Friday, December 30, 2011

Must-Own Books FREE eBook

WARNING: This post may cause money to fly out of your pocket. 

This is the FREE eBook of Must-Own Books as recommended by the fans and followers of Sub Hub. Do not take downloading and opening the file lightly. I guarantee you will be tempted to rush to your nearest bookstore or hop on Amazon to buy these books. These are not books to be checked out from the library or borrowed from a colleague. No! These are books every teacher and sub should OWN (according to experienced teachers and subs). These books have multiple lesson applications, have stood the test of time, and are loved by teachers and students alike. So, heed the warning above and proceed with caution.

See you later, I am off to Barnes and Noble... or maybe I can't even wait that long. To Amazon it is!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A New Year on the Horizon... And a Writing Freebie to Go with It!

With Christmas now behind me, I am looking ahead to the New Year. And, not that I am thinking about going back to school yet, but I remembered a cool writing activity I did last year with third graders and the year before with second graders. I see no reason the activity couldn't go as high or low as you'd like, as long as modifications are made to expectations and depth of writing. Even kinders could draw their resolutions if they don't yet have the writing skills.

The activity focuses on New Year's resolutions, but ties them into goals and what we know about the process of goal setting... that goals need to be realistic and measurable, you need to have strategies in mind to meet them, and you need to know who you can count on to help you meet them.. I can also see a tie-in with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with the "resolutions" becoming "dreams" to go along with the "I Have a Dream" speech. So, although the activity has a New Year's focus, it could really be used the entire month of January.

The New Year's Resolution Writing download is free and includes the lesson plan, a graphic organizer, and instructions for a foldable to go with it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

All I Want For Christmas Is...

This being Christmas Eve, I have been reflecting on the past year and what I am hoping for on Christmas morning. While what I really want definitely won't be under the tree (a full-time teaching job), I have already received so many gifts this year. I had a nice, long-term subbing position in a good school. And I just found out I will have another long-term come April! That was a nice Christmas surprise. This one will be in second grade at a school I had three long-terms in last year.

But the most amazing gift so far is this blog and all the followers and fans I reach (and hopefully help a little). This was a dream I didn't even know I had. I was looking for something to do on days when I didn't sub, and on the urging of my little brother, I looked to blogging. I happened into an amazing group of other blogging teachers through a friend, and Sub Hub was born.

I have really been lamenting over the fact that I was "just a sub" for a few years now since I have been on an unsuccessful quest for a full-time job. But this past summer, I chose to look at things in a new light. By golly, I am NOT "just a sub"! I am sub in-demand who makes a difference in the classrooms I enter. And, judging by the number of fans Sub Hub has and the positive comments I get, I also make a difference through the blog. And let me tell you, that is the best gift I could ever get!

So, while it would be nice to open something sparkly or electronic on Christmas morning, I am thankful for the many wonderful gifts I already have: long-term sub positions, the Sub Hub blog, amazing fans and followers, a new group of online friends with common interests and challenges, and (of course) my family and other friends as well.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to each and every one of you! You mean more to me than you can ever know. So, while what I really want won't be under the tree tomorrow, I really can't complain at all. In fact, I am counting my gifts each and every one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Twist on the Quiet Game... Add Math Facts

Many teachers play The Quiet Game when they are in the hall and have to wait for some reason. As a sub, it happens to me fairly frequently because I am not familiar with the class schedule or how the clocks in the school run (in some schools every clock says a different time, and as a teacher you get used to knowing which ones to follow). Anyway, I got bored with the regular Quiet Game where everyone sits quietly and you choose a girl and a boy to start it off. They walk up and down the line and tap someone who is quiet. Then they switch places and the new student gets to choose... and so on. One day I had gotten to counselor with a third grade class a full 10 minutes early because I misread the schedule and did not want to waste that time. So we played The Multiplication Fact Quiet Game. It is played exactly like the regular Quiet Game, only instead of the student just tapping another, they give a quiet student a multiplication fact. If that students gets it right, then they switch. You could apply this using any operation depending on the level of the students. Voila! Quiet students in the hall who are practicing math facts! Win-win!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Filling Holiday Down Time with Snowman Stumper

The other day I found myself in a classroom during their holiday party with a little down time. They had a holiday memory game they were playing in pairs, and were quickly losing interest in that. A movie was scheduled to come on, but there were a couple of technical glitches causing a delay. I had to think fast before the room erupted in chaos (yep, it happens that fast). I had the students clean up and announced we would play Snowman Stumper (name made up off the top of my head because I love alliteration). I told the students it was just like Hangman, only I would draw a snowman as letters were not guessed. I thought of a word (snowman was my first; yea, I know, real creative). And I used the class set of popsicle sticks to choose students to guess letters. They guessed that one really fast since the name of the game was Snowman Stumper, but it served as a nice introduction as to how to play. I proceeded to play the game using additional holiday words such as reindeer, Santa, snow, Rudolph, Frosty, etc. We didn't get through too many rounds before the movie came on, but the students wanted to play again later. And the class was managed through a dicey time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

'Tis the Season... To Run Out of Supplies

I find that by this point in the school year, many students are running low on supplies. Whether it's because they ate them (yes, I had a first grader who did just that), dismantled them (yes, my third graders this year loved to take apart their pens), lost them, used notebooks as doodle journals, or honestly used up their supplies, they now need some more.

The first time I came to this realization, I was long-term subbing in a first grade classroom and student after student would tell me they didn't have a ___ anymore. I started writing notes to parents in students' folders letting them know what was needed, but that quickly became tedious. So I created a simple check-off form I could print and copy. As students were working, I polled them about what supplies they needed and checked off the form to send home. It was so much easier! So, whether you are long-term subbing or teaching full-time, download this Supplies Needed Form for free and make your life a little easier.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Make Your Own Melted Snowman Ornament

Here's a fun and easy Christmas craft you can do with your students as a gift for parents... a craft in the classroom... or just something fun to make with your own children. It's a melted snowman ornament made out of glue and small trinkets. I saw the idea on Pinterest and decided to try one myself. I think it worked pretty well. Here's what I did:

1. Squirt a large puddle of Elmer's glue on a piece of wax paper. Make sure it is sitting on a surface where you can leave it for a while since it will take a couple of days to dry.

2. Add in eyes, "carrot" nose, and mouth. I used small black buttons for the eyes and mouth and a piece of orange pipecleaner for the nose. You could also use beads, pom poms, or anything else small.

3. If you choose, you can loop a piece of string, yarn, or ribbon and anchor the ends into the glue puddle. I did not do this step and simple "drilled" a hole with a pair of scissors after the glue was dried.

4. Be patient and wait for the glue to dry. Depending on how large a glue puddle you made, it could take up to 2 days for it to be dry.

5. When it's dry, peel the wax paper off the back and hang on your tree.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Math Freebie

I created another Christmas freebie, and wanted this one to have a math focus. So I took the "12 Days of Christmas" song and wrote a few math problems around it. It's probably not enough for a whole lesson, but could be good for a math center or a time filler at the end of a lesson. So, I hope you enjoy 12 Days of Christmas Problem Solving.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just Add Paper 5th Grade Plan Now Ready!

Whew! Final set (for now) of the Just Add Paper line is now up on Teachers Pay Teachers. So visit the store and get your copy of Just Add Paper Fifth Grade. It has lessons/activities for character analysis, figurative language, geometric transformations, weather vs. climate, and slavery perspective writing. And a FREE sample is available here.

As a special just for subs who work in grades K-5, I am working on packaging the whole lot of Just Add Paper plans at a discount. So look for that coming soon. My hope is that you will have a binder of a day's worth of lessons for grades K-5 so you can be prepared for any situation.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Holiday Freebie for "Olive" my Fans

One of my favorite books to read at Christmastime is Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh. So I thought I'd make a fun writing activity to go with it... and make it FREE!

What I have created is a persuasive writing activity based on the book. Olive is a dog who mishears a lyric to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and thinks she is a reindeer. Students will listen to and discuss the book and then choose an animal they would like to be. They then fill out a Job Application as that animal to be a part of Santa's reindeer team. That information is used to write a persuasive letter to Santa listing at least three reasons why their animals would make a great addition to the team. Included in this Olive the Other Reindeer Persuasive Writing Activity packet are the directions and reproducibles for the Job Application and the Letter to Santa.

If you do not own this book, it would be a great one to add to your holiday collection. Find it here at Amazon:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12 Days of Christmas in the Classroom

Here are some more details about an idea I posted about on Facebook... the 12 Days of Christmas in the Classroom. I mentioned before that I was subbing in a 4th grade classroom, and the teacher was giving her students a "gift" each day for 12 days. She started on Dec. 1 and gave one each school day.

The teacher had the gifts written on slips of paper in a Christmas container and drew one each day (although, I think she had it rigged about what she was going to give on each day). When I was there, I got to play Santa Says with the students for 15 minutes. Other suggestions I made were Holiday Hangman, free draw time, extra recess, etc. I got the list of what this teacher uses, and here it is:
          1. Snowball Fight (done with lightly crumpled white paper)
          2. Freeze (play Christmas music; students dance until you turn off the music;
                                           those who are still moving are out)
          3. Make ornaments for her small classroom tree
          4. Santa Says
          5. Extra recess
          6. Read for fun
          7. Teacher read aloud of a Christmas favorite
          8. Jingle Bell Rock (just play the song and have a dance party)
          9. Make snowflakes using coffee filters
          10. Make a greeting card
          11. Christmas Make-a-Word Competition (make as many words from CHRISTMAS as you can)
          12. Polar Express movie/PJ/Hot Chocolate Day

And again, each gift (except the last one) only takes 15 minutes out of the day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

3rd Grade Just Add Paper Plans Online Now

Short and sweet post this time... 3rd Grade Just Add Paper emergency sub plans are available on my Teachers Pay Teachers store now. So, if you are a third grade teacher or a sub in a third grade classroom,  go download your copy. And, get a free sample of the plans here.

I did hear one great use of these plan by Denise Boehm at Sunny Days in Second Grade. She downloaded the second grade version, printed them out, and is keeping them in a ziplock bag along with a picture book or two. What a great way to be ready for any emergency!

4-Square Story Map

As I was writing the third grade Just Add Water emergency sub plans, I had an idea... to make a simple story map that doesn't need to be copied AND doesn't require the students to draw anything (because often that is messy and unreadable). My idea was to fold a piece of paper into four sections, and label the sections Characters, Setting, Problem, and Solution. It can be used to show comprehension of a reading story or as a planning organizer in the pre-write stage of the writing process. I have dubbed my creation the 4-Square Story Map.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snowmen at Christmas Writing Freebie

I am so excited about hitting 1,000 Facebook fans and the giveaway, but I am a little sad that only one of my fabulous fans can win the 1,000 prize. So I thought I'd create a little freebie for you all. That way everyone gets a prize.

One of my favorite read-alouds during this time of year is Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner. I have a created writing activity to go along with the book. It would be great for any teacher to do, but also a good one for subs to keep handy in case they have some time that needs to be filled in a meaningful way.

The Snowman Writing Activity I created follows directly out of the story where a child builds a snowman and wonders what it does to celebrate Christmas. The writing activity asks students to imagine what their snowman would do to celebrate. I deliberately left the word "celebrate" open, even though the story focuses on Christmas. Students of differing beliefs can imagine what their snowman would to do celebrate any winter holiday. I also left the head blank and some space above so students can personalize the look of their snowman, adding a hat of their choosing and other features.

So get busy downloading and let me know what your snowman does to celebrate the holidays.

1,000 for 1,000 Giveaway

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Normally I do not subscribe to that belief, but when it comes to prizes, it's a must! 1,000 fans on Facebook is an amazing accomplishment, so it deserves an amazing prize... 1,000 fun teacher items! All you need to do to enter is complete the form below by 8 p.m. CST Monday, December 5, cross your fingers, and wait for your name to be chosen from a random number generator. I will post on Facebook that a winner has been chosen, and then you should check your email. I will notify the winner via the email address provided.

The prize package includes:

          300 Paper Clips
          240 Stickers
          150 Push Pins
          100 Sticky Notes
          45 Sheets of Decorative Paper
          40 Desk Name Plates
          36 Star Cut Outs
          30 Student Awards
          24 Pencils
          1 Roll of Highlight Tape
          1 Bottle of White Out
          1 Pocket Chart

For a grand total of 1,000 FABULOUS ITEMS!!!!!! Good luck! I can't wait to give this package to one lucky fan.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Entice Reluctant Readers with Weird Facts

I highly recommend the National Geographic Kids Weird But True series for reluctant readers. I bought my son this book, and he has not put it down since he received it. Now, he is not a reluctant reader, but his interest, the content of the book, and some posts I have seen recently on other blogs got me thinking... this could be great for reluctant readers.

Now, I should tell you my reading philosophy, and it is simple. ANY READING IS GOOD READING. I know many teachers get hung up on: is it the right book, is it a "good" book, is it the right level book. But, especially with reluctant readers, I am thrilled if I see them reading anything. I am not saying this book is excellent quality literature... I am just saying it is filled with interesting little tidbits that kids want to know. And, if you get kids reading something, then you can start to recommend related books, steering them toward the more acceptable books.

Weird But True is a great series to show kids that: 1) reading can be fun, 2) reading can be interesting, and 3) reading can teach you things (even if they are weird).

Second Grade Just Add Paper Plans Ready

OK, so this line of plans is going a little faster... mostly because I have more time to write them now. I guess that is one good thing about the end of a long-term substituting job. So, here is the second grade installment of Just Add Paper. If you have been reading the last couple of days, you know these plans use very few materials... mostly just school supplies and PAPER!

For second grade, the lessons focus on cause and effect, writing a directed personal narrative, two-digit addition and subtraction, designing an animal, and imagining what they would do as a leader. This set of plans has tips for creating your own math manipulatives and encourages higher order thinking skills.

As with the previous two sets (kinder and first grade), there is a free sample available to download.

Also, a little hint for subs, when grades K-5 of Just Add Paper are ready, there will be a specially priced bundle just for you... so you will never be stuck with nothing to do in any classroom ever again! Just check the Sub Hub Teachers Pay Teachers store for availability.

Friday, December 2, 2011

First Grade Just Add Paper Plans Now Available

Just completed and posted on my Teachers Pay Teachers store is the first grade version of Just Add Paper. Like the kindergarten ones posted yesterday, these first grade plans have reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies lessons and use only basic materials plus paper.

This set of plans covers sequencing, adjectives, addition story problems, life cycles, and inventions. They encourage making connections and the higher order thinking skill of creating.

For a free sample that includes the reading lesson, click here.

If you download the plans, please take the time to give me a rating. You can also rate the other free lesson plans. Enjoy and never worry again if you are unable to write sub plans or find yourself in a classroom with no plans!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Monster Multiplication Wheels on Amazon

This is one of my favorite ways for students to practice their multiplication facts. You can find the book Monster Multiplication Wheels on A third grade classroom I was in last year had a laminated class set in a math center. And this year, the third grade classroom I was in also had a class set.

I wanted students to be able to have their own to use for practice at home. However, to copy every wheel for every student would kill too many trees for my taste. So I shrunk them down on the copier so two entire wheels (four circles) fit on one page. I copied them this way for my students, including the instruction page and the multiplication chart also included in the book. Students were able to personalize their monsters. I provided each student with a baggie with brads. As the students got each wheel colored, cut out, and put together, they were able to use the same baggies to store their set of monster wheels. Then... voila! A personal set of Monster Multiplication Wheels in a handy dandy storage baggie!

Just Add Paper... New Line of Sub Plans

I am quite excited (mixed with a little bit of terrified) to launch into this my new phase of Sub Hub. What I have created is a new line of emergency sub plans... plans for true emergencies, when you don't have time to do any preparation at all. My new line of plans is called Just Add Paper, because that's pretty much all you need besides the downloaded plans.

Right now, Just Add Paper Kindergarten is ready for sale at Teachers Pay Teachers. And you can download a FREE sample of it as well. Plans for grades 1-5 will follow in the next week.

Much like my previous line of emergency lesson plans, they are designed to be one-day plans for use by a teacher or a sub. There are reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies lessons included.

Unlike the other lesson plans, the only additional materials you will need are basic school supplies (pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, and glue), a few picture books of your choice, and a variety of PAPER!

One other difference is that I am venturing into the world of paid products, but I will always provide my fans and followers with a free sample of the item. So, download the free sample, and if you like it, trek on over to my new store at Teachers Pay Teachers and purchase the full day's worth of lessons.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Don't Forget to Market Yourself

As my long-term sub job ended today, I remembered something I want to remind all subs about. Don't forget to market yourself. Sure, you are in the sub system for your district, but if no teachers know you, you will be at the mercy of the random call. When you get a job, make sure you talk to some teachers around the school to make yourself known. And I highly suggest making yourself some business cards. And they don't need to be fancy at all.

You can certainly go somewhere and have them printed, or you could order them online through a service like Vista Print. But I made mine simply in Microsoft Word by using a pre-made template from the Word Document Gallery. I replaced a photo with a more "teacher-y" one, and added my information.

Make sure include the necessary information: your name (obviously), a district ID number if you have one, a few of your credentials, and your contact information. Then I print them on my printer using business card shells you can buy at any office supply store.

As I left the school today, I cleared with the principal that I could put my card in all the teachers' boxes. Now, the teachers can keep my card handy and request me the next time they need to be out.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hop into Frog Life Cycles

I found another creative use for the Brown Bag Books I posted about a couple of weeks ago. We all had a million ideas on how to use them, and I loved them all. Here is another one I came up with and had to share. My third graders spent two days studying frog life cycles. We had done all the basic lead-ups... watched a video, read in the textbook, observed a live tadpole, and took notes in their science journals.

As a creative assessment of their frog life cycle knowledge (and a way for me to work in more writing), I had them use the Brown Bag Books for a science writing activity. The instructions were to tell the story of the frog cycle from the perspective of the frog. In other words, pretend they were a frog and telling their life story to a child. They got to wear their perspectacles (again from a previous Sub Hub post), and I set the mood by playing Kermit singing "It's Not Easy Being Green" (which is an amazingly calm song in a classroom, by the way).

The stories went on the pages of the Brown Bag Books, and the life cycle explanations went on the index cards tucked into the pockets. The students had fun showing their learning, and I loved the creative results!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Seasonal Freebies

Have you seen this new page of seasonal freebies for teachers? It is a great one-stop shop for free seasonal teaching activities. December freebies are going up now, including my gingerbread plans and many others, so go check it out. And follow the page so you don't miss additional freebies as well as well as other holidays.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Show Students the Spirit of Giving

For so many of our students, the winter holidays are all about the gifts. I get it. It was for me too when I was young (and maybe still is... just a little). But as a parent and a teacher, I would love it if children would at least be aware of a deeper meaning of the holidays. This is a great activity to point out one of the true meanings of the holiday season.

First, I start off by having students make their gift lists. You can use fancy paper or a form, but I just use notebook paper. I guarantee that each student will have a list of many toys, movies, games, electronics, and maybe even a book or two.

Then I read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and talk about its theme... how the tree was willing to give everything it had to the boy, but the boy was never willing to give anything back. We talk about the ethics (one of the principles in Depth and Complexity teaching) of this, and I always accept all answers.

After reading and discussing, I hand back the holiday lists and give students the opportunity to change them... most usually want a new piece of paper to start all over. The change in the lists completely moves me to tears every time. I have had students whose lists went from: "DSi, bike, skateboard, remote controlled car, etc." to "a job for my daddy, clothes for my sister, etc." I give them the choice of sharing because sometimes those second lists can get very personal. A couple of times, those lists have even helped identify a student who needed financial help when no one at the school even knew.

If there is time, as an extension activity I have students reflect on the difference in the lists and why they changed. They can even place a value judgment on which list they think is better.

Every time I do this activity, it shows me and my students one of the true meanings of the holidays... GIVING. And there is no better feeling than that!

It's a Sunshine Day!

What's even better than being on Thanksgiving break, spending time with my family and relaxing? Finding out Sub Hub received the Sunshine Award 2011 from Charity at The Organized Classroom Blog! The OCB was one of the first teaching blogs I ever started to follow, and Charity sets such an amazing example for the rest of us teachers who aspire to help others by sharing what we know in blog form. So I am beyond honored that Charity would recognize my blog in this way. And if you have been hiding under a rock inside teacher blog world and don't know about The Organized Classroom Blog, you must click on the link and check it out. :-)

Here are the rules for accepting this award:
1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
2. Answer the following questions below.
3. And pass the award to 10-12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs, and let them know you awarded them.

So, here are my answers to the questions:
1. Favorite Color? Purple
2. Favorite animal? Otter (I have loved them ever since I was a kid!)
3. Favorite number? 12
4. Favorite drink? Hmmm.... I have to give two answers to this one. Adult beverage=margarita (I do live in San Antonio); Nonadult beverage=Peppermint mocha from Starbucks.
5. Facebook or Twitter? Definitely Facebook since I am just venturing into Twitter
6. Your passion? Teaching, blogging about teaching, hanging out with my family
7. Giving or getting presents? Both... I do love getting presents (especially those sweet handmade things given to me by students), but I also love to give to see how excited the person gets
8. Favorite day? I can't pick just one again. And I will have to be sappy and cliche and say my wedding day and the days my two children were born.

And now for the other fabulous blogs (besides Charity who obviously already got this award):
1. Lorraine at Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies
2. Stacey at Second Grade Two Step
3. Debbie at Rainbows Within Reach
4. Jennifer at Empowering Little Learners
5. Gillian at Nyla's Crafty Teaching
6. Suzy at Third Graders Dream Big
7. Sally at Elementary Matters
8. Carloyn at Wise Owl Factory
9. Hilary at Rockin Teacher Materials
10. Melissa at Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Run, Run, Run As Fast As You Can... And Catch These Gingerbread Lessons

I know it may be a little early to be thinking of what to teach for the winter holiday time of year, but I was too excited not to put these lessons out. What I have created is a 1-2 week unit based on gingerbread. The lessons can be used as is for grades 2-4 and could be modified to fit kindergarten or fifth grade.

At the heart of the unit is reading as many different versions of the Gingerbread Man as you can find. There is a list of some of my favorites in the plans. There are reading lessons, a writing idea to take students through the writing process, science lessons, math lessons, and even a couple of social studies ideas.

Many of these I did last year with a group of third graders. We started the lesson about a week and a half before Winter Break. We did some of the lessons each day until the last day when it culminated in sharing their gingerbread writing and having their winter party where they built and decorated gingerbread houses and played gingerbread games. I had goodie bags for the students with all gingerbread-themed items. We had so much fun.

I loved hearing their versions of the Gingerbread Man. I think my favorite was the Gingerbread Spurs basketball player who was being chased by Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and other stinky Lakers (sorry LA fans, but I am in San Antonio and so am a die hard Spurs fan). :-)

And, of course, you don't have to use the lessons as a whole unit, but can pick and choose which activities you'd like to do with your student. And they make great activities to leave for a sub and you can have everything ready well in advance.

So, run, run, run as fast as you can. And catch these FREE gingerbread plans.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Just the Facts... and Opinions

This week my third graders were working on fact and opinion. Since that is always a hard skill for them to grasp, I tried several ways of teaching it. First, we hit the basics: "a fact can be proven" and "opinion is a thought or a feeling." Then we looked at many examples and created a list of clues to help point them in the fact or opinion direction. I used those clues to create an anchor chart that we added to throughout the week (that's why it's in several different colors and not the neatest anchor chart ever). I did make sure they knew that these words were just clues. Here is the anchor chart we created together:

Each day we practiced the skill in a new way. One day I had them make a T-chart for facts and opinions they found in the story for the week. Another day I used a worksheet that listed statements, and students labeled them fact or opinion and then had to circle the words that told them whether it was a fact or an opinion. My favorite day was the day I gave each pair of students an ad from a magazine. The students had to look at the ads and decide which statements were facts and which were opinions. I particularly like this one because it also helps them read advertising with a critical eye.

I believe this helped my students have a better understanding of fact and opinion (just my opinion, of course). :-)

And to launch into the holiday season, I have created a Winter Holiday Fact and Opinion activity sheet. And that's a fact. :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A "Hands-on" Way of Teaching Main Idea

This week my third graders were focusing on main idea as their reading skill. Here are a couple of highlights from teaching the concept. First, we talked about how main idea is what the story is mostly about, and I created this anchor chart comparing main idea to a roof. Just like you have to have pillars to hold up a roof, you also have to have details to hold up a main idea. If you can find only one or two details to hold up what you think is the main idea, then it's probably not the main idea.

The next high point came in using an idea I saw on Pinterest. Students traced their hand on a piece of construction paper. I had them choose a page in the reading story for the week and write the main idea on the palm. Then details went on each finger. Again, I emphasized that we need all of our fingers so they needed to find that many details or the hand wouldn't work. Here are a couple of examples of the hands.

It seemed to be a more creative and practical way of reinforcing the concept of main idea.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brown Bag Books... Endless Possibilities

I promised some sharing from the professional development I went to on Friday. Here is one idea I was particularly inspired by... brown bag books. They are made from regular brown paper lunch sacks and some index cards. And the possibilities of their uses are endless. Since my class is studying the wetlands, and inferencing is a skill that students always need practice with, I thought about combining the two. I will be having my students create Wetland Animal Inference Riddles. They will write the clues on the brown bag page, and the answer goes on the index card that slips into the openings of the bag. Here are the directions:

1) Cut off the bottoms of 2 or 3 lunch bags so there are openings at both ends.

2) Stack the bags on top of each other and fold in half. Secure the binding with staples or punch holes and tie the bags together.

3) Slide index cards into each pocket.

4) Write and decorate the book with whatever skill or theme you'd like.

I thought they could be used for moon phases, vocabulary, synonyms, antonyms, math story problems, etc. What else can you think of using them for?
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