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Friday, October 17, 2014

Poetry for Fall & What to do with It

Poetry is a great tool for teaching more than rhymes, rhythm, and poetic devices. It can be a vehicle for exploring a host of different language arts topics. For example, the following poem is replete with contractions. 

So, after presenting the poem to your class, conduct a lesson on contractions. This could be a whole group lesson or a small group effort, depending on the ages and needs of your students. It could also be a literacy center activity with individual copies for each student and the directive to highlight the contractions. Then the task could require pupils to write the 2 component words for each contraction on the back of the poem or another sheet of paper.

Quotation marks are also prevalent in this poem. Hence, you could use this poem to study quotation marks, speaker tags, and the various rules that quotation marks invoke in reading and writing. This can be especially effective if you engage your students in choral readings of the poem. 
Assign one student to read all of the narration and speaker tags, while the remaining children chime in with the quotations. You will love the focus this generates.  

In my experience, children, especially reluctant readers, find poetry less threatening to read than prose. Perhaps it's due to the expansive white space.  Maybe it's the rhyme and rhythm (when present) that aids predictability and fluency. Whatever the reason, the light that shines in my Title I students' eyes when I bring out a poem is undeniable.  And that is enough to cause me to use poetry everyday.

If you are interested in more ideas for using poetry to teach myriad topics, check out my Poetry Possibilities products. They provide the poetry and possibilities for lessons.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Autumn Themed Centers

Autumn themed centers for your classroom -- check them out.  

Ghosts Say, "Boo!" is a literacy center for primary classrooms. In this activity students will focus on 2 sounds of /o/:  ō and ōō.

There are 2 ghost work mats: 1 labeled "Ghosts," and the other labeled "Boo!" Students sort the 20 word/picture cards by matching the vowel sounds to the 2 ghosts.  This center includes a recording sheet and labels for your center folder.

Bats & Bridges Literacy Center also challenges students to work with vowel sounds; long and short /a/. Students will sort the bat word cards and fly them to the proper bridge for roosting.  A recording sheet is included, as are labels for your center folder.

This center activity is part of my thematic unit, Hanging Out with Stellaluna.  It is now available as a stand-alone product for the first time.

You get to combine 2 subjects in 1 center when you use Scrattle: Halloween Edition.  This wildly popular activity challenges your students to exercise their verbal fluency by making words out of the letters provided on candy corn pieces. Each letter has a numeric value, as in Scrabble(TM).  As your students record their words, they compute the value of each of them.

Then they challenge a friend at the center to compare their numbers.  In the process, your students will practice using >, <, and =. The winner of this word battle is the 1 with the most >s.  (Scrattle gets its name from Scrabble + battle.)

Not only does Scrattle give your students practice with ELA and math, but it comes with 3 different recording sheets: 1 using addition only, 1 requiring multiplication, and 1 employing mixed operations. Thus, you can readily differentiate your instruction. Moreover, this center is CCSS aligned. And better yet, it's FREE! Even better, there are multiple editions for several holidays and they, too, are FREE!

John Hughes, author of An Educator's Life blogspot, is hosting a Fall-Tastic Activities and Resouces linky party.  You are sure to find some great activities there.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's about time, teachers, for Halloween.  For your emergent readers, my original book, What the Little Ghost Saw on Halloween, is available on TPT and TN 

The simple text is predictable, following this pattern:
He saw a/an [adjective] [Halloween object supported by the picture]. 

The last page breaks the pattern, allowing the teacher to determine if the student is attending to the text or reciting a memorized pattern. 

High frequency words include he, saw, a/an, his, it, & wasBecause the last page has was in the same position as saw on the previous pages, this book is useful for addressing saw/was confusions.  Do this by drawing the student's attention to the first letter of was on that last page. Without confirming whether the child read the word correctly or not, ask her what sound that letter makes.  Assuming she replies correctly, ask her if that is what she would expect to see at the beginning of was.  By drawing her attention to this detail of the text, you are giving her the ability to self-check.

The book is offered in black and white line art.  I encourage you to let your students color the pictures, especially the pages that employ the color words.  

You may also like these Halloween products: