Thursday, May 28, 2015

Drawing To Retell

“Drawing to Retell” is one of my all-time favorite quick writing strategies.  It can be used with any topic and can serve as a pre or post assessment.  I've shared this strategy with many teachers across the State of Utah and the feedback has been unanimously positive.  I had the opportunity to use this strategy with a group of first graders last week and was reminded once again of my love for it.  If you have not used this strategy with your kids, try it tomorrow.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

 I selected the topic "wolf spiders" and checked out a nonfiction book from the library.  Before reading the book to the class, I asked students to create a drawing in the top box. We read the book together and discussed our new knowledge about wolf spiders.  Then, I asked students to create a second drawing of a wolf spider and to discuss their drawings with a partner.  They compared and contrasted their second drawing to the first and discussed new learning.  Finally, students wrote about the changes they made to their second drawing, explaining why they made those changes.  -Emily

If you love this strategy, you will not want to miss out on our "Writing in Response to Text" pack on TPT.  We have put together nine strategies, one for each Reading Informational Text standard.

You can read more about this strategy in the following article.

Fello, S.E., Jalongo, M.R., & Paquette, K.R., (2007).  The talking drawing strategy:  Using primary children’s illustrations and oral language to improve comprehension of expository text, Early Childhood Education Journal, 35(1), 65-73.

How do you teach 1st graders about the continents?

We wanted to teach our first graders to grasp the concept of how big our world really is, but didn't know where to start. How do you teach first graders about different cultures, countries, and continents? We searched online for ideas but couldn't find anything that suited our needs.  Consequently, we decided to create our own Continent study which included text first graders could actually read, note-taking, and writing. We launched the unit by getting the kids excited about different continents.  They walked around our "Continent Museum" and wrote things they noticed and wondered about the pictures and artifacts in the museum.
Once the students were excited to learn about different continents, we read about North America. As a class, we discussed the strategy of locating important words in a text to help us remember information. We talked about really good important, key words and about not-so-good key words. We  re-read the text and located a few key words from each page..
After a few days of working together finding important words, I decided to let my first graders try it independently on a different continent. They were amazing on their own!  Next, I put them in groups and they repeated the the process again with another continent. They wrote facts using their important words and made a poster about their continent. They presented their posters to the class and absolutely LOVED it!

Check out this poster! 

The students had to use a checklist when making the poster. Grab the checklist FREEBIE.
Students also completed their continent travel log after learning about each continent. They loved this part!

Do you want to try this in your classroom? We have created a Seven Continent pack with all of this plus more. The pack comes with detailed note-taking lessons, printable books about the continents, a student travel log, and more!

Click on the picture above to purchase our Continent Pack from our TPT store!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Hatching baby chicks in our classroom was so much fun! My students learned so much about the life cycle and they loved every minute of it. It was a such a great way to end the school year. Our learning started with building some background knowledge on chicks. The students predicted what was inside a chicken egg.

We learned that it would take 21 days for our eggs to hatch, so we started a countdown. We did so many fun things during those 21 days while we waited for our chicks to hatch. We did a close read on every stage in the life cycle. The students learned so much about each life cycle through the close read. We learned how to code the text as well. We started text coding as a whole class. 

After text coding and taking notes as a class, my first graders were able to text code and take notes independently. It was so awesome to see what they could do. 
After we had we finished our notes on every stage of the life cycle of a chicken, we needed something to write so the students used their notes to write a literacy nonfiction story about the life cycle. They turned out amazing! I couldn't believe the vocabulary they were using in the books. 
 Lesson plans, building background knowledge activities, close reading text, text coding, note sheet, literacy nonfiction template, and much more are all in our Life Cycle of a Chicken Pack. You can get it at our TPT store: TheCoreCoaches TPT Store or by clicking the link below.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

End of Year: Interactive Drama

It's the end of the year and we are all likely feeling teacher burnout. We still have a couple of weeks before we can stack the chairs on the tables, cover up the bulletin boards, and turn in our keys.  Our students are starting to get summer fever and we are trying ANYTHING to keep our students engaged, happy, and out of mischief. This year I introduced Close Reading through Interactive Drama.  Students absolutely loved this strategy!   They begged to do it over and over again.  The best part is, this strategy is fun but also meaningful.   

Students used these graphic organizers to help them act out the play.

In three simple lessons, our class close read "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and acted out the story.  Through text dependent questioning,writing in response to text, and acting, students demonstrated their increasing depth of knowledge of language arts standards.          -Tatum
You can find the complete unit on Teacher Pay Teachers.  The packet comes with all necessary lesson plans, text dependent questions, graphic organizers and simple costumes templates.