Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Students Play Teacher: Writing Their Own Questions—with FREE download!

Posted by Diane Roethler on Sep 18, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Roethler-6-2-150This is a guest blog post from fifth-grade teacher Diane Roethler. If you like what you read here, read her other posts or check out her blog at this link!

I have previously blogged about both the Biography and Download series. Today I am sharing another quick and easy way to use those books or any other nonfiction books in your classroom.

Roethler-6-1-150After students have had the chance to read the book, they become the teacher and prepare questions for the other students to answer. Give them a blank task-card template, and let them create the question and four answer options.

It is interesting to see what kinds of questions students ask. Some go for big-idea questions, while others try to stump their classmates with the tiniest detail.

Roethler-6-150It is also interesting to see what kinds of answers choices students provide. Do they try to trick others with the answer choices, or do they have one obvious answer?

Allow the students to check their classmates’ work. If a lot of students have the same wrong answer, the student can go back to their question to see if they could have worded it differently or given better answer choices. The possibilities for extension activities are endless!

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Diane has been teaching fifth grade in Iowa since 1999. She has her masters in Educational Technology and loves finding ways to integrate technology into her curriculum. She blogs about organization, classroom management, DIY projects, and more at fifthinthemiddle.blogspot.com. 

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To download an information sheet with more information about the Download series, which contains the books show in this post, click the image to the left below. To download the nonfictio book worksheet, click the image to the right.

Download Series Highlights   Nonfiction Book Worksheet Download

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Topics: Informational Text, Biography Series, Download, Diane Roethler

Fun with Biographies: Compare and Contrast—with FREE download!

Posted by Diane Roethler on Sep 2, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from fifth-grade teacher Diane Roethler. If you like what you read here, check out her blog at this link!

Hameray has several high-interest biography texts that can be used to compare and contrast people’s lives. At the fifth-grade level, Common Core states that students should be able to integrate information from two or more texts, so this is a great way to start working on those skills.

In the group of books that I have, I found that the biographies of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs paired well. Any student this age who knows anything about technology should recognize these two names. If they don’t, they will still be interested in these people with a brief introduction.

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Benjamin Franklin and George Washington would be another nice pair. Both were huge influences when our country was fighting for its independence from Britain, but for completely different reasons. Students would be able to find many, many similarities and differences.

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Another pair in the books that I have is Sacagawea and Chief Sitting Bull. Even though they were both Native Americans, their lives were completely different. Another good set of books to have students think about similarities and differences.

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Diane has been teaching fifth grade in Iowa since 1999. She has her masters in Educational Technology and loves finding ways to integrate technology into her curriculum. She blogs about organization, classroom management, DIY projects, and more at fifthinthemiddle.blogspot.com. 

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To download an information sheet with more information about the Hameray Biography Series, which contains the books shown in this post, click the image to the left below. To download the Biography Compare and Contrast Worksheet, click the image to the right.

  Biography Series Highlights   Biography Compare and Contrast Worksheet Download

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Topics: Informational Text, Biography Series, Diane Roethler

A Scavenger Hunt for Informational Text Features—with FREE download!

Posted by Diane Roethler on Jun 20, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from fifth-grade teacher Diane Roethler. If you like what you read here, check out her blog at this link!

One of the activities that my kids like to do with nonfiction books sets is a sort of scavenger hunt. I like the hunt to focus on various features of nonfiction books—table of contents, index, glossary, etc. 

In my experience, when you ask a specific question, students don’t even know where to begin, so they start paging through the entire book. Needless to say, that is very inefficient and time-consuming. It’s also frustrating for the students. So I like activities like this as an intro to nonfiction books.

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For this particular activity, I will be using books from the Download series. They are high-interest, yet my lower students will experience success. I also tell the kids that if they wish to read the book after they’ve finished the hunt, they have my permission to do that. (It seems that some students are more likely to read the book if I tell them that they don’t have to read it.)

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I have included a generic worksheet that will go with any of the books in the Download series, and maybe even pair well with other nonfiction books that you have in your classroom. You can download this worksheet at the bottom of this page.

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Diane has been teaching fifth grade in Iowa since 1999. She has her masters in Educational Technology and loves finding ways to integrate technology into her curriculum. She blogs about organization, classroom management, DIY projects, and more at fifthinthemiddle.blogspot.com. 

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To download an information sheet with more information about the Download series, which contains the books show in this post, click the image to the left below. To download the nonfiction book worksheet, click the image to the right.

Download Series Highlights   Nonfiction Book Worksheet Download

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Topics: Informational Text, Download, Diane Roethler

Making Comics Based on Readers' Theater Scripts

Posted by Diane Roethler on Jun 4, 2014 10:21:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from fifth-grade teacher Diane Roethler. If you like what you read here, check out her blog at this link!

The books in the SuperScripts series are great high-interest, low-reading-level scripts that are perfect for small-group work. Each character is color-coded to make following along much easier. The topics cover activities and interests that my fifth graders love. This activity allows them to exercise their creativity as well as show that they are following the story line.

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Since my students love to draw, one activity that I will be trying is to have the students create a comic strip to go with a portion of the script. The plan is to have each student choose an exciting/important part of the story to illustrate in a comic strip format. They dialogue is provided, so they just need to map it out and add the pictures.

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Students will create four to five panels to illustrate the portion of the script they choose. It will be important that they include details in the pictures that have been stated in the script, such as character appearance, location etc. While the series of books does have illustrations in each book, there is plenty of opportunity for students to imagine what has not been included. In order to be successful with this activity, students will need to be able to comprehend the events in order to draw the accurately.

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Diane has been teaching fifth grade in Iowa since 1999. She has her masters in Educational Technology and loves finding ways to integrate technology into her curriculum. She blogs about organization, classroom management, DIY projects, and more at fifthinthemiddle.blogspot.com. 

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To download an information sheet with more information about the SuperScripts series, which contains the books show in this post, click the image below.

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Topics: SuperScripts, Diane Roethler

Using Hand Lenses to Find and Sort Hidden Factoids—with FREE download!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on May 23, 2014 3:14:53 PM

diane_roethler-200This is a guest blog post from fifth-grade teacher Diane Roethler. If you like what you read here, check out her blog at this link!

One type of activity that I have been incorporating in my classes this year has been the use of hand lenses. Actually, I read about the idea from a previous Hameray blog post by Laureen Stewart, and I have adapted it for older students. Students use a hand lens to find teeny-tiny words that I have somewhat hidden on the page, then they either sort those words into different categories or find out some sort of significance for them. Normally I have done this in my social studies classes, but now I’m finding ways to bring the activity into ELA.

To create an activity for an ELA center, I found important people, places, and things in the book Steve Jobs: Apple and Beyond. I tried to pick out things that would interest the majority of my students, like his ideas and inventions, movies he helped to make, and a few facts that they would find interesting. Then the students sorted those words into the appropriate places on the worksheet.

It’s a really quick, easy, and highly-engaging way to have students show what they discovered!

Roethler-2-1 Roethler-2-2

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Diane has been teaching fifth grade in Iowa since 1999. She has her masters in Educational Technology and loves finding ways to integrate technology into her curriculum. She blogs about organization, classroom management, DIY projects, and more at fifthinthemiddle.blogspot.com. 

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To download the free worksheet, click the image to the left below. To download an information sheet with more information about the Hameray Biography Series, which contains the books show in this post, click the image to the right.

Steve Jobs Biography Worksheet     Biography Series Highlights
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Topics: Biography Series, Diane Roethler

Motivating Students with QR Codes: Working with Biographies

Posted by Diane Roethler on May 9, 2014 10:32:06 PM

diane_roethler-200This is a guest blog post from fifth-grade teacher Diane Roethler. If you like what you read here, check out her blog at this link!

My fifth graders find QR codes to be highly motivating. I can take any old boring question, turn it into a QR code, and my students are instantly engaged. If you are unfamiliar with QR codes, they are squares that are made up of differing black and white patterns. You use an app to scan the code, and it shows up on your device as a website, text, or any number of techy formats.


In my literacy class, I was working with a small group of students on some basic information-finding skills with a few of the hi-lo biography series books.
The students love these books because they are about people whom we are studying in social studies, as well as people that are modern-day. Since each book was about a different person, I wanted my questions to be somewhat generic. Roethler-1-200Students scanned each question with one of our school iPods and wrote the responses on a piece of notebook paper.

If you are interested in using QR codes with your classroom, it’s not as complicated as it might seem. The first thing that I do is type out the questions I want to use. This serves two purposes: it makes it easy to cut and paste the question into the QR code generator, and it also provides the questions in text form in case technology fails on the day you want to use the codes.

After typing out the questions, I go to a QR code generator website. I use http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ because it’s free and you don’t have to sign up for an account in order to use it. I’m sure that there are many other great generator websites out there. From here, the directions are specific to the website you use. On the Kaywa website, click the word More next to the downward arrow. Click the circle next to the word Text (because you want text to appear when the code is scanned). Copy and paste your first Roethler-2-200question into the textbox on the website and click Generate. You can also type them in, but I copy and paste since I’ve already typed them once. Then right-click or control-click on the code itself, and choose Copy Image. Paste the image into any document of your choice (Word, PowerPoint, etc.) that allows pictures to be used. Repeat the process with your other questions.

Free QR code reader/scanner apps are widely available, although they may have advertisements. You will have to search through your device’s application store to see what you can download. Your device will need to use the camera. Once you have the reader downloaded, all the student has to do is scan to code to reveal the question you asked. Easy peasy!

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Diane has been teaching fifth grade in Iowa since 1999. She has her masters in Educational Technology and loves finding ways to integrate technology into her curriculum. She blogs about organization, classroom management, DIY projects, and more at fifthinthemiddle.blogspot.com. 

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To download the free activity, click the image to the left below. To download an information sheet with more information about the Hameray Biography Series, which contains the books show in this post, click the image to the right.

  Biography QR Activity   Biography Series Highlights
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Topics: Biography Series, Technology, Diane Roethler

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