Friday, October 9, 2015

Twitter and Pinterest in Education

If you follow my blog, please know I recently made new Pinterest and Twitter accounts. If you followed me before, you may not be now. Links to my new accounts are to the right. Have a wonderful weekend!

Teaching Young Children to Have Opinions

Below is a parent e-mail I sent yesterday to help parents understand how opinions are taught in the classroom. It'll give you and overview of the lesson as well. :) 



I’m hopeful students come home talking about basing opinions on facts.

Today, we read about the macaque monkey that took a selfie and discussed whether the animal owns the rights to the picture or the photographer that set up the camera owns those rights (   Most of the students sided with the monkey. J Then, we talked about how anyone taking a selfie would own the rights based on the court’s decision (should they side with PETA). I was impressed with their discussion and how willing they were to share opinions.

As the students get older, they may start debating about real-world issues in class. They need to know how to read unbiased information and form opinions based on facts. Plus, someday they’ll get to vote for candidates that will make decisions for our country. Life is about forming opinions, and I feel most real-world opinions should be talked about at home when they are at an appropriate age which should be determined by their parents. J

Speaking of images, our discussion went to copyright and who owns the rights to the pictures they use in presentations. They are not allowed to Google Search images in my classroom but many said they do at home so they can add photos to presentations. I searched dogs (while the SMARTBoard was frozen) and then showed them the cute choices that popped up. Then, I clicked the settings button and went to Advanced Search. Then, I scrolled down to click on usage rights:  free to use or share. I froze the SMARTBoard again to make sure images were appropriate which they were. Then, we compared the photos and talked about how if they used the first photos we saw, they might owe money because they were protected by copyright.

Of course, many started worrying right away because kids want to do the right thing – which I appreciate. I thought I’d share this with you because they’ll be looking for pictures to add to presentations throughout their school career. I will be happy to show you how to search for pictures that can be used in presentations. I also highly recommend having the computer your child uses in a supervised area and not allowing kids to Google Search images without parental assistance, a good filter, and settings to try to protect them from images they should not see. They also need to run key words by you before searching. I probably wouldn’t let my 4th grader Google search images at all, but that’s just my opinion. J At school, I search, keep the main screen frozen, approve images, and then show them.

Let me know if you have questions, and I hope you get to talk about the monkey’s selfie tonight.

Have a great night!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

4th Grade Writing Samples

What does free writing look like in 4th grade? Below are snapshots of three different students' writing pieces:

Check out the advanced sentence structure and vocabulary in Hunted. After conferring with this student, I taught the class how to use dashes in writing. JC keeps me on my toes!

Check out how CD uses dialogue in Chapter One of The Lost Sword. I was impressed by his advanced sentence structure at the beginning of Chapter One! 

This student, AH, is writing Cats in Clans. Her idea is modified from Erin Hunter's Warriors' books. Take time to read this. I watched her write it all alone. It's hard to believe she's only 10 years old! We'll work on formatting tomorrow. Stay tuned for her next revision.

Word Work is Important -- Scavenger Hunt Ideas

My students love using their independent reading books to find words to add to our scavenger hunt charts. We are still learning how to write the words on the prefix/suffix charts. Next time, we won't put a dash after the prefix. I love Rich Allen's quote, "If you're not modeling, you're teaching something else." Well . . . I did model a dash after the re- on the heading. You can see that I have some reteaching to do. Did you notice the prefix re- in the word reteaching?

Shout out to Mrs. Brittany Risenhoover for making these nonlinguistic representations for our word wall. The oven symbolizes the prefix. The carrots symbolize the "root" words. The carrot cake symbolizes the suffix or ending. I can't wait to add words to our wall!

Using NewsELA in Differentiated Reading Groups (FREE Resource)

Show assigned NewsELA article to class (
(3-5 minutes)
Read headings, subheadings, captions, first sentence, last sentence before predicting the main idea.
(5-7 minutes)
Choose 5  key vocabulary from the NewsELA article and play Rivet. It looks similar to Hangman, but students guess words instead of letters. The teacher begins adding one letter at a time from left to right until a student guesses the right word. Be sure to pick words related to the article that students are able to guess that are not in the headings or captions. After students have correctly guessed the five words, have them predict how those words will be used in the article with a partner.
*If this is the first time teaching main idea this way or playing Rivet, you may want to teach one mini-lesson one day and one the next. It always takes longer the first time. :)

Reading Groups:
(5-10 minutes)
Reading groups meet in four corners. The "teacher" for the group will be the student with the most minutes on his/her home reading log. These students lead groups to read questions written on charts around the room and predict possible answers to three or four questions.

(15-20 minutes)
Students find a partner from their group to read the teacher-selected article on that is closest to their reading Lexile. If you don't have computers, you can print the articles for the students. There are generally four or five reading level choices for each title. Once they find an answer to a question written on a chart, they stop reading and write it on a sticky note. They immediately post it on the appropriate chart. Then, students continue reading to answer as many questions as they can in the appointed time.

Possible questions:

  • What is the purpose of this text? Use information in the article to support your answer.
  • What are some questions you have after reading the article?
  • What is the main idea of the text? Use details to support your answer.
  • Create another title for the text. Use details to support your answer.
  • How does the text structure contribute to your understanding? Use details to support your answer.
  • How could someone reading the article use the information in this text? Use details to support your answer.
  • What other nonfiction text features could the author have added to help you better understand the information?
  • How does the author’s word choice help the reader create a visual image? Use details to support your answer.

Students work with their reading partner to answer as many questions as possible in 20 minutes.

Literature/Text Discussion Groups:
(10-15 minutes)
Students go back to the appropriate corner to meet with their reading groups to discuss the answers to the questions. The teacher monitors the groups and reads answers on the charts throughout the lesson -- clarifying as needed.

Google's Virtual Field Trips

This looks neat!

Digital Teaching Resource Available 10/15

I'm looking forward to reading this!

Thursday, July 30, 2015