Monday, April 14, 2014

Falling in Love with Close Reading

Don't you love the interaction between students and text when they close read?  I started {somewhat} using close reading this year, but I wanted to read a little more into it to get a better idea of what I was doing and how to guide my students to reach the deep understanding I want them to.  This past summer, I read Close Reading of Informational Texts.
This book was a great introduction to what close reading is and what it looks like in informational texts.  It left me wanting a little more.  Especially for my fiction readers.

That's when I found Falling in Love with Close Reading.  Have you heard about this book?  Maybe you have even read it!  I'm picky about my professional reads, because I can't read just anything.  I get easily distracted and bored... quick like!  If I'm going to finish a professional read, it has to be something highly engaging and something I can use in my classroom and small group instruction.

To be honest, the first chapter was just an introduction.. a little hard to get through.  So, I'm going to talk mostly about chapter 2.

This was a great chapter about helping students find text evidence in fiction and informational text.  I'm not going to give too many details, but I'm going to share some "Aha" moments I had as I read.  The focus of this chapter was based around a chart/anchor chart to help guide students  to close read their texts.  You can download the picture below to download a .pdf version of both fiction & informational.

  • As students read, have them write down things from #1 on your chart.
    • What do the characters say/think/do?
    • What are some relationships?
    • What do you notice about the setting?
    • What do you notice about the time period?
  • Then, have students sort through their notes and highlight related facts by color or by placing them in categories.
  • Students should ask themselves questions from #2 on your chart:
    • Which details fit together?
    • How do they fit together?
  • Then, students should look at any patterns and develop new ideas based on those patterns.

  • First, students read and record any facts, phrases, descriptions, photos, or graphics they do not understand.
  • Then, have students sort through their notes and highlight related facts by color or by placing them in categories.
  • Students should ask themselves questions from #2 on your chart:
    • Which details fit together?
    • How do they fit together?
  • Then, students should find patterns with confusing information.  Then, understanding can begin to come.

  1. The reason why the character __________ is because __________.
  2. It seems like this character tends to __________.
  3. My thinking about this character has changed because __________.
  4. These characters are really different because ___________.
  5. One issue I am noticing in this book is ___________.
  6. I think the author is trying to teach me __________.
  7. I think this because the author wrote __________.

  • Students can use stickies to record facts
  • Students can use highlighters/crayons to color-code common facts
  • Patterns help us see what's important
  • Start with simple examples to share as a introduction so you will have room to revise
  • Close reading may not be necessary every time
Overall, I was pretty excited about this chapter!  Don't miss chapter 3!

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Text Features Anchor Chart & Activity

You may have read my post here where I discussed some text structure activities I completed with my students.  After we spent a few weeks on text structure, we reviewed some text features this week.  Although text features are not a 5th grade standard, I thought it would be a good idea to review these.  We looked at them briefly this week and will be moving on to review some fiction elements next week.  We have state testing in less than two weeks... YIKES!

Here are some activities we did together.

First, we started off with an anchor chart that contained several examples.  Each student had a Text Feature Mini Book that went right along with the anchor chart.  It is very similar to the Text Structure Mini Book that I used in my post linked above.  Both of these are from Jen Jones' Reading Comprehension Sheets for Informational Reading.  I love this resource!  All of the pictures on my anchor chart are also from this resource.

This is what it looked like before we added our information.  I forgot to take a picture of all the content we added.

I also created a short and to the point Powerpoint that goes along with this anchor chart.  I have it on my computer at work, so I will have to link it up later.

After we talked about each text feature, the students were placed in groups of 2-3 students.  They were given a Scholastic News magazine and small post-it notes.  The students worked with their partners to examine and identify the text features on each magazine page.

They worked so hard and throughly enjoyed this activity.  I was quite impressed with the conversations that were happening between the group members.

I gave students a recording sheet to reflect on each feature and analyze the information presented in each text feature.

This recording sheet is nothing fancy, but you can click the picture above to download the file.  Tomorrow, I will have some of the students present their findings to the class.  We will spend a few minutes at the end looking at our EQ once again and making sure the students can answer the question.

Lastly, we reviewed a little of comparing two text structures.  Here's the organizer my students helped me fill out today while we were going over our homework.  The hardest thing for my students is comparing the text structures and not the content of the passages.  That's been our most challenging task thus far.  Hence the reason we reviewed this today!

Like I said before, I think nonfiction is probably my favorite to teach.  I love helping the students develop critical thinking skills when reading and analyzing nonfiction texts.

What are your favorite reading skills to teach?

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

April Print & Go: 5th Grade Literacy

Hey, ya'll!  I'm back again {can you believe it??} to share with you my recent creation.  It's been a while since I've been motivated to make anything.  I was sooo comfortable with 4th grade math that 5th grade ELA seems so new to me!  I love making things I can use in my classroom with my own students.  I know I teach 5th graders, and many may argue that they don't care about cute things... well, THEY DO!  So, I created a packet of 10 April/Spring printables you can use in your 5th grade classroom to review various CC skills.

Here are the standards for the packet:

5L1a: function of conjunctions
5W2: informational writing
5RI5: text structure
5L2e: spelling grade-appropriate words
RL6: author’s point of view
5RI2: determine two or more main ideas
5L3a: combining sentences
5W1: opinion writing
5W3: narrative writing
5L5b: recognizing idioms
5RI8: supporting a point in a text

Here's a preview!

You can download it HERE.

I also created a freebie to give you an idea of what the packet looks like.  You can download the file by clicking the image below.

Now I'm off to bed!  Spring break has been good to me, but it's ending too soon!

Good Night, Ya'll!
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Text Structures & What I've Been Up To!

WOW!  I am ashamed to say that I haven't posted here since November.  This school year has been one of the CRAZIEST years since I started teaching.  First of all, I had NO IDEA how difficult it would be changing grade levels.  I've taught 5th grade before, but the common core has totally changed things up!  And... I hate to admit it... but I kind of like it!  I love the rigor of the curriculum and the challenge it brings to my 5th grade students.  Then, we had to miss six days.  One day was because it was soooo cold!  The district was concerned about all the students that would be out waiting for buses without coats.  The other five were due to snow.  So, we've been having to make those up on top of everything else.  Fortunately, our spring break is this week.  Unfortunately, we have to make up two of those days before we get our three days off.  BUMMER!

Anyways, I have felt {REALLY} lost and all over the place this year.  I've changed things, added things, and taken some things away.  I'll have to post more about all that later.  What I want to share with you today is the nonfiction text structure unit I finished up with my kiddos on Friday.  This has been my favorite unit by far.  I just love the resources I have found to go with it.  For this unit, I used these resources:

Lovin Lit's Interactive Reading Informational Text Notebooks

Teaching with A Mountain View's Text Structure Task Cards

Teaching with A Mountain View's Text Structure Anchor Chart

and this wonderful resource that I LOVE!

{I highly recommend this book!}

Just a little bit about this resource... it has a variety of text structures as well as reading skills.  Each skill has three differentiated passages to help you differentiate for your students.  I usually do passages #1 & #3 for my advanced students and passages #1 & #2 for my struggling students.  I teach two leveled groups, but I will have both varieties in each class.


To get the unit started, my students chose a topic and then thought of sentences that would be a good example for each text structure based on the topic.

We kind of went around so every group had a chance to add their sentence to the chart.  We then reviewed several of the examples and talked about whether it was a good fit or needed a little bit more information.  After we discussed a few good examples and some that needed work, the students took a sticky and wrote a
for each one.  A 'GLOW' is something the writer did well.  A 'GROW' can be kind of tricky.  We use the term improve.  What is a way the writer could improve their work?  This needs to be modeled for students so they aren't so brutally honest :)

We then started our anchor chart.  As we filled in our anchor chart together, the students filled their anchor foldable that is located in their binder.  The anchor chart idea came from Mary from Teaching with a Mountain View and the anchor chart foldable came from Lovin Lit's file (above).  Here's what our finished anchor chart looked like.

Along with our anchor chart and foldables from Lovin' Lit, we completed the skills text marking activity from the resource book mentioned previously.  Here are a few of the examples.

Once we reviewed all the text structures, the students were able to apply what they had learned by completing Teaching with a Mountain View's text structure task cards.  These were so awesome!

The students then used the resource from Jen Jones as an informal assessment.  In order for students to complete their mini-book, they had to complete the graphic organizer first without any resources.  Once we worked on that for a while, I allowed them to work with a partner.  Once time had passed, I then placed the anchor chart back up :)  Not to mention that I wanted them to finish it already!  
Here's a peek at their mini-books.

Our 5th grade standard is to actually take the text structure beyond being able to identify to actually comparing/contrasting two or more text structures.  My students really struggled with this as they wanted to compare/contrast the CONTENT of the paragraphs.

I loved the triple Venn.  We actually used this in math last year, so some of the students were able to activate that schema to help them understand the layout.

To finish our unit, my students completed a final project.  I will share that next week as I still have a few who are finishing it over spring break.

I love teaching informational text.  It's just fun to see the students grow with how they read informational text.

What are some of your go-to resources to teach text structures?

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cause & Effect {Anchor Chart Thursdays}

Hi ya'll!  
I'm back again this week with a new

Our reading skill for this week was cause & effect.

I introduced cause & effect with this anchor chart.  The students also had all the information (with a little extra) from the anchor chart in a note format for their literacy binder.

To give examples of cause & effect, we watched an animated version of Strega Nona which has a ton of cause/effect relationships.

You can access the animated version here.  It is from PBS so you will need to login or register.

We watched it the first time while just listening.  During the second viewing, I had the students jot down a few cause/effect relationships they noticed.
Here are a few of my sweet students working hard!

 We recorded these on our Strega Nona anchor chart.  We then discussed a few graphic organizers they could use to represent cause and effect.

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