Saturday, July 12, 2014

Guest Blogger - Sparkling in Second

Hey Everyone! 
I'm so excited to be guest bloggin' on Sandy's blog!
For starters, I'm Jen from
I {now} teach 1st grade :)

Since Sandy's blog is now ELA Everyday, I thought I'd post about something we've been working {well last year} in class during ELA time.

It's a scary entity, but I interpreted it as giving purpose to reading.
I sat down with my team and we created what we felt would be an easily implemented & easily followed close reading process.

{of course I made an anchor chart to explain it all...}

We are using this specifically in Social Studies and Science right now, since we type up and create our own units. We thought this would be easier for the annotated portion of close reading.

I created these bookmarks to help the students {& the teacher} to have a purpose for each of the 3 reads they would be doing of their text.

{click the picture for your free download!}

Here's the breakdown:
{sorry for my lack of pictures!}

*Introducing Close Reading*
I started with a bubble map with the word "detective" in the middle.
We came up with all the words we thought of when we hear the word "detective". There were a ton of awesome words like clues, solving, problems...
Then I related it back to reading. Looking for answers in the text, being "text detectives". 

And THEN...I pulled out the magnifying glasses. That just got things really rolling! I had them look at their pencils and tell me things they noticed that they had not before. I related this back to reading as well, how we have to look closely to find things we hadn't noticed before.

By the time I shared the anchor chart for Close Reading with them, they were eating it all up! They were overflowing with excitement to get a piece of text!

*First Read*
This is where we focus on the first read. Enjoying the text together. 
We also get to box-in any {previously given} vocabulary words we find as we read. My kiddos love to throw their hands up as they read when they spot a vocabulary word.

*Second Read*
This is where we focus on interacting with the text. I require my students to come up with at least 2 questions in the text {they place a ? next to the sentence where they have a question and write it in the margins}. I also require them to find 2 important facts they found in the text by placing a * next to it (we talked about what an important fact is, how it is a necessary part of the text, without it the text wouldn't tell as much information}. 

*Third Read*
WHIP OUT A HIGHLIGHT! Life is good ;) This read is where the students get to read through to find specific text-based answers to comprehension questions. They have to highlight the answer {we only give 2-3 questions, as to not have too much highlighter}.

Here's a sample of what our text looks like after all three reads.

*Follow Up*
Either after the Second Read or the Third Read, I like to put my kids in groups and have them discuss their questions they had in the text to see if anyone can answer them. Sometimes they look in other resources, happen to know the information, or take educated guesses. It's quite amazing to watch their interactions and little wheels turning :)

I didn't think my kids would love Close Reading so much, but if you set yourself up for success, things might just go your way ;)

Here are some excellent additional resources for any age:

Come by my blog for a visit anytime :)

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I want to thank Jen again... I know close reading is something that I am wanting to implement next year, so I really enjoyed this post for more info.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Guest Blogger - Teach. Inspire. Change

Hello all! My name is Mrs. Mitchell from Teach. Inspire. Change., and I just finished my first year teaching 7th and 8th grade ELA. Prior to junior high, I was a high school English teacher for four years. And in just this first year with middle school, I feel that I've truly found my home. 

Today, Sandy was kind enough to allow me to guest blog and share one of my favorite poetry activities with you! Thank you, Sandy! 

One of my most popular poetry activities to do with my students is what is called a "Found Poem." 

If you haven't heard of a found poem before, it is essentially what it sounds like! Students cut out words and phrases that they find and create a poem out of them! It's an extremely easy and exciting way to begin a unit - students are engaged right from the get-go. 

Below, I am going to share with you exactly how it works:

Materials Needed: 
You'll need anywhere from 15-30 magazines (depending on how many students you have and if you don't mind them sharing). I receive anywhere from 4-5 magazines a month, so I save them throughout the year. (I also make sure to go through each magazine omitting any inappropriate material and crossing off my home address.)

Glue sticks and scissors (however many you think your students might need depending on whether or not they can share)

Blank computer paper to glue their found poems to

Step One:
Before we even begin, I do not tell students precisely what we are doing (I've found that telling them that we are writing a poem stifles their creativity). I simply ask them to cut out about 40-50 words and phrases from magazines that are of interest to them. They can be anything of their choice - maybe they like the color or the font, or they find a phrase that "speaks" to them - it doesn't matter. I also let students know that they will need articles and conjunctions to help make this project "work." This activity is meant to be creative, so I really allow students a great deal of independence. 

Allow students about 45-60 minutes for this portion of the activity. (Note: I like to put on some relaxing music during this time to hopefully inspire more creativity in the kiddos.)

I believe this was a Pottery Barn magazine. 
One of my Travel + Leisure magazines. 
Step Two:
Once students have "found" their words and phrases, I now tell them that we are writing a poem using JUST what they have found. They cannot add anything else to their poem; they may only use what they have cut out. It's meant to be fun and challenging! 

Have students arrange the words on their blank piece of paper. Students are not required to use all of the words that they have cut out, but I do request that my students use at least 30 words in their poems (otherwise, you might get poems that are only two words!).

I allow another 45 minutes or so for this step of the activity.  

Arranging words and phrases to create the perfect found poem. Notice the brownie on the desk? I made them these as a little treat while they were working on this activity :) 
You can see their brains working as they begin to arrange phrases and thoughts on their computer paper. I just love it! 
Step Four: 
Once students have decided that they like the way their poem looks and sounds, they glue their words and phrases to the computer paper to create a final product! It is extremely interesting and darling to see what they come up with. You'll find yourself quite impressed by some of your students at the end of this project! 

I think this student was mostly using one of my Ikea magazines. Can you tell?
And this, my friends, was written by one of my quietest and most darling students. He, yes he, wrote about the "Sixteen trillion dollar woman."

You're not worthless.
Drift into love
Have an espresso
No problem
It's your reward
You are the sixteen trillion dollar woman. 
And that is precisely why I love teaching and why I love teaching poetry.

What are some of your favorite poetry activities? I'd love to hear about them!

Stop by Teach. Inspire. Change. anytime! I would love to "see" you there!

Mrs. Mitchell 

Thank so much Mrs. Mitchell... What a great activity that I can't wait to use next year!