Prefixes and Suffixes Anchor Chart {plus FREE task cards!}

I love to teach the topic of prefixes and suffixes! I have watched my ELLs' vocabulary grow by leaps and bounds after learning the meaning of various prefixes and suffixes.

I begin our unit by playing Hangman on the board. (Have you ever done that? The kids LOVE it, and it gets them engaged right away! It's definitely one of my favorite ways to open a lesson, but I try not to overuse it.) Anyway, the board looks like this at the beginning of the game:
_     _ _ _ _ _       _ _ _       _ _ _ _ _ _       _ _       _ _ _      _ _ _ _.

They take turns guessing letters until someone finally decodes the entire sentence:
I FIXED THE POSTER TO THE WALL.

Then I underline the word fix, and say something like "What?!?!? I fixed the poster to the wall???  That doesn't make sense, does it? Fix means to repair something that is broken, right?" Someone usually brings up the fact that the word fix could mean something different in this sentence.  Eventually we deduce (and verify by looking it up in the dictionary) that fix can also mean to attach two things together.

Then I introduce the words prefix and suffix and ask my students, "Now that we know fix can mean "to attach", how can we use this knowledge to understand prefixes and suffixes?" They now seem to clearly understand that prefixes are attached, or fixed before a base word, and suffixes are attached, or fixed to the end of the base word. I tell my students that it helps me to visualize a person hammering a prefix and/or suffix to a base word, much like a person fixes a poster to a wall by using a hammer.  This discussion seems to assist students in their understanding of prefixes and suffixes.

After this opening discussion, I like to use the construction theme to further teach my students about prefixes and suffixes.
Prefixes and Suffixes Anchor Chart! This anchor chart features the most common affixes! A FREE set of task cards is also included in this blog post!
These are the prefixes and suffixes that we covered with our third graders.
Clip art by A Sketchy Guy

My other construction-themed Prefix and Suffix resources include:

Prefix PowerPoint... introducing five basic prefixes!

Suffix PowerPoint... introducing six basic suffixes!
I created the two PowerPoints shown above for my third grade students. 

I created the two PowerPoints shown below for my fifth grade students.
Advanced Prefixes PowerPoint... reviewing 5 basic prefixes and introducing 9 additional prefixes!

Advanced Suffixes PowerPoint... reviewing 6 basic suffixes and introducing 13 additional suffixes!


Finally, I created a matching resource FREEBIE for you!  Please download it if you think you might be able to use these 16 task cards (with recording sheet) with your students!
FREE prefix and suffix task cards!
This freebie contains 8 prefix cards and 8 suffix cards.

1st Person and 3rd Person Points of View


Hello, friends!

I invite you to hop on over to Upper Elementary Snapshots today to check out my blog post!  I blogged about a successful lesson I created to teach upper elementary students the differences between 1st person, 3rd person limited, and 3rd person omniscient points of view.  You'll find a freebie at the end of the post!


Main Idea Anchor Chart (FREE worksheet included!)

There was a time when I dreaded teaching the topic of main idea and supporting details. Trying to teach students how to read a passage and pick out the main idea and key details was both challenging and boring. One year, the time came, and I knew that I needed to "spice things up"... or maybe I should say "cool it down"  :) for my own sanity.  I've always had a sweet tooth, so I decided to create materials that reflected  the following ice cream cone analogy.
Learning about main idea and supporting details is FUN when you use the ice cream cone analogy! This blog post contains a main idea anchor chart activity and a FREE main idea worksheet. Everything you need for one main idea lesson is available here.

As I reflected upon the entire unit when it came to a conclusion, I realized that for the first time in my teaching career, I actually enjoyed teaching main idea! Furthermore, my students seemed to enjoy it, too! Best of all, though, was that my students seemed to truly grasp the concept. I witnessed success like never before- probably because we all had fun. Needless to say, I have continued to teach main idea using the ice cream cone analogy, and I really don't ever see myself not using this analogy. 

On Day 2 of my main idea unit, I create the following anchor chart that will remain in my classroom throughout the unit. (In case you are dying to know, Day 1 is reserved for my introduction PowerPoint.)
Learning about main idea and supporting details is FUN when you use the ice cream cone analogy! This blog post contains a main idea anchor chart activity and a FREE main idea worksheet. Everything you need for one main idea lesson is available here.

When I introduce this anchor chart, I read the paragraph with my students, and I ask them what the paragraph was mainly about.  A student often replies "bees", and then I remind everyone that "bees" is the topic of the paragraph, but to state the main idea, we have to dig a little deeper. I assist by asking "What about bees? Is this passage mainly about how to protect yourself from a bee that's flying around your head?" This seems to really click with some of the students. After they finish giggling, I tell them to turn to a partner and discuss what the passage is mainly about concerning bees.

Immediately, I hear most students discussing the main idea... the passage is mainly about the jobs of each type of bee. I write that statement beside the cone. (I once heard a student incorrectly tell his partner that the first sentence was the main idea. It gave me the opportunity to remind students that the main idea can be the first sentence of a passage, but that it doesn't have to be. In this case, the first sentence was more of a "hook" used to try to get the reader interested in the paragraph.)

Learning about main idea and supporting details is FUN when you use the ice cream cone analogy! This blog post contains a main idea anchor chart activity and a FREE main idea worksheet. Everything you need for one main idea lesson is available here.

Once we determine the main idea, it is pretty simple for the students to pick out the three most important details. As you can see, we underline the detail sentences in the paragraph. We also talk about how some of the statements were interesting facts, but they didn't necessarily support the main idea sentence.

I add the final two lines listing common phrasings of main idea questions found on standardized tests a few days later when we discuss this topic in detail. (I have found that many students do not understand that "What would be the best title of the passage?" questions are actually main idea questions. Once they understand this concept, they are better equipped to answer test questions. They know to determine the main idea rather than just make a subjective decision about which title is best.)

If you wish to use this anchor chart lesson in your classroom and you want students to be able to follow along on a mini anchor chart, click HERE to download my student version.
Learning about main idea and supporting details is FUN when you use the ice cream cone analogy! This blog post contains a main idea anchor chart activity and a FREE main idea worksheet. Everything you need for one main idea lesson is available here.

Finally, I have created a freebie passage for you to use with your students.  After filling out the class main idea anchor chart, students can tackle a passage independently with this worksheet! (I use this passage as an exit ticket!)
Learning about main idea and supporting details is FUN when you use the ice cream cone analogy! This blog post contains a main idea anchor chart activity and a FREE main idea worksheet. Everything you need for one main idea lesson is available here.


If you would like to take a look at the main idea resources available in my store, click HERE. This listing also has links to the individual resources that are shown.

Main Idea Bundle of Activities: Everything you need (and possibly more!) for a 4th-6th grade main idea unit! Main idea worksheets, craftivities, games, and more!


Pin this to remember later:
Learning about main idea and supporting details is FUN when you use the ice cream cone analogy! This blog post contains a main idea anchor chart activity and a FREE main idea worksheet. Everything you need for one main idea lesson is available here.

A First for Me... A Math Craftivity!

A number of people have asked me when I was going to start creating math craftivities.  Well, it took me awhile, but I finally created my first one this past week!  I know that place value is a topic that many teachers focus on in the fall, so I decided to create a Place Value Pumpkin Patch craftivity.
Place Value Pumpkins: A math craftivity- this includes five versions for multiple grade levels!


When I posted it on Tuesday morning, I thought I was finished with it.  At that time it contained three versions- the most basic version addressed place value to the hundreds place, the intermediate version included place value to the thousands place, and the final version contained place value to the millions place.  Each version included three worksheets:

Students are given a number in standard form, and then they write it in expanded form and word form.
(This is the decimal version.)


Students read a number in word form and write the standard form of the number on the line.  Then, they order the four numbers from least (top pumpkin) to greatest (bottom pumpkin).  This version contains numbers less that 1000.

Students compare two numbers. (This is from the hundred million version.)

A few hours after I posted it, my friend Kelly who teaches fourth grade in Florida, asked me if I had a version that covered place value to the hundred millions to meet 4th grade Common Core requirements.  That became version #4.

The next day Paige, a fifth grade teacher, asked me to consider creating a version that included decimals for her fifth graders.  That one was probably the most difficult one for me to create.  I've never worked in the area of fifth grade math before and my oldest daughter is only a fourth grader, so I had to do a bit of research.  Luckily for me, though, Paige agreed to give me her feedback on my fifth grade attempt.  Paige gave me a couple of ideas for improvement... and the fifth version was added to the bundle a short while later.  I THINK I am done now!!

I surprised even myself when I decided to begin another math craftivity on the very next day, this time focusing on rounding numbers.  At the moment, this one has four versions.
Version 1- Rounding tens and hundreds with numbers less than 1000
Version 2- Rounding tens and hundreds with numbers greater than 1000
Version 3- Rounding numbers greater than one million
Version 4- Rounding with decimals


Focus on Fluency using Partner Plays {Multiple FREEBIES!}

It's time for me to make a confession. I know fluency is super-important, but I rarely made time to truly focus on this critical reading skill. I didn't blatantly choose to ignore the skill (fluency activities are usually FUN, after all!)... I simply ran out of time.  So many of my upper elementary readers were still needing help with vocabulary development, decoding, and comprehension that my time would tick away focusing on those skills.  Has this ever happened in your classroom?

One day last spring, my then-first grade daughter came home with a partner play. Her teacher implemented Daily Five, and Brooke was telling me about how she and Morgan read it during "Read to Someone".  Brooke and I read it together, and I was surprised by how fluently Brooke read the script.  She was full of expression!  Plus, it was fun.

That got me thinking... maybe I should create a partner play pack for upper elementary students!  I started with a 2nd-3rd grade bundle, and I had so much fun writing them that I went ahead and created a 4th-5th grade bundle over the summer, as well!  My daughters, Kayla (now a fourth grader) and Brooke (now a second grader) actually looked forward to reading the scripts with me!!  It was a win-win situation!  They were having fun getting some summer-reading in, and I was able to check the readability of my partner plays.  Believe me, they both had plenty of feedback for me, too!  Once Kayla told me, "Mom, fourth graders don't use that word."  Here are the finished bundles, although I also have mini sets of 5 available in my store, also.

Partner Play Bundle of 90 scripts for 2nd and 3rd graders! These are a perfect reading activity that builds fluency! Ideal for classroom implementing the Daily 5 routine!


(Set 2 for grades 2 and 3- focusing on more reading skills like context clues and inferences- can be found HERE.)

Partner Play Bundle of 90 scripts for upper elementary grades! These are a perfect reading activity that builds fluency! Ideal for classroom implementing the Daily 5 routine!

(Set 2 for grades 4 and 5- focusing on more reading skills like character traits and figurative language- can be found HERE.
Set 3- focusing on more science themes- can be found HERE.)

Feel free to try out these FREE PARTNER PLAY SCRIPTS:
FREE partner play for 2nd and 3rd graders! This is a perfect fluency-building activity to add to your Daily 5 reading centers!

FREE partner play for 4th and 5th graders! This is a perfect fluency-building activity to add to your Daily 5 reading centers!

FREE partner play for 4th and 5th graders! This is a perfect fluency-building activity to add to your Daily 5 reading centers! (This blog post contains many more fluency freebies!)

FREE partner play for 4th and 5th graders! This is a perfect fluency-building activity to add to your Daily 5 reading centers! (This blog post contains many more fluency freebies!)


One of the things I like most about partner plays is that they need very little teacher support!  Busy teachers who need to spend time working with students on comprehension, decoding, and vocabulary can continue to do just that without feeling guilty that they are missing fluency.  

My classroom vision is that teachers could introduce partner plays by conducting two minilessons with the entire class at the beginning of reading over two consecutive days.  During Minilesson #1, I would introduce the partner plays by showing a script using the document camera.  Then I would invite a student to model with me how to read the script.  When we had finished reading the script, I would ask students to create an anchor chart with me of what Partner Reading should look like and sound like, asking them to keep in mind that I will be working with small groups like normal.  If necessary, I would help them come up with phrases for our anchor chart like "two kids sitting side-by-side", "quiet voices",  "giving strategy suggestions to help classmates read a difficult word", etc.  During minilessons #2 and #3, I would tell my students that the reason we are reading these partner plays is to focus on fluency.  Then I would show them these fluency posters (freebie!) and discuss each component of fluency individually, modeling examples and non-examples.
FREE Fluency Posters (plus MORE free fluency activities like bookmarks and an interactive notebook entry!)
Click on this image to access the 7 posters, PLUS bookmarks and an interactive notebook entry!

I hope you will give the free partner plays a try in your classroom!  If you do, please leave feedback and let me know how it went!



Quotation Marks Anchor Chart (with FREEBIE)

Have you read a student's attempt at writing dialogue, and it looked similar to this?

...your grandma is sick Mom said.  We need to visit her.  Is she going to be okay.  I don't know said Mom.  When are we going to leave? I said.  Mom said Saturday morning.

Last spring we were writing personal narratives in third grade, and we noticed that our students were beginning to experiment with dialogue. Therefore, we teachers knew that we had to teach them two important skills when using dialogue in personal narratives:

1.  It is great to use some dialogue, but be careful not to overuse it. Personal narratives should not include entire conversations. Describing thoughts, feelings, and events are much more important! (We've all seen those student stories where the only action taking place is two people talking. It reminds me of a ping pong match.)

2.  If you include dialogue, use punctuation and tags to help your reader know who is talking. This is where the following anchor chart comes in handy. There are so many contrasting rules students must remember when adding dialogue to their writing. I created this anchor chart last year for my third graders, and I was delighted when I spotted many of my students referring to it throughout writing time.
Dialogue Anchor Chart: Teaching students to write dialogue can be tricky. Use this quotation marks anchor chart and worksheet freebie to introduce the concept to your students!
Clip art by Krista Wallden and From the Pond.

This is how we approached the topic. First, we knew we had to teach our students what a tag was. They understood this term very quickly. During this tag conversation, we reminded students that "said" is a tired, overused word, and that we should all try to replace "said" in our writing with more interesting words. The third graders really got into this and began to notice (and report) all of the tags in their reading books. After a few days, we decided to hang a large sheet of paper in the classroom to record all of the interesting tags we encountered. If a student found a tag that wasn't already on our list while they were reading, they wrote it on a sticky note and placed it on the paper... they LOVED this! Our paper was soon filled with words like "interrupted", "whined", and "exclaimed".  

The next thing we had to do was to teach them the three forms- when the author writes the tag before the dialogue, in the middle of the dialogue, and at the end of the dialogue. This anchor chart  and the PowerPoint I created helped a lot with this goal.  

Students were given an opportunity to practice on this page before they tried to write dialogue independently in their writing pieces.  Feel free to download this FREEBIE!
Teaching students to write dialogue can be tricky. Use this quotation marks anchor chart and worksheet freebie to introduce the concept to your students!Teaching students to write dialogue can be tricky. Use this quotation marks anchor chart and worksheet freebie to introduce the concept to your students!

Feel free to take a look at any of the Dialogue materials I have created. The following bundle is available in my TpT store, or you can purchase most of the items individually:
Is it time to teach your students about how to write with quotation marks? Check out these helpful resources!

After these minilessons, our third graders were ready to tackle using quotation marks in their writing. And tackle it, they did! It was so rewarding to read their personal narratives and see them using quotation marks and tags (without the word "said") correctly!

UPDATE: I recently wrote a related blog post for my collaborative blog, Upper Elementary Snapshots. Click HERE to check it out!

Save for future reference:
Teaching students to write dialogue can be tricky. Use this quotation marks anchor chart and worksheet freebie to introduce the concept to your students!


Guided Reading Lesson Plans... Two More FREEBIES!

A couple of Fridays ago, I posted a set of Because of Winn-Dixie lesson plans I had written (go here to read that post and download the plans), and I asked readers to comment if they thought they might be able to use more lesson plans like this.  A few people responded that they would like to see more!  So this week, I am posting a couple more.  They aren't fancy- they are simply real-teaching Word-document lesson plans that I wrote for my students.  They will likely need to be tweaked to meet the needs of your students and your school district's expectations, but at least they might give you a starting point in terms of questions and vocabulary words to highlight for each chapter!  Feel free to download them if you can use them!

This week I chose an upper level book and a lower level book.  The The Get Rich Quick Club  is a fun, quick read by Dan Gutman.  According to the Scholastic website, it is a Level U book.  I read this multiple times with fourth and fifth grade groups, and I enjoyed it every time!  It was a quick read (128 pages) and the chapters are short, which is a treat for students at this reading level- most U books are quite long!  If your reading teachers are looking for upper level books to order for your school, I highly recommend this one! (Amazon affiliate links follow.)
Click HERE to read a summary.
FREE guided reading lesson plans written for the book The Get Rich Quick Club!
Clip art by Graphics Factory.
Click HERE for the WORD version.
Click HERE for the PDF version.

The other lesson plans I am posting are for the book I, Amber Brown by Paula Danzinger.  According to Scholastic, this book is a Guided Reading Level N book.  I read this last year with a fifth grade ELL student whom I worked with 1-on-1.  My plans were written for us to read 1 chapter a day.  If you are reading this book with a typical reading group, you might be able to progress through the book more quickly, but I had to spend a fairly significant amount of time discussing cultural things in the book, introducing vocabulary, and checking for understanding.
Click HERE to read a summary.
FREE guided reading lesson plans written for the book I, Amber Brown!
Clip art by From the Pond.
Click HERE for the WORD version.
Click HERE for the PDF version.
Feel free to ask about a particular book title in the comments section or email me.  (If you think you might be a no reply blogger, either check back to see my reply or provide your email address.)  I know it's probably a long shot that I have the plans you need, but if I do have lesson plans written for that particular book, I would be happy to send them to you!  Like I said in my previous post, these plans are just sitting on my computer "gathering dust"!  

(If you'd like to see the other free guided reading lesson plans I have available, click on the links below.)
Shiloh (Level R)
Flat Stanley (Level M)

Tracking Progress on Writing

I am a member of three PLC teams at my school.  I am assigned to work with our school's third grade team, fourth grade team, and our ESL team.  (Yes, I am often seen running between meetings!  Okay... maybe not running...)  In past years, I have supported the grade level teams as they work toward their grade level goals.  This year, however, was the first year that our ESL team had to write our own goal in the area of writing.  (I wrote more about this earlier in May in another post.)

Last August, we were a little perplexed on how exactly we should tackle this project!  After all, the grade level teams had goals in the areas of reading and math... it had been YEARS since any of us had worked with a writing goal.

It's May now (see ***** NOTE below!), and I am happy to report that we figured it out!  I have to give Penny, my coworker who works with kindergarten and first grade ELLs credit for our tracking form.  She devised a really creative way to track the students' writing progress through the year.  I thought I'd share it in case any of you could borrow the idea for your own data tracking next year!

We used those colored circle stickers to track our students' progress in the quarterly assessments!  Take Carlos for example- the student who probably made the most progress this year... on his pretest assessment in August he scored a Level 1 (he didn't understand the directions and wrote in Spanish- I wasn't too concerned since it was a pretest).  Do you see his name on a red dot? On the assessment at the end of the first quarter (blue), he jumped all the way to a 5!  His second quarter assessment he got a bit off-topic and slipped down to a score of 3 (green).  At the end of the third quarter, he scored a 7 (pink).  Finally, at the end of the year, he scored a 9 on his final third grade writing assessment (yellow).  (He exited ESL, by the way.)

Ideas on tracking writing progress throughout the school year on quarterly writing assessments.
This is my third grade tracking form.  I was tracking the progress of seven students.  You will notice the color code at the top of the paper indicates which quarterly assessment score each color represents.  Red was for first quarter timed writing results, blue indicated second quarter results, etc.

As you can see, my students were all at Level 1, 2, or 3 in August, as indicated by the red dots.  However, check out those yellow dots!  Yellow indicates their scores on the final writing assessment!  Look at that growth!  The dots show other interesting things, too.  You can probably imagine how worried I was at the end of the semester when Maria was still performing at Level 1.  However, she showed some progress in the second semester.

Ideas on tracking writing progress throughout the school year on quarterly writing assessments.
There were many more first grade ELL students to track, so we used smaller dot stickers for the first grade sheet.  However, we also used  larger dots (like the dots on the third grade sheet), and split the students and have a chart for each first grade classroom that shows individual progress.
These pages went into our data wall binder (a requirement in our distict).

Each student had an individual folder, as well, where we kept their assessments.  This photo shows Carlos' August and May assessments side-by-side.  (If you open these pages at the middle, you would see his three middle-of-the-year assessments.)
Ideas on tracking writing progress throughout the school year on quarterly writing assessments.

The front cover of the folder displayed a graph that showed the student's progress.
Ideas on tracking writing progress throughout the school year on quarterly writing assessments.




Educational Candy?!?!

There is one type of candy that I never mind giving to my students... Laffy Taffy!  
After all, it is educational!
Yep, you read that correctly.  I consider Laffy Taffy to be educational.
Well, maybe they are not educational for every student, but for my ELL's they certainly are!

What makes them educational?
First of all, reading the joke is great fluency practice!  Whenever I give a student a Laffy Taffy, I ask him or her to read the jokes to me before he/she opens it.  If the student is not reading his  question with the correct intonation, I can help him with this.  

Secondly, the jokes are almost always formed around multiple meaning words.  I have found that my ELLs often don't "get" the jokes because they don't understand the play on words and/or the multiple meanings involved.  Take this one for instance:

Question:  Why did the mother move her kittens?
Answer: She didn't want to litter. 
 When a student read this to me, I asked her if she understood the joke.  She admitted that she did not.  I explained that litter is a multiple meaning word.  It can mean "to discard trash on the ground instead of in a trash can".  But it can also describe a group of baby kittens.





This one has two examples of jokes where understanding the multiple meanings of words is necessary to fully comprehending the joke.

Q:  How do you get the water in a watermelon?
A:  Plant it in the spring.  

Q:  Why was the boy covered in gift wrap?
A:  His mom told  him to live in the "present".



Sometimes the jokes on the candy wrappers include idioms, like this one:
Q:Which president was the biggest ham?
A: Abraham (Lincoln of course)
When students have no prior knowledge of the idiom "to ham it up", this joke seems downright strange!  (How can a president be a ham?!?)


My students loved these impromptu candy lessons! There's nothing like a little dose of sugar to sweeten up a multiple meaning word lesson!

Click HERE to enter!
Oh, one more thing!  There are just a few more hours for you to enter my CELEBRATION GIVEAWAY!  You can enter until 11:59 PM CST tonight... I will be
picking a winners and contacting them tomorrow morning!  I would be overjoyed to reach 1000 entries... can you help me meet my goal?

Don't forget to download the flash freebie, my Text Connections Craftivity,  while you are there.  It will become a paid product again on Wednesday morning.

Context Clues Anchor Chart (FREEBIE included!)

I have always enjoyed teaching context clues.  I believe it is vitally important for all students to be able to use context clues to determine the definition of an unknown word.  As an ELL teacher, I spent a great deal of time over the years helping my English language learners develop this skill.  It can be difficult for them, especially when there are multiple words in a sentence that are unfamiliar to them. A few years ago, I started to use the "detective" analogy, and I found that they benefit from this concrete image.  I often tell my students to "get out your magnifying glasses and look for clues in the sentence to help you solve the mystery" of the given word.

I have also found that students are far more successful when I have taught them the five types of clues: definition, synonym (restatement), antonym (contrast), example, and inference clues. Therefore, this anchor chart is a staple in my classroom. 
This context clues anchor chart is a staple in my classroom!  A FREE context clues exit ticket is also included in this blog post!
Clip art by A Sketchy Guy.

We refer to this anchor chart often as we encounter unfamiliar words. After labeling the types of context clues given in numerous sentences, they seem to have a better understanding of how to use this skill when they are reading independently. They know some strategies and clues to look for.          

I created an exit slip FREEBIE for you.  Please download it if you think you will be able to use it with your students!

This context clues exit ticket is FREE! Being able to use context clues is an essential skill for students!  A context clues anchor chart is also included in this blog post!

If you are interested, I have a number of resources in my TPT store that I use when teaching students to identify context clues. You can purchase these items individually, or within the large bundle.
Context Clues Activities! Multiple activities created for the upper elementary classroom!

Context Clues Craftivity: 2 versions for differentiation!
This context clues craftivity is a favorite among my students!
This context clues anchor chart is a staple in my classroom!  A FREE context clues exit ticket is also included in this blog post!

Pin this context clues post for future reference:
This context clues anchor chart is a staple in my classroom!  A FREE context clues exit ticket is also included in this blog post!