Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunshine State Readers 2012-2013

My school is always encouraging students to read, as I know all schools do, we use Sunshine State Readers to help motivate our students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. 

The state of Florida has a list of books they release each year of books for grades 3-5 and 6-8. The students that choose to participate read a book from the list and take an AR test on that book. If they pass 6 test they become a Sunshine State Reader, have there name posted in the library, and are able to go to the party at the end of the year. If a student reads all 15 books and passes the test they become a Super Sunshine State Reader an have their picture put up in the library, are on the morning news, and are able to attend a special lunch in addition to the Sunshine State Reader Party.

I have found that this does motivate the kids to read and when their friends are talking about a book they want to read it. I usually read 2 aloud to the class and also have a bulletin board that displays the number of books each student has read. Throughout the summer I plan to read a few of the books. Check back for more information about the books. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Glogsters In the Classroom

My students have use glogsters twice this year. It is a website you can use for students to create their own website. My 4th graders used it to create pages about their Florida city. 5th grade used the page for their Black History Month biographies. This is the link to the site, Glogster EDU 

       Black History Month Biographies
      Florida Cities Project 

Holes - 4th Grade

I recently read Holes by Louis Sachar to my 4th graders. Even though most of them had already seen the movie this is the book they picked as a class to read. Below is a list of things we did as we read and after watching the movie.
  • Comprehension quizzes throughout the book. 
  • Sequence of Events for the Curse (not whole book, just curse)
  • Compare Characters
  • Differences between the movie and book 
  • Essay - Which did you like more, the movie or the book? Why? 
  • Ad for Camp Green Lake

    Camp Green Lake Ad

    Camp Green Lake Ad

    Camp Green Lake Ad

    Camp Green Lake Ad

    Essay: Which did you prefer, the book or movie?

**If you watch the movie with your class be aware that there are a few cuss words. I sent home permission forms for the movie.**

Civil War Lapbooks - 5th Grade

Before reaching the Civil War in our study of US History, I asked my class what they knew about the Civil War and very few students could tell me basic facts. I decided that we would learn just the basics about the Civil War, an overview is what I called it, to get their feet wet. I stumbled across lapbooks online and loved the idea. This is a great way to display information for any topic. The links below show other examples of lapbooks.

My students started the lapbook only a few days into our study of the Civil War. As we learned about a new area or topic they would add that to their book. We were limited in the time they had to work on it each day so it took about 4 weeks to finish the project. I loved the lapbooks and how is allowed the students to learn just a little bit about many different areas/topics of the Civil War and put all the information together in a fun way. I have attached the assignment my students received and a few pictures of our lapbooks.

Student Lapbook
Lapbook stretched out.

Timeline on the back of the lapbook.

Flip books in the lapbook are a great way to display information.

Pockets can hold cards with information.

The 'Who, What, Where, Why' flaps are an easy way to organize the information.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Florida Cities Project - 4th Grade

At the end of 4th grade the students complete the Florida Cities Project. Each group chooses a city in Florida for their travel agency. The students are responsible for creating a poster, brochure and glogster. (Glogster links are found below) Students use each of these items to persuade visitors to travel to their city.

This project is a lot of fun and a great way to wrap up all we have learned about Florida throughout the year. On the last day we invite the 3rd graders, 5th graders, and parents to come see our travel agencies. Our visitors also vote for the most persuasive city. Check out a few of our cities!

Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral had an astronaut at their booth.



Daytona Beach

Key West - they included Box Jellyfish and a standing Key Deer.

Florida City Glogs were completed in tech class.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Voices in the Park - 4th Grade

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne is a great book to show different perspectives. The book tells about what happens in a park from four different perspectives. After reading this my students wrote their own version of Voices in the Park. Below is one students work.

Fortunately, Unfortunately - 4th Grade

We used the book Fortunately by Remy Charlip for a fun writing activity that we turned into a book. This book tells a story where each page begins with 'fortunately or unfortunately'. My students started their story with the following sentence: "Fortunately, I received a letter that said 'Please come to the _________ party'". Each page told one event in the story. The first page starts with fortunately and students alternated each page after that with fortunately and unfortunately, just like the book. This is great practice for the students to start sentences in different ways.

Literature Writing Assignments

This past year I used Literature Writing Assignments (aka book reports), with both my 4th and 5th grade classes. They were a great way for students think about what they were reading and tie it to the reading skill we were working on in class. The students had two weeks to complete the assignment, that included reading a chapter book.Throughout the year I mixed up what the assignments included to keep things interesting for the students. Below I have attached examples of different types of literature writing assignments.

Literature Writing Assignments:

Shark vs. Train - 4th Grade

Shark vs Train by Chris Barton is a fun book that describes what would happen if a shark and train were competing against each other. For a fun writing assignment I read the book to my students then they each picked two things that would be battling (they were not allowed to use people). Some of the students picked cell phone vs keys and chipmunk vs. underwear. 

We used the same format of the book, the book goes back and forth with the shark then train winning and at the end there are four competitions that neither the shark or train could win (walking on a tightrope, etc). The students did the same for their books. 

The books were illustrated like comic books and where fun and creative way to get students writing great descriptions. Nothing like a friendly competition to get your creative juices flowing :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ba-da-bing Sentences - 4th Grade

To spice up the students writing we use Ba-da-bing and Ba-da-boom sentences. A Ba-ba-bing sentence tells where you were (ba), what you saw, heard, smelled, or tasted (da), and what you thought (bing). A ba-ba-boom sentence tells where you were (ba), what you saw, heard, smelled, or tasted (da), and a physical sensation. ex Blushes, shivered, etc (boom). 

As I taught this to my students I used different pictures that I found online to make the sentences more interesting. National Geographic has great pictures that you can use, the picture below is an example of one I used from that site. I first showed the picture, then we wrote a simple sentence, and then a Ba-da-boom or Ba-da-bing sentence.

For example: The man touched the whale. 

Ba-da-bing sentence: Off the shore of Hawaii, Mark touched the smooth skin of the whale and thought this was a once in a life time moment.

Ba-da-boom sentence: Off the shore of Hawaii, Mark touched the smooth skin of the whale as his heart raced.

This simple sentence structure easily shows students how to add details to a sentence.

Florida Book Advertisement - 4th Grade

In 4th grade we have several books we use in literature circles to tie into our social studies curriculum (the books we used are listed below). After reading the books my students created an ad for the book their group read. The requirements were to include the author and title, illustrate the book, and a one sentence grabber about the book. Check out what the students created!

A Land Remembered by: Patrick D Smith

Trouble on the St Johns River by: Jane R Wood

Trouble on the St Johns River by: Jane R Wood

Voices in St Augustine by: Jane R Wood

Poetry Unit - 5th Grade

To end the school year we spent about three weeks studying poetry and different poets. When we started we learned about poetry devices and used a check list for each poem we read to look for the poetic devices. Each day we read and talked about different types of poems. The students were given time to write their thoughts and try to understand what the poem was talking about with a partner or group. 

We mainly focused on the following poets: Emily Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Frost, and Shel Silverstein.  The class also read a bully poem, school poems and we read the song Forever Young by Bob Dylan and discussed what it was about. Adding in other poems gave the students chance to see a variety of different poem styles. 

At the end of the unit students completed a Poetry Writing Assignment. The assignment required the students to read two poems from two different poets listed above, they wrote their own poem and wrote a poem titled Last, First. This poem told about things they would experience for the last time in elementary school and first they would experience in middle school. The assignment is linked below.

Students Mental Image of a Poem

Students Title an Emily Dickenson Poem

Student Thoughts on a Poem

Series of Unfortunat Events - 4th Grade

I am currently reading the first three books in the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. My students LOVE the books and ask as soon as they come to class when we are going to read. The movie is based on the first three books which is why I choose to only read the first three. If you have never read the books they are funny, scary, full of plot twist, and include lots of great vocabulary words. I have tied in many of the reading skills we have learned all year with this read aloud. Below is a list of all the things we have or will do as we finish the books and watch the movie. 
  •  Plot Line - The students have created a plot line for each story. This was great practice, the students often want to add events that are just details. As we now read the third book they have a better understanding of which events are major and which are details. This will also be used to check the sequence of events in the movie (the movie events are not in the same order).
  • Predicting - We have made lots and lots of predictions. The story really lends itself to predicting. There are parts throughout the story where you can stop and make predictions as well as the end of the story. We stopped at the climax/turning point in the second book and my students created their own ending for the story in groups. Then, shared them with the class and then we finished the book to see who was right. 
  • Mental Images - Each book tells about a new place the Baudelaire orphans will be living. The descriptions of Count Olaf's house, Uncle Monty's Reptile Room, and Aunt Josephine's house are very detailed. After reading the description of each place my students draw it as I read it a second time. We will use these to compare our mental images to the movie.  Each student also drew pictures of Count Olaf and the three Baudelaire children, they are the main characters in all three books.
  • Character Traits - For each of the relatives the Baudelaire children live with we create a character trait list.  
  • Compare and Contrast - We compared the characters, stories, homes, etc. 
  • Comprehension - Each book is divided into 13 chapters. The students take a quiz after various chapters. (quizzes are attached below)
  • Critical Thinking - The students were asked 'Who is Lemony Snicket? Why does be know so much about the Baudelaire children? Why is he writing about them?' This discussion was great! The students said that he was Count Olaf, an older Klaus, Violet's son, a friend of the family, etc. This also was a great why to talk about narrators in stories.
  • Writing - After reading all three books the students will write an essay explaining which book is their favorite. I also included short written responses at the end of each quiz.
  • Movie vs. Book - This is not a reading skill but a great discussion. The movie is very different from the book. After watching the movie I will ask my students, why they think the director thought it was best to change so many things? Also, do they think the story was better told in the book or movie?
  • Fun Activities - I also have given the students fun worksheets now that we are close to finishing. They range from inventing a way out of a well, decoding Sunny's baby talk, decoding a hidden message in a letter. The following website is where I found the worksheets. 
I hope you find this useful. If you read the books to your students and have other activities you use please let me know. Happy reading!

Bad Beginning Quizzes
  1. Quiz 1 (chapters 1-3)
  2. Quiz 2 (chapters 4-6)
  3. Quiz 3 (chapters 7-9) 
  4. Quiz 4 (chapters 10-13) 
Reptile Room Quizzes
  1. Quiz 1  
  2. Quiz 2
  3. Quiz 3
Wide Window Quizzes
  1. Wide Window 1
  2. Wide Window 2
  3. Wide Window 3