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“Goodbye, Snow!” – A Free Poetry Resource for Spring

13 Mar

We recently had a few 70 degree days here in WNY! They were promptly followed by a week of freezing temperatures and a snowstorm on the way, but it was a nice reminder that spring is (hopefully) just around the corner.

The fleeting sunshine inspired me to put together a new spring freebie just for you! “Goodbye, Snow!” is a simple poem that you can use for fluency practice in your classroom. Save it for April’s poetry month, or try it out tomorrow. You can use it for small group instruction, literacy centers, or even to send home with students.

GoodbyeSnow Poem

As a bonus, there are four corresponding comprehension activities to go with the poem: “Make-Your-Own Poem,” “My Visualization” “My Connection,” and “Poetry Vocabulary.”

GoodbyeSnowActivities

Download the spring freebie by clicking HERE or the image below!

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Looking for additional spring resources? Click here to check out my other spring products or check out some of my favorite spring-themed books below!

What are your favorite books, poems, or resources for celebrating spring in the classroom?

Happy Teaching! 

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**This post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to learn what that means!

Teaching Author’s Message with Penguin & Pinecone

27 Nov

Unpack your scarves and boots… winter is fast-approaching! To help you prepare for the long winter season, I’m sharing a wonderful winter mentor text and resource to use with your students this snowy season.

Last November, I had the privilege of attending the NYS Reading Association conference where Salina Yoon was presented with the 2014 Charlotte Award for her book Penguin and Pinecone. She talked about her inspiration for writing this beautiful book and the message about friendship she hoped to share with her readers. It was very inspiring to listen to her speak and share her story, and I just knew I needed to share this story with YOU!

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Book Description

“When penguin finds a lost pinecone one day, an unlikely friendship blooms.”

Penguin and Pinecone (MsJordanReads)

In the heart-warming story, Penguin and Pinecone, a little penguin becomes friends with a pinecone; however, he finds out that his friend pinecone can’t live in the snow, so he takes the pinecone back to his home in woods with the hope of being reunited again. Later, he visits his friend pinecone in the woods and discovers that “love only grows over time.” (Read the full summary at www.salinayoon.com)

penguinandpinecone

Lesson Introduction

So how do I use this story in my classroom? Well… I actually use this grades 2-5 with all the students I work with, since it’s a great mentor text for all ages, but for this specific lesson, I used it to teach author’s message to my RTI 2nd & 3rd graders.

First, to get my students thinking about the story, I show them the book trailer created by Salina Yoon.

PenguinPineconeBookTrailer

I have them activate their schema, thinking about what friendship means, and then I ask them to think deeply about why this book is labeled as “a friendship story.” I share that friendship and love are the two themes of the story, and I ask the students to make predictions about what the author’s message might be (connected to themes). Students record their predictions on a sticky note to revisit after we finish reading.

NOTE: If your students need a review of what “author’s message” is, you may wish to use the poster below (it’s a forever freebie!) or create an anchor chart for your classroom.

AuthorsMessage_MsJordanReads

With their individual predictions in mind, students now have a personal purpose for reading — to see if their author message predictions are correct!

Lesson Activity

For my 2nd and 3rd grade groups, I read the story aloud to the students. In my small groups, the students follow along in their copies of the text. (NOTE: You could easily share it as a read aloud on your reading rug, or even using a projector screen using an AverMedia player with your whole class.)

After reading the story, we talk about the story events and complete a shared graphic organizer for author message. Students hunt for text-evidence to support their understanding of the author’s message (CCSS RL2.1, RL3.1). They use this evidence in their written responses and visualizations.

Penguin and Pinecone Graphic Organizers (MsJordanReads)

There are many discussion questions connected to theme and author’s message you can use during your instruction. These can also be used as writing prompts.

Possible Discussion Questions: 

  • What is the author’s message for FRIENDSHIP? (How do you know?)
  • What is the author’s message for LOVE? (How do you know?)
  • What does Penguin learn about friendship and love from his friendship with Pinecone?
  • What did YOU learn from the story about Penguin and Pinecone?
  • What evidence from the text supports the author’s message that “Love only grows over time”?
  • What evidence from the text supports the author’s message that “Friendship lasts forever, even if you’re miles apart”?
  • Why do you think the author chose these themes for her book?
  • Why do you think the author chose these specific messages for her book?

Download This Resource

Would you like try out this resource in your classroom? Check it out here or by clicking the cover image below. You can use this resource as a shared lesson, similar to how I explained it above, to model author’s message using a think-aloud process. You can also use it for students to apply their knowledge of the skills independently.

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(NOTE: This resource was a limited time free resource from 11/27/15 – 12/4/15 as part of a blog hop. It has since returned to being a paid resource in my TpT store.)

Lesson Extension

There are SO many lesson extensions for Penguin and Pinecone. I could make it a blog post in itself, but below are a few resources and ideas for you to try out and explore for yourself!

EDUCATOR’S GUIDE:

Salina Yoon shares a wonderful CCSS-aligned educator’s guide on her website to use with your students. This resource (created by www.teachingseasons.com) includes text-based activities for sensory language, making predictions, compare/contrast, sequence of events, and author’s message. You can download it for FREE here!

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PENGUIN’S BLOG: 

Apparently, penguin has his own blog! It’s a cute photo journal from penguin’s point of view, sharing what he’s been up to. It hasn’t been updated since 2013, though, so this could be a fun writing extension activity to use with your students. Students have to think beyond the text to come up with what they think penguin is doing now in 2015. Have students create a picture/photo journal, or even their own blog from penguin’s point of view. As an extension to the mentor text lesson, students could try to incorporate their own “author’s message” into their journal/blog entries. (They could use one of the penguin crafts below to document their penguin’s journey in photos!)

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PENGUIN CRAFTS:

COLORING PAGES:

The author created three coloring pages you can use for your K-2 fast finishers. Check them out here!

SalinaYoonColoringPages

AUTHOR STUDY:

I came across a wonderful interview on the Charlotte Award blog that I thought would be fun to share with students. It could lead nicely into an author study, after using it as a mentor text. Students can even compare/contrast the author’s messages in each book!

ADDITIONAL BOOKS IN THE PENGUIN SERIES: 

Check out the other books in Salina Yoon’s series:

Happy Winter!

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NOTE: This blog post was originally part of a blog hop sponsored by The Reading Crew. We divided our blog posts into primary and upper elementary link-ups. Explore the category that is most appropriate for the grade you teach, or check out both if you wish. Each blog post will feature a mentor text along with a corresponding skill freebie to use with the book.

Grades K-2 Link-Up
Click HERE or the image below to access all the blog posts in the K-2 link-up!

ReadingWinterWonderlandLinkyK2

Grades 3 & Up Link-Up
Click HERE or the image below to access all the blog posts in the Grades 3 and up link-up!
ReadingWonderland3UpLinkUp

 

Summer Stock Up!

26 Jun

Summer is FINALLY here for us WNY teachers! My last day of school was yesterday, and I am beyond ready to relax and recharge. Of course, in between relaxing and recharging, I will be planning and thinking ahead to next year. (Do teachers really ever take a break?!) The summer always goes by fast, so I’ve decided to pull together some resources for a Summer Stock Up event to help us get ready for next year. Stock up now so you can relax and enjoy the last bit of summer! 🙂 Summer Stock Up This past year, I’ve been slowly building-up my fluency toolbox and creating resources that can be used as interventions with my RTI students. I like to dig deep into fluency and really target the specific area of fluency they struggle with. (Pace? Phrasing? Expression? Attention to Punctuation?) With a new year of fluency groups in mind, it is my summer goal to finish my growing collection of differentiated “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards.  Slide03 “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards are geared toward elementary-level students. They’re easy to use and perfect for the classroom! They can be used in many ways and are helpful for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and assessing fluency phrasing with your students.

(Sets 1-8 are ALL currently available on TpT!) 

These task card sets can be sent home for practice, used as a center, incorporated into Daily Five, or used in small groups. Directions and suggestions for use are included with each set. Scoop It Product Details Each “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Card set includes the same components, but just increases in difficulty. You can purchase one set, or you can purchase the whole collection! IMG_7212 There are two formats of task cards within each set. The task cards with scoop lines are perfect for students to practice reading with phrasing, following the scoop lines with their fingers as they read. Scoop It Reading Task Cards The task cards without scoops are helpful for students who need practice with identifying appropriate phrases within a sentence. If you laminate the cards, students can draw in the scoop lines (using dry-erase markers) and can practice grouping the different words together. They can then practice reading the sentences afterward. Scoop It Interactive Cards The 48 task cards in each set each feature a targeted phonics pattern. Set 1 starts off with pre-primer words and basic CVC word patterns. Each set increases in difficulty. By Set 6, your students will be interacting with multi-syllable words and complex vowel patterns. Use multiple task card sets to differentiate your practice and instruction. IMG_7217All of the “Scoop It” task card sets are currently available in my MsJordanReads store. The collection consists of the following sets:

There is also a “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Card Bundle if you’re interested in grabbing all the sets at once and at a discounted price.

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“Scoop It” Freebie & Giveaway

Be sure to stop by my Facebook page this weekend to download a FREE sample of my newest “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards (Set 2). Just look for my “Summer Stock Up” tab to download it. When you’re done, click “More Freebies” to stock up on additional resources from the other participants and see their products in action! Also, as part of this wonderful Summer Stock Up event, I am offering a giveaway for TWO lucky winners! Each winner will receive the completed “Scoop It” sets that are currently available in my store. Enter by completing the form below. I will be randomly choosing the winners Friday, July 3rd and announcing on my Facebook page. The winners will also be notified by email!

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED! Thank you to everyone who entered. A huge CONGRATULATIONS to Allison Kieffner & Jennifer Lyman for winning my “Scoop It!” Fluency Task Card giveaway! (An email will be sent with the resources!)

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Happy Summer!

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Avoid the Dreaded “Summer Slide” with Fluency Fun

19 Jun

 

Avoid the Dreaded Summer Slide with Fluency Fun - MsJordanReads

Practicing oral reading fluency throughout the summer is a great way for children to further develop reading skills and prevent summer regression.

Fluency is the glue that holds together oral reading and comprehension. Without fluency, your student or child may have a difficult time understanding the text they are reading. It is the path to comprehension and is a key foundational skill for children who are learning to read.

There are many resources and activities you can use to develop fluency skills. Many of the activities are free and just require books or texts at your child’s “independent level.” The goal is not to challenge your child with complex phonics patterns or unknown words, but to have them interact with texts that are on the easier side. This transfers the focus from “word reading” to “reading for meaning.”

Over the past few years, I’ve shared many fluency activities for teachers to use in the classroom; however, many of these activities can be used at home, as well.

Here are a few fluency activities that parents can try at home this summer:

Rereading

Rereading texts is one of the best ways to improve oral reading fluency (and comprehension!). After the first read-through, students are more familiar with the words and can focus on grouping words together, adding expression, and stopping at punctuation. They can also try to improve their reading pace. Although reading speed is not the biggest focus of fluency, an improved pace will subsequently improve your child’s comprehension of texts. The pace should increase naturally as your child completes multiple readings of the same text!

Poetry

Poetry is a great way for children to practice fluency! Typically, poems are short enough that they can complete multiple readings in one sitting. If your child needs fluency practice, he/she would benefit from listening to someone read each poem with “good fluency” first before practicing it. As a parent, you can model the poem and then have your child “echo read” each line to build up accuracy and phrasing. It takes away the “unknown word barrier” and allows your child to focus on changing his/her voice to sound like you! Poetry is an effective resource that allows children to practice all the components of fluency at once.

Audio Recording

Having children record themselves reading is an extremely powerful fluency tool! There are many free programs out there that are easy to use and allow kids to record their reading (i.e., Audacity for computers, iTalk for Apple devices, etc.). The playback feature of these recordings is the key to fluency development and can build self-awareness for kids regarding HOW they sound as readers. Many children don’t even realize how disfluent they actually are! With the playback feature, your child can listen to his/her recordings and reflect on the different parts of fluency. Encourage your child to answer the following questions: Did I read with appropriate pace? Did I read with phrasing? Did I read with expression? Did I attend to punctuation? Through reflections, your child can set goals and try to make changes. He/she can later compare repeated readings and listen for improvements.

Audio Books

Audio books are wonderful for summer break! With these “books-on-tape,” kids can follow along in a text as someone else reads to them. The power of modeled fluency is HUGE. Your child can listen to how fluent readers group their words together into phrases, change their voices to match character emotions and punctuation, pause appropriately after phrasing and punctuation, and apply intonation.

As our world becomes more digital, there are websites popping up everywhere that offer “Read to Me” books, such as Reading A-Z, Epic!, Farfaria, MeeGenius and more! Hundreds of books-on-CD and audio books are also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

If you’re looking for a few free audio books to start with, NOOK Read to Me Books are fabulous and can be used on any device you can download the app to. (My students listen and read the free NOOK “Read to Me” books I’ve downloaded through the NOOK app on our iPads.) Also, if your local library is like mine, you can download audio books to your personal device via their website, using software such as Overdrive. This is a great way to bring new audio books into your home or classroom each week. If you have a long car trip coming up, audio books are an extremely valuable way to fill the time!

“Fluency Fun” Picture Books

If you are already reading with your child, why not pick some fun fluency books? These picture books will be sure to bring out your best phrasing and expression. Be silly. Have fun. Show off your fluency!

The books listed below are my favorite for modeling and practicing fluency, especially expression. Use them for read-alouds, partner reading, and choral reading (reading at the same time). You can even read them at bedtime!

Daily Fluency Task Cards — Summer FREEBIE!

To help you avoid the “summer slide,” I’m sharing my SUMMER set of seasonal Daily Fluency task cards. This resource is perfect for parents looking to further develop their child’s fluency skills. The resource is also great for teachers who are tutoring or teaching summer school during the summer months!

The fluency task cards in this set are geared toward grades 2/3 and focus on the four major components of fluency: Pace, Phrasing, Expression, and Attention to Punctuation. (Want to learn more about each of the fluency components? Download my free “What is Fluency?” Reference Sheet HERE, or read more about fluency HERE!)

Daily Fluency Task Cards SUMMER

(Download this free resource HERE or by clicking the image above!)

How to Use Fluency Task Cards at Home

After modeling and going over the directions listed for each task, your child should be able to use these fluency task cards independently. You can put the cards on a key ring, organize them in an index card box, or even put them in a dollar store photo book. Each day, have your child complete 1-2 task cards and record the completed task cards on the task card log. There are four sets for your child to rotate through.

You child should practice each task card aloud a few times. (Repeated readings are built into each task.) You can even create a DIY whisper phone using PVC pipes so they can monitor their fluency and hear themselves read! Every task has a specific fluency focus (i.e., pace, phrasing, expression, punctuation), but you will find that students will need to combine fluency skills to complete each card.

Tips for Promoting Summer Fluency Development

Obviously, fluency is not a skill that develops overnight. Like most reading skills, it takes consistent practice and requires your child to read EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Here is a review of a few tips and suggestions I shared in this post to help you promote fluency development at home this summer:

  • Encourage repeated reading (reading a text multiple times)
  • Read lots of poetry
  • Choose books that are at easier levels
  • Build in time everyday for your child to practice reading
  • Read to your child to model appropriate fluency
  • Encourage your child to read along with audio books
  • Have your child record their voice while reading to reflect and set goals
  • Switch it up — echo read, choral read, and partner read
  • Complete fluency task cards! 🙂

NOTE: This post was orginally part of the Summer Blog Party Kick Off Hop! Check out the first post in the blog hop HERE to scoop up all the summer reading ideas and resources. Continue on to the next stop in the blog hop here at Literacy Spark

Happy Summer!

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A Circus Poem for Two Voices!

13 May

I’ve always been fascinated by circuses, especially traditional ones from the late 1800’s that traveled by circus train from city to city, bringing along tents, animals, and performers. Maybe it was my obsession with Dumbo growing up (I loved anything Disney!), or the recent novels I’ve read, but I’ve been intrigued and wanting to learn more!

After recently reading Water for Elephants and The Night Circus (great books to add to your summer reading list!), I was inspired to create a circus-themed partner poem. I hoped to capture the magic of the Big Top. I love the booming voice of the ringmaster and the many different acts going on simultaneously in the different rings. As I was writing this poem, I was constantly digging into my childhood memories of going to a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. The experience was overwhelming yet fascinating at the same time!

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I must say, I had a hard time choosing circus characters. Do I focus on an animal’s perspective (probably sad) or a clowns (too creepy)? I absolutely love elephants, but when researching circus elephants and circus “lingo,” I stumbled upon one too many “Save the Elephants” articles that put me in a dark place. Poor elephants! 😦 Even though Ringling Bros. is phasing out elephants from their acts (see this article), it’s still sad; so, I scratched my original “Ringmaster vs. Elephant” poem for one that focused on the voices of a ringmaster and an acrobat.

The “poem for two voices” is filled with sensory adjectives and ringmaster hyperboles – perfect for a unit on figurative language! Another big focus of “The Circus is in Town” poem is character perspective and audience. In the poem, the ringmaster is talking to the gathering crowd and the acrobat’s voice is more internal.

This poem is part of my Everyday Partner Poetry series. Similar to the other packets, comprehension graphic organizers and CCSS response questions are included. Check it out!

TheCircusIsInTown_Collage

For last month’s Poetry Hop, I shared props for my “Wake Up, Grizzly Bear!” poem (you can still grab them!). I think I’ll eventually create and share props for all my partner poems, but here are the FREE poetry props for “The Circus is in Town,” in the mean time!

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Check out the additional partner poetry products in my store. There are currently 17 poems in the series (all included in the Mega Bundle!). More coming soon!

If you’re interested in helping to develop your students’ schema on circus life and vocabulary, here are a few great picture books:

Do you know of any picture books I can add to my list? Please comment below. I’d love to add new books my library!

Happy Teaching!

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Using the B.R.E.A.K. Strategy for Text-Based Responses

31 Mar

In an effort to encourage students to use text-based evidence in their written responses this year, the third grade team in my building started using the B.R.E.A.K. writing strategy. Kudos to my colleague Jill, from Differentiated Drake, who came up with this acronym and strategy. She has some wonderful classroom posters and materials to reinforce this awesome writing strategy, and it has helped our students tremendously!

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Similar to the strategy R.A.C.E. (Restate, Answer, Cite, Explain), the students are prompted to read, understand, and provide text-based evidence in their writing. The students spend extra time BREAKING APART the text and digging deeper into text details. I like this particular strategy because students are encouraged to include more than one evidence detail, and it reinforces paragraph structure!

B – Begin by Reading the Question

R – Restate the Question

E – Evidence Detail

A – Another Evidence Detail (or two!)

K – Key Closing Sentence

Jill (being the fabulously, generous person that she is) decided to make her easy-to-use graphic organizer FREE for all of you. Be sure to leave feedback and check out her other strategy resources. She offers bookmarksposters, and an additional version of her graphic organizer!

(Download the FREE graphic organizer HERE or by clicking the image below.)

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Our third graders are now at the point where they write B.R.E.A.K. at the top of their pages and use it as a cross-off checklist. After completing the response, they also search for each element of B.R.E.A.K. in their own writing and mark the elements with the specific letters.

Below are some examples from a writing response my third graders completed a few weeks ago. The students used the free iPad app Skitch to take pictures of their first drafts and mark-up their responses to show each element of B.R.E.A.K. Later, we transitioned to marking these elements with just our pencils. The Skitch app was a motivating, first-step tool in the revision process for this strategy. (Want to learn more about Skitch? Check out my previous post about this wonderful tool!)

Avery_BREAK

Dylan_BREAK

Kristina_BREAK

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NOTE: You’ll see that many of the students used “+” symbols for additional evidence-based details. This is helpful for students who include more than two details from the text. 

Students had a menu of sentence starters to use and were encouraged to also use non-fiction text features as evidence to support their answers. Grab my FREE sample of text-based evidence sentence starter cards to use with your students. This is part of my larger Common Core Booster product.

(Download this resource by clicking here or the image below!)

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PLEASE SHARE! — How do you teach students to include text-based details in their writing? Comment below or send me an email! I’m always looking for new ideas! 🙂

Happy Teaching!

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Exploring Perspective and Point of View

29 Mar

thedaythecrayonsquitHappy Spring!

Here in WNY we’ve had a “tease” of spring, but so far the remaining days of March have been pretty cold (and even a little snowy – *yikes*). At this point, I’m 100% over the cold weather and ready for some warmer temperatures. Before we head into April, and my focus turns to poetry (Yay, Poetry Month!), I wanted to share a few of the fun activities I’ve been doing with my students.

Be prepared for a few extra posts this week! 🙂

As some of you know, I love my small RTI pull-out groups, but I also enjoy the dynamic of an entire classroom of students. This year, with a combination push-in/pull-out program, I’ve been able to do both.

For part of my day, I have the pleasure of working with a third grade teacher who is just FABULOUS (You rock, Jan!). She has great ideas and is always willing to try new things. A few of my RTI students are in her classroom, so I work with them during small group time and provide extra support for them during whole group mini-lessons and activities.

Last week, we explored perspective and point of view with our students. To kick off the week, we read I Am the Dog I Am the Cat – a great book for introducing perspectives. It’s a book with two voices and two characters, so the students can compare and contrast different perspectives within the same text. Since many students have pets, this is also a great book for them to relate to and make text-to-self connections.

On Tuesday, we spent time with one of my new favorite books, The Day the Crayons Quit. (Seriously, this book is the BEST for point of view, and it’s absolutely hysterical! If you’ve never read it, you need to… right now. Your students will love it, too!)

We read this book as a read-aloud, and then the students worked independently to further explore each crayon’s letter and unique point of view. I retyped the letters, and we put a basket of letters on each table. Students pulled out one letter at a time and recorded the character point of view on the graphic organizer.

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The finished products were wonderful, and it was a great way for students to practice analyzing character point of view.

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 (Download the graphic organizer we used for FREE by clicking the image below!)

TheDaytheCrayonsQuit_GraphicOrganizer

As an added bonus, some of the perspectives weren’t stated explicitly, so this allowed students to practice making inferences using text evidence. (I always love when we can embed and review past skills and strategies, don’t you?!) It was also a great way to bring in some problem-solving skills. We stopped before the last few pages and asked the students to brainstorm how the main character should solve the problem. We asked them what they would do if they were Duncan. The students did such a nice job with this, and some of their solutions were truly creative!

(UPDATE: There is a sequel that is JUST as perfect for point of view. The Days the Crayons Came Home. Check it out HERE! Now you can use one text for modeling and one for independent/small group practice.)

Throughout the week, we worked in small groups to further practice analyzing the point of view with instructional level texts. We used a combination of books, text passages, and poetry – including a few of my Partner Perspective Poems!

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Check out the links below for a few of these partner poems:

(NOTE: In addition to my everyday poems that are perfect for teaching point of view, there are many seasonal partner poems in my store, as well. Check them out HERE. They are sold individually and are part of my Spring Bundle and MEGA Bundle.

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Additional Point of View Mentor Texts & Picture Books:

FRACTURED FAIRY TALES

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

The Wolf’s Story

The Pea and the Princess

Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!

OTHER PICTURE BOOKS

Two Bad Ants

The Pain and the Great One

Hey, Little Ant

Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School

What resources do YOU use to teach point of view? I’d love to hear your ideas and add to my growing list of mentor texts for teaching point of view. Email me msjordanreads@gmail.com or comment below. 🙂

Happy Teaching!

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My Paperless Classroom Journey: Digital Resources

25 Jan

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In my last “My Paperless Classroom Journey” post, I introduced a wonderful app for going paperless in your classroom – Notability. I provided an overview of the app features and a general summary of how I integrate the app into my RTI instruction. Now, it’s time to dig deeper into the content! (Did you miss Part I about getting started with Notability? Go back and read it HERE!) 

notability

Notability is a note-taking app that allows you to take notes, annotate PDFs and photos, collect student work, and capture voice recordings. It’s the perfect app for practicing literacy skills and a fabulous digital alternative for paper-and-pencil activities.

As you can imagine, downloading and setting up the app is just half the battle. Implementing the app into your instruction effectively is the other half. Sure, your students can just use the app as a notepad; but that’s like buying a Smartphone and only using it to make phone calls. Don’t ignore the amazing features it has to offer!

As I mentioned in my last post, the PDF annotation feature is the element I use the most. Of course, in order to annotate PDFs, I need quality PDF files that are accessible and ready to use. Enter, my digital resource toolbox… Dropbox.

So, where do I get the PDFs that fill my Dropbox? 

Most of what I use comes from my own creations, but my collection of PDFs definitely includes some valuable resources from other websites, programs, and other educators. My Dropbox holds a nice balance of new materials I developed for this purpose and materials I already had in the classroom. Not everything I had was ready-to-go, so it took some time in the beginning to convert files and “go paperless.”

NOTE: The PDFs I upload to Notability are for personal use in my classroom, and I do NOT share the files publicly. Depending on the product license, and the “terms of use” for particular resources, you need to be careful about how you manage and store your files. You tread a fine-line with uploading files to digital folders and importing the files onto your devices. It is my recommendation to read the “terms of use” first and to look into the copyright policies of resources. Be especially cautious with how you use school-purchased materials and programs, and definitely do not share your files. (Sorry… necessary disclaimer!)

That being said, it’s easy to create PDFs to use with Notability. Any word processing document can be converted into a PDF, and you can easily scan or take pictures of documents that you’ve created, as well. You can upload non-PDF files, but formatting can sometimes become an issue.  A PDF is a common file type and much easier to work with!

A Sample of PDF Resources

For those of you just getting started and looking for ideas, below is a sample of free and paid resources that my students interact with using Notability. Some of the resources are ones I created, some I purchased with my own money (i.e., TpT resources), and some of the items were purchased by my district (i.e., Reading A-Z, Toolkit Texts, etc.). I wanted the list to reflect the actual digital resources I use day-to-day, not just my MsJordanReads products (although, I do use those products a lot!).

COMPREHENSION

Non-Fiction Articles — Actively reading non-fiction is a great way to kick-start PDF annotation. I upload ReadWorks articles (free), Toolkit Texts (paid), and Reading A-Z skill passages (subscription) for my comprehension students to close read, mark, and highlight! One Stop Teacher Shop also has a great list of FREE resources for Non-fiction texts.

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Finding Text Evidence —  My students love finding and highlighting text evidence using Notability. When I discovered Luckeyfrog’s Super Text Detectives resources, I knew they would be perfect for practicing this skill. I took the plunge and purchased the whole spring bundle (LOVE it). Now I have to go back and buy the other bundles for next year! The passages are short and perfect for my RTI comprehension groups. The students use the highlighter tool with the different color options to find the text evidence. (Check the resource out here!)

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Graphic Organizers — For FREE comprehension graphic organizers, check out FCRR, ReadWriteThink, and TeacherVision. You can also create your own graphic organizers (using Microsoft Word or any word processing program) and convert to a PDF to annotate.

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FLUENCY

Daily Fluency — Many of my fluency students complete a Daily Fluency page each day for fluency practice! There are 20 pages for each month and two levels of difficulty in the series – Beginner & Intermediate. (Check out a sample here!)

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Daily Phonics — Some of my decoding/phonics students complete a Daily Phonics page each day to practice breaking apart words and identifying phonics patterns! They use a stylus pen for these activity pages. After trying out a whole bunch, I decided to purchase a group set of Musemee Notier Prime stylus pens for my classroom. (Check them out through my affiliate link.) Just like Daily Fluency, there are 20 pages for each month. (Check out a sample here!)

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Fluency Booster Pages — My fluency students complete Daily Fluency Booster Packs to reinforce specific fluency skills! These are great follow-ups to my Daily Fluency warm-up pages and help students practice one fluency component at a time: Accuracy, Pace, Phrasing, and Expression!

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Fluency Passages — I use Fluency A-Z passages (subscription only), but you can really use any short reading passage for fluency practice. Students record their voice, mark their errors, calculate their wpm, and graph their progress for two different readings of the same passage (cold/hot). Students can record their progress on fluency graphs to track progress throughout the year. For RTI, the students work with me for this “fluency coaching” intervention, but you could easily have the students work in partners in your classroom.

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Fluency Speed Drills — Students can read lists of words, phrases or sentences multiple times to build fluency. They mark errors and mark how far they read on a list using the annotating tools. They can also record their progress on fluency graphs!

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Fluency Practice Pages — I’m obsessed with The Moffatt Girls’  I Can Read! NO PREP products. They’re fabulous, and I use them with many of my fluency/decoding groups. I recently purchased the bundle of all 3 sets and the activities are perfect for extra fluency practice! You will still need dice and printed spinners, but students can complete activity pages digitally on the iPad. (Check out the resource here!)

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PHONICS

Phonics Word Sorts — As an alternative to word sorts that they have to cut and sort, students can color-code and sort words into the different categories. I have some of my decoding/phonics groups complete Color & Sort Activity Pages to reinforce specific phonics skills.

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Phonics Word Hunts — Students can use PDF texts to hunt for specific phonics spelling & sound patterns. My students love going on word hunts in my partner poetry series (“The Winter Escape” is shown below!). I have them highlight specific patterns using the highlighting tool and then record the words on a word hunting graphic organizer. You can use the graphic organizers with real books too!

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The list above is just a sample of PDF resources to use with Notability. It does not reflect the other ways I practice annotating texts with my students (there is still a place for sticky notes and paper!), and it does not reflect the other ways I use the app (e.g., voice recording, notepad for word work/writing, web quests, etc.). Working with PDFs is a great way to start using Notability, but there are plenty of other ways to use the app throughout the day. (That may be an additional blog post… perhaps Part III?) 🙂

Also, please note that Notability is just a small part of my instruction and only for some of my groups. There are other apps that I integrate into my teaching and there are still plenty of interventions I use that are completely iPad-free. There are days where we don’t even touch technology! I strongly believe it’s all about a balance.

It may be a while (if ever) before I’m 100% digital, and as the year continues, I definitely will continue my journey toward a more paperless classroom. I hope to follow-up and share more of my experiences soon. In the mean time, though, I would love to hear what resources you have in your digital toolbox! Comment below or email me your suggestions (msjordanreads@gmail.com). Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts on going paperless, as well!

Happy (Paperless) Teaching

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My Paperless Classroom Journey: Getting Started

22 Jan

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Are you 100% digital in your teaching? 

If yes… you’re my hero. Seriously.

I’ve always been intrigued by 1:1 classrooms – the organization of them, the day-to-day management, the student accountability… all of it. It seems to be a direction that many schools are moving toward, and I can’t help but wonder if it will soon be the norm. Will all my students be completing their work on computers or iPads in the near future? Will our copy machines soon start collecting dust? (Will that mean I don’t have to make any more copies?! YES!)

The idea of a paperless classroom is exciting, but I’ve always been curious about “the back-up plan.” What if you show up to school one day and you don’t have an internet connection for the whole day? What if there’s an issue with the classroom management system? What if all the iPads break and your students start climbing the walls? Well, maybe that last one’s a bit dramatic, but I feel like my teaching nightmares would include ALL of those things.

Having one too many bad experiences with “technology fails” (i.e., losing the internet connection during STAR screening week, having a SMARTBoard crash during an observation lesson, etc.), I must say I’m nervous about relying on technology 100%. I suppose once our school’s renovation project is complete, which promises WiFi in every classroom and a more reliable internet connection throughout the building, I may be less hesitant. But for now, our school’s just not there yet, and therefore, I’m not 100% there yet. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself this year.)

After taking a few PD courses, reading countless blogs, attending conferences, and actually speaking with teachers who are in the trenches with a 1:1 program, I decided to take the first step. I have six iPads (5 student, 1 teacher), and I’m working toward integrating them into my day-to-day teaching. Slowly. The goal is for my students to use the iPads independently and for the tablets to be interactive tools for my students to practice their reading skills. The year is half-way over, and I must say – it’s going pretty well! 🙂

Notability

notability

Last year, I learned about a great app called Notability which I downloaded for my personal use. I needed a note-taking app for my 101 meetings, and it was perfect for recording, organizing, and accessing my notes. I then started using it as a digital student binder for my classroom, to collect anecdotal notes and student data (more about this at a later date!).

This year, I started using Notability with my students. It has proven to be, by far, the best $2.99 I’ve ever spent on iTunes. (NOTE: This is not a product review. The opinion is completely my own and based on my own experiences with using the app!) I’m yet to find another app that I love more for my reading instruction. I will share a few FREE options you can explore, but if you have a few bucks to spare, it’s totally worth it. (Again, entirely my opinion.)

Features of Notability

Here are a few of the app features that I found to be most helpful to my RTI instruction:

  • Annotate PDFs – Students can underline, highlight, take notes, and complete activities using the Notability tools
  • Voice Recording – Students can record their voices reading for fluency
  • Response Writing – Students can type or handwrite a response to a question or image
  • Snapshots of Text – Students take pictures of objects or text to annotate, highlight, or add a written response
  • Submitting Work – Students can export and share their “notes” as PDF files via DropBox, Google Drive, Email, etc.

Want to learn more? Read more about the features of Notability on the app’s developer website here!

Getting Started with Notability

Each student is assigned an iPad when they work in my RTI groups. With only five iPads, it’s pretty easy to manage. I don’t have my Notability accounts synced up, so students need to use the same device day-to-day. I created a student folder for each of them on their assigned devices, but you can easily use Notability without assigning student iPads. (NOTE: You could also easily connect your account to the iCloud to sync and back-up all your folders/notes across devices as another option.) Once the students open the app on their assigned device, they find their personal folder and open it up to access their “notes.”

Annotating PDFs

Annotating PDFs is my starting point with all students. They love underlining, highlighting, and taking notes on PDFs. I have many intervention activities that I’ve uploaded for student practice (check out the examples below!).

I link all the iPads to my teacher Dropbox account, and then I allow the app to access my account. This allows students to import PDFs easily to each of their folders. (You may want to do this part for them first until they’re able to navigate Dropbox successfully!)

The best part is you can select specific pages of a PDF to upload to a student folder. If it’s a 50 page packet, I can upload a single page or a smaller range for them to complete. This keeps the student work organized sequentially, AND the students don’t have to search through large files for the task pages they need to complete.

Annotating Tools

For most of the activities, my students use a fine tip stylus pen. After trying a handful of stylus options, my favorite to use with students is the Musemee Notier Prime from Amazon. The rubber tip ones work too but just won’t give you as fine of a tip for writing. I have six for my classroom, but obviously it’s more expensive to purchase a class set, so feel free to have students use their fingers or knuckles. If you’re just having them underline or highlight, a finger works JUST fine!

Submitting Student Work

With just five devices, I could easily go into each one to access student work, but that’s time-consuming. I have students export select “notes” to a shared Dropbox folder. I don’t need to see every page they complete, but every once in a while I like to see a sample of their work. They can send a screenshot (which automatically syncs to my Dropbox account), or I’ll ask them to pick a page to send me via the sharing buttons. Once the files are sent, I can access the files from my computer or teacher iPad without having to go into the five individual devices. This also allows me to add the work samples to my digital binder of student work samples and progress monitoring notes.

Some teachers with 1:1 classrooms use management systems like Edmodo or Schoology. These Learning Management Systems (LMS) allow you to post assignments and collect student work via an app or website that functions the same as many social media sites. Students can shift back-and-forth between the LMS and Notability to complete assignments and then submit using the linked Dropbox account. (This structure is great for students who use their own personal devices or if you’re unable to assign devices to each student.)

Looking for Step-by-Step Directions?

Below are a couple of resources I found helpful for navigating and getting started with the app. The tutorials introduce you to the features and provides directions for how to use them!

  • Notability AWESOME! (A Review & Tutorial)
  • Notability Tutorial (PDF includes diagrams of note-taking screens & app buttons. The app price is outdated, but the visual tutorial is aligned with the current version of the app!)

Are you on the fence about whether or not to take the first step?

A few Pros & Cons to consider (for whatever they’re worth!) —

PROS:

  • I’ve saved a TON of time and paper with not having to copy every packet for every student!
  • I have copies of ALL my students’ work in one spot! (This is great for monitoring progress and making instructional decisions.)
  • Students are SUPER motivated to complete tasks and activities!
  • Students are now tech-savvy 21st century learners!
  • I’m becoming technologically “fluent” (and so are my students!)

CONS:

  • It takes time to “go digital” — scanning pages, uploading PDFs, organizing folders, creating a management system that works for you, etc. (TOTALLY worth it, though!)
  • Students will need TIME to learn how to upload documents, annotate PDFs, submit work, and function independently on the device. It’s a lot of upfront modeling and practice, but once the students pick-up the skills they are pretty self-sufficient. (Many students have devices at home, which helps with basic device navigation!)
  • Technology access. A paperless classroom only works if you have access to technology (obviously). When I push-into different rooms for reading support, or if my groups are larger than 6, I’m stuck.
  • It’s hard to share my archived student work samples at the end of the year with other teachers who are NOT tech-savvy
  • Technology let-downs. (Let’s face it… technology isn’t always reliable and “technology fails” will happen.)

Notability Alternatives (FREE)

In my efforts to find FREE alternatives to Notability, I came across a few websites that review the features of each. As you will see, there are MANY great free options to try out and explore before making the decision to purchase an app. Some of the reviewers prefer those apps OVER Notability. I have not explored enough of them to share my comparison feedback, but they’re definitely worth checking out for yourself!

Here are some of the FREE Apps for Note-Taking: 

Stay Tuned for Part II!

This weekend, I’ll be sharing different interventions I use with my students that are perfect for Notability. The list keeps growing, so I’m sure there will be many follow-ups to this post. In the mean time, follow me on BlogLovin‘ or subscribe to my emails so you don’t miss my next one! 🙂

(Update 1/25: Here’s the LINK to the next post in the series about the Digital Resources I use with Notability. Continue following my journey!)

Happy (Paperless) Teaching

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A Winter Fluency Freebie

1 Dec

Last week, I watched as parts of Buffalo, N.Y. were buried with over SEVEN feet of snow (yikes!). Living just 15 miles north of the crazy snow band, I felt extremely lucky — lucky to not have to shovel out from all that snow, and even luckier to be part of such a wonderful city of “good neighbors.” The community came together to overcome this “Snowvember” event, spotlighting many moments of strength, courage, and perseverance. It was a timely reminder, heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, of the importance of giving back and sharing!

With December arriving today, I am ready to jump into a month of crazy holiday preparations and parties. To help kick-off this wonderfully busy season, I’m offering a new winter-themed FREEBIE. This set of 24 task cards is similar to my FREE fall-themed set and is perfect for reinforcing fluency in your classroom!

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 (Download by clicking HERE or on the image above!)

Have students complete the fluency task cards for morning bell-work, Daily 5, literacy centers, or as take-home task card sets. All you have to do is print, laminate, and cut! You can even use as a PDF and display using a SMARTboard or projector.

If you like these task cards, check out my other Daily Fluency Task Card sets. My beginner-level set has been a huge hit, and I just uploaded my newest Daily Fluency Task Card set for upper-level readers. Grab both sets for differentiating your fluency practice!

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Happy December & Happy Teaching! 

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