Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Integrating Social Studies and Science into Writing {Workshop Wednesday}

Hey there!

I am here to link up with my buddy Jessica at Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday!

We have been integrating science and social studies into writing like crazy over the past month!!

I discovered something really fun!  I can run notebook paper through the copier!!!  I probably shouldn't be that excited about it, but I really was!!  So, for the pieces that I am collecting to put in my students' writing portfolios, I have been typing the writing prompts and running them at the top of notebook paper!  It makes me happy!!  (Crazy, I know!!)  I wish I'd thought of it sooner!  You probably already knew about this!!  Why didn't you tell me?  ;O)

Here is a prompt we did last week integrating weather (the unit we were ending in science).  I like to give them choices and I try really hard to give a narrative, informational, and persuasive choice for each one, if I can think of one!

A while ago I blogged about the series of books "You Wouldn't Want to" and I talked about this activity below.  Although there isn't tons of writing in this activity, the point I was trying to get across to my students as we study informational writing craft is that pictures and captions can actually give a great deal of information about a topic, AND they are fun!!

I loved reading these because the students' voices came out loud and clear!  We are working on voice right now with our Native American informational writing and they are having a hard time, but they did it easily here.  This is a great reference that I can refer back to to show them how easily they used voice!  We are working on infusing this into our writing now, so we don't sound like an encyclopedia!  These books are a great mentor text for informational writing because they are so fun to read and they give the nasty details of sailing with Christopher Columbus!!

This is the book we read:

Finally, I followed up this "poster" of caption writing with our big Christopher Columbus writing prompt.  I am actually amazed at how they are coming along with their writing.  However, I think it really helps that we studied about Columbus in social studies and in language arts so they have tons of background knowledge (and opinions!) about this!

I'll tell you one last trick that has really helped me with getting all of this writing done this year.  One of the other reasons I started printing the prompts on notebook paper was because I wanted my ENTIRE class to be working on writing in science and social studies.  However, we don't have enough time for me to teach the entire curriculum, plus do all of this deep, intensive writing during our social studies block.  So, I started giving it to my students once a week as morning work.

Since some of my students go to Advanced Language Arts (gifted students) they have their writing notebooks in there.  I was afraid they'd get confused if I had them write in their science and social studies interactive notebooks.  So, this was my solution.  I print the prompts out on notebook paper (mostly, except this last one because they were very detailed prompts) and have them on their desk in the mornings.  For some reason 4th graders don't do so well writing on unlined paper (imagine that- neither do I!) so this solved multiple problems.

And you know what?  It's worked out beautifully!  I'm very pleased with how they have been doing!  Now I can use my writing workshop time to conference on these pieces, that are already mostly written!!  Granted, it usually takes about two days for them to produce a quality product, but it is well worth it!!

How do YOU integrate writing into other subject areas?

I hope you have a great Halloween tomorrow!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Encounter - A book about Christopher Columbus- Integrating Explorers into Language Arts {A Must Read Mentor Text!}

Hey there!

I am so excited to tell you about the book I am linking up today!

We teach explorers in 4th grade.  It seems that states teach different ones.  However, one that is usually a common one amongst them is Christopher Columbus.  To be quite honest, the only thing that I really knew about Christopher Columbus was that he discovered America.  That's the only thing that I ever remember learning about him.

Well, this book will change your mind about how wonderful Christopher Columbus was!  Since he discovered America, you'd assume he's a great guy...a hero, even.  Well, he was definitely famous, but I'm not sure about the rest.  If you have never thought about this, you've got to check out this book!

Here is the summery by Amazon (they are much more concise than I am!)- When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, what he discovered were the Taino Indians. Told from a young Taino boy’s point of view, this is a story of how the boy tried to warn his people against welcoming the strangers, who seemed more interested in golden ornaments than friendship. Years later the boy, now an old man, looks back at the destruction of his people and their culture by the colonizers.

Now, before we teach explorers, we have already taught about several Native American tribes.  So, students already have a connection to how the Native Americans lived.  This is definitely helpful when we read this book.

Jane Yolen (who I LOVE) wrote this story from a Taino boy's point of view.  She has a page at the end of the book that gives facts and information about Columbus's voyages and what he did, including taking many Taino back with him to Spain to show King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and then those Taino people became slaves.  

This is a great book for teaching perspectives and point of view.  It is also great for inferencing.  Since the boy has never seen white people before, or many of the things they bring with them, the boy explains things based on what he knows, so students can figure out what the boy must be talking about.  Here are a few pictures of the book so you can see what I'm talking about!

By the way, David Shannon is the illustrator in this book and he did an AMAZING job.  The illustration tell as much of the story as the words do!  Sorry for the bad pictures- I was getting a horrible glare so they are dark!

The first picture is from when the Taino boy has a dream (which he takes to be a warning) of three great birds sitting in the bay.  This is the very first page of the book.  You turn the page, and then you can see the three ships (or great canoes as the boy calls them).

Here, the tribe is trying to figure the men out.  Look at the language from this page.  There is a lot of great figurative language in this book- personification, similes, and metaphors- because the boy is trying to compare what he sees to what he knows in order to make sense of it all.  Here's what the page on the left says, "The baby canoes spat out many strange creatures, men but not men.  We did not know them as human beings, for they hid their bodies in colors, like parrots.  Their feet were hidden, also."

The second page says, "And many of them had hair growing like bushes on their chins.  Three of them knelt before their chief and pushed sticks into the sand.  Then I was even more afraid."

This is just a great way for students to see the boy's point of view!!

Here is another great page for inferencing!

This is a great page to use the illustration to help figure out the things that Columbus gave the Taino as gifts.

Look at this illustration!!  Can YOU make an inference on how the boy saw Columbus?!?  This illustration definitely makes an impact!!

I usually read this book 3-4 times over a week long period.  So far, I've read it 3 times.  I'll be honest, before I read this book last year, I was one of those people who didn't always think you should reread books again and again and I'd always cringe when I'd pull out a new book that I was so excited about and ask "Has anyone ever read this book?" and hands fly up.  I'd be disappointed because it's so hard for them to predict, etc, when they've already read it.  BUT, this book changed all of that for me.  The more times you read this book to the class, the more they see and the more they can connect it to what they are learning about with the explorers.

I use this book to talk about author's purpose, main idea, summarizing, figurative language, and the biggie- INFERENCING.  I actually have a unit in our TpT store that goes with this.  And this unit can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it.  I use this book to introduce making inferences by using evidence from the text to back it up and also using facts and information we are learning about explorers and what we learned about Native Americans.  I do these whole group because these are my modeled lessons.  It's one of my very favorite units!!

We do these lessons over at LEAST a week, sometimes two.  The first time we inference, it's more of them trying to figure out what the boy is thinking.  The second time we inference (after the 3rd reading) we use evidence to support our thinking.  I wish that I had taken pictures of the sticky notes from all of their inferencing but I forgot. I'll have to add them when I go to school tomorrow.  We tried on each page to really think deeply about events and the characters.

This is a great book for critical thinking and for students to see how it can be beneficial to reread because they may find something they didn't see the first time.  I highly recommend it, most especially if you teach explorers!  This is how I kick off the unit.  I read it during social studies the first time.  The other times I read it in language arts.  I hope you'll check this book out, even if you don't teach explorers!!  I'll tell you one thing, once you and your students read Encounter by Jane Yolen, you'll see explorers in a different light!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Please Link Up!

Next week's linky- Language Arts

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Science Must Read Mentor Text {Halloween Spiders}

It's Sunday, and I am here to share a fun Science Mentor Text just in time for Halloween!
Spiders by Gail Gibbons

I LOVE all of Gail Gibbons' books, and this one is fabulous! 

From "An excellent science book by a frequent author. Within the triple borders of black and vividly colored lines framing each page, Gibbons uses deep green and blue backgrounds to set off transparent webs and drab spiders to fine advantage. In a succinct, informative text, she describes some of the 30,000 species of spiders, meanwhile illustrating assorted webs: sheet, tangled, funnel, triangle, and orb. Especially useful are carefully labeled side-by-side drawings of a spider's body and an insect's. A final page offers more odd facts--''Little Miss Muffet'' was probably recoiling from a meal of mashed spiders, ``a common cold remedy, about 200 years ago.'' Visually appealing, solid information." 

I use this book in October (since spiders are kind of Halloweenish) as I teach nonfiction text features and informational writing. Included in the book are captions, labels, diagrams, and many more text features.  

It is also a WONDERFUL preview for my animal adaptations and ecosystems unit I teach in the spring. Even though I am not a huge fan of spiders (okay, I don't really like them) they do play an important role in the ecosystem. I can preview the food chain too as we discuss what spiders eat! 

The illustrations are clear and simple for the students to understand, and they are a perfect model for our informational writing books we create. In the past, I have let students choose an animal to do an informational writing piece on, but this year I am tying it in with our Social Studies curriculum. So, students are writing about a Native American tribe, but they can still use the same text features that are modeled in this text. 

Another way I use this book is to compare it with a fiction story. I read Spiders by Gail Gibbons and I read Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin. Then, we compare and contrast the two texts. We notice that we can still find facts in a fiction story, but not all facts may be entirely true.  :)
I have created a unit centered around these two books. If you are interested in checking it out, I have put it on SALE in our TPT store for 20% off. 

Have a great rest of your weekend,

I can't wait  to see what y'all link up!!!
Please Link Up!

Next week's linky- Social Studies

Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween Fun Common Core and Gorgeous Flowers for Monday Made It

Happy Monday!

I am so excited to be linking up with Tara for her Monday Made It!

I have a few things to share with you.  The first is from home (I didn't make it but I still wanted to share with you!). My sister and her husband just returned from their honeymoon in Greece (I know! So jealous!) and she brought me this beautiful hand blown glass vase made from recycled glass. I love it! But, she also filled it with her handmade flowers! They are GORGEOUS! I really don't even know how she does it because they are so detailed and intricate. She made hundreds for her wedding and her friend's wedding, and now I get some for my house. I was so excited when she brought them over on Saturday!  :)

I also wanted to share some school products I made. I LOVE Halloween and have made some fun printables and clip art to use with my students. 

This Spiders unit focuses on Reading and Language Arts Common Core standards. It is centered around the books Spiders and Diary of a Spider. I just finished it Saturday night.  :)

The other new product I made this season is Halloween themed Interactive Notebook Activities to use with any text.

I am going to use these flip books with Stellaluna and The Spider and the Fly.  :)

The last things I want to share are my 2 new clipart sets.  

Thanks so much for stopping by! Happy October!
-Stacia  :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Math Must Read Mentor Text- Multiplication and Division- and a HUGE TPT SALE!

Happy Sunday everyone!

I hope you had a great week and are enjoying your weekend! I'm here to share a fun book perfect for introducing multiplication and division. It's Math = Fun! Multiplication and Division by Jerry Pallotta.

This book is centered around a sports theme which the students LOVE! It's a great book to read to your class as you are introducing or reviewing multiplication or division. I love how the author makes arrays using sports equipment- so much more exciting than little x's or dots.


I also like the language the author uses. He is trying to get the kids excited about math by connecting it to sports. He uses sports language but also math language which is so important. Vocabulary words like "equation" and "factor" are part of the dialogue. 

As I read this book to my students, I am going to have them use whiteboards to solve the problems with me and to draw the arrays. In fourth grade, I am teaching multiplication by larger numbers, but all my students need practice with their basic facts. And, many students need a refresher on how to draw an array so this book will be great for easing us back into multiplying!  :)  

As an extension activity, I am going to have my kids design some of their own multiplication sports word problems. I want to challenge them with some higher level thinking. For example, they may write a baseball problem with 6 batters hitting 8 balls each for a total of 48 balls. Then, they will solve their problem and show an array, repeated addition, and a multiplication equation. For my struggling students, I will design the word problems in small groups using basic facts. But, I will encourage my other students to start using larger numbers and will see how they can represent those equations.

I hope this book can be helpful to you, and I can't wait to see your Math mentor texts!  :)

Have a great rest of your weekend, 
Stacia  :)

P.S.- We are having a 20% off SALE in our Teachers Pay Teachers Store for Columbus Day! We've posted some new Halloween products too so make sure to check them out! And Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Facebook Flash Sale for an EXTRA 10% off if you enter the code "FB100K" at checkout! Wow! I'm off to do some shopping...the sale ends Monday!  

Please Link Up!

Next week's linky- Science

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Pain and The Great One - Different perspectives/ Point of Views {Must Read Mentor Text}

Hey there!!

Today I'm sharing a book with you that I really love and it means a lot to me personally.  It is The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume.

This book was written in 1985 but it still has a theme that I think kids can identify with today: no matter what, we love our siblings.  It tries to answer these questions:  "Who does mom and dad like the best? Why?"

This is a picture book about an eight year old and her little six year old brother.  It is divided into two sections.  One called The Pain and the other called The Great One. Each section of the book has the title of that section at the beginning so you know you are changing point of view.

The section The Pain is written from the sister's perspective and she is telling all of the reasons her brother is a pain, basically things that her parents do to make her think that they like him better.  (She's jealous!)

I use a very sassy voice when I read this section, because she's a sassy older sister.  Then, I get to the section The Great One, and I use a whiny voice for the little brother.  The Great One is told from the brother's perspective and talks about how "great" his sister is because she gets to stay up later than him and do things independently that he can't do.

Basically, in each section, the sibling realizes that they really do love the other.  The little girl gets mad and tells her parents she doesn't want her brother to play with her anymore because he messes everything up.  The mom says okay, and then the little girl gets really bored playing by herself and she realizes that she does like having him around (even if she doesn't want to admit it).

The little boy wants to stay up late like his sister because he thinks something magical happens when you get to stay up late.  Well, his sister goes to bed and it's just him and his parents and nothing fun happens.  He realizes, maybe it's not all that he thought it was to be older.

So, they both learn a lesson- life isn't much fun without the other one.

Most of my students can identify with this because most of them have a sibling.  I talk about this book because I, too, have a younger brother and he was a TOTAL PAIN.  That's one of the reasons I love this book.  I totally see myself and my brother in it.

As a matter of fact, after I discovered this book, I gave it to my brother for his birthday a few years back because it was a story about us!  He loved it.  I wrote a note in it for him and then I read it to the family.  It was fun.  :O)

Anywho, I've used this before to have students write their own Pain and Great One story.  Now, here it depends on who's the oldest as to which one they are.  Of course, they all want to be the "great" one because it sounds nice, but some have to realize that their sibling, if they are older, may think they are a pain.  And if they are a middle child, they just need to pick one to write about.

Then, they write the story, in a similar style to Judy Blume's (which is simple) about the sibling they are "complaining" about.

Then comes the hard part.  They have to take on the point of view or perspective of their sibling, and write how they think their sibling feels about THEM.

It's just a fun way to talk about different perspectives of the same situation which is Common Core after all- even if it isn't about a historical event, this could be a great way to start that discussion.  They need to understand that there are different perspectives to everything, and this is something they can totally relate to!  From here, you can go into different accounts of historical events for sure!

If you want to beef it up a bit, you can have them use character trait words that are more "upper grades" if this sounds too elementary- but either way, my kids love it!  Also, it's written in prose, so that's something else you can discuss...

So, I hope you like this book and if you have a sibling, I encourage YOU to read it.  I think you'll make some connections.  :O)

Judy Blume really is a timeless author.  Her books are relate-able even almost 30 years later!  They may not have cell phones in them or computers, but most kids can relate...and I can't tell you how much my students in the past have loved Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - mostly because of Fudge!!  They can all relate to a crazy sibling!

Have a great week this week!!
The Great One - Amanda  ;O)

PS-  Here are our winners for the Stellaluna and Bats pack and the Halloween Interactive LA Foldables.  Congrats ladies!  You have been emailed!

Please Link Up!

Next week's linky- Math

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