Sunday, April 23, 2017

Common Core Setting Comparisons

When it was first announced that the Common Core Standards would be implemented in schools across the United States, I spoke to many teachers who were searching for Common Core materials. We all thought we'd be given resources that would help us "get off on a good foot" but it didn't happen.

Many teachers attended professional development workshops to prepare them for the Common Core,  but no one was given specific resources they could use with their students. Everyone was scrambling for materials; no one wasn't happy.

For that reason, I designed Common Core resources that can be used with any books or stories that include "student friendly" rubrics.

Because it's very important students recognize similarities and difference of different settings, I Included five setting selections from five different books with activities designed so students could compare/contrast them.  

The books' settings are on different reading levels, to accommodate a wide range of readers especially because reading groups are usually heterogeneous. 

For example, it's very common to have a fifth grade ELA class with some students reading on a third, fourth, fifth, sixth and even reading on a seventh grade level!

The student friendly rubric, included, helps students understand what's expected of them in a way that's easy for them to understand. 

If you like this resource, I've created others like it, that can be used with any books or stories. There's one for almost every reading strategy... theme, cause/effect, problems/solutions, main idea, character comparisons and other Common Core resources. 

photo of Common Core Setting Comparisons PDF, Teacher Park



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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Homophones Are Fun!

Which witch is which? I remember my fourth grade teacher writing that question on the board and explaining what homophones are and why it's important to always write the correct spelling of them.

To this day, I remember the important lessons I was taught and still "hear" and "see" my teachers as they stressed important concepts and strategies. 

I had little tricks I used to remember some of them. The word "witch" contains the word "wit" so I thought of a nice witch who had a good sense of humor.  Little tricks like that can make difference. 

Another example are the homophones "bear" and "bare".  The word "bear" has "EAR" in it. Bears have ears! That one is easy. 

As I teach homophones we brainstorm for little tricks like that and I'm always amazed the kinds of clues my students think of to remember the correct spellings of homophones. 

Download my free homophone activities and have fun!

photo of Homophones are Fun, PDF, free, homophones, Ruth S.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Spelling Activities for Any List of Words

When we were first told that we would no longer be using spelling books with our students, I thought our principal was kidding... I almost laughed out loud. Good thing I didn't, because he was serious! We were all stunned, then almost fell off our chairs when he announced the following.

"As of today, you will create your spelling lists as a team and add content words from your language arts, science, social studies and math classes".

In my opinion, those spelling books we had always used were as an important as cherries on a NY style cheesecake. :) Well, the books weren't quite as delicious as cheese cake. :) :)

Most importantly, the lessons in those little books reinforced spelling patterns, word families,vowel and consonant sounds, blends and even included word definitions. Each unit spiraled to the next and all had review pages of the earlier taught units.

So I decided that if we weren't allowed to use those lovely little spelling books, I would create activities to accompany spelling lists I assigned to my students.

My packet has 24 different worksheets that can be used with any spelling list and yes, my activities reinforce much needed spelling rules, vowels sounds, etc. 

Take a few minutes to ask your students what a long and short "A" sounds like. Or better yet, ask them what a soft and hard "g" sound like. EVEN better ask them to tell you what a digraph is or to name a three letter 
consonant blend! 

Ask them to explain the spelling rule "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking". I had a student tell me that it's like when his mom and dad go for a walk... His mother never stops talking. I could barely keep a straight face!!

I can almost guess that many of your students' responses will be puzzled looks, almost like you're speaking a foreign language...

I created these activities to use as informal assessments to see who's achieved mastery and who needs a review! 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bloom Ball Reports

Okay I'll admit it, I LOVE creative hands on projects! I've blogged about it before!  Why? Because growing up,  my teachers always assigned the same kind of book reports and projects, which never included creative activities. It was always "read the book and write a report about it". BORING! 

When I became a teacher, I swore I'd NEVER assign a book report or project that was strictly a two or three page written report. 

Yes, a report should have written parts, so teachers can determine if students understand how to apply reading strategies and comprehend what they read. A combination written and hands on project allows students, like I was, to not only write, but to also do hands on, creative projects that demonstrate their talents.

Some of the creative projects students can do include:

drawings, illustrations
build models
comic strips, cartoons
wood carvings
original computer generated pictures
mini books
design costumes for book characters
write music or lyrics for songs
use unusual materials to design posters (yarn, glitter, aluminum foil, etc)
And the list goes on and on and on!

Over the years, I developed my Bloom Ball report project that requires students to draw illustrations on templates and glue them together. I had searched for templates on the Web, but never found any that worked, so I designed my own. 

The first Bloom Ball report students should do, is the biography report. This fun report give students the opportunity to "talk" about themselves and highlight certain times of their lives. I always do this report at the beginning of the year, so students can get to know each other. It's a perfect time have them work in small groups so they can talk among themselves while they write, draw, cut and paste!

Once the balls are completed, they can be hung from the ceiling where they can stay, as a permanent display all year round!    
I love teachers' comments about them that can be read below the description on my store page. 

The book report part of the project, involves designing the templates based on a book that involves Common Core aligned written parts, combined with art work

Included is everything needed to create colorful displays for your classroom

 while encouraging higher level thinking. 
Students will have fun working in groups to create their reports. 

There are instructions/rubrics for a fiction book report as well as a bio report.

Templates included are two sizes, in black and white and in color. 
Detailed instructions demonstrate how to put these displays together. 

Use for ELA, science and social studies reports.

 High school teachers are using them for literature reports, science and history reports! 
I suggest playing some soft background music as the kids work on these reports. 
It creates a nice atmosphere for learning!
Best for grades 4 and up. 

Easy instructions with visuals!

Bloom Ball Reports



Design A Game Book Report

I want to share a book report that I've done with my students for a number of years. It's been  a HUGE hit with not only my students, but their parents, as well.

We all know that kids love to play games, so I decided to design a game book report. My objective was to convince my students that they should read books that are different genre. 

Ask your students what genre they like the best. I bet many will say realistic fiction is their favorite. There are some who gobble up mysteries, some will swear that fantasies are their favorites.

I also wanted to get parents involved in some way. That's when I decided to add a "bonus points" feature because the majority of my students love to earn bonus points.

I decided to title it, "Design A Game" book report.  Really original title eh? :)

The parent involvement is easy! All they have to do is play the game with their kids at home and sign the letter stating they played the game with their kids. A whopping five points can be earned for a total of 105 points if everything else is done correctly. 

The way you introduce it to your students is fun. Pass out the "Congratulations" slips to them and watch them sit up and take notice. It's an announcement that they've been chosen, by a game company, to design a game based on a book.  Just this little slip of paper and its message, makes them feel important.

The kids have to design a game board that has questions or statements about the book they're reading. Then we have a game day where they all play each others' games and learn about new books. It's amazing how many comments you'll hear as they play the games like, "I really really want to read this book!"  "I never thought I'd like historical fiction, but this one sounds really good."  

The kids talk about the project with their friends and tell them about a new book they want to read. The word spreads and pretty soon, you'll see your students reading new books of different genre. 

WHAT'S REALLY FUN IS TO HAVE A game "night" so parents, friends and family can join in the fun and play the games. 

At the end of the year, there are always students who are kind enough to leave their games with me so I can share them with my future students! :)

Everything you need is in the packet. Parent letter, student rubric, how-to game instructions and more.  Be sure to read teachers' comments below the product description and you'll see how popular my Design a Game Book Report is! 

photo of Design A Game Book Report, PDF, book reports, games, Common Core, Language Arts, Ruth S.

Have fun!