Monday, March 11, 2013

Teaching Adverbs

This past week we've started to dive into adverbs, a fairly tricky concept for my EL students. When I first introduced the concept in the fall, I realized that most of my students don't use them correctly in spoken language ("I walked to the store quick") and I decided to revisit at a later date.

 Now that it is Spring, I found a word sort strategy that has helped introduce the various uses of adverbs. Students sort words according to what the modify in a sentence: "How" adverbs, "Where" adverbs, and "When" adverbs. Once we have sorted the words, I asked students to come up with their own examples of the different types of adverbs.

"Where" adverbs were the most difficult because the kids got too specific and started naming nouns, but once I gave them a few more examples, they got the hang of it.

Anyone else have some strategies they use to teach adverbs?

Monday, March 4, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Literacy Centers

With St. Patrick's Day coming up, I've been working hard to make some centers that were relevant to the skills we're working on. I'm finally finished! Yay.

For the next few weeks we're working on distinguishing between open and closed syllables. I've noticed that many of my students are struggling to decode multi-syllable words. Some were even having trouble with unfamiliar two-syllable words! I decided we needed some work on breaking words down.


Students cut the words in half into first and second syllables. This allows them to see the difference between open syllables (ending in a vowel) or closed syllable (ending in a consonant). 

After practicing breaking apart closed and open syllables, my students will work on a syllable sort. Open syllable "gold coins" go into the open syllable "pot of gold," closed syllable coins go into the closed syllable pot of gold.

One other skill we're working on right now if those lovely common-core aligned adverbs. I created an activity where students modify sentences using either "How," "Where," or "When" adverbs. They write three different adverbs in the same sentence and draw illustrations to show how the adverbs changes the meaning of the sentence.

I'm so excited about these activities I decided to link up with Sharing Kindergarten's St. Patrick's Day Linky Party! Click on the link to find all the wonderful St. Patrick's Day activities!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Writing Conference Strategy

Recently we've been working on non-fiction writing in my classroom. (More to come on that). During my last few writing projects, students waited in line to have a conference with me at my desk. This caused a lot of behavioral issues. Kids were getting restless and loud, causing students who were still working to be distracted.

I came up with an easy idea to keep track of who I need to conference with. When students are done with a draft, they write their name up on the board, then go back to their desk, wait for me, and do a quiet "may do." I walk around to the students who signed up for "appointments" on the board. When I finish with one student I check off their name and go to the next student. This is a much quieter way than I had before, students always have a task to do, and it allows the slower workers to focus on their writing.

Do you have a strategy you use during writing that you would like to share?

Meaningful Art: Jim Dine Hearts

When I was looking around on Pinterest for a Valentine's Day art project, I found Green Bay Art Room's post about creating Jim Dine Hearts. I ran out of time to do it before Valentines Day, but I loved the idea so much I did it this week. I must admit, I kinda fudged some of the aspects of her lesson, mostly because I teach 2nd, not 5th, but I feel that they turned out very well!

First I showed students examples of the project. What did they notice about the shapes? The colors? I explained to them that they would create new shapes within their hearts by drawing intersecting oblique lines (brought in that math vocab). Then they would color each new shape in different patterns and colors.

First, I had students draw their hearts.

Then they took yardsticks and made intersecting lines. (Although I warned them to make as few lines as possible so they had large spaces to color, some did not follow those directions).

Once they were done creating the lines, they started to color. They used oil pastels, which I love because of the rich color and ability to blend.

I think they were beautiful! I gave them a lot of time to complete and some still didn't finish. I had many staying in at recess to make them perfect :)

Anyone else have some fun art projects to share?

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Currently

March firsts means time to participate in my favorite linky: Farley's Currently.

I was a theater major and college and always wanted to be Kristen Chenowith. Now I sing during my hour commute to and from work. 
Yup. Absolutely a theater major. This was singing in the Mikado.
Since I work at a year round school, I am going off track the last week in March (although my students don't, heh heh). I am looking forward to sleeping in, sweatpants, starbucks, and walks to the Golden Gate Bridge.

I. Am. Obsessed. With. Pinterest. Enough Said

Many of my parents speak Spanish as a primary language. Today I had a very frustrating conversation with one parent who cannot speak English. She was very upset (not at me) and I was unable to reassure her. I hate that.

3 weeks till I can prioritize sleep again. Just keep swimming...

I know that teachers can understand the need for wine and the loathsome feelings towards daylight savings transitions.... and if you haven't tried truffle cheese... do it.

Check out March Currently at...

Quiet Down Strategy

One of the more challenging things I find about managing centers is to help get students back on task while also running my own small group. For a long time I would stop what I was doing with my group to get the attention of the class to remind them of the expected behaviors. This was very frustrating and I felt that my group work suffered on the more squirrely days.

My principal suggested I find a way to remind students to end off-task behaviors without stopping instruction and work during centers. I tried flicking the lights, erasing tally marks for off task behaviors, but I still felt that is was more disruptive than helpful. I finally went out and bought a rain stick.

When students are talking too much or are off task, I turn over the rainstick. They have two turns to quiet down before they lose a marble. It is quiet enough that it isn't completely disruptive, but loud enough that it reminds students what they should be doing.

I take it to my small group area and I don't have to leave the group to help manage behavior! I love it :) It has been so successful, I've been using it during independent work times as well.

Does anyone else have a "refocus" strategy they would like to share?
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