Tricks and Treats: FREE downloads!

How is it possible that October is right around the corner?  And October means... Halloween!  At my house, my daughters have already compiled a list of "possible Halloween costumes".  The topic comes up from time to time throughout the year, but the conversation gets serious once October sets in!

Halloween is obviously on the minds of most of our students while they are at school, too.  So... why not channel this excitement into engaging learning opportunities? My fellow collaborators at Upper Elementary Snapshots and I have put together a "Tricks and Treats Ebook for Upper Elementary" where we each share a trick (a helpful teaching tip) and a treat (a FREE printable)!

My free printable is my Halloween Point of View worksheet. It contains four passages. Students read each passage and determine which point of view the author used- first person, second person, third person limited, or third person omniscient. Click on the image to download the ebook and access all eleven tricks and treats!

Ordering Adjectives... Who knew?

Which sentence is ordered correctly?
A.  We climbed into Dad's red, rusty, old pickup truck.
B.  We climbed into Dad's old, red, rusty pickup truck.
C.  We climbed into Dad's rusty, old, red pickup truck.

C is ordered correctly. It's obvious, right? To those of us who are native English speakers, it's the only one that "sounds" right.  To my ear, A and B just sound awkward and clunky.

I must confess, that's how I went about figuring out the order of adjectives for the first 30-some years of my life. I went with what sounded right.

Then, I met up with the Common Core State Standards...  CCSS ELA-Literacy.L.4.1.D to be precise. Order adjectives within sentences according to convention patterns (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag). Yep, it turns out that there are "rules" when it comes to ordering adjectives.  A quick trip to Pinterest filled me in on those rules, and I created an anchor chart based on what I found.

A few weeks ago, a friend emailed me and asked me if I would be willing to create some resources to match this fourth grade standard. I jumped at the opportunity. As an ESL teacher of 14 years, I believe this is an important language standard.  It struck me that I had been able to get along just fine for decades without knowing any specific "rules" regarding the placement of adjectives within sentences by just figuring out which option "sounded right". The ELLs in our classrooms, however, often aren't quite as lucky. Most of them simply do not have the advantage of being able to determine which option sounds "right", and which option sounds "clunky".

I set out to create a handful of engaging, student-friendly materials to address this standard.   As you can see, most of the materials I created are related to the idea of "sliding adjectives into sentences" in the correct order. Just click on the image if you want to take a closer look!

Clearly, I have no recollection at all of learning this when I was younger.  I'm curious... do you remember learning how to correctly insert adjectives into sentences when you were younger?

Don't let Constitution Day sneak up on you this year...

Please don't tell me that I am the only teacher that this happens to... I promise I'm not unpatriotic!  I truly appreciate the many rights and freedoms that I am granted as an American citizen - the freedom to worship my God openly... the right to vote in order to have my voice heard... the freedom to question and challenge my government should I choose to do so.  Still... Constitution Day sneaks up on me EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.  After scrambling at the last minute again last year, I decided that enough was enough.  I became bound and determined that I was not going to let that be my lot again this year!  My "cure" for this annual predicament?  I created a Constitution Day Readers' Theater Script this past summer and promptly placed it in my newly established Constitution Day file!  (A Constitution Day reminder set for September 17 went on my IPhone, too, of course!)

I consider it a "twofer" of sorts - two resources in one.  Very little planning or additional research is necessary, as the Readers' Theater already includes all of the information about the Constitution that you would otherwise need to share with your students.
I've also included a bonus activity to do besides simply reading the script.  I've designed the activity so that, before dividing out parts and reading the script, students complete a worksheet that's similar to an anticipation guide.  They read and then guess whether the Constitution-related statements given are true or false.
AFTER reading the script, students return to the worksheet and answer the same questions again.  I think they will enjoy seeing how much they learned!  I also, of course, like that it holds them accountable to pay attention while the script is being read.  Another bonus that I find in this kind of activity is that it gives us teachers a glimpse into our students' comprehension skills.

If you, too, want to get ahead of this important-but-often-overlooked-with-the-busy-pace-of-September holiday, I encourage you to check out the product HERE.  I do want to be very clear in stating that this is designed for the more "upper" end of upper elementary.  I encourage you to check out the preview that is included in the product overview to determine whether the readability is appropriate for your students.

I made a new resource for Constitution Day this year.  This one can be used with younger students, as well.  My Constitution Day PowerPoint contains 25 slides.  The first half  provides a  brief overview of how our founding fathers met to write a document that became an elaborate plan for the United States federal government.  The second half of the PowerPoint focuses on the 3 branches of government, each one's roles and responsibilities, and our system of "checks and balances" between the three branches.

As a follow-up to the PowerPoint, your students can assemble the craftivity.  Students begin by reading the statements on each leaf, and determining to which branch of government the statement refers.  After they have sorted their leaves, they color they follow the student-friendly directions to assemble the craftivity.

Finally, here's another option that I recently added to my store:
Constitution Day Partner Plays

If you are looking for a Constitution Day Activity, I hope you will find one of my activities to be useful in your classroom!

Putting the "Think" into Think-Pair-Share!

Do you use the Think-Pair-Share engagement strategy in your classroom?  After posing a question, you tell students to think of an answer, turn to a nearby partner (pair), and students share and compare their responses. For me, the hardest part of this strategy is providing the appropriate amount of think time. In an effort to keep kids on-task and the lesson moving, I know that I often do not provide enough think time, especially for my ELLs.
Recently, I was scanning a book (Amazon affiliate link follows) called Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner and was reminded of Quick Writes and Quick Draws! It was a light bulb moment for me... if I ask students to quickly write ideas or quickly draw an idea during their "think time", I would be more likely to give students the time they needed to process an answer to the question!  Here's a brief description of how each works along with an example:

Quick Writes
1.  The teacher poses a question or task.  How can weather affect our water and food supply? 

2.  Students are given a certain amount of time to jot down a response.  For the next three minutes, jot down your reflections on how weather can affect our water and food supply.  Most of the time, a list of phrases is fine with me.  In the book, the authors mention the option of writing a word bank of required words on the board (like "drought") so that students are required to interact with key vocabulary.

3.  When the 3 minutes have passed, instruct students to turn to a nearby classmate and share and compare their responses.

Quick Draws
I especially like to do these to review vocabulary words.

1.  The teacher poses a question or writes 1-3 vocabulary words on the board. reservoir, aqueduct, and drought

2.  Students are given a certain amount of time to draw or sketch something in a way that illustrates the meanings of the words.  Write these words in your notebook. For the next four minutes, draw quick sketches that illustrate the meanings of the words.

3.  When the 4 minutes have passed, instruct students to turn to a nearby classmate and share and compare their quick drawings.

Students generally enjoy these engaging activities... especially the Quick Draws.  An added benefit of using these strategies is that they can serve as a type of formative assessment or exit ticket!  You can monitor which students seem to be having difficulty with the task and/or which students show full understanding and which students show partial understanding.

Thanks for stopping by!  If you have time, head over to Upper Elementary Snapshots where I am blogging about a lesson I learned the hard way about teaching author's purpose to upper elementary students.  (It includes a couple freebies!)