Sunday, November 13, 2016

Chocolate Fever

Find out what happens to Henry when he comes down with Chocolate Fever! 

Kids love working together to complete this packet o fun Chocolate Fever worksheets. 

The activities include the main elements of a story, such as plot, setting and characters but also includes Chocolate Fever math, art activities, response to text, a chapter trifold to display in your classroom and more. 

To see the complete packet description, click on the title page.

reading  novel Robert Kimmel Smith Ruth S.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

NonFiction Text Four Important Facts

It's not unusual for students to have difficulty identifying the most important facts when they read nonfiction text.

Large group work 

I distribute a one page article or some other nonfiction text  to the large group and have them read it aloud. After each paragraph is read, I stop them and ask if there are any important facts within that particular paragraph. We discuss the answers that volunteers offer and I write them on the board.

Small group work

After they've practiced in the large group, I have them get into small groups and ask each group to work on one particular article or nonfiction text in order to find four most important facts. 

During the time they work in small groups, I ask them to discuss and brainstorm the text. I also tell them they can all use the same facts on their sheets, as long as they all agree about which ones are the most important. (A great tactile strategy is to use highlighters to highlight the most important facts).

Once we're finished the small group work, we get back into the large group.  I have one volunteer from each group summarize the article or text they read and then have others in the group read the facts they chose. As each fact is read,  I have the "audience" do a "thumbs up" if they think the fact is VERY important. 

The more practice the better!

Download this free worksheet by clicking on the cover!

Thanks for stopping by!

photo of nonfiction four main facts free PDF work page by Teacher Park
                                                 Nonfiction Four Important Facts Worksheet

Design-A-Game Book Report

I created this book report when I was my state's representative on the Weekly Reader National Teacher Advisory Board.  A few years later, I presented it at the NELMS (New England League of Middle Schools) convention for four years, along with other activities and resources I created. Over six thousand educators attend the NELMS convention, so it was really exciting to be asked to be a presenter. 

The feedback from teachers, parents and students about this book report has been phenomenal! 

Surprise your students by handing them the certificate that says they've been chosen to design a board game for a game company before you introduce the project and watch the fun begin! 

The main objective is to reinforce comprehension strategies. As class friends play the games that have 16 events in sequential order, they'll be introduced to a book they might want to read. What better way to learn about new books!

Kids have to design the board game at home so there is a sheet of instructions and a rubric for parents. This 19 page packet includes everything you need for this book report including my detailed instructions. Kids have told me over the years that it's one of the best reports they've ever done. 

Have a "Game Day" and invite other classes to come play your students' games with them. 
You'll be amazed when you see how creative the games are. 

Find out more by clicking on the cover of my packet!

I LOVE sharing this book report with other educators. 

Design a Game Book report, book reports, comprehension strategies, rubric, sequence, homeschool, novel, books, gameboard

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The first time I read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, I kept thinking... I wonder how many students know what happened during World War II? 

How many even know where Germany is or Europe for that matter? 

Before I even introduced the book to my students, I asked them to locate Germany and Europe on our world map. My expert map student was raising his hand, almost leaping out of his chair and making those familiar "Ooo, ooooo" sounds, we teachers know well. He pointed to Germany and the surrounding countries as well as the Atlantic Ocean. Isn't it great to have an expert in class to help introduce lessons? :)

Then, I asked them to raise their hands if they knew one fact about WWII. One boy said his great grandfather fought during WWII. A girl raised her hand and said that WWII was a big war. Those were the only students who volunteered answers. I was shocked, to say the least. 

It was then I decided to write up a packet of student worksheets for Number the Stars that would include an informational piece about World War II. It was a good way to introduce WWII and even though it wouldn't be a detailed history of the War, it would give my students a "taste" of events and the causes of the War. 

I always try to integrate social studies with my ELA classes so this was perfect!

Lois Lowry's book, Number the Stars, has students walk in Annmarie's and Ellen's shoes as the story unfolds. The setting is Copenhagen, Denmark in 1943, the third year of the Nazi occupation of Denmark. Annmarie and Ellen, who is Jewish, are best friends. The story is how Annmarie's family take Ellen into their home to protect her from the Nazis. The story is filled with facts presented in a way students will relate to themes like friendship, trust, honesty, conflict, and hope. 

It's no wonder this historical fiction book won the Newbery Award, in 1990, as the most distinguished contribution to children's literature and remains popular to this day. 

This is my 69 page packet to accompany the book. It has detailed instructions for pre-readinng, reading and post reading activities. Also included is the nonfiction, informational article to provide students with a better understanding of World War II. 

To read the full description of the book, click on the map. There is also a free preview of the packet of my ready to print student worksheets that can be downloaded.


photo of Number the Stars Activities and Worksheets, historical fiction, Ruth S., ELA, historical fiction, reading, writing

After speaking with many of my former students' parents, over time, it's apparent that students aren't receiving a good base of American history throughout their school years. I noticed the changes in textbooks when I was on the social studies curriculum committee for a number of years. The information in textbooks seemed watered down and lacking in good solid information about our history. I began wondering who was writing the text for the publishers and who makes the decisions about what's included in their textbooks.  That remains a mystery, but one we educators should be asking. I hope you are. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Author Project Books and Picture Books!

This is a great FREE project to motivate your students to explore new genre and to read more than one book by an author. They start by researching an author and and writing five facts they learned about the author's life.

Have them choose two books by the author and summarize them briefly, and lastly they should rate the books. When they're finished they can discuss their authors and novels in small groups. Laminate the cards and arrange them in a index card box in ABC order so they're available for students to view.
Click on the cover for more information.

photo of Author project free pdf picture books, student worksheet, research an author, genre, facts, author's life

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trifold Book Report

I'm always thinking of new ideas for book reports, so the kids can have fun yet demonstrate to me that they understand strategies and skills. I also love giving kids choices. 

I remember doing book reports when I was in elementary school and it was always the same. No creativity. Nothing fun. We never had choices of what we could do. Write a book report for the book you're reading. That was it! BLAH!

When I became a teacher, I told everyone that I would NEVER teach like some of the teachers I had. I'm from a very musical and artistic family so I was always creating something new and different. Playing the piano, writing miniature symphonies when I was ten, poetry, pen and ink drawings, designing terrariums for the salamanders I caught, knitting... just to name a few. 

Not all of my teachers were like that, though. I had one very special high school English teacher who rocked my world! He taught us grammar by using lyrics to songs. He got us out of our seats and we could have rocked and rolled 'til the sun went down! When I run into him, I always tell him that he inspired me to become a teacher. He beams! So do I!!

My trifold book report can be done using any fiction book. There are three trifold pages and a "bonus" page with all kinds of activities that the kids can choose from in order to earn bonus points.  Have a share day so that all of your students can read their friends' reports, then put them on display! It's also a great way to expose kids to new titles that they might want to read!

photo of trifold book report, reading, Teacher Park

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Common Core Worksheets

It seems the Common Core Standards have become the hot topic of teachers' conversations around the country. The last time I checked, 47 states had adopted the Core. I wasn't concerned about what the Core covered, because our state standards, to this point in time, have been one of the highest ranked in the country. That being said, I wasn't surprised that our standards outweigh the requirements of the Core. 

Because the Core standards were developed for students from different backgrounds,environments and 
socio-economic backgrounds, I had a feeling they'd be "watered down" from the state standards we already had in place. With test scores down across the country, I was expecting a more rigorous set of standards. 

Why not "raise the bar" and increase our expectations? Are we teaching our students the same standards that were in place when I was in school? No. My teachers kept the "bar" high and expectations were rigorous. I memorized multiplication facts in third grade. Rote memorization these days is frowned upon. Why? Because no one is allowed to fail? 

Don't make kids memorize poems? Why not? I memorized many poems as a kid and I can still recite them today. Don't make kids learn cursive writing? I learned to write in cursive in third grade. My hand didn't fall off, although some days I thought it would when I was first learning how to hold the pencil correctly and move it smoothly across the paper. Today, cursive writing is an endangered art.  

Our forefathers scribed the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in beautiful longhand. Painstakingly, they formed the letters with flourishes, dipping their feathery pen nibs in ink after one or two words. Will the words of our future children be as beautiful? I think not. With the technological advancements, there may no longer be handwritten signatures. Will there be a computer chip implanted in the fingertip, so all one must do is touch the paper to sign an important document? 

I'm slightly off the topic of Common Core but I think we should take a serious look at what we teach and how we teach it. I'll keep my expectations high and the bar raised. Yes, I do require cursive on certain assignments. I do make modifications for those students who aren't physically able to write. I even still give cursive lessons if asked how to form a letter. 

Like my father used to say... "If it isn't broken, why fix it?"

Back to the Common Core... 

I decided teachers need Common Core worksheets they can use with any story or book. To make sets of these worksheets would take more time than teachers have on hand, so I've developed some that will make teachers' lives easier. I'll continue to create more throughout the year. 

 These are three available in my TeachersPayTeachers store. Take a peek. 


photo of Common Core Standards Reading Themes PDF Teacher Park

photo of Common Core Reading Standards Main Idea PDF Teacher Park

photo of Common Core Task Cards Foundational Skills PDF Teacher Park