Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cursive Art for Other Holidays

  Holiday Cursive

I recently posted about my Christmas Cursive project I would do every year in my classroom. I received so many pictures of it being used in classroom across the world and it was overwhelming!
I had some requests for other holidays so I put together a few more templates.

 Holiday Cursive

The process is the exact same as before. You can have your students use vocabulary words, spelling words, holiday spelling lists, math facts, fact families, and more! Whatever your class is working on! Just have them follow the lines of the templates.
 Holiday Cursive

This is a cute little groundhog for Groundhog's Day!
 Holiday Cursive

I used math facts on this one to show you another option.
 Holiday Cursive

 Holiday Cursive

I added some templates that are a little more detailed as well as the plain shapes to give your kids a choice in what they complete. There are templates for Groundhog's Day, Valentine's Day, Earth Day, Easter/Spring, and St. Patrick's Day.

These templates come from Sarah from Educlips. Her store is fantastic!

Click here or on any of the pictures to grab your FREE templates!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Text-Dependent Question Stems

  Text-Dependent Question Stems

For something that's pretty cool, it's sure a mouthful to say. ;)

I first heard about these a few years ago when close reading was starting to become a thing. My fabulous Literacy Specialist was helping me wrap my brain around how to do close readings and she brought me a fabulous resource by Jackson Consulting that had pages of text-dependent questions. They were ways to get students back into the text in small, user-friendly chunks.

Fast forward a couple months to when I was training teachers at Utah's Core Academy. I brought out these resource for the teachers to see. SEE not TAKE. However, someone took this wonderful packet of questions from me. To be fair, everyone looked through their stuff and we couldn't find it. I'm sure it was found by someone weeks later in the midst of all the pages we had passed out as handouts.

Because of this travesty, I decided I needed to make my own. I wanted something I could turn to during guided reading groups that could help guided me as well as the students. I researched, researched, researched and came up with 84 different text-dependent questions to help guide my groups.

 Text-Dependent Question Stems
I wanted these questions to be open-ended so they could work with any text. I also wanted something that would fit the three main categories in the anchor standards for reading: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. That way, I would know that I was meeting each standard that I needed to teach.

 Text-Dependent Question Stems

(Please ignore how those are not cut evenly. It's driving my OCD crazy, but I'm trying hard to ignore it.)

I also made myself a little cheat sheet. The questions were open-ended so I wanted to make sure I wasn't confusing myself.

 Text-Dependent Question Stems

I would often refer back to these pages to help me during groups. I sometimes put tabs on the specific questions I wanted to use with each group. We would often just focus on one question as a group so I could make sure that every child understood what the question was asking. That way, if they came to that same question at a later date, they would know what to do.

 Text Dependent Question Stems

 Text-Dependent Question Stems

I used my questions in a variety of ways. Sometimes I would put them in a pile like a deck of cards and let the kids pick the one they answered. Sometimes they would answer in the guided reading notebooks individually, sometimes they would talk it out with a partner, and sometimes they would answer it with me while the others were reading on their own or working.

 Text-dependent Question Stems

I also laminated some of the cards, hole punched them, and put them on a metal ring. That made it really easy to store and keep track of them.
 Text-Dependent Questions Stems

These questions were a great way to get students into the text to prove/justify/show their answers. It also gave them a framework to work within so they didn't feel as much pressure to answer questions during reading.

I also loved how it helped me ensure that my students were discussing things on a higher level as well as meeting my core standards. I didn't get to all 84 questions with every child, every year. That's practically impossible (and probably extremely tedious). But having so many choices helped me to custom fit my instruction to each child.

If you are interested in my Text-Dependent Questions, you can click on the link or any of the pictures.

Let me know how you use these in your room!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

5 Ways to Make Fractions FUN

 Introducing Fractions Pack

Fractions can be a tricky concept for students. There are things that seem "backwards" and confusing. Take, for example, this list of fractions: 1/2, 1/4, 1/6. Which fraction is the smallest? The one with the BIGGEST denominator! That can really confuse some of our kiddos.

At first, the idea of teaching fractions scared me. However, I began to learn that teaching fractions can actually be a lot of fun! Here are 5 tips and tricks that I've used to help make fractions easier to understand.

1. Fractions and Food: Make fractions familiar. Kids have been working with fractions their entire lives, they just might not know it yet. I made them familiar by connecting them to food. Of course you can tie it in to pizza (or a Hershey's candy bar if you have this book). I wanted to do something that was hands-on and that my kids could enjoy eating afterwards. My teaching partner had the fabulous idea to use cheese crackers, graham crackers, and saltines. For example, four cheese crackers fit nicely onto a saltine. You can also use Chex Mix which gives a different sized square. Make sure that the type of crackers you buy fit together or it can be frustrating for some kids. Not every cheese cracker will fit with a saltine or graham cracker.

(p.s. These can also be used when teaching area and perimeter. Plus, you get to eat the extras!)

2. Interactive Number Line: I'll be honest, I was terrified when I saw how much fractions and number lines were taught together in the CCSS. I was worried that adding fractions to number lines would just be one more thing my kids had to decode. Because of this, and my belief that fraction lessons should be as hands-on as possible, I used an interactive number line.

Fractions and Number Lines

I taped mine to a wall in these pictures so you could see the fractions better, but normally I have a student hold the rope at each end. We used a rope but you could also use a long jump rope or twine.

We started very basic with the concept of zero and one. We talked repeatedly about how this line represented one whole. From there, we brought in the idea of half. We would model where a half was and where it wasn't. Then, I would hand a student a clothes pin and they would pin the fraction in the correct spot. As with everything, we modeled, modeled, modeled. We talked about equal parts and the meaning of  the numerator and denominator.

From there, you can begin to bring in other fractions.
Fractions and Number Lines

Having something hanging in front of my kids, that they could physically walk up to and place the fraction on was huge!! I saw so many "ah-ha" moments when doing this. We would talk about what the numerators and denominators really mean. Then, the kids would get to walk up and determine where to place the fractions. 

This was also an easy way to bring up and practice equivalent fractions when we were to that point. They could see that 4/4 is the same as 1 whole because they land at the same spot on the number line. 
Fractions and Number Lines

As your class gets more and more comfortable with this, over multiple exposures, you can add in fractions to compare and order. My teaching partner had colored plastic clothes pins. We would use blue clothes pins for fourths, red clothes pins for thirds, etc. Not critical, but another way to reinforce the difference in the sizes of fractions. This can be powerful when students have to order fractions. I had many, many kids draw number lines on the test to help them figure out how to order fractions. 

If you want a copy of the fractions I used, you can grab them here. I only went up through eighths because that's as high as I needed to go in third. Also, if you go too high, you start getting too many fractions on the number line and it looks cluttered and confusing. If you want to make your own, I used Kimberly Gewein's Traditional Fractions Font which is FREE for personal use!

After practicing it this way, I created a concrete page for my kids to practice with. 
 Fractions and Number Lines FREEBIE

It's a forever FREEBIE that you can find by clicking on the link or the picture. FREE Fractions and Number Lines.

 Fractions Little Book

3. Fractions Little Book: Again, I'm a huge fan of hands-on. I have created a series of Little Books that I used in my room for review and practice. I seriously love them and so did my kids. I created one for fractions and it worked so well. It started at basic fractions and worked it's way up to harder concepts. 

 Fractions Little Book

I really liked how I could pick and choose what pages to include in the book. If I had a class (or a student) that could be pushed further, I could add in the pages on multiplying fractions and it worked great. We would go over the books together and do a page or two at a time. The kids would keep them in their folders at their desks and pull them out for review. Have I mentioned how much I seriously love Little Books?
 Fraction Little Books

 Fractions Little Book

You can purchase my Fractions Little Book here. 

 Spill and Write Fraction Game

4. Games and Centers: I created two games that are a great way to practice recognizing and understanding fractions. This was also a good way for my kids to really understand what a numerator was and what a denominator was. 

The first is called Spill and Write. You can download this game for FREE here. It's pretty self-explanatory. 
 Spill and Write Fraction Game

I  used the two-sided counters that have a different color on each side. The kids shook them in their hands and "spilled" them onto their desk. Then, they would record what they spilled. I got the idea to use a shortened ten frame for them to color in to help them see how two parts made the whole. 

The second game is Write It Out which you can also get for FREE here. Similar to the first, kids shake two-sided counters and color and write what they shook. 
 Write It Out Fraction Game

5. Lego's: Now I must admit that I have never personally used Lego's for teaching fractions. However, I have talked to several awesome teachers that highly recommend it. Did you know that Lego has an education branch that creates curriculum, activities, and trains teachers? I sure didn't but it looks really fun. You can find out more about it here

Scholastic has created several lessons on using Lego's to teach fractions that are really good. They also include a few FREEBIES like the one below, that go with the lessons.

 Fractions and Lego's

If you haven't seen these lessons, you should really check them out. You can see more information on this blog where a 3rd grade teacher explains how she used Scholastic's lesson to teach her kids. 


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