Archive | October, 2014

Pumpkin Visualizing Fun!

18 Oct

Pumpkin Visualizing Fun | A fun activity to help your students practice visualizing for the fall season (@MsJordanReads)

With the fall season upon us, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring more PUMPKINS into my teaching! ‘Tis the season, right? ūüôā

Last week, I reviewed visualizing with one of my 3rd grade RtI groups. We talked about the purpose of descriptive words and spent some time reviewing adjectives.

To reinforce descriptive language, we went on an adjective word hunt using¬†various pumpkin poetry. I love using¬†Virginia Kroll’s “Pumpkins” poem (you can find this poem in Read and Understand Poetry, Grades 2-3). It has a fun rhythm, and it really hooks my reluctant readers. Plus, it has over a dozen adjectives crammed into the poem! If you don’t have this resource, you can use any poem about pumpkins that includes adjectives.

MsJordanReads Poems About Pumpkins:

Other Poems About Pumpkins:

The students highlighted the adjectives in the poem, and we recorded our adjectives on an anchor chart.

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My students then helped me brainstorm additional adjectives for the different categories. We made our own roll-a-pumpkin chart and the students had fun rolling dice for adjectives and visualizing pumpkins using the adjectives they rolled.

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They recorded their first round of Roll-a-Pumpkin adjectives in their writing notebooks and sketched using a pencil.

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This was a great activity for students to practice visualizing because they had to incorporate ALL the adjectives they rolled and had to make their pumpkins come to life! We made final copies of our illustrated pumpkins with an adjective sentence to display in the hallway.

Interested in trying out this activity?

Create your own roll-a-pumpkin charts with your students, or grab the ready-to-use Roll-a-Pumpkin! activity packet I uploaded to TpT. All you have to do is print and provide a dice! There are two different chart & recording options (3 adjectives or 5 adjectives).

 

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Happy Teaching! 

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Hooking Reluctant Readers With Series Starters

13 Oct
A blog post sharing a collection of series books to hook reluctant readers. The collection includes a variety of engaging books and novels to motivate young readers to fall in love with reading.

Half of my battle as a Reading Specialist¬†is to help my struggling readers¬†fall in love with reading. It’s a vicious cycle: When you struggle to read, it’s not fun. When you don’t think it’s fun, you don’t practice reading. When you don’t practice reading, you’ll continue to struggle. —¬†This cycle is¬†extremely frustrating for the parents and¬†myself!

I have a leveled classroom library of books the students choose from for take-home reading practice. Fiction and non-fiction. Easy¬†books and chapter books. Each year I watch as my¬†struggling readers choose¬†the short, easy books only. (“Chapter books?! No thanks!”) I think they get intimidated by longer texts. They don’t feel “they’re ready.” They’re¬†afraid of being unable to read it or of getting¬†frustrated. It’s my job to encourage my students to move away from the easy readers (or at least to find a balance),¬†and to help them realize that chapter books are¬†NOT¬†so scary!

To help with this goal, I’m always on the look-out¬†for new books. This year, I’ve been on the hunt for¬†books (level L-O) that would be appropriate and interesting for¬†my 3rd and 4th grade struggling readers. I’m typically a Scholastic shopper (Scholastic Points!) or an Amazon shopper (Prime = 2 day delivery!) when I have titles in mind, but when I am exploring¬†new books,¬†I always need to sit on the floor and actually¬†dive into the books. An hour¬†in Barnes & Noble later…¬†I chose FIVE series I thought my students would love!

“Series Starters” are the best way to hook struggling readers. I always choose the first in the series with the hope that they’ll love the book¬†and want to read more. If I discover¬†a series they absolutely love, I take it on as my personal mission to find more. I’ll check garage sales, Half.com, Amazon, and eBay for used books, or I’ll save up my Scholastic points. I’ve also spent quite a few dollars from my own pocket because a¬†growing,¬†diverse¬†classroom library full of books my kids will actually READ is important to me. (Check out Scholastic’s article “Ten Easy Ways to Get Books for Your Classroom Library” for more ideas!)

Before I share the five series starters I chose, I wanted to share my FAVORITE series find from last year… (or in this case, should I say “favourite?”)

Oliver Moon

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Even though this is not a series I bought this¬†year, I feel it’s¬†great way to kick-off my list. These books are¬†actually the reason I started collecting series starters and have a whole bookshelf dedicated to series¬†“firsts.”

Last year, I fell in love with the Oliver Moon series by Sue Mongredien. I always ask my students what they’re reading at home, and one of my students introduced me to a whole slew of books I never even heard of, including this series. I borrowed his copy of Oliver Moon and the Potion Commotion¬†and proceeded to buy the¬†whole series on eBay that night… only to find out I bought the UK version, not the US version. #teacherfail #sortof. I didn’t realize there were two different versions; however, Barnes & Nobles only carries a few of the Oliver Moon books.¬†I suppose I’d rather have the whole set (Amazon sells them used here: Oliver Moon Collection), but for those who aren’t familiar to Harry Potter, I had to teach them some UK translations (i.e., mum, pyjamas, etc.). Teachable moment, I guess?¬†I still sent the books¬†home with my kids, but with the disclaimer that they would have to use their context clues strategies (or parents) to help them with unfamiliar words. ūüôā

Junior wizards with magic and potions? At a level O/P? Yes, please! My 3rd and 4th grade students love these books, and they can enjoy a parallel world to Harry Potter without having to read level X, Y, Z books! (There is a great interactive website of activities to go along with the book series, too!)

The Notebook of Doom

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As for this year’s finds, one of my¬†4th grade students told¬†about The Notebook of Doom¬†series. This particular student¬†loves graphic novels but¬†was getting frustrated reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. At¬†a level T, the Wimpy Kid books are OK for some¬†4th graders, but¬†way¬†above his level! He still wants to read them someday, which is a great incentive for him to practice reading, but this new series is a much better¬†fit for him.

The Notebook of Doom series, by Troy Cummings, is¬†a hybrid of graphic novel and prose,¬†like the Wimpy Kid books,¬†but much more appropriate for my¬†4th & 5th grade struggling readers. They’re¬†about a new kid, Alexander Bopp, who finds a notebook filled with drawings of monsters and starts seeing these monsters all over town. The series covers his run-ins with these monsters and his adventures trying to uncover the mystery¬†of the monster-filled notebook.

The¬†series starter, Rise of the Balloon Goons, is a level N, but the rest are levels O/P. (Here’s a sample from Scholastic if you want to check it out!)

Shark School

The Shark School series by Davy Ocean is all about the (mis)adventures of Harry, a hammerhead shark, and his under-the-sea friends. Right away, I thought to myself, the boys are going to LOVE this series!

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The series starter,¬†Deep-Sea Disaster, is about Harry wanting to be a different kind of shark, anything but a hammerhead. After a disaster during a class field trip, Harry learns to appreciate being exactly who¬†he is — a¬†great character lesson!

I had difficulty finding extra information or resources on this series (it seems like a spin-off of the Harry Hammer series in the UK), but it looks promising! I feel like it will grow with popularity, especially now that Scholastic offers the series starter as part of their Scholastic Reading Club!

NOTE: I couldn’t find an exact level of these books, but my best guess based on readability is a Level P. (Please email me if you know the exact level. I was comparing to other level P’s in my library!)¬†

Bad Kitty

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Bad Kitty is a well-developed, popular graphic novel series by Nick Bruel! My students have always loved the picture book (level I), so I decided to check out the chapter books. They are hilarious and do not disappoint. Like always, I started with #1 in the series (there are seven in all).

With¬†the series starter,¬†Bad Kitty Gets a Bath, I know my students¬†will love reading about how the “bad kitty” misbehaves in order to avoid a bath. I was laughing as I was exploring this series at the bookstore, especially since I have a cat at home that would probably behave the same way.

Most of the books within the series are levels P/Q, but a few are R-T. There are many interactive games and activities for this series, as well! I downloaded a mad libs activity for the series starter, which I know will be a huge hit.

My Weird School

Dan Gutman is the author of the¬†hilarious multi-series, My Weird School,¬†My Weirder School, and My Weird School Daze (Level N/O). His books are perfect for reluctant readers, as he draws them in with his silly humor. The idea that there’s¬†a school full of “weird” teachers just makes students giggle. (Let’s face it… we’re all a little weird, right?) ūüôā

In addition to his wonderful collection of books, there is a fabulous¬†website for teachers and students:¬†My Weird Classroom Club.¬†I shared this as a link on¬†my classroom website so that my students can¬†explore the author’s “wacky world of weird” before, during, and after reading the series starter!

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(Teachers can download classroom resources and printable activities, while students can explore the website to read about the books, play online games, and so much more!)

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The series starter, Miss Daisy Is Crazy!, is just one¬†of MANY books I look forward to sharing with my students! I just know that I’m going to have to collect them all since¬†my students are already¬†asking for more adventures from Dan Gutman’s Ella Mentry School.

The Never Girls

The¬†Never Girls series is¬†perfect for students who love the world of Disney and Peter Pan. The series dives into the wondrous world of Never Land, filled with the oh-so-famous Tinkerbell and other fairies. Each book is a new adventure of four real girls, who are best friends, in a fairy’s world.

The series starter, In a Blink, is filled with¬†imagination. It’s perfect for my struggling readers¬†who still believe in the magic of¬†Disney and fairies.

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Similar to other popular series, Disney has a whole interactive page of book activities through the Random House Kids website. These activities are perfect for the students who fall in love with this series. I especially like the acrostic poetry page!

NOTE: As with¬†the Shark School series, I couldn’t find an exact level of these books, but my best guess based on readability is a Level P. (Again, please email me if you know the exact level. I was comparing to other level P’s in my library!)¬†

Reading Series by Level

With so many series to keep track of, I created¬†a¬†Popular¬†Reading¬†Series by Level¬†resource¬†to document the different series options in my classroom library.¬†This would be a wonderful¬†at-a-glance resource¬†for helping¬†students pick out “just right” books.¬†Feel free to download this file for your classroom.

(Don’t know how to download Google Docs? Click the link, or the image below, and click “File” and then “Download As.” You can choose to download it as a Word document or a PDF. If you choose to download as a Word document, you should be able to edit it for your own classroom use!)

Leveling Books

Within each series, the reading levels of books often varies. If you’re looking for the exact levels¬†for specific titles within a series, use Scholastic Book Wizard (FREE website or app) or the Level It¬†Books app ($3.99). Unfortunately, not every title is listed, but it will at least give you a start!

I hope this blog post introduced you to a few new series! My plan is to share a few more later on in the school year, especially as I come across new series. If you have any to recommend, though, I would love to hear from you! Comment below or email me: msjordanreads@gmail.com.

What series do you use in your classroom? Are there any other “Series Starters” I should add to my classroom library? Any that I should add to my growing “Popular Reading Series by Level” resource list?¬†

Happy Teaching!

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A Harvest-Themed Fluency Freebie

2 Oct


Fall is my favorite time of year, and I love sharing my love of fall with my students!

To help you focus on fluency¬†in your classroom, I’m sharing my brand-new¬†Daily Fluency Task Cards¬†— Fall Freebie.¬†These task cards are perfect for reinforcing fluency skills in the classroom. Students will love the different activities focusing on pace, phrasing, expression and attention to punctuation. There is a total of 24 fall-themed fluency task cards that you can use for the months of October/November. I hope your students enjoy them as much as my students do! ūüôā

(NOTE: The¬†resource I’m sharing is an off-shoot of my new¬†Daily Fluency Task Card series. Read more about this series in my blog post here!)

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**NOTE: This post was originally part of a Harvest Blog Hop with The Reading Crew. Feel free to go back and check out the first stop in the blog hop or head on over to the next blog in the hop sequence, Literacy Loving Gals, to collect additional freebies!

 

Happy Teaching! 

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Fall Fluency Task Cards that you can download for your classroom FREE! | Free printable task cards for fluency practice at school or at home. Students will enjoy the variety of fluency tasks!

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