Five for Friday-I Have a Dream!

It's a brutally cold Friday morning, but any Friday is a good one, right?  And it's especially good when I link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

My sweet doodle, Emmitt, got a haircut.  Look at that face!

We finished up our Southern Colonies unit in Social Studies this week, so as we always do, we played a review game before the test.  The game for this unit is one of my favorites, Hoop Shoot Review!  It's a game you can easily adapt to any subject area.  Here's how I do it:

* Put students in groups of 4, and have them number off 1-4.  Students will rotate being the recorder/shooter. 
* Set up a basket with a 1 point shot, a 2 point shot, and a 3 point shot. (I just put masking tape on the floor.)
* Give each group a marker board, marker, and eraser.
* Ask the class a question.  The groups may quietly discuss the answer (quiet enough that other groups don’t hear) then student #1 writes the answer on the marker board.  (I let my kids use their study guides, because I want them to read it a hundred times if possible!) 
* Ask the groups to show you their answers.  Each group that has the correct answer gets to take a shot at the basket from the distance of their choice.  Obviously, the 3 point shot is the farthest.  The person whose turn it was to write the answer is the shooter. 
* Next question, person #2 will be the recorder/shooter, and so on.

This brave young man is going for the 3 pointer!  

My students didn't have school on Monday for Martin Luther King Day so we did some activities on Tuesday during reading and writing workshop to celebrate.  I created these activities and used them for the first time this year, and I was really pleased with how they went.  

I started with this book, My Brother Martin, written by his sister, Christine King Farris.  I like how it tells about the childhood of MLK, showing how he came to be the leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

I created a Think, Pair, Share worksheet to use along with the book.  My students had some great conversations!

At the book store last weekend, I found this beautiful book which contains an excerpt from "I Have a Dream". 

It also comes with a recording of the speech.  I decided that holding up the book while the recording played was not going to do it justice.  So, I took pictures of each page and made a PowerPoint presentation with it.  I turned out the lights, started the recording at about the 11 minute mark, and then began the slide show.  It was amazing!  

After listening to the excerpt from the speech I told my kids that we were really going to dive in and do some work analyzing parts of the speech and find some examples of literary devices and figurative language that helped to make the speech so powerful.  We started with an activity called A Closer Look at MLK's Dream that we did as a jigsaw.

I had seven groups of kids looking at different excerpts from the speech.  They used dictionaries, the internet, and their thinking to find the deeper meaning behind the words.  

Each group then shared what they had found with the rest of the class.  Next we did a scavenger hunt through a longer excerpt of the speech to find literary devices and figurative language like allusion, anaphora (Anyone else never hear of this word before?  It just means repetition.  I learned something new too!), simile, and metaphor.  

After we finished that discussion, I showed them a video clip of the speech from youtube. They had already listened to part of it, but I wanted them to see it and hear it again after all the work they did diving into it.  This is the clip that I used.

My students were paying such close attention and some of them applauded when it was done.  I asked them if they got more out of it this time after looking more closely at his words, and they all agreed that they had.  (Not that they would ever just tell me what I want to hear!)

Finally, I ended with a writing activity about what their dream was for a better world.  I told them to think of a problem in the world and then imagine what the world would be like if that problem was solved.  They silently worked for 45 minutes and the results were beautiful!

If you would like to try any of my Martin Luther King activities, you can find them at my TPT Store.

Start off your great weekend by checking out Five for Friday over at Doodle Bugs Teaching!

Spark Student Motivation to Read!

I'm linking up very late on this Saturday night with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for Spark Student Motivation Saturday!  

One of my favorite things to do for as long as I can remember is reading.  Not surprising considering I am the daughter of a librarian.  I grew up in the Flint Public Library and remain a loyal library patron to this day.  I have always had a very special relationship with books, and they were a precious part of my childhood.  Meg Ryan said it best as Kathleen Kelly in "You've Got Mail"..."When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does."  

One of my goals as a teacher is to inspire this same love of reading in my students.  My passion for this project was reignited a couple summers ago when I read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  

Front Cover

One of the things that Donalyn talks about in her book is challenging her students to read 40 books in a school year.  So, for the past couple years I have been challenging my students to read more than they ever have before!  

This year I created an area in my library for books that I recommend.  I first talked about this in my post "Mrs. Rye's Recommended Reads".  It's a special area of my room that is devoted to books I have read and loved.  The first two weeks of school I added a book a day, and since then I have added a book a week.  


I love to tell them about these books and see the interest spark in their eyes!  Last week I talked about one of my all-time favorite books, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  

I told them a little about the main characters, where the story takes place, and explained a little about sharecropping as it's an important aspect of the story.  Then I said that this book has my favorite scene of any book I've ever read.  I explained to them that in the story the African American kids have to walk miles to school every day through mud and rain while the white students get to ride a school bus.  The bus driver gets a sick enjoyment out of splashing mud on the kids who have to walk, but one day they get their revenge!  And!  I went to walk my five copies of the book back to the Recommended Reads section and before I even got there all of the copies had been snatched out of my hands!  

If you haven't already noticed I love Charlie Brown!  I was thrilled when I found the perfect way to document how many books my students have read.

Each student has a chart which looks like a mini gameboard.  Each time they finish and talk to me about a book, they get a sticker to track their progress.

Then I figured out how many books the entire class needed to finish for the whole year and divided it by four.  I told my class that each time they made it 25% of the way to the year long goal we would have a reading celebration, and I keep track of that on this goal chart.

We had our first reading celebration a while back and one of the things we did was have a Book Light Read In.

I got this great idea from Tara at 4th Grade Frolics when she talked about her Flashlight Friday!  I didn't find the flashlights at the dollar store, but I did find the book lights. Either way it's fun to snuggle up and read in the dark!

Another tool I added this year to help keep my students on track to reach their goal is my Reading Goal Progress Report.  I send this home with each student at the halfway and ending point of each marking period.  

You can find my Reading Goal Progress Reports for free at my TPT store!

Check out all the other ways to motivate your students at Head Over Heels for Teaching!

A "Wonder"ful Five for Friday!

Yesterday was my first day back from Christmas break after three snow days in a row! Wouldn't it be great to have a two day work week every week?!  Though there is the problem of getting to sleep on school nights when you are used to staying up until 1 a.m. and sleeping until 10.  That was me for the last 20 days.  No wonder I tossed and turned from 10 o'clock to who knows when Wednesday night!  

What better way to celebrate a short work week than to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

We had so much snow last Sunday that the dogs wouldn't go out in the yard to go to the bathroom.  I got Jake to go out and shovel a potty spot for them, and then he shoveled out a little path around a tree for them to walk around.

Emmitt could hardly wait for him to get it finished!  As soon as he was done, he started running around it like a crazy fool!

How fun is it to come back to school on Thursday, January 9th and get Christmas gifts! That's what happens when you get an ice day the day before break is supposed to start. All of my students' gifts are so thoughtful, but I had to share this one...Woodstock!  I'm close to having the whole gang!

If there has to be a downside to getting four extra days attached to Christmas vacation, I guess it would have to be coming back in January and needing to take down all the Christmas "stuff".  (Not really much of a downside, I know.)  So, I got to school bright and early Thursday morning because I can't stand having a December calendar up when it's January 9th!  I didn't have a lot of time to spend on it, but it looks pretty cute.  The silver ribbon and the "snow" at the bottom are my favorite part, besides the Charlie Brown fabric, of course!

I've been working this year on a way to keep track of the books my students read, the reading conferences I have with them, and a way to give grades for reading workshop. This is what I have come up with so far, my Reading Workshop Notebook.

In the notebook each student has a Reading Workshop Assessment Form that looks like this.  

Each day at the beginning of Reading Workshop, I randomly choose five students.  My students know that I am watching five kids every day, they just don't know who.  Sneaky, huh?  While I am conferencing with students, I will also be keeping my eye on these kids to see how focused they are on their reading that day.  Towards the end of workshop time I go and check in with the five students.  I look to see if their reading log is up to date, meaning the book they were reading that day is recorded in their log.  I also make sure they are reading a "just right" book.  Being focused on reading is worth 4 points, the reading log is worth 1, and reading a "just right" book is worth 1.  After I have observed them five different times, I total up the points and put it in for a grade.

I also created two different reading conference forms to use during reading workshop.

And lastly, I created a form on which I record all the books that my students read.  I (or my wonderful aide) conference with each student about every single book that they read. It's sometimes a daunting task, but so worth it!  My students know they are being held accountable to truly read and comprehend their books.

If you would like to try any of these forms in your Reading Workshop, you can get them for free at my TPT Store!

To be honest my "Five" on this Five for Friday actually took place weeks ago, but I never got around to sharing it over break.  Right before Christmas I finished reading Wonder to my students.  

This was my second year of sharing this great book with my class with similar results both times.  If there is anyone out there who has not yet read this book, you have to!  My students were so excited each day that I would pick it up to read.  There is one particular part of the book where I get very emotional and have a hard time reading it out loud. When I got to that section this year I warned my kids that I might have to stop a few times to compose myself.  Both times I have read this book, I have ended up with many students in tears as well.  It's very powerful.  One of my kids said to me this year, "You only had to stop 8 times!".

Last year I created a packet to go with the reading of this book and the lesson plans available for free at by Oakland Schools.  It is a unit called Insight Into Characters.  Each lesson has you read a section of Wonder and model for the students how you study the characters in the story and build theories about them.  Then students read a book of their own and look closely at the characters in their story.

This year I chose books at a variety of levels that I knew had strong characters in them.  I put students in pairs by ability and had them choose a book that they would both read. This way students would have someone to discuss their thinking with who had also read the same book.

After each lesson using Wonder I would tell the students what to look for in their book as they were reading that day.  Then at the end of the lesson, they would record some of their best thinking from their sticky notes into their packet.

The students create an anchor chart in their packet (as I create one for the class) of all the thinking we are doing about characters throughout this unit.

My favorite part of reading the book is the end of the story.  There is another very touching moment, and my kids applaud when I finish the book!  I think it is something they will carry with them for a long time.  

Once we finish a book, my students fill out a Books We've Shared Response Sheet where they think about the theme and author's message of the story, as well as rate it with a thumbs up or thumbs down.  Then in groups the students write a summary of the book.  I always tell my students that the best summary will be rewritten onto chart paper and posted on the wall for the remainder of the year.  This has proven to be highly motivating!

You can find my Wonder packet, assessment, and learning targets at my TPT Store.  

Have a great weekend and check out all the Five for Friday fun at Doodle Bugs Teaching!