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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Students as...Resident Experts!

There is nothing my students like more than that feeling of mastering a topic or concept in any subject area!  They feel so accomplished and so proud of themselves!  I, like many teachers, have a really high class size, which means I cannot always get around to everyone as fast as I would like to, so...I know make my students into RESIDENT EXPERTS!  This title only applies to one lesson concept at a time, which means all students have multiple opportunities on a daily basis to earn this title and then be able to assist their classmates in building their understanding of a concept.  These have become a real motivator for my students.  I created some FREE Resident Expert badges which you can download by clicking here.  All you need are some lanyards (or even yarn necklaces).  My kiddos wear them around their necks and then are able to move around to help their classmates.

All of my students have already had the chance to be resident experts, and they are so excited about it.  They take the job very seriously and work hard to really demonstrate their understanding of a topic in order to earn the resident expert status.

I think all students would benefit from being thought of as "experts" at something!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Looking for a Different Way to Reward Students?

I am always looking for an interesting way to reward my students, especially in reading.  When we are doing reading each day, there is time for small groups, mini-lessons, and independent work.  I am always challenging my students to do MORE.  That "more" I am talking about is different for each learner, since I have some students that are reading below level, some are on level and a few are even above level.  Thanks to Tracee Becker Orman, I found a cheap and easy way to reward my kids and they LOVE it.  They will work so hard to get a personalized pencil!  I get mine from the Oriental Trading Company.

When a group read, Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, the pencils contained quotes and sayings like:

     That's all it took to solve problems - just sense.
       My only survival tool is a pencil.
      Watch out for those gut cherries.

When we read, City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau, the pencils said things like:

     Property of the Pipeworks
     Messenger on Duty
     Do Not Trust the Mayor

For, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the pencils said:

     Property of Harry Potter
     If Found, Return to Professor Snape
     Better be... Gryffindor!

You can have students submit pencil ideas, or you can come up with them before you read the book.  You can also use standard reading sayings or quotes.  The pencils come in large quantities or by the dozen.

How do you reward your students in reading?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Task Card Organization

Do you love to use task cards as much as I do? They are great for enrichment and time fillers. I also use them while I am conducting small groups. If you want to hear more about my 5th grade rotations and schedule, click here and here. I am currently working on a new post that discusses some of the time constraints I have ran into this year and how I've adjusted my schedule to those!

Anyways, back to the task cards :) Don't you just love them but never seem to have a place to store them all? That is how I felt anyways. I would often times forget what I had for each unit. I would then find the task cards after the fact. Can you relate? Yes? Read on!

Last year, I found a few adorable baskets at Target. To be honest, I had no idea what I was going to use them for!

Then, one teacher workday I decided to sort out my task cards. Then I realized that those cute baskets were just the right size! I measure the baskets and made divider tabs in Powerpoint. I pretty much *NEVER* buy dividers anymore! I make the page/divider with what I need them to say then create a separate sheet with my circle tabs. I cut them all out, tape the tab to the back of the divider, and then laminate with my nifty laminator. IT'S.THE.BEST.IDEA.EVER!

Head on over to my TPT shop and snag these cute task card dividers for free. The only size I have is what is included in the file... sorry!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Collaborative Stories Using Google Docs

I needed a short activity to do during the week of Thanksgiving. One of my coworkers shared a fun collaborative story idea. I did mine with a Thanksgiving theme, but you could really do it for any theme.

First, I divided the class into pairs. I gave them five words they had to incorporate into a Thanksgiving story. Then they had ten minutes to initially figure out what they wanted to do with those five words.
After ten minutes, each student got his/her Chromebook. Student A in each pair created a Google doc and shared it with his/her partner. Then partner B went in another room.
Each pair was looking at the same document and started to write the story. The only way they could communicate was through the comments or within the document. It was probably the quietest half-hour I've ever heard with students in my room.

The next day, I gave them five minutes to touch base before they went their separate ways. When the pairs finished, Student A was responsible for turning it in on Google Classroom. I can't wait to read their final products!

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Friday, December 11, 2015

RTI Websites for Upper Elementary

Hi! It's Terri from The Creative Apple! I've been working hard over at the blog on transferring to Wordpress. I even spruced it up a bit. You must go check it out! I did a lot of youtubing and googling to figure it all out! It was a little more than I signed up for, but I love the look. I still have a few more things to do.

So... let's get to the point! If you are like me, you might find yourself searching for useful and relevant RTI interventions for your students. With fifth grade, sometimes it can really be challenging to pinpoint a student's weakness, especially if they are several grade levels behind. Often times I am 'stuck' trying to figure out exactly what to do. To be honest, some of the best remedies for struggling readers involves incorporating more independent reading time in your reading block. However, we still need to collect our data. I go to many different places to get help and read up on the choices I have.

Here are some of my favorite websites for RTI resources/forms for upper elementary students.

1. Hello Literacy- Hello!?! Have you heard of Jen Jones? If not, where in the world have you been? This lady has it going on! Not only does she share free RTI resources like this one here, but she also has a ton of relevant and reliable resources in her TpT shop. I've used both progress monitoring probes and the fluency cards in my classroom!

2. Florida Center for Reading Research- Not only does this website have great RTI resources like those here, it also has lesson plans, activities, and other resources for just about any reading standard. I have been using this resource for over 5 year, and it only gets better with age (and research)!

3. Balanced Literacy- This website offers free reading and writing interventions as well as free progress monitoring tools. These are some of your basic interventions that would work well with those students that are several grades below grade level.

4. Guided Reading with Jan Richardson- Then you have the mother load of RTI resources. There are a lot of resource here people! It will take some time to look through them all because they are not ideally organized, but it is well worth your time. I have found several resources that I have used in the past with my students from this site.

5. Easy CBM- This is probably one of my favorite resources! It's so professional looking and would be a great visual for your RTI meetings. I has online prompts to use with your students. You then record their results and it even graphs it for you! Best of all... it's free.

We use something similar to the Easy CBM at school. It's called aReading. It has a comprehension, vocabulary, and CBM component to it.  Do any of you use this program? I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Making Books the Old School Way

My students LOVE to make these books for their writing projects.  We try to make at least one a month for their final copies!  This is our first one of the school year.  We wrote persuasive essays about which type of zoo animal we should adopt this year, and we chose the okapi.  The students then wrote informational reports on the okapi in order to learn more about it!
Materials Needed (per book):
– 2 sheets of 9 x 12 cardboard (we order them in bulk from PaperMart)
– one piece of bulletin board or butcher paper
– duct tape
– scotch tape
The first step is to lay the cardboard pieces onto the bulletin paper with a small space between them.
Next place a strip of duct tape down the center, pressing it into the space between the cardboard sheets.
Fold up the paper on the bottom and top of the cardboard sheets and tape it into place with scotch tape.
Then fold the sides up, just like when you wrap a present and tape them to the cardboard sheets.
Next, add we added the table of contents sheet to the left side and the author information page to the right side.
Tape the outside edges of each sheet, half on the sheet and wrap the other half of the tape around to the outside edges of the book.  Use duct tape for this step.
Next place the actual report pages (we staple them 3-4 times down the left side) into the center of the book and tape down each side (front and back) with a strip of duct tape.
Now you can tear a strip of duct tape in half and place half at the top of the side page and half at the bottom of the side page, on both inside cover pages.
The book is now done!  Students just need to add a decorative cover and write their report!  Here are some finished pages!
The kids are always so excited to complete these projects!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Organizing Work For Absent Students

I'm going to share a simple idea I've used for almost my entire teaching career...

Make Up Work Folders
(Now, of course, I've gotten fancier over the years!) LOL!
These folders have been a lifesaver for absent students. I love it because everything is organized in one place. Any handouts or worksheets that are passed out when a student is absent are placed in this file folder on their desk. I think the best part of the make-up work folder is that it's a great visual for me. You know when you quickly scan the room after returning from lunch or special area to make sure everybody is there? If a student's desk is empty and I see the make-up work folder on their desk, I know they're absent and not missing.   
If a student is absent, it's a group member's job to get a folder for their desk and make sure all assignments get placed in this folder. (This person can also answer any questions about the assignments the absent student may have).

 Sometimes we have assignments that don't require a "worksheet or handout", so this assignment tracker comes in handy for my student and for me. When students come in first thing in the morning and ask what they missed, it's easy to forget something with all the craziness of the morning arrival. Some assignment examples that could be written down are interactive notebook tasks, center directions, modeled writing lesson, literature circle assignment, video, science experiment, etc.

I barely ever get questions about make-up work because of the procedures we have in place in our classroom. I hope you will give it a try if you're not already using something. :)
Want a copy of this cover and what you missed assignment sheet?
Click here!
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