Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Talk Thursday ~ Duck's Vacation

Are you ready for vacation? Today is our kids' last day of school, and most of them are ready for vacation! Who are we kidding?! We teachers are ready too! And today's Book Talk Thursday selection is all about vacation too ~ Duck's Vacation! {Affiliate links are in this post!}
Vacation time is here, and Duck is at the beach. What happens when we turn the pages? We rock Duck's world in Duck's Vacation!

In the spirit of There's a Monster at the End of this Book, which features lovable, furry, old Grover from Sesame Street, duck doesn't want us to turn the pages. The book begins as Duck is sitting comfortably on the beach.  After the reader turns the first page, Duck realizes something is going on and tells the reader to stop turning pages. Each time we do, the scenery changes; sometimes better, sometimes worse.  My daughter laughed out loud and couldn't stop turning the pages.

Can you imagine reading this with a bunch of students? They would love this book just before vacation time. Of course, some of the events are far-fetched, which would make a great discussion starter!

So, I leave you today with ideas of a fun vacation and wonderful summer! Book Talk Thursday will continue this summer. I'm hoping to get a hold of some of the Virginia Readers Choice chapter books from the library, though they are hard to get a hold of over the summer. This will be the last link up for spring. The summer link up will begin next week.

See you in the summer!


 

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hot Dots Make Interventions Fun Again!

Remediation is a BIG part of my job. Every year I spend time working with children to help them become better readers. After our students take the SOL state test, some of them get a chance to retake them for a better score. Remediation comes into play big time here, and I try to make it fun. Using Hot Dots is a great way to get them thinking again!
Make remediation and intervention fun with Hot Dots. But don't forget to make sure students are able to prove their answers to really prepare them for what's ahead.

For some reason, even 4th graders think these pens are amazing and fun. They love how they light up make fun noises. It makes something so mundane as reading passages and answering questions fun again.

I did make it so students had to show their answers. They had to prove that they were correct before "playing" with the pens.

The Hot Dots' passages are awesome because they are leveled, meaning I can use them for so many different grade levels. I started the fourth graders out on the first 4th-grade passage and had them work their way through them.
Make remediation and intervention fun with Hot Dots. But don't forget to make sure students are able to prove their answers to really prepare them for what's ahead.

Each student read his or her passage and answered the questions, using a "highlighter" to show their answers.  They wrote their answers on paper.
Make remediation and intervention fun with Hot Dots. But don't forget to make sure students are able to prove their answers to really prepare them for what's ahead.

Once they had their answers, they checked them with the pen. If the answer was wrong, they had to cross out the answer and go back to find it.
Make remediation and intervention fun with Hot Dots. But don't forget to make sure students are able to prove their answers to really prepare them for what's ahead.

If it was correct, they got to move on to check the next answer.
Make remediation and intervention fun with Hot Dots. But don't forget to make sure students are able to prove their answers to really prepare them for what's ahead.

The goal was to get 3 out of 4 questions correct on all of the cards they completed.

The Hot Dots were such a fun success that students now ask for it every time they see it!
Make remediation and intervention fun with Hot Dots. But don't forget to make sure students are able to prove their answers to really prepare them for what's ahead.

So, take remediation out of the mundane and make it fun!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Testing Fails!

Yesterday I posted at Virginia is For Teachers some of our favorite testing fail stories. Head over to read them and tell us some of your funny testing stories!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book Talk Thursday ~ The Wall

As we come closer to Memorial Day, our school begins to get ready for a big day. This year that day falls on our last day of school, which is fitting to end another fun year. To celebrate, I am focusing on a book that will help children understand the reason we get so excited about Memorial Day at our school.
The Wall by Eve Bunting is a great book to help students understand the importance of the Wall in Washington D.C. It is perfect for Memorial Day and Veterans Day!

I love the book,  The Wall by Eve Bunting!  It really gives students of all ages a picture of the true meaning of The Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Wall in Washington DC.

In the book, a father and his son go to the wall to find the boy's grandfather's name.  The story is told from the boy's point of view as he describes seeing flags and flowers.  He places his school picture, even though he feels his "Grandpa won't know who I am." His father reassures him that he will.

Eve Bunting's tone of the book reminds the reader that it is truly a place of honor.

Our school does something so amazing on this day each year.  In the past, we have welcomed over 500 veterans and their families INTO our school to eat lunch, spend time with the children, and enjoy a program the kids perform. This year there will be less since they have split the route, but it is still a big day for the veterans and the kids.  Each year, they ride their motorcycles from California and other parts of the United States to Washington, D.C.  Our school is one of the stops!

One of the things the veterans love to do each year after coming to the school is to leave behind the notes our students give them.  They place them in plastic bags and leave them with flowers and momentos.  It is a sweet gesture to show that others care.


Run For The Wall Motorcycle Tour
The Wall by Eve Bunting is a great book to help students understand the importance of the Wall in Washington D.C. It is perfect for Memorial Day and Veterans Day!
The students filled the walls with art.
The Wall by Eve Bunting is a great book to help students understand the importance of the Wall in Washington D.C. It is perfect for Memorial Day and Veterans Day!
The Wall of Names that go up each year.  They are signed by those who return each year.
The Wall by Eve Bunting is a great book to help students understand the importance of the Wall in Washington D.C. It is perfect for Memorial Day and Veterans Day!
Here they are!!
The Wall by Eve Bunting is a great book to help students understand the importance of the Wall in Washington D.C. It is perfect for Memorial Day and Veterans Day!
New riders putting their names on the Wall of Names for the first time!
The Wall by Eve Bunting is a great book to help students understand the importance of the Wall in Washington D.C. It is perfect for Memorial Day and Veterans Day!
Our full gym!
The Wall by Eve Bunting is a great book to help students understand the importance of the Wall in Washington D.C. It is perfect for Memorial Day and Veterans Day!
And they are off!
So, remember those who fought for our country's freedom!  I leave you with one last picture of our day!
The Wall by Eve Bunting is a great book to help students understand the importance of the Wall in Washington D.C. It is perfect for Memorial Day and Veterans Day!
See you next year!
And don't forget to link up again this week!



   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

End of the Year Learning Through Hidden Pictures

It's the end of the year, and what do we do?? Survive, right!? One of my favorite things to have students work with is Highlights' Hidden Pictures. They are more than a simple and fun activity, they have some value in learning as well. Here's how I use them in my classroom.
Hidden Pictures are more than fun for children. They can help with reading skills many struggling readers need help with such as visual discrimination.

My students mix up letters quite a bit and really have to think about the letters they are seeing in the words they read.  Their visual discrimination skills are lacking, so I need to find ways to help them with those.  On short weeks like these, I pull out my handy dandy little Hidden Pictures from Highlights Magazine.


My students are thrilled to see these and love working on them. But how do they help with literacy skills?

Simple

Hidden Pictures help students see things they don’t normally see. Students have to look closely to decipher where the items are hidden.  The same is true for words. When students read, they have to look closely at the letters and where they are located to decode a word. This visual discrimination activity will help students build skills in both reading and math as they look for items in the pictures.
Hidden Pictures are more than fun for children. They can help with reading skills many struggling readers need help with such as visual discrimination.


So, break them out and have some fun!  Students love that time to work through puzzles and other brain teasers, and the benefits make it helpful for everyone! And it can keep them busy for hours!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book Talk Thursday ~ Mercer Mayer Books

The other day as I was looking for some books in my house, I found a stash of Mercer Mayer books I had been saving for my daughter. What excitement I had when I looked through them and found some of my favorites. Well, guess what Book Talk Thursday's focus is for this week!? {Affiliate links in this post!}
Mercer Mayer books are a childhood favorite. They are also perfect for teaching children important life lessons.

Yep! Mercer Mayer books are all the rage in our house. We have been reading several of them each evening, and I love the lessons they teach my little girl. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Mercer Mayer books are a childhood favorite. They are also perfect for teaching children important life lessons.

My daughter has a hard time going to bed at night, so the book Just Go to Bed is a perfect book to help remind her that it is time to go to bed, even when she is not sleepy.
Mercer Mayer books are a childhood favorite. They are also perfect for teaching children important life lessons.
Her personal favorite is Just Me and My Sister because it reminds her of the time she spends with her brother. She laughs because she knows that is exactly what would happen if they went to the park for the day.
Mercer Mayer books are a childhood favorite. They are also perfect for teaching children important life lessons.
My son loved Just Lost, and it is a perfect lesson for helping young children know what to do when they are lost. I love how it teaches the message to go to a worker in a store to help find your mother. It was a great way to start that conversation with my children.
And who can forget the very first Little Critter book, Just for You. I remember reading this one over and over with my brothers and laughing each time we read it. I don't have this one, but I will make sure I have it for my daughter in the near future.
There are so many Little Critter books that I can't even begin to name them all. But each one teaches an important lesson that children will hold onto for a lifetime.

Don't forget to link up! I am going to start reading some of the elementary Virginia Readers Choice books, so be on the lookout for some more reviews. I'm just waiting for some free time to sit down and read them!


   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

No Prep ~ Let's Call It What It Is...

Worksheets! Yep, you read it right, I said that "No Prep" is a fancy way of saying "worksheets". Many sellers on TPT create resources that can help students in many ways and call it "no prep", but I see through it. I see what it really is!
No prep means different things to different teachers in the classroom. Three different alternatives to worksheets will help you in your "no prep" classroom!

The other day I spent some quality time with some first and second graders while their teacher performed required reading assessments. To make it easy for me, she had them working on some word study activities, which they desperately need. We started with a sort and then moved on to some activity pages to complete.

Here are some of the things they worked on while I was in there.
No prep means different things to different teachers in the classroom. Three different alternatives to worksheets will help you in your "no prep" classroom!

No prep means different things to different teachers in the classroom. Three different alternatives to worksheets will help you in your "no prep" classroom!

They looked a lot like some worksheets I have out of a book for first graders.
No prep means different things to different teachers in the classroom. Three different alternatives to worksheets will help you in your "no prep" classroom!


No prep means different things to different teachers in the classroom. Three different alternatives to worksheets will help you in your "no prep" classroom!


Yes, there is value in it. They are practicing, learning, and reading. But is it really the best practice? Or is it really "no prep"?

Not really to both! Why?!

Best practice would have been using real books or doing authentic activities with the students. They could have been talking through the activities with small groups or the teacher.

And "no prep"?? There was prep involved. The teacher had to decide which pages to use. Those pages had to be copied, collated, and stapled. And think about the copies! When "no prep" {worksheets} are made, an entire tree is sometimes.

How can we really get "no prep" in a crunch time? There are so many different ways to make it work. I remember once when we had no power, I had to really think of some no prep ideas for my classroom full of 3rd graders. Here are some great and truly NO PREP activities for your students!

Games! Don't feel bad that you may have purchased games from a catalog. They are just as good as those we create ourselves, especially when we need something "no prep"! I keep games on hand for any time when I need them. You can even get them up and moving with some flash cards you have on hand. Prep: DONE!
No prep means different things to different teachers in the classroom. Three different alternatives to worksheets will help you in your "no prep" classroom!

Books! Get out a picture book and read it. We can always stop at different places and discuss. We are good at this. I can make any book work for just about any skill. And think about what they are learning from that reading time with you. You could even have them complete a simple writing activity that models or is about the book. Or you could have your students spend some quality time reading. Just reading. Prep: DONE!
No prep means different things to different teachers in the classroom. Three different alternatives to worksheets will help you in your "no prep" classroom!

Poetry! I would always need time fillers, especially at the end of the school year. I always kept a poetry book and some plain paper on hand. I would read a poem and have the students draw a picture of what they visualized. Then they would share. Or, the students could simply write about how they felt while the poem was being read. Prep: DONE!
No prep means different things to different teachers in the classroom. Three different alternatives to worksheets will help you in your "no prep" classroom!

No prep means different things to different teachers in the classroom. Three different alternatives to worksheets will help you in your "no prep" classroom!
Here is a picture of a creature a student drew after I read a poem to students.
Regardless of what a product says, there will be prep involved. We all have to have something ready and up our sleeves at any given moment, but we can't always get to the copier to grab our copies off of it or allow our students to sit and work on worksheets all day long. There is a time and a place for worksheets, but don't make it a practice. Find time to incorporate some truly no prep activities in your day!

What are some fun and easy "no prep" activities you have used in your classrooms?