Saturday, August 30, 2014

Making Inferences Using Mentor Texts

This week, we continued working on making inferences.  All of the lessons and activities prior to this week, were to build our understanding of making inferences.  This week, we took our understanding to the next level and applied it mentor texts.

I started the week out using the book, Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard.  With this book, "I" modeled and "We" practiced using the text to make inferences.  I had the students complete this handout that I created to use what the text says to make inferences about Miss Nelson and Miss Viola Swamp.  The kids really enjoyed the book and it was an easy text to use to model the process.

Then, we used the book, The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg.  This is the first year I have ever used this book to teach making inferences.  Let me just say, if you haven't used this book as a mentor text for this skill, YOU NEED TO ADD IT to your lesson plans immediately!  My kids fell in love with this book and were DYING to know who "the stranger" was.  I read the story as a read aloud.  Then, I put the students with "talk partners" to complete text dependent questions that really required the kids to analyze the text.  

I found the wonderful text dependent questions from the website, Achieve the Core.  I took the questions that I found and retyped them, so the students would have room to respond.  You can download my copy of the questions here.  Even though I don't use a basal for reading, I have a handful of old textbooks, and they happened to have The Stranger in it.  I was able to provide each pair a copy of the story to answer the questions.  It took the kids a couple of days to work through the story.

As I mentioned before, the kids LOVED this story!  One of my students told me that he thought had a difficult time going to sleep the day we read this book in class.  He said it was KILLING him not to be able to figure out the story.  I was SO excited to hear that the kids were thinking about reading class at home.  :)  In fact, my kids have asked that I find more books like this one for them to read.  They really enjoyed trying to interpret the story.  So, that is my mission right now......finding more books like this one.

If you have mentor texts that you love to use for teaching inferences, I would love to know the titles.  Also, if you have any recommendations for similar titles to The Stranger, please share the titles.  My students would be forever grateful!  :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Making Inferences and Freebies

First, have you noticed?  Teaching with Blonde Ambition got a much needed facelift!  Thanks to Christi Fultz for a wonderful blog design!  She TOTALLY nailed it and it depicts my personality perfectly!!!  :)

So many teachers have asked me to blog about my lessons and how I teach various skills.  Also, teachers have asked what order I teach the standards.  Well, I am going to answer a few of those questions today.  First, I have my pacing guide that I use for teaching ELA that I am going to share with you.  This is MY pacing guide and the order that I teach the Common Core Standards.  I emphasize the word MY because this is strictly the order that I have chosen to teach the standards.  I do a lot of spiral teaching, but this gives you my plan and when I introduce each standard.  Once I have taught a standard, I continue to integrate the standards throughout the school year.  Click here to download my pacing guide.

So, this past week, I started teaching how to make inferences.   I am going to give you a peek at what our week looked like. Here are some of the activities we did in class last week to learn about inferences.

To introduce inferences,  I began with a concrete definition for making inferences.  The first activity I started with was "Making Trashy Inferences."  This was not my original idea.  My teammate found it online somewhere and told me about it.  But, basically as a class, I modeled how to make inferences by using my neighbors' trash (totally made up).  I told the kids that I have new neighbors in my subdivision that I haven't had the opportunity to meet.  I explained that my English mastiff likes to bring their trash to my house, so I have collected the trash and brought it in for them to see.  I told them that I hoped they could help me learn more about my neighbors by using the clues/evidence plus their background knowledge to make inferences about them.  I showed the kids a trash bag full of various items like a baby clothes hanger, birthday candles, a Wal-mart bag, receipts, etc.  I pulled the items out of the trash bag and we discussed as a class what they all might mean about my neighbors.  They filled out a handout that I created while we did this activity.  After it was over, I told this kids that I wanted them to be "trashy" readers......snoop through the clues in the text to make inferences about what they read.  Side note:  The kids really believed my story about the neighbors.  In fact, they asked if I would go introduce myself so I could find out if their inferences are correct.  LOL!!!  It was really painful to tell the kids that I did have new neighbors, but the trash wasn't theirs. :)

After this activity, I used an activity from Babbling Abby.  I had my students work more independently to make inferences about me, their teacher, using items from my purse.  We did this whole group, but the kids made their inferences independently.  I held up an item and they completed their inference chart.  Then, I had the students get with a partner and discuss the inferences that they made.  We came back together whole group and discussed them.  If you would like to use these handouts, you can download them here.

The next day, I used Deb Hanson's Making Inferences Powerpoint lesson, as my mini-lesson.

Also, I used this adorable video to teach the kids a song to help them remember how to make an inference while reading.  It's to the tune of Call Me, Maybe.  The kids were really liked it!

After we learned about making inferences, we created our interactive notebook page for my Interactive Notebook file.

Then, the kids worked in learning stations to play games and practice making inferences using small amounts of text.  Here are some of the resources I used for those learning stations.

I used task cards from Rachel Lynette and Teaching with a Mountain View.

This board game came from Edupress.

This adorable board game came from Fun in 5th Grade.  I love this game because the cards have QR codes on them, so the kids can use the scanner on the i-Pad to check their answers.  They LOVE this!!!!!

For some more concrete practice, I used inference activities from Lindsay Flood- Whose Pocket Is Whose?, The Magician that Made a Mistake from Cara Taylor, Who Wears This Shoe? inferencing activity from Fourth and Ten, and Have Your Cake and Inference Too! activity from Christina Bainbridge.

Okay, so this is basically my week in a nutshell.  Everything is still slow moving as we learn classroom procedures and expectations.  We worked on reading stamina as well.

Next week, I will share with you how we take this skill from concrete and apply it to reading literature and informational text.  :)  I will also be introducing theme and main idea.  Stay tuned!

Have a fabulous week!!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

TpT Back to School BOOST Sale

Have you heard the news? TPT is having a one day SPECIAL sale (today only) to boost your back to school purchases. All my products will be on sale for 20% off, and when you use the code BOOST at the check-out, you will receive an additional 10% off. Start going through those wishlists!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

TpT Back to School Sale

Can you hardly believe that it's that time of year?  Yep, it's back to school time!  I have been working to put the finishing touches on my classroom because my door will be open to 25 sweet, new fourth graders on Thursday.  I am excited to get back into the swing of things!  And, I am even more excited to announce that TpT is having a BIG BACK TO SCHOOL SALE this Monday and Tuesday.  

As you are preparing to start the school year, I have several products in my store that you might want to check out.  My store will be 20% off on Monday and Tuesday, plus you get an extra 10% off your total at checkout if you enter the code BTS14.  

You might want to check out most popular products- my Reading and Language Interactive Notebooks.  I currently have grades 2nd-5th available. 

If you are interested in notebooking, but want to see more, I have a Digging Deeper into Character Traits Interactive Notebook Freebie for you to check out here.  

While you are loading your cart with fabulous teacher resources at a bargain price, I recommend that you check out my fellow 3rd-6th grade teacher friends' stores.  These ladies have TONS of wonderful materials that will help you make this your best school year yet!  Happy Shopping! :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Smooth Sailing Back to School Tips

Thanks for sailing of to visit with me at Teaching with Blonde Ambition!  I am sure that you are anxiously preparing for the upcoming school year.  As you prepare to begin a new school year, I wanted to share with you some of my tricks for keeping my teaching materials organized.  If you are like me, you have millions of teacher resources you have purchased to make your job easier.  I have have two ways that I have found to organize my materials that have really made my life easier when it comes to both planning and making copies. 

The first is my file cabinet drawer.  Now, as you can see, it's nothing fancy on the inside, but boy, this keeps me organized.  

I have a file folder for labeled with each of the ELA Common Core Standards.    As I print materials, I put the file in the folder for the standard in which the material addresses.  

Occasionally, I have a file that addresses more than one standard or a topic.  If this is the case, I just create a folder for that unit.  As you can see I have some monthly folders with seasonal activities and materials with a certain theme, like  Titanic and Bubble gum for example.  
Here is a peek inside my folder for RL.4.2 addressing Theme.  I have the copies I need for my interactive notebook lesson, formative assessments, and other resources that I use to teach theme.  (See how you can win a copy of my 4th Grade Reading Interactive Notebook below).  

When I am ready to teach a standard, I pull my folder and take it to the copy machine with me.  Everything for teaching that standard is at my fingertips.  

This handy dandy file cabinet system is GREAT for when I do my planning at school.  But let's be realistic, I don't get ALL of my planning done during my planning periods throughout the week. I have to do my lesson plans at home on Sunday evening just like you do.  I can't take my filing cabinet home with me, so I have an electronic "file cabinet" as well.  

Thank goodness, we are in the digital age.  So many of my teaching materials are in an electronic format.  I have a flash drive that is absolutely my saving grace.  It keeps me from having to tote a million books home every night (like I used to do when I first started teaching).  My flash drive is set up very similar to my file cabinet.  

I have created a folder on my flash drive that contains all of my ELA files.   This is a screenshot of one of my "Reading Skills" folder.  You can see inside the "Reading Skills and Lessons" folder, there are multiple folders….each one addresses a standard I have to teach.  So, when I am planning at home, all I have to do is plug in my flash drive and I can easily see what materials I have for the standard I am planning to teach.  It makes planning easy-peasy because everything I have on a standard is a click away. 

So, in hopes to help you get yourself organized for the upcoming school year, I am giving away a $50 Walmart gift card to one lucky winner.  You can go by yourself a box of file folders and/or a flash drive to hold your magnificent teaching materials.  

In addition to a gift card,  I am teaming up with other fabulous 3rd-5th grade blogger/teachers for a GRAND PRIZE Giveaway.  One lucky winner will receive a packet full of our best selling resources.  It's a prize worth almost $300. What a great way to fill up that teacher file cabinet and flash drive.  :)  

Enter now for a chance to win my Walmart gift card or for a chance at the GRAND PRIZE that will help you start your year off with a BANG!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stop by each of these blogs and read my friends' tips.  While you are there, be sure and enter their giveaways.  Remember, every giveaway not only qualifies you for the gift cards offered, it puts you in the running for the GRAND PRIZE you see above.  

Happy organizing and good luck!  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Student Reflection of Learning

I have lots of ideas and strategies that I will be adding this year to my classroom.  As the summer progresses, I will be blogging about some of them.  One of the components that I am going to make time for is student reflection.  One thing that I have done with my students for the last couple of years is a weekly student reflection form.  The students complete this form on Friday.

The students use the boxes to write a brief description of what they learned in each class for the week.  Then, the students write their favorite part of the week, set a goal for the upcoming week, and then my favorite part….they have an opportunity to tell me anything they want to share.  Sometimes, the kids tell me something that they are looking forward to or something they really liked at school.  Other times, the kids will tell me concepts they didn't understand or issues, like bullying.  These forms have been great tool for both my students and me.  If you would like to download this editable file, it's available for free in my TpT store.  You can download it here or by clicking on the picture below.  

I love these forms, but this is a once a week reflection.  I want to implement something daily, so the kids have a reflection time daily.  This summer, I stubbled across this file by Aimee VanMiddlesworth.  

My plan is to make an "End of the Day" jar with these reflection cards in it.  Each afternoon, I will draw a card out and have the kids think-pair-share their thoughts on the question.  This will promote student reflection, as well as, encourage students to practice discussing and sharing opinions and ideas.  

I will be putting together my "End of the Day" reflection jar soon, among other things.  I will post pictures when I have it finished.  Until then, I wanted to share with you some ideas for how to get your students to reflect on their learning.  :)  

Happy Monday!  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Flash Sale

Summer Flash Sale…all items in my store will be 20% off for today only