Tuesday, May 29, 2012

State Regions Project, 11 More days, and MOVING!!!

Okay, so there is so much going on right now! My head might explode if I'm not careful.

My students recently worked on state projects. Each of them picked a state to research and then searched their little hearts out for fun facts. It was a really neat project, and my students worked really hard to find good information. I had seen many templates for finding information on other blogs, but none had exactly what I was looking for. So, I created my own combining categories I'd seen on other templates (and in my true form I cannot for the life of me remember where I saw other worksheets). Below I linked two PDF documents. One is for the majority of my students. One of the main categories we focused on was culture as I was trying to teach my students how each state has their own culture and customs based upon its history and location. The second document is almost identical, but for my learning support students. It has fewer categories overall, and less information per page.

My kiddos then took their information to create some amazing projects. Their guidelines were to use their information and a cutout of their shape to create a project that displayed the uniqueness of their state. 

So, the coolest part was hearing them share their projects. The pride on their faces was PRICELESS! The next step was to put their states together to learn about the regions of the US. We have two regions left ... and 11 days in which to cover them.

That's right .. 11 days, but I digress...
Nope, I don't. 11 days! I guess I'm freaking out because I've decided to move, and that means packing! The past few months I've really been thinking about moving closer to my family. I'm only an hour and a half away, but the drive gets tiresome. Moving would also mean being closer to my boyfriend, so it's a win/win. 
Anyway, I put out some applications, not expecting many bites as the job market in Pennsylvania is not the best. With the state budget being severely cut, teacher jobs are also on the chopping block. So, when I got a call for an interview, I was floored. They had 500 applicants and interview 80 candidates in the first round! I made it through 3 rounds and was one of 6 new hires. It's crazy because it's all going so fast. Now I have to sell my house, pack it up, pack up my classroom, and shimmy myself down the turnpike back towards Philadelphia. I keep asking myself, is this really happening? And I think it is! EEK! 

So, any advice for packing up my classroom in an organized fashion? I'm thinking my stuff is going to move from my classroom, to my basement, to who knows where from there until I can get into my new digs. A lot to think about, ridiculously nerve wrecking, but exciting all at the same time. 

Is it summer yet? 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nonfiction Text: Culminating Lesson

So, this year we've hit nonfiction text hard! My fourth grade students have become experts at identifying text features, and using reading strategies to better understand the text. Our school went through a training on Learning Focused Schools. One of the things we continue to do in our lessons is give the students essential and key questions. This lets my students know what they should be able to do after completing the lesson. Because of this, I created some EQ posters to display in my room as we work through the lessons. Click on the picture below for your free copy. The amazing border is compliments of The 3 AM Teacher.

For the rest of the school year, we'll be reading different nonfiction text to put together some of the reading strategies we've learned this year. I want to show my students that all of our reading strategies flow together to help us understand text, we don't just use them in isolation. To do this I found an amazing graphic organizer from fcrr.org (Florida Center for Reading Research).

This flow chart is really great for showing kids how to find main idea and details, find the most important information, a summarize their findings. We've mostly been using our social studies text to practice our skills as we have such little time left in the year and 5 regions of the United States to discover.

However, I also teach a separate reading clinic during the day where all of our students go into different learning communities to get the specified instruction that best meets their reading ability. I have a group of on level learners that just need some extra practice to hone their skills. I wanted to find another nonfiction resource to help them further practice these skills.
So ... I decided to use Ranger Rick. I LOVE this magazine and have subscribed to it for a few years now. For our first few lessons, I chose an article about different types of bird nests.
The students filled in the title, "Master Builders" in the top circle. Then, they filled in each type of next in the boxes below. 

As small groups, they read about each type of bird nest and recorded the important information.

Tomorrow we will talk together about summarizing what we've learned. We will compare and contrast the types of bird nests to see what they have in common, and where they have differences. Their similarities will help the students decide how to summarize what they've learned about bird nests as a whole. Hopefully these lessons will help solidify the learning we've done this year.

How do you help students navigate nonfiction?

I'm curious if anyone else has ideas on how to sum up reading lessons taught throughout the year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Two Great Giveaways!

Check out two great giveaways!! You won't want to miss them!!

The first is at 3-6 Free Resources

The second is at Adventures of a 3rd Grade Teacher 

Both are too good to miss, so hop on over now and check out the details!!