Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October Writing Projects!

We do a lot of PUBLISHED writing in my class. We go through the writing process SEVERAL times in the first quarter alone. Here are a few of the October Writing Projects that we do.

Halloween Narrative Story- Students are each given a die and an organizer. (ORGANIZER IS FREE HERE) As I flip through the PPT (Available HERE), each student rolls their die and that number corresponds with the story starter element that they will use in their story.

 Other than following those guidelines, I make it fairly limitless. They enjoy these! Some turn out funny and others are spooky! We focused on burying DULL words and buried SAID in our writing for good!

We just finished reading Wonder in class together. If you are an upper level (4th and up) and haven't exposed your students to this book- YOU MUST! It is amazing and teaches so many character lessons! I can't even explain how many standards I was able to address just from reading this aloud as a class read aloud! I will be starting all of my school years with this book from now on!
My students totally bought-in with what I referred to as the PRECEPT CHALLENGE. In the book Mr. Browne gives students a precept at the beginning of each month. These are like life lessons or quotes to live by. They have to write in his class what it means to them. At the end of the school year he challenges each of this students to write their own precept over the summer and to mail it to him on a post card. So I gave my students the precept challenge! They had to come up with a precept that represented them and write a postcard explaining why they chose the one they chose! I also had them create their own "Wonder" portrait like the one of Auggie on the front of the book! This was a quick, but VERY meaningful writing assignment!

Here are a few of my favorites! (Just the illustrations, not their post cards)

The current writing project we are doing is about POINT OF VIEW! We study the different points of view in reading and writing (1st, 2nd, 3rd- Posters Made HERE). Then we talk about taking on the roll of another person or THING... :)

Then BAM- we become a piece of candy on Halloween and we write using this story prompt: 
*Found on Pinterest*

The whole beginning of this post was going to end with AUTOBIOGRAPHIES which we are getting read to start...BUT I am going to save that one for another day! 

Look forward to August-September Writing projects AND Autobiographies SOON! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Patricia Polacco Author Study- PART 1 (Theme)

I am a HUGE fan of all things Patricia Polacco!! I am VERY fortunate to teach in a school with a HUGE selection of Polacco books and a curriculum library on campus that has even more resources that I can choose from!!

With that said, I use her books to teach just about EVERYTHING!! We have been diving into THEME and I do not think there are better books for teaching theme in the upper grades. I love that her books are picture books, but have complexity to them that still manage to challenge my 5th graders. I have a group of VERY high readers and they need that constant challenge of reading complex text! Thank you Patricia Polacco for writing (and illustrating) just what I need!!

We always start out theme by reading a Polacco book and talking about what we can take away from it. This time around we read The Keeping Quilt. Once students were able to pick the theme or message from the book we started actually classifying things as THEME.

This of course led to a discussion in the difference between THEME and TOPIC. One of my boys mentioned QUILTS as the theme...insert PERFECT teaching moment (and during an observation-yippee!) to break down the difference in a theme and a topic.

We started our theme tracking anchor chart...
We used this chart to continue throughout our theme unit and our Polacco Book Study Unit that was going on as well. 

Specifically for the study of THEME, I had my librarian and her assistant (who are AMAZING) pull several theme-rich picture books. Most of which were Polacco books (but not all). The students partnered up and read one of the books they selected. They had to find the THEME and support their claim with Text Based Evidence (something already taught-another post for another day). They also had to prepare a short and oral summary of their text to give the class. 

When all groups were finished we gathered and each group briefly presented their book and the theme or themes that they felt for with their book. I had previously printed a small picture of the cover of their book so that it could be added to an appropriate section on our theme poster. 

All of this THEME practice (coupled along with applying it to our daily read aloud of Wonder) led me to a wonderful technology rich assignment, the THEME AMAZON POSTER ASSIGNMENT. Stay tuned for some insight and a FREEBIE of this assignment. It stemmed from another assignment from another teacher blogger and therefore it shall be FREE! :)

Inferring with Pictures and MUCH More!

I love teaching inference! For my (upper level) 5th graders it really is a fun and exciting topic to cover. They latch on to it quickly and I just get the easy part of finding activities that they can apply the skill to!

So we started with an anchor chart and practicing with a picture. I made an inference PPT and we used a little YouTube video clip.

This is the YouTube clip that I have used the last two years:

It usually gets a laugh or two and then we talk inference! 

This is the picture that we use to infer from. What is blocked out at the bottom in the little blue box is the words "Sugar Free." I tried for what seemed like HOURS to get my kiddos in the direction of why the ants might be avoiding the sucker. I started out by letting them just state any inference they had from the picture. NO HELP or INSIGHT from me at all! After what seemed like HOURS of them inferring WONDERFULLY, but not heading in the direction I was hoping...I offered a "What if..." to guide them into the purpose of the picture and advertisement. 

We used this to talk about how everyone has a different SCHEMA and we related this all of the file cabinet in our heads and our different life experiences. 

Then we used pictures and graffiti posters to practice making inferences. Here are some of my lovelies working together to use their SCHEMA + the PICTURE CLUES to infer. Some of their inferences can be entertaining, but you have to admire and embrace these funnies as they are usually in relation to the different SCHEMA that each student has.

As a follow up, I read The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris VanAllsburg. We go through all of the pictures and practice writing one story together from the picture and caption. Then I print copies of each one for the students and they randomly select a picture to write from. The publish this writing activity and keep it in their Writer's Notebooks to look at throughout the school year.