Teaching about Author's Perspective

Hello! Welcome to our mentor text link up! The book I chose to feature this time is A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech. I have found that this book is an ideal mentor text to use when teaching students about identifying the author's perspective. Full disclosure: this blog post contains affiliate links. :)


A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!

A quick summary: Tillie enjoys school, but she also enjoys being a kid. One day, the principal at Tillie's school, Mr. Keene, decides that the teachers and students at his school are doing so well, that he wants them to have school on weekends. The teachers and students didn't want to go school on the weekend, but no one knew how to tell Mr. Keene that. Mr. Keene is so proud of his school, that he decides to have school on holidays, too. A few months later, he cancels summer break. Finally, Tillie speaks up. She explains to Mr. Keene that although the kids are learning a lot, there are also many learning opportunities that have to be missed, like learning how to climb trees. Mr. Keene realizes that Tillie is right, and he changes the schedule back to the normal Monday-through-Friday schedule. The teachers and children are ecstatic! 

I LOVE THIS BOOK for so many reasons!! First, the author finds a subtle way to express her views on the current state of our educational system, with its overabundance of testing and procedures that are not in the best interest of our students. Along with that, the illustrations by Harry Bliss are fun to look at, but also quite profound. He further emphasizes the author's viewpoint with his illustrations. When I read this book with students, we have fun looking at the details in each illustration.
A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!
Notice the banner that is hanging in the lunchroom that reads "WHY NOT STUDY WHILE YOU CHEW?"!

A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!
The sticky notes on Tillie's suitcase say "HUGE TEST SUNDAY", "MASSIVE TEST SATURDAY", and "THE LARGEST TEST IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE NEXT WEEK!"

A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!
Notice the details in this illustration! The girl is putting a 10,000 count box of pencils in her locker! On the other side, a girl is carrying a backpack with a WIDE LOAD sign.

BEFORE READING

I'll begin this lesson with an anchor chart that explains author's perspective. (I will also take a moment to explain that some people also refer to this as author's point of view.)


Author's Perspective Anchor Chart- this blog post includes a mentor text activity plus a FREE followup independent practice worksheet!

After reviewing the information on the anchor chart, I'll tell my students that I am going to read aloud a book today, and I want them to try to figure out a belief of the author that is evident in this book. I'll show the cover to my students, and ask if anyone would care to share a prediction about the author's perspective, just based on the title and the cover illustration.

AFTER READING

After enjoying the book, we will use discuss each quadrant on the anchor chart. For example, we'll talk about the problem/conflict in A Fine, Fine School, and discuss how it helped us determine the author's beliefs about school. I'll record notes of our discussion on a sticky note, and add it to the anchor chart. After discussing each quadrant, we will ultimately determine that the author of the book believes that today's schools aren't as student-centered as they should be. Rather, most schools are test-centered... administrators are focused on making policies that will allow kids to test well. It's evident that the author believes administrators and policy-makers need to take a step back and realize that a lot of important learning happens outside of schools, too.

After this guided discussion, you can use the following worksheet as independent practice to determine which of your students can identify the author's perspective without your help, and which students need additional small group instruction. Just click on the image below to download the FREE worksheet!


FREE Author's Perspective (Point of View) worksheet! Determine whether your students can identify an author's perspective!

Also, if you are looking for additional resources that focus on the ability to identify the author's perspective, feel free to check out my PowerPoint and worksheet packet!
Perspective PowerPoint for intermediate level students! Includes many practice passages!


Author's Perspective Worksheet Packet- includes 6 practice worksheets!



Thanks for stopping by! Before you leave, be sure to enter the giveaway. One lucky winner will receive all of the books shared in this linkup!! By the way, MY MYSTERY WORD IS SPRING.


Also, be sure to hop around to my friends' blogs and check out the other books shared in this linkup!



A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!
 


Five FREE Idioms Activities

I've always love teaching kids about idioms... the majority of English speakers use them so often in conversational language, we often don't even realize we are using them! When we study them in school with our students, though, we take a good look at their literal AND figurative meanings, and we realize how entertaining these language features truly are.

When I took my ESL endorsement classes the summer after I began my teaching career, I remember thinking about how perplexing idioms must be to our English Language Learners. However, when I got a chance to teach idioms to my ELLs the following school year, I found that they enjoy learning about idioms just as much as native English speakers do. They just may need more repetition and practice opportunities before they memorize the meanings of the countless idioms in the English language.

Since repetition is key, I decided to compile a list of idiom activities you can use with your students!

1. Post an anchor chart in your classroom.

Write the idioms on the anchor chart before class begins. Then, enlist the help of your students by asking them to help you figure out the meaning of each idiom during class.
Idioms Anchor Chart- This blog post features Five FREE Idiom Activities!
This fun clip art  by Monster Wrangler Mike is available on TpT. Just click HERE to check it out.

2. Go through this {free} PowerPoint with your students.

FREE Idioms PowerPoint and companion handout when you sign up for my newsletter. 44-slide PowerPoint with many multiple choice practice questions!

This PowerPoint contains many direct teaching slides and multiple choice practice slides, like the ones below.
FREE Idioms PowerPoint and companion handout when you sign up for my newsletter. 44-slide PowerPoint with many multiple choice practice questions!

FREE Idioms PowerPoint and companion handout when you sign up for my newsletter. 44-slide PowerPoint with many multiple choice practice questions!

I also teach my students to use context clues to determine the meaning of unknown idioms. Therefore, I included some of these practice slides, as well.
FREE Idioms PowerPoint and companion handout when you sign up for my newsletter. 44-slide PowerPoint with many multiple choice practice questions!

To access this free PowerPoint, just sign up for my newsletter, and this will be sent to you automatically. (There is a sign-up form directly above my photograph in the righthand corner of my blog.)

3.  Download this {free} "I Have, Who Has?" idiom game.

I found this free resource in Cassie Dahl's store! How awesome, huh? Cheers erupt any time I bring out one of these games, and this one looks super fun!
Free I Have Who Has Game... featuring idioms!

4.  Download this {free} set of idiom task cards.

I found this resource in the store of The Teacher Next Door.  32 idiom task cards are included!
Free School Idioms Task Cards


5.  Make a class idiom book!

Students seem to LOVE illustrating idioms because they are so zany! Your students will likely enjoy creating this class idiom book by Nicole from Learning Lab! (It includes a list of 50 idioms!) Plus, then it is complete, this will become a cherished addition to your classroom library.
Make a class Idioms Book!

My favorite idiom activity- Concentration!

Finally, I'd like to share my all-time favorite idiom activity! My students have always LOVED this game! After printing out the cards and cutting them apart, we turn them over and play Concentration. I am very purposeful when I play this game with students. When it is a student's turn, he turns over ONLY ONE CARD to begin. If he turns over a picture card, he reads the short passage aloud, identifies the idiom within the sentence, and guesses the meaning. If he flips the words-only card, he reads it aloud, and tries to recall an idiom that matches the definition. AFTER the student has completed that crucial step, he can turn over his second card, and determine if he has a match. 
Idioms Concentration-featuring 17 common idioms!

If you do some of these fun, engaging activities with your students, idioms will be a PIECE OF CAKE before you know it!

Homophones Anchor Chart & Freebie!

By the time students reach the upper elementary grades, they often have a solid understanding of how homophones work. They might not be able to recite a quick definition, but hey, I have to pause for a moment whenever I hear the word homophone, too. Homophones, homographs, homonyms...you can certainly understand why these words are easily confused!

However, once you remind upper elementary students that homophones are words with the same pronunciations (or sounds), but different meanings and spellings, they can generally rattle off a string of them. That's why I approach this lesson a little differently than I approach most other lessons where I use an anchor chart.

Prior to the beginning of class, I create this "base". As you can see, I review the definition for homophone by relating it to our prior knowledge of the Greek roots homo, which means "same", and phon, which means "sound".
Homophone anchor chart for upper elementary students! Students write the other spelling of the homophone on the FREE handout linked to this blog post!
After a brief review, I tell students that I designed a challenge for them. I purposely chose a handful of somewhat-challenging homophones to include on this anchor chart. I will give them three minutes to see how many "homophone partners" they can list on their handout. (Click on the image below to download this for free!) For example, what is another way that you can spell "sell", that means something different than "sell"?
FREE Homophone handout! Students record the other spelling for each homophone on the line beside each word.
Once the three minutes have passed, I invite students to compare their lists with a partner and discuss their answers. I enjoy walking around the room and listening in on student discussions. I often hear students using the words in sentences and discussing the spellings of words.

After a few minutes, I ask random students to share their answers with me, and I record the words on the anchor chart. With each listed pair, I ask students to provide example sentences where each particular spelling would be used.
Homophone anchor chart for upper elementary students! Students write the other spelling of the homophone on the FREE handout linked to this blog post!

My favorite follow-up activity to this lesson is my homophone craftivity! As you can see, students are given text message screens where certain words are underlined. They must write a sentence on the other screen that uses the homophone's alternate spelling.
Homophone Craftivity!  Students use homophones in the context of a sentence to differentiate their meanings! Two versions- easier and more challenging!

Students glue their message screens to their phones in order so that when both screens are gently pulled back, you will see a new pair of homophones used in appropriate sentences.

Homophone Craftivity!  Students use homophones in the context of a sentence to differentiate their meanings! Two versions- easier and more challenging!

This craftivity includes a basic version and a more challenging version so that it can be used with multiple grade levels, or differentiated for students within one classroom. If you're interested in taking a closer look at it, click on one of the photos above to view this resource in my TpT store!

Read Alouds for Black History Month (with free printables!)

In the United States, February is Black History Month. This month is dedicated to educating Americans about the countless contributions African Americans have made to our country, as well as remembering the obstacles they've had to overcome throughout American history.

My favorite way to celebrate Black History Month in the classroom is to present read alouds. There are so many excellent picture books that would be perfect to read during February... I'm going to share two with you today. (This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links.)

Two incredible books that highlight important aspects of African American history. This blog post also contains a FREE printable that can be used as a follow-up activity for each book! Great for Black History Month or for any time of the year!


SIT-IN: HOW FOUR FRIENDS STOOD UP BY SITTING DOWN

A fabulous book about a student-led protest that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. This blog post contains a FREE follow-up writing activity, too!

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down is written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, and is illustrated by her husband, Brian Pinkney. It tells the story of the four young college students who, after hearing Dr. King's messsage, took a seat at the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. They ignored the restaurants segregation policy, and refused to leave until they were served. The book goes on to explain how word of the sit-in spread like wildfire, and soon there were sit-in protests happening across the country during 1960.

The author of this book uses a beautiful poetic voice. I like how some of the most important messages of the Civil Rights Movements are written in bold to really stand out.
Sit-In is a fabulous book about a key student-led protest that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. This blog post contains a FREE follow-up writing activity, too!

I created a simple follow-up writing activity that highlights a few of those quotes that are written in bold. Click HERE to download the writing worksheet.

Sit-In is a fabulous book about a key student-led protest that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. This blog post contains a FREE follow-up writing activity, too!


Also, I found this 4-minute video clip that summarizes how non-violence was key to the Civil Rights Movement. I suggest showing this video before reading the book to provide background knowledge.
Cut and paste this link to access a sharp image: http://www.voanews.com/a/nonviolencekey-to-civil-rights-movement/1737280.html

THE SECRET TO FREEDOM

This is a fabulous book that tells about how quilts were used to guide escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad. What a great read-aloud for Black History Month or any time of the year! This blog post contains a FREE test prep activity that accompanies this book.

The Secret to Freedom is by Marcia Vaughan. Although it is historical fiction, it is written like a personal narrative. The book is written in first-person as the narrator recalls visiting her great-aunt Lucy when she was 10 years old. The young girl asks her great-aunt Lucy about the quilt scrap hanging from the kitchen wall. That's when Great-aunt Lucy tells her story of growing up as a slave on a plantation in South Carolina right before the Civil War.

It's a heart-wrenching story, as she tells of how Lucy's parents were sold to a far-away plantation, and how her brother is tied to a tree and whipped for no good reason. It's also an inspiring story, however, as Lucy tells of how Albert arrives home one day with a sack of quilts. The quilts are sewn in such a way that they contain a secret code, as each pattern gives important information to slaves planning to escape along the Underground Railroad. Lucy hangs certain quilts on certain days, and the plantation owners have no idea what is happening on their property.

The ending of this story is very touching, and it reinforces the unyielding strength of family bonds. In fact, if I were reading this book to upper elementary students, I would definitely take a moment to determine the theme of the book after finishing the story.

I truly love the book itself, so when I found the Author's Note, it was an added bonus! The author's note gives additional details about how the quilts were used to convey messages to the passengers of the Underground Railroad.
The Secret to Freedom is a fabulous book that tells about how quilts were used to guide escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad. What a great read-aloud for Black History Month or any time of the year! This blog post contains a FREE test prep activity that accompanies the Author's Note at the end of the book.

The Secret to Freedom is a fabulous book that tells about how quilts were used to guide escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad. What a great read-aloud for Black History Month or any time of the year! This blog post contains a FREE test prep activity that accompanies the Author's Note at the end of the book.
The back cover provides illustrations that match the quilt patterns described in the Author's Note.


USING THIS BOOK AS A TEST PREP ACTIVITY

This blog post contains a test prep activity that can be used with the read-aloud book The Secret to Freedom. Use the author's note to model an excellent test-taking strategy!

In the school districts near me, teachers are preparing to take standardized test in late February or in March. When I read the author's note, I decided that it would provide a perfect ELA test-prep activity in which a teacher could model the best way to approach a reading passage on a test.

In the school district where I most recently taught, we instructed students that a good test taking strategy is to read the question stems first, highlighting the important words in the stem. This allows students to "read with purpose" because they know what information they should be looking for as they read. After reading through the question stems and determining the important words, our paper looks like this:

FREE TEST PREP PRINTABLE! This blog post contains a test prep activity that can be used with the read-aloud book The Secret to Freedom. Use the author's note to model an excellent test-taking strategy!
Click on this image to download this free test prep printable!


The next step is reading the passage, of course. For this modeling activity, I would think-aloud as I read aloud. For example, when I reached the section about the log cabin, I would say something like "Hey! I remember highlighting "log cabin" when I was reading the question stems. I'm going to highlight it here on the passage so I can refer to it easily when I am answering the questions.

After reading the entire passage, I would return to the questions and answer each one. I would also model how I would return to the text to justify each of my answers.

Would you like an opportunity to win these two books? Just enter the Rafflecopter! I will ship the book to the winner of each giveaway!



Finally, if you are looking for additional activities to recognize and celebrate Black History Month in your classroom, feel free to check out my partner plays! This set includes SIX scripts featuring the accomplishments of Frederick Douglass, Hank Aaron, Elijah McCoy, Ruby Bridges, Thurgood Marshall, Althea Gibson, and Jesse Owens. Click on the image to check them out!
Black History Month Partner Plays for upper elementary classrooms! Great for building fluency and recognizing the contributions of African Americans throughout history!


Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas: A Winter Mentor Text Lesson (FREE!)

Hello! Welcome to our winter mentor text link up! The book I chose to feature this time is Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim. This book, just published in 2015, is a fun spin-off of the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Since this book is set during Chinese New Year, late January through February is a perfect time of year to share this book with your students. Full disclosure: this blog post contains affiliate links. :)
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas- Mentor Text for comparing and contrasting! Includes three FREE printables!



A quick summary:
 Goldy Luck's mom hands her a plate of turnip cakes and tells her to take them to her neighbors, the Chans
. When no one answers the door, Goldy gives the door a little push, and tumbles inside, dropping her turnip cakes everywhere. When she wanders into the kitchen to find a broom, she spies three steaming bowls of congee. I'm sure you know where it goes from here... she also ends up in the living room, where she breaks Little Chan's rocking chair, and ultimately ends up in Little Chan's bed, fast asleep. When the panda family arrives home, they see that their house is in disarray, and they find Goldy asleep in Little Chan's bed. Goldy wakes up and runs from the house. BUT... it doesn't stop there. Goldy begins to feel guilty and returns to the Chans' apartment, where she apologizes and helps to clean up the mess she made. The story ends with Goldy and Little Chan making a new batch of turnip cakes, and Goldy being given a red envelope (which is a traditional Chinese New Year custom).

I LOVE THIS BOOK for so many reasons!! First, the author weaves countless Chinese New Year customs and traditions into this story. Second, it's soooooooo fun to read! Check out this line: "She plunked down on Mr. Chan's massage chair. Something hard steamrollered up and down her back. 'Ouch!' she cried, springing to her feet. 'Too rough.' "  Third, I appreciate how the author creates an alternate ending to the traditional tale, and has Goldy return to take responsibility for her actions. Fourth, the illustrations by Grace Zong are terrific! Finally, this book includes some extras, like a page of facts about Chinese New Year and a turnip cake recipe.

BEFORE READING

To begin, I'll ask students to raise their hand if they have ever heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The majority of students will likely raise their hands, but there may be a few newly-arrived ELLs who are not familiar with the story. I'll instruct them to turn to a neighbor and work together to summarize the classic tale (and I'll remind them to use the summarizing fiction skills that we've learned earlier in the year)!

After allowing time for the partner discussion, I'll show my students Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, and explain that I will be reading this story, which is a spin-off of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. While I am reading, it will be their job to listen closely and notice similarities and differences between this Goldy Luck version and the original Goldilocks story.

AFTER READING

After enjoying the book, we will use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I also created three worksheets you can use with your students. (The images below show the answer key versions, but when you download the packet, you will find the printables your students can write on.)

On the first worksheet, students write two comparing sentences and three contrasting sentences based on the Venn diagram that we just created.
FREE Compare and Contrast Worksheet to accompany the mentor text, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas


On the second worksheet, students zoom in on the ending of Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas. They are asked to consider the author's purpose for changing it so significantly.
FREE Author Perspective Worksheet to accompany the mentor text, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas

On the third worksheet, students compile a list of ways that the author added bits of Chinese culture into the story. I plan to read the book aloud a second time (I doubt I'll hear any complaints!!), and have students create this list while they are listening to the story a second time.
FREE printables to accompany the book, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
To download these three worksheets, just click on any of the three worksheet images shown above.

Thanks for stopping by! Before you leave, be sure to enter the giveaway. One lucky winner will receive all of the books shared in this linkup!! By the way, MY MYSTERY WORD IS FROSTY.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to hop around to my friends' blogs and check out the other books shared in this linkup!