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Archive for 2016

postheadericon Comparing and Contrasting: Stellaluna


One of my most favorite books to read to my students is Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. This year, in third grade, I incorporated this read aloud into a compare and contrast writing activity. 





After I read the book to my students, I used this graphic organizer to brainstorm facts about bats and birds. I modeled this using my Doc Cam. When we were done, this is what our graphic organizer looked like:




To download this PDF, click on the image below:


compare and contrast


Next, I used this paper to model how to write a compare and contrast paragraph. My students were familiar with the term "compare and contrast," but they weren't sure how to put their thoughts into sentences and the sentences into paragraphs. To model how to write a compare and contrast essay, I created this graphic organizer for my students to organize their facts and create their paragraphs. 

This is an example of what it looked like when we were done. 




To download this PDF, click on the image below:

Stellaluna compare and contrast


I had the students work in pairs to create their paragraphs. Once they were done, they then wrote their compare and contrast paragraphs on this "Bats and Birds" paper. They did a great job! Overall, I was pleased with their writing and my students enjoyed the writing process. 



To download this PDF, click on the image below:

bats and birds

postheadericon Writing: Project Read Written Expression in the Third Grade



Writing in the Third Grade

       This year, one of my goals is to bring our writing program, Written Expression, up to the third grade. Project Read Written Expression is taught from kindergarten through second grade in our building. But now the question is, what about third and fourth grade?  As always, bringing a new curriculum into higher grade levels means training for the teachers, mapping out the curriculum, and deciding what skills each grade level will be teaching. 


      To begin the year, I started teaching my students about a sentence. I spent a couple of weeks reviewing what a great sentence has and what a great sentence looks like. As you can see, we started simply with a capital letter, spaces, and punctuation. We also reviewed that a sentence has two parts, a subject and a predicate. Then, I started to introduce the expanders. We have had some practice with the "Where" expander, so I thought it time to practice writing a few sentences. 



A fun activity using expanders:

I collected some magazines and catalogs and cut out some pictures and laminated them. When I was looking for pictures I thought about finding a picture that had a clear subject noun, a verb, and a "Where" expander. 



Then, I gave each student a graphic organizer to build their sentence. I had the kids in small groups of six, and each student had a partner within the group. 

I put a picture at each table. The students moved from table to table and wrote a sentence about what was happening in the picture. 




When the students were done, they had five great sentences about each picture. We are off to a great start! Now, we begin the paragraph writing! 



postheadericon November Buddies



November Buddies


It's November and it's time for new buddies! The students were very excited to see November buddies.  This month, I asked my students to choose new partners that weren't on their October buddies sheet. This way, every student, by the end of the year will get a chance to work with everyone in the classroom. 

(To download, click on the image below)

November buddy

We just read the story "I Wanna Iguana" by Karen Kaufman Orloff. The kids loved this story. It was fun to read, fun to listen to, and fun to talk about. 


In an effort to build social skills within my classroom, I gave my students a question they had to work on with their November buddies. 

My question was: Do you think Alex did a good job persuading his mother to get him an iguana? Tell me two reasons why you think he did a good job. 

The discussion stem they used was: 

(To download, click on the image below)

I think that…


Some responses were:

"I think that Alex did a good job becasue he had good reasons why he should have an iguana."

I think that Alex did a good job because he had reasons why he could take care of an iguana."



If you would like October Buddies, click on the image below


october buddy


postheadericon October Buddies-Peers Working In Partners to Engage Students in Conversation




Working in partners can sometimes be a duanting task for students. Who do I work with? Can I work with that person? What happens if I work with someone that I don't know well? All these questions come in to play when students are asked to work with a partner.


As teachers, we often place students strategically into pairs or small groups based on ability, behavior, or social skills. However, sometimes, we need to let students work with a peer they are comfortable working with, especially when we are asking them to "turn and talk" and  complete a task. On the third grade level, boys don't often want to work with girls and girls don't want to work with boys. With that in mind, I do give students some choices when having to work with a peer.


To get my students working in partners and more importantly talking to their partner, I created a monthly buddy system. It's a lot like clock buddies but a little easier. 


This month, I passed out "October Buddies" to my students. I explained that each student was going to put their name in each block in the first column. Then go find a buddy and put their name in the block next to your name in the second column. Your partner, then puts your name next to their name. So, when the teacher says, "Find your acorn buddy and sit with them." The kids look on their chart and see their name and their partner's name. 


october buddy


I used October Buddies a couple of times in the classroom and it worked out really well. To introduce our new story, I asked students to find their scarecrow buddy and sit with them. I introduced the "Question of the Week" and asked students to "turn and talk" and write down their response on a piece of lined paper. Our question, which I loved, was "How do we achieve our goals?" (Kumak's Fish). The students loved talking about what their goal was and how they had achieved that goal. I wrote their responses on a piece of large chart paper and put their initials next to each repsonse. 

Now, that I had many responses, I wanted to get kids talking. 

One of my goals this year, is to engage students in focused, rich, engaging conversation. So, I need to get kids engaged in a topic, focused on a topic,   then sharing their answers while in a conversation with a peer or even better, the whole class. 

I then introduced the talking stem "I agree with ___________."


(Click on image to download)

I agree with ____


I then had students talk to their partner about who they agreed with in class and I had the students write down:

1. Who they agreed with

2. What that student's response was

3. Why they agreed with that student

I agree with

I gave the students the chance to write their response on a paper and talk to their partner. I then asked students to share their responses. At first I only had a few hands up, but as time went on, more and more students wanted to be part of the conversation. 

 One of my favorite responses was:

"I agree with Johnny's response, "working hard and not giving up helps us to achieve our goal." I once had to work really hard in football practice to be able to score a touchdown at my football game. It took a long time, but I did it! " Then another student added on, "I also agree with Johnny, I had to work really hard in math last year, but I didn't give up and I ended up really liking math." 

In ten minutes time, I had each student sharing their thoughts to discuss a topic. They were sharing their thoughts, engaged in a topic, and talking to their peers! Objective Done!





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