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Adding Vocabulary to your ELA Block

Hello darlings! Do you teach vocabulary to your students?  I think this is one thing we are missing in the upper grades and we are doing a disservice to our students.  As they move up levels in reading, the thing that I notice that holds my students back the most is the challenging vocabulary they encounter.  This of course affects their comprehension.



I decided I had to squeeze vocabulary into my daily ELA Block.  I have Reading and Writing Workshop each for an hour and I have a half hour for Word Study.  I take that work study piece and break it up into three rotations- Spelling (word Study)- Vocabulary- Grammar.

My activities for each rotation are very repetitive for a reason.  It becomes a routine that students come to expect which allows them to get right to work and not waste any of the 10 minutes.  It is very structured so students could basically run the stations themselves.  This is how I am able to pull small groups during ELA Rotations to help kiddos who are struggling in other subjects. 

This is an example of my rotation board.  I currently only do three rotations.  You can grab an editable version here.


Here is a rundown of my weekly schedule...

Monday-No Rotations-Everything is Whole Group

Word Study:  Take pretest to determine differentiated spelling list.  Go over the word family for the week.  Students highlight in different colors the parts of the word family in each word.

Vocabulary: Introduce five new vocabulary words.  Discuss parts of speech and use hand gestures and chants to show if it is a noun, verb, or adjective.  Work together to put each word in a detailed sentence.

Grammar: none

Tuesday- Rotations- 10 Minutes each

Word Study: Usually this is just practicing the word families with our Word Study Choice Board.

Vocabulary: Create a picture dictionary for each word.  Students draw a picture to represent each word and create a sentence to describe it. They do this in their spiral notebooks.

Grammar: This usually consists of a worksheet, center, or online game involving the weekly objective.

Wednesday- Rotations- 10 Minutes each

Word Study: Choice Board

Vocabulary: Dice Game- 
students roll a die and complete the task for that number.

Grammar: Worksheet, Center, or Online Game

Thursday- Rotations- 10 Minutes each

Word Study: Choice Board or Quiz a partner

Vocabulary: Sentence Construction Competition

Grammar: Worksheet, Center, or Online Game

Friday- Assessment Day

Word Study: Test

Vocabulary: Test- students write each word in a detailed
sentence using context clues.

Grammar: none

Resources

The following are links to the resources I use for ELA.




I hope this gave you some helpful tips and ideas!


Getting Ready for Book Clubs

Hello Darlings!  I've had a lot of questions about how to start Book Club Groups.  Here are a few tips to help you get started.


Decide on your Book Club groups by reading level.  I group them by DRA level.  I also use Running Records from The Reading and Writing Project here. Ex.  All my 28 M’s might be reading Magic Tree House and all my 38 P’s might be reading Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing.

I would not recommend more than 6 groups.  You may need to combine some levels.  For example if you have 3 kids at a level 28 M and 3 at a level 30 N, put them all in the 28 level.  It is ok to take kiddos down a level to do the work,  just not up.

If you have not already had your students in Book Clubs, you need to spend a day or two explaining your expectations and explaining  how to participate in Book Clubs.  Use the following anchor charts to help you. 




Your main goal here is to get students to realize that each member has a responsibility to the group.  Each member will also have new or similar ideas to share.  How will they share those ideas with their group?  Will they be a hog and hog the conversation and be the only one who talks?  Will they be a log, and just sit there like a bump on a log and not participate?  How will they be respectful?

I spend usually two-three days just talking about what I expect in clubs.  This is not SHOW and TELL or a sharing circle.  Kiddos need to work on RESPONDING to each others’ comments or asking a clarifying question.  This is where the Conversation Starter Bookmarks come in handy.  Practice using these during a Read Aloud so that you can model your expectations. You can get the Conversation Starter Bookmarks free here. 

Show students how to fill out their Book Log to record the amount of pages read.  Students should be able to read about 15 pages in 20 minutes or 30 pages in 40 minutes.  This also depends on how much you are asking them to Stop and Jot their thinking.  Stop and Jots can be done in a journal or composition notebook or written on sticky notes and placed in the book. If you need something more formal, you can find response log sheets in this pack.   


Scheduling Clubs


Depending on the makeup of your class, you could have all of your clubs occuring at the same time or you could create a schedule of when students meet.  With classes who could handle it, I usually did my lesson and then students met right after for ten minutes.  They then had their conversations and I made my way around to listen in to each group.  I would choose one group a day to meet with for more formal observations.

For classes who had more difficulty staying on task or self monitoring, I created a schedule to where I would meet with two clubs a day at two different times.  Students would have the rest of the reading time to read for their club and the entire next day to read.  They would have between 10-20 minutes the day before their meeting to read as well.  

This free editable schedule in my free resource library sign up.



Teacher’s Role in Book Clubs


During Book Clubs each day, you will be actively monitoring your students.  This means you will listen in on their conversations and record your observations in your Conference Sheet.  You will then be able to keep track of how far along students are in their books.  You need to be prepared to have a new set of books on hand for their group when they are ready.  Your lower groups will obviously get through more books than your higher groups. 

Through your observations, you will notice which groups are successful and which groups, or certain students, need extra support.  Groups that need extra support may need small group teaching and modeling from you.  You will not need to read each book as in Guided Reading Groups because you will be able to talk to your students about the general reading strategies.



You may also need to confer with students individually. The following is a suggestion for conferring.

Research Phase: try to understand what a child is already doing, trying to do, and cannot quite do as a reader.  Ask yourself “What is the most important lesson for this child on this day?”

Decision Phase: make a choice on what you will focus on today.  What skill will the reader be able to use today that will help him in the future to become a stronger reader?  This is done in your head.  You haven’t said anything to the child yet.

Compliment: Ask yourself, “What can I gush over?”  Pick something to compliment the child on.  They are vulnerable to you right now and your words will stick with them and affect how they approach reading.   Ex. Sally, I love how you have recorded your thinking in your reading journal.  I can look through here and see tracks of your thinking.  I see you had a question here and you thought this part here was really funny.  Good readers track their thinking!”

Teaching Point: Explicitly teach what you want the child to do either through guided practice, demonstration, or giving an example.

Link/Goal: Link what was learned in this conference to students’ ongoing work.  You want them to understand that everything they just learned here can be used for the rest of their lives in different subjects.

To get the general conferring Sheets I use click here.  The ones below are for my Mystery Book Club Unit.  



I hope this was helpful!






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    Pumpkin Globes


    In third grade, we are learning about continents and oceans.  As a culminating project, we make duh, duh, duh, da... Pumpkin Globes!  It is so fun and my past kiddos always come back and tell me how much they loved it!    We send home a little note a few weeks before, asking parents to send in a medium sized pumpkin. I teach at a Title 1 school so I do have families who can not afford a pumpkin.  Depending on the number, I will purchase them myself or ask for donations. 


    Pumpkin Tips 

     I tell the kiddos not to bring the pumpkin until the day it is needed so we don't have pumpkins hanging out all over our classroom.  (and I had one rot before and the entire school smelled horrible when we returned on a Monday....)   Also if students bring them in bags, make sure to take the pumpkins out.  This will speed up the ripening process and also lead to rotting....

    This project lasts three days because I break it down into steps.

    Directions

    1.  The first thing we do, is draw the equator across the horizontal half of the pumpkin.  I tell kiddos to do this slowly, otherwise their lines won't meet up on the other side. I also demonstrate how to hold their sharpie marker in place and simply rotate their pumpkin. 

    2.  Next, they draw the Prime Meridian down the vertical half of the pumpkin.  Same thing, do it slow.  Most of the time, you can use the natural rim/rings of the pumpkin for this. 

    3. I gather up as many globe as I can from other teachers so that my kiddos can have an up close comparison tool. I also project a map on our whiteboard and allow students to use their notes of the drawing we have already been practicing in their social studies journals.

     4.The first continent they must draw is Africa.  We talk about Africa looking like an ice cream cone with an ice cream scoop melting off.  The "melting ice cream" part of Africa fits perfectly right above where the equator and Prime Meridian meet. You can kind of see it in this pic.



    5. Now they can line up all the other continents and use the globe to help them draw the correct shapes.  I tell them to pay CLOSE attention to how close the continents get to the equator and Prime Meridian.  For example, Asia, does not go past the equator. We make sure we put each continent in the correct hemisphere. 

    6. The next day, we paint.  We use acrylic paint.  Tempera paint is cheaper, but it flakes off as soon as kids try to touch it or write on it.  Make sure to tell kiddos to wear old clothes or bring a paint shirt.  They WILL get paint on them!  Don't ask me how, but every year, someone ends up with paint in their hair! (and it is usually a boy...) 

    To do this I designate one table in my room to be the painting table.  I cover that bad boy with tons of newspaper or a large piece of butcher paper!  I usually can fit about 6 kiddos at a time to paint, while the rest work on various projects.  I usually choose between creating a Haunted Restaurant to practice addition of multiple numbers, Batty Math, which is an addition and subtraction project or Pumpkin Patch Math, which is a multiplication and division project.

    I just put out a few paper plates (not bowls because they spill) and one paint brush for each kiddo.  Usually 3 for blue paint and 3 for green paint. Once a kiddo is done painting the oceans, he trades his brush with another kiddo to do the green continents and vice versa. I don't wash out brushes between and change colors.  Oh Lordy, what a mess!  Don't forget- Make sure to use ACRYLIC paint!  Tempera paint will chip off and be gross.  Kiddos will NOT be able to label the continents.  Believe me, I learned this the hard way!  You also need to clean your brushes out really well or this paint with ruin them (also learned the hard way...)  

    I do not have my kiddos paint Antarctica   They just leave the bottom blank. 

    When they finish, they hold the stem and the bottom and take it out in the hall.  Kiddos place a large piece of construction paper out in the hall and label it with their name.  They place their pumpkin on that to dry. 



    7.  The next day, the paint has dried and so we label the continents.  Ask parents to donate permanent markers.  I have done this multiple ways and have found the easiest way is to just have the students label each continent and ocean with a number and then make a map key on an index card.  We hole punch the index card and use a string to tie the card to the stem.  If students do not have a stem, I have them use a toothpick to poke the index card into the pumpkin. 

    This is such a fun project!  Don't be afraid to let your kiddos mess up.  This is a great learning experience for them.  Don't expect their pumpkins to be perfect.  They will still look amazing!



    First Day Lesson Plan and Activities for 3rd Grade

    Hello darlings!  It's the most wonderful time of the year!!  It's BACK TO SCHOOL!!!  I love meeting my new third graders each year!  Yes, I won't lie, I still love the carefree days of summer, but I also am incredibly passionate about teaching!  One thing I am not passionate about however it WRITING out my lesson plans.  Ugh!  I know what I want to do, so why can't I just do it?  Well, luckily for you and "future me,"  I am writing out my first day plans! You can grab my FREE lesson plan template and first two days of plans here.




    My Goal

    My goal on the first day is to leave my students wanting more!  I want them to be so excited and eager to run home and tell their parents all about the amazing and fun things we did!  I want them to tell their parents new things they learned.  And I want them to be EXCITED to get up and come to school the next day! 

    I don't want my kids to be bored out of their minds learning rules and expectations and sitting in their seats all day.  Just think back to that PD where instead of listening, you planned your grocery list and counted down the minutes until you could leave.  Ugh!!

    Keep them Active

    These kids have just come off of summer break.  Hopefully they have been playing, swimming, and have been keeping active.  I guarantee you, they have NOT been sitting at a desk all summer.  Please don't think because you use your teacher voice that they are going to stay in their seats and be good little angels on the first day.  They will if you make them, but please don't make them.  Don't make them dread school when you have the power to make learning incredible!

    My first day plans (and really the first week) incorporate a lot of movement.  If you keep them active, they won't have time to get into trouble and be off task.  If you do a paper pencil activity, balance it out with an up out of your seat activity.  Just keep some balance.

    Always Over plan the First Week

    I like to plan more than I need.  That way I am never having to kill time or scramble for something to do.  We often find our buses come late and leave late, so we are always scrambling with things to do.  That means I am OVER PLANNING here.  You will NOT get all of this done.  With all of my plans, remember to take care of any particulars that your school expects such as...

    1. Transportation Issues-How do your kids get home?
    2. Lunch Count or Lunch Codes- Do your students need a special code for lunch?
        Do you need to take a lunch count?
    3. PBIS or School-wide rules- what rules does your school expect you to cover on the first day?
       Ex. Lunch, Recess, and Hallway expectations

    Practice Makes Perfect

    Or I should say, Practice makes your life easier!  I have not explicitly written out all of the expectations I will be teaching on the first day because you will do it naturally as you go.  As you call kids to come sit on the carpet, you will tell them HOW you want them to come over. And they will practice.  As they line up to take a bathroom break or go to Specials, you will be teaching them HOW to line up, etc.  And they will practice.

    All experienced teachers will tell you that consistency is key.  Model and practice your expectations until they do it exactly as you want.  A few kids are still talking when you line up?  Everyone has to go sit back down and try again.  Tommy didn't put his materials away before coming to the carpet?  Don't call him out, just have everyone go back and check their desks.  This will seem so tedious and you will want to move on and ignore the behaviors, but you are telling kids what you will ALLOW in your classroom.  They are testing you right now to see "Does she mean what she says?"  Follow through with your expectations and your class will run like a well oiled machine and you won't have behavior issues.

    The first week of school is what we call the "Honeymoon Period".  Your kids are on their best behavior right now.  So if you are already having issues, it is only going to get much, much worse.  Nip that in the bud right now.  I like to think of myself as firm but fun.  Because I am firm and
    mean what I say, we are able to have a TON of FUN in my room!
    It's also good to note that these plans are really in no particular order and can be switched around.

    Morning Work:Bell Ringer

    I greet my students at the door each day, Day 1 is no different.  I greet them by asking their name and shaking their hand.  I introduce myself and tell them to read the board and find their seat. (my kids come 2 days before school starts for Meet the Teacher Night. I let them pick a seat that night)  On the board I have a message projected that welcomes them and tells them what to do.  I tell them to hang their backpack on the backpack hooks and to complete the word search on their desk. the word search contains the names of all the kids in the class. You can make one free here. 

    ELA Block

    I don't stick to my schedule the first day.  But I still have to write out my plans for the different subjects. 


    Getting to Know You Activities-Class Meeting Intro
    This is our introduction to Class Meetings. Everyone sits in a circle on the carpet. I tell them that our goal is to leave this carpet knowing everyone's names. I tell them that I am going to try really hard to memorize each of their names and I need their help. We go around the circle a few times with each kid saying their name and then something about them. We are all looking at the speaker, trying to memorize names.

    Round 1: name and favorite food
    Round 2: name and favorite color
    Round 3: name and favorite subject

    Now ask for students who think they can name all of their classmates. Give students turns to try. I am trying to memorize too. I take a turn. Then I close my eyes and have students move spots and see if I can still remember their names.

    Class Attention Getter-Signal

    Decide how you want to get your students' attention and practice it until it is perfect. Perfect meaning every kid freezes and looks directly at you and STAYS frozen until you are finished with the directions. TRUST ME! You need to practice procedures over and over and over until they get it right or else your year will be H. E. double hockey sticks! I do this like a game with my kids. I compare last year's class and I tell them, "Last year's kids did awesome with our Signal but it took them a couple of tries to get it right. I can tell with this class that you guys are going to get it faster!" There is nothing wrong with a little competition!

    My signal changes throughout the year. You may be familiar with Whole Brain Teaching's "Class?" "Yes!" or with Hope and Wade King's "Shark bait!" "Hoo, Ha, Ha!" Do what you think is fun and you don't mind shouting out at recess or in the lunch room. LOL! For the first week I usually do something about being Back to School. I'll say "Back to School!" and they reply "We're so cool" and then they dab. Yep. We dab, peeps.


    Find Someone Who
    Set a timer for 15-20 minutes and have students walk around with the Find Someone Who Sheet. They must try to find classmates who match the description in each box. They must write their classmate's name CORRECTLY in the box so they are going to have to ask. When time is up, have students count how many boxes they filled in. Find the kid who filled in the most boxes. Have the class give him/her a standing ovation. In that moment you are establishing how you reward hard work. Do you give them treats and prizes or the feeling of a job well done? [Get Freebie here]


    How We Want Our Class to Be

    Call students to the carpet and talk to them about their dream classroom and dream classmates. Chart how they want the class to look, feel, sound. Next assign students a partner and have them create 2 rules on 2 different sticky notes. Call everyone back over and have each pair come up to share their rules and place the sticky note under the column they think it belongs in. After that I bring out the Class Promise and I tell them how happy I am that they want to have the same kind of classroom that I want. Read and chant the class promise. Discuss what students think should happen if they break the class promise. [Get the Promise here]




    This is where you will talk about your consequences and management system. I use a clip chart. [Get Editable Clip Chart here] To be perfectly honest, I hardly EVER use it. I do so much positive reinforcement by calling out the good behaviors I see, that most students get the hint and turn their behavior around. I even let them in on the TEACHER SECRET. I tell them never to tell anyone that I told them, but usually when teachers point out a good behavior like, "I am so impressed how Sally got her paper and went right to work," that is actually code for the rest of the class. It is telling the rest of the class, "Hey class, I hope you are doing that too or else we are going to have to have consequences." They think it is SO AMAZING that I let them in on a teacher secret and they get it.
    (This is the best pic I have of the behavior chart. The sticky note poster is how we keep track of unfinished work)


    **Behavior Chart disclaimer** But what about those defiant, aggressive kids that could care less about positive reinforcement? Aren't they clipping down a lot? No. A behavior chart or calling those kids out in front of their peers is not going to be effective. For those students, I have individual behavior contracts. This is between me and that child so I discuss that behavior privately with the student. The clip chart works for keeping the average behaving kids on track.

    Taco ‘bout the Teach
    You want to establish trust and community with your students. In order for them to trust you and (I'll just say it) like you, they need to get to know you. I created a Taco Scavenger Hunt called Taco 'bout the Teach. I created a sheet with questions about me. I then wrote the answers on cards and hid them around the room by tapping them on the walls and such. First I give students 5-8 minutes to try to guess the answers. Then I give them 15-20 minutes to walk around the room finding the correct Taco card that has the answers. It is funny to hear their reactions to some of the questions!

    When time is up, I call them back over to the carpet and I ask them what most surprised them. We talk about things we have in common and things that they thought were "cool."


    Math Block

    We have to start our math unit on Place Value to 10,000 from Day 1 or else we will never finish our math curriculum. Our district uses Math In Focus.  To start off, I have students get into groups of four and talk about everything they know about Place Value.  What is it?  What vocabulary words will I hear?  How do you write numbers in different ways? etc

    Next, we come back as a group and talk about it.  I review the different forms of writing numbers and I have the students practice with me using dry erase boards.  Finally, I have them pair up, get a die, and then roll the die 4 times.  They each have to write that number in expanded form, word form, place value discs (you could do base ten blocks) on their dry erase board. Switch half way though with a different partner.

    Addition Brainbreak
    If there is time or if I see they need to get up and move around, I will turn on my math facts flashing whiteboard game. It flashes addition facts from the projector and students try to shout out the answer before the answer pops up. Scattered throughout are movements and exercises students have to do. [Memorization In Motion-Fitness Facts]

    Writing Block

    Organize Supplies
    I do not have students organize all of their supplies and notebooks on the first day. You need to determine where you want students to store supplies.  We do a little the first day and then finish on day 2.  This way we are able to get some learning in as well.  To organize supplies on Day 1, I have students put all of their notebooks and folders in their desk.  I collect their take home binder and their binder that we will use for our Data Binder.  We will set those up later this week.

    I have supply caddies that I got at Michaels out at desk groups.  I have students store the supplies that we will use the most in the caddies.  They place two sharpened pencils, scissors, a glue stick, and a dry erase marker into the caddie.  The rest of their materials like crayons and markers, go into their supply boxes that they keep in their desk.

    Giraffes Can’t Dance
    I gather all students back to the carpet and I read the book, Giraffes Can’t Dance. We talk about how we are all unique and have different talents. Together we brainstorm ways in which people can be unique or special. We talk about our talents, likes, and dislikes, etc.

    Next, I have students take out a notebook that will serve as our Writer's Notebook. I have them brainstorm why they are unique. I hand out the I'm Unique Poem activity to students. They write their poem, color, cut out, and glue onto a large piece of construction paper. Once students are finished, they come up to me to get their M&M's to glue onto the project. They must use liquid glue. They leave these on their desks to dry and walk around to read each other's poems. When they dry, I hang them in the hall outside. [Get the I'm Unique Poem here]



    Reading Block

    All About Me Booklet
    I have students work on pages from our All About Me Booklet. I usually do a paper version, but this year, I am going to try to beg, borrow, and steal some Chrome Books so I can do it on Google Slides. Students will NOT finish this book today. In fact, they will be working on bits and pieces throughout the week. It is a great filler activity or activity for students to work on for morning work or free time. I might assign certain pages on certain days, or I might let the kids pick. When we finish, we will share a few of the pages with each other.



    That’s Me Game
    My kids LOVE this game and it gets them really tired and worn out! BONUS!! Students squat down to the ground and stay there. I call out different identifying facts such as, "I am the oldest." "I am the youngest." "I love pizza." "I have a dog." etc. If that describes them, they will jump up quickly and yell, "That's Me!" and then they immediately squat back down. This is really cool for me to learn some things very quickly about the class. And you can imagine how it gets them tired! LOL!

    Science/Social Studies Block

    You may have seen Save Fred or Save Sam before. I simply took that STEM idea and added a Social Studies twist that includes Fred the Worm traveling across the United States.
    Misadventure 1: Save Fred
    Fred decided to try whitewater rafting on the Eagle River in Colorado and his raft tipped over!  His life vest slipped off and now Fred is stuck on top of the capsized raft!  He needs to gets his life vest because he can’t swim!  He’s a worm for goodness sake, not a fish!
    Fred the Worm is on top of the cup and the life vest is under the cup.  Students can only use two paperclips to put the life vest onto Fred.  They cannot use their hands to touch anything but the paper clips! My kids love this activity and continue talking about it throughout the week as we complete three more STEM activities with Fred. [Get the Misadventures of Fred STEM activities here]




    Class Picture

    One of the things I want to make sure to do is to take class pic to compare to the end of the year. At the end of the year, I have students stand in the exact same spots so we can compare. It is still cool to see even if you have a very transient class.

    I hope that was helpful for you! My biggest tip for you is to ENJOY your kids! Take time to get to know them and show you care, and your year will be amazing! You are going to make mistakes this year and it is WONDERFUL for your kids to see that and to see how you deal with it! Give yourself some grace and have a fantastic year!


    Grab all the activity resources mentioned here!













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