Sunday, July 9, 2017

Social Studies the Write Way

I started teaching 7th Grade World Geography two years ago, and I absolutely love it! After several years of ELA, teaching social studies has been a refreshing change. I haven't completely abandoned my roots, though. Social studies is best taught through books and stories, so I'm on a mission to effectively combine the two for the good of my students.

This summer I'm working on opening a Teachers Pay Teachers store called Social Studies the Write Way. There's a lot to learn about how to prepare my products and put them in the store...and I mean a LOT to learn! It's an empty store at the moment, but I think I'll be ready of offer my first few products tomorrow. It's been an adventure so far, and I can't wait to see where this leads in the future. Hopefully it'll lead to more consistent blogging...but we'll see how that goes once school starts again!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Word Web

This is the first year I've felt like my class has really learned to use Greek and Latin roots and affixes...thanks to the Word Web idea that I stole from a colleague.

My students add a new entry in their Morphology Dictionaries (can be purchased on TPT from Ladybug Teacher Files) every day. Then we choose one or two words from the examples list to put on the web. My Word Web is a long dry-erase board with words written on construction paper and held up by homemade magnets (Dollar Tree adhesive photo magnet sheets covered with colorful card stock - cut into squares on a cutting board).

The kids got really excited about choosing words to add and drawing the connections with other words on the web, so I let them pretty much take over the operation. It wasn't until a class visitor took a picture of the web and put it on Twitter that I realized it had become more of a word jungle. I fixed the connections and added labels to some of them.

Each word is connected with a colored line according to the key in the corner of the board.

The best thing about this wall is the discussions the kids end up having about words. They see words in their self-selected books and come up to ask me if the word fits with the root we studied. One girl asked me the other day why we have this wall. Before I could answer, three of her friends jumped in and explained it perfectly. "If you know these word pieces," one friend said, "then you can figure out what big words mean and use them in your writing."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

"Fun" With Note-Taking

Taking notes is a necessary evil in school, but recording facts and ideas doesn't have to be all THAT bad. I tell my students that it can be "fun"...and then I define it as "school fun," which isn't the same as "Disney World fun." Here's how we do our Cornell notes:

Left Side - Record central idea, essential question, etc. Our focus statement is called SWBAT (Students Will Be Able To...). The rest of the space can be used for the thoughts and questions students have as they take notes.

Middle - Bulleted notes from the teacher or information source

Bottom - Summarize main point at the end

Friday, September 6, 2013

Internal and External Conflict

Whole class lesson and group practice:
I drew a stick figure on the whiteboard and started with an explanation of internal conflict. I had the kids meet with a group for 2 minutes to write internal conflicts on Post It notes and put them on the board. I read them out loud and wrote the ones that were correct INSIDE the t-shirt I drew for my stick figure. We repeated the process for external conflict, and I wrote the conflicts OUTSIDE the stick figure with arrows pointing to him. Students took notes on copies of stick figures (with clothes so we could show internal conflict).
There was a boy stick figure, too, but I didn't get a picture.
Independent practice:
We just finished a story about a girl with a several internal and external conflicts. I had the kids draw a stick representation of her and then use the story to record conflicts.

Doodle Splash

I've found that students who say they don't like to read are also the ones who say they don't see the story like a movie in their heads. Good readers can see the events in their minds as they read. This is a great activity to help kids visualize what they're reading.

Doodle Splash:
We listened to a short story, All Summer in a Day, and created doodles IN ORDER to represent events. They were allowed to use a few words for labeling, but most of the story must be told with doodles. I told them that by the end of the activity, they should be able to retell the story to a friend using only the Doodle Splash page. Here are some samples.

Teaching Plot

1.  Whole class lesson:
After reviewing plot elements with a plot mountain diagram from our workbooks, we created a plot mountain for the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. I retold the story and wrote the elements on the whiteboard with the kids' input.

2. Group practice:
Groups read a children's book out loud.

Then they drew a plot mountain and added events from the story in the correct places.

When they presented, I discussed any misconceptions and had them make corrections.

 3. Independent evaluation:
Students created a plot mountain in their STAR notebooks and recorded elements of a story we had read together from the textbook. After checking the first group, I decided I needed to read the story out loud again and stop to let students make a list of events first. Then they could decide where the climax was and put all of the elements on the mountain. That worked MUCH better!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Word Pictures for the First Day

I've been meaning to share this activity since the beginning of school LAST year. Ugghh...I'm the slowest blogger ever. Lucky for me, the first day of school tends to roll around again, so I get another chance to post it!

My friend/fellow teacher/mentor/new neighbor, Ms. Jones, has her kids create this "word picture" of themselves on the first few days of school. Not only is it a great way for the kids to introduce themselves (and keep busy on those wild and crazy first days of school), but the pages also serve as bulletin board material...possibly for the rest of the year!

Time: 2-3 hours 
- Notebook paper (for brainstorming)
- White copy paper
- Thin markers
- Colored pencils

1. Have students brainstorm a list of as many words as they can think of that could tell something about themselves. The words can be nouns, adjectives, or long as they tell about the students interests, values, dreams, family, hobbies, talents, etc. (School appropriate words, of course!)

2. Once the kids have a LONG list of words, they are ready to make their pages. Hand out white copy paper and make sure they have access to markers and colored pencils. The markers are bolder, but the colored pencils allow them to be more artistic.

3. Explain the objective - "Today, class, you will create a page that tells me all about YOU." - or something like that. The student's first name on the page should be prominent. The rest of the page should be filled with words from the brainstorming list. Students should use only WORDS and/or WORD ART. There should be as little white space showing as possible once they've finished. Remind them that these will be displayed for everyone to see, so they need to take their time and be creative with the placement of words on the page.

4. Voila! Now you have a stack of student work to display! You can put them all up at once or hang a few at a time throughout the year...depends how many students and how much space you have.

Here are a couple of examples close-up: