ELA Lesson Plans #9

 Boy is this week going to be fun!!! We are going to take some very difficult standards or level 3 cognitive difficulty standards to be exact  and turn them into a week of hands on engagement.  This week will also kick off a week and a half of monsters, bats and spiders!!!!  Our ultimate goal is to have students understand strategies that will help them to identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to explain.  In order to do this, we will start the week off with a quick fact and opinion lesson.  The students will work as a whole class to sort fact and opinion about a lovable green monster named Harry.  Once they have the hang of it they will work in small groups to synthesize the information and write their own facts and opinions about another lovable monster named Sally (Harry and Sally! lol) The class will come together to wrap up the lesson with a little information about how author's use information and their opinions to write pieces.  The next day will be a tiny detour from monster fun to read a piece on dental health.  While it doesn't stick with the theme, it does a great job of guiding students through the whole standard with a purposeful text and aligned questions.  Don't worry, you'll read below that students will spend time in writing doing awesome monster activities!  We'll finish off the week with bats and spiders.  The students will have to independently show that they understand the standard by writing and opinion piece and explaining it's purpose.

Just for reference, if you don't know I use the letter t for teacher and ss for students in my outlines.  Also, you can get the lesson plan templates that I use from A Modern Teacher.

We are going to read the mentor text How To Catch A Monster on youtube this week.  The students will be working on the writing crafts of vivid verbs and adjectives while writing a narrative.  We'll kick the week off by having the students write a very detailed description of their monster with adjectives.  Each student will then get a neighbor's description where they will have to draw the monster to an exact specification.  The author will use the drawing to make revisions to their piece the next day and the drawing will happen a second time.  Once all of the students have their monster descriptions written, they will write a narrative on how to catch the monster using vivid verbs.  The students will have to have their pieces written and edited by Thursday.  Everyone will take part in an author's share where they will present their piece to their friends.  The best part is that they will have a drawing and a writing piece to hang up for all to see!

 Students who get finished early will be allowed to make a 2 minute bat or spider craft to put on their opinion writing.  Click below to see how easy it is.

If you would go to the first of the lesson outline series click here.
To find this week's resources click below.

2 Minute Frankenstein Craft

Need a quick Frankenstein craft? I designed the one above for my students to write character traits on the back after we read about Frank and Mary Shelley.  

All you need to do is simply cut out a green circle and purple/black circle per student.  The students design the hair and put their Frankenstein face together.  I found felt eyes at Target, but you could have students draw them on.  They're a perfect way to allow students to build fine motor skills without taking up a lot of class time.  You can have students glue the faces to a writing sheet or write on the back of the circle.  Have fun!  

Did you know that the author Mary Shelley had to overcome quite a bit to become one of the world's most infamous authors.  If you need a kid friendly biography or fiction story about Frankenstein click below.

DIY Dry Erase Clipboard For Guided Reading and Reading Centers

I was walking down the office supply aisle at Walmart minding my own business when I came across a stack of brightly colored clipboards for $2.48.  Upon inspecting them I noticed that they were a high gloss perfect for dry erase markers.  As a bonus they have a cord that holds supplies.  They would work perfect on their own, but I immediately thought of activities at the guided reading table.  The students need 4 square organizers for vocabulary weekly.  They also enjoy playing Connect 4 Words and writing in sound boxes.  I cut out the organizers on my Cricut and placed one on each side.  I used permanent vinyl so that it could be cleaned and stay in place.   Voila, I have a $2.48 tool that will last forever at the guided reading table or reading centers.

In case you were dying to know a 4 square vocabulary organizer helps students to work through figuring out what unknown words are.  They write the word in the middle.  They sketch out the word in one  box.  They write what they think the definition is in one box.  A synonym goes in a third box.  The last box is used for the word in a sentence.

Connect 4 words is played like a cross between tic-tac-toe and Connect Four.  You write the words you want students to work on in the boxes with dry erase marker.  They choose a word.  If they read it properly they get to mark the square.  If they don't they skip a turn.  The first player to connect 4 words in any direction, wins.

Sounds boxes are Elkonin boxes.  You write one letter in each box.  The students make each sound until they've sounded out the box.  It's a great tool for emerging readers.

These dry erase boards store perfectly on their own, but if you need to store more supplies with them scan below to see what I'm doing.

ELA Lesson Plans #8

Before we get into this week's lessons I want to answer a couple of questions from readers.  How long are my shared reading lessons?  Well it all depends, on average they are 20-30 minutes.  Some years they're longer, this year they are are usually around 20 minutes.   When you have a class that spans a huge gap in reading levels, reading time is best spent in guided reading.  Another question was; Do I differentiate? YES! Every one of the lessons in my classroom is  differentiated and we differentiate everything from reading materials, support tools to workstations, etc.  Some weeks you will see a very low lexile level in a text that I've differentiated for students while we kept the response for higher kids pretty challenging.  Feel free to email me with more questions that you may have or leave them in the comments below.  You can find the lesson plan pages at A Modern Teacher.

Learning is being kicked into overdrive this week.  So far we have covered all of the basic standards in depth and from the foundation up.  Students should be able to hold reading conversations that would blow your mind.  They can ask and answer questions.  They can find key details, do character analysis, etc.  Now it's time to give them ownership of their learning with your guidance.  We are moving into Literacy Circles.  We are going to start with text that we read together in class and end the week with self selected texts.  Students will begin by completing posters that retell the story with the lesson and character traits.  Once they understand what to do, they will select what goes on their posters at the end of the week.  I will edit this post later on to add anchor charts, but our guidelines are as follows.

Literature Circle Jobs
(jobs will change daily to help students)

Literature Circle Options
-discuss character traits
-ask and answer questions
-discuss character reactions
-retell the story
-discuss the story's lesson

Literature Circle Rules
-Everyone participates
-Everyone listens respectfully
-Everyone leads parts of the discussion

This week there will be no writing lessons.  We will be conferencing and editing our last writing assessment.

Letter Bead Word Building

Need an inexpensive way to make a word work station that builds fine motor skills? If so this is the post for you!

You'll need:
Letter beads
Bead Organizer
Letter Stickers
Pipe Cleaners

I bought all of these materials from the Dollar Store and cut the letters for the top of the organizers on my Cricut.  You could also save $1 by writing the letters with sharpies.

To put the center together simply sort the beads, place stickers in each section and provide pipe cleaners. You could even have students sort the beads for you during their work station or center time.  You'll find some close up pictures below.

ELA Lesson Plans #7

One of the mini lessons that I try to weave through my day is on falling in love with reading and introduction to new series.  If you have ever read the book "Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind" you'll be able develop a picture of me in your head of how I do this.  This week we will be exploring the series "Little Critters".  More specifically we'll be looking at their fall series which I purchased from the restaurant Cracker Barrel.  I'm sure you can find them on Amazon.  You know I'm a sucker for thematic weeks.  This week will have a subtle fall feeling from the critters series to our football workstations.

This week's post will look a bit different because I have my formal evaluation and just like every year, I'll leave you with my long lessons and free differentiated materials.  Each week you only get to see my lesson outlines.  I hope that you can use these long lessons and differentiated materials to see how you can reach all of the learners in your classroom.

The lesson plan template I use is from A Modern Teacher.

Click below for free resources to accompany this week's lesson outlines.

You can find a blog post on how to plan for formal evaluations/observations and more free resources by clicking on the photo below.

ELA Lesson Plans #6

This week's lessons focused on how character's respond to events.  The texts that we used were wonderful for this standard.  I will forewarn you that they are each very deep and you should pre read the text and decide what is best for your class.

In the text "Amazing Grace", the main character endears the reader from the start with her love for reading, story telling and imagination.  During the climax of the text Grace's classmates tell her that she can't play Peter Pan in her class play because she is a girl and person of color.  Grace's grandma steals the show with her reaction to the events teaching students that they can be anything they want to be.

In the text "Something Beautiful" the character is dismayed at certain parts of her neighborhood.  The focus being her courtyard which is riddled with trash and has graffiti on the front door.  The girl goes through the book collecting information on what makes life beautiful and ultimately decides to be proactive and make her neighborhood beautiful one action at a time.

The text "Fly Away Home" features a homeless father and son.  It shows their daily struggles and their reactions to the events in their every day life.  In the text the boy learns to be patient and wait for his turn to fly away home just like a bird that he encountered.  Make sure to have the tissues handy this week!

Are you interested in what my workstations look like? If so, take a look below.  Each week I differentiate reading stations for my students.  They have a great hands-on learning experience while their reading grows.  Click on the picture below to link to the units in my store.  

2 Minute Bat Craft

 Need a quick bat craft or Venn diagram for the classroom? I came up with this one to compare and contrast bat books.

1.  Cut 2 circles out per student.  I used my circle cutter.  It was a very wise $10 investment.  I can cut out a class set in under 5 minutes.
2.  Students cut one of the circles in half and glue on as wings.
3.  Have students add a face.

It's really that quick and simple!

Pumpkin Science Literature Connections

One of my favorite long lessons takes place during October with the book "Pumpkin Jack" by Will Hubbell.  In the book a boy has a jack o' lantern that he loves.  The pumpkin has to be placed outside where it decomposes and eventually goes through the lifecycle process again. During this same time we do pumpkin character book reports.  I always ask for a volunteer to leave their pumpkin so that we can see if what happened in the book "Pumpkin Jack" could really happen? Would a pumpkin decompose and start the lifecycle over again? If this happens, does it mean the book "Pumpkin Jack" is realistic fiction?  For years now, the pumpkin has always started a small pumpkin patch for us.

In the top photograph the pumpkin had just one seed left in it.  It started a plant in a pot for us.  The plant blossomed and we lost it over Winter Break.  (We are in Florida and I'm not sure our weather is quite right to start a viable pumpkin during October.). In the bottom picture, we left a lot of seeds and we received quite a large pumpkin patch.  You will see from the photograph on the bottom that we even got the start of pumpkins.  Once again we left for Winter Break and the patch died.  I'm content with taking a pumpkin and sticking it outside to see what happens.  Having a donated pumpkin is even better.  If you want to actually take care of the pumpkin and grow new pumpkins, you might want to research the best times to plant pumpkins and estimate the amount of time it will take your pumpkin to decompose.  Please leave any questions that you may have in the comment section.  There's also a link to a free pumpkin craft that I use to with this lesson at the bottom of the post.


Crayons In The Classroom

Crayons are such a HUGE part of the classroom.  Every teacher knows the trials and tribulations of having, needing and using them.  Below you will find some tips that may be new to you, an incredible giveaway and a freebie just for being you!

Tip #1 Engagement
Up the engagement in your next lesson by stocking a center with fun twistable crayons.  
These crayons have lasted my class three years so they were worth the expense! You know how excited you get when you have cool supplies to use so just think of how excited your students will be.

Tip #2 Rewards
Offer special crayons like these Silly Scents as a special reward for well behaved students or as a prize in your class store.  They last forever! I like to stock up after back to school time when everything is marked down.

Tip #3 Calm Down
If students need a repetitive task to calm down, have them sort your crayons.  It's an added bonus that you have color sorted crayons afterwards! You can even throw them in cute drawers or containers.

Tip #4  Build Independence
Set your classroom up so that students can get what they need and put away extra items that they find in the classroom.  We have a crayon bucket that we place all lost crayons in. When students need a certain color they can just go get what they need.  If they can get their own supplies, then you have more energy to do other things.

Here's a freebie for you!  Just click below on the Sweden photo.  Before you finish up, one last tip.

Tip #5 Fine Motor Skills
You can use this freebie to help build student's fine motor skills.  I love to put these sheets out for bell work.  They can have fun coloring, build fine motor skills and your administration won't freak out when they see the kids coloring.  We use this Sweden unit when we're learning about cultures from around the world.

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2 Minute Pumpkin Craft

Do you need a quick fall craft for the classroom? How about a cute Venn diagram that you can hang up after your students fill it out?  I wanted to compare an informational and fiction pumpkin book with one another and this is what I came up with.

1.  Cut three circles per student out or have them cut it out.  I love my circle cutter.  I bought it a while back for volunteer work that I was doing and it was a great $10 investment. I can cut a class set in under 5 minutes.
2.  Have students glue the circles together as seen in the picture.
3.  Students should cut out leaves and a stem and glue onto the pumpkin.

Letter Clip Word Building

Need an easy to make word work station that won't break the bank? Here's an idea for you.

You'll need:
Wooden Letters
Clothes Pins
3 Rulers
Storage Tub

I bought the letters and clothes pins from Walmart for $3.  I already had the rulers, clipboard and storage tub.  If you don't want to use wooden letters you could save a $1 by printing and laminating letters, but they won't last as long.

Step #1 Paint the letters ( I chose to keep my vowels a different color )
Step #2 Hot glue the letters to the clips.
Step #3 Clip the alphabet to the rulers.  For younger grades you may want to write the letter on the ruler so that students know where to put them back.

Quick, simple and cheap!  Check the picture out at the bottom to see how I store them.

Click below for another DIY word work station.

Click here to learn all about creating a simple word work activity for your  reading centers in the classroom.  This fun idea works for any primary classroom.  Your first, second, or third grade students will love the center and activity shared here.

ELA Lesson Plans #5

Hi everyone! I'm so sorry for missing the last two weeks.  We had a horrible hurricane and I couldn't post my lesson outlines.  The good news is that I'm back, and I may say this all the time, but next week is going to be so much fun!! I'm a huge proponent of engaging lessons that meet the student's needs while helping them to grow as learners. I'm also a sucker for thematic lesson plans and next week is a must for my students - Apple Week.  Don't you find great joy in teaching fun topics?

Before we start talking shared reading, let me tell you about a couple of activities that we'll be doing. We will be sampling yummy crockpot applesauce.  Of course I don't have the time to make it from scratch so I use jarred applesauce and warm it before the students arrive.  They have never figured it out and I hope you don't tell them!  We'll sample different varieties of apples and graph our favorites. We'll sample some apple candy and for incentives I'll pass out Apple Jacks.  We'll also have a basket full of fun apple books.

The standard that we will be learning is a little more challenging than others, but still very engaging and interesting to students.  We'll be taking a look at how events can connect through history and science.  In order to do this, we'll look at John Chapman's life.  The students will determine what each event causes later in John's lifetime.  For example, it is believed that many apple orchards exist because of John's work.  Without his travels we would not have had so many crabapples.  We'll also be taking a look at how apples can add nutrition to our diets, the pollination process and the apple lifecycle.  Just think of a time line and lifecycle wheel.

Once again writing will be an extension of our shared reading plans.  Each day we'll be writing an informative piece on an apple page.  When the students are done they we have an awesome apple book.  Just look at it below!

I am super excited to give my students independent workstation materials that couple so well with our shared reading and writing.  These centers will center around the five core components of reading:  phonics, phonemes, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.  I've spent a lot of time trying to create materials that work for each student, are engaging, purposeful and self explanatory.    Thank goodness I finally figured it out.  Click on the image below to find the unit.
To find the other materials that I used in these lesson outlines, click on the links below.

To visit the first of my series of lesson outlines click here.

You can find my lesson plan pages at A Modern Teacher.

Super Supplies - Classroom Incentive That Works All Year

Would you like to use an easy incentive in the classroom that lasts for years? If so, super supplies are for you. Super supplies are a collection of special supplies that your students earn to use for the day. 

This caddy has smelly markers, smelly crayons, twist colored pencils, colored pens and mechanical pencils. The caddy itself was a beer caddy that I found on clearance at Target for $1. I painted it, took the bottle opener off and added vinyl with my Cricut. The supplies in my super supply  caddies usually last about three years so they're worth it.

Students in my classroom can purchase the super supply caddy with Dojo points. In the past I've used classroom dollars and tickets. Whatever your behavior incentive plan, set up a way for them to earn a day with the supplies. If you have any questions please leave them below!