Monday, February 18, 2013

Group Research Projects and a Freebie Rubric

Last year, I studied Comprehension and Collaboration with some AMAZING coworkers. If you've never heard of it, it's a fabulous read!

A big focus in the book is using inquiry projects to fuel student reading, writing, and content-area work. My grade level restructured our reading units to include lots of inquiry projects during the second half of the school year. We are gearing up for our first big inquiry project - Should there be zoos? I'm so pumped!

To prepare my students for these upcoming projects, we did a lot of cross-genre reading and worked on research and note-taking skills. We practiced them in the context of student-selected topics like George Washington, camouflage, and penguins. (Pictures to come soon!) My students worked in groups to research, so of course, I needed a group research rubric.

Click the link to grab your free copy!

I'm linking up with Manic Mondays at Classroom Freebies!
Classroom freebies
Goodnight, everyone!

P.S. I'm inching closer to 100 followers! And I've hit the 200 follower mark on TpT! That means a giveaway is coming!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Involving Parents in Home Reading

Several years ago, I found a wonderful post on Jessica Meacham's site about bags students could take home with books and other materials for sharing with families. I teach in a high-poverty area, and many of my students do not have books at home to share with their parents, siblings, and other relatives. Each kiddo takes home a book every night, but I wanted something a little extra that was a) motivating and that b) put a lot of books in my students' hands. This was the beginning of our literature bag program.

Since each pack includes many books (sometimes as many as seven or eight), my students have to get a parent's permission to check them out. In the four years I've used these, I've only had one pouch and one book lost! You can grab my permission slip (in English and Spanish) HERE.

After a couple months of school, I introduce my students to literature bags, which I display in an awesome book organizer I got through a grant from Lakeshore.

Each one of my literature bags is in a School-to-Home Organizer from Lakeshore. (Again, I got these through a grant... Love DonorsChoose!)

I created cards to go into each School-to-Home Organizer, and numbered the pouches. Some of my bags have books that are in Spanish, and I've noted that with star stickers so my students know which ones have bilingual texts in them.

The pouch has two sides... One contains the books (which you can see when the organizer is closed), and the other contains the contents card and a thin composition book.

The contents card has a brief note to parents with a list of titles included in the pouch, so parents can check the contents before returning it to school. There are also a couple of writing prompts and suggested activities (which are basically the same for each literature pack... I also have math packs with similar cards and other ideas). Parents and students can write in the composition book and/or draw a picture. I don't require this (or participation in the literature bag program as a whole), but almost all of my kids and their parents participate.

These are just a few of the books in the Ocean Life pack. You'll see each is labeled with the literature bag number as well as my name and school.

My students L-O-V-E these packs, parents always have positive feedback about them, and best of all, it gets families reading together. What's not to love about that?!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Free Valentine's Day Activity

This will be a super-quick post, since it's getting late (and, believe it or not, I've managed to stay awake! Holla!), but I created a little printable for my firstie friends.

It's nothing earth-shatteringly new or anything, but I thought it might be helpful for many of you this week!

It contains a sorting mat students can first sort their hearts onto:

 And a math page with graphing, most/least, addition, and patterning:

You can grab it FREE {HERE}.

Does anyone else have kids who are acting like they're hyped up on candy hearts and chocolate already?! Ha!

Enjoy and good night!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Currently February

What. A. Week. I was sick on Monday, 12 of my 29 kiddos had English language proficiency testing Tuesday and Wednesday (which meant I was at 17 kids for half the day each day - talk about not getting anything done!), and then we had a full-day PD today. Phew!

So, here I'm sitting, with both kiddos asleep (at least for now), which in itself seems like a rare occurrence! I'm trying to enjoy the alone time while it lasts.

Today, we had back-to-back-to-back meetings, one of which was a study group meeting. Our whole school has formed study groups around different literacy topics (ours is teaching within a workshop model in the content areas), and I just love the girls in my group. They keep me sane!

My son turned 8 months today, and my daughter turns 2 1/2 Sunday. It's crazy how time flies. I didn't really believe it when people warned me you'd blink and the kids would be grown up, but I see it now. Declan is too big for his baby seat, so we're upgrading the kids... Avery to a big girl booster seat (which, BTW, seats kids up to 120 pounds. Seriously??? Some adults aren't even that big!) and Declan to her infant/toddler seat. Before that happens, there better be some mad vacuuming to get up all the pretzel crumbs that have taken up shop in the backseat!

So, we live in the city and there are about 831 different cupcake shops (okay, not really, but there's a couple awesome ones a few miles away), but not one that delivers. I really think one would do a fabulous business catering to college students/pregnant moms-to-be/teachers who've had a busy week and want to unwind with a little sweetness!

It has been way, waaaaayyyy too long since I've gotten a haircut, and it's really starting to show. It's the bare basic stuff that's the hardest to get done sometimes!

Okay, my pet peeve is totally random and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but does it drive you nuts when you're walking down the street and someone in front of you stops? I used to live near Michigan Avenue (aka heart of Chicago tourist-ville), and huge street + lots of shopping and thus window displays + scaffolding for construction + tourists = a walking traffic jam! It's not so bad now that we're not living downtown anymore, but still, it's a mega pet peeve of mine!

I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade!

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