End of the Year Project for Revisiting Favorite Books

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The end of the year is a great time for reflection. Our students have worked very hard to learn new skills and refine old ones. Great progress has been made, and it should be celebrated! 
Each year, my school hosts an academic fair, and in pretty typical fashion, students display work and projects they have completed throughout the year. This is my first year at the school, so it is also my first year participating. As a team of reading intervention teachers we don't do a lot of projects, but we see a lot of growth, so we made an exception and celebrated our students too! Keep reading to learn more about the project my students completed, and how you can implement in your classroom so your students can revisit favorite books from throughout the year. 

Keeping track of all the books my intervention students have read throughout the year is not a strength of mine! We have an intervention kit, with leveled readers, but I tend to stray don't follow the sequence at all. So I really relied on my students to remember what books were their favorite. It was really interesting to see what books my kiddos picked. Some of the younger girls shocked me by picking non-fiction. One of my boys who has made MONUMENTAL growth this year, without hesitation picked one of the first books we read in September. But the important part was that they picked the book, so they would be more invested.

We thought it would be really cute to make BOOK WORMS! Once my students had their books picked, we gathered materials to construct the reflection books. Good news, it's super easy!
  1. Various colors of construction paper
  2. Large circle tracers (8in diameter)-
  3. Writing paper template (grab it here)
  4. Scissors
  5. Glue
  6. Things for decorative touches (markers, eyes, extra construction paper)

Now that you have gathered all of your materials, it's time to get your students planning. When I did this project, I had my older students select what information from the book they wanted to highlight. For my littles, we worked together to set up each page, but there was some encouraging that pushed them in a certain direction. They used the rough draft paper, included in the writing paper template to plan out their ideas.

Each student included information like characters, setting, summary, favorite part and a book recommendation for fiction books.

For non-fiction they wrote about, three interesting facts, new vocabulary, something they were still wondering about, something about text structure (sequence, compare/contrast) and a book recommendation.

For my younger students, I provided them with sentence starters, but my older students got right to work. Most of them needed to refresh their memory, and took a minute to revisit the book. I did some conferencing with each student to help them recall facts and previous discussions we had while reading the book. Then the students worked with a peer to edit their rough drafts before moving on to their final copy. The final copy paper I used is also available in the paper template.

For organization purposes, I had the rough draft papers stapled in a packet, the final copy circles stapled in a separate packet, and when students came up to select construction paper for their background, I stapled those in a third packet.  All three packets were tucked nice and neatly into the book each student picked.  Then as they completed each step, the materials for the next step were readily available for them to move on.

Revisit favorite books from throughout the year with an end of the year book project Once the students had completed writing their final copy responses, they began to assemble their books. First students cut out the construction paper circles. You can use the 8 inch circle template provided for you. AND because you have stapled the colors together, it makes for easy one step cutting. Next, they cut out their final copy circles - again one step cutting because they are stapled together. Then the students needed to glue the final copy paper to the center of the construction paper. Finally, (this is the tricky part) the books need to be assembled into an accordion book. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Take the first page and lay it text UP on the desk, put a dab of glue on the RIGHT side. 
  2. Take the second page and lay it text DOWN on top of the first page. So now you are looking at the back of the second page.
  3. Put a dab of glue on the LEFT side of the (2nd) circle, and lay the third page text UP on top of the second page. 
  4. Now you are "back to the beginning" with a text page facing up. So you will put a dab of glue on the Right and lay the next page text DOWN on top. 
  5. Continue this process until all pages have been assembled. 

When the book is closed, the front cover should be blank.  I had my students decorate the front cover with eyes, a mouth, antenna, the title and their name.

For the night of our academic fair, I placed each Book Worm with a copy of the book each student chose on the table. When the books worms are dry, they lay flat.  This was a great solution, so we could display MANY books on our tables at once, but not limit the students on how much they wanted to share. It also worked out perfectly because some of my students (even within the same grade level) really pushed themselves and completed a 5 piece book worm, while other students only completed three pieces. Displaying the books flat on the table did not "show off" the work the students did at first glance or provide a quick opportunity for comparison.

Almost every project showcased a DIFFERENT book we have read this year. It was great to have a wide variety. The students were proud of their work, and the parents were impressed with HOW MANY books they have read this year. The younger students loved checking out the older kids' book projects, to see what they might read in the coming years, and each Book Worm served as a recommendation for other students.

Overall, it was a great night and the students did a great job of showing off their progress. I hope this book project will help you in planning a way to celebrate how far your students have come. You could also keep these projects for your incoming class. This would be a great way to get them energized about the year to come, and as a way for this year's class to welcome your new students in September. 

If you have already planned an end of the year book project, you can always 

Lastly, if you are interested in more posts similar to this one, you can check out this calendar to see who is blogging in The Reading Crew.

Teaching Onomatopoeia: an exciting POP to writer's workshop

Sunday, May 14, 2017

We made it! It is the end of the school year.  High-Fives to you! 
Now like I tell my students, just because testing is over, the weather is warmer, and the end is near, does not mean that we can stop working and learning. This is my favorite time to teach about descriptive language, especially Onomatopoeia. Descriptive Language is a fun skill that can help ease your class into summer vacation. 
I have a really fun book to share with you that can help introduce Onomatopoeia and model how to use it effectively to spice up your students' writing. 

Before reading, I like to share what onomatopoeia is with my students. To do so, I tell a (possibly very true) story about my morning. It goes something like this:  I woke up this morning and got out of bed. SQUEAK! I stepped on one of Reno's dog toys. Mr. Christensen groaned because he was not ready to wake up. SHH! I told him, go back to sleep. I went downstairs to put in a load of laundry and the washer WHOOSHED as I turned it on. Then, I came upstairs to start breakfast for Mr. C and Parker. Parker likes cereal and Mr. C like bacon, eggs and toast. As I turned on the toaster, it TIC, TIC, TIC'ed as I turned the knob, and the bacon SIZZLED in the pan. Behind me, I heard tiny footsteps...then BOO! it was Parker trying to scare me. I scooped him up and gave him a big kiss on the cheek MWAH! Parker helped me feed Reno, and CLICK, CLICK, CLICK went the dog food as Parker spilled it all over the floor. Then, Reno ran into the kitchen and ate it as fast as he could. CRUNCH! While this may not be the most natural story, it certainly helped introduce sound words with my students. It also allowed us to start having a discussion about how and why onomatopoeia can make our writing more interesting. 

Dear Fish by Chris Gall is one story you could use to introduce onomatopoeia to your students. It is a story about a boy, who wrote a message to the fish at the beach, inviting them to come visit someday. The next morning, strange things begin to happen and sea creatures start to visit his house, neighborhood and school. The author naturally uses onomatopoeia to illustrate how the sea animals are invading. The sawfish and hammerhead shark were seen "swooping and whooshing and a hammering and yammering," while the boy's dad was making a tree house. They only left a cloud of sawdust behind them. The illustrations are equally as amazing, as the engaging story and incredible examples of onomatopoeia. My students LOVED this book. The ending is quite a laugh!
 You can find more suggestions HERE, or the Froggy books by Jonathon London are another favorite of mine.

This book is jam packed with examples of onomatopoeia. The first time through, I usually like to just read the book, and let my students listen. I want them to enjoy the story, rather than focus too much on the task. This first day, we talk about the author's style, and how the use of onomatopoeia helps us paint pictures in our minds. The text is much more descriptive because of the use of these sounds words, and it helps draw us in as readers. My students can get there with some prompting, and by talking about their favorite parts with a partner.

The next day, I will re-read the text. While reading, I have asked students to record examples of sound words they hear. I have broken a class up into teams and asked them to record on certain pages. Each person gets a set of post-its and they write the sound words they hear. I know not every student is going to catch them all, so it is great to have them work together. After listening to the story, I have had my students, in their groups, brainstorm situations that would fit the examples they listed. This not only creates a list of words, but also gives students an idea on how to use them in their own writing.

After reading, either on the 2nd day, or even on a 3rd day, compile the list of words on a class anchor chart. Your groups can share out their words and how they might use them. Then together as a class, you could brainstorm more,  or review this FREE onomatopoeia word list.

With the list your class generates, or the provided word list, your students can now help to construct a classroom display that encourages everyone to use more onomatopoeia in their writing. This was my students' favorite part. Students can pick a word, or you can assign them a word, and they illustrate a poster describing the word. For example, for the word 'drip' a student of mine drew a leaky faucet with a drop of water coming out of it. These illustrations have always been so creative and helpful to other students trying to use more onomatopoeia in their writing.  These posters can help inspire a story, or help elaborate on an idea already in progress.

Now that our students understand what onomatopoeia is, what it is used for, and some examples, we need to get them to use it, so they can further develop their style. Here are THREE WAYS that will take your students from "teacher, teacher," to independent when using onomatopoeia.

Teacher Guided: When I have taught this skill, I have lead my groups through some examples of text without onomatopoeia. Together, with my help, my students worked to identify examples of onomatopoeia that could bring the sentences to life. I first modeled how I would think about my options; first considering the actions in the sentence, and thinking about a time that I may have witnessed a similar situation. I explain that in order for our writing to be believable, it is best if we can connect it to a real experience. The freebie above has some sentences you can discuss with your group. The included page is a fill in the blank page, with a word bank, so you could use it morning work, or a bell ringer after your small group lesson.

Collaborative: I think this is one of the most effective ways for our students to explore using onomatopoeia. Writing is a process, and this activity helps students realize that a writer's job is never done. I have my students pick a piece of writing they would like to improve, and with a partner they revisit their writing. They work together to re-read the writing, and make suggestions for opportunities to add onomatopoeia words.  

Independent: Finally, students can write a new piece. Again, writing is a process so it may not come naturally on the first draft. But hopefully they are keeping onomatopoeia in the back of their mind and creating opportunities for it to be added in later. If your students still need some coaching with this skills, you can add story inspiration pages to your writing center that will help to encourage them to write a story based around a specific onomatopoeic example.

I hope you enjoy teaching your students about onomatopoeia as much as I do, and found these suggestions helpful. And now as you ease into the last stretch of the year, you can cross at least one lesson plan off your to do list!

If you have already taught onomatopoeia this year, you can always 

Lastly, if you are interested in more posts similar to this one, you can check out this calendar to see who is blogging in The Reading Crew.

Introducing R-Controlled Vowels with a Mentor Text

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hello and WELCOME! Thank you for joining me, and The Reading Crew for another Mentor Text link up. Each blog, will be sharing a mentor text lesson, using a book we've chosen. The lesson will model a vocabulary, comprehension or writing skill. While you are visiting each blog, be on the look out for a "mystery" word - you will need this word to enter our incredible giveaway. You could win a copy of each book featured in the link-up, but if you don't enter, you can't win!

A Day at the Berns Family Farm: A Book of Phonics was written by Laura Hudgens, and just published in March. So it is HOT OFF THE
PRESSES! This is a cute story about a family, and all that goes on during the day, on their farm. I think what I loved most about this book is that it was written by an educator, who has worked with K-3rd graders for 16 years. In the note to readers, she writes "This book was created for the student or child that is learning to read and recognize diphthongs." All throughout the book, the vowel teams, r-controlled vowels, and diphthongs are highlighted within the words to help the reader identify them while reading. In full disclosure, I find the highlighted text to be slightly distracting, HOWEVER, my students enjoyed how easy it was to identify the sounds. 

When I introduce a new phonics skill, I try to provide my students with as many concrete "triggers" as I can. I aim for a text, a visual image, and a physical artifact. When teaching R-Controlled Vowels, I now reach for this book! Even though the book highlights various vowel sounds, the title perfectly lends itself to trigger the sounds for R-Controlled Vowels. My students help me come up with images for our phonics skills. This year, my 2nd graders picked a pirate for the /ar/ sound, popcorn for the /or/ sound and a grumpy dog for the er, ir, ur /er/ sounds.  These images are something they can visualize to help them recall the correct sounds. Finally, I try to pick a physical artifact. I found pirate patches at the party store for our /ar/ week, and during our /or/ word study, we popped popcorn. Even more than an image trigger, the multi-sensory experience connected with these fun memories help to develop a strong sound association for my students.

I believe it is important to involve our students in the process of creating reference resources for themselves.  So, we worked together to make this anchor chart that displays the trigger images and words that match the phonics pattern. It is simple, not terribly fancy and something the students can use to help them when reading and writing. However, I have terrible anchor chart envy. I am no artist (I traced the pictures on the anchor chart), and my handwriting skills are not worthy of being on display! So, I created these digital anchor charts. While I illustrated our classroom anchor chart, my students had these personal charts so they could develop their own word list. These charts are stored in their reference folder (a folder that goes back and forth between school and home to provide help when needed).

digital anchor chart to display on board and complete with your studentsWhen teaching R-Controlled Vowels visuals can help trigger the correct sound. Use this visual anchor chart with your students, and brainstorm words for each vowel sound

Modeling, exposure and practice help to yield some of the
best results with our students. One way to provide consistent modeling and exposure for your students, is to instruct them on how to identify vowel sounds in words. Vowel sounds are the key to both encoding (spelling) and decoding. Each time we introduce a new phonics pattern we can give our students practice with these skills. As we know, vowel sounds dictate the syllables in a word. If a student is able to understand this, they will be more successful readers and writers.

After reading A Day at the Berns Family Farm, you can lead your students through this decoding practice, featuring words from the book.  Then, with this list of newly acquired words, your students could write their own "Bossy R" story.

Not sure how to explicitly teach your students how to decode an unknown multi-syllabic word? Following this step by step procedure might help them, when sounding out the whole word is just too overwhelming:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/183873597268626635/If you are looking for more practice for your students, this FREE R-Controlled Interactive Mini Book focuses on ar, or, er, ir, ur phonics skills.  The notebook is made of half page foldables that introduce twice the content, in half the space. And because time is precious, there is limited cutting and pasting! Your students will have picture clues (picked by my students) to help recall the correct sound each vowel sound makes. Additionally, the list of words I generated with my students, has been included in a completed "anchor chart" reference page. Your students can practice encoding words with Bossy R sounds, as well as decode multi-syllablic words that feature R-Controlled syllables. Lastly, your students can cut, sort and glue picture cards identifying the vowel sound in each word. This resource is full of explicit practice perfect to include in your teacher guided whole class or small reading groups, while the R-Controlled concepts are still "new learning".

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/183873597268623919/As your students become more comfortable with R-Controlled vowels, it is time to release some of the control back to the students. You can first do that through the use of collaborative centers - where your students work together - two minds are better than one. Together, your students can:
  • assemble puzzles featuring R-Controlled vowels. 
  • identify which word is spelled correctly, using a "what looks right" strategy
  • write more stories using "Bossy R" words
  • complete a word search full of R-Controlled words
And finally, because our students deserve it... some FUN! After a few weeks, I like to incorporate a little review, by playing a game with spiraled phonics skills. My students love a good BINGO-like game that encourages quick and accurate reading of previous taught phonics skills. Now that our students have had plenty of practice, it is OK to the put the pressure on, and keep the pace of the game up. Hopefully, a few weeks out, our students are recognizing the vowel patterns more quickly and decoding the words accurately.
 Thank you for stopping by and reading about how you can introduce new phonics skills using a mentor text. Our students love being read to, and by sharing literature that reinforces the skills we are teaching, our students will acquire the new skills with ease. I am always interested in find new ways to introduce phonics skills to my struggling readers, so if you have a book, or multi-sensory concrete artifact you would like to share, please leave it in the comments!

Before you go, don't forget to enter The Reading Crew's giveaway! You will need to enter my mystery word, which is FARM

If you are looking for more mentor text lessons, you can check out other SPRING and SUMMER texts here. 


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How to Effectively Instruct Sight Words in Context

Saturday, April 15, 2017
 Hello, and welcome to the third (and last) post in my "Teaching Sight Words" series. If you are just joining me, I have recently posted about making your sight word instruction explicit and hands on, as well as 10 amazing literacy centers, you could implement tomorrow. Today, I would like to share with you, how you can take your sight words from isolated instruction and practice, to real context application.

Be sure to read carefully as there are FREEBIES within this post, and you can enter for a chance to win my Blog Birthday Giveaway worth over $100.00, so let's get started
In my small groups, I am challenged with having 25 minutes with each group. Now of course, I want my students to practice their reading as much as possible. However, skill work is just as important, so they can practice reading accurately. As a result, in one (maybe two) sessions per week, the majority of my focus is just on sight words. A lesson looks something like this:

When the students first come in, we may play a sight word game called Teacher vs. Students, my friend Jenn, from Reading in Room 11 shared about the game HERE. It is a very engaging game, that the students always enjoy (because they always win)! Otherwise, they will practice some word identification with their sight word tents (you can read about them in my last post, #1). These are great bell-ringers, or warm-up activities to shake out some cobwebs, or for you to complete an informal assessment.

Then, I will walk them through the steps of our multi-sensory "red" word routine. You can read more about this lesson structure in my first post.

Next, I will begin to bridge the connection between isolation, and context by using a pocket chart, with sentences and missing sight words. The students work together to complete the sentences, before I ask them to read aloud the sentences to a partner. Again, this is a great opportunity to take notes on how the students are transferring the words from isolation, to context.

After that, I introduce a text. I try very hard to find a text that provides repetition of the sight word(s) we just practiced. I am very lucky that my school district has a subscription to Reading A-Z. This website has a wide selection of leveled texts, that also support repetitive sight word reading. In addition to the leveled book library, they also have High-Frequency word books. Unfortunately, there is no way to search for a sight word, so I usually do a lot of clicking and searching. Thankfully, I have found it to be (VERY) worth my time so I can give my students the support they need with reading sight words in text.

Writing paper from Teaching in the Tongass

Finally, I have created this sight word "homework" template. I customize the word each week to provide more simple sentences, and fill in the blank sentences for my students to read. You can grab my EXCLUSIVE BLOG FREEBIE template here. With any remaining time, my students can complete this activity. Or, they may take it home for practice, or I have used it as a bell ringer the following day. No matter how I use it, when completed, I keep this page in their sight word folder for review.

After this lesson, I progress monitor my students on weekly basis. I check their words in isolation, but I'm always cognizant of how they are doing with reading sight words in text. I check in with informal reading conferences, when my students read aloud to me, formal running records and fluency assessments. I also open a Padlet for my students to post sight words they have found in a text. When I am working one-on-one with a student, my other students are tasked with reading independently. While reading, I post 2-4 sight words I want them to look out for. If they find one of the words in their book, they need to add it to the Padlet with their name. I just leave my iPad open, and the students can add their word without interrupting my time with another child.

For more exposure, and to help sink these new sight words into memory, we will continue to play games like Road Race, Jenga and sort our Cheetah Words.

The growth I have seen with this predictable lesson outline has really helped my students make great, LASTING gains with their sight words. Sometimes this foundational skill can be difficult to teach and plan, so I hope I have given you some ideas to add to your tool-box.

In hopes of helping you even more, and to thank you for joining me on this journey, please take a minute to enter my Blog Birthday Giveaway. Included in this giveaway is:
Plastic Canvas ($12 value) and Red Crayons ($7 value)
for you to begin implementing your red words routines.
Magnetic Letters ($10 value) and a Dolch Sight Word Bundle ($22 value)
for you to use in centers.
Thirty-One Gifts Tall Organizing Tote ($35 value) and up to $15 to my
Teachers Pay Teachers store for you to add to your classroom lesson tool-kit.
This is a value of over $100!! 

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