and clipped it up to the rod that was there before, because she wanted a tie-back.  But still, her room looks super cute!

My baby girl had a teeny-tiny outpatient surgery today.  She did GREAT!  They called her the patient of the day, and she came home and immediately ate TWO bowls of mac & cheese, and has been playing Mine Craft and watching Jessie this afternoon!
Before...she's way too excited to be in the hospital! the recovery room with Pansy the Panda, her surgery buddy.
I printed out my copy of my Teacher's Organizer Binder and have already started using it!  I wrote about it earlier here, but here are some photos of it in my notebook (sorry about the color - my ipad doesn't take the best pictures):

Bonus Tip:  If you're not lovin' Bloglovin's screen, the one that doesn't allow you to pin pictures, and the posts remain an extension of Bloglovin', I have figured it out!!!  First, click on your face (or in my case my lovely lack of face).  Next, choose settings.  Scroll all the way to the bottom and click on "I don't want the frame".  Viola! You still get your feed, but without the annoying window! :)

Have a great weekend!
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