Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cause and Effect for Early Readers

Teaching Cause and Effect to early learners can be as easy as understanding the relationship between rain and umbrellas. Students can create these statements in whole group, with a partner, and independently.
I actually had someone tell me early readers didn't need to know about cause and effect because "it was too hard to bring it to their level." I, respectfully, disagree.  It's not necessarily about the skill, it's about the approach.

Rain and Umbrellas...the easiest example
Teaching Cause and Effect to early learners can be as easy as understanding the relationship between rain and umbrellas. Students can create these statements in whole group, with a partner, and independently.

Kids know why they use umbrellas...it's either used in rain or in the bright sun. Provide students with picture cards and ask them to tell the relationship between the pictures. Lead them to use signal words "because" and "so." Let them discover the cause and effect BEFORE you call it such. As an added practice, students can use partner puzzles to talk to their peers and discover the cause and effect.

Make an Anchor Chart
Teaching Cause and Effect to early learners can be as easy as understanding the relationship between rain and umbrellas. Students can create these statements in whole group, with a partner, and independently.

Once they understand the relationship between the pictures, ask them to help you make an anchor chart. (You know I believe in Anchor Charts for everything!) They should help you create the poster and decide what the chart should include (with your guidance). The anchor chart can be recreated for a reading interactive notebook or an independent center.

Let them do it!
Teaching Cause and Effect to early learners can be as easy as understanding the relationship between rain and umbrellas. Students can create these statements in whole group, with a partner, and independently.

Students can use what they know about the relationships to create independent sentences. They can choose the pictures for cause and effect, then choose one pair to write a complete sentence with a signal word.

See, it's not hard, it's just strategic!

For a Sample Cause and Effect set, click the link or the picture below.

If you'd like the Full Cause and Effect set, click the link to my TPT store.

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Teaching Cause and Effect to early learners can be as easy as understanding the relationship between rain and umbrellas. Students can create these statements in whole group, with a partner, and independently.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Sliding" into Writing

Using old slides for story starters is such a great idea. So excited to share first grade teacher, Jessica Watts, idea for a fun writing lesson.
In January I told you about my visit to Bristol and the Classroom Makeover Winner, Jessica Watts. It was such a fun day and she was as excited as her students to use their "new" classroom set-up.

Jessica emailed me last week with this fantastic idea for an end-of-the-year writing lesson. Jessica was reading the book, Finders Keepers for Franklin to her class and she discovered they had no idea what film was (welcome to the digital age). She had to give them a "history" lesson so they could understand the book. Soon after, she was in an antique store and found some old slides. She purchased enough slides for everyone to use in a writing lesson.

First, Look at the Slides

Using old slides for story starters is such a great idea. So excited to share first grade teacher, Jessica Watts, idea for a fun writing lesson.
The students were amazed as they held the slides up the light. They were animated and excited to share what they were seeing with their friends. Once they all shared the slides, they chose a slide to write about.

Second, Write About It

Using old slides for story starters is such a great idea. So excited to share first grade teacher, Jessica Watts, idea for a fun writing lesson.
The students wrote about what they saw in the slides. They could create the whole story because they only had one slide to reference. Interestingly enough, some of the students had different stories for the same slides. They wrote about details by drawing conclusions, making inferences, predicting, and making connections.

Finally, Illustrate It.

The last part of the assignment was to illustrate for their writing. Jessica shared they were excited about the entire lesson. They even wanted to write again the next day. Wouldn't this be a fun center? Maybe even have a flashlight, so they can see details.

I am so excited Jessica shared this fun and exciting writing lesson with me and I got to share it with you. Bristol, Virginia Public Schools sure are lucky to have great teachers like Jessica. She took the opportunity to provide the students with valuable background knowledge and a new and unique writing lesson.

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Using old slides for story starters is such a great idea. So excited to share first grade teacher, Jessica Watts, idea for a fun writing lesson.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Character Traits and Character Feelings: What characters tell us?

Character Traits and Character Feelings have to be explicitly taught and practiced, so comprehension is enhanced and students can be successful readers.
This time of the year we are doing our summative F&P benchmarks. One of the most common questions is "How does the character feel when...?" AND...one of the most common responses is "happy."  Nothing can make a teacher feel any less "happy" than a student giving a quick "happy" as an answer. 

Teach Emotions

Character Traits and Character Feelings have to be explicitly taught and practiced, so comprehension is enhanced and students can be successful readers.Teaching character traits are important. We have used the chart on the right to show what traits are seen on the outside and what is on the inside, as well. BUT we can't stop there. Using this as a springboard, taking time to teach how the "inside" of the words (what he says, thinks, does, and feels) and what information we can gain from those "inside" emotions. We want to get frustrated with the students, but this is a great time to be reflective about our lessons.  I suspect we teach the difference between the outside and inside and collecting character traits, but we don't go any farther. It's one of those lessons we MUST explicitly teach. Using the words from the story, discuss the feelings from the character and what these feelings reflect in the "character" of the character in the story. Practicing this skill makes the comprehension conversation easy. 

Bear's Birthday

Character Traits and Character Feelings have to be explicitly taught and practiced, so comprehension is enhanced and students can be successful readers.One of the books I use with our intervention groups is "Bear's Birthday," a book in the LLI kit. This is an easy book to make sure we are explicitly teaching about how a character feels. We also take the time to "describe the character." My students were quick to describe Bear as big, furry, and tall. "NOOOOO, that's not what I needed. That's not what I mean.  Breathe. Think.  Reset. Next day, start over." So you know: Bear is excited about his birthday and decides to throw himself a party. He is very forgetful and needs to borrow several things from his friends (eggs for a cake, paper for hats, and balloons).  When the party is ready, none of his friends come to his house. He is sad and goes to find his friends. They are also sad because he never invited them to his party...because he is forgetful. Using this book to "describe" bear definitely provided an explicit lesson.

Emotions

Character Traits and Character Feelings have to be explicitly taught and practiced, so comprehension is enhanced and students can be successful readers.
If we don't talk about emotions on the test and only on the test, we setting ourselves up for failure. Using an emotions chart can help students distinguish between happy and excited or sad and mad. Every skill we assess should include an I do, we do, you do phase...so we have to do this with emotions, as well.

If you would like the Emotions Chart, please click the words or the pictures.
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Character Traits and Character Feelings have to be explicitly taught and practiced, so comprehension is enhanced and students can be successful readers.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Compare and Contrast with Emergent Learners

Can Emergent learners compare and contrast? Of course, they can. With a step-by-step practice, the routine can be easy.
We are using Benchmark Universe in our school district and sometimes it's hard to get practice with our emergent readers. Our last unit was about Compare and Contrast. It can be an easy skill for students to TALK about, but we wanted to see if we could get them to write about it independently.
We Do.
I have said it before and I'll say it again, if you haven't done it together, don't ask them to do it alone. Make sure you take the time to SHOW them how to do it and HELP them do it, then they will do it. Monday, the Venn diagram was put under the document camera. The teacher discussed the Venn and students helped determine which objects were about the dog and the fish exclusively, and which items were about both. Tuesday, students helped recreate the Venn and interactively write one sentence about the dog. Wednesday, students helped recreate the Venn and interactively write one sentence about the fish. Thursday, students helped recreate the Venn and interactively write a sentence about both the dog and the fish.
Can Emergent learners compare and contrast? Of course, they can. With a step-by-step practice, the routine can be easy.
You Do. Part 1.
The next week, this becomes a center. To ensure students understand the process, the same Venn is put in the center for students to create independently. Students are asked to create the Venn with the pictures.
Can Emergent learners compare and contrast? Of course, they can. With a step-by-step practice, the routine can be easy.
You Do. Part 2.
After students create the Venn, they are asked to write 3 sentences: one about the dog, one about the fish, one about both. Students are encouraged to use the words on the Venn as a model.
Can Emergent learners compare and contrast? Of course, they can. With a step-by-step practice, the routine can be easy.
You Do. Part 3.
We have put this in the reading comprehension center for the next several weeks. The more practice students have with creating and writing about compare and contrast, the more the lesson will be meaningful.
If you would like a sample set, click Compare and Contrast Sample Set.
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Monday, May 1, 2017

Top 10 Plant Books for Emergent Readers

Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.
Who doesn't love the Plant Unit.  There are so many activities to do with students to truly engage their learning.  Students should be touching and planting and sorting and experiencing plants.  From growing seeds in a glove to growing grass in a cup..AND books are the best compliment to that unit.

Here are my Top 10 Books.

1. The Tiny Seed

There is no end to my love for Eric Carle and "The Tiny Seed."  There is so much in this beautiful book that can be AND SHOULD BE shared with students at all levels.  Not just lessons of plant parts and what a plant needs, but also lessons of what can help the plant and what can hurt the plant.  Lessons on birth and death and rebirth.  There are obvious connections to science, but this book lends itself to great lessons in math.
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

2. Growing Vegetable Soup

This book is great in it's simplicity.  Some students have never imagined growing their own soup.  Soup comes out of a can.  This idea is exciting to them.  Go with it.  While introducing this book to a class I asked, "Does soup grow on plants?"  One boy looked at my sweetly and said, "Oh Mrs. Collier, I think you are so silly.  Soup doesn't grow on plants, real soup grows at the store."  Oh, if it was that easy.  This is another great book to revisit when you need to discuss fractions.  They cut the vegetables into pieces...and make "real" fractions.
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

3. Eating the Alphabet

Mmmmm...along the lines of "Growing Vegetable Soup," this is a fun book to introduce students to some fruits and vegetables they've never seen before.
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

4. Planting a Rainbow

This book shows all the colors of the rainbow in the plant world.  Ask parents, grandparents, community members to send in magazines (Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, Family Circle and Good Housekeeping).  Build a rainbow in your room with their cut-out pictures.  They can write about colors and plants.
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

5. Flower Garden

This is one of my favorite books for teaching drawing conclusions, predicting, and inferring.  Throughout the book you wonder why they are buying the materials for a plant box.  It also shows a garden in a unique place...a window sill.  Most students have never thought of gardens like this.  They can write about what flowers they'd plant in their window...and why.
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

6. The Apple Pie Tree

You may have introduced this book in the fall.  It's the perfect book to show the changes of the seasons.  I also LOVE the illustrations...Shari Halpern is amazing.  That being said, revisit the book!  Reintroduce the book.  Show them the book again and ask them to look at the book with a different set of eyes.
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

7. It's Pumpkin Time!

This is another revisit!  Don't put the pumpkin book away in November...just transfer it to the plant bucket in your classroom library.  When they see it a second time, they pay attention to the plant life cycle not just the pumpkin becoming a Jack O'Lantern.
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

8.  Tops and Bottoms

This book is another discussion about where food grows.  They are quick to tell you they would NEVER eat roots or leaves or flowers for that matter.  Oh, how surprised they are!  They are delighted that Bear is tricked by Hare, as well.
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

9.  I'm a Seed

This is a cute book about 2 seeds;  a marigold and a mystery seed.  As the book progresses students will see how different the plants are and start predicting what is growing.  This is also a wonderful easy reader that can be tackled by young students.
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

10. If You Plant a Seed

Before I read the book I knew I would love it.  How can you not love a book written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson?  I was able to meet him a few years ago at a conference and he is as generous to teachers at conferences as he is to students reading his books.  This book goes far beyond the life cycle of a plant.  He wants students to know sharing with your community always provides a greater reward than imagined.  The students were captured by the story and I even had someone gasp at the aftermath of the struggle.  "Oh no, what will happen now?"  Exactly what we want our students to ask...if we don't share, what will happen?
Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.

These are my suggestions.  I hope you enjoy the books, but more than that I hope they inspire and capture the heart and minds of your students.

If you'd like a Sampler Set for my new TPT set, All About Plants, CLICK HERE!

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Want to grow readers and thinkers for spring? Here are 10 books about plants to help.