Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Social Studies Lapbooking in Third Grade

I've been playing around with ways to organize the learning materials connected to our Content Area Studies. I had my kids create a lapbook of sorts for our Civics and Government Unit. It was made by taking two manilla folders and stapling the back cover of the first one over top of the front cover of the second one. This makes four sections for gluing learning materials. Here is the first section: The Cover. The middle section has the notes stapled to the top and blank paper underneath the notes to write other important facts. The other section includes the Branches of government tree they made.

This leaves a section to glue an envelope to . Inside the envelope we put vocabulary cards. These are words/illustrations on one card and defintions on the other. They can use these cards as matching cards or to play concentration or memory match.

Stapling one part of the folder on top of the other creates a inside pocket. In here we put other sorting cards. We had a set of cards for National/State/Local government. I don't have a picture of the back but we glued two songs that we sang about our government.

I liked this lapbook approach because it was easy to send home for studying prior to their test.

Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store for the printables for this lapbook.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday's Words for the Week

My thoughts on the eve of parent conference week...


Friday, September 23, 2011

Vocabulary Instruction and Review Game

Gosh, there are a lot of words for teachers to teach and students to learn in third grade. Just thinking about it all can be exhausting. When thinking about how best to instruct students in the area of vocabulary, my mind immediately turns to the work of Robert Marzano. Although I read this book for the first time years ago, I find myself turning back to it time and time again.

In this book he refers to the "dual coding" theory of information storage. The idea that knowledge is stored in two forms: linguistic and imagery form. Through research we can conclude that the more we use both systems, the better we are able to recall knowledge. In fact it has been shown that explicitly engaging students in the creation of nonlinguistic representations stimulates activity in the brain (Gerlic, Jausovec). So using graphic organizers, mental pictures and kinesthetic representations are incredibly valuable learning experiences for our students.

This week I introduced my students to a vocabulary review game to reinforce the new words associated with our Geography Unit. It is a cross between the Pyramid Game and Pictionary and so easy to do. I simply have kids set up chairs so one student is facing the board and one has his/her back to it. The one who is facing the board is the giving the picture clues and the one opposite the board is receiving and trying to guess the word. I write a word up: let's say Latitude Lines. The giver of the clues draws a picture to represent the word, they can expand on the drawing but can not use written words or verbal clues. I give 2 minutes and if they can guess the word they whisper it into the ear of the illustrator and they get a point. They switch chairs for the next word. As a teacher, I get a good idea of who knows the words. They LOVED this game and one kid said, "We should play this more often, Mrs. Young." My kids make me laugh! Here they are in action.

Another strategy that I rely on to review the words we teach is the Password of the Day. I write a vocab word on the board each morning and we go over that word. This then becomes the "magic word" that moves them. Let's say we are on the floor after read aloud, I would say, "On the word of the day, you can move back to your seats. The word of the day means _____." Then we would say the word and kids can move. It is used at most of my transition times and therefore that particular word is repeated about 4-5 times a day. A quick, easy way to sneak in vocabulary exposures!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Writing In Third Grade

We've begun writing in our third grade classroom and to my delight, my students are way into it!
We have set up our writing notebooks and writing offices and students are loving their Quiet 10. To my surprise, no one yet has said they can't think of anything to write about. I begin our writing block with a writing mini lesson and right now we're working on learning how to write a well formed paragraph. I'll share more on that soon! I'm just about ready to change out our writing board and put new pieces up. I have formatted the board with a special spot reserved for each student. We will change out their writing to showcase their favorite work. For the first sample I just put up their "Glad to be in Grade Three" papers that they did on the first day of school. They were interesting to read and gave me insight into their personalities. Here are some examples and the page if you want it.

I have added an updated file on my TPT store for this FREE resource. It includes one for second and fourth graders as well. 
Click the link below: 

The folder printables that were used to create the "student office" are also included in my store.
Check the link below:

Student Offices

I've had questions about how I teach writing skills and strategies. My students keep a writer's notebook. I am all about keeping things simple and focusing time and attention on real writing so I want to keep my minilessons short, sweet and to the point. I use what we refer to as "slice and stick" note sheets.  My students do just that...they slice (cut) the sheet in half and stick (glue) it into their journals. We review the skill using the left side of the paper and then apply the skill using the right side. This is what I use during those more formal teaching lessons. I like that the notes remain in their journals for the year. That way I can refer back to it as we write or during writing conferences. It is also good to send home occasionally for parents to see.

Click the link below if you are interested in using these slice and stick notesheets with your third graders. 

Writer's Notebooks

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday's Words for the Week

I've had the great fortune of working with some amazing administrators, most of them women. Strong, wise women with great insight and vision. When I was a young teacher I taught in Northern VA with one such principal. I think she saw her teachers the way we see our students and worked hard to get to know each of us so she could understand both our strengths and weaknesses. We felt valued and respected by her but like any good teacher, she wanted to see us grow and develop our talents. She was a great mentor to me and loved to push me to do things that I wasn't sure I could. Her most favorite line to use on me was this:

I'm not saying it's going to be


I'm saying it's going to be


I've thought these words a lot this past week as we are just beginning the process of implementing new programs at our school. I don't expect this to be an easy year and teachers are already feeling stressed and overwhelmed. But I'm hoping that in the end we can all look back and see how what we did helped our children succeed and if that is the case then we can rest assured that it was indeed worth it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Computer Graphing with Pixie

I am here all alone this afternoon. That NEVER happens. I guess I shouldn't say "all alone". Little Sonny (aka "the beast") is here with me.

Sure, he looks cute and innocent but looks can be deceiving! Those of you who have had the privilege of meeting Sonny know what I'm talking about! At the moment he is hiding under the table but I can hear him gnawing on the chair leg. Any Jack Russell owners who have advice on taming the "Taz" please email me! I see Sonny as my lesson in patience and I'm not getting a very good grade right now!

Speaking of emails, I actually read a bunch today and will respond with one last graphing project. My third graders worked on a final project where they came up with a survey question of their own to ask their friends. They picked the question, the answer categories and then polled at least 15 members of our class. They recorded the survey results on a tally chart. Next we used the computer program called "Pixie" to create the bar graphs. Pixie reminds me a lot of Kidspiration. We had the template ready to go in the activities file in the program. It amazes me how techno savy this generation is. They can trouble shoot computers better than I can and generated these graphs with very little help from me.

The final part of the process was analzying the data on the graph and writing our conclusions. I want my third graders to realize that people don't just make a graph for the fun of it but rather that they use it to track information. So in my mind the analysis is an important part. It took some modeling and math talk to get away from the very basic conclusion of ____ has the most and _____ has the least. We've moved a step further and some are beginning to think more deeply than before. They drew their picture and wrote their math thinking in the thought bubble. So if you have Pixie or Kidspiration, give it a try!

Third Grade Graphing: Line Plots

It's been a busy week for both kids and teachers! We managed to finish our unit on Graphing Data with a final look at Line Plotting. Third graders have not been exposed to this graph before so I tried to come up with several line plotting ideas to help them gain experience with creating them and analyzing results. This idea was their favorite. I was inspired by the game show, A Minute to Win It and decided to have my students try building the tallest pattern block tower they could in a minute. We would then count the blocks used by each group and graph/analzye the result.
Be forewarned: This activity also ended up being a reteach of using self control and level 2 voices! It was great fun though and kids did end up understanding this type of graph having been involved in making one themselves!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday's Words for the Week

On this 9/11 anniversary, I think of those who lost so much so quickly. I will strive to appreciate and give thanks for the "normal" days I am given, for they are a gift. Also want to wish good luck to my writing partner and great friend, Jill Stewart, who is presenting on "Maximizing Student Achievement" at a DRR Seminar this week. Those of you who know Jill, know she never toots her own horn so I will do it for her. She does amazing work and is an inspiration to me!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Beginning of Year: Shoe Poem and Graphing Idea

I love it when I can make a Reading to Math connection and you all know how much I love teaching through poetry. So when I found: "Choosing Shoes" by Frida Wolfe I knew I wanted my kids to have it in their poetry anthologies. This one is great for the beginning of the year because most kids have just experienced shopping for new shoes and can make a self-to-text connection about the process. I love the chanting sound of this poem read aloud. It's fun to read so kids want to reread it multiple times. Great for fluency practice! How about all those adjectives! Many teaching points to cover through this one! Here it is below: Choosing Shoes

After enjoying the poem, we then connected it to our study of data collection and creating pictographs. I wish I had taken pictures of the kids doing this, but didn't so here is the process I used. I had everyone sit in a huge circle and take off one shoe and set it in the middle so all could see the collection. Then I asked kids to try to find ways we could sort/classify the shoes. Many suggestions emerged: by color, by type, etc. etc. etc. There was no lack of ideas. Then we settled on the categories of: slip ons / laces/ buckles/ I wrote those on index cards and then we made the "object" graph with the actual shoes on the floor. We analyzed our findings and made observations like: "Most people wore shoes with laces today." We practiced counting them by twos. I gave the students the graphing paper below and they transferred that information to a tally chart and then to a pictograph. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes!

Graphing Shoe Type

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Me Museum Project

Well we made it through our first full week of school! We spent quite a bit of time learning the routines and expectations. I believe in taking time to train them in the beginning, it so pays off in the end. We ended the week with our ME MUSEUM presentations. This is a super simple project but kids love doing it and showing it off. I like it because it is quick yet effective. I begin by showing them my ME MUSEUM on Monday. I show them items I would put in a museum display about me: a map: because I like to travel, my running shoes: because I love to run, a picture of my family. I include index cards that explain what each item tells about me. Writing explanations is one of our first writing objectives so this gives me a chance to see what they already know about this type of writing. Then they are assigned finding objects and writing one card each day for homework. They create a sign to use as well. Then on Friday they brought it all in and we took turns touring museums and explaining our museums. We found out so much about each other and kids made connections with others who have similar hobbies and interests.

Here are some pictures:

I took pictures of my kiddos in front of their museums.  This made a fantastic display outside of our door.  Parents loved seeing it on Back to School Night!

I've developed this idea into a paragraph writing lesson and an introduction to brainstorming through the use of the four square or brainstorming web.  
I have included these materials and a three step explanation in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.


Check out more ideas about what I like to do on the first week of school.
Just click the link below:

More Back to School Ideas

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Off Topic

This post goes out to my running club especially Liz (TechyTeach) who is running a 5K this weekend. Run hard girl! She wanted us to post our favorite running tunes. Here's what's on my shuffle play list right now, lots of TRAIN, Van Morrison, my new favorite band; NeedtoBreathe....saw them in concert and now I'm a huge fan!, also must throw in some inspirational like Lovely or Indescribable by Chris Tomlin.

Not sure what my low energy slump is about (couldn't be school, could it???) All that great music is NOT helping my time. so I've adopted this attitude:

Heck, yeah!

Will be getting back to school posting soon, will also answer the emails. Sorry for the delay!