Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Donavan's Word Jar

The focus skill for the story Donavan's Word Jar from the 4th grade Trophies anthology  is narrative elements. I particularly like this story because it has more than one problem. The main problem is that Donovan has too many words in his word jar, but the story also has a smaller problem, a conflict between two characters. Both problems have different solutions. I got this poster directly out of the TE. I give the children a paper copy and we divide it in half  (problem #1 and problem #2). Its a great introduction to the concept that stories can have more than one problem. Compromise is also a vocabulary word for the week. I like that it is also the solution to one of the problems.   Christine

Mr. V's Wrap It Up

Sunday, September 26, 2010

writing website

Melissa Fourney at has some great free resources to help teachers teach writing in elementary school. I really liked the vocabulators and the young writers survival guide (it says this will only be available through the summer). Go check it out! Christine
these are the vocabulators, directions to make them are on the site

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

teaching the Iditarod

Our fifth grade Trophies anthology has two stories related to the Iditarod: Woodsong by Gary Paulsen and Iditarod Dream by Ted Wood. I like to use two other picture books written by Robert J. Blake: one story is called  Togo and the other one is Akiak. Both stories have the same themes: determination, courage and the refusal to give up against incredible odds.Togo had an important role in the Great Serum Race which is the inspiration for the Iditarod (unfortunately,Balto gets all the credit). Akiak was determined to win the Iditarod and at ten years old he did: fighting injury, bad weather and rules that would have prevented him from continuing. Both stories have excellent maps to show the dog's journey and the pictures are incredible. Christine

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What I am reading right now

I think its pretty obvious to most teachers in the intermediate grades that the traditional weekly spelling test doesn't necessarily produce better spellers. I gave them up entirely a few years ago. But how do you help a child improve spelling skills? My answer to that has always been have them read, read, read and then read some more. This helps to strengthen the internal connection between reading and writing (spelling).I also assess daily writing for spelling and make notes about individual spelling issues my students are having. This book has some great lessons that help children think about how words are spelled instead of just memorizing lists of similarly spelled words. Christine

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Whole Brain Teaching: 6th Grade, Classroom Management

I've been trying out some whole brain teaching techniques such as class/yes, teach your neighbor and gestures. Today we used the techniques while retelling the story we have been reading.The beginning of the school year is a great time to introduce them. Utube has many video clips by Chris Biffle on Whole Brain Teaching, or Power Teaching. This one is a sixth grade math teacher. Christine

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A special book for the first day of school

The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper was my chosen read aloud for the first day of school. Thinking about this ancient rule: Do unto others as your would have them do unto you is a wonderful way to begin our new school year together. I believe I originally found this book through One Book, One School, a program in which every classroom in the entire school reads, listens to, and talks about one book. (This book could be read to children from K-5.) How do you practice the golden rule? Listen, help others, tell the truth. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Wonderful advice for children and for teachers.The golden rule is simple, but no one said it was easy. Happy first day of school. Christine

Monday, September 6, 2010

How to annotate

I use annotation (a form of notetaking) in my classroom for MCAS prep. This slideshare presentation shows a good explanation about what it is. Christine

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chris Van Allsburg

My two favorite Van Allburg books are The Stranger and The Sweetest Fig. The Stranger is a great book to use when teaching inferring. You can see from my poster that I start with: I think the stranger is.... and Here are the clues (details) that helped me:  I put a sticky over the answer. As we read the book I had the children make their thinking visible on post it notes and then stick them to the page.We developed the list on the anchor chart together. Many children are able to understand that something unusual or magical is happening but they don't have the background knowledge to come up with the name Jack Frost. My other favorite Van Allsburg book is The Sweetest Fig. It gives the reading teacher lots to work with:                                      A main character you love to hate, an interesting setting and a terrific ending that makes the reader think. Christine

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Text structure for young readers

Text structure is a fifth grade standard. It is difficult to teach. This slideshare presentation would be very helpful. I think I'll show it on my SMARTBoard. Thank you Emily Kissner! Christine

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Literacy Bags

My summer project was to get some literacy bags up and running for my 4th graders.My purpose is to build background knowledge on various topics through a home/school connection. My mother stitched the names on these bags I found at the Dollar Store. Filling the bags was the fun part. We made 24 in all. I got the idea online. this website inspired me to try the idea with older kids. I tried to put a variety of materials in each bag: puzzles, stamps, games, fiction, nonfiction, read alouds, art projects and more. I'm so happy with the way they turned out! Christine