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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Book Clubs}

It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
My Tried It:
Book Clubs
I FINALLY had my walkthrough observation on Friday!!  We had a formal observation back in the fall and the walkthrough is new this year. It's over and I have that weight lifted off my shoulders!

My principal walked in right before ELA was about to begin and we worked on our Book Clubs!!  I think it went well and I had created these forms that the students already had. One thing is for sure about my book clubs...the learning is DEFINITELY student centered which is a major component on the Danielson Rubric that my school uses for teacher evaluations.

I made a couple handouts  to accompany the Book Clubs.  You can read more about their kick-off here.  I purchased Laura Candler's Classroom Book Clubs and am loving this amazing resource with step-by-step how to videos!  

Click here to download my Book Club modified directions and Tic-Tac-Toe Board in editable powerpoint. The font doesn't show up right unless you have that downloaded on your computer too (I used Oh{Photo}Shoot for the title font).  

For the written assignments, I made a tic-tac-toe choice board (students LOVE choices!) of some of my favorite reading response activities from the amazing Rachel Lynette's Reading Response Worksheets for Grades 3-6.  Here is a picture collage of my Tic-Tac-Toe board and snapshots of Rachel's Reading Response worksheets.

I have used book clubs for the past two years but we had grouped for ELA before and I had the highest ability group. I was nervous about trying book clubs with all three ELA classes of mixed abilities but am so glad I tried it! There were a few students that didn't keep up with their group work, but almost everyone did, including some students who don't usually do their homework!

The students had five choices of books (Warton and the King of the Skies, Because of Winn-Dixie, Skinnybones, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, and Stone Fox). About 80% of students got their first choice and the rest got their second choice. I had four book club groups in each ELA block with 3-4 students in each group. The groups were all reading different books. Here is a picture of some of the book choice slips where students ranked the books by preference:

The students completed a calendar as a group for assignments during the two weeks of book clubs.
Every night they normally have homework (Monday-Thursday), they were instructed to read from their book and either do one tic-tac-toe activity or a sticky note activity. The sticky note questions are on the handouts with the link in the beginning of this post. 

Every day the book club groups have a starting point for discussion. They discuss their sticky note topics or the tic-tac-toe activity. Then, they add the highlights of their discussion to their discussion notes (part of Laura Candler's pack). 

The groups also rate each member on three categories for the day. They discuss this as a group and we also discussed as a class what excellent, satisfactory, needs improvement, and unsatisfactory means.
Student who never does his homework. The first week looked poor but this week he has almost all "Excellents"!!
 Top performing student:
Even if you are already wrapped up for the year, I suggest putting book clubs on your "to try" list for next year. I don't think you'll regret it! :)

 I hope you will link up anything you have tried (new or old!).
Thank you for your bloggy love, whether it is by reading, commenting, or linking up!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Five for Fraturday and Spark Motivation {Kids, Ouch, Pen Pals}

It's been awhile since I have linked up Five For Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching.
Here are some random happenings from my week!

We have had book clubs all week in my three ELA blocks. The theme is "Animals are Characters Too". Here are the choice slips we used to make the groups. I will blog more about it in my Tried It Tuesday this week since this is the first time I have tried it since without ability grouping for ELA.

On Sunday, my oldest celebrated her 7th birthday with friends! We had a party at her dance studio and her amazing dance instructor kept the girls busy with all kinds of games! Works for me. :)
Here is the parachute game and two moms (me in the green pants) helping to play the headless horseman. I felt like I was in elementary school again! :)

Most of you know that I do kickboxing and karate. We had a karate tournament last Saturday and I did this little number to my pinky. I was sparring and looked down to see my pinky bent in two directions. The head referee straightened it, taped it, and I finished the match. I took first out of five women so it was almost worth it. :) It is fractured at the pip joint so I have to see the orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday. :(

My little guy had his first tball game this week! It's more like a babysitting job! Lol. He's four and doesn't listen to directions to save his life but we are enjoying watching him grow! :)

We received our last set of pen pal letters this week from my friends Jivey and Gary!! It has been such a rewarding experience for the students. Jivey and Gary sent pen pal permission forms from parents with addresses for students who had permission to give out their home address and continue writing to their pen pals! Isn't that a great idea?

 Pen pals are a great way to motivate even the most reluctant writers. Many of you are starting summer vacation or will be soon and this is the time to set up pen pals for next year! Give it a try! I am linking up this idea with my super sweet BBB, Joanne for Spark Student Motivation. :)

Have a great weekend everyone!! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Story Stones}

This time of the year is always so busy! As my children are growing, we are on the go, go, go!!! T-Ball started last week for my 4 year old and it is the home stretch before the spring recital for my daughter who has her 7th birthday coming up. Every night of the week there is something going on, but I have always been a busy person and feel like I get more done on the run. This weekend I have a karate tournament, my husband is in a two day basketball tournament, my daughter's birthday party is Sunday, and of course there is the normal tumbling, dance, and karate classes on Saturday and Sunday.
Whew!  I'm just exhausted by the time I sit down at 9:00 every night!

I'm going to leave this Tried It Tuesday open for two weeks in the hopes that I can actually write a few other blog posts in the meantime besides this link up. 
I think everyone is feeling the crunch!
It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
My Tried It:
Story Stones
This is an idea I blogged about way back in 2012, but the post continues to receive a lot of hits. I just recently brought my story stones out again for a work on writing rotation and the students love them just like they did last year! There must be something about holding those smooth stones or the uniqueness of it, but it gets the students motivated to write. At this time of the year, I'll take anything that will work!

I made these Story Stones inspired Tara at 4th Grade Frolics who was inspired by Red Bird Crafts!  Their stones were beautiful and hand drawn, but I am not very artistic! I didn't want to try to draw my own pictures, so I just cut pictures out of magazines and mod podged them on the stones.  

First, I gathered stones from our local beach on Lake Erie and washed them.
 Next, I mod podged magazine cutouts on the stones and let them dry.
 I also laminated the story stones task cards that I downloaded from Cassandra at Adventures in Room 5 here.
Close to two years later, the mod podge has held up beautifully and the stones look as good as the day I made them (even after being handled by dozens of students!). Score!!

Stop by and check out this awesome giveaway filled with resources for the end of the year!

Have a great week everyone! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {GoNoodle}

Yay! The state ELA and math tests are behind us and we are nearing the home stretch!
It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
My Tried It:
I have had GoNoodle on my list of things to try for awhile now. It is a site with free brain breaks for the classroom. Last week "Pawsitively Teaching" blogged about how she uses GoNoodle. I decided that I NEEDED to finally try it and am so glad that I did!
This is the home page:
It is free to sign up and the process was simple and quick. 
I made a class for each of my three ELA blocks.
As students complete more brain breaks, they can see their "Champ Level" change. They love that!
 This is the screen you see after hitting "play". Here you can choose from a variety of brain breaks and they all have the time of the activity listed.

Here are a few pictures of my students enjoying brain breaks!

If you haven't tried GoNoodle yet, you should try to work it in for the end of the year! My students ask me everyday now to play!

Did you hear that there is a site wide Teacher Appreciation Sale at TPT? My store is all 20% off and if you use the code TPTXO, you will get an additional 10% off!! WAHOO!