Thursday, December 31, 2015

Researching Civil Rights Heroes

I am excited for school to resume in January so my class can experience these lesson plans! We've created an engaging way for students to research four heroes from the Civil Rights Movement- Martin Luther King, Jr., Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson.

The first lesson begins as students try to put illustration clue cards in order for a "mystery person's" life, while also trying to guess who they will be studying about.  This activity piques student's interest while providing an opportunity for a class discussion. 

Once a timeline is established, students read the text about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life.  The class discusses basic information from the text and chooses three major life events. They revisit the timeline and make adjustments based on information given in the text.
Then the students take notes on the basic information learned in this first lesson.   
In the second lesson students reread the text with the purpose of locating facts about Martin's early years and later years and add that information to their note taking sheets. The teacher models how to use the information on the note taking sheet to create a trifold brochure about Martin's life. Then students use their notes to start their own trifold brochures.
During the next lessons, students are led step-by-step through rereading the text, researching other sources, and taking additional notes about Martin Luther King's awards and accomplishments, character traits, and meaningful quotes.   

  After each lesson, students use their notes to continue creating their trifold brochures.

Once these Martin Luther King, Jr. lessons are complete, students are ready to independently research another Civil Rights hero using the same process.  We've written Ruby Bridges, Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks texts for this purpose.
You can find the individual's texts, note taking sheet, lesson plans, and trifold brochure template for these lessons in our TPT story or by clicking on the image below. 

Spaghetti with the Yeti Read-aloud

We found the perfect read-aloud for January. Take your students on a fun adventure with a boy named George as he tries to find the Yeti. George is sure the Yeti will love some spaghetti! This book has fun rhyming text and great dialogue

After reading the story to the class and asking some Key Ideas and Details Core Standard's text dependent questions, students will retell the story by figuring out who each monster was and what food they thought the Yeti would like to eat. Then the class will start a spin-off of the book titled Squash with the Sasquatch. We will come up with new monsters that our character will see as he tried to find the Sasquatch. 

Then students used the same graphic organizer to come up with their own main character, monsters, and food. 

For the second lesson we decided to focus on the dialogue after answering text dependent questions from the Craft and Structure Core Standards. Students will look at the dialogue from Spaghetti with the Yeti. 
Together we will come up with the dialogue for the spin-off story, Squash with the Sasquatch. 

Then students will use the same graphic organizer to write the dialogue for their own version.

On the third lesson we will answer Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Core Standard's text dependent questions. I will model how to use the Squash with Sasquatch character graphic organizers and the dialogue graphic organizer to write a class version of our story.  

Students will use their own character graphic organizers and the dialogue graphic organizer to write their version of the story. They are going to love this part! 
The lesson will be completed as students create a food craft. Students can make spaghetti for the Yeti or they can make the food to go with their story. 

You will find the graphic organizers, text dependent questions, lesson plans, and craft instructions in our TPT story or by clicking on the image below. 

Martin's Big Words Read-Aloud

We wanted to teach about Martin Luther King Jr. this month during our read-aloud time so we picked an old favorite: Martin's Big Words. We wanted this to be a meaningful read-aloud for the students so we wrote some deep text dependent questions and created some meaningful activities to go with the story.
Students are guided to think about the 5 w's-who, what, where, when, and why after reading the story the first time. They also answer text dependent questions to gain a general understanding of Martin's life.
For the second lesson we wanted to focus on Martin's big words. We wrote text dependent questions that really focus on the vocabulary from the text and what Martin's big words were. As a class we will find his big words in the book, discuss their meanings, and use them to create a word collage. This activity will deepen the student's understanding of Martin's life.
The third lesson was designed to get students to think about how they can make the world a better place. The text dependent questions for this lesson focus on how the people were feeling in the story. We tried to asked questions that would get the students to really focus the people's feelings and reactions to the events in the book. Students will write what they can do to make the world a better place like Martin did. 
You will find the graphic organizers, text dependent questions, lesson plans, and craft instructions in our TPT story or by clicking on the image below. 

Bear Snores On

I can't resist any of the Bear series by Karma Wilson.  They are my go-to, favorite read-alouds. I enjoy noticing Wilson's ingenious craft and new details as much as my students.  I chose "Bear Snores On" for January because it is the perfect fictional story to compliment our hibernation unit of study.  I couldn't resist purchasing Melonheadz adorable graphics for these read-aloud activities.  

The first day I will ask text dependent questions to target key ideas and details.  I want to make sure my students understand the gist and basic plot of this story.  We will complete a cut and paste to sequence the "who" and "what" in the story.  

The next day really want to dive into vocabulary.  "Bear Snores On" is packed pull of rich Tier II vocabulary words that merit time and attention.  I pulled out my favorite vocabulary activity again for this lesson. I will revisit pages with the vocabulary word, reread the sentence with the word, then model how to figure out the meaning.  We will talk about how to use the text, illustration, or another resource to define it.  After defining a couple of words as a class, I will give students the opportunity to try it on their own worksheet.  They will gather on the rug with clipboards as we define a few more words.  

The third day, we will discuss cause and effect. "Bear Snores On" has a basic cause and effect relationship that young students can understand.

 The last day, we will have a blast making retelling puppets.  Kids will partner up to make a campfire setting out of a paper plate, tissue paper, and brown construction paper.  We will use our "Bear Snores On" puppets in our retelling station during literacy stations.
For complete, detailed lesson plans and all of these materials, visit our Teacher Pay Teacher Store.

Footprints in the Snow

I honestly can't believe I haven't been introduced to this story by Mei Matsuoka before now.  I came across it in this month's Scholastic Reading Club order. I instantly fell in love with this clever story. "Footprints in the Snow" is about a wolf who wants to prove that there can be stories written about nice wolves.  He begins to write a story about Mr. Nice Wolf, who finds some footprints and follows them to try and make a new friend.  Along the way, he meets several animals, all whom are skeptical of his intentions, and who think he wants to eat them for a snack. It has a clever twist in the end, and leaves readers with some questions...

"Footprints in the Snow" is a perfect book to teach students how to write a story of their own, following a similar structure. I decided to use this book as a mentor text to model each step of a writing project.  

The illustrations are so clever that even introducing the story will be meaningful for my students. The illustrations on the cover and title pages have a lot for kids to talk about and will get them very excited to read the book.  

After we read "Footprints in the Snow" the first time, we will complete a "Cast of Characters."  We will use the character sheets to practice retelling the story with a partner.  
The next day I will tell students they will be writing their own stories like the one Wolf writes.  As a class, we will brainstorm a story that follows the pattern of Wolf's story.  Students will help me create a story like "Footprints in the Sand," a story about a snake,who finds footprints in the desert.  I will model filling in a "Cast of Characters" for our Class Story.  Then, I will give students time to brainstorm their own stories and complete a "Cast of Characters" for their tale.    

In the next lesson, we will discuss dialogue in "Footprints in the Snow."  I will make giant speech bubbles with poster paper.  We will locate the dialogue for each character in the story and write the words on the bubbles.  We will act out the dialogue as a class. We have done this with other stories and my students beg to practice over and over again.  

Then, we will use our "Cast of Characters" to plan the dialogue in our stories.  I will model how to write a speech bubble for each character in our class story.  I will give students time to write the dialogue for their own stories, using the speech bubble sheet.
Then, I will model how to used the speech bubble sheet to construct a story. I'm sure students will be eager and ready to do the same with their stories.  

Finally, we will construct displays for our stories.  I plan to hang these up on our January Writing Bulletin Board.  

For detailed lesson plans, check out this unit on Teachers Pay Teachers.  

One Cool Friend

This witty story by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small, is a must-have! "One Cool Friend" is structured around a "misunderstanding" between Elliot and his father. When Elliot reluctantly visits the aquarium with his father, he falls in love with the penguins and asks his father if he can bring one home.  His father agrees, thinking he means a plush penguin from the gift shop. I know my students will love reading about Elliot's secret adventures with his new pet penguin. The surprising revelation at the end will make students ask to read this charming story over and over again. They will want to comb through the illustrations to find details and clues they missed the first time.  Luckily, I planned 4-5 days of lessons so my students will have time to immerse themselves in this story.    

The first day we read "One Cool Friend,"  I will ask text dependent questions to ensure my students understand the key ideas and details from the story.  We will complete a basic story map to record the beginning, middle, and end of the story.  For the middle, students will need to remember three ways in which Elliot took care of Magellan when he got home from the museum.  
This book is wonderful for teaching character traits.  The illustrations complement the text perfectly by helping to depict Elliot and his father.  The second day, we will revisit "One Cool Friend" to look for character traits of Elliot and his father.  We will carefully study the text and its illustrations to help us describe the characters.  I will ask text dependent questions that require my students to focus on certain pages of text and accompanying illustrations to help us with this task.  

Because "One Cool Friend" has such purposeful illustrations, I want to focus on the Reading Literature Integration of Knowledge and Ideas standard 7-using illustrations to understand characters, setting, or plot.  I will ask the students a series of text dependent questions that require them to really study the illustrations and text to make connections.  

Finally, we will have some fun making "Backwards Portraits."  As a class, we will talk about animals we want to take home from a zoo or aquarium.  Students will choose an animal and complete a writing sheet, telling which animal they chose and why.  They will illustrate their idea by making a backwards portrait of themselves carrying their animal in a backpack.   

For detailed lesson plans, and all the materials to do these reading and writing activities with your class, visit our Teacher Pay Teacher store.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Memoirs of an Elf Read-Aloud

Our class read-aloud time has quickly become our favorite time of the day. My students can't wait to see what our next story will be. Their love for reading is unfolding through each read-aloud. It is entertaining to hear their answers to the text dependent questions, especially when they are asked to say a phrase from the text as the character would say it. They are really starting to understand author's craft and structure and it reflects in their own writing. I think their favorite part is when we "dig" into the illustrations and find the illustrator is often telling more of the story than the author.
Our first read-aloud for December was a new Scholastic favorite, Memoirs of an Elf by Devin Scillian. Just showing the kids the cover of the book got them thrilled to see what was inside! After we read the story (which they loved!) we discussed the correct sequence as a class and used the countdown times from the book.
Once we figured out the correct sequence for the countdown times the students cut and pasted the events in the correct order. After they were finished I had them find a partner to retell the story with, using their countdown page. The second time we read through the book we focused on the craft and structure of the text by asking text dependent questions. We also focused on Santa Claus in the text. Throughout the story the elf shares fun facts about Santa. We discussed all the things the elf said were Santa's favorites and the students wrote them down.
 Then, they thought about their own favorite things about Christmas and wrote about them. The students all really enjoyed this activity.
Finally, on the third read-aloud I asked some text dependent questions that covered the Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Core Standards. Then we ended the read-aloud with a fun activity. Throughout the story the elf takes "elfies" of himself so we drew a "selfie" of ourselves. 

It still amazes me that the students love hearing the same story multiple times. They are really getting into reading the story for a different purpose each time. If you would like to try our 3 day read-aloud in your classroom, you can find it (and many others like it) in our TPT store.