Saturday, November 22, 2014

All About Characters: Task Cards, Graphic Organizers, and Short Stories

Hello! I'm SUPER excited about my newest pack!


 First off, let me tell you that I've always loved teaching character analysis. I think it's interesting. I love analyzing people in real life so, of course, I love analyzing characters in books. I sort of have a problem. I will be reading a book with my kids and I can't help but talk about the characters. My son will sometimes say, "Mommy, I just want to read the book, not talk about the character's feelings." Oops! Yeah, overkill. Teacher occupational hazard? Luckliy for me, my students have no choice but to humor me. Sorry kids, we are going to dig deeper and analyze this character. It's for your own good though. :)



Anywho, I had some fun with this pack.  About a month ago, I blogged  about character analysis lessons for fall read-alouds. You can read more here. This post is one of my favorites. It's all about ideas for teaching character analysis for specific books. No buying, no selling, just some great teaching ideas. If you want to take it a step further, this is where you want to go. 



First, I made task cards. My students are all about task cards. They love them! They love to take their white board pens and find evidence in text. These task cards have a short story with four character traits at the bottom. Students will read the story, decide which trait fits that character, then underline evidence in the text. Perfect for guided reading groups or partner activities!


Here's how you use them:



I read all the of word choices for the character traits. I explain what they all mean before they choose the word. Sometimes it might be helpful to read the words, then read the story then read the words again.


Highlight or underline the evidence to support the character trait. Let's get serious here. Using a dry erase marker make everything more fun. :) For this card, reliable was a new vocabulary word. As we reread the story, I kept asking, "Are they being reliable, someone you can count on?" or "Is this an example of being reliable- someone you can count on?" We took it line by line asking that questions over and over to help find that evidence.

Totally getting off track real quick...
As we were using these, I had some unexpected teachable moments:
Before getting into the character analysis, we highlighted the inflectional endings. It helped with accuracy. 

The word, always was a tricky word, we highlighted the words and reread the story. 

Okay, back on track!
I also included some task cards with questions to use with any book. This spinner is another option. Read a winter book and use these task cards and spinner to challenge your students to really think about the characters. Use them in small groups with the book you read, during read-aloud, or during partner reading.







I am also all about graphic organizers. This is how my brain figures things out. Give me a visual and I got it. I think our students are the same way usually. You can use these graphic organizers with any book that are read aloud or use during small reading groups. They will also work with some of the story cards in this pack. You can print these or draw them on chart paper to use as a whole group lesson.



(I wanted to reuse these to save paper so put them in a sleeve.) 


I decided to include a "ready-to-print" option. As much as I love using the laminated cards, there are times when you just need something  now. You can't laminate, you're out of color in your printer, and you just want to make it easy. I get it. I have been there and will be there. So I made this option for myself as much as for you! This is perfect for seat work, homework, and still guided reading groups. They can highlight evidence in the text and there is an extra question to get them thinking, 




This pack has 20 stories. they are in task card form and worksheet form. I also did an easier version of the stories so all students could use this pack. 



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Communities Unit Update

Happy Sunday everyone! 

 I've been wanting to do this update for a while! I sort of updated it a few months ago, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. I decided it was time to buckle down and get my ideas out of my head and onto the computer. :)

Don't we all teach a community unit at one point in the year? I remember when I was teaching first grade, I wanted to do activities that were meaningful and went beyond just community helpers. I created a communities unit a few years ago for this reason. Today I've updated this unit with some new ideas I had. I wanted to align it more with the Common Core so I added some opinion writing and some research writing activities. There are lots of different activities in this unit to pick and choose from. The activities in this unit is appropriate for 1st-3rd grade.

To see posts from when I first taught this unit (with pictures) click here and here.


Here is a preview of what is included in this unit:


 This research part is new:


I also added these opinion writing activities: 








You  can pick this unit up here:

I'll put it on sale for today!

"Pinnable" picture:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Conference Forms and Rubrics for the Year

Hi Everyone! I am happy to announce that I am FINISHED with conferences. I have a love/hate relationship with conference week. I truly do love having the opportunity to sit down with parents and just talk. It feels good to put it all on the table- literally and figuratively. :) On the other hand, it can be stressful. No news there! There is a lot of prep work ahead of time and some conversations can be... awkward.  My first year teaching first grade, I decided that in order to calm my nerves I needed a checklist. Yep, checklists calm my nerves. If you're not sure what to say, go back to your checklist. If you need to bring up something hard, add it to your checklist. If it's on paper, it's somehow not as hard to communicate it to parents. Don't be mad at the messenger, be mad at the checklist. Ha! I wish. In all seriousness, I just love a good list and I. love. rubrics. 

So I took my sad, Comic Sans, no clipart, no-boarder Microsoft Word document from ten years ago and I gave it a little facelift. Nothing too flashy, but it's a vast improvement. I don't even teach first grade anymore, but since most of my followers are first grade teachers, I wanted to spiff it up and share it with you today. Now it will be ready for me when I go back to doing first grade.



clip art by Teacher Laura


I also realized, after asking some friends, that we all may have different expectations of our students at conference time.  We have different curriculum, start at different points in the year, and have conferences at different times. So, I also made an editable version where you can put in your own skills. You can download this here.
   


I also used to show them this Guided Reading Snapshot Assessment


 It's one of my most popular downloads. Made it on a whim one day while teaching first and I'm so glad I did. You can download that freebie here and read more from the original post here.

I made another option with some updated clip art too:

clip art by Whimsy Workshop


Writing Rubrics

When I taught first grade, I also made writing, reading response, and math rubrics to help communicate to parents more clearly. 

Even though I made my writing rubrics for my 1st grade class, they actually work for grades 1-3. There is a wide variety of rubrics in this pack! 
I would always have a few samples of student writing during conferences with the attached rubrics. My rubrics pack has varying levels because I usually use a different rubric in September than I would in October and November. I show parents the rubrics and explain how they progress. That way, they know what they are looking at for the rest of the year when I send home the rubrics. 

Here is what is in this pack:








Math Rubrics
I originally created my math rubrics because I found that the tests were just not enough for me. I wanted a way to grade them more authentically. I aligned them to the Common Core:









For more rubrics that you can use ALL YEAR, visit my TPT shop:





Stay tuned for another post featuring my friend Emily, who teaches 3rd grade. She has a fabulous checklist that she uses during her conferences. I will post that soon!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November Closer Look Blog Hop FREEBIE Samplers

Hi everyone! 


I am teaming up with some great teacher bloggers to bring you another Take a Closer Look blog hop featuring one of our favorite November productsWe want to give you a closer look and a FREEBIE from the unit to try out with your class.





I wanted to give you a closer look at my Ready-to-Go Thanksgiving unit.


This is packed with tons of literacy activities that are common core-aligned! When I taught first grade, I used these for independent work, for assessments, for homework, during guided reading groups, and to practice certain skills. I also love having a few simple yet meaningful activities to use during the week of Thanksgiving that can be used during those "time filler" moments. We have Special Friends Day during this already short week, so there is always additional practices to prepare for it. I have several moments where I have to find something for my kids to do for 10 minutes. I don't want to waste my precious 10 minutes!! So I use an activity from this pack that I know will benefit my students and is not just fluff. There is phonics, reading comprehension, fluency activities, sight word activities, grammar, writing, and some Thanksgiving fact pages. It has it all!

Today I'm giving a little freebie sampler  from my unit!


Like it? Love it?

Gotta have it? 

We are throwing our stores 15% for the next two days to celebrate! 



And now, I'm sending you off to another amazing freebie! 

Hop on over to my blogging buddy's blog. Tamara from Mrs. Russell's Room is amazing! I'm a huge fan of hers! Head on over and see what wonderful freebie she has to offer.