Thursday, October 30, 2008

Shhhh ... Secret Recipe Examples for Better Answers

This is sticky-note reading with a twist. Instead of having students randomly place sticky-note answers on a chart, number boxes and have them place their sticky note answers in their designated places. What an easy way to formatively assess! Thank you, Mandie, for sharing this idea last year!
Thank you, Kim, for letting me take photographs of your students' work. Did you notice the answer frames on the bottom of the charts? AND ... Kim laminated these and uses Vis-a-Vis markers to write her questions. The charts are reusable!

Find reading questions at this link:

The numbers on the posters represent individual student numbers. If you don’t assign numbers to your students, you could write initials there; it helps with accountability. I usually have five or six questions posted in the room and students answer as many questions as they can in the allotted time – knowing that all students won’t have time to answer all questions. As long as they’re diligently working, the lesson differentiates itself. The advanced readiness students will answer more and the early readiness students will answer less. The numbers are to help me track the ‘lazy students’ and return post-its with incorrect responses.

It's Just Another PD Monday ... Anchor Activities

It's not too early to sign up for the next workshop, "Help! My Entire Class Has ADHD!" November 17 will be here before you know it. / Improper Fractions

Check out
There are a lot of free videos at your fingertips; this one is less than three minutes.

If you download RealPlayer for FREE, you can store clips on your computer which eliminates the need Internet when showing your clips from or

RealPlayer download

If you would like to embed downloaded videos into your PowerPoint, you may need to download a FREE converter.

For directions on HOW to do this, check out Lori's Technology Blog. Once again, thank you, LORI, for helping me become tech savvy!!! What did we ever do without you?


Visuals Liven Up Lessons!

Visuals Liven Up Lessons!!
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Avoid 'death by PowerPoint' by utilizing PowerPoint to visually enhance lessons.

Instead of spending HOURS scanning images, try Once you type what you're looking for, click search IMAGES in the top left corner. You'll have TONS of images at your fingertips. Thanks, Lori, for this tip!

CAUTION: Google finds EVERYTHING related to that word that's posted on-line. You NEVER want to google images with students in the room.

Brain Friendly Math Strategies

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by cheryl_dick

Differentiated Instruction Handout 2008

Di Handout 08
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Inferences Through Photographs

What's the difference between an inference and a prediction in reading?

  • To infer means to draw meaning from a combination of clues in the text without EXPLICIT reference to the text. It's basically 'reading in-between the lines.'

  • To predict means to use context and content clues to ANTICIPATE what might happen next. Predictions can be validated or invalidated through reading.

Now, try this:

See if you can INFER where this picture was taken. Gather clues in the photograph and use what you KNOW to make an inference.

What about the one below? Be sure to post your inferences. Answers will be revealed soon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Six Traits of Writing

Good Writers ...

  • develop their IDEAS.

  • ORGANIZE their writing with a beginning, middle and end.

  • let their VOICE be heard.

  • think about WORD CHOICE and choose their words wisely.

  • use a variety of sentence structures for SENTENCE FLUENCY.

  • use proper CONVENTIONS throughout their writing (Editor's Checklist).
Remember to model writing aloud every day.

  • If you're not modeling, you're teaching something else.

~Rich Allen

Excellent Resource:

6 + 1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide Grades 3 and Up
By: Ruth Culham (2003)

Writing Samples of a 4th Grade Girl

Beginning of the Year Writing Sample

Middle of the Year Writing Sample

End of the Year Writing Sample

These samples were taken from the same student in a nine-month period of time.

Six Traits - Ideas

Consider going on an idea scavenger hunt. First, create an ABC chart. Then, fill in the graphic organizer and collect your writing ideas. After you've exhausted all ideas in your head, walk around the school to gather more. When you see something you would like to talk about, jot it down. Be sure to include both fiction and nonfiction ideas on your chart.

Students should create their own topic list. This is an ongoing list; be sure to add to it as the year progresses.

When a students says he/she doesn't know what to write about, your response could be, "Well, then I guess you won't be talking today because writing is simply talking on paper." :)

A Sample of My Writing Ideas:

  • A: Ann Taylor, Albuquerque, NM, Anniversaries (20 years on Nov. 18)
  • B: Boys, Brain-Based Certification, Baskets (Longaberger), Books, Birthdays, Blogging
  • C: Creative Memories, Cruise to Cozumel, Coca-Cola and the Coach Store in Vegas with Lori (Cheesecake Factory too), Costume Party, Cooking, College Life (being the mother of a college student), Cross Country (being the mother of a junior-high cross country runner)
  • D: Daisy, my Golden Retriever; Denver, CO; Diamonds, Dusting, D. Reid (yes, she's a friend, but she deserves her own category)
  • E: Express, Exercise, Education
  • F: Friends, Family, Fair, Farm in Buffalo

Six Traits - Teach Organization with Picture Books

Kids love Dog Breath! In fact, it's one of the five read-aloud award finalists from NAESP for 2008.

It has a clear beginning, middle and end. I love to read this book to students and then to stop after the middle. They WANT to know how it ends ... and that's a good time to teach the importance of a beginning, middle AND end. After sufficient begging, I always finish the book. :)

This book also teaches foreshadowing through pictures ... the author has wanted signs posted in pictures before the burglars ever come into play. Alliteration is also evident in the newspaper adds. Think about how many objectives older students can learn from this picture book. I'd love to hear your ideas too.

Six Traits - Organize

This graphic organizer has proven itself to be successful! It was modified from one Carla Wilcox shared with 3rd grade teachers at Mathews Elementary. If you want to 'bump' the grade even more, have students PLAN to use a few similes in the details section of the graphic organizer.

This graphic organizer helps students ORGANIZE their topic and closing sentences before they begin writing in the large rectangular boxes . The first, then and finally arrows help organize the THREE paragraphs in the body of the personal narrative. The little bubbles in the body of the organizer are for similes.

Six Traits - Voice

When you use voice in your writing, you leave your fingerprints on the page. This adds life to your piece. Sometimes it's easier to teach voice by letting our students pretend to be someone else, like a character in a photograph.

Look at the picture above; which character would write this?

  • Yes, I know that Ann Taylor is having a huge sale, but I'm going to have a memorable day with my family at the races. Kids grow up way too fast, and it's important to spend quality time together. Besides, once Jimmy Johnson takes the lead, I can nonchalantly surf Ann Taylor's site on my cell phone and purchase with my credit card. They'll be so engrossed in the race, they'll never know ... until my packages arrive. I'll have to explain THAT later, but that's DAYS away.

Six Traits: Word Choice and Fluency

This resource is a MUST have; I don't know how I ever taught writing without it. The Onomatopoeia Poem, Strong Verb Poem and Simile City Play will definitely encourage your students to add spice to their writing. There's a page on writing a Paul Revere sentence many different ways which will help you teach fluency. A fluent paper sounds good when read aloud.

Strong Verb Poem
The Dog Ate the Bone
By: Melissa Forney
The dog ate the bone.
Don't you think that's kind of weak?
The verb here is "ate"
But it needs a little tweak.
The dog ate the bone,
Let's try another verb.
One that's really fun to write,
One that's quite superb.
The dog could devour the bone,
Nibble, gnaw or munch it.
The dog could snark-up the bone,
Gobble, bite or crunch it.
The dog could consume the bone,
Oh yes, that dog could do it,
Inhale the bone, impale the bone,
Swallow, gulp or chew it.
So when you're writing to impress,
Don't use a verb that fizzles.
Think of every word you know.
And give me one that sizzles!
~Poem posted with author's permission

Six Traits: Conventions

Start small with your editor's checklist and add to it as the year progresses. Be sure your editor's checklist doesn't get too long. Consider consolidating capitalization, punctuation and spelling. I've seen the mnemonic device: CUPS (capitalization, verb usage, punctuation, spelling) in many classrooms.

Schoolhouse Rock - Unpack Your Adjectives

Adjectives usually answer three questions: What kind? Which one? How many?

Schoolhouse Rock - Conjunction Junction

Saturday, October 25, 2008

M.A.P. by Grade Level

Are you prepared? You don't want to be caught without your feathers. :) April will be here before you know it.

November M.A.P. Checklist

___ I work hard to build positive relationships with my students.

___ I create a positive and caring classroom environment.

___ I have high, yet appropriate, expectations.

___ I teach with brain-friendly strategies and assess the written curriculum.

___ I teach all GLEs and remember to pay close attention to R2C, R3C and R1H in Comm. Arts.

___ I teach all Goal Process Standards and remember to pay close attention to 1.6, 2.2, 3.5 in Comm. Arts.

___ I use the Communication Arts Interpretations Standards for Secret Recipe Questions in Reading. “I know this because the text says _____________________ and ____________.”

___I give COLD assessments with descriptive feedback to students over GLEs taught in the classroom.

___I use the Depth of Knowledge Wheel and spend a lot of time in the skills/concepts level (level II) and strategic thinking level (level III).

___I use the D.E.S.E. Math GLE examples for morning work in my classroom.

___I teach the vocabulary from D.E.S.E. in Communication Arts, Math and Science with connections, movement and visuals.

___I have my students write friendly letters AND respond to prompts. Their writing has a beginning, middle and end AND lots of details, details, details!

___I eat well, get plenty of rest and exercise.

This is meant to be a stress-reduction checklist. If you’re doing the items on this list, you’re on the right track. Hang in there!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Add movement to the Preamble and watch how quickly your students will memorize it. It's fun!
We the People (wiggle fingers to indicate separate states) of the United States in order to form a more perfect Union (intertwine fingers to represent a Union), establish justice (close hands into fists and pretend they're gavels in a courtroom), insure domestic tranquility (move arms back and forth like you're conducting an orchestra to indicate peace in the land), provide for the common defense (raise your arms in the air, move sleeves to your elbows and say that you're bearing your arms and that our armed forces protect us), promote the general welfare (move fingers and thumb together for the money symbol and talk about how our tax dollars help pay for things we need), and secure the blessings of liberty (cross your arms over your chest) to ourselves and our posterity (rock your arms like you're holding a baby), do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.

States and Capitals SONG

This is a fun song! Let me know what you think. :)

I Have ... Who Has??

I Have … Who Has?
Review Game

Click on FREE, premade games from!

~Strategically distribute cards to ensure success with your early readiness learners and to challenge your advanced readiness learners.

~Consider discreetly giving advanced readiness students more than one card.

~Set a timer and see how long it takes the class to complete the game. Record the time.
Download timers FREE from the Internet.

~When you play the game on another day, the challenge will be to get a better time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Green Light Classrooms Differentiate

Differentiate Instruction through:

  1. Memory

  2. Connections

  3. Movement

  4. Novelty

  5. Tone

  6. Emotions

  7. Socialization

  8. Drama

  9. Visuals
To learn more about Green Light Classrooms, visit Rich Allen's Website.

Use storytelling as a NOVEL approach to memorize this list of minerals IN ORDER from the softest mineral to the hardest.

  • Talc

  • Gypsum

  • Calcite

  • Fluorite

  • Opalite

  • Feldspar

  • Quartz

  • Topaz

  • Corundum

  • Diamonds

This story was modified from one written by G. Hopkins, D. Meinders and P. Seal.

There once was a hillbilly named Min --- Earl Scale. Earl talced funny. He had a girlfriend who dressed like a gypsum. Every night they checked the cattle at the cal-cite. Then they would come sit on the fluorite next to the dog, Opalite. Their favorite sport was to go out to the fields and spar (feldspar). The winner would get a Quartz of Mountain Dew. Topaz the rest of the time, they corundumed up the mountain and back down again. After five trips up and down the mountain, they would die in mounds (diamonds).

Brain-Based Learning Differentiates

"Evidence suggests that stress is a significant factor in creativity, memory, behavior and learning. Teachers who purposely manage stress factors (purposefully decrease or increase stress) in class are likely to experience a positive classroom environment. There are many ways to decrease stress in the classroom, such as integrating stretching exercises, incorporating recess, teaching coping skills, and utilizing physical education."
~Eric Jensen
Read more about brain-based learning at Eric Jensen's website:

Find the False Item! Review Game


Find the False Item
Modified from Find the Fib (Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategy)
Hint … Three are true and one is false.

____1. Two angles meet at the vertex.
____2. A right angle is ALWAYS 90º.
____3. An obtuse angle is 90º or larger.
____4. An acute angle is smaller than an obtuse angle.

Students write four statements, three true and one false. Have students mark the false item.
Collect and check for accuracy.

Play Music/Mix/Freeze to Review

Instruct students to walk around the room. When the music stops, they freeze.
On teacher’s cue, students find partners.
Instruct partners closest to the teacher to go first and see if their partner can find the false item on the list. Then, have them switch roles.

Turn the music and play again!

Vocabulary Instruction

Use CONNECTIONS when teaching vocabulary!

4th Grade Math Term: Mode

Mode --- Commode
A mode is like a commode …

Mrs. Connie Rikard once told her students that the COMMODE is often the most used item in house. There may be one, more than one or no mode in the house. In that case, let’s hope there’s an outhouse.

Mode (feature of a data set): the number that appears the most frequently in a set of numbers. There may be one, more than one, or no mode.

Measureman SCARECROW

Partner Reading Differentiates

Effective Partner Reading is One Way to Differentiate.

  • Partner one reads a section.

  • Partner two paraphrases, summarizes or questions.

  • Then, partners switch roles.

    In guided reading, MOST of the time should be spent READING. If you partner read in the above manner, it will score a 5 or 6 (a HIGH score) on the Instructional Practice Inventory (IPI).

A Typical Guided Reading Lesson:

  • Before: About 10 minutes (teach a mini-lesson)

  • During: Actual READING … about 20 minutes … I did partner reading with a purpose about 80% of the year.

  • After: About 10 minutes (closure on the mini-lesson taught in the before section)

If you simply have students take turns reading when partner reading, that's the same thing as round-robin reading. Be sure the listener has a job to do and that students take turns reading and completing the job.

Technology Differentiates

Lori Elliott has everything you need to know about technology on her blog! Check it out ... it's exciting!

Reading Ideas

Hannah Montana Bones Dance

Check this out. Even Hannah Montana uses movement, music and dance to remember the location of the bones!