Anchors Away Monday: Common and Proper Nouns (freebie included!)

Hi everyone!  It's time for another installment of...

                                      If you missed last week's post, check it out HERE!

Have you recently created an anchor chart which has proven to be helpful to your students?  Do you plan to create one this week?  Please link up!

Here's the anchor chart I am sharing this week!
This is the anchor chart I created when we covered common and proper nouns.  It really seemed to help my students remember that most names need to be capitalized because they are proper nouns.

Would you like a set of those nametags to make your own anchor chart?  Get them here

Anchors Away Monday: Cause and Effect

Cause and effect... such a tricky concept for many students! One of the little teaching tricks I have learned over the years is to tell students to visualize the event.  For example, I tell my students to close their eyes and visualize the following sentence:

School was cancelled because of the blizzard.

After a moment, I tell my students to open their eyes and tell me to tell me what they saw in their mind. Then, I ask them what happened first... the blizzard or the decision to cancel school?

They agree that the blizzard happened first. After all, if the blizzard hadn't happened, there would be no reason to cancel school! Then I tell them that the event that happens first is the cause. The event that happens second is the effect.

Next, I ask students to visualize this sentence: Amy blew an enormous bubble with her gum, but it exploded and gum splattered all over her face. We have another discussion similar to the one described above. I then tell students that the images of blowing a bubble and gum splattered all over a child's face is what we are going to use to help us remember the difference between cause and effect. 

This is the cause and effect anchor chart I create for my students:
Cause and Effect Anchor Chart- If you have students who are struggling with cause and effect, check out this trick!

I used Krista Wallden's adorable bubble gum clip art  on my anchor chart to activate their prior knowledge... after all, what kid hasn't blown a bubble with their gum, and then had it explode on their face?  :)
Cause and Effect Anchor Chart

When I begin the lesson, my chart actually looks like this.  I refer to the second example and explain that a cause can have more than 1 effects (and I briefly mention that an effect can have multiple causes, as well.)  Finally, I have my students help me fill out the two empty squares at the bottom of the chart.

After introducing the concept of cause and effect with this anchor chart, my third grade students are eager to identify cause and effect with some guided and independent practice!
Cause and Effect PowerPoint: 53 slides with many practice opportunities!

Cause and Effect craftivity for the upper elementary classroom! This cause and effect activity becomes a great reading bulletin board when finished! It includes a cause and effect anchor chart!

Proficiency Scales... Anchors Away Monday!

Hi everyone!  It's time for the second installment of...

If you missed last week's linky, check it out HERE!

Here's the anchor chart I am sharing this week!    
Clip art by A Sketchy Guy.

I don't know about your school, but "proficiency scales" is THE catch phrase in my district this year. A ton of our professional development time has been focused on the topic of developing proficiency scales.

Let me provide a brief overview for those of you who may not have heard of this buzz word.  A proficiency scale is written to match to each essential standard.  (We wrote just our language arts proficiency scales this past year.  I worked with the third grade team, and I believe we ended up with about 15 scales that we will implement in the next school year.)

One of the essential language arts standards in our district is that students will use context clues to determine the meaning of a word.  In third grade, we focus on synonym and antonym clues.  Therefore, we had to develop a proficiency scale to match this essential standard.  The teacher scale is quite wordy and includes the following information (plus more).

Students at Level 0 have no understanding of the skill, even with help.

Students at Level 0.5 have partial understanding of the simpler skills (as outlined in Level 2) with help.

Students at Level 1 have some understanding of the simpler skills and some understanding of the more complex skills (as outlined in Level 3) with help.

Students at Level 1.5 have partial understanding of the simpler content, but major errors/omissions with the more complex content.

Students at Level 2 have no errors regarding simpler details (this is where the vocabulary that students need to know for this skill is listed), but they still have major errors and omissions with the more complex ideas and processes.  (In the case of context clues, a student might be at Level 2 when they can define synonyms and antonyms and give examples, but they cannot apply their synonym and antonym knowledge to determine the meaning of an unknown word in a sentence that includes a synonym or antonym clue.)

Students at Level 2.5 have no errors with 2.0 content, and partial knowledge with 3.0 content.

Students at Level 3.0 can:  (This is where the grade level expectation is listed.  For example, in the case of context clues, it might state "Students at this level can use synonyms and antonyms to determine the meaning of an unknown word in a sentence.  For example, My older brother is shy, but my younger brother is quite loquacious.")

Students at Level 3.5 can perform at a Level 3, and even go beyond expectations by demonstrating in-depth applications with partial success.

Students at Level 4 can perform at a Level 3, and go beyond expectations by demonstrating inferences and applications that go beyond what is taught.

Whew!  That's a lot!!  It's not very kid-friendly, either, is it?  In fact, it can sometimes seem a little muddy as a teacher to try to determine where on the scale each student lies!  To simplify, our goal is to have all students at a Level 3 by the end of the school year, but if they go beyond Level 3, that's "icing on the cake".  And, yes, students are assessed to determine where they fall on the proficiency scale, usually with some sort of common formative assessment.  (If you want to see completed proficiency scales, check out Marzano's proficiency scale bank!)

Anyway, back to my professional development last Tuesday, I found myself sitting and listening to yet another speaker share their vision of proficiency scales.  To my sweet surprise, I think this presentation was the most beneficial one yet!  Anyway, as the speaker was talking about various ways to introduce the concept of a proficiency scale to kids (we need them to buy into this system, after all), my brain started kicking into gear...  I soon had a vision of a kid-friendly version of a proficiency scale as an ANCHOR CHART!  My vision featured a hiker... and I just knew that the hiker clip art by The Sketchy Guy that I already owned would work perfectly!!  I couldn't wait to return to school after the session and get right to work on it!  (I knew that if I waited until the new school year begins in August, my idea would long be forgotten!!)  Anyway, I'm quite pleased by how it turned out!

I plan to introduce it to students at the beginning of the school year.  When we begin a new standard, I will ask students to rate where they currently are on the scale (and if they are at a 1, that is completely okay... they will soon start to climb up this learning mountain as they learn more about the skill).  As days pass and students learn more about the standard, we will revisit the anchor chart, and students can self- assess their progress.  I think it will be fun for students to see themselves progress on their learning journey!

I can't wait to check out your anchor charts!  Thanks for linking up!

Anchors Away Monday.... A Weekly Anchor Chart Linky

I have to confess... I have found that I am addicted to anchor charts.  I yearn to catch THIS moment...

A student gazes around the room in search of information he remembers we posted onto an anchor chart.  He scans the room diligently... until finally, he finds his target!  His eyes light up and fixate on an anchor chart.  He scans it, finds the detail he is looking for, and returns confidently to the task at hand.  

I love that moment because I know that the simple anchor chart has provided a student with a necessary scaffold.  It has empowered a student.  It has crafted a connection within a student's schema!  Teaching nirvana, I'd say! 

Whenever I see an eye-catching anchor chart on Pinterest, I pin it immediately, "pinspired" to try recreating it sometime in the future!  I have also spied quite a few anchor chart boards in the Pinterest accounts of many-a-teacher.   It appears to me that the majority of us love a good anchor chart! That's what inspired me to start up this Monday linky!!

First things my opinion, you do NOT need to be an amazing artist to create an effective anchor chart.  Maybe I have that opinion out of necessity; I do not consider myself to be much of an artist!   I would consider myself a "Pictionary artist":  I can draw simple objects, and my students can usually recognize what I have drawn.  (Or sometimes I bypass drawing entirely!  I just glue a colored piece of clip art to my anchor chart.)  Please do not let your artistic skills stop you from linking up!

Have you recently created an anchor chart which has proven to be helpful to your students?  Do you plan to create one this week?  Please link up!

As for my own anchor chart...
I was doing a lesson on probability with a group of third graders.  Many of the students I was working with were ELLs who just needed to learn the academic vocabulary associated with probability.  Here is the anchor chart I created for them:

I can't wait to check out your anchor charts!  Thanks for linking up!

Write On! A May Writing Activity!

Perhaps it was the cloudiness of April...
(Will spring ever come to Iowa?  I often wondered.)

Perhaps it was a longing for the end of the school year to arrive...

Whatever it was, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself inspired to create a fun, end-of-year writing craftivity!  Can I show you what I came up with?!    :)

I've co-taught in some fantastic classrooms this year...classrooms where students were often seen helping one another, collaborating, and simply being a great group of students.  I considered the fact that working together, those students accomplished so much over the course of the year...and did so in a great, supportive atmosphere!  It'll be bittersweet to say good-bye to those classes at the end of the year,  I thought.  Anyway, it was that thinking that eventually inspired this writing craftivity -
Together, We Soared Awards!

End of Year Awards! Your students will love giving AND receiving these creative awards! Each student creates a meaningful award for a classmate. This award becomes a cherished keepsake!

You're all familiar with the traditional end-of-year awards that we teachers bestow upon our students.  My intention is NOT to replace those awards (I love those!), but rather to supplement those teacher-given awards with awards that students give one another as well!  This resource includes a plan for having an award ceremony, with students presenting the awards they created to one another. It then takes it a step further with a followup "stopwatch" activity where the rest of the class enhances each award by writing compliments of their own for each student!

Update: My friend, Amy, wrote a blog post about doing this activity with her fourth graders at the end of the year last year (thanks, Amy!). Click on this link to read about how she organized this writing activity in her classroom, and to see her students' work!

Thanks for stopping by today! Have a GREAT conclusion to your school year!