Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Inferring...aka the HARDEST thing to teach :/

Am I the only teacher who has trouble teaching kids to make inferences? I'm starting to believe it's one of those innate talents people either have or they don't...sort of like understanding sarcasm, you either got it or you don't. 

Speaking of sarcasm, I feel I am doing my daily duty to teach 5th graders about making inferences with my multiple quips on an hourly basis. And they seem to get it...seriously, they do! But then they read a standardized test or an unfamiliar text and they lose the ability to infer. What.the.heck.  

Anyway, we (the other reading teacher on my team and I) decided to do an iInfer page for morning work. It's nothing special, just 5 boxes-one for each day of the week. Every morning students come in and read a "Mini Mystery" and use clues from the text (hello, text evidence!) to "solve" the mystery. We are using this book: 

I'll be honest, some of them are hard but my kids LOVE them and are always saying "OHHH yeaaaa" (over dramatically, of course) when they realize what the correct answer actually is. It's great when they have to use their text evidence ("clues" from the mystery) to support their answer. 

HOWEVER, I am pleading with all of you who might read this--share with me some of the tips/books/lessons you use with your kids when teaching inferencing. Even with testing "done" for most of my kids, it is a skill we need to continue to improve. :) Thanks in advance for all of your fabulous advice 

Have a great Tuesday! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Peek at my Week

I'm linking up this week with a new linky party :) Check it out! 

Ok, let's see...what's going on this week:
This week is the first of two weeks of intensive intervention for some of my students who didn't do so well the first round of state testing. :( In Texas, 5th graders must meet standard before moving to the next grade level and some of my kids just weren't quite there yet--it is what it is. SO, we are going to be doing a mixture of test-prep and authentic reading with stories and articles. I'll be honest 11 days is a very short amount of time to help some students grow 2-3 grade levels worth but we will do our best! My other students will be working in stations on their CARE books, independent reading and literature circles. I LOVE literature circles--since I was out on maternity leave for 10 weeks (I still can't believe that...) I am starting true lit circles later in the year than usual but I had to get some good guided reading in first! 

Also this week: Tryouts for the Phantom Tollbooth play! I can't wait--some of our 5th graders are really talented and I can't wait to get to the fun part...actually practicing the play and starting to do sets/props. Our fabulous art teacher, Ms. Alkire (ps. Read her blog!) is helping us along with the art club (The Mini DaVincis) so I can't wait to see everything come together! 

Last but not least, I started reading this gem last night: 
As expected, it is wonderful. Some of the teachers in our district are doing a book study on it and I can't wait to hear all the wonderful conversation about this book...PLUS I have already started my list of "next year I will.." stuff based on tips in this book. 
Funny side note: I actually student taught at Trinity Meadows Intermediate in Keller, TX where Donalyn (used to) and Susan Kelley work! With these two ladies, my mentor Mary Fran, and the other fabulous teachers at TMIS, those kids are really in the presence of fabulous teaching. Seriously.  

Alright, that's the peak at my week! Hope ya'll have a great week--its the last week of April. Can you believe it?! 

PS. Don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin'. Come on, I need some lovin! :)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blog Lovin'--I have arrived :)

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Five for Friday--blog slacker edition

It has been way too long since I've last blogged, or linked up with anybody. I wish I had some cool excuse but really I've just been swamped at work, had a sick baby at home and then got tonsillitis myself! [can a girl catch a break?!] :( 

I will try to be better next week! :)

Ok, so here is a peek at what we've been up to in Room 410:

Our science state assessment is in a week and a half so I have been trying to support my partner teacher by reading science books in guided reading. Our PTA had $300 allotted to each grade level and we chose to spend our money on these books by the Sally Ride Science foundation. I totally LOVE them! They are high interest and they have 4-6 questions at the end of every book to check for reading comprehension. Below are a few of the titles we read this week. (Listen, I'm totally NOT a science person, so for me to think these books were interesting is really saying something...) 
Weathering and Erosion: Wind, Water, and WavesEnergy Transformations: Transformers at Work

 I have finally started getting stuff in order for my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It will probably be June before everything starts popping up (but hey! you might find something for next school year!) Here is a list of what's to come probably this summer

  • Questions to use in guided groups (FREE!!)
  • Interactive Reading Notebook for 4th and 5th Grade (aligned to TEKS and Common Core--you're welcome, Texas teacher friends!) **Bonus, my fab colleague is translating this bad boy into Spanish too for all of you bilingual teachers! 
  • Reading/Literacy Stations for 4th and 5th graders
  • Vocabulary puzzles and activities 
  • Reading Review folder :)
My wonderful brother is helping me to format everything because he is way more talented than me when it comes to all that wonderful stuff. I can't wait to get things ready to go! 

Every year, our campus has CARE Day (Celebrating Authors and Readers at Elliott). The kids all write their own original stories that they share with students in all the other grades (K-5). I'll write a post on this magical day (seriously, it was my favorite thing we did when I went to this school) later. Anyway, we've been writing these CARE Day Comics which are coming along fabulously. Below is a preview of my kid's "To Do" list. 
I'm seriously so excited to see the final products. Some of their stories have the potential to be hilarious.
My partner teacher and I have foolishly taken on the task of putting on a 5th grade play. We are doing the Phantom Tollbooth which is my favorite chapter book to share with kids. I can't wait to see how it all turns out. I think I always secretly wanted to star in a play but now I will just live vicariously through some super-talented 10 and 11 year olds. 
Ok, I'll admit it. I wasn't thrilled about moving to 5th grade. But I have absolutely loved it...probably because I looped with so many of my kids from last year...but it has just been so fun. I love the kids. I could however, do without the love triangles, girl drama and note passing. (Side note: My kids are baffled that I know all the current gossip. #1 I have wonderful little loyal spies #2 I'm not blind/deaf...but I digress). Anyway, being the awesome teachers we we (my partner teacher and I) made this: 

It has had such a wonderful outcome :) Some of my serial note-passers are terrified their oh-so important notes will be shared with the whole class and plus, it cracks up every adult who enters the room. Best Friday classroom management tip I can share, peeps. 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend (and a Happy Easter) week is Science STAAR testing. yay. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mentor Monday 3/31/14: Visualizing

I'm not even gonna lie, when I first saw the topic for this week's Mentor Monday with The Reading Tutor, I was stumped---I couldn't pin down my "go-to" book. I mean, I try to have my kids visualize with every text we read; but then again, when I read picture books to them during a mini-lesson sometimes it kind of defeats the purpose of visualizing. They look at what the illustrator has drawn and assume that was the "right answer" for what they should have pictured...does that make sense? I almost prefer to use chapter books when teaching visualizing because many of them don't have pictures and require students to have "visual recall" [a new phrase I've decided to coin] when reading texts that span over several days. 

Before I get off my soap box and onto which text I love best for visualizing, I have one more (ok, two) things to point out. 1. Visualizing is probably one of the most important strategies we can teach emergent readers because if they don't learn how to picture the words in their head, they really never learn to love reading. I mean, how boring would it be if you weren't playing a "movie" in your head while reading the text?! 2. I think many times readers are disappointed when they see a movie adaptation of a book they've read, because it isn't how they visualized it. See? Visualizing. is. important. 

Ok, on with my book. I LOVE to start off the year reading Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick 
It is such an incredible story, I definitely recommend it to fellow teachers. Now, it's probably not a book you want to read with students younger than 4th grade...and really it's probably best for 5th graders. It has everything you could ever want in a book, dynamic characters, a plot with lots of twists and turns and such a sweet message to kids. The narrator is the main character and he is so sarcastic (which happens to fit my personality perfectly) so the kids can really relate to him. I wanted to share some of the descriptive language the author uses that is perfect for having kids visualize, but I realized I lent my copy to another teacher and I can't remember who at the moment! 
Anyway, I usually start off reading this book the first day of school and allow my kids to take turns drawing what they visualize on the white board. (There is something so "magical" about the white board to them...)

I know there are about a zillion books that are great for teaching visualizing--I mean, pretty much any 'good' book is, right? But this is just one of my favorites! 

PS. Today was the first day of STAAR. yipeee. 
PPS. Pray for my darlin's tomorrow--it's the Reading STAAR. :)