Thursday, September 1, 2016

Understanding Vocabulary and Figurative Language - Goal 11

I'm joining a few other terrific bloggers in reading this book by Jennifer Serravallo and sharing our thoughts about the goal and 3 strategies from the book each week!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 11

If you're just joining us now, no worries!  You can catch up quickly by following the links below:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 11

Goal 11:Understanding Vocabulary and Figurative Language

Why is this goal important?  
Understanding vocabulary when reading is crucial for reading comprehension.  The research is clear on this and it's important to include instruction on word meaning and vocabulary into our classrooms.

Who needs this strategy:
  • students that don't do well on a standardized word assessment
  • students that have difficulty determining meanings of unknown words within text
  • students that have difficulty finding clues in text for inferring meaning
The author cautions that we are not trying to determine student word knowledge but rather we want to know if they can use the text to infer the meaning of the unknown word. 

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 11

 "Multiple Meaning Words"

Who is it for: Levels J-Z+ 
What Genre/Text: any
Skills Used: monitoring for meaning, inferring

This strategy encourages students to think about whether a multiple meaning word is being used when something isn't making sense within the context when reading.  Students are suggested to read before and after.  Think about how it's used and choose a definition that makes sense.

Prompt students to 
  • think about how the word is being used 
  • think about what meanings you know for the word  
  • is there another meaning that would make sense here in the text?
Using an anchor chart like the one below may help to model how to think/list the multiple meanings of a word.

Schoolhouse Treasures Review of Goal 11 in the Reading Strategies Book

Here's another chart to help work on multiple meanings of words!

Schoolhouse Treasures Review of Goal 11 in the Reading Strategies Book

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 11

 "Infer to Figure it Out"

Who is it for: Levels L-Z+ 
What Genre/Text: any
Skills Used: inferring

This strategy involves getting students to stop when they come to an unknown word and use clues from the text or picture to help you guess the meaning of the word. 

Prompt students by reminding them to stop for unknown words; check the pictures for clues; and to keep reading past the unknown word. 
This anchor chart below shows one way to get students to focus on using different ways of inferring to determine the meaning of words.

Schoolhouse Treasures Review of Goal 11 in the Reading Strategies Book

I'm stopping here after two strategies today as this post is late. 
I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am! 
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My "Elementary Box" Review

It was back to school for me this week!
For the past couple of weeks, things have been CRAY, CRAY!  (If you're a teacher you understand!)
As I was writing the date today, I realized that August flew by so quickly that I forgot to review my Elementary Box!

I'm sorry I'm late in reviewing my August box.  If you missed the July box, you can see it {HERE}.

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews August Elementary Box!

The theme of the box was appropriately - Back To School!

Here's a look inside the box as I opened it:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews August Elementary Box!

It's always exciting to open the lid of the box in anticipation of what's to come!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews August Elementary Box!

First, a bag of goodies for a prize bucket/treasure chest: sticky lizards, puzzle rings, smiley stamps, smiley face balls, and erasers!  This pack of treasure chest items was listed as being $10.
I love the variety of things and they are all things that most 3rd graders will like for a prize!

Next, was a multi-pack of chevron and dots library pockets!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews August Elementary Box!

I love these pockets and especially love all the colors!  There were 35 altogether in the pack (7 of each color!)  The value of the pack of library pockets was listed as $6. 
 I've used these in the past to hold my "bead sticks" when I used that as a behavior incentive plan.  I'm not using behavior beads this year, so I'm not sure how I'll use these so stay tuned.  If you have any great ideas, let me know in the comments below!  The suggested uses given on the enclosed card are bulletin boards, to hold game pieces, job chart, vocabulary card holders and more!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews August Elementary Box!

Birthday postcards were the next thing to come out of the box.  These are Superhero themed postcards with a value of $6.  There were 30 cards included in the pack!  These would be great if I had a Superhero theme going on in my classroom but I don't.  I'm thinking of giving these away to someone that has this theme in their room.  I do like the generous amount of cards that they give so it'll accommodate large classes.  
(I have had only 1 class of 30 students in my entire career - that was my first year of teaching too!  Let me tell you - that was a lot of students! It took forever to correct papers! This year I have 15!  I've never had this low of a number of students, but this year's kiddos need smaller classes...they have a lot of needs!)

Then I pulled out these small sticky magnetic squares - a pack of 100 for a value of $7.

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews August Elementary Box!

I was really thrilled to see these because they were on my list of things to buy for my classroom!  I am using them for my helper names and I've been a little disappointed because they keep falling off of the names.  I might have to hot-glue them on - but I'm hoping that it's just the humidity we having now and that they'll improve when the air changes!  So - I'll have to wait to see what the final verdict is on these magnetic squares. 

The final item in the August box was chevron days of the week binder clips!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews August Elementary Box!

These are awesome colors - I'm using a brights color theme this year so they definitely match!  They also coordinate with the pack of binder clips that I got in July.  They also fit in with the chevron and dots pockets above.  I like that idea and wonder if future boxes will contain things that will match prior box items.  The clips have a value of $9.  I love binder clips so this is a great item for me and they will help to keep me organized - even more than I am already!

That's it for the August Elementary Box!  Overall, I'm pleased with my new items!  The Superhero cards are not a theme I'm using, but I could use them if I wanted to - and they are quality cards.  I haven't decided yet if I'm thrilled with the magnetic squares.  But - everything else are things that I already use or will use in my classroom!  A thumbs up for this month's box!

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into my Elementary Box of surprises!  I've already received my September box and can't wait to share with you what I got...that post will be coming soon!
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Flexible Seating - Part 3!

I've been blogging about my journey learning about alternative/flexible seating - what it was; FAQs and more in previous posts.  
If you missed those posts, you can find part 1 {HERE} and part 2 {HERE}.

Part 2 left off with my decision that I would try flexible seating for 3 weeks at the end of the year to see how it works before making a decision to go for it in the fall!  

This week I'm sharing about the three week trial period:

 I starting using flexible seating as an experiment.  I didn't have enough seating arrangements, but I was able to have the following:

4 desks raised to their highest level
Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

1 bean bag chair (borrowed from my son)

Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

1 round table lowered to 6" off the floor with bath mats
Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3
Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3
2 crate seats with cushions like these below that are from Ms. Third Grade Blog

2 fidget seat cushions from OT (I don't remember the name of them.)
Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

1 portable tray for the rug area

Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

I still had all 24 desks and chairs - so there were plenty of seats for the remaining 10 students.  I also had a table with regular chairs as well.  

The first day that the students walked in - they were excited! You would've thought I told them we were going to have recess all day! (Really - even though the only changes were the ones listed above.)

  I don't have pictures to share with kids in the seats because I don't have permission to do so. I didn't think to take pictures of just the seating, but the above pictures are pretty close to looking like the ones I had.  Just imagine happy, happy faces!

The first thing I did was have them sit on the rug and we discussed the various seating available.  Then I used this chart to introduce the rules that we'd need.

Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

You can get this set of rules (without my logo) as a PNG file {HERE}

My Take Away From The 3 Week Trial:

  • The students LOVED it!
  • I had one administrator that couldn't stop saying positive things about it each time she came into the room!
  • I did not have issues with noise - in fact it was the opposite!
  • I only had to move a student once in the time period as he didn't make the best choice for where to sit.
  • The bean bag, the crate seats and the tall desks were very popular!
  • I had to rethink where/how I would distribute papers because they didn't have desks.
  • Our "book boxes" were okay to store things for 3 weeks, but it won't work for the entire year.  I'll have to come up with something different for them to store materials.
  • Next year's students came to visit for 20 minutes on our "Step Up" day and I talked about many things with them about 3rd grade, but according to the 2nd grade teachers, the seating was all the rage when they went back to their classrooms!
  • Students at the tall desks got tired of standing after awhile, but still wanted to use the I'm thinking I need to get them a stool as an option when they get tired.
  • Students preferred being able to switch seats throughout the day.  I knew staying in one seating option for the day was too long so we tried half day rotations.  Students liked changing for each "period".  I was good with that so that's something I'll continue with.
Well - that's my trial period of flexible seating and I'm still excited to continue to have flexible seating for the 2016-2017 school year!  Now I need to figure out how to make it happen!

Join me next week for part 4 where I venture into funding for this idea!

What are your thoughts on flexible seating?  Are you doing it?  If not, is it something you'd like to try?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below - I really get excited to read your comments.
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

An Awesome Reading Discussion Series Continues!

It's Thursday - so that means that The Reading Strategies Book discussion series continues!
I have a couple of freebie items to go with this week's goal topic keep reading!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

I'm joining a few other terrific bloggers in reading this book by Jennifer Serravallo and sharing our thoughts about the goal and 3 strategies from the book each week!

If you're just joining us now, no worries!  You can catch up quickly by following the links below:

This Week We're Looking at Goal 10: Getting the Most from Text Features

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

Why is this goal Important?

Research has indicated that despite all the teaching that is done on text features, most of it has to do with identifying the text features.  Jennifer, the author, believes that we need to go much more beyond that!  We need to spend considerable time "teaching students to use the features to get more information" from the nonfiction text.  We need to show students how to "synthesize the visual and textual information." 

How to Tell If A Student Needs to Work on This Goal:

Here's a continuum of level of understanding students might have in text features.  The list begins with the lowest level and progresses to higher levels of understanding about nonfiction features.
  • student ignores text features
  • can only name the feature
  • names and knows its purpose
  • can explain what text features are teaching
  • deeper explanation of text features including combining information from the text and the feature
  • can connect feature not only to text but also to other features included
Ways to get to know what your student knows about text features are through conferencing with the student, asking questions, having students jot down thoughts as reading, written answers to questions etc.  Kindergarten students might not get beyond the identifying of the features, but the author states that by 5th grade reading levels, students should be able to do all.

Time to move onto the Strategies that you can use with students to improve their skills.

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

 "Reread and Sketch with More Detail"

Who is it for: Levels A-Z+ 
What Genre/Text: nonfiction
Skills Used: visualizing, monitoring for meaning

This strategy involves reading the text.  Then stopping to sketch a picture based on what you remember of what you just read.  Reread the text again and try to add more details to the first sketch.  Keep repeating this process until you think you have all the important information sketched into your drawing.

In my 3rd grade classroom, I would model this process for students at first.  Then do one together and then release them to try on their own. (I do, we do, you do method.)

I also think there would need to be a discussion between a sketch and a detailed drawing.  The sketch is quick and as we continue adding to it, it will become a detailed drawing.

Prompts to use while students are working with you
  • picture what you just read
  • jot down a sketch
  • Did you get more information after rereading?  Add it to the sketch.
  • Can you get more details?  Let's try!
  • Wow!  Look at all the details you have now that you've read it several times!
I'm wondering if it might be worthy to have them use a different colored pencil each time...that way they could see how each successive reading helped to add details.

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

 "Cover Up Then Zoom In"
Who is it for: Levels A-Z+
What Genre/Text: nonfiction
Skills Used: questioning, determining importance

Getting students to use the text and not the visuals at first is what this strategy is all about.  Use a sticky note to cover the images on the page.  Read the text and think about what it's all about.  The the sticky note would come off and then zoom into the image to see what new information might be found!    

Prompt the students with: "What new information am I learning with this image?  What parts of what I just read are shown in this image?"

NOTE: The author states that this strategy might not work as well

 with the youngest of readers because they most often need to use

 the pictures to help them read the text.

I think this could be done with younger readers if the teacher reads the text to the class without showing pictures first.  Then after reading students could be shown the picture to see what new information comes from it.

I found a site called SMEKENS that has an example of an opposite method: eliminating the text and leaving the images first!  Students would look at images first to see what they've learned and then would be shown the text.  They have a couple of sample pages (with and without text) that you can download.  Click {HERE} to go to the site to get your own copy!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

 "Cracking Open Headings"

Who is it for: Levels P-Z+ 
What Genre/Text: expository nonfiction
Skills Used: inferring

As the authors says, most headings are clear in their meaning, but sometimes the author gets creative and crafts a heady that makes the meaning/relationship to the text unclear.  

This strategy involves looking at the headings and if any have a creative title or are confusing, write down the heading title in the chart's first column. 

Then go to the beginning of that section and read.  As you read, try to figure out why the author chose that heading and what it might mean.  

Can you figure out what the heading means now?  Write the meaning in the second column.  

Now rename the heading with one that makes sense to you and write it in the last column.
The chart would look something like this:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10
You can get a copy of my version of this chart from Dropbox {HERE}!

If you've been following along and haven't picked up a copy of this book, I wouldn't hesitate anymore!  

I think this book is a game changer!  (And....I'm not getting anything for saying that!  That's just my own personal thought!)

What do you think of these strategies?  Would  you be able to use them in your grade level?  Let me know in the comments below!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Flexible Seating - Part 2

       Today, I'm continuing to share my journey into flexible seating.  If you missed Part 1, I wrote about the various sites and posts that gave me the background information on what flexible/alternative seating is.  You can find that post {HERE} 

After getting more of an idea of what alternative seating was, I decided to look into the various types of flexible seating. 

One of the first sites that I found with ideas for alternative seating in the upper elementary level was Jennifer Findley's post called "Alternative Seating in the Classroom".  Prior to finding this post, most of what I read about flexible seating involved grades K-2.  I teach 3rd grade so I was glad to see another class above 2nd grade using it and being successful.

                                                                      Alternative seating in the classroom can be a huge motivator for student engagement and learning. Read this post to learn how one teacher uses alternative seating in literacy.

I found this post titled "18 Flexible Seating Ideas for Your Classroom" by Kindergarten is Grrreat!  This post let me know that it can be as simple as a beanbag, bath mat, or crate seats.  It doesn't have to be expensive seating.  She gives some tips on how to do flexible seating at no cost too.

After that, I came upon Lucky Little Learners' (Angie Olson) post: "Flexible Seating FAQ's"  

I love the chart  that shows her flexible seating rules.  I decided that if I implemented flexible seating, I would use a chart similar to this one to set guidelines in place.  I also found it interesting that she said that she doesn't have issues with students talking too much.  Angie answered all my questions and concerns within her post.  She stressed that the key to making it work was to MODEL, MODEL, MODEL!

For the first time, I began to feel that flexible seating would be something that I could do in my classroom!  I felt like I had enough background information and many of my questions were answered and fears were squelched for now.

I made the decision to try alternative seating for the last few weeks of the school year!  
Depending on how that experience went, I would consider making the switch permanently for the 2016-2017 school year. 

What about you?  Have you tried alternative seating?  Do you have any advice or tips for me to consider?  I'd love to hear from you!
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