Sunday, December 28, 2014

Metacognition Masters

We spent the better first half of our year really focused on different strategies for thinking while we read (aka. metacognition). Here are a few different tools of the trade we use on a daily basis that have helped us become "Metacognition Masters".

First up, our "Metacognition Wall" found in our classroom library.

It contains the anchor charts we utilized as we learned about each strategy along with key phrases the students can use in sharing that type of thinking.

The students also have a mini copy in their reading notebooks shown below. You can grab a free copy of this printable here. (Note: It looks small/does not take up the whole page, so that when you print it will fit on a notebook page.)

In addition to key phrases in their notebooks, the students also have thought bubbles that they use while reading to remind them to be thinking as well as quick reference bookmarks that they often use during read-to-self.

The bookmarks can be downloaded here.

As a final project to demonstrate their understanding of the various thinking strategies, our third graders this year each selected a "good fit", fiction text to read, think about and utilize to create a piece of writing titled "Metacognition" in which they shared information about the strategies and how they used them with their readers.

Here is an example of how the students jotted down their thinking to begin "generating their ideas" on post-its.

After reading and jotting down all of their thinking, I asked the students to go back and star 3 of the post-its, each a good example of a different type of metacognition that they would like to use in writing their piece.

They then went through the writing process to develop a multi paragraph piece about their writing like the one shown below.

They read all of their pieces and shared the books they utilized in small groups before we headed out on winter break. It was a great way for the kids to engage in discussions about reading and writing and learn about different book options for future reading in the classroom as well!

What are some of your tips, tricks, and goodies for teaching metacognition?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our families "light up" our lives...

We had a blast today putting together our family gift before we head out for winter break tomorrow.

Each student was given a set of 6 lights. The very first light on each string of lights states "Mi familia ilumina mi vida porque.../My family lights up my life because...". On the other 5 lights, I asked students to share a reason as to how their family members make their lives brighter.

The kids came up with some very sweet things to say, sharing everything from "you support me when I am sad", to "you help me with my homework", to "you cheer me on at my sporting events". 

After writing each of their ideas, the students worked to evenly space the lights and tape them on a piece of black yarn (this tied in nice with our fraction unit we just finished up- equal parts had meaning!)

Then they were ready for wrapping. A little tissue paper, a fun tag, and a red lunch sack (compliments of Target), and we are good to go folks!

You can grab a copy of the lights template here in Spanish or English.
Fun font is from Kevin & Amanda and cute light graphic is from My Cute Graphics.

What are some of your favorite classroom gift making ideas? I always love to have a bank ready for years to come!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Thankful Class

Yesterday afternoon we took some time as a class to share our gratitude for the special qualities that each student brings to our classroom. Each child was given a name of another student in our classroom and asked to write a note of thanks to that student sharing something positive they bring to our classroom community. 

I then compiled each page written into a book titled 
"Damos gracias por nuestra clase/We are Thankful for our Class". 
We will be reading our finished product on Monday morning upon our return from break.

Here are a few samples of the respectful and wonderful things the kids had to say about one another. Looking forward to keeping this in our class book bin to look back on from time to time throughout the year!

(I am thankful for ___________ because she is kind, a good friend, and funny.)

(I am thankful for ________ because he helps me when I do not know something to find the answer.)

Happy Thanksgiving blog family. I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with love, gratitude and lots of good eats. God bless.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bilingual Blog Hop - Nov. Ed.

Welcome blog hoppers. I am so glad you are all here!

November is a month chalked full of gratitude and I must admit, I absolutely love it.
I am so incredibly thankful for the abundant blessings that I have in my life every day. 
That being said, I wanted to take a moment to embrace the spirit of this month to give thanks to those who make this lil' ole' blog of mine possible and that motivate and inspire me to be a better teacher and person each day.

First, I want to thank all of you - the readers- that are here, taking the time to not only partake in what I have to say, but continuously sharing your input and ideas with me as well! You all definitely motivate me - particularly when life gets going and the blogging' gets tough- to keep it up and stick with it.

Second, I want to thank the network of incredible teachers (particularly my iTeach Bilinguals guys and gals) that I have come to know, love, and lean on for support and insight over these past few years. Sharing is definitely caring, and this network of educational bloggers is such a powerful one to be a part of! 

Third, I have to thank my students. They are the ones who I ultimately do all of this for and who provide me with the content to be a blogger in the first place. They consistently teach me new things, keep me on my toes, and encourage me to be the life longer learner I strive to be.

With that said, as my way of saying thank you to all of you, a little freebie is most certainly in order.
My class is full of energy this year and loves participating in "I Spy" task card activities as it gets them up, moving, and most importantly learning. We are currently reviewing 2-digit subtraction with/without regrouping, and I thought I'd whip a quick set up to share with them and you all of course :).

If you haven't used an "I Spy" activity with your students before, it's super simple. Simply cut out the cards provided in the pack and place them in different places around the classroom. The students will then take the recording sheet (in English or Spanish) around with them (mine use a clipboard) and copy the problem and solve it in the space that corresponds to the letter on the card. The best part is, each of the task cards includes a QR code as well that your students can scan to check their answer. If you have the technology available to utilize this feature, it's pretty awesome, but if not, no worries - you can still use the cards and work together to check your responses together as a class at the end instead! Click on the image to grab your copy. It will be free for the duration of the hop Nov. 7-9 and after that will be on sale in my store!

If you are interested in more freebies and Spanish materials feel free to visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store and/or my Facebook page for updates and ideas! Thanks so much for stopping by.

Now head on over to your "Next Stop" with Carolina @ Fun for Spanish Teachers to check out all of the goodies she has in store :). 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

YouTube and Spanish Texts

With many bilingual/immersion teachers such as myself having a limited number of Spanish texts to fill classroom libraries, I have come to find that YouTube is a wonderful backup option when there is something specific I am looking for!

There are a wide variety of Spanish texts read aloud and recorded that are available at your fingertips. 

For instance, at the beginning of the school year, I really wanted to use the book "Alexander y el día terrible, horrible, espantoso, horroso" for a character education lesson. But low and behold I could not get my hands on a copy. Enter YouTube to save the day.

On Book Character Day this fall I dressed up as the Paper Bag Princess and wanted to share the text with my students to start our day and do a character trait lesson. Unfortunately, I only had a copy of the text, myself, in English. YouTube to the rescue yet again.

And I just recently ran across this other fun little YouTube read aloud find.
Perfect for this weekend's occasion.

I must admit while I love holding a book in my hands and spending that quality time with my students huddled together enjoying a text together on our rug, I have come to enjoy and find that sharing the texts with them on YouTube is equally as engaging and taps into this technology age we live in.

Not only that, but you can share the link with students and families and they can listen again and again if they would like at home as well!

Do you use YouTube read alouds in your classroom? What are some of your favorites?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Conference Treat

I decided to take in the last fleeting moments of warmth and sunshine yesterday afternoon by sitting out on our front porch and putting together this little delight in preparation for our upcoming fall conferences that begin tomorrow afternoon. Hard to believe it is that time of year already - as I feel (like I do every year) like the year just started!

I put together each fall themed treat bag using the following supplies:

You can grab a copy of the "treat so sweet" tag as well by clicking here.
Fonts and Graphics: Kevin & Amanda, Krista Wallden

I've got all my treats packed up and ready to deliver to all of my lovely families beginning tomorrow afternoon!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Introducing the Scientific Method

For the past week we have been working hard to develop our understanding of the process scientists use to conduct investigations. 

We started by watching a short video on Brainpop Español to introduce the Scientific Method.
(Note: It is actually a free video right now (for those who do not have a Brainpop subscription), so get it while it's hot!)

After developing some background knowledge, I highlighted each of the steps of the Scientific Method with the students by creating a flow chart with these adorable little freebie posters from 

The students copied down each of the steps as well on this printable I created for them to store in their science folders and utilize throughout the school year.

After the initial lessons with this process, I wanted to gather a bit of information about my students' understanding thus far. So I asked each student to share something that he/she had learned on a Post-It in regards to the steps we will be carrying out as scientists this year in the classroom. We then did an inner/outer circle share activity so that each student had the chance to share/hear the ideas of others. After sharing, the students added their post-its to a class circle map shown below.

Here are a few of their ideas:

Next, it was time to put these steps into action. 
With Halloween just a few short weeks away and chocolatey goodness everywhere you turn, I figured why not embrace it in our hands-on effort to understand the process a little better.

I am sure that the whole "sink vs. float" experiment is not a new concept for any of you - it is however, a truly simple one to not only set up, but also introduce students to the steps of the scientific method because it doesn't overwhelm them with new/difficult content at the same time. 

Yes, my former science lab of a classroom is quite handy for investigation set up!

Below is the printable that my student's utilized as we walked through each step of the method together in determining which of our favorite Halloween treats sink or float. We completed the investigation in 2 days. 

Day 1: Observations, Question, and Hypothesis
Day 2: Experiment, Data Collection/Analysis and Drawing Conclusions

Here are some of their conclusions based on the results:

I absolutely loved hearing/reading their thinking as to why they believed the items either floated or sank. They truly used their schema and observations to draw their conclusions!

At the close of our investigation, we had a quick think-pair-share about what we now understand better about the Scientific Method post-investigation. It was clear my students had further developed their learning,  and I look forward to seeing how it continues to grow as we grow as scientists this school year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Book Character Day

Happy Book Character Day!

Can you guess who I am?

I love Robert Muncsh, the story "The Paper Bag Princess", and cheap costumes! 
Thus, this costume was a done deal the minute I ran across the idea.

A leaf bag, a few holes for my head and arms and a quick paper crown, and I was all ready for the day!

When the kids arrived this morning, they were beyond excited to see all of the costumes they had worked so hard to put together. I must admit the variety and creativity was quite impressive.

During our morning meeting we greeted one another using our character names and for our class activity we utilized our "Just Like Me" activity to think like our characters and reflect on how they are all alike or different. If you haven't played "Just Like Me" with your class, it is a great way for them to get to know one another. You simply read different phrases that reflect the kids interests, backgrounds, hobbies, etc. and if the phrase you reads pertains to them they stand and in unison with others that share the same quality they say "Just Like Me". Simple community builder, and it worked perfect to get into the minds of our characters today!

After our morning meeting, we worked to analyze our characters and put ourselves in their shoes a bit more by thinking through their thoughts, actions, feelings, etc. I ran across this great little organizer and activity idea from Laura Candler and tweaked it a bit by having my kiddos freehand their characters instead of utilizing the actual printable. They had the brilliant plan of using their iPads to looks up images of all of their characters - and I was not only on board, but amazed by the quality of work they produced!

Each of their pieces was organized utilize the following key phrases:
Head: The character thinks...
Mouth: The character says...

Heart: The character feels...
Hands: The character likes to do...
Feet: The character goes...

Yes, my friend who drew Marty from Madagascar even wore a brightly colored rainbow afro to school.

So proud of this creative bunch.

Does your school celebrate Book Character Day? What are some of your favorite activities to do?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What do you like to read?

Over the past few weeks, my students and I have been focusing a great deal on selecting good fit books and building our reading stamina. One of the things we have talked about in great length is choosing books that we find enjoyable. On one of our first days of school, I asked my students to share with me on a post-it what types of books were their favorites to read.

As you can see, they shared everything from non-fiction biographies to books in a series like Harry Potter and Junie B. Jones.

I issued them a challenge to continue to read those books and genres that they find enjoyable, but be open to testing out new genres and series this school year as well to continue exploring! I am looking forward to seeing how much they grow as readers in a variety of ways throughout the year.

That being said, I recently had the opportunity to read and review a story that encompasses a variety of these genres that my students and myself highlighted as being some of "our faves". 

"Adventures of Ai" is a recently released children's ebook by New York Times bestselling author, Craig Bouchard. The story was originally written in English and has been translated into Spanish and Japanese among other languages, which was what made me to thrilled to get my hands on it.

The story is one which intertwines non-fiction with fiction and fantasy all into one, which is what makes it an engaging and exciting read. There are components of history, mystery, math and science within its pages along with a powerful message of overcoming obstacles and facing one's fears. It is a powerful story for any intermediate level reader (grades 4/5 and up would be my recommendation), and I truly believe it is one that would give students an opportunity to explore news genres along with those that they know and love all in one.

You can find a full summary of this adventurous tale here.
In addition to the book, there is also a game available students can play post-read so that they can dive into an adventure of their own! I love this connection between reading and gaming that so many of our students enjoy as it is a fun way to continue to develop their comprehension!

Now for the coolest part  - one of you will have the chance to experience this story for yourself, along with your students/children as well! I am raffling off one free copy of the ebook in the language of your choice (English or Spanish). Entering is super simple - just share in the comments section how you see yourself using the book with the students in your classroom and/or your own children and a winner will be chosen at random on Friday evening at 11:59pm (CST). 

Happy Reading!

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