Thursday, June 28, 2018

Virginia SOLs: Teaching the Ancient Civilizations - Ancient Egypt

Hello Friends!  Are you managing to stay cool?  I've opted for some indoor activities since the temperature has hit into the 90s.  It's feeling like summer in VA!  
I'm finally getting some files organized and uploaded.
I came across some pictures and materials that we used this past year during our study of Ancient Egypt.  I'd love to hear from my VA teacher friends....what do you think about our new history SOL's?   Are you loving/hating the fact that we teach five ancient civilizations through the course of one year? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Last year we used a learning log to record all of our social studies and science learning.  I have tried many other approaches throughout the years but this worked the best. I will be creating learning logs again next year. 

I made tabs for each of our topics of study.  Here is our section on Ancient Egypt.

In order to create more time for my reading block, I needed to cut my content area time to just about 20 minutes. That time goes super fast! I managed to integrate a lot of social studies and science learning into my language arts block. My students read and write about content area studies throughout their reading rounds.  It works out great.  

When we do have our content time, my lessons need to be fairly quick, direct and tightly aligned with the learning standard. 

I like using visual slideshows to introduce and then review the information they need to know. 
The slide show includes the driving question. 

We view photographs to help us create an image of the information in our heads. 

We also viewed some photographs of artifacts and paintings. 
From these, we made inferences and had conversations about what conclusions we could draw based on what we noticed. 

As we worked through the slides, students also took notes about what we learned.  These got glued into their learning logs.  They reread their notes and created "meaningful" illustrations during reading time.  This allowed them to revisit that same information again and this time they had to create the visual image themselves. This repeated practice really helped the information to stick!

During our study of Egypt, I had my students also work on some partner research during the language arts block.   They created research folders to keep them focused and organized. 

Students recorded what they already knew about Ancient Egypt on the back of the folder.
Then they recorded some questions they wanted to find out.  This helped to give students a purpose for their reading.  

I checked out a wide variety of nonfiction books.  I made sure that there were some on a lower reading level so that everyone could locate information.  

Students recorded information on post it notes and organized them under the correct topic.
Afterwards students would participate in shared writing time.  Together, we created paragraphs using the details that they found during their research time.  This was my way of modeling how to write a research report.  Later in the year, students would be assigned another animal research report to do independently.  Writing a report about Egypt as a class was a way to scaffold the instruction. 

We found some good online resources like encyclopedias and websites to use. 
All students were very focused and productive during this time.
They love to research!

I've added this Egypt file to my TPT store. Click the link below to check it out!

Here are the others if interested: 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Getting Hooked on Books

How can we get kids fired up about reading? We need to start with a spark. 
I view my read alouds as just that. I am a firm believer in setting aside a time each and every day for a read aloud and third graders are not too old for this. My kids and I both love this time.  It is precious for many reasons. One of the most important being that during this time I not only model good reading strategies, but I also impart and instill in my students a deep love of books and reading. I feel it is important to share our enthusiasm for what we are can be infectious. 

Here is our gathering spot. It includes a chair and a little table on which I can display the book of the day.  My genre signs and nonfiction text posters are hanging close by so we can refer to them prior to reading our book.  
My story souvenir suitcase includes vocabulary word cards, background photos or story props. 

Of course the most important part of the process is picking the books.

Here are some of the most memorable ones from the past year.

Stuart Goes to School
Stuart's Cape
The Amazing World of Stuart

Of course I must make mention of my collection of Stuart books.
Stuart Goes to School is the very first chapter book I read aloud to my students on that very first week of school.
Stuart is a likeable, relatable character. We moaned, groaned, laughed and cheered alongside him as he faced many trials and tribulations during his first days at school.
My kids couldn't wait to get their hands of the other two books in this series.

I could see the impact these books had on the faces of my kids while reading. The Chalk Box Kid and The Hundred Dresses are two books that I think left the biggest mark on my students.  They help to teach compassion and kindness through characters who are facing hard times.

My third graders loved reading the Stories Julian Tells. Each chapter is a different story.  We loved Ann Cameron's descriptive writing style so much that we tried to copy it as we wrote our own stories. It made a great mentor text for writing personal narratives early in the year.

One way I can make sure that I work in my read aloud time, is to have it be the hook to a content area lesson.  These three books were used during my science time.
Owen Foote Mighty Scientist is a great one to read to introduce the scientific method as Owen and his friend work on a science project.  Dirt Boy is my absolute favorite read to jump into a unit on soil. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig is a fun one to incorporate during your simple machines unit. 

These three are some of my favorite ones to use during my social studies units. I read I Have an Olive Tree while teaching about Ancient Greece. Sophia is given an olive tree in Greece as a present. She travels and finds out the importance of such a gift.  The Mysterious Traveler is an outstanding book to read during a unit on Mali. This mystery is set in the desert of Africa and will have your students guessing what will happen next. I love reading The Boy of the Three Year Nap as we study Ancient China. It is full of great vocabulary and lends itself to so many reading skill teaching points. 

Do you have favorite read alouds?
Would love to hear!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

A Summer Book Response: Story Pails

After a long and crazy school year, I must say I am super excited about summer!
BUT the reality is that we have two weeks left of school before we call it quits for the year. 
So instead of counting down the days....we need to make the days count. 
We can review a lot in ten days!
We will spend some of that time practicing our good reader skills and strategies. 
I try to give my students regular self selected independent reading opportunities.  We call this time BAM (books and me) Time. It is one of our favorite times of the day.  I like to have my kids share out about the books they are reading.  Sometimes those are quick "book commercials" and other times we do something more involved like these book report reading pails. 

This project involved students responding to their book by telling about the characters, setting, giving a short summary and stating their opinion. 
Each of these elements go on one of the shovels. 

The pails are constructed so that the shovels could fit inside of the pails. 

Students can then share their books by reading what they wrote on the shovels. 

To make the sharing time even more special you could serve these cute sand cups.
The recipe is super simple and fun to make. 

I've added these materials to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. 
Check there if you would like to try this with your children.