Thursday, April 13, 2017

Help Your Students Organize their Opinion Writing with this Engaging Activity



A few weeks ago, my third grade cooperating teacher and I started our Opinion Writing unit.  We defined opinion, modeled opinion writing, provided students with a graphic organizer.


Common Mistakes

They all got to work writing about a Noteworthy Person.  As we started conferencing however we noticed a troubling trend in their writing pieces... our students were struggling with either:
 A.) The difference between a REASON and an EXAMPLE (to support the reason)
or
B.) Making sure their EXAMPLES matched their reasons!
or
C.) Writing really vague and unspecific reasons

We knew we had to do something, and I knew I had the perfect opinion piece to help them really Get It!


Classroom Activity

Step one: Find an opinion essay that is relate able and well-organized (if you don't have one, you can find mine at the bottom of this page). I had written this essay as a model for my 5th grade students a few years prior.  My 3rd graders felt like rock-stars when I told them they were going to be using a 5th grade essay!  I spaced out my essay leaving my Introduction and Conclusion paragraphs in tact, then putting my reasons, and 3 examples each on separate lines so they could be cut apart.

Step 2: Provide students with their Opinion Essay Organization Kits.  Mine consisted of 4 markers, one long sheet of construction paper (I cut a large sheet in half), and my cut apart essay.



Step 3: Students should locate the full paragraphs and determine which is the Introduction and which is the Conclusion.  This was a no-brainer for them since my conclusion literally begins "In conclusion".  However, we were also trying to get them to use appropriate transitional phrases, so this was another way to drive this idea home.  We used the yellow marker to highlight the transitions. Then they glued the introduction at the top, and the conclusion at the bottom.


Step 4: I asked the groups to read through the introduction to find my three reasons.  Again, they had to look for transitions here.  They highlighted the transitions in yellow, reason one in pink, reason two in green and reason three in purple.


Step 5: Now they had to search through the twelve smaller pieces to find my reasons again, since my reasons were also the first sentence of each of my paragraphs.  They had begun to catch on to the importance of the transition words and started looking for them at the beginning of the sentences.  I tricked some of them by using different transitions than I did in my introduction, but they figured it out quickly enough.  Once again we highlighted the transitions in yellow, and put dots on the slip to match the colors in the introduction (1= pink, 2= green, 3= purple).

Step 6: This was the hard part.  They had nine strips left, three examples for each of my three reasons.  They had to put these examples in the correct paragraph with the correct reason.  Some of these were easier than others.  They worked together though to figure it out.  Once that part was done we congratulated them on meeting our activity objective... but we weren't finished yet!


Step 7: This was the really hard part!  This, I told them was the challenge; this, was where they got to think like 5th graders.  They had to put the examples in an order that made sense!  If the example had the word HOWEVER that meant it had to come after an example stating the opposite (back to the importance of the transitions).  They also had to think about Big Idea to Small Idea.  This was something we did mostly as a whole group, until VOILA! my essay was complete.


Ok, one more step... we highlighted where I restated each reason in my conclusion as well!




Sunday, April 2, 2017

Quote me on it...


I love quotes.  Funny quotes, motivational quotes, spiritual quotes, sentimental quotes.  You find a quote... I can find a use for it.  I especially like to put them in my planner.  (If you've read my blog you know I am a #planneraddict ... read about it here, here and here).

I found a bunch of quotes for moms and quotes for teachers and made some printables to get you started. These are sized perfectly to fit in the Erin Condren Life Planner (Vertical), if you'd like to print them out for your planner.  Or you can print them to pass out to friends or display around your desk at school.  Maybe hide one or two to find on a particularly challenging day!



I sincerely hope you enjoy these quote stickers! I hope they make both your good and bad days just a bit brighter!

Other planner printables (clickable links)









Thursday, March 16, 2017

Quotation Marks are NOT Confetti

As an ENL teacher I often push-in to writing instruction at multiple grade levels.  One thing I notice students struggling with over and over is where to put quotation marks. Either they put quotations around the entire sentence or only a few words!  I tell students all the time, "Quotation marks are not confetti!"


So how do I combat the quotation confetti?  Every year at every grade level during the narrative writing unit the topic of how to use quotation marks comes up.  In first grade I teach students my trick.  What's my trick? 


It's that simple... I tell them to imagine a speech bubble.  Any words in the speech bubble go inside the quotation marks.  Then we practice with some sentences! 

I show three examples; one with the dialog after the tag, one with the dialog before the tag, and one with the tag in the middle.  I will briefly touch on putting in commas and capitalizing the first word... but don't expect them to remember that one right away. (I usually start emphasizing it in second and third)  

Find these practice sheets for FREE here

Then, they will have a laminated blank speech bubble in their writing binder or folder.  If they are confused in the future they can use their dry erase markers to test out what goes inside the speech bubble and therefore inside the quotation marks.

Birthdays are a popular narrative topic!
Is this a perfect strategy? Certainly not!  Students still need reminders to think of their speech bubble. After the initial lesson in first grade I will ask in second, third (etc), "Do you remember Mrs. H's trick?"  Many students who were in the class the previous year will remember.  By third grade they are explaining my trick to their classmates!

Want to share this with friends?  Pin this image:


Find the Practice Sheets you see in the post here:



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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Riding Referral Free - PBIS on the bus

Is your school a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) school?  Does your school struggle with a high number of bus referrals?  My school is a PBIS school and 4 years ago bus referrals had us scratching our heads.

In the summer of 2013 my school's PBIS team, of which I am a member, met to discuss our yearly goals and initiatives.  Looking at our referral data from the previous year we noticed a high number of bus referrals.  To be specific, there were 98.  This may not seem like a lot to you, but for our school it was a hot spot.  We wanted to do something to decrease the number of bus referrals.  We discussed prizes for the buses that went without for a month, but that would be difficult to coordinate, and we were trying to get away from prizes for simple good behavior.  Thus "Riding Referral Free" was born!



We came up with the idea that we would use a thermometer and fill in for each day that the entire bus went without a referral.  If a referral happened on the bus the entire thermometer was reset and started again at zero.  I volunteered to create the display, and maintain it.  It looked something like this (I don't have an actual picture 😣)


The posters were laminated so I could fill them in each day with a white board marker.  Every time the bus reached 30 it would get a star at the top, and I'd start coloring in again from the bottom. I spent some time going to each class to explain how it worked.  I also made sure I was out at the display during dismissal coloring in the bars as a visual reminder to students to behave on the bus.  

I remember one day a student who was frequently getting bus referrals walked by as I was erasing and resetting their bus back to zero after they had a received a referral.  They asked me why I had to erase them all, and I said "Well, someone on this bus got a referral, so we start counting back at zero." The student said, "Oh, ok." and walked away.  That was his last bus referral of the year.

This worked amazingly well for the rest of the students too, and for the next two school years ('13-'14 and '14-'15) our bus referral numbers were 28 and 24.  Last school year our numbers jumped again to 47.  So we knew we needed to change it up to get their attention.  We also wanted a change because the coloring and erasing was tedious!

So we decided to create a smaller, but more colorful display.  We placed it right across from our entrance where every student will see it at least twice a day when they enter and leave the building.

Each bus (AM and PM) has it's own 12x12 page.  On that page is a bus silhouette with the number cut out of the side (this was done with a Cricut die cutting machine).  

Each bus chart has 3 command hooks, so we can count up to 180 days total.  The numbers were printed on cardstock, cut, hole punched and put on binder rings.  

Then the rings were hung on the command hooks.  Each morning one of our teachers flips the cards to the next number.  When a bus has a referral their number goes back to zero.
  
And it's working!  This year we have had only 7 bus referrals (half way through)! I love seeing it myself every morning.  



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Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall Vocabulary Unit: The Reality

On Sunday, September 18th I posted a FB Live video all about my plans for fall week with my Kindergarten student.  They were lovely plans, full of hope and high expectations.  However, things did not go that way due to this, that, and the other thing.  So I thought I'd pop-in and share what actually happened during our Fall Vocabulary Weeks (because we stretched it through 2 weeks)!


Monday 9/19 - Today went as planned.  I started by introducing the vocabulary words for the week.  My student already knew 2 of the 6 words (apple and pumpkin), which was good to build his confidence, and give him a point of reference.  We practiced saying the words with him repeating them after me three times.  
We then moved to the table to work on our listening activity.  I brought the pocket chart with words over to the table so that we could reference the words he didn't know like sweater and rakes.


Tuesday 9/20 - Another day as planned.  We started by reviewing our words (3 times again) and then we moved to the table to trace and match our words.  At first this was more difficult for him than I anticipated, even with the pocket chart right there to reference.  About half-way through though he figured out the expectation and did very well.  

We then moved back to our mat to read the Apple Tree poem.  He thought this was a lot of fun.  Especially when we pretended to pick one of the apples and eat it!  We moved back to the table one more time and he was able to color in his own copy of the poem.  We discussed the colors of an apple tree.


Wednesday 9/21 - We started our time together just as any other day, by reviewing our words three times.  Today was the day he produced the third word independently (rakes).  We read our easy reader by him repeating me.  However he did practice pointing to each word.  Then we did a picture sort of 'Things you see in fall; Things you do not see in fall".  I wish I knew where this activity was from, but I do not.  I downloaded it (I think) from a blog post years ago, and I can not find it again.  


Thursday 9/22 - We started again by reviewing our words.  Then I read the book Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall.  This was an interactive read-aloud, and we stopped to talk about the pictures and text frequently.  Then we went to the table and I introduced the writing task.  I showed him the pictures from the book again of all the things to do with fall leaves.  His favorite was to make a monster, and so he drew a leaf and made it a monster!  It was a super cute picture.  I wrote his sentence.  He started to trace it, but we ran out of time to finish.

Friday 9/23 - Our group was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict with school pictures and library time.

Monday 9/26 - Once again we reviewed the words.  I re-read Fall Leaves Fall and we traced and colored fall leaves using this freebie from KidSparkz.  He really enjoyed matching the leaves in his book to the shapes of the leaves in the read-aloud. He colored his pages to match the leaves in the book.  

Tuesday 9/27 - We reviewed the words to start our time and he was able to recognize apple, pumpkin, rakes and leaf independently.  I wanted to do some speaking practice so we sequenced the steps of making a jack-o-lantern.  I printed off the colored copy and student cut and glue page from this free pack by S is for Sarah.  We did the colored one together then talked through it.  I'd point to one of the pictures and he'd say what he saw, then I would turn that into a full sentence for him to repeat.  For example the 4th picture was drawing a face on the pumpkin.  My student said "face", I gave the sentence "Draw a face on the pumpkin" then he repeated it.  Then I gave him the student activity sheet and he cut out and glued the steps in order.  I explained that the first picture was of a pumpkin, and at the end it was a jack-o-lantern with a face.
  

Wednesday 9/28 - I was unable to be in school. :(

Thursday 9/29 - When we reviewed the words this day he knew all but sweater independently.  I decided to focus the day on apples and do some letter recognition practice, and sight word practice.  We re-read our apple poem.  Then I gave him this tree to color the apples either red, yellow, or green depending on the letter I'd put in them.  

Then we read the sight word sentence at the top, which featured the week's focus words.  Then I used the "I like..." flip book from Lavinia Pop's Fall Sight Word Fluency Flip Books.  He really liked this book.  

Friday 9/30 - The plan for today was to glue our fall words into his picture dictionary, however it hadn't come back from our printer yet.  So we reviewed our words and played memory.  We needed the pocket chart to make sure the words matched with the pictures.  I was really happy with his recall of what each picture was.  I didn't expect him to actually read the words independently at this point, but he learned the routine of the game and strategies to figure out the words by checking in the pocket chart.   I sent home the activity pages we'd finished along with some fall books from Reading A-Z today too!




So, all in all, things did not go completely as planned, but I think they went even better.  We did a lot of listening, speaking, reading and writing practice.  I was very happy with the progress my student made in recognizing and using the vocabulary.  The majority of our activities from the first week of our fall unit can be found in my Fall Vocabulary Unit in my TPT store.  We will spend the next few weeks focusing on school vocabulary: People, Places, Supplies and Things We Do at School.  



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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Making Paper: A Tot School Adventure

This post was originally posted on the SeeMamaTeach collaborative blog.

Hello, It's Michelle from Teaching Eternity.  If you follow me on Instagram you know that despite the fact that school has started up I am still attempting #TotSchool activities with my son (henceforth known as Small Fry).

One day I had finished cutting out large bulletin board letters with my Cricut and was left with a bunch of scraps of neon card stock.  Rather than throw it away I decided I would make a #TotSchool activity out of it, and Small Fry and I would try making paper.  This blog post is not about how to make paper, although if you don't know how you'll learn.  Rather this is about the adventure of making paper with a Tot.



September 14, 2016:  I tried using my dinky at home paper shredder to shred this card stock, but I ended up breaking the shredder.   So I ripped it instead.  At first I put only a little bit of water in, but that wasn't much fun so I added more, enough to make the paper float.  I put the paper and water in one of our shoe box sized containers, put that container and Small Fry in the under the bed Fun Bin, and let him play around.  At first he enjoyed squishing the papers around but soon we discover that they stuck to his arms and legs. I'd stick one on, he'd giggle and pull it off and ask for more!


September 16, 2016:  After letting the paper set for 2 nights I threw it in the blender.  It didn't take long for it to turn into this mush!  Again I put the mush in a small bin inside the big bin, and Small Fry sat in the big bin.  This really helps to cut down on messes.  We used measuring spoons to scoop and dump the mush.  I thought about hiding some magnetic letters or plastic animals inside, but Small Fry didn't seem to keen on touching it.  I thought it felt really nifty - soft almost.



September 17, 2016: The next day we scooped all of that paper mush out onto a screen.  I got THIS ONE off of Amazon.  I didn't plan it this way, but it fit perfectly in the large Fun Bin.  It sat right on the ledge on the inside.  I do not have any great pictures of this one since I was busy making sure our mush made it onto the screen instead of the carpet!
After getting all of the mush onto the screen we had to press some of the water out.  I used paper towels for this.  This took quite a few rounds of pressing then wringing out the paper towels.  In the end there was a lot of water in the bin underneath.
I set the screen up on the kitchen counter (out of Small Fry's reach) to dry.  I propped it up on some little bowls to hopefully help it dry faster.


September 21, 2016:  Our paper was finally dry.  Truthfully it finished drying out on Monday, and I put it under some boxes to flatten it, then forgot where it was!  This was not the best paper.  It was more like really bumpy cardboard.  I think that was because I'd used card stock rather than regular paper.  It was also very fragile.  About 10 minutes after this picture one of the corners had been ripped off and there was a quarter sized hole in the middle.  (Small Fry loved holding it up to peek through!)

So, would I do it again?  The ripped paper and the mush part - yes.  The rest I may do again when he's older and can appreciate how cool it is to actually make paper and then use the paper he made.

For