Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness Week Freebies

This is Random Acts of Kindness Week.  Check out for ideas.  I don't know about you, but it feels like my classroom needs more kindness.  Sometimes kids are just not very kind.  I am working on my own responses and reinforcement because I know I get frustrated sometimes when my students are unkind or rude.  I want to have us make a 100 Acts of Kindness Wall for Valentines and the 100th Day of School.  We just might try to do it by end of February instead of by Friday. We brainstormed ideas for random acts of kindness in our journal writing today.

Today we listed to Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch on Storyline Online.


I first heard about this book from Laura Candler.  You can download her Heartfelt Causes and Effects for free.  We discussed Cause and Effect in the Story.  Then my students had to choose a theme for the book and explain why it was the theme. We are also working on writing (typing) paragraphs with evidence and following directions.  We discussed how the theme could be friendship, acceptance, love, and compassion.

I found a ton of great kindness freebies on TpT.  I pinned a bunch of stuff on my Teaching Character and Leadership Pinboard. How do you encourage kindness in your classroom?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Resources to Teach Nonfiction Text Structure and the Olympics

My plan today was to share some resources I found to teach the Olympics.  I saw several people had some great posts about teaching nonfiction text structures, so I thought I would share on both.

We have been reading biographies and practicing nonfiction reading skills.  I now plan on covering Nonfiction Text Structures. In order to introduce Nonfiction Text Structures, I will first have my students watch this video from Learnzillion.  If you have not checked out Learnzillion, it is a great free website with Common Core aligned video lessons.

We will complete an overview lesson on all of the text structures, and then individual lessons from Erin's Interactive Informational Reading Notebook.  We have been focusing lately on compare and contrast, so we will start with this text structure.

She has great exemplar paragraphs in her writing notebook as well.  Teaching with a Mountain View had a great post on how she used Erin's resources.

Comprehension Connection had a great post today with mentor text suggestions for each text structure. I am excited to use the handout she mentions from Ms. Jordan Reads as a quick reference for my students.

Jivey had a great post today on using Text Structures.

Ideas By Jivey

I will also pull additional passages from for additional practice with each text structure if need be. 

I had already decided that this week and next week we would talk about the Olympics.  We started on Friday by watching Time Warp Trip: My Big Fat Greek Olympics.  You can watch it in 3 parts on Youtube. Then, my students had to read about a country and an individual from that country. We had to cancel a field trip at the last minute, so I made this handout at the last minute. You can get a free copy here.  I also printed out different flags for them to color that I found online.

Today my students read "The Olympics: Then and Now" on  It is a multi-level reader, so it made for a perfect read since I had to take a sick day today. 

Teaching Star Students shared a list of website links for having students research the Olympics.

The resource I am the most excited about is Ashleigh's Olympic Close Reading pack.  It is one of the best resources I have EVER purchased.  She put so much time into it.  Every passage is written at three levels with three different question sets for 3 different close reads.  We will be using her pack to practice close reading, discuss the Olympics, and practice recognizing text structure. 

I also purchased Erin's Data Pack to practice map and graphic skills.

What resources are you using to cover the Olympics in your classroom?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Figurative Language

I am linking up for a quick post for Workshop Wednesday with Jivey.  I found a bunch of Christmas related figurative language resources, and we covered some of them back in December.  We are going to do some more figurative language starting next week.

Lovin Lit has some great resources.  Her Reading Literature Notebook has some great lessons on Figurative Language.

She has her Close Reading Stories for Figurative Language.  We are going to use these this month.

I was also thinking of doing a round of Lit Circles with novels in verse.  I bought Heartbeat and Inside Out and Back Again on Amazon this weekend.  They just came today, so I am going to try and read them this weekend.

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I like the idea of covering another novel and poetry at the same time.  I think it would really allow us to cover so many skills at once.  Have you used novels in verse in your classroom?

On a side note, I put up my Effort Rubric Posters today.  I love them!   I am excited to get my students doing more reflection on the quality and effort of their work.  You can get them as a freebie from my post from yesterday.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: Effort Rubric Posters (Freebie)

I am linking up with Holly for Tried It Tuesday.

Lately, I have taken a much more hands-off approach to teaching.  I am encouraging more student ownership through study guides, which require my students to do more research and more decision-making.  I now want them to start really evaluating their effort.  I want to encourage a growth mindset in my students instead of a fixed mindset by praising effort more than intellect. I created a rubric to grade their units when we finish a study guide.  You can get a free copy of the rubric for a unit of study here.

I decided I wanted to make some Effort Rubric Posters to place in the classroom with a self-reflection form.  At the end of a unit or project, they will have to self-reflect and decide where they should be on the rubric.  You can get a free copy of the posters HERE.

How do you encourage effort and self-reflection?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Fun Resources for Teaching a Biography Unit

This week and next we are finishing up our biography unit.  All of my students finished reading their biographies by today.  This week they are working on the performance tasks from their biography study guide.  You can get a copy of the biography study guide here, if interested.  They have to create a product to represent the person's accomplishments and what they can learn from the person.  They also had to answer some essential questions.

I was researching for resources on teaching biographies and made a live binder of the links I found.  There are links to book lists, graphic organizer freebies from TpT, lessons from, and activities from TpT. You can view the love binder below.

I love using the ReadWriteThink Interactive Tools as a great way to use the computer to fill out graphic organizers. We are going to be doing some comparing and contrasting using the ReadWriteThink Venn Diagram.

We are going to use the biographies we read to write a biography essay.  I decided to start using Lovin Lit's Interactive Writing Notebook and her Interactive Research Papers.

We covered Expository paragraphs today, and later in the week we are going to start the mini-biography.  After we do the mini-biography, we will do the biography essay.  I am excited to share pictures when we get done.
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