Saturday, December 6, 2014

Teaching Theme

Theme is a {HUGE} 5th grade standard! Not only in fiction texts, but students have to identify theme in poetry and dramas. Theme is always a tricky standard to teach... especially for struggling students.

First, I started off with this anchor chart. Message isn't really a 5th grade standard, but they will be talking about it in 6th grade. I wanted to give them (especially my advanced and gifted students) a preview that although they are similar, theme and message are NOT the same.

To get things moving along a bit, we read Rumpelstiltskin and talked about the theme of the book.

To help them understand, we used this graphic organizer that I made for them. You can download it by clicking on the image. This was SUCH a useful tool for the students and really got them thinking deeply about theme. This graphic organizer matches up nicely with standard RL.5.2!


Then, we watched this Rumpelstiltskin video that you can find on youtube HERE.

After we watched the video, we compared the two. There were actually quite a bit of differences and similarities between the two! I created this graphic organizer just for this activity. You can download it by clicking the image below :)


I knew I would spend quite a bit of time teaching theme this year, so earlier in the year, I decided to create a little something to help me along :)

When it came time for my students to practice theme and constructed responses, I used my Close Reading Literary Passages for Teaching Theme.

You can find them in my TpT store {HERE}.  The passages are specifically written with a theme in mind. I love this packet because you can choose whether or not to include message with your instruction {the passages ARE NOT exclusively for message}.

I had the students read the passage and then fill out the challenge+response=theme graphic organizer. Once students identified theme and supported their theme with evidence from the text, I had them construct a response about the theme of the passage. I use my I.C.E. format. You can learn a little more about it below as well as download a FREEBIE:) There will be more about this when I {NEVER} finish my TBE packet.




Here are some pictures of students working and constructing their responses. Let me tell you that this was after MANY classes of small group instruction :)






What are some of your favorite theme activities?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Character Traits

So, even though character traits aren't technically a 5th grade CC standard, I thought we would spend some time in class talking and writing about them. After all, how are students going to compare characters (which is our 5th grade standard) if they aren't sure how to talk about the characters?

Well, what I thought was going to be a one week review turned into three weeks!! Say what? Finally on week three, I was thinking that we HAD to get this done with!  It didn't help that we had assemblies and things in the middle of it all!

First, I started off with this anchor chart.


Then we talked about the differences between physical traits and character traits. I basically did this comparison in conversation on the whiteboard. If I had it to do over again,  I would probably give the students a Venn diagram or a t-chart and have them compare the two with a partner.

Once we understood what character traits were, we read a few picture books and identified the character traits of the main character.

Then, we went a little deeper with our words. Leslie Ann from Life in Fifth Grade has a great teaching resource for teaching character.
One of my favorite things that it has are character cards. These not only help the students think of untraditional words, but it improves their vocabulary.

I gave the students a word card and made sure that everyone could say their word correctly and understood what it meant. The meaning is on each card so that task wasn't so difficult.

I then read a passage from Leslie's packet to the students. I placed it under my document camera so the entire class could see the passage, too. After I read the passage, I asked the students to raise their hand if they thought they had a word that described the character from the passage.

Once we would identify a trait, the students had to find evidence in the text to support that trait. What did the character do, say, or think that made them believe he/she had this particular trait. This was probably one of the BEST lessons I have ever done on character traits.

After our whole group lesson, I had the students break into groups of 4-5 students and complete the same activity on their own. They read the passage, identified 2-3 character traits, then highlighted the evidence for each be using a different color marker. Here are some pictures of them working! They really enjoyed this part :)






Once we could do this, I had the students identify two traits that the main character in our read aloud had. They did a drawing and writing response that we hung up in the hall. Getting the students to construct a valid response will come in a later post. I have a structured format that I use right now. I am planning on posting about it soon :)  Here's a preview of what the responses looked like. It was by far the best writing class I've had on constructed responses.

The outside are their physical traits {picture, what they look like} then you open the flaps to a constructed response about their character traits {we chose two}.








If you are stuck on how to introduce TBE (text based evidence) to your students, then I have a product I am working on just for you! I am super excited and can't wait until it is FINALLY finished! I have been working on it for about a month now! You can see this is literary, so I plan on making another for informational.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Genre Study

Last week, I wanted to spend a little time reviewing reading genres.  I know it seems to be an easy enough concept for 5th graders, but I wanted to remind them of the differences between the genres we read.

First, I started off talking about the characteristics of fiction and informational texts.  I chose to use the wording informational because it is the same language that is used in our CC standards.  I am trying to get the students to understand that non-fiction is in fact informational.  First we jotted the differences between the two on a t-chart.  Then, I took that information and created these two anchor charts to place on our strategies board.  On the left we have our fiction strategies to use while we close read {we've only introduced one so far} and on the right we have our informational strategies to use while we close read.


 *Sorry about the glare!*



Then, we reviewed this anchor chart with some of our most commonly read genres.  

During small group, I read the back of some chapter books from our classroom library.  The students created a chart by folding their paper into six sections and labeling with six different genres {historical fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, mystery, mythology, adventure}.  Once I read the book synopsis, the students discussed together what genre they believe the book belongs to.  We then talked about how some books have many different genres.  

On the last day, I had students label a large piece of construction paper with eight different genres.  Students had to use Scholastic book fliers to cut and paste a variety of book pictures in the appropriate spaces.


I have found that the students love just about any activity that involves cutting and pasting!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Favorite Pins Friday

I've been pinning some anchor charts like crazy!  I have actually made anchor chart making as my afternoon wind down.



I love incorporating movie clips into my instruction.  It's a great, quick way to get your students' attention and get an instructional point across!



I just love this idea.  It's such a useful and clever way to use awkward space underneath the stairs.  Maybe one day....... BTW- I love that office chair!



Okay, I had to include this!  This is probably one of the cutest anchor charts I have EVER created!



This is an adorable idea to assess your students' knowledge.  I would change these tabs to align with the way I teach literary elements or either with my text structures unit.



I loved this idea.  This is such a clever way to 'do something' with all the unwanted extra papers/assignments that you never have time to get to.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Anchor Chart Storage

Hey y'all!  I'm here today to talk about an organizational tool that I wish I would have started doing years ago.  Do you make anchor charts only to conclude that you don't like them?  Do you end up making them year after year?  Once you get a nice anchor chart, do you ever wonder where to store it?  Well, in my classroom space is {VERY} limited.  I rarely have room for the essential areas in my classroom let alone anchor charts.

Last year, I decided to {steal...hehe} my son's laundry basket.  I thought the depth of it would work great for storing my anchor charts!  Plus, it fits right inside my easel.

Not only does it store my anchor charts, but it is large enough to store my smaller chart paper packs and my large post-it notes.  I absolutely love it!  Another organizational idea that makes this storage system even better is placing labels on the bottom backside of each anchor chart and rolling it up so the label is visible.  I then place these on top so I can easily find the anchor chart I need.  I got the idea about the labels from Mary over at Teaching with a Mountain View.


How do you store your anchor charts?