Friday, November 20, 2015

How I Motivate My Students to Respond to Reading

I love to read to my students. Like most children, they LOVE to listen to me read. What children typically don't love to do is answer questions about what they've read. This year, I've been able to motivate Every Single Student in my class to write (enthusiastically) about what we've read together.

For maybe the first time in my entire career, I have every student excited to write about the texts we're reading in class. And they're excited every single day. This just makes me excited as well!!

I have always, always had at least a handful of students who are disengaged or just plain reluctant to respond to texts, but even the students who fit this profile are writing!

What's the trick? It is really very simple... picture books that they love and response sheets that are interesting and meaningful! When this year began, I would share a story and then invite my students to "turn and talk" with an elbow buddy and the enthusiasm was incredible! I thought, "If my students are this excited to share their ideas about a story orally, why not on paper?!" So, I started creating response pages for each of the books I read. We'd begin the same way: read, turn and talk, then go-go-go and WRITE!!

When a colleague of mine stumbled across our language books with these pages she encouraged me to take them a step further and share with you!

I've kept these packages simple - they do not form the foundation of my literacy program, but rather are one resource I can draw upon to engage my students in meaningful, curriculum-related activities. There are no lessons included - you need to use these texts to fit the focus of your classroom at any given time. What I have included in each set are NO-PREP reading response sheets for a variety of comprehension strategies that can be accessed by all students in your classroom over the course of one week. Each package listing in my Teachers Pay Teachers store clearly outlines the strategies covered. They include:

    • predicting
    • questioning
    • synthesizing
    • demonstrating understanding
    • making inferences/interpreting texts
    • extending understanding
    • responding to and evaluating texts
    • point of view

You can grab a free set for The Recess Queen now to try these out in your own classroom! Don't forget to leave me feedback! It helps me continue to create resources that you need and want!

Once my students have had plenty of practice responding to the books they've listened to in class, they'll be ready to move on to independent reading responses. For now, I'm just loving that they love this so much!

If you enjoy using The Recess Queen Freebie with your students you may want to grab my Endless Bundle! You'll get ALL my current and future reading response packages for a super-low price! Click the image for more information:

If you've found this post helpful or motivating, please share with your friends and colleagues!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Swap Meet - A Product Swap Blog Hop and Giveaway

Welcome to the first ever Swap Meet Blog Hop and Giveaway, hosted by my friends Christina at Hanging Around in Primary and Melanie at Momma With A Teaching Mission! I have had the absolute pleasure of trying out a resource by Rachael Parlett at The Classroom Game Nook!
Rachael's "Getting Started in Reader's Workshop" unit of study is jam-packed with 15 lessons to get your reading workshop set up and running smoothly throughout the year.

My students and I have been enjoying the "Reading Genres" lesson. I kicked it off using Rachael's SMART Board file to introduce my students to the concept of genre and the definitions of the most common genres in our classroom library. This was an excellent way to get the kids talking!
I especially love that every lesson begins with a Focus Goal!
This lesson includes a dinner menu for students to make a personal connection to... who wants to eat the same thing day after day after day? Well, the same goes for reading! Imagine the wonders you're missing out on by choosing the same genre time after time! Did this ever resonate with my students!!
My students loved choosing their "virtual meal" but nobody wanted to eat it forever!
After we discussed all of the genres using the SMART Board file, we got to the real meat of the lesson - I had bins of books prepared for each of my table groups that contained some good examples of each of our main genres. I made an executive decision that I wanted my students on their feet and moving around the classroom during this activity, so rather than simply providing the books and Rachael's worksheets, I placed the genre definition cards from the bulletin board package (included!!) around the classroom and had the table groups work together to discover the best genre to describe each book. I am extremely impressed with the level of engagement I got from my students!

After our genre sort we put all the definition cards together to make a genre anchor chart along with the enclosed classroom genre wheel so we could begin tracking the books we read together. The students are excited to start reading books from other genres!

This unit is an amazing resource that will set you and your students up for reading success all year long! Aside from this amazing lesson, there are 14 other topics:

  1. What is Reader's Workshop? (launching the format)
  2. Using a Reader's Notebook (with materials included!)
  3. Choosing "Just Right" Books
  4. Setting Reading Goals
  5. Exploring Reading Genres (this lesson I've shared)
  6. Taking Care of Yourself During Reader's Workshop
  7. Partner Reading - Expectations and Procedures
  8. Making Reading Responses
  9. Thinking About Reading
  10. Word Attack Strategies (5 lessons!!)
  11. Reading Comprehension Strategies
I'm thrilled to tell you that you have the opportunity to win a copy of Rachael's resource for your own classroom!

Everyone involved in this Swap Meet has donated a copy of their featured resource for a huge giveaway full of awesome goodies! Rachael's Reader's Workshop resource and 15 other super resources are included!!

To grab an entry from my blog, simply enter the secret letter into the rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Next, be sure to hop on through the loop to check out 15 other awesome classroom resources and don't forget to grab the unique entry information for the giveaway on each blog page! Thanks so much for stopping by!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Holidays Around the World (Poland)

Welcome to Poland! I'm teaming up with a great group of bloggers to bring you Holidays Around the World! We have tons of great information and free resources for you to use in your classroom!

I had the privilege of visiting Poland this past summer and can tell you first-hand what an amazing country it is! While this largely Roman Catholic country has many similarities to Canada and the US, they do have some very distinct holiday traditions.
Christmas celebrations in Poland begin with the arrival of Advent. During this time, houses are scrubbed from top to bottom in preparation for Christmas festivities. Poles believe this is a way of removing any evil from the home. During Advent, families bake the Christmas piernik (gingerbread) and celebrate St. Nicholas on his Saint feast day, December 6th.
Christmas Eve is the most important part of the Christmas season in Poland. It is a time to gather with family in a spirit of love and forgiveness. Families spend the day preparing to celebrate the arrival of the Christ Child. While the women prepare the feast, the men and children decorate the Christmas tree and supper table. Hay is used around the house and on the table to represent the manger and stable where Christ was born.

Another traditional decoration in many homes and churches is the nativity scene, or szopka. These are ornately carved and beautifully painted. I was lucky enough to see this one in person on my travels:
The Christmas Eve dinner, called Wigilia, is prepared by the women in the family and is traditionally made up of 12 meatless dishes, usually including carp as a main dish and followed by a variety of desserts. These 12 dishes are supposed to bring good luck for the next 12 months of the year.
Before the feast begins, Polish families share a traditional wafer, made of flour and water, with wishes for peace and prosperity. This wafer, called oplatek, is even shared with the family pets and farm animals!
The Christmas meal is not enjoyed until the first star appears in the night sky. Poles call this star gwiazdka. Often, an extra plate is set at the table as a way of including family and friends who are unable to be there, or a stranger who may wander by needing something warm to eat.

Marta and the Manger Straw is a delightful story based on the Polish tradition of keeping a piece of straw (representing the straw from the Christ Child's manger) to bring riches throughout the year.
In this story, Marta shares bits of her straw with the people around her who are in greater need than she is, but when she and her mother experience great misfortune in their own lives her generosity comes flooding back to her own family.

It is a beautiful story about giving, and even the illustrations stay true to Polish traditions.

Bringing gingerbread, or piernik, into your classroom is a great way to let your students experience part of the Polish Christmas. Building gingerbread houses or baking and decorating cookies would be a hit with any group of students! Why not try this traditional Polish piernik recipe? Click the recipe to grab a pdf download!

In my classroom, we read and compare different gingerbread stories and then complete a persuasive writing activity. If you'd like to try this out yourself, you can find my "You'll Never Catch Me!" gingerbread persuasive writing resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

I have created a FREE activity package about Christmas in Poland just for YOU! You can grab it now by clicking the image below:

Don't forget to grab your passport page at each blog destination! When placed together, you'll have a complete passport for your students to use as they learn about each of our countries!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Pack Your Bags!!

Get your bags packed and be sure to be here bright and early on Monday to see exactly where you're headed!! Some friends and I have something exciting in store for you!!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Five for Fraturday

Hi Everyone! I'm linking up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky!

We finally got the SeeSaw app added to our classroom iPads! My students were so excited to actually try it out themselves. They'd been looking forward to it since I demonstrated on my teacher iPad! I can tell this is going to be one of my favorites this year!!

My "New Student bags" came in handy this week as I had a new student join my class. This was a CRAZY week to have this extra excitement - full moon, insane wind storm, Halloween - so having all these things ready and waiting made the transition a whole lot easier for me!!

We were finishing up our Me On The Map projects this week! This adorable resource is from my friend Erin at Once Upon A Classroom. Isn't this awesome?!

Friday was Pumpkin Day in our classroom. We used my Pumpkin Investigations resource to do a variety of math estimations and measurements. The kids LOVED it!!

Of course what is Pumpkin Day without some amazing pumpkin treats?! My entire guided reading table was covered with food, but here are some of the most creative: