Friday, December 11, 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
Monday, February 16, 2015
My 3rd graders are ALWAYS asking, "Can we draw?" I get a sad look on my face and think about how much I loved drawing when I was a kid and the opportunity for self-expression drawing provides. Often, my answer is no. Why?
High-stakes testing has increased the pressure on the elementary teacher to focus so heavily on maximizing our reading, writing, and math time that teachers often feel as if they don't want to "get caught" doing arts and crafts activities. In Indiana we have the standardized testing that all students 3--10 take, PLUS a separate reading test that is used to determine passing to 4th grade. So when can we draw? How can we fit in little moments the students really enjoy?
Here are some printable picture prompts to answer that dilemma! Each page features an incomplete picture with instructions on what to draw to make the scene complete. I find that when I DO have drawing be part of an activity it takes students FAR too long to finish. Part of that time is students thinking of what to draw! This eliminates that problem. They provide a nice balance between student freedom/self-expression and clear guidelines.
Following the picture section is a short writing prompt coinciding with the picture. Once again, it is broad enough to allow students to be creative and independent, while at the same time setting up a clear writing goal. It could be finishing a narrative or conversation, writing a description, or explaining a situation.
Another great thing about this TeachersPayTeachers purchase? It's ALIVE! I will be adding more prompt pages to this collection as time goes by and YOU won't have to pay more! Whenever you purchase this set, you will receive the prompts currently in the set. When I add more prompts I will increase the price, but YOU can come back and download the updated set without paying any extra! You will get a notification on your TPT "My Purchases" page when the product has been revised. As of the original date of this post, there are 13 prompts included. (Updated in January 2016 to include 19 total prompts) Go get it now at my TeachersPayTeachers store!
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
I read The Little Prince aloud to my 3rd grade class. We stopped after a few chapters to do some drawing in response to their reading. The kids might not have the life experiences to really "get" a lot of the moralistic aspects of the book, but they have enjoyed listening to it and talking about it and definitely enjoyed this activity!
I'm kind of surprised I haven't read The Little Prince before now. It is one of the best-selling books ever, and is actually the most prolific French-language book ever. It was written in the 1940's by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
In the story, a pilot has crash-landed in the Sahara desert and soon meets a "most extraordinary small person". He engages in conversation with the "Little Prince" while trying to fix his airplane. We learn about the prince's life (he's the only person living on his planet) and his travels from tiny planet to tiny planet (asteroids, actually), the characters he meets and the lessons he learns.
The pilot acts as narrator and illustrator. he self-referentially refers to his own writing and drawing throughout the novella, which makes for a uniquely toned narrative. Interestingly enough, de Saint-Exupéry actually DID crash-land an airplane into the middle of the Sahara desert, and much of the book is allusion to and metaphor of his own life experiences and philosophy.
Before starting the chapters where the prince recounts his travels from planet to planet, I had my class do a little art project in response to our reading. I posed the question "If you had your own little planet like 'The Little Prince', what would it look like?" I gave some instruction on drawing on their "spheres" with the right perspective and discussed some ideas and set them on their way. I really liked their results!
|My 3rd Graders work on their "personal planets".|
|The final results. I thought they were really cool!|
As a mentor text, The Little Prince great for studying symbolism, metaphor, and allusion. Those aren't big focuses in 3rd grade, but I like to discuss those deep comprehension concepts with my students, especially during read-alouds. Some kids really are amazed when they start to see the "story behind the story" and understanding such concepts can really enrich their reading experiences. I generally try to use poetry to teach metaphor and symbolism to such young students, but the flower on the princes planet, the inhabitants of the other little planets he visits and their idiosyncrasies, and the characteristics of the planets are all ripe for symbolism and metaphor discussions.
Monday, February 9, 2015
There are many readability measures out there. Gunning fog, Coleman-Liau, and Dale-Chall among others. Flesch-Kincaid may be the the most used in education. They all involve formulas involving word length, sentence length, syllables, and other variables. However, there is no need to grab a text and a calculator to check texts.
There are many websites offering tools to determine readability levels of texts. Many of these websites not only allow you to type or copy/paste text into a box for determination, but also will give a level for web pages when you enter the URL. I'm not sure how trustworthy they all are; I tried the same text in a few and got 1-3 level differences in some scores between sites. I found ReadabilityScore.com to be the best. It seemed to ME to be the most accurate with the scores. You can type or copy/paste text and enter URLs for free. For a donation of at least a dollar, you can upload documents to be checked. Other websites can do this, but ReadabilityScore.com gives you an average of the levels as well, which I find useful.
You can also use Microsoft Word to check Flesch-Kincaid readability grade level and ease of reading. I made a quick tutorial for how to set up MS Word to do this for you that can be downloaded at my TeachersPayTeachers store. It's free to download.
Friday, February 6, 2015
Also included in this set are strips with three fractions on them for students to order from least to greatest. This is great practice for my 3rd graders; they need to realize that 2/10 is NOT greater than 1/4 just because the digits in the numerator and denominator are larger. The relative sizes of the pieces is important to consider. Having the visual there to reference really helped that concept sink in. I did some pre-teaching with these today so that next week they can work on them independently or with groups.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
A photo posted by Adam Thompson on TPT (@adamthompsontpt) on
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Monday, February 2, 2015
#SnowDay e-learning day! I'm putting together an online collaborative research project for students to do when they finish their Day 1 regular work using Google Docs slides. #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram #teachersofigA photo posted by Adam Thompson on TPT (@adamthompsontpt) on
Sunday, February 1, 2015
In math education, there has often been a battle between conceptual understanding and computational or procedural fluency. These domains, alongside application, are equally important. Thankfully, it seems we have come to a time with the Common Core that all three domains (conceptual understanding, fluency, and application) receive equal time and focus; more people have come to the understanding that conceptual understanding leads to fluency in computation and procedure, both of which are required for accurate and efficient application. All three domains work together to develop well-rounded math ability in students.
These sets of memory matching games can help students in the development of mental computational fluency. Between these two comprehensive sets of memory matching games, all mental math addition and subtraction computation standards for grades kindergarten, one, two, and three are covered. That includes : K.OA.A.4, 1.NBT.C.4, 1.NBT.C.5, 1.NBT.C.6, 1.OA.C.6, 1.OA.D.8, 2.OA.B.2, 2.NBT.A.2, 2.NBT.B.7, 2.NBT.B.8, and 3.NBT.A.2.
There are almost 90 20-card memory matching games total in these two sets. Card-backs to conceal and disguise the cards are also included. Click on the covers above to view them at my TeachersPayTeachers store.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives was the best that I found. It is incredibly comprehensive and flexible to your specific needs.
|"The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM) is an NSF supported project that began in 1999 to develop a library of uniquely interactive, web-based virtual manipulatives or concept tutorials"|
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Thursday, January 22, 2015
|"CM fables" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CM_fables.jpg#mediaviewer/File:CM_fables.jpg|
Fables are a foundational genre of literature. They are prevalent in cultures and folk literature throughout the world and many have survived over 2000 years. Many think of Aesop when they think of fables, and he certainly was a prolific fabulist, but there have been many great fable writers through the centuries. Most literary works can have their themes and plots traced back to literary archetypes originating hundreds or thousands of years ago, which is why I think teaching these ancient genres and stories is so important. You've got to have a meaningful understanding of such foundational literature and genres to truly understand what you read, and the comprehension of theme that can be developed through the reading and study of fables is no exception. The Common Core standards certainly agree with me, as fables are specifically mentioned in second and third grade standards.
Common Core Anchor Standard #2 reads, "Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas." RL.2.2 from that strand goes on to specifically include determining "the central message, lesson, or moral" from fables and folktales. RL.3.2 shares the same wording, but includes myths as well. Following along to RL.4.2, we see the specific genres are dropped and "message, lesson, or moral" are replaced by "theme". Common Core supports using fables, and other foundational genres like folktale and myth, in helping students develop an understanding of literary theme.
I usually read through the book over the course of two weeks. I will read a story and ask the class to share what they think the theme is (What lesson did the character learn? What lesson did you learn about life from this story?). Often their answers are too specific to the story and we work on making them more general. Students will often bring up these stories the rest of the year ("Mr. Thompson! That reminds me of..."). It's an excellent book and teaching tool.
Want to read about more mentor texts? Check out The Owl Teacher's "Mentor Text Monday" link-up!
Monday, January 19, 2015
They do journal writing, free-writing, power writing, and guided writing. You mini-lesson the heck out of the six traits.
They are interesting, intelligent kids with lots of ideas and personality.
Then they turn in the most boring narrative writing assignment you've ever read.
Let's link-up and share our best ideas for improving those narratives!
Graphic novels are HUGE right now. Our library stocks a nice collection of them and my students eat them up. I thought I might be able to tap into that interest and improve their narrative writing skills at the same time. So I decided to start working on sets of comic strips for students to use in creating their own little narratives, the focus being on dialogue and inner monologue.
Wouldn't we all love to see some more character interaction and dialogue in our students' narrative creative writings? I thought these would help them develop comfort with that concept and prompt them to include it in their narrative writing more often.
Right now you can get 17 different comic strips in three different formats at my TPT store. They are image files, so print off single strips or combine into one document to make a longer narrative. You can use them however you like!
Thursday, January 15, 2015
|Some students listening to the monologue|
I wish my stubbornness hadn't stopped me from doing dictation more regularly sooner. The students have really enjoyed it and I believe the results will be seen, especially in listening.
I have been using the dictation activities at EnglishClub.com. I highly recommend them!
|Students check their work|
Monday, January 12, 2015
Kelly and Kim's Kindergarten Kreations: Markdown Monday Linky Party! (January 12th - 16th)...: Please add your link below to join the linky fun! Link a product from your TpT store that you would like to "markdown" until...
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
I'm always pleasantly surprised by my students in January. They start to drag a little bit near the end of first semester in December and you start to feel a little frustrated by the lack of progress. January rolls around and everybody is fresh and my 3rd graders never fail to impress and remind me we HAVE made a lot of progress this year! These kids are halfway to being fourth graders, and most of them are really showing it.
We are working on reading AND writing persuasive texts this week. We'll be analyzing the opinions presented in such texts and highlighting the evidence used to support the opinion. At the same time, students will be developing their own evidence to support their opinions to persuade their readers.
In math, we're heading into geometry. Envision Math starts with solid figures in Topic 10 (Topic 10 and 11 are geometry), and I always seem to forget when I say "Next year, I'm starting with lines, points, and angles. Then, I'm moving to polygons. Finally, we'll head back to polyhedrons so we can discuss them with the vocabulary we learned previously", but once again I forgot and did lesson one today! Oh well...we'll master this material one way or another. I really enjoy a lot about Envision Math sequencing and materials, but this is one example where I don't understand the rationale behind the order. I never feel beholden to a textbook's sequence or methods, so it's not a big deal, but it's always convenient to have the textbook go along with the way you feel something should be taught or presented.
Speaking of textbooks, this is the last year I'm teaching using our book for social studies. I'm tired of seeing one hundred years of history in a paragraph or "Transportation" summarized on a page. Next summer, if I find the time, Id like to work on some materials to cover all the content we need to cover in a more meaningful, interesting way; maybe compiling some primary vs. secondary source material, and raising the interest/relevance level of the readings.
Good (shortened) first day in 3rd grade.
Friday, January 2, 2015
I didn't want to just have my picture or some random picture. I used a background I had made, a picture of me working with students, the best face picture of me I could find, and my bearded smiley face magnet from my desk along with my name, which is also my TPT store name and VOILA, my logo was created. It doesn't look nearly as professional as many others, but I like it. http://littlesmarticleparticles.blogspot.com/2014/12/whats-story.html