Super Sleuth Blog Hop! Stop #18

Nonfiction Text & Graphic Features

I love reading nonfiction and I love teaching it!  It's all about facts, pictures and learning something new. Let's face it, in real life and in adulthood we read nonfiction most of the time. It's no wonder the new state assessment in Texas, STAAR has put a major emphasis on nonfiction text. Which ones do you read the most?
  • Textbooks with facts and strategies
  • Invitations 
  • Directions or Maps
  • Magazine Articles
  • Newsletters
  • Procedural Text, such as recipes
My most recent experience is working with 1st, 3rd and 5th Graders and I'm not convinced that students understand how helpful text/graphic features are.  Imagine putting together a new bookshelf without pictures.  Let's face it, we need those pictures!  

Be sure to HOOK your students with a connection between nonfiction text and real life application, it creates buy-in.  I have to admit, Hooks are my favorite part of any lesson cycle!  Last year, I began with a class graph so students could visually see what types of nonfiction they already read.  If you have technology available, you could set up an online poll.


Have you used QR Codes in the classroom yet?

Before Tuesday, I have used my QR Code Reader on my iPhone 1 time.  I used it at a school function that was "paperless" and the agenda was on the QR Code.  It was fun (about as much fun as convocation can be).

This year I have 10 iPad Mini's in my classroom.  We use them daily. Why?  Engagement.  My kiddos do quizzes on google docs, exit tickets on kidblog and I use weebly to store our research links.  This week, they completed a QR Code Scavenger Hunt to answer Science questions about bats.  The kids LOVED it!  They would scan the code and then a question would pop up.  They used a recording sheet to answer their questions.  After the question, a clue that told them where to go next.

Since I didn't have any experience with QR codes, I did a little research (googling/pinteresting) and I found a bit of a treasure - classtools.net!

If you have iPods, iPads or tablets...give QR Codes a try!  100% engagement!!  I think this would be excellent for test prep, too.  What kind of apps or technology do you love to use in your classroom?

This Little Piggy is lovin' technology.


Workshops & the Power of iPads

Don't faint, I'm blogging 2 days in a row!!!

I will admit that it has taken me a while to find my groove this year.  There is no format for my daily activities, so I had to make it all up.  What I came up with at first...didn't work AT ALL.  I felt like it was too chaotic.

 My students need teacher guidance, but not necessarily direct instruction (ie: most don't need direct instruction on how to find the Main Idea, but they need a lot of modeling of social behaviors and how to work at that station and how to function in my classroom).  I don't deal well with chaos, I prefer controlled chaos.

After Tuesday, I KNEW I had to change things.  Introduce the Workshop Model.  It has worked perfectly! Workshops are basically "stations/centers" but I call them Workshops because the groups and partners are collaborating and I am facilitating (not re-teaching).  It works oh sooo well!

So my day looks like this:
Brain Teasers/Logic Problems
Workshop - 4 Stations (2 in the AM and 2 in the PM)

Workshop 1 - Photography (Students set up a photo that represents how they represent the 7 Scholarly Habits) around the school.  This station is completed with a partner.

Workshop 2 - Bat Research (students use iPads, fiction books and expository texts to locate information about bats - they record it into a few different graphic organizers I provided).  This station can be completed in partners or independently.    Students also took a quiz about bats on google docs.  They enjoyed that, but not as much as I anticipated.

Workshop 3 - Myth Comic Strip - Next month we're going on a field trip to a cave. When we introduced the idea of this field trip, students had many apprehensions about going into the cave and seeing bats. So we're studying about dangerous animals who get a bad reputation because of myths and urban legends. I collected a few websites and set up a Weebly Website.  I LOVE it!  

Workshop 4 - Measurement and Reading Charts.  Students chose their instrument of measurement and measured bat wingspans given in a table.  The table had both inches and feet listed, which did trip a few up. The had to make observations or ask questions about each bat.  Some examples include, "The XYZ bat's
wingspan is more than my entire body."  or "I wonder if my dog is larger than XYZ bat?"

Sorry, I can't get the pic to turn:(
After lunch, we worked on greek/latin roots using the frayer model (which I modify).  I love it though.  I try to include word pictures that represent the vocabulary word.  These are ahhh-some for GT students.

They were super excited to use the whiteboards, so I let them draw a bat and label it.  I also did an informal pre-test about their knowledge of text features (only my prior students knew the that they drew a diagram). 

I did a quick read aloud, Bats at the Beach.  Hilarious!!  My 5th graders adored it!  
We ended with a try at KidBlog.  It went well, still a few kinks.  I put up a blog post and wanted them to comment.  It worked okay.  I think they need more time that's for sure!!

Have you ever tried Kidblog, Weebly or Cameras in the classroom?

This Little Piggy is making chocolate chip cookies for dessert!!  


Holy Currently Batman...It's October already?

Yes, I know...I haven't blogged in FOREVER!  I do have a few things to share, but I see a class Tues-Fri and we do the same thing daily so it's a bit groundhog day-ish.  

Yesterday's class went horribly.  Okay, not horribly, but not smoothly.  I don't do well with chaos and although this class is my smallest one, they easily get off track.  I went home and KNEW I had to do it differently.  So, I developed stations (we call them workshops) and they went splendidly!  

It's Fair Day Monday.  We don't go to the fair, but it's a 3-day weekend.  

Since I haven't blogged in FOREVER, my treat is the font on my Currently (click on the words below).  If you use it in a product please link back to my blog/tpt store or you can use my blog button.
This Little Piggy hopes you like the new font!  If you do, check out my other fonts HERE.  Leave me your favorite.