A “Turkey-rrific” Thanksgiving Writing Activity



It is almost Thanksgiving Week, and my kids were wondering whether we will ever do something artsy with a Thanksgiving theme, like making turkey paper crafts.  One of my 3rd graders suggested, “Let’s color some turkeys!”  Of course I did not want to let them down, so I decided  to give my lesson a Thanksgiving twist, sort of.  As a result, I titled our bulletin board, “Have a Turkey-rrific Thanksgiving!”  My students loved it!

Interestingly, my latest lesson was on CAUSE and EFFECT.  Using my Cause and Effect anchor chart, cause and effect match up game using pictures, plus a read-aloud of “If You Give a Dog a Donut,”  we discussed cause and effect relationships.  The final independent work:  A cause and effect writing activity using a turkey template, which I found from Havefunteaching.com.  I asked students to create their own stories using “If You Give a Dog a Donut” as a model.  I emphasized that their title should have an animal and food with the same beginning letters, e.g. horse – hamburger, lion – lollipop, etc.  It was amazing how my students thought of really interesting titles.  

If You Give a Dog a Donut

If You Give a Dog a Donut

The template has 3 pages:  A title page, an illustration page, and the writing page.  

Sample  "Cause and Effect" Title Page

Sample “Cause and Effect” Title Page

Sample "Cause and Effect" Illustration Page

Sample “Cause and Effect” Illustration Page

Sample "Cause and Effect Paragraph Page

Sample “Cause and Effect Paragraph Page

You can use a scoring rubric like the one I created below to grade your students’ work:

Cause and Effect Scoring Rubric

Cause and Effect Scoring Rubric

Check out the pictures below to see how my students did their writing project:

My 3rd Grade Students at Work!

My 3rd Grade Students at Work!

Writing their Cause and Effect Using a Turkey Template

Writing their Cause and Effect Using a Turkey Template

Illustration page for their cause and effect writing activity

Illustration page for their cause and effect writing activity

And this is our “Turkey-rrific” Thanksgiving bulletin board,  My students are so proud of their work:  (Note: There’s a typo error on the title, which I’m going to correct tomorrow.)

Out "Turkey-rrific" Thanksgiving Bulletin Board

Our “Turkey-rrific” Thanksgiving Bulletin Board

Thank you to havefunteaching.com for their terrific freebies!  You can visit their site here to download the Thanksgiving Writing Paper – Turkey Outline on their Holiday Worksheets page.

I just hit two birds with one stone on this project:  My kids got what they wanted:  to color  some turkeys, and I got to let them write their cause and effect stories.  Go ahead and let your students have fun before the Thanksgiving Break.

Let’s all have a turkey-rrific Thanksgiving!

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Story in a Box: Using Cereal Boxes for a Story Elements Project



Sometimes things at home that we are about to throw away make for a worthy classroom project or resource.  One of my teacher friends, for example, used to ask me to keep the caps of used water bottles because he is using them as math manipulatives.  In my case, I used empty cereal boxes of various sizes for a story elements project.  I rEmember using shoe boxes for a math project on area and perimeter last year.  This time I thought, why not use cereal boxes?  And so, I called this project created by my 1st Grade ESOL kids, “Story in a Box.” Their task was to summarize, recreate, and illustrate the story we read, which is titled “Alice Nizzy Nazzy, the Witch of Santa Fe.”

Here are the materials I used for this project:

empty cereal boxes

colored papers to cover the cereal boxes

plain file folders. cut into 3 rectangular pieces

construction paper, cut into half

scissors

markers and crayons

glue sticks and transparent tape

Here are the steps to creating “Story in a Box” Project:

1.  Cover the empty cereal boxes with colored paper using glue or transparent tape.  Since this is a 1st grade project, I had to do this myself to save time.

2.  Divide the class into pairs or trios.  Distribute the materials to each group.

3.  Provide clear instructions to do the following:

a.  Use the 3 pieces of file folder to draw two major characters in vertical position, and the major setting in horizontal position.  Label each drawing.

b.  Fold the  half-sized construction papers into half.

c.  Write a one-sentence “PROBLEM” on the top fold, and illustrate it inside.  Do the same thing for the other half-fold construction paper.  Write a one-sentence “SOLUTION” and illustrate it.

c.  Glue the characters, setting, problem and solution on the cereal box as shown below:

My 1st Grade ESOL Kids' "Story in a Box" Project

My 1st Grade ESOL Kids’ “Story in a Box” Project

My 1st Grade ESOL Kids at Work!

My 1st Grade ESOL Kids at Work!

Our Story Elements Anchor Chart and Projects

Our Story Elements Anchor Chart and Projects

4.  Finally, let each pair present the project by giving a summary of the story.

Go ahead and try this project with your kids!  I’m sure they will love it as my kids did!

 

Differentiated Character Traits Lessons for ELLs



One of my all-time favorite lessons to teach is identifying character traits.  It is a lesson where students can easily find connections to themselves or to other people they know.  In so many ways, a character in a text, whether it be from a fantasy story or a realistic fiction, reminds them of somebody they know in real life.  The key is to choose the right story to use for read-aloud or as a mentor text.  

There are various ways to teach this reading skill, which is part of the inferential skills that students need to be familiar with.  In 1st grade ESOL, I try to focus on terms that they can easily understand,, such as:

WHAT THE CHARACTER LOOKS LIKE

WHAT THE CHARACTER DOES

In 3rd and 5th grade, students are usually given a list of character traits they can use as reference when thinking about how to describe the characters in the text.  The curriculum framework mandated by my district includes a copy of this character traits.  You can also find this list on www.readwritethink.org.  As an ESOL teacher, I try to differentiate this lesson by letting them match images or pictures showing different emotions with the descriptive words before introducing the lesson.  Then,I now expand the concept with these phrases using an anchor chart:

WHAT THE CHARACTER LOOKS LIKE (APPEARANCE)

WHAT THE CHARACTER DOES (ACTIONS)

WHAT THE CHARACTER THINKS OR FEELS (THOUGHTS/FEELINGS)

WHY THE CHARACTER ACTS AS HE/SHE DOES (MOTIVATIONS)

For my ELL’s, especially those in the beginning proficiency levels, being able to use common adjectives or descriptive words such as NICE, HAPPY, or SAD is already a big accomplishment for them.  As they gain more confidence in using the language, it is important to let the students think about words to replace these ordinary adjectives.

To facilitate discussion, I use an anchor chart to identify character traits of a main character as we read the story.  Below is an example of an anchor chart I used in 5th grade using the main character from our read-aloud text, “Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach.”

Character Traits Anchor Chart

Character Traits Anchor Chart

 Here is a suggested lesson outline for 3rd grade:

1.  Warm-Up – introduce 5 adjectives.  Play a match-up game of these adjectives and a set of pictures.

2.  Whole-group activity – Introduce “character traits” using an anchor chart.  Use a mentor text to read aloud to students.  Focus on the main character to identify the character trait.  Pause each time to analyze the character’s development in the story using the anchor chart as a guide.  Chart students’ answers with Post-it notes.

3.  Group Work – Divide students into pairs or groups.  Let them choose a character from the story.  Use a graphic organizer similar to the anchor chart to analyze a character’s appearance, actions, and feelings, and inference about the character.

4.  Independent Work – Use a template to illustrate their character and write a character analysis.  You can find a lot of different templates on Pinterest.  This year I used the character selfies template as more and more young people, even us adults, are becoming more fascinated with the “selfie” trends on social media. Below are links to templates you can use, which also appeared on my previous blog:

Character Selfies template 1

Character Selfies template 2

Again, many thanks to  THE PINSPIRED TEACHER and PRINCIPAL PRINCIPLES for their great freebies.

 

Character Selfie from "A Bad Case of Stripes"

Character Selfie from “A Bad Case of Stripes”

OUr Character Selfies

OUr Character Selfies

photo

Suggested Read-Aloud Books for a Character Traits Lesson:

A Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach

Skippyjon Jones

Skippyjon Jones

Oliver Button is a Sissy

Oliver Button is a Sissy

David Gets in Trouble

David Gets in Trouble   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 1st Day of November!

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Halloween-Themed Character Traits Bulletin Board



It is such a perfect time to teach CHARACTER TRAITS in October because I wanted my bulletin board to have a Halloween theme while displaying the awesome work of my ELL students on character traits.

Of course, I did not have to spend a lot of time thinking about what design to use because Pinterest has it all.  From skeletons to witches, bats, owls, monsters, skeletons, ghosts, zombies, and haunted houses – search it and you’ll have it.

I narrowed my search to haunted houses, and found inspiration in these designs found at afaithfulattempt.blogspot.com and bulletin board ideas.org.

b498b2356c217595672e796796247a38

Halloween Bulletin Board from http://afaithfulattempt.blogspot.com

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Halloween Design courtesy of http://bulletinboardideas.org

 

Although my students completed various tasks on character traits, which I am going to share in another blog, I thought the CHARACTER SEFIES activity was perfect match with the haunted house design of our bulletin board.  Again, I searched for character selfies template on Pinterest and to my amazement, there were several really awesome templates that I found.  Most of them are for Back To School activities with “All About Me” writing prompt, but I still found what I was looking for, which was on CHARACTER TRAITS.  Click on the links below and they will take you to Teacherspayteachers.com.  Thank you, The Pinspired Teacher for an awesome freebie!   Please follow her on TPT.  I used the phone template by Stephanie McConnell of thenewprincipalprinciples.blogspot.com to illustrate their character selfies.  Check out her TPT products here.

Character Selfies template 1

Character Selfies template 2

The results:

 

OUr Character Selfies

OUr Character Selfies

photo

And here is our bulletin board:

photo 3-2

Happy Halloween!

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Yes, Kids Can Blog, Too!



Hello, fellow educators!

I have been working on fully integrating technology in my ESOL classes this year.  I must admit it isn’t easy as it looks like because it entails a lot of careful planning of lessons and activities.  I want to make sure that students  also achieve a comfort level in using the technology.  After a few weeks though, of talking about digital citizenship, the features of the tablet and some basic keyboarding practice, I finally am able to launch our class blog.  You bet,  my 3rd and 5th grade ESOL students are on the roll to being kid bloggers!  And if anybody asks how kids can blog, my kids will beg to differ.   They will tell you:  Yes, we kids can blog, too!

After narrowing down my top sites to Edmodo and kidblog.org, I decided to use kidblog.org for our class blogs.  All my students have to do is to go to our class website, and click “Our Class Blog” on the navigation bar.

 A Screen Shot of my Class Website

 Then, it will take them to our class blog page.  All they have to do is click on their grade level to access the blog site, select their name from the list, and log in with their password, which I have provided to them.

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 Their dashboard on kidblog.org looks like this:

A Screen Shot of my 5th Grade ESOL Class Blog Site

Last week in 5th grade ESOL class, we focused on character study.  I posted a question on character study that they are required to answer.  They are also required to at least post one response or comment to a classmate’s post.  Of course, as a teacher, I deemed it necessary to comment on each of my students’ posts.  I want my students to know that I am reading their posts.

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Blogging can be a very  fun and engaging way to let students write.  They are able to read their classmates’ posts and comment on them.  At the same time, they are able to correct their own spelling mistakes through the computer’s or tablet’s spell check feature.  So go ahead and try www.kidblog.org with your students!

By the way, a big thank you to Blogaholic Designs for the free Blogger template!

Happy blogging!

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Five Must-Have Educational Resources for Teachers



Hello, educator friends!

Finding the right teaching resources in the internet can be very challenging and time-consuming just because there are usually hundreds of them to choose from.  The time spent searching for the most reliable websites is now added to the time we already spend planning our lessons, grading papers and entering grades online.  But when we do find the right ones, we go back to them over and over again.  They become like our trusted friends who are there when we need them.  This is what I feel about my most favorite educational resources.  They are my go-to sites whenever I need something – say an activity, a video, a worksheet, a Powerpoint lesson, or an interactive game for a particular lesson. So, if you have found your favorite sites, bookmark them.  It can make your teaching life much easier.

Here is a list of what I consider as must-have educational resources for teachers:

readwritethink.org1.  Readwritethink.org – provides a great resource which you can filter by grade level, lesson, or resource type (student interactives or lesson plans).  What I like most are the interactive games which you can use for your computer center or as a fun activity in a whole group setting.

readworks.org2.  Readworks.org – has a plethora of lesson plans arranged by skills and strategy units, comprehension units, novel study units, and reading passages. All you have to do is register and you will be able to access these materials for free!  I like that they have short, leveled passages with question set, and suggested texts for specific reading skills.  It saves me a lot of time thinking about what text to use for a reading skill or strategy I need to focus on my lesson.

havefunteaching.com3.  Havefunteaching.com– provides an interesting set of worksheets, flashcards, games, songs, and videos that you can add to your list of teaching materials.  They offer materials that you can purchase, but they also have a lot of really useful ones that you can download for free.  Most of the phonics and vocabulary games that I use in my classroom are from this site.  

weareteachers.com4.  Weareteachers.com– is a site for almost everything a teacher needs:  classroom resources in different formats (printables, infographics, posters, etc.) classroom management tips,  blogs and articles about education and technology.  They have interesting posts that are worth your time, and they even include discounts and deals for teachers!

learnzillion.com5.  LearnZillion.com – offers a free collection of Math and Language Arts resources that are standards-aligned.  Resources are carefully organized by core lessons, task, assessment, practice exercises, and video lesson.  It has a Common Core navigator that is arranged by grade level.

Go ahead, update your resources with these really useful educational websites!

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Retelling Using Sequence Words



Hello, friends!

I have just finished teaching two lessons that focused on one of the Common Core standards, which is retelling stories.

To illustrate the process of retelling in my 1st Grade ESOL class, I first focused on the use of sequence words FIRST, NEXT, THEN, and LAST.  I made sure they used these words when they retold the story.  We practiced using these keywords with the aid of my retelling anchor chart during a whole-group activity by reading “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed Some Leaves.

There are several “There was an Old Lady” books but I thought this is perfect for the beginning of the Fall Season.

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves

“There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves”

My retelling anchor chart is a modification of the chart found in tekyteach.blogspot.com to include the story I’m using with a space for practicing the use of sequence words.  I am thankful to Christie of first-grade-fever. blogspot.com for her Old Lady booklet freebie.

1st Grade Retelling Anchor Chart

1st Grade Retelling Anchor Chart

For their writing activity, I used the free printable by kizclub.com to make an old lady template.  What I did was glue a lined paper on the blank space in the old lady pattern so that I could have a writing template for my kids.  They just love this writing task!  Click on this link for the old lady pattern, which you can just modify to suit your activity.

Old Lady writing activity

Old Lady writing activity

There was an Old Lady writing activity

There was an Old Lady writing activity

My drawing of the old lady on the bulletin board was inspired by Carries’ Speech Corner.   My kids’ work is displayed just in time for the start of the Fall season.

1st Grade ESOL "There was an Old Lady" Bulletin Board

1st Grade ESOL “There was an Old Lady” Bulletin Board

I hope you like my First grade retelling lesson!

Enjoy the cool breeze of September!

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5 Fun Collaborative Phonics and Sight Word Activities for the ESL Classroom



Hello, fellow educators!

Aren’t we all excited that it is almost the Fall season?  Temperatures have dropped to the 50s and 60s in the early morning, and in the afternoon, it is no longer as hot, which for me is just perfect.  I know that we teachers have so many other things to be excited about.   By now, we know all the names of our kids, we see them getting more and more familiar with the everyday routine, and we’re seeing all these interesting personalities come out.  Most importantly, we now know what activities seem to keep them engaged and on task.

These past few weeks, I did a lot of phonics and sight word activities with my 1st grade ESOL kids.  My goal was for them to become familiar with the short vowel sounds plus the sight words that are included in our district-mandated curriculum framework.  Since I have a number of beginning ELLs, I have to make sure they do these tasks either with a partner or in a group.  I am excited to share with you these collaborative phonics and sight word activities that we have been doing so far:

1.  “Pick a stick and read it.”  I used multi-colored popsicle sticks with the sight words and short vowel sounds labeled on the edges and placed them in tiny buckets.  Each student picks a stick and reads the word that’s written on it.  Then he shows the word to his classmates and everybody reads the word.  If   he/she is unable to read it, the student chooses a classmate to help him or her read the word.  This seems like a very simple activity  which we usually do on the carpet, but it is fun for them.  I have seen many variations of collaborative activities made by teachers using popsicle sticks.  Just search Pinterest!

Popsicle sticks with sight words in a tiny bucket

Popsicle sticks with sight words in a tiny bucket

2.  “Teacher of the Day.”  I usually assign a student-teacher to lead the class in reading our set of words for the week.  Everybody is just excited for their turn to be the teacher of the day.  They love to use my pink pointer!

1st Grade ESOL kids with the "teacher of the day."

1st Grade ESOL kids with the “teacher of the day.”

3.  Phonics and sight word game cards.  I have a few that I created myself and some that are available as free downloads on my favorite site:  www.havefunteaching.com.  This is always a fun collaborative activity for them.  Just make sure you are assigning a leader who can facilitate the game and check their answers.  Click on the following links to download these freebies:

CVC Girls Word Cards

CVC Girls Word Card set

CVC Girls Word Card set

Vowel Activities

Short vowel activity courtesy of www.havefunteaching.com

Short vowel activity courtesy of www.havefunteaching.com

My 1st Grade ESOL kids during a phonics game

My 1st Grade ESOL kids during a phonics game

4.  Sight Word Bingo Cards.  The internet abounds with free bingo card generators where you can create and print bingo cards for use in your classroom.  Not only it is fun for the students, but allows consistent exposure to the sight words.  Here are a few of them that you can use:

www.freebingomaker.com

www.teach-nology.com

www.eslactivities.com

1st Grade Sight Words Bingo Cards

1st Grade Sight Words Bingo Cards

5.  Phonics and Vocabulary Center for Writing Practice.  Of course, a center in your classroom where students can use the words to complete a writing task will enable you to informally assess how much of the words they have learned thus far.

1st Grade ESOL kids at the Vocabulary and Phonics Center

1st Grade ESOL kids at the Vocabulary and Phonics Center

Please feel free to share what phonics and sight word activities work best for your own class.  Happy fall!

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Gearing Up for August with Back to School Activities





It’s almost back to school again.  I know that the first few days involves a lot of classroom organization, and since I am meeting my kids for the first time, I will have to make sure that they will start to get acquainted with me as their teacher, as well as with the classroom routines and procedures.  Creating a positive atmosphere in the classroom and keeping everyone engaged on Day 1 are incredibly important.  Making a good first impression also wouldn’t hurt.  So, I thought it would be nice to create a “Back to School” packet that my students will complete during the first few days of school.

Back To School Activity Packet for Grades 3 to 5

This packet includes a “Positive Behavior Four-Square Template” that will encourage kids to think about how they can be respectful, responsible, and ready to learn.

Positive Behavior Four-Square Template

It also has a “This Me” page where students can write something about what they like to do in school.  It will be nice to post this on the bulletin board during the first week of school.  My kids always love to see their work displayed in the room, and this is one way to acknowledge their hard work.

     This is Me Template

Finally, I created a template where students can contribute to making the classroom rules.  You can turn this into a fun game by letting students convince their classmates that their  rule should be included and get as many signatures as they can for 3 minutes.  The first three students whose papers have the most signatures win the game.

We Make the Rules Activity Sheet

It will also be helpful to provide a word bank on the board or on a chart paper to help struggling students and beginning to low-intermediate ESOL kids write their sentences.

Here is the link to the entire Back To School packet.  Please do not forget to like or share this post.  Advanced happy first week of school!

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CVC Word Cards Phonics Activity for the Primary Classroom



Hello, fellow educators!

I’m back with another set of phonics and vocabulary center activities.  For this week’s activities, I chose four different ones each day, all of which were from the activity packets that I created..  The latest activity is a card game, called “CVC Girls Word Cards.”  The goal is for them to practice forming and reading words with CVC pattern.

This packet consists of the following:

  • activity directions
  • 42 word cards
  • 4 sets of vowel letters
  • answer key

CVC Girls Word Cards

The sample set of word cards is shown below:

CVC Girls Word Cards-set 1

CVC Girls Word Cards- Set 2

The packet includes an Answer Key, which the teacher can give to the leader of each group.  This is to make sure that students will know if the words they formed make sense or not.

CVC Girls Word Cards Answer Key

This is how I arranged my phonics and vocabulary center for this game:

CVC Girls Word Cards at the Phonics and Vocabulary Center

1st Graders playing the CVC Girls Word Card Game

 I realized that the letter cards were too small when I printed them, so I had to make some modifications.  I did not have a chance to laminate them (This is summer school, remember…), but I sure will when the new school year starts.

Here’s the link to my CVC Word Cards.  Please try this game in your class.  I’m sure your kids will love this, as mine did!

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