Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Teaching Verb Tenses with Informational Texts

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Dec 1, 2016 3:25:00 PM

The end of the calendar year provides a perfect opportunity to have a discussion about time and how to indicate time with language. The Common Core Standards for first grade require that students “use verbs to convey a sense of past, present, and future (e.g., Yesterday I walked home; Today I walk home; Tomorrow I will walk home)” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.1.E).

Both narrative and informational books allow students to identify various temporal signals in the text. This week, I will focus on using informational texts to familiarize students with time-related words and different tenses.

Arctic Fox, part of the Zoozoo Animal World Arctic Habitat set, describes the different changes that arctic foxes undergo from season to season. Your students will be intrigued to learn facts about this wintry and majestic animal!

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Before reading:

  • As a class, brainstorm a list of words and phrases that indicate time. The words can be specific (one minute, December, two o’clock) or relative (next, yesterday, now). Encourage students to consider different scales of time, from seconds and minutes to months and years.

During reading:

  • While reading, emphasize the verb “is” and its present tense. For example, page 3 states that the arctic fox, in the moment captured by the picture, is cold.

After reading:

  • Scan the book and add any other time-related words to your list. (Summer, winter)
  • Discuss the passage of time in this book. When is the arctic fox white? When is it gray?
  • What season are we in right now? What color is the arctic fox? (It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, so the arctic fox is white.)

Writing activity:

  • Have students complete the following sentences to demonstrate their understanding of different verb tenses.
    • Last summer, the arctic fox _______ (conjugated “to be” verb) _______ (adjective).
    • Now, it is winter. The arctic fox _______ (v) ________ (adj.).
    • Next summer, the arctic fox ___ ___ (v) _______ (adj.) again!
  • Using the book as guidance, students can either write about the different colors of the arctic fox or seasonal temperature differences.

As an extended reading activity, read Brown Bear from the Mountain Habitat Set. Challenge your students to identify the verb tense used in this book. Is the verb tense different from the one used in Arctic Fox?

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With Zoozoo Animal World, your students can learn about different animals and achieve Common Core Language Standards! Next Thursday, I'll take a look at using fictional narratives to learn about different verb tenses and the concept of time in books.

 

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Click the image below to download the FREE Zoozoo Animal World Teacher's Guide!

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Topics: Common Core, Informational Text, Zoozoo Animal World, First Grade, Verb Tenses

Classic Post: A Thanksgiving Lesson on Where Food Comes From—with FREE download

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Nov 22, 2016 3:34:00 PM

Thanksgiving, our biggest food holiday of the year, provides the perfect opportunity to do a short unit on food and how it gets to the table. As a harvest celebration, Thanksgiving naturally lends itself to discussions about farms and what a harvest is, as well as the various other steps in the food production process from farm to table.

thanksgiving dinner 250The foods traditionally eaten on Thanksgiving are generally minimally processed foods that are easily traced back to their farm origins. Try introducing your class to some food-related fictional literature, such as Thanksgiving Dinner (which lists traditional Thanksgiving foods in a playful rhyme), The Little Red Hen (which traces the bread-making process from seed to table), or your favorite Thanksgiving story or food/farm story.

Then bolster the ideas from those fictional stories with informational texts that teach children about farms, harvests, and where food comes from. In the Story World Real World series, the Little Red Hen theme set comes with the storybook and three food-related informational texts: Different Kinds of Bread (which explores different breads from around the world), Who Made Our Breakfast? (which uses real photography and facts to explain the seed-to-table process of breadmaking introduced in the story book), and Great Grains (which discusses how grains are used for food).

Other books that introduce children to farming include the following:

1) General: Where Does It Come From?; On the Farm

2) Animals: the books in the Farm habitat in the Zoozoo Animal World series

3) Plants: the books in the Growing Things theme of the My World series

Pretty much any books that help children make the connection between their food and its source will be helpful for this lesson.

One way to really tie the concept to the holiday is to ask your students to bring a Thanksgiving recipe from home, then trace each of the ingredients in the recipe back to its source. You can let the children or parents choose the recipe, or you can brainstorm a list of foods as a class, then divide the class into groups of assigned recipes. This also allows children who might not have traditionally American customs to suggest a special holiday dish from their own culture and share the information with the class.

You can download a free worksheet at the bottom of this page to use in this lesson! It spaces for recipe ingredients, whether the ingredient source is a plant or an animal, and a space for children to try to draw the ingredient (either in natural or processed form) or cut and past an image of it.

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To download your free reproducible worksheet, click the worksheet image below. To learn more about the series mentioned in this article, visit our website by clicking the book and series links embedded in the text.

Thanksgiving Recipe Worksheet

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Topics: Story World, Real World, Holiday, Lesson Plan, Kaleidoscope Collection, Zoozoo Animal World, My World

Presenting the NEW Zoozoo Animal World Teacher's Guide!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Nov 17, 2016 3:16:00 PM

 

Every student loves learning about animals! Not only do they boost science knowledge and understanding of natural habitats, animal books also help students expand their vocabulary and develop literacy skills. From the friendly sheep to the not-so-friendly crocodile, the Zoozoo Animal World features animals from all over the world. Each book contains talking points specific to each animal, helping educators and teachers (like you) further class discussion.

 Are you looking for new ways to include Zoozoo Animal World in your classroom? Want to know how to use them in your literacy lessons? At long last, we are happy to present the all-new Zoozoo Animal World Teacher’s Guide!

The Zoozoo Animal World Teacher’s Guide, available to download at the bottom of this post, focuses on six essential literacy skills—Comprehension, Fluency, Vocabulary: Content Words, Writing, Phonics, and Word Skills. For each animal book, the Teacher’s Guide also includes a bonus fact that you can share with your students.

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Now, you can easily discover which animals are best for teaching digraphs or conjunctions without flipping through each title!

Here’s a sneak preview of the Teacher’s Guide, which offers five exercises to improve your students’ reading fluency: 

  1. “Use the text in a shared reading. Encourage children to follow the text with their fingers as you read the book aloud.
  2. Instruct children to echo read with expression and phrasing.
  3. Have children reread the text, using context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding.
  4. Have pairs take turns reading the text to each other and give feedback about automaticity, rate, accuracy, intonation, expression, and phrasing.
  5. Have children independently engage in repeated readings.” 

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Download the Zoozoo Animal World Teacher’s Guide below for FREE—and let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Click the image below to download the FREE Zoozoo Animal World Teacher's Guide!

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Topics: Zoozoo Animal World, Teacher's Guides

STEM During the Month of October!

Posted by Margaret Hufstedler on Oct 27, 2016 3:38:00 PM

MaggueHufstedlerbiopicThis is a guest blog post by Margaret Hufstedler, a veteran teacher of 28 years who has taught kindergarten for the past 22 years. She is an accomplished musician, the owner of Maggie’s Kinder Corner, and co-moderator of #TeacherFriends Chat every Tuesday on Twitter.

What’s not to love about this time of year? October is the perfect time to kick learning into high gear with an already inquisitive group of kindergarten students. They have a “built-in radar” for all things that fly, screech, roll and grow!

During this month, we have discussed how animals prepare for the coming winter months; the change of the season with its hues of gold, red, and orange; and decreasing hours of daylight that allow those true colors to reveal themselves. So much to cover in so little time!
This year, we are focused on nocturnal creatures like bats, owls and coyotes, all of which are indigenous to our S. Missouri Ozarks. We will be making a Compare/Contrast Graphic about the similarities and differences in owls and bats. We’ll also be giving them a test flight after designing and studying the way they fly via conservation videos. And to get our learning off to a great start, we’ll be reading two little readers that relay a simple set of facts about the two flying creatures.

Hameray has some amazing materials for STEM! Among them are these two gems that give students basic knowledge using real photographs of the animals. Students prefer books of this nature that give them a first-hand look at something they are deeply interested in. The books I use come from Hameray’s ZooZoo Animal World Series.

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In addition to the Owl and Bat books, Hameray publishes a book about Coyotes, perfect for highlighting another well-known animal in the area my students live in. All of my students have heard the high-pitched barking of coyotes as they roam the hills and pastures hunting at night. This book really brings them to life!

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If I had one piece of advice for teaching about animals during the month of October, it would be to focus on animals native to the area in which you live. You can also include traditional creatures of the night associated with the season, though. Students love it all!

Pumpkins are another highly engaging topic of study. This year is a very special year in my class because all of the pumpkins we will be using were grown on our farm just across the road from our home. Students will get to help carve them, decorate them, eat them, and the most fun of all…ROLL them! We will study how the size of pumpkins has a great deal to do with how far they will roll!!!

Here is a video of my music room/dining room with just part of the harvest! It was so warm during late September/early October that we had to keep the pumpkins inside! We had as many as 260+ pumpkins in there at one time!

 

Overtaken by pumpkins!!! #weneedapumpkinintervention #anypumpkinpeddlersoutthere #teacherfriends #teachersofinstagram

A video posted by Maggie Hufstedler (@maggieskinder) on

I CAN’T WAIT to begin our Pumpkin and Bat activities! Just look at the cute “Nemo” stick-ons! They are the cutest!!! And just look at the realistic bats! I also have little bead necklace crafts for them to practice counting! 

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Click on the image below to download an information sheet about ZooZoo Animal World, which contains the books featured in this article.
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Topics: Zoozoo Animal World, Margaret Hufstedler, Halloween, STEM

Ocean Life Study in First Grade—With FREE Activity Sheet!

Posted by Cindy Price on Aug 16, 2016 3:00:00 PM

This is a guest blog post by Cindy Price, a first-grade teacher from Delaware. If you like what you read here, take a look at her blog at Mrs. Price's Kindergators, and be sure to check back here for more of her guest blog posts!

What do all kids love? Animals, especially ocean animals!

In first grade, we are focusing a lot on nonfiction readers. Sometimes, it is hard to find a nonfiction reader that is right for all of your students. The nonfiction readers in ZooZoo Animal World's Ocean Animals Set, however, are great for all of your learners. Below, I’ll walk you through the lesson that I teach to my class using the Sea Turtle book.

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To begin the lesson, we always start with our Wonder Wall. For those of you who have never heard of a Wonder Wall, it is a place in the classroom where the kids can post their wonders and refer to them throughout the lesson. On a sticky note, students write one thing they wonder about or want to know about sea turtles.

After the Wonder Wall, I show them the cover of the book. The kids look at the cover and then turn and talk with a partner to see what they know or think they know about sea turtles.

After discussing the cover, we begin to read the book. I love the pages of this book because the pictures are bright and colorful, and the text is easy enough for all learners to be successful. With a clean page layout, the reader can focus on what the text is saying. 

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As I read the text to them, I stop and ask them questions. I also allow them to ask questions and to talk with a partner throughout the book.

After we discussed the books, we completed some activity sheets. You can download my activity sheets for FREE at the bottom of this blog post! I created an activity sheet for each book: Sea Turtle, Octopus, Dolphin, Shark, Seahorse, and Killer Whale.

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I love these books! I used Sea Turtle as an example in my post, but the Ocean Animals Set also includes Octopus, Dolphin, Shark, and Seahorse. We also read Killer Whale from the Arctic Habitat Set!

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Click on the left image below to download Cindy Price's FREE 15-page activity sheet about Ocean Life Animals! Click on the right image below to learn more about the ZooZoo Animal World Series that is featured in this post.

Ocean Life Activity Sheet      New Call-to-Action

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Topics: Leveled Readers, Zoozoo Animal World, Nonfiction, First Grade, Cindy Price, Ocean Animals

Connecting Literacy, Science, and Current Events with the Brazilian Rainforest

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Aug 11, 2016 3:30:00 PM

In my previous post, I demonstrated how to incorporate the Summer Olympics into a lesson for improving literacy skills. Did you know that this year’s Games can also be seamlessly tied into a lesson about biodiversity? The Rio de Janeiro Olympics marks the first time that the Games take place in South America, home to the famous Amazon Rainforest. Brazil itself has one of the richest biodiversity in the world. By reading informational texts about the rainforest habitat, students can improve reading skills, extended scientific understanding, and learn how to create connections between the classroom and current events! 

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The New Generation Science Standards for second grade require that students understand the following concept: “There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water” (2-LS4-1). The ZooZoo Animal World’s Rainforest Habitat Set provides a compelling glimpse into the millions of species that live in the rainforest. In addition to detailed photos, each book also contains an animal vocabulary list to enrich the students’ repertoire of scientific words.

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Begin the lesson by contextualizing it within current events:

  • Where are the Summer Olympics happening this year?
  • Can anyone find Brazil on a map?
  • Introduce the Amazon Rainforest, a tropical forest that provides home to one-tenth of the planet’s species. More than half of the Amazon Rainforest lies inside Brazil! 

In addition to the suggested talking points featured inside the books, below are some fun facts to enrich your lesson:

Bat

  • Vampire bats, which can be found in Brazil, are the only mammals that feed exclusively on blood. These bats make a small bite and lick the blood of other animals—they don’t actually suck or drink human blood like vampires.

Butterfly

  • The blue morpho butterfly lives in the Amazon Rainforest. With a wingspan of five to eight inches, they are one of the largest butterflies in the world. All butterfly wings, however, are actually clear and covered by tiny scales—we just see different colors and patterns based on the ways that light reflect off of the scales.

Crocodile

  • Crocodiles can close their ears so water doesn’t enter while they swim. They also have great hearing, and can even hear crocodile babies calling from inside their eggs!

Snake

  • Brazil is home to the heaviest (and second longest) snake in the world, the anaconda. Although they aren’t poisonous, they always swallow their prey whole—imagine that!

Gorilla

  • Although gorillas only live in the African rainforest, they’re still fascinating to explore. Despite their intimidating body size, gorillas are herbivores!

Students are sure to love reading about the unique animals in the ZooZoo Animal World: Rainforest Habitat Set. By fulfilling Common Core ELA and Next Generation Science Standards at the same time, it’s a win-win lesson for everybody! Happy Olympics!

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Click the image below to download an information sheet with key features about ZooZoo Animal World, which contains the books featured in this blog post. Check out our website to learn about ZooZoo Mundo Animal, the Spanish version of the ZooZoo Animal World series!

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Topics: Leveled Readers, Zoozoo Animal World, Science, Olympics, Sally Hosokawa

Five-Senses Poems: Expanding Students' Writing

Posted by Susan Weaver Jones on Jun 16, 2016 3:30:00 PM

susan-weaver-jones.jpgToday's guest blogger is Susan Weaver Jones, an elementary educator from Orlando, Florida, who currently works as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee.

What can teachers do when their students' writings have the bare bones of stories or paragraphs but not much else? How can educators encourage their students to expand their writing by adding more information? Simply instructing students to add interesting details to their writing will not help them understand how to incorporate such description. To assist students in expanding their writing, teachers may find a five-senses poem to be an appropriate place to start.

A “five-senses poem” is a non-rhyming poem that follows a certain format. Once the topic is determined, each of the five lines in the poem focuses on a particular characteristic of the topic using a different sense: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. You can download my reproducible poem template at the bottom of this page

Topic: ___________

It looks like _____________________.        

It sounds like ___________________.

It smells like ____________________.

It tastes like ____________________.

It feels like _____________________.

Modeling the development of a five-senses poem provides the initial support that many students require. Choosing familiar experiences as topics involves students in the thinking process, since many students have relevant background knowledge.

For instance, I have used the topic of recess to introduce five-senses poems to my elementary students. The topic has been successful because recess is an activity in which they all have personal experience, as shown below 

Recess

It looks like kids playing together.

It sounds like friends yelling to each other.

It smells like sweaty socks and shoes.

It tastes like dirt in my mouth.

It feels like my legs are tired from running.

Discussing additional possibilities for the senses as they relate to the topic can help students create their own versions of the poem. Subsequently, students can attempt other five-senses poems on topics such as birthdays, holidays, and seasons with teacher support, as appropriate. As students become proficient in using their senses to describe, they can be guided to include sensory description in their narratives, as well.

Once students have accessed their background knowledge to write five-senses poems about familiar topics, they can learn to use informational texts as resources to create fact-based poems. Depending upon their familiarity with the topic, they may be able to combine their prior knowledge with new information gathered from text, pictures, and discussions. Primary, ELL, special ed, and struggling students may be more dependent than other students on what they learn from teacher-led class discussions and pictures to supplement what they can read.

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For example, when using the book Bat by Lee Waters in the Zoozoo Animal World series, teachers can provide important information about bats' habitats through the talking points on the inside back cover of the book. The following five-senses poem could result from students' knowledge about bats, the text, and the talking points. 

A Bat’s Habitat

It looks like a dark cave.

It sounds like fluttering wings.

It smells like a rainy day.

It tastes like crunchy insects.

It feels like a safe place to sleep upside down.

After modeling and discussion, students could work individually or in pairs to choose animals to read about. Afterward, they could write and illustrate their own five-senses poems about the habitats for the animals they selected, using their texts for reference.

Later, teachers could guide students to use the research-based poems as the basis of paragraphs about the topic. Instead of writing only two or three sentences using their background knowledge or copying sentences from books, students could develop paragraphs using details from their five-senses poems. Consider the differences between the following paragraphs about bats:

Bats live in caves. The caves are dark. Bats fly a lot. 

Bats like to sleep in dark caves. On rainy days, many bats hang upside down in the caves. They fly around at night to find crunchy insects to eat. Then they rest. When the bats wake up, the noisy sound of their wings fill the caves. 

Students can practice reading and writing about chosen topics through five-senses poems. Learning to write five-senses poems can help students include descriptive details and expand their writing, whether they are working on narrative stories or informational paragraphs!

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Susan Weaver Jones has taught students in kindergarten through eighth grade as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, Reading Recovery teacher, and literacy coach. She is also the author of three leveled readers in Hameray's Kaleidoscope Collection.

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To download Susan's activity, or an information sheet with key features about the series Zoozoo Animal World, which contain the books mentioned in this post, click the images below.

 

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Topics: Teaching Writing, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World, Poetry, Writing Activity

Cinquain Poems: Transition to Expository Writing

Posted by Susan Weaver Jones on Mar 3, 2016 3:36:54 PM

susan-weaver-jones.jpgToday's guest blogger is Susan Weaver Jones, an elementary educator from Orlando, Florida, who currently works as an ESL teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has taught students in Kindergarten through Eighth Grade as a Classroom Teacher, Reading Specialist, Reading Recovery Teacher, and Literacy Coach. She is also the author of three leveled readers in Hameray's Kaleidoscope Collection.

 

Teaching primary students how to read informational text is one thing. Teaching them how to write it is definitely something else! Then consider the challenge of working with intermediate students who struggle with writing or who are reluctant writers. What's a teacher to do?

With increasing emphasis on incorporating more expository text into literacy instruction, teachers may wonder how to best foster informational writing. Cinquain poems are one way to effectively link informational writing with description found in both narrative and expository writing.

Because cinquain poems do not rhyme and contain limited text within a specific format, they often appeal to students who prefer tasks with less writing. Cinquain poems are five-line poems that utilize different parts of speech, beginning with nouns. Though several variations exist, one version uses the following format. (Please see the reproducible cinquain template below.)

Noun
Adjective   Adjective
Verb with -ing   Verb with -ing   Verb with -ing
Descriptive phrase or short sentence
Synonym for noun

 For primary students who are not accustomed to using factual sources beyond themselves, the selection of nouns, adjectives, and verbs for the poems requires them to select key words that capture essential aspects of the subjects. Informational texts, such as Puffins by Lee Waters in the Zoozoo Arctic Animal World Collection, can provide important information about unfamiliar topics when students lack sufficient background knowledge and need additional resources. 

Consider this cinquain, based on the text and talking points in the early reader, Puffins.

Puffin
Colorful   Hungry
Flapping   Flying   Swimming
Likes to paddle in the water
Sea parrot

 Initially, teachers can model the process of writing cinquain poems by using topics with which the students are familiar. Familiar topics allow students to use their collective background knowledge as they experience the line-by-line creation of group cinquains. Later, students can experiment with less familiar topics once they have appropriate resources from which to gather needed information, as well as experience with the cinquain format. 

Here is a cinquain based on another bird, the bald eagle. Most primary students probably know more about eagles than puffins, so books, such as Bald Eagle by Lee Waters from the Zoozoo Forest Animal World Collection, can add to their knowledge. The text and talking points at the back of the book provide needed information.

Bald eagle
Fast   Light
Soaring   Grabbing   Eating
Builds big nests
National bird

 Cinquain poems are stand-alone, end products that can be illustrated and shared. However, they also provide students with key concepts that can become the basis for informational paragraphs. Read the following paragraph, which is based on details about bald eagles from the cinquain.

A bald eagle is a bird. It flies very fast. It is light, not heavy.
It soars in the air and grabs fish to eat. It can build a really big nest.
The bald eagle is the national bird for the U.S.A.

 

Here is another example of an informational paragraph written from the key concepts used in the cinquain about puffins.

Puffins are birds with colorful beaks and legs. They like
to swim in the ocean. They can catch 10 fish at one time. When
they paddle, they look like they're flying in the water. Some people
call them "sea parrots."

 

Teacher-led discussions about key concepts access students' background information from their own experiences and other resources. Those discussions are crucial for students, so they can verbalize different possibilities for the cinquains and the paragraphs, prior to recording their chosen information. In the paragraphs, the students can elaborate upon the key concepts.

Students can enjoy writing cinquain poems as they focus on informational text. Then they can learn how to expand their writing into sentences and paragraphs by using the cinquain poems as basis for discussion prior to further composing. Because the cinquains help students transition from outside sources to their own written expression, they are less likely to plagiarize source materials. Students can creatively demonstrate what they have learned about informational topics through poetry and expository writing. Happy writing!

 

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To download Susan's activity, or an information sheet with key features about the series Zoozoo Animal World, which contain the books mentioned in this post, click the images below.

 

New Call-to-Action     Cinquain Poems

 

 

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Topics: Teaching Writing, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World, Poetry, Writing Activity

Guided Reading Activities: Draw and Record—with FREE Download!

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Oct 20, 2015 6:09:00 PM

This is a guest post by Lyssa Sahadevan of Marietta, GA. She writes a blog called My Mommy Reads which is about motherhood and teaching-related topics.

SWRW_Bears_355As soon as I have the reader’s workshop model up and running in my first grade classroom, I begin running records with my students. I have read one on one with them before this point, but I want to dig deeper. I value this time getting to know them as readers and thinkers. While it takes quite a bit of time, the information I gain is invaluable when it comes to planning instruction. 

After analyzing the data from running records, I form guided reading groups. This is a happy day in my classroom! We follow the traditional guided reading model. I choose an instructional level text to share with a small group. We preview the text together and then focus on a specific skill such as vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, or phonics. Students keep the book in their just right bag for rereading.


Book choices include both fiction and nonfiction depending on our unit of study.
During our informational units, we often record our thinking on sticky notes while reading. Sometimes students wanted more though! Last year, one of my readers asked if he could have “bigger paper” to write what he learned while reading Bears. Another student was reading Cheetah and wanted to write all that she had learned about the “big, wild cat.” I happily obliged! 

Cheetah_Cover-Boswell-432From that point on, I decided to keep “Draw and Record” papers available for all students. They became quite popular and students even started asking to work on them during their free time! How exciting that students want to record and share their learning! It is also empowering students, as they are able to do so with pictures, words or both, allowing everyone to be successful. Another bonus? This meaningful activity comes in handy for teachers needing a minute or two to work with a couple of students in a small group.

Every reader, no matter what level they are on, wants to share their learning. This is a quick and fun way to just that! As you start guided reading, I hope this can be one more tool for your little informational experts! Download your Draw and Record Packet below!

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For more information on the books used in this blog click the series highlights images on the left below or click these links to visit our webpage for the Story World Real World and Zoozoo Animal World series. To download the Draw and Record Packet, click the image to the right.

New Call-to-Action   New Call-to-Action Draw and Record Packet CTA                                          
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Topics: Lyssa Sahadevan, Real World, Zoozoo Animal World, Guided Reading

3 Ways to Get Boys Reading

Posted by Charity Preston on May 12, 2015 4:00:13 PM

This is a guest blog post by teacher blogger Charity Preston. If you like what you read here, check back for more of her guest blog posts, or visit her over on The Organized Classroom Blog!

We know that many students, boys or girls, aren’t intrinsically motivated to read. This can be for a variety of reasons, including not feeling confident about their reading skills, it not being encouraged as a regular practice at home, or perhaps he or she just isn’t interested in the material at hand.

For many boys, in particular, reading choice selections can play a huge part in the buy-in process. How about three ideas for keeping them engaged and interested?

Comic Books and Graphic Novels

I would rather have students reading comic books than not reading at all. There is a lot of vocabulary involved on the pages of comic books and lots of themes involved as well. Plots of hero versus villain and right versus wrong might prevail, but so can smaller takeaways such as lessons of friendship. Graphic novels are a great way to keep boys clued in that all reading doesn’t have to be dry. Pick up a few for your classroom to see if it encourages your students to get reading. Sometimes multi-genre books contain sequences with comic-style drawings interspersed with exciting nonfiction topics, like the Download series does.

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Nonfiction Choices

Sports legends, snakes, and race cars are the stuff that nonfiction is made of. Use those key topics to your advantage. Nonfiction is full of text features you won’t find in your average chapter book. Filled with images and small, bite-sized chunks of information in captions and sidebars, nonfiction often captures boys' attention more. Plus, picking out topics of interest will not only increase vocabulary in those key subject areas, but it will keep students interested in learning more. You just might have to ask your boys to stop reading!

Snake_cover-PRINT-1    robinsonlg    motorcycleslg

Action Fiction Series

Many boys love a good action movie. Why not bring that movie to life in the books they read? For lots of students, it isn’t about quickly picking a book, but once he finds one in a series, he is suddenly hooked. Needing to read all the other adventures to find out what the main character is up to becomes an entire series of books. Perhaps an idea would be to do a “commercial” for several book series and use those to introduce the characters to your students. From that small teaser, your boys may be fighting over who gets the next chapter book!

robotlg zombieslg dayoflg

As adults, we typically don’t read too many items we aren’t particularly interested in - and your students are exactly the same! It is up to you to find varied materials with varied themes, characters, and formats. By providing a variety of literature, you are opening a whole world of language to your students and showing each that there is pleasure in reading just for fun!

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Charity Preston, MA, is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. You can see all her projects at www.PENGroupOnline.com.

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For more information on the Hameray Biography Series, Zoozoo Animal World, the Download series, or the Extraordinary Files, which were featured in this post, click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights and key features.

 Biography Series Highlights New Call-to-Action 

Download Series Highlights New Call-to-Action

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, Zoozoo Animal World, Biography Series, Download, Extraordinary Files, Charity Preston

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