Okay Kids... Let's Write a Summary!! (Hides Face)

Yea.. soo I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I have always struggled with teaching students exactly how to write a summary. I either received summaries that were too short, or they turned in summaries that were 3 pages long. (Longer than the actual text they were referencing!) 

After a much needed search of the internet, I found a technique that, apparently every other teacher in the Universe already knows about judging by the vast amount of information I found!

I began implementing a few weeks ago. I am happy to announce the "light bulbs" are finally on and shining during summary writing in fourth grade!! I created a graphic organizer I wanted to share with you for free. I hope this helps you too!! I also created an anchor chart to use with the summaries.  I plan on keeping this up all year. It has been so helpful!  To download the graphic organizer for free, simply click the picture below to be taken to my TPT store.  Please don't forget to leave feedback! :) 

Daily Welcome Message & Bellringers

Does it take your students entirely too long to get situated when coming in to class?? 

I teach 4th grade reading to 3 different classes.  The students switch classes between three teachers. (Math, Science, and Reading)  Because of this, I constantly feel pressed for time!  At the beginning of the year, I was easily spending 10-15 minutes simply giving directions at beginning of class.  Something had to give!

At my previous school, I taught 6th grade to three different classes, so I was no stranger to pressed time.  I remembered how effective my bellringers were in getting students in class, situated, and working, so I began using them this year in my fourth grade class. 

It has worked wonders!  As soon as the students come in, I hand them their bellringer at the door, and they begin working. I sometimes set a timer, so they know exactly how much time they have. There is a great, online version you can project on your smart board here.   We will often self assess the bellringer together, and sometimes I take it up.  If you are experiencing lost time due to transitions, I highly recommend this technique!

Instead of repeating directions over and over, I like to display my message on the smart board, so each student can read it on their own.  I recently discovered a really cool tool to use to motivate students to read directions when coming in to class.  I can create fake text messages to send to students.  This simple technique has motivated even my reluctant readers to read the daily message on the board, so they can get started on their bellringers/morning work for the day!  You can create your very own fake text message using the website here.  

I hope these tips help you save some time in class.  What are some things you do to use your time wisely in your classroom?

Teaching Theme

Teaching theme is one of my most favorite skills because students are not only learning how to deconstruct and understand text, but they are also learning valuable life lessons.

Theme is a tricky concept to teach, however. Some teachers teach theme as the moral or lesson. You will sometimes see it called "author's message" as well.  Some teachers teach using the “universal theme” concept which uses only one word such as “honestly” or “perseverance”. I like to make students aware of BOTH ideas.

This past week, I taught theme using fables. I LOVE using fables to teach theme because there are so many valuable life lessons that are pretty evident in most texts.  The students are super pumped to read fables too!  

A technique that I find really works in teaching students to understand theme includes looking at the main characters.  Usually the character/characters have some sort of problem they face that they end up overcoming.  The character/characters usually learn some sort of lesson from overcoming this problem.  If the students can identify what the character learned, they can most likely identify the author's message or theme of the story.  

On Friday, I wanted to formatively assess my students to see if they could relate theme to real word texts and not just fables.  I let them use tasks cards to practice identifying theme.  

I created two sets of task cards.  The first set provides a passage and the students must provide a theme statement on their own.  I only let my higher students practice using these cards since this was their first encounter with theme this year.  For the rest of the students, I gave them my set of task cards that gives the passage and 3 multiple choice options.  They read the passage, then record their answer on their recording sheet.  

*You can also project each task card on the board one at a time and have students write the answer on a white board then "show you" together as a class! 

I was very pleased with the progress my students have been making, and I am looking forward to seeing how they do next week with comparing themes in text!

How do you teach theme?? Do you have any tips or tricks that you have found works for your students? 

If you would like a copy of my differentiated theme task cards, you can download this pack by clicking the link below. 

Hold up.. It's August Already??

Is it just me, or did Summer FLY by this year?  (I think I say that every year..)... 

Well.. In the spirit of "Back 2 School", I have decided to offer a "FLASH FREEBIE" that will seriously help with all your decor needs.  I used these banners in my classroom last year, and I thought, "Hey.. why not put these on TPT!" So.. here they are, and luck you.. You get a free copy!

(If you download within the next 24 hours.. AND feedback is mucho appreciated in return) :)

So I have included both black and white banners, and large and small banners. I have some premade ones on there that will save you some time, and I have also included a set of the alphabet and numbers, so you can combine whatever letters you would like.  I also included a PPT file, so you can change the font face/size/color if that is what floats your boat. 

Happy Teaching.. And GOOD LUCK this year! :) 

Classroom Tour

Yea, so all my blogger friends posted super cute classroom tours at the beginning of the school year. Leave it to me to save my classroom tour til the end of the year! Haha! Use the link below to follow me on instagram, so you can see my classroom tour via instagram... :) 

Don't mind the mess... We've been busy learning! 

It's Gonna Be May.....

Oh wait.. it is now! ha! and I am linking up with "Oh Boy.. It's Farley" for her final "currently" linky party. 

Listening: Currently... I am listening to Grey's Anatomy and the sweet sound of these keys banging on my keyboard. Back in the day when I was working at store manager at Claire's Boutique (8 years ago!) WOAH! I was hooked on Grey's Anatomy.  I finished 4 or 5 seasons back then, but I got super busy with working a 40 hour a week job and finishing up my student teaching, so I quit.  Well.. here I am finally finishing up where I left off. My emotions have been like a roller coaster the past two days! I'm hooked. 

Loving: I love Sundays. I never feel guilty for doing absolutely nothing on a Sunday! :) 

Thinking: I need to go get some groceries. My refrigerator is embarrassing right now. 

Wanting: I want new workout shoes!! My friend Kelly and I started a Crossfit type workout class, and she bought a pair of Nike Metcon 2 shoes and I WANT THEM! 

Needing: I have some brilliant kiddos in my class this year. It is always a challenge finding things that stimulate their brains. I feel like I have really learned to differentiate for my gifted students even more this year! Very grateful for that.  I always looked at classroom management as one of my strengths, and I feel like I can finally add differentiation to the list as well! :D woohoo! 

Truth: This is quite personal, but I am having a hard time deciding where I will be next year.  After the death of my boyfriend, I moved three hours from home where I knew pretty much no one.  It has been such a good experience and exactly what I needed! I had planned on going back home after this year, but now I am thinking I want to stay..  Prayers that I make the right decision, please! :) 

Symmetry Selfies

Woah.. has it really been this long since I have posted a new blog post? I have been so busy finishing up important lessons with my kiddos that I haven't had time to share all the fun we've been having! :) First, let me just say, our MAP data is complete for the year, and I couldn't be more impressed with the growth of my students. They truly are the "best class ever" as I tell them all the time! They're a good bunch of kiddos.

One of the final things we study in 4th grade math is Geometry. By this point in the year, students brains are tired, folks. It's about that time when we begin prepping students for the lovely end of the year tests, and we are all just..... well... TIRED!! TIRED.. TIRED.. TIRED!!

But hey.. the show must go on...

So.. SYMMETRY. There are lots of super cool ways to teach symmetry in the classroom: Geoboards, mirrors, finish the picture, etc... One of the more engaging ways, from what I have found, however, is this cool little thing I came up with during my student teaching... SYMMETRY SELFIES!! (Although... I didn't actually call them selfies way back then.) Uh.. yea.. anyway..

So basically, I took photos of each of my students, had them developed, cut them in half, and taped them onto a "symmetry selfie" template. I introduced symmetry to the kiddos, showed them some examples using some cut out letters of the alphabet (the old folding technique), and revealed their pictures. They LOVED this. I had them working on their selfies during a center. It doesn't teach them everything they need to know about symmetry, of course. The standard actually says,

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.G.A.3 Recognize a line of symmetry for a two-dimensional figure as a line across the figure such that the figure can be folded along the line into matching parts. Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry.

But hey.. it's a great introductory lesson to get them engaged, motivated, and creates some positive geometry neuroassociations!

For a free copy, click the image below. 
(Don't forget to leave feedback!) 
And as always.. HAPPY TEACHING!

(Thank you to my parents for giving me special permission to use their child's photo. You guys are the best!) 

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget