Collaborative Reader Responses

30 October 2014
My students love working together on collaborative reader responses - they get to work with their classmates, it changes it up from their regular reader responses ... and best of all, they get to talk.  ;)

This activity works with read alouds, whole group novel studies, shared reading activities, literature circles, content area reading … basically any activity where the whole class or groups of students are reading the same text.  

Students first answer the reader response question individually (on their sticky note), all at the same time, and when all students in the group have completed their answers, they stick their notes on the sheet.  They then take turns reading their answers aloud to the group. 

After all answers have been sharedworking together, they will reflect on the strengths and areas of need in their own answers to take their individual responses and combine the best parts of them to form the best possible answer, making improvements as they write.  

You can see on this picture how the group examined each answer and circled the part they would use from each.  This collaborative discussion really helps the students dig into what makes a great reader response - and how the individual parts can work together to make an excellent answer.  

I have made a resource using this collaborative reader response strategy.  My Stick-It Together - A Collaborative Reader Response Activity contains organizers with 100 different reader response questions covering the reading comprehension strategies, story and literary elements, genre, and text structures.  Each organizer has information about the strategy behind the question, and a checklist of success criteria for the reader response.

I have also included a rubric for assessment (for teacher or peer assessment - my students really enjoy doing peer assessments with these group responses), and an exemplar for each level - level 1, 2, 3, 4.  These exemplars come in two forms - one assessed with the criteria, and one without the criteria so you can examine and level them as a class.

You can take a peek at my newest resource by clicking HERE or on any of the pictures.

I also have a version specifically geared to 1st - 3rd grade.  You can take a peek at it by clicking HERE or on the picture to the right.
Primary Grades


Upper Grade Classroom Ideas for October

22 October 2014
The month of October is always a lot of fun in my classroom, and I just wanted to share some of our very favourite activities across different subjects.

"If you can't beat them, join them" ... so last year I resisted to urge to battle the candy in the classroom rule the day after Halloween ... instead, we put those candy wrappers to good use.  :)  I asked students to empty their lunches (and pockets) of all their Halloween treats and we made a tally chart showing all the treats brought to school that day (a little shocking, but made for some great data).  Once we had completed our class tally chart, I let the students work in pairs to represent the data in three way - a chart, a graph of their choice, and show the mean and median.  So much fun, and it kept them focused through the sugar rush.

Math and Visual Art:
These spiderwebs integrate math and visual arts - and are so striking on display.  I would definitely recommend them for grades 5 and up.  Students practice their multiples while drawing the lines for the web.  You can read more about these spiderwebs on a blog post I wrote HERE.  (Be sure to follow the link to Teaching with TLC for full instructions).

I also have a set of Fall-themed math craftivities that also make a beautiful display in the classroom.  The place value candy corn takes your students through standard, written, and expanded form.  The pumpkin pie problems have your students examining and solving different word problems that cover a variety of concepts - all with a pumpkin pie theme.  Just a warning - you will be craving pumpkin pie after this one is completed.  ;)

One of my favorite October science activities went perfectly with our Human Body unit.  We made our own blood models - and it was a HUGE hit with the students.  It was a great hands-on activity that had the class interested and engaged during the whole time.  It can be done at any time of the year, but has just the perfect amount of "creepy" to make it perfect for October.  You can read more about the blood model and the activities we did to accompany it HERE.  

Visual Art:
This optical illusion art lesson is perfect for October because the final piece resembles a spider web.  The activity is low-prep and low-material, making it a great activity for those hectic days in October.  Students can even add a little spider at the end for a fun 3D effect.  You can preview the art lesson HERE.

I love how these little October Craftivities look in the classroom - and how they get the students thinking.  We used the Story Element pumpkins for our Read Aloud (The Worst Best Halloween Ever), the Comprehension Strategy ghosts with the students' independent reading, and the Synonym Gravestones with our writing minilessons.  You can take a peek at this bundle of October Literacy Craftivities HERE.

Fall into poetry with this Falling Leaves poetry resource.  This resource has your students learning about poetic devices and making their own example for each.  They then create 7 different Fall-themed poems (following the guided instructions and examples given).  These longer poems can be written on the leaves included in the resource to create both a beautiful poetry booklet as well as a Fall leaf poetry craftivity that will combine the beauty of Fall and the beauty of poetry to make an eye-catching display that you won't want to take down until long after all the leaves have fallen outside.

I also have some Halloween-themed Writing Prompts for some fun narrative writing just before Halloween.  Students love sharing their spooky stories with their peers, and the colorful stationery is perfect for display.  You can download these for free HERE.

And, last but not least, if you have little ones at home, or cover a younger grade class, or pair up your students with younger students, I have this little page I made for a primary co-worker at my school.  You can download it from google docs HERE.

Happy October!


Using Clothespins in Math

18 October 2014
I admit - it all started with the little container.  I was walking though the aisles of the Dollar Store, and I couldn't resist this cute little container.  But a container can't stay empty for long.  Down the next aisle I spotted these cute little clothespins, and I knew they'd be perfect for the next day's math lesson.

We were studying fractions - comparing and ordering fractions, and they just weren't getting it.  I knew I wanted to do a number line activity, and realized these clothespins would make the perfect number line activity.

I bought small label stickers and wrote a variety of fractions on them, then stuck them to the clothespins.  I hung a string in the room, and we got to work.  Students worked in small groups to order the fractions they had (by drawing a picture representation and discussion), then placed their clothespins on the clothesline number line.  As each new group had the chance to hang their clothespins, they could "challenge" any of the pins they saw in incorrect locations and if the group agreed, they could move the pins.  Equivalent fractions could hang off of one another.

 It was a great hands-on lesson, but it wasn't the only way we used the pins.  A clothesline has two sides, so we wrote decimals on the other side so we could use them to compare and order decimals.  A little later in the year, we pulled them back out to work with fractions and probability.

So, a $2.00 purchase from the Dollar Store (container and a pack of clothespins) magically turned what could have been a boring topic, into a great hands-on math lesson ... actually, multiple lessons.  Just another reason to love the Dollar Store.  ;)

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It's Thanksgiving ... and We're Showing Our Thanks!

10 October 2014
This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada, and we want to show our THANKS to you for all of your support with a little sale.  I've teamed up with some fabulous Canadian bloggers and TPT sellers for a big sale this weekend.

This Sunday, October 12th, you can save 20% on all my resources.

And that's not all ... I will be offering one of my Thanksgiving-themed resources for free all day that Sunday ... can you find out which one it is?

All of the fabulous sellers in the graphic below are participating in the sale.  Click on any of the buttons to check out their stores.