Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Interactive Math Notebook

Hello Everyone!
My apologies for not posting lately.  We had to drive to Chicago to help my widowed father in law move 53 years of "family" to a new apartment. Going through that many years' worth of "family accumulations" was both wonderful and emotional.  My husband got to bring home so much of his childhood that we had to rent a U Haul!  We were able to settle dad into a great little apartment with incredible "senior" amenities.  Feeling pretty blessed! 
Anyway, I was totally "unplugged" all week and it actually felt pretty good! But now, I'm in catch-up mode! So today I'm sharing my new and improved Interactive Math Notebook.  We have had such amazing results from using the math notebook approach to support our math program, but I wanted to make it even more interactive. If you have used this before, please download again.  I've added about 9 different number of the day pages depending on your kids' level and readiness.  I've also added about 10 pages of manipulatives for kids to make and store in a bag or envelope, and keep in their notebooks. That's what makes the notebook so interactive!! Here are a couple of pics.

beginning of the year number of the day page
End of the year number of the day page

sample of manipulatives included

I am very excited to help kids be the best they can be at thinking mathematically!  Using a notebook like this will boost that success and promote independence at the same time.  

Okee Dokee. Time to get my own house back in order after being gone.  I hope you're having a great week! 
Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to leave a comment. OH! I almost forgot.  If you've e-mailed me recently and requested materials, I'll get those sent this afternoon. I did not even check mail while we were gone!! Thanks for your patience!! 
I'm getting ready to post an updated poetry folder unit and a few more things!
Till then, keep lookin up! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Writing- It's a Visual Thing!

Hello Everyone!!
Happy Monday!! I picked up a random book at Half Price Books the other day,  Visual Tools by Roger Essley, a diagnosed dyslexic.  The title caught my eye because I am such a visual learner. As I read through this book, I have to tell you, I almost cried.  This approach to teaching writing for a differentiated classroom has become my Ahhhh Hahhhhh for the summer.The author suggests that kids need to draw out their stories before they even begin writing anything.  Then they need to talk about their drawings, make adjustments, additions, etc, and then begin writing.  I have always had my kids draw before they write, but not even close to the extent that Mr. Essley suggests.  He calls it Storyboarding.  The process really helps kids organize visually what they want to say in their stories. Stick figures and labeling to help others understand are acceptable.  He tells many stories of kids with learning challenges who became writers because of this method.  (You've probably been doing this all along.  Sometimes I'm a little slower to get there!) 
While reading this, I couldn't help but be reminded of the struggle my oldest son had with writing. In fourth grade he was the only student in the school to get a "1" on his state writing exam. (4 being the best) :(  We were all devastated and mortified- mostly because he is a bright kid, in the gifted and talented class. We came to realize that he is intensely visual, and this was affecting his writing!  He has since graduated from the MIZZOU School of Journalism and is now an award winning broadcast journalist for ABC. He needs to see his stories!! This makes total sense to me now! If he would have been able to begin writing projects with a storyboard, I think he would have had more success in school.  
So now, how do I help my littles gain confidence in writing their stories?---through storyboarding!  I like to think of it as a kind of comic strip.  Kids draw their stories in little boxes with minimal words at first.  They verbalize all their ideas through their storyboard, gain insights from the class, and then create a "dummy" book from the boxes, adding text.  The dummy goes through editing, and then we are ready for publishing. Here are a few pics of a model I tried. 
Brainstorm ideas, and then draw ideas on paper. 
 This is a class sized model.

This is a kid sized version they can do on a plastic sheet in their writing notebooks. Attach cards with stickers helps with easy rearrangement.

Keep sheet in notebook

An envelope can be used to store cards

Make a "dummy" Attach cards to one side, add another card for text.

Add text

Keep adding storyboard cards, text.  Then revise and edit some more.
Finally, publish in whatever way you want.

I am so excited to use this visual tool with my new group of firsties.  I wish I could have my old classes back!  I just know it is going to be beneficial to so many. 
There is no way I can explain everything Roger Essley conveys in his book, but I will try to snap some pics when we get underway in the fall. 
I added this new tool to my Writer's toolbox unit, along with a ton more stuff. Just about everything you need to get ready for great writing!!



Sample of target skills

 Three different storyboard templates

6 different styles of draft book paper

the unit is now about 60 pages!  You can get it free if you CLICK HERE!!!

Einstein said, "If I can't picture it, I can't understand it." That is so true for my son, and for so many of our kids.
And Aristotle said, "It is impossible even to think without a mental picture."  Let's give our kids another tool to visualize, organize, and gain in confidence when dealing with text!  

On a side note: The storyboard tool is not just for writing!!  Use it in all the other curric. areas! 

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post!  If you have any other questions (because I know I didn't explain everything!), please don't hesitate to ask!! We're all in this together!!
Until then, have a great rest of the day!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Words DO Hurt

Hello Everyone!
I am so looking forward to doing our Superhero unit with our new group of Superlearners! As I was thinking about the beginning of the year, I knew I wanted to incorporate the "Wrinkled Heart" activity that I've done the past 9 or so years.  We always spend time talking about bullying and how we always need to think before we speak. I like to use Chrysanthemum or Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon for this activity.  Take a giant paper heart and have kids crumple it up each time something is said that hurts the main character. After the story, try to smooth the heart. You can't get get the wrinkles out.  A great hands on and visual activity to help kids understand that words do hurt. Have kids place band aids on the wrinkled heart as a symbol of their commitment to thinking before they speak! Here are a few pics from previous years. It has evolved!!

Well, to go along with our Superhero unit, I decided to try using a paper superhero cape!! I think it will work. I redid the little poem as well. Take a peek!

For Reader's Response Journal

Have fun with this!!  And have a Super weekend!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Magazine Letters at your Fingertips!

Hello Everyone!
First of all, my apologies for not posting lately!  We have been having some frustrating internet problems.  So I am going to speed through this post while our connection is up!  
This is just a quick little activity post for those of you who like to use old magazines for literacy projects.  I looooove to reuse magazines that would normally just get thrown away, but I haaaaate the mess the projects create.  They can also be very distracting for some of my ADD kids. Some kids spend more time looking at all the other stuff included in magazines. 
 I have seen these magazine letter pages out there in cyberspace, so I thought I'd try it myself.  This little unit includes pages of color and black and white magazine letters you can use for so many things!! You simply need to print, have kids cut out the letters needed, and glue. You can use the pages for literacy and math! 

Can't wait to have the kids make these to go along with our Superhero beginning of the year theme!!

Unit includes several styles of  each letter, numbers, and symbols.

Phew!  I got through the post without our service being interrupted!! YAY!!
 Hope you can use this 11 page unit! 
 Please leave me a comment about
 how you plan to use it!! I would love to hear your ideas!! 
Stay tuned for a ton more "beginning of the year stuff!!!"  (Hopefully!) 
Have a great rest of the week!!