Saturday, March 16, 2013

Comfy Classroom Library Organization!

So here's my take...

Can you find what is comfy but organized in my library?

Look closely at the bottom of the bookshelves. 
The cute zebra pattern is really standard sized pillow cases!!!

Click here to go to the Target website

I bought these 3 tiered bookshelves from Target when they went on sale for $16.99. I love how easy (no tools) they are to put together and how sturdy they are! 

They have just enough space at the bottom to fit standard sized pillows!


Over the summer I saw this pin of how students used chairs as great reading nooks and thought, I have to do that

Unfortunately my pin does not go through to a blog or website so I don't have a particular person to thank and give credit to for this fantastic idea! 

If you happen to know, please let me know!

My class has loved the pillows and "chair nooks" this year! I am really proud of how well they share them...of course quietest students get first pick!

Students like to spread out all over the classroom to read and jot their thoughts!

I love using pillow cases instead of store bought pillows. 

They are easy to keep clean and so versatile. 

They easily can be brought home to wash and best of all...when I get tired of the zebra print (I don't foresee that happening anytime soon) I can easily find something else!!!

Well, as always, if you have a comfy library idea I do wish you would share! 

Happy Learning!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Before a Close Read...Use THIEVES!

So here's my take...

I have a great group of students this year. However, one of my challenges is that more than 75% of my classroom reads below grade level. Beginning this year I knew that I would need to incorporate more reading instruction in my content areas.

My research
up 2 great resources!

I am in Va and we don't follow the Common Core (yet!) but I have noticed that this standard (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.10) has caused confusion & concern for many of you. These two books explain and show you how to address this standard.

I highly recommend reading both these books! I especially found Sunday Cummins book, Close Reading of Informational Texts especially helpful in how to explicitly teach students to read complex informational texts.

In Ch. 5 of her book, Cummins takes you step by step through teaching students to strategically preview text prior to a close read. Using the mnemonic THIEVES helps students to activate their background knowledge and prepares
 them to make in-depth predictions.

Cummins recommends having groups work together to preview the text, which helps support readers at every level! I found that my students were more focused, confident, & ready to do a close read with the text because they had used THIEVES beforehand. 

Click Here for a Copy
Click Here for a Copy

THIEVES is a great way to set the purpose for reading!

While doing my research, I also came across an EXCELLENT video that modeled a close read. Not only did it model close reading but how to seamlessly incorporate & use Learning Targets (which I love too!). 


Lastly, I started a Pin Board to collect resources & more ideas 
on Close Reading & Text Complexity. 

Click Here to Visit the Pin Board

If you happen to have ideas or resources on the subject, I would love to hear from you!

Happy Learning!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Primary Sources & Anchor Charts

So here's my take...

This year I have been making great efforts to get my Va. Studies students to use their 
Historical Thinking Skills 
(Sourcing, Contextualizing, Close Reading, & Cross Checking). 

Below is our Historical Thinking Skills board that we refer to many times throughout the year when we take a look at a primary source.

I have really seen how the use of primary sources have helped my students learn how to think critically and to engage with the content in more meaningful ways.

Recently my class began its investigation into how Virginian ideas contributed to the formation of our new government. Students need to know about the ideas of James Madison, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, & George Washington.

To understand these men's ideas students must investigate the Constitution 
& work with this primary source!

A picture book is always a great place to start. The text is arranged to break down the components of the constitution in easy to understand parts.

As we read the text we are pausing to use our historical thinking skills, have partner discussions, and then create an anchor chart of our learning. 

As you can see, the primary source document is right there for students to interact and get familiar with (I also have copies for students to get their hands on too...with a magnify glass!)

Click here for a Copy
Click here for a Copy
As we go along creating our anchor chart, students are recording the information in a graphic organizer that will go into their notebooks.

Here is another primary source image I love to use when investigating the Constitution. The painting by Howard Christy in 1940 can be found at

At the site you can scroll over the delegates and it displays their name. It is another excellent way for students to dive deeper into a primary source.

At the site there is a synopsis of the painting that you can use for great discussions.

I posed the question, 
Do you think all 55 delegates are represented? Explain your reasoning.

If you have any primary source documents you use for the Constitution, I would LOVE to hear from you!!!

Happy Learning!

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