Relative Pronouns & Adjective Clauses Anchor Chart

Relative pronouns... I have to admit, I had to look it up.  Unless you are a fourth grade teacher who lives in a state that has adopted the Common Core standards, chances are decent that you might have to refresh your memory on its definition, too.  (I asked some of my Nebraska teacher friends- Nebraska has not yet adopted Common Core- and none of them knew what a relative pronoun was off the top of their head.)  As you can see by the anchor chart below, relative pronouns are fairly simple to identify in sentences.  However, they are a bit trickier to write.  First of all, there's that pesky "who vs. whom" issue.  In some respects, the "that vs. which" issue is even more muddled.  Second, sometimes you use commas before and after their adjective clauses, and sometimes you do not.
Relative Adverbs Anchor Chart

 I would use this anchor chart to introduce relative pronouns to students.  It is pretty simple.  As you can see below, I have students help identify the relative pronoun, the entire adjective clause, and the noun that is being modified.  It is important to have students identify the entire adjective clause because that will later help them determine whether they need to use commas before and after the clause.

Relative Adverbs Anchor Chart

If you are looking for additional resources that focus on relative pronouns, feel free to check out my store.

Relative Adverbs Anchor Chart
Click on the following words to check out the products at my store:  PowerPoint, Craftivity, Memory Game, Task Cards, and BUNDLE.

Have a great week!

Word Choice: Using a Thesaurus to Revise!

It was Diego's turn for a writing conference, so I called him over to my table.  Even from a distance, I could tell that the third grader took his revising job seriously, because there were red marks all over his paper.  After a brief discussion, I started reading his personal narrative.  In the first paragraph, he had originally written, "I'll never forget the first time I made a goal during a soccer game."  However, a line had been drawn through the word made, and created was written over the top, so that it now read "I'll never forget the first time I created a goal during a soccer game."

I asked Diego what made him choose to replace the word made with created, even though I already knew the answer.  He confirmed my suspicions... he had consulted a thesaurus and found this much-more interesting word!

Has this ever happened to you?  As a coteaching-during-writing ESL teacher, the scene described above played out for me repeatedly.  Last spring, I finally put together a few minilessons to address this topic. I actually started with an anchor chart like this:
Word Choice Anchor Chart- Teach your students the correct way to use a thesaurus by showing them certain words listed in the thesaurus might not fit in a particular sentence!
Clip art by Krista Wallden.

We began by talking about how important it is to use COLORFUL words when writing, and how a thesaurus helps us to reach that writing goal.  That being said, you also have to PROCEED WITH CAUTION when using the thesaurus; you have to use it carefully in order for your writing to make sense.  

First, I explained that you CANNOT use a "cross-out-and-plunk-in" strategy, where you cross out a boring word and then plunk in a randomly-picked-word that is listed as a synonym in the thesaurus.  I then pointed to the anchor chart to provide examples:  Would it make sense to replace the word look with the word watch in the first sentence?  NO!  Therefore, we have to carefully read through our options, one-by-one inserting each listed synonym into the sentence, and then determining which one best fits our exact meaning for this particular sentence.

From there, my students concluded that examined was the best option for this first sentence, because when you use a magnifying glass, you are usually working slowly and carefully, really studying the object, and examined seemed like the best word to reflect that mental picture.  This first example also models a time when the sentence needs to be reworded slightly to sound right.  In this case, we had to delete "at" in order for it to make sense.

We continued working through the anchor chart, 
until it looked like this:
Word Choice Anchor Chart- Teach your students the correct way to use a thesaurus by showing them certain words listed in the thesaurus might not fit in a particular sentence!

My students use of a thesaurus was much more "controlled" following this minilesson.  :) 

Feel free to check out the other related activities I created, all available in my TpT store. 
Word Choice PowerPoint- Use this PowerPoint to teach your students about the importance of choosing exact, interesting words in their writing!
40-slide Word Choice PowerPoint
Word Choice writing activity for the upper elementary classroom! Students complete a worksheet that includes sentences with dull words. Students must revise the sentences, replacing the underlined words with interesting words. After students finish the worksheet, they assemble the craftivity. Makes a great language arts bulletin board!

Word Choice Task Cards

Have a great week!

FREE Guided Reading Lesson Plans... Shiloh

Shiloh... have you ever read this book in your upper elementary classroom?  I have never had a pet dog, (and with my allergies, I probably never will have one), but I absolutely love this book!  I've read it with multiple 4th and 5th grade groups, and I can attest that students generally love this book, too!  I enjoy reading this book with students for two main reasons. First, it is rewarding to see them get emotionally attached to the main character, Marty, and his dog, Shiloh.  Second, this book is part of a trilogy.  When we finish the book, I immediately show students the sequel, Shiloh Season, and the conclusion, Saving Shiloh, and students start begging to get to be the first person to read them (always a rewarding moment as a teacher!!)

Occasionally, I upload guided reading lesson plans I used during my tenure as an upper elementary reading teacher to my blog.  Today is another one of those days!  These plans aren't fancy- they are simply real-teaching Word-document lesson plans that I wrote back before I knew TeachersPayTeachers existed!  They will likely need to be tweaked to meet the needs of your students and your school district's expectations, but they hopefully will at least 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!

According to the Scholastic website, Shiloh is a Level R book with a Lexile Level of 890.  As you can see from the cover, it is a Newbery award winner (1992). (Amazon affiliate link follows.)

Click HERE for the PDF version. Click HERE for the Word version.

(If you'd like to see the other free guided reading lesson plans I have available, click on the links below.)
Flat Stanley (Level M)
I, Amber Brown (Level N)
Chocolate Covered Ants (Level Q)

Conjunction Anchor Chart

Conjunctions... not the most riveting of topics we cover in school. Plus, it can be tricky for students to know whether or not a comma needs to be placed with the conjunction in the sentence.  However, those opinions probably make the anchor chart even more useful!

Conjunctions Anchor Chart- compare and contrast coordinating and subordinating conjunctions with this conjunctions anchor chart! Plus, a free interactive notebook entry is included!

In my opinion, some sort of graphic organizer or flow chart is a must when introducing this concept to students. Recently, I made this interactive notebook entry that I believe will work well. When it is complete, it includes similar information to what is on this anchor chart, but since it is mainly created by the student, it hopefully will aid in retention.


After students finish their interactive notebook entry, I give them an opportunity to use it while writing sentences with a partner. I place two simple sentences under the document camera, and give them a couple of minutes to combine the two sentences into one complete, correctly punctuated sentence. Sometimes there are multiple ways to combine the sentences, and partners enjoy seeing how many different versions they can write before their time is up. They also enjoy sharing their sentences with the whole group.

If you are looking for additional conjunction resources, feel free to check out my store.

Have a great week!

FREE Partner Play script!

Have you ever tried to create something for your classroom that didn't quite turn out as you had hoped it would? That's exactly what happened to me on Monday.

Several months ago, a teacher contacted me and asked me to consider writing partner plays for middle school students.  I thought it was a wonderful idea, as I really enjoyed writing my partner plays for students in grades 2-5!  

On Monday morning, I finally gave it a whirl.... and it flopped.  I wrote a script, adding more advanced vocabulary words, and then tested it on one of the free readability websites.  I was disappointed when the readability score was around a late fourth grade level.  I revised it multiple times, and the highest I could get the readability level to was an early fifth grade level. I ultimately concluded that if I wanted to raise it to a middle school reading level, I was going to have to use more complex sentence structures- more academic-sounding (and less conversational).  This is the point where I decided to abandon the project, and admit to myself that writing middle school level partner plays was not going to pan out for me.  :)

However, I still had a perfectly usable partner play staring at me from my computer laptop.  Rather than toss it into the recycling bin, I decided to make it a freebie for those of you who might want to try out a partner play with your students.  Since it has some advanced vocabulary words (enervated, hassock, etc.), I decided to add a context clue worksheet to accompany the partner play. Feel free to download it and use it with your students!  It includes a 2-page script and a context clues worksheet!
Try out this FREE partner play script that includes a bonus context clues worksheet! Partner plays are excellent fluency-building reading activities that students love!

I have over 60 sets of partner plays in my store, some for grades 2-3, and some designed for students in grades 4-5.  If you like this set, download my other free scripts, and check out my other partner play sets!
Partner Play BUNDLE! Partner plays are excellent fluency-building reading activities that students love!

Partner Play BUNDLE! Partner plays are excellent fluency-building reading activities that students love!

Partner Play BUNDLE! Partner plays are excellent fluency-building reading activities that students love!

Partner Play BUNDLE! Partner plays are excellent fluency-building reading activities that students love!