One of the most important activities you can do with your students is to teach them to become proficient readers.
Reading for pleasure is wonderful, but without guidance from the teacher in learning how to use reading strategies effectively, your students will not show significant gains in reading.
We have worked hard this summer to develop interactive reading strategies that can be used right away in your classroom with your students. Each PowerPoint that we have created will have students get involved in their learning. We involve the students by using the Think-Pair-Share strategy where we have them think about a question that relates to their lives, pair with a partner and then share their responses. This is a great way to involve every student right away in the lesson.
We also provide the students with definitions of key terms when needed, along with information to help fill their background knowledge on each topic.
There is also a teacher read aloud part where the teacher models the strategy being taught, with your choice (the teacher’s) of book that you want to use, not one dictated by a curriculum!
Then each lesson ends with student assessment. We “put the strategy into practice” by having the students write about what they learned into a notebook. Having a reading notebook for each student will hold them accountable for what they learn during these lessons, and can be also an excellent resource to use at conferences with parents.
Make sure to click here for our Building Readers PowerPoints!
As another school year approaches, we have been working on updating our 18 FREE Daily 5 Resources and hope you can use them in your intermediate classroom. Just click on the titles below and you will be taken to each FREE individual resource. We began the Daily 5 this past school year and found it to be an amazing way to help our students become proficient readers and writers! Enjoy!
Daily 5 Choice Cards for Pocket Charts
Daily 5 Good Fit Books Powerpoint
Daily 5 Signs for Class Library
Daily 5 I PICK Poster
Daily 5 Introduction Powerpoint
Daily 5 Listen to Reading Fiction Worksheet
Daily 5 Listen to Reading Poster
Daily 5 Listen to Reading Nonfiction Worksheet
Daily 5 Listen to Reading Sign Up Chart
Daily 5 Read to Self Poster
Daily 5 Read to Someone Poster
Daily 5 Read to Someone Reminders Poster
Daily 5 Reading Journal
Daily 5 Reflection Sheet for Students
Daily 5 Student Check In Sheet
Daily 5 Weekly Reflection Log
Daily 5 Word Work Poster
Daily 5 Work on Writing Poster
If you like all of our FREE resources, you will not be disappointed with our #1 best seller for guided reading. Check it out here!
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Cinco de mayo is a chance to introduce many of your students to a celebration that honors brave Mexican soldiers during a fierce battle with the French on May 5, 1862. It also allows you to teach about Mexican heritage in a fun and hands on way. We hope you enjoy our Top 5 ideas for Cinco de Mayo!
1. The History Behind Cinco de Mayo
Many people do not know why cinco de mayo is a holiday for the Mexican people. This should be first explained when doing any sort of activity or celebration related with the day. Click on the link that will help you explain the meaning of the celebration for cinco de mayo. After discussing the history, you may want to also share a map of Mexico and talk about its features as well. Many students are clueless as to the various mountain ranges and differences in landscape of the country of Mexico.
2. The Spanish-Mexican Connection
Many students do not know that the Spanish language was non-existent until conquistadors such as Francisco Pizarro and Hernando Cortes came to the Americas in the late 1400s and early 1500s. We spend some time on discussing how Mexico has a blending of many ethnic-speaking tribes, along with a majority of people who now speak Spanish as a result of the conquest by the Spanish rulers during the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
I studied Spanish in college and was able to graduate with a minor in the language so I created many activities that I use with my students on cinco de mayo to help teach them some basics of the Spanish language. I usually ask the students what words they know and then progress into reviewing basic concepts such as numbers and colors. See the many activities below!
Cinco de Mayo Game Board
Since we discussed the history behind cinco de mayo already, this game board is a fun way for the students to review it. Just click on the picture below to access the game board.
Spanish Numbers Game Board
Another fun activity that I have the students do after teaching them the numbers up to 10 is to play a Spanish Numbers: Los Numeros game board. It follows the same directions as the above game board and the students have fun playing and reviewing the numbers.
Spanish Colors game board
Before we play this game, we have colored construction paper that we hold up in front of the class and say the spanish word for each color. Then we go faster and faster. Finally, we have them play this fun game board to review the colors! Click on the picture below to access the game board.
Spanish Family, Weather, Numbers, Clothing, Colors Matching Activity
If your students are enjoying learning about the Spanish language you can expand their vocabulary into greetings, weather, family, and clothing words as well. We have developed a matching game activity that students can play in partners. Click on the picture below to access the game!
4. Food and Music
This is probably the favorite part of the celebration for the students. We are fortunate to have many authentic Mexican restaurants in our area. Over the past 10 years I have contacted various restaurants to ask for donations of traditional food for our classroom on cinco de mayo. I have never been turned down! Another option is to see if any of your students(coming from a Hispanic background) would be willing to bring in some food as well. Those students take pride in their heritage and often even make a powerpoint or bring in other artifacts about their heritage.
The music is also great to listen to. I have many samples of mariachi music on hand, as well as traditional Mexican favorites as well. If you look on Wikipedia, you will find more examples as well. Youtube is a great resource to use if you want to play the music for the class too. I would make sure you stick to mariachi music because if you do not know the Spanish language it could be embarrassing playing a song that had inappropriate lyrics! However, La Bamba would be a safe song as well, and the kids would probably be familiar with it too!
I like to conclude our celebration with the breaking of the pinata. Once again, we are fortunate enough in our city to have many supermarcados where we can go and buy a pinata. Then we also buy some candy and gum from the store to fill the contents. I take the class outside and usually tie the pinata to a tree branch, or a soccer goal post (I know not too traditional, but you have to use the resources around you if there aren’t any trees!). Before allowing students to try and break it, we discuss a brief history of the pinata. Then, one at a time, we blindfold the students and allow them to swing away. Once it is broken, we make sure that the students each get at least one piece of candy. Then we also pick up all the scraps and throw them away.
This one day that the Mexican heritage gets to be celebrated in our classroom. But we feel it is important to acknowledge cultural events throughout the school year for the many different backgrounds of our students. Our classroom is a community of learners and is like a family. So it is important to celebrate our differences!
Please let us know what you do for cinco de mayo!
Students love to hunt for those colorful little plastic eggs anytime of the year! Here are the top 5 ways to use plastic Easter eggs in your classroom!
#1: Math: If you are studying multiplication (or any other operation), number the plastic eggs on the outside with a permanent marker. The students have to go around the room and try to find at least 5 eggs. When they find an egg, they write down the number of the egg on a piece of paper, open the egg, solve the problem and then write the answer on their sheet. They put the egg back where they found it, and then find four more eggs. At the end, the teacher will check their answers. The students love it!
#2: Words Their Way: Since it is April, the students have worked with many word patterns. Type up and put various word patterns inside the eggs and hide them around the room. Have the students partner up, and when you say “go” the students have to find an egg, open it, and then write down as many words that fit the pattern. For example, if the pattern is “at” their list might look like this: bat, cat, sat, fat, rat, that, mat, hat…. Set a timer for three minutes, then when it goes off, they have to find another egg and do the same. Play this game for a few rounds and then have the partners share the results with the class and see how long of a list you can make for each word pattern.
#3: Social Studies: This would be a great way to review states and capitols or any other geographical concept. Inside each egg would be the name of the state or a capitol. The students’ job would be to open the egg, and write down what was inside the egg, and then what was missing. This could be a fun activity to do with a partner for review, or for individual assessment as well.
#4: Reading: Depending on grade level, this could be great practice for reading fluency. You could have short passages typed up, cut out, and put into the plastic eggs. The students would then find an egg, read the passage out loud, and then move on to the next egg. You could use passages from leveled text and even have the eggs color coded by reading level for the students to find their color. There are many variations that you could do with this.
#5: Science: Vocabulary is always difficult in science class. Before a test, this could be a fun way to review. Inside the eggs either put the definition or the vocabulary word. The students’ job would be to open the egg, read the definition or the word, and then write down what is missing on a piece of paper. This could be a fun partner activity, or used for individual assessment as well.
We hope you enjoyed our ideas. We would love to hear your ideas too!
All teachers have had those students that just don’t seem to like reading. Whether it be not reading at grade level, minimal exposure to books at home, or just a plain fear of reading, these students dread the words, “OK, it’s time for reading.” What can you do to help your reluctant readers overcome this hatred of reading? We hope you can use our top 5 tips that have helped our students love reading.
Students must be allowed to have some time during the week to read what interests them. Whether it be a picture book, a car magazine, or even a comic book, allowing students some choice shows them that reading can be fun and enjoyable. We use The Daily Five in our classroom, and once a week we allow students to bring in the above-mentioned reading materials for one of our rotations. The students look forward to these times to read their “brain-break” books.
We also have our classroom libraries organized into categories to make it easier for students to find books that interest them. Categories such as: natural disasters, sports heroes, and animal stories, are incorporated with the more traditional groups such as: fantasy, realistic fiction, and biography to name a few. The books are in bins which make them more visible and more accessible to the students. See below for a picture from our classroom and a way to get our book bin labels as well by clicking on the book bin labels example.
To inspire those reluctant readers to read outside of school, we created monthly themed home reading logs. Students are given a reading log at the beginning of each month and set a goal. We usually tell the students that they should average about 20 minutes a night. After they set a goal, they take the log home and keep track of their minutes each night. A parent/guardian then signs the log and it is brought back to school. If the student meets his/her goal we do a fun celebration called Pop a Top. Each student that reads on average 20 minutes a night, is able to bring in a drink of their choice. We count down 3-2-1 and then open the cans and bottles at the same time to make a cool noise. We have awards made up too that states the person’s name, the month, and the number of minutes read. They like receiving the easy to make awards. Also, sometimes we allow students to bring in comic books, picture books, or other fun books to read for 20 minutes in school on this day.
Many of you may wonder what about those students whose parents do not sign logs? We specifically send books home with those students and tell them to use the honor system with their minutes. Then we meet with them at school, discuss the books they read, and sign off on their logs.
Below are some examples of what the reading log sheet looks like for various months. If you click on the pictures, you can access all of our logs to purchase if you’d like.
A big part of our reading instruction is teaching the reading strategies to the students. We do have a curriculum in place, but oftentimes the curriculum isn’t exciting or relevant to our students. So as a supplement to what we teach, we often do fun activities as well that still get the students thinking and talking about what they’ve read.
One activity that is fun is having the students create a name for a band, a play list of three songs, and design a CD cover based on a chapter read in a book. They love to do this, and it is amazing to see their creativity.
We have also used sticky notes for students to use in their books to mark: words they don’t know, questions that they have, predictions that they make, and other reading strategies. We actually have sticky notes on our class supply list at the beginning of the year for parents. Students love being able to mark up their books without actually writing in them!
Another fun activity is having the students create apps on an iPod word document that we created. Students make the apps based on the book that they read. It is fun to see their creativity come out and their explanation of why they chose the apps that they did.
Connecting with the author and characters in the book is fun through a text messaging activity that we use as well. Students are able to use “text talk” to communicate with cell phones on a word document based on the author and characters in the book.
We also use social networking (like facebook) to have students create a page based on a character in a story that they’ve read. They enjoy the creative part of this project, and it is fun to see who they add as friends and the comments that are left on their pages.
You can access these fun activities by clicking on the pictures.
We love to do read alouds in our classrooms. During these read alouds, we often do fun activities such as: turning off the lights during a part of the story that takes place at night, lighting a candle with the lights off and sitting in a circle, allowing the students to draw and color a picture related to the story, having the students read a page to the class, and using think-pair-share to make predictions, inferences, to summarize, and to do other reading strategies as well.
But probably our favorite activity is doing a 1/2 day or whole day celebration of the book that we read aloud to the class. For example, one of our favorite books to read aloud is Holes by Louis Sachar. We do a Whole Day of Holes and the students love it! Our class becomes Camp Green Lake with water canteens, yellow spotted lizards, and even a treasure hunt to boot. If you click on the below picture, you can find out in more detail what we do on this special day.
We have found that celebrating books that we have read out loud gets reluctant readers excited and more apt to try another book by that same author or a similar book from that genre.
Every day we hold guided reading groups where students are reading a book picked by the teacher. This is important to practice the reading strategies and to help students continue to improve their reading comprehension and fluency. But we also like to celebrate at least once a month by giving our students a “day off” from guided reading groups. We call this day “Daily 5 Choice Day.” Instead of just being able to do two choices plus their guided reading time, they now have three choices to pick from. It is amazing how many reluctant readers pick an additional read to self choice! They love having that extra time to read what they want!
If there is the release of a movie that is based on a book, it is a great time to discuss the book with the class, and encourage students to read the book and compare it to the movie. Students often find that the book is way better than the movie. Great examples are: Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, and The Lightning Thief to name a few.
We hope that the above ideas can help get your reluctant readers more excited about reading! Please share any ideas that you have used in your classrooms too!
When our students hear the word “test” they cringe and you can see the fear on their face. When we start to talk about the SBAC test, that fear turns to panic and sheer horror. Thoughts flood their minds, “I’m going to have to repeat 5th grade! My parents are going to ground me forever if I don’t pass this test. Maybe I can pretend I’m sick and get out of the whole test. I wonder if I broke my writing arm if I would have to do it?”
NEW! We have created an Oregon Trail Simulation Activity with lesson plans, resources, and worksheets in which students become travelers on the Oregon Trail!
This is a 34 page interactive lesson plan activity and game that will directly involve students in the Oregon Trail experience. Students begin their journey in Independence, Missouri by forming their wagon family. They then have to purchase supplies at the general store before leaving.
This is a very comprehensive packet that could easily be adapted and used for math as well. This is an experience that my students have really enjoyed.
The Common Core standards are here to stay whether we like it or not. So, it is time to hop on board and start implementing the standards in your classroom. It’s not that hard, it just takes some time to figure out what the new standards are asking us teachers to do.
We have been working on correlating our resources with the Common Core Standards that most states have adopted. It does take time and effort to do this. We suggest working with colleagues and going through the standards together. As you go through the standards, you will want to do the following:
- meet with both the grade level above you and below you to find out what is taught so there is a smooth transition between grades.
- unpack the standards-break each standard down into key words and phrases and be able to understand what the standard is asking you to teach
- see how the standards can be tied together across disciplines. Reading and writing are natural areas for this.
- invite specialists into the conversation. These would be your Gifted and Talented teachers, Reading Resource teachers, English Language Learners, and Special Education to name a few. It is always better to get a broader perspective to best meet the needs of the students.
- Make your units and lessons relevant and engaging. The Common Core allows you to do this!
“Common Core” does not have to be a bad word in your school district. It lays a solid foundation for students and provides rigor when it is most desperately needed in many schools across the nation. Take this as time to look at what you are teaching and truly evaluate the materials you are using are meeting your students needs.
The Common Core is the foundation of your overall goals in each content area. How you get there can be up to you! Make sure that you have a major seat at the table with any curriculum adoptions in your school district. Being involved matters!
Eric and I, from Wise Guys, pride ourselves on creating highly engaging and relevant Common Core lessons for our grades 3-6 students. Check out our activities, lesson plans, printables, worksheets, reading comprehension guides, projects and more by clicking on our logo below!