Friday, March 24, 2017

3rd Graders Practice Using Adjectives With The ABCya Word Cloud Web App!

Third graders are in love with adjectives, especially if they can use them to describe themselves! These third graders turned their study of adjectives into a fun opportunity to build their self esteem! (MN Benchmark - ELEM.ELA.  Explain the functions of adjectives & other parts of speech... MN Benchmark - ELEM.ELA.  Form and use comparative and superlative adjectives...)

Students began by using adjectives to describe themselves. Once they had a sufficient list, they typed the adjectives into the word cloud creation web tool at ABCya

 They typed their name twice to make sure it was bigger than the other words in their cloud. The ABCya tool allows them to choose their font, style, and color.  Once they were finished, they were able to add their word clouds into their Google Drive which was easy to navigate because they were already logged into their Google account on their Chromebooks. They were also able to share their work with their teacher using the share options in Google. This engaging activity with adjectives built their vocabulary and their knowledge of describing words!  The finished product, if they were printed on paper, made perfect locker signs for this colorful classroom of 3rd graders!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

3rd Graders Gather Inferential Clues From Amanda Noll's Book, I Need My Monster

Recently, 3rd Grade teacher, Mrs. McCollough, and I began collaborating on a lesson that would give students an opportunity to practice a skill they had been working on...inference. Students were ready for some fun practice. So we began the lesson with one of my absolute favorite websites, Storyline Online. I first mentioned this website two years ago in a blog post, Storyline Online: Such a Fantastic Resource For Students and Teachers!  It is a "must have" tool for every elementary teacher's digital toolbox! The site is a collection of picture books being read by well known actors and actresses. Each book comes with a helpful activity guide with suggestions for teachers. 

One of my favorite read aloud books is read by actress Rita Moreno.  She reads Amanda Noll's book, I Need My Monster! Rita Moreno's reading of the marvelous book is sooo comical!  I laugh out loud every time I see it!  I noticed that Storyline Online recently added the sequel Hey, That's My Monster! read by Lily Tomlin.

I Need My Monster is about a boy, Ethan, who has a monster under his bed named Gabe. One night his monster goes fishing, so the boy auditions four new monsters to be his substitute monster. Throughout the auditions, the reader gets inferential clues about Gabe. 

As students watched, they were asked to write down what information was revealed about the monster Gabe. Many inferential clues about Gabe could be gathered as Ethan interviewed each of the four monsters.

-  Monster One - "do you have long teeth and scratchy claws?"
-  Monster Two - "I was hoping to see a horrible shaggy arm with sharp, ragged nails"
-  Monster Three - "I definitely need a boy monster."
-  Monster Four - "Do you have a long tail?"

We stopped the story right before Gabe's appearance was revealed. Students shared their inferential clues about Gabe. Then, they demonstrated their understanding by drawing a picture of Gabe using the iPad app YouDoodle. Even though each student's version of Gabe was unique, they had the common elements - scary jagged claws, long teeth, shaggy fur, long tail, and not to be forgotten, he was a boy.

Finally, students had a blast watching the end of the read aloud.  They were able to compare their version of Gabe with the book's illustrator.  What a fun way for student to learn about inference! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March Madness Tournament of Books 2017! Enthusiasm is Running High!

It’s the beginning of March and so our minds turn to our annual March Madness Tournament of Books – 2017! This will be our fourth year hosting this tournament at Oak Hills.  This week, Oak Hills students are completing their 2017 March Madness Tournament of Books brackets! This book tournament has been so popular that our students begin asking me for it in January!  I love their enthusiasm and the discussions they have around their favorite books.

To select the original list of sixteen books, I surveyed a few classes for an initial list of favorites. Then I cross-referenced the list with our checkout records in Destiny, our library database, to find the fiction books that have been checked out the most.  I always try to choose books that are already popular among the students. This will provide students with more evidence to make their predictions.

This year, there were a few books on the list that I didn’t consider “the best of the best”, but I wanted to be true to student choice. Library is one of the few places where elementary students get to make their own choices, and I really want to honor their choices even if the books aren’t my favorites. Each week during March we vote using a Google Form to determine the Elite 8, Final 4, Finals and Winner. Students with the highest point total will win a book from the BOGO Scholastic Book Fair in May! Stay tuned to see the results!

This year I have added a few new features. I have collected book trailers for all but one book and put them in a Padlet so students and teachers can see a little bit about each book. I am hoping this will hook a few students to read books in the bracket that they haven't yet read.  It might also help them make predictions.

Made with Padlet

Another addition this year... Our 2nd grade teachers decided to participate, so I created a Primary Book March Madness Tournament of Books.  Each 2nd Grader filled out the bracket, which I made smaller so they wouldn’t get overwhelmed.  I was able to give the teachers a copy of each book so they could read them before they vote for the Supreme Six, Terrific Two, and the winning book! I am excited to see how this goes this year. Understanding how a bracket works can be a challenge for 2nd graders, but our fabulous 2nd Grade teachers did a wonderful job of helping their students through the process!