March 18, 2014

Nonfiction Book Project

We are wrapping up the end of the 3rd quarter of school, so it was time for another book project!...Yes, spring break is within sight! I require my students to complete a book project each quarter.  This quarter's book project had to be on a nonfiction/informational book.  My students were allowed to pick any topic that they wanted to learn more about.  It was fun to see what they selected!  

My students created a cereal box with information about their topic, including Common Core aligned tasks. They had to summarize, explain their use of text features, define content vocabulary, and make connections to the text.  They turned out great!

 Front Cover

 Back of the Box
Summaries and Connections to the Text

 Sides of the Box
Vocabulary and Text Features

March 07, 2014

St. Patrick's Day-FLASH FREEBIE

I'm linking up with Farley for March's Currently!

The ?????? was....What are some of my favorite novels?

Speaking of March, I decided to do a FLASH FREEBIE of my St. Patrick's Day Language Arts Activities set.  Click on the image below to be taken to the product.  

Also, I have a permanent St. Patrick's Day FREEBIE at my store, so check it out! :)

Lastly, even though my spring break is sadly two weeks away, I know that many of you are already starting your spring breaks (congrats!)....If you are looking for some language arts activities for students to do during or after their spring break, click on the link below.

I will be blogging about my students' nonfiction book reports soon...Stay tuned!

February 26, 2014

TpT Sale, Jamberry, and Giveaway

                                                                                                 (Image credit: Rachel Lamb)

I will be participating in Teachers Pay Teachers "3 Million Teachers Strong" sale on Thursday and Friday! My whole store will be 20% off on those two days, and TpT will be kicking in an additional 10% savings. To get the additional 10% off, make sure that you enter the promo code TPT3 when you check out!

In other news, I recently became a Jamberry Independent Consultant! I'm loving my Traverse and Leopard Jamberry Nail Wraps! There are over 300 different designs to choose from....So many to try!

If you'd like more information about Jamberry Nail Wraps, check out the tabs on my Facebook page. If you'd like a FREE sample to try yourself, click here!

And, just because....I'd thought I'd have a giveaway.  It includes:

1. St. Patrick's Day Language Arts Activities set

St. Patrick's Day Language Arts Activities

2. Poetry Analysis Booklet

Poetry Analysis Booklet

3. Using Evidence for the Text to Support Your Answers Poster Set!

Using Evidence from the Text to Support Your Answers-Poster Set


February 22, 2014

Crafting Connection's 2,000 Follower Giveaway

My buddy Deb (from Crafting Connections) has just hit two huge milestones. She has 400 followers on Bloglovin and 2,000....Yes, 2,000 followers on Teachers Pay Teachers!!!  To celebrate, Deb is having a giveaway on her blog.  There are 15 chances to win!  I have donated any one item from my store (winner's choice) as a prize.  Make sure you stop by for a chance to win!!!  Congrats, Deb! :)

February 16, 2014

Poetry, Poetry, Poetry!

As I mentioned in my last post, we used the mentor text "Heartbeat" to start our poetry unit.  After we wrapped up that novel, we began our poem analysis and create our own poems!

Analyzing Poetry

Well, the biggest bummer in my classroom right now is that my Smart Board died (like at the beginning of January).  Yes, the fan failed....And, I'm still waiting for it to be fixed. So, luckily, I have a projector, but it's still not an ideal situation.  Anyways, when we began analyzing poetry, I created a booklet to use with my students (which I posted on TpT).  I projected the poem "Bliss" on the screen in my room, and we practiced going through the text dependent questions together.  I wanted to create free verse poems with rigorous questions to prepare my students for their state test! While we went over the answers as a class, students recorded them in their copy of their poetry books.

Each student had his/her own booklet to work in.  After the first day, students would go through the remaining poems with a partner, and later on their own.  We would always go over the correct answers as a class.
 Here is a sample of what a student's booklet looked like inside...
 One of my students brought in his favorite poetry book, Winter Woes.  With the weather lately, it was very timely!  I love when my students get excited about what we are learning and bring in items to share with the rest of the class! I had never heard of Winter Woes, but it was very cute!  It got some chuckles out of my 5th graders.

Note: The poem "Bliss" and a blank copy of a poetry book (see below) are a FREEBIE in my TpT store!

Poetry Freebie

Writing Poetry

Now, I didn't want to kill my students' love of poetry by making them analyze poems 24/7.  So, we would analyze one to two poems a day.  The remaining class time was spent on creating our own poems!  I must say, I was SUPER impressed with my students' poems!  Since I taught them last year, I was able to comment on the progress they'd made as poets.  Here is a picture I posted on my Instagram account showing the hallway outside of my classroom.

I had a hard time selecting poems to include in this post.  I am not exaggerating (no hyperbole here)!  I just picked a few of the amazing poems my students created.  I was proud of their word choices, including their use of figurative language.  They did a nice job of incorporating repetition in their poems too.

The poem I wrote called "Down from the Sky" inspired a lot of my students to write poems from different perspectives (see the roller coaster poem at the end of this post).

Now that you've seen some of their work, can you tell why I'm such a proud teacher!?!?! :)

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

February 08, 2014

Heartbeat-Poetry Mentor Text

We finished the figurative language unit that we had been working on since we got back from break, and we made a seamless transition into our poetry unit.  Every year, after we review the characteristics of poetry (using my Poetry Unit Bundle), I like to use a novel written in poems to provide some poetry inspiration for my students.  Since I used my "go to" novel, Love That Dog last year (and I have the same students this year), I had to find another novel. Luckily, after some research online, I found a fabulous poetry novel (is that even what they're called?) ...Heartbeat!  Heartbeat was written by the same author as Love That Dog, Sharon Creech.

What is Heartbeat about?
Heartbeat is about a girl named Annie who is dealing with three big issues in her life: 1. Her mother being pregnant, 2. Her grandfather having Alzheimer's, 3. Her relationship with her friend Max (and their love of running). Creech jumps back and forth between these three issues throughout the poems in the novel.  

Why do I love Heartbeat?
1. Well, the main reason I love Heartbeat is because it provided my students with excellent examples of free verse poems!  It even inspired me to try my hand at free verse (see below for a freebie). 

2. Creech does a fantastic job of including figurative language in her poems.  There are so many examples of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, etc.  

3. The book provides an excellent example of symbolism.  We hadn't talked about symbolism yet, so when we got to the end of the novel, it was a great time to cover that concept!  During the novel, Annie is given an assignment by her art teacher to draw the same apple every day for 100 days.  She notices the changes in her apple, and the last poem ends with a description of the last picture, which is a seed.  You'll see where the symbolism ties in in just a second...My students and I had a discussion about the cover/back cover of the novel.  There's an apple on the front and a core on the back. You realize by the end of the novel that the apple seems to represent her grandfather's decline in health, and the seed could represent new life, or her baby brother, Joey.

*We later tied in this new concept of symbolism to the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.  I told my students that it was a tougher poem for 5th grade, but some students were able to figure out that the roads mentioned in the poem represented choices/decisions in life.

How did I use Heartbeat in my classroom?
We started each class by reading about 25 pages of the novel.  Therefore, it took us eight days to read. Since it is written in poems, it didn't take very long (maybe 10-15 minutes/day). Our purpose for reading was enjoyment, so I didn't want to have my students analyze the poetry too much.  Before we read the novel, we discussed what Alzheimer's was, since it isn't expressly referred to in the novel (though it can be inferred). We also reviewed the main events from the previous day's reading and discussed symbolism. This past week, we did move on to analyzing poetry (which will be featured in my next blog post).

Click HERE for a great resource for Heartbeat (made by Scholastic).

Here is a freebie that contains a free verse poem I wrote.  I will be writing another blog post soon that covers how we analyzed poems in class, as well as my students' progress on their own poetry books!

Also, I recently joined Instagram...@middlegradesmaven!

Must-Read Monday Linky

January 26, 2014

Take a Hike Product Swap Giveaway

Are you up for an adventure this week?  A number of fellow intermediate teacher-bloggers have joined to provide you with blog-hopping fun this last week of January.  Perhaps snow covers the ground outside where you are reading this from, making a real outdoor hike out of the we thought we would offer you a trail to "hike along" from the comfort of your couch!

Back in December, I was partnered up with Erin from I'm Lovin' Lit! I was ecstatic to be partnered up with Erin because we are both language arts teachers, and I have bought A TON of her items on TpT.  I felt like I was partnered up with a celebrity, which I tried to explain to my husband...haha

Erin and I each selected an item from each other's stores that we could use in our classrooms this month. We both ended up picking figurative language activities!  I chose Erin's "Figurative Language Stories-Close Reading for Common Core Grades 4-8" set.  The set includes six original stories written by Erin, as well as four different activities that students can complete to demonstrate their abilities to 1. identify figurative language, 2. analyze figurative language, 3. Modify/Create their own figurative language, and 4. Revise figurative language. The flow of the activities builds in complexity. I was extremely pleased with how well the items in this product worked with my class's review of figurative language!

Let me start by saying that my students had some prior knowledge on the following seven types of figurative language:  similes, metaphors, personification, idioms, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, and alliteration. Erin's figurative language set covers all seven of those types of figurative language, as well as allusion.

With all of the other activities I had planned for this three day school week, I used Erin's figurative language stories in a "gradual release" type model.  Each step was done on a different day (as seen below).

Day 1

On our first day using Erin's figurative language stories, I thought it would be a good idea to practice how to complete two of the figurative language activities as a class, so that students would be able to complete them on their own by the end of the week. We focused on the first two activities: identifying the figurative language in the story and analyzing it.  I thought that the easiest way to complete activity #1 was to color code the seven types of figurative language that we were going to identify (As I mentioned above, we hadn't studied allusion, so we just skipped that in our practice).  I created a key on the board (similes=blue, metaphors=red, personification=yellow, idioms=green, hyperbole=purple, alliteration=orange, and onomatopoeia=brown), and my students got out their colored pencils and crayons.  We went through the text together and identified the examples of figurative language. While I was highlighting the examples on the Smart Board, students colored them at their desks.

After we practiced identifying figurative language, we completed the second activity in the set to analyze the figurative language in the story.  The second activity requires students to understand the meaning of the examples of figurative language.  There are multiple choice questions and a short answer question on the bottom of the page.

Day 2

On the second day of using Erin's figurative language set, I broke my students up into four groups.  Before the students got into their groups, I gave them some time to read and start identifying figurative language on their own, using the same color coding system from Day 1.  Then, they met up in their groups and went over what they had found together.  I reminded the students to help each other out. That if one students didn't have an answer they had, they should help explain why their answer was right.  I gave the students an example that if one student labeled an example as a simile, and the other as a metaphor, they should discuss why they came up with their answer and try to come to a unanimous decision.  Once the students finished identifying the figurative language in their stories, they brought up their answers to me, and thanks to Erin's answer keys, I was able to quickly check their work.

Once they were given an "okay", they were told to work on the analyzing figurative language page together.  I checked their responses when they were done.  The last activity they did in their groups was to create their own examples of each of the seven types of figurative language, share them with their groups, and go around explaining what their examples meant (not including alliteration and onomatopoeia, since you can't really explain the meaning of those).

Day 3

We have been studying figurative language since we got back from winter break, so on the third day of our short week, my students were given an assessment.  There were multiple parts to the assessment, but the first page was the last figurative language story from Erin's set.  Once again, they colored the different types of figurative language in the story, just as we had practiced. The other pages of their assessment required them to analyze and create examples of figurative language.  I'm looking forward to grading my students' assessments to see how they did! :)

She also has some other figurative language freebies: simile worksheet and simile lesson

Now, to help with your exercise for the day, here's what you need to know about our hike and giveaway!

Hiking Tips 

-Start anywhere along the trail!

-Along the way, stop by each blog and read about the resources swapped between bloggers.

-Enter to win the resource that is featured at each blog in the raffle below (the same raffle is at each blog, so you can just add to your entries as you go!). While you are at each blog, if you’re not a blog follower already, sign on to follow!  (You can earn bonus entries for following all blogs once you unlock the additional entries.)

-The raffle is open until midnight on January 31, so feel free to take a break from your hike, rest up, and finish it later! 

One winner will receive the entire set of resources being featured by all 14 collaborating bloggers AND a $25 TpT gift certificate! 

Here’s the list of blogs to "hike" to: 

Swap Stop A

Swap Stop B 

Swap Stop C 

Swap Stop D 

Swap Stop E 

Swap Stop F 

Swap Stop G" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Well, friends, settle in on your couch and grab the granola. It's time to get your hike on! :)