Friday, December 30, 2011

Patricia Polacco

I love stories that show how a character changes. Mrs. Mack by Patricia Polacco is a great example of this. I got the idea for this lesson from a great blog: Get In The Fold I had the 4th and 5th graders make the foldables prior to reading the book. We read up to page 14 and then completed the questions on the left side of the foldable:
  • What did Patricia do?
  • What did Patricia think or feel?
  • How did others respond to her?
  • How did she look?
After we finished the story we answered the same questions on the other side of the foldable.
The Get in the Fold blog has much better pictures that I do of what the inside looks like. After finishing the left and right sides of the foldable we worked on the inside sheet:
It includes three major events from the story and how Patricia reacted and how others responded. I narrowed down the major events in the story and put them on the above poster. This sheet gets tucked inside the foldable. This was a great activity for that week before Christmas. After we finished them I had the kids decorate the covers. Many of the students got interested in my collection of  Patricia Polacco books after reading Mrs. Mack. Christine

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Side of the Mountain

We have been using My Side of the Mountain as a mentor text for our WEX writing assignments. In this lesson the students needed to find text based evidence of Sam's character traits.

Those super large stickers came from
Each teacher in our school got a free one year membership to Extras For Creative Learning from the EDIC. Its a store filled with all kinds of misc. school supplies and materials for art projects. I got piles of those stickers and thought long and hard about how to use them. Each group completed one sticker by adding a character trait and the text based evidence from various parts of the novel. Then  we posted them on our anchor chart. If you can think of any other great ways to use all those stickers, let me know!
Our next lesson involved producing a timeline for the book. Chapter one is confusing for the reader because it takes place in the middle of the story. The journal actually begins in chapter 2. The timeline helped the students to determine importance. They could only list 10 events. This caused much discussion over which events where the most important and why.Christine

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

More on Chris Van Allsburg

I love reading The Stranger and The Sweetest Fig by Van Allsburg. with children, but I have never used The Mysteries of Harris Burdick before. Some Van Allsburg books take some time to "get". I didn't like The Stranger the first time I read it, but now it is one of my favorite books. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is just a group of unconnected pencil drawings, each with a title and an introductory sentence.Here is an example:
It all started when someone left the window open....
The reader is left to wonder what happens next. Its a great book to use with young writers who have great imaginations. Questions instantly come to mind: Who left the window open? Why? Is that bird on the wallpaper coming to life? 

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick was recently published. It is like an answer key for those pencil drawings. A short story was written for each of the drawings by famous authors like Louis Sachar and Stephen King. I couldn't wait to read it and share it with some of my young writers with great imaginations. Here is a website to explore more if you are interested:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Statue of Liberty!

This week, the Statue of Liberty turns 125! My fourth graders are reading  Lily and Miss Liberty by Deborah Kogan Ray. Its a short historical fiction story which explains how children throughout the country raised pennies to help pay for Liberty's pedestal.
We also read A Picnic in October by my favorite author, Eve Bunting. In true Bunting fashion, she leads the reader to think the birthday party the children are preparing for is for their grandmother, an Italian immigrant. At the end of the story we learn that Grandma and family celebrate Lady Liberty's birthday in front of the statue every year. It's become a family tradition, a way of thanking America for welcoming Grandma when she was a young Italian immigrant.
To add to the fun this week we did a few more projects:

Here I am in my Halloween costume. I don't look bad for 125 yrs old!
Here is an art project we did on the Statue of Libery

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More on The Stranger

My original post from 2010: 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.
            This year as I was reading The Stranger to my class I started thinking how much our questions  lead us to understanding who the stranger really is. I produced this new anchor chart with the 4th graders.  I combined parts of the text with the post it notes where the children made their thinking visible. Here are some pictures:


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Baseball poetry

The 4th graders have been reading Lou Gehrig The Luckiest Man  by Alder this week. Its one of my favorite stories in the 4th gradeTrophies anthology. I like to practice the visualizing strategy with this baseball poem after reading the story. It is called Before the Game by Paul Janeczko.The children pick out three different colored highlighters. We then make a key: what can you see, hear, smell or taste while reading  the poem. I typed the poem up on my Smartboard and made a key as well. We also discussed the theme, tone or mood of the poem. Its so evident in that line:                              Joy,                                                                       thick as perfume 
fills the air 
Makes you want to go to a ballgame! Christine

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Life is like Coffee Movie

Life is like Coffee Movie: Do you know people that just seem to be happier in general? Do you say to yourself, "I want to be more like them"? Often, the happiest people in the world don’t have the best of everything...they just make the best of everything!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I love Shiloh

My fifth graders have just finished reading Shiloh. I love the story because it gives us so many things to discuss. Here are some pictures from some of the lessons we did while reading the story:
Character traits: What kind of a boy is Marty? We kept adding to this poster as we read the book. The green sticky is the trait and the orange ones are the text based evidence.
We did some more work on Marty's character traits.

 Marty had to make a tough decision when he found Shiloh in the woods. We wrote about all the different options he had. Did he make the right choice? What were the pros and cons of each option? What would you have done?
The story was very suspenseful. Here is the plot profile we created together. You can clearly see the rising and falling action. Chapter 9 was by far the most exciting.Later on in the school year we will read the other two Shiloh books in the trilogy. Christine

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

first day of school read alouds

Here are the two read alouds I chose for the first day of school for my 4th and 5th graders. Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth is a cute story of a first grader who thinks her new  teacher is a tooth stealing alien with a purple tongue! I got the idea to read this story from