Second Grade Nest

Monday, April 3, 2017

Teaching Theme (Exploring ELA)


Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
Now that I have expanded to 4th grade ELA, I will have new topics to cover. I'm still working through ELA for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade, so now I'm adding in 4th grade topics, too. Today, we're going to talk about teaching theme and summarizing! 

The standard: 
RL.4.2: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

Now for the teaching aspect. HOW can we teach our students to determine theme? 
1.Review the different types of literature.
2. Introduce what theme is.
 3. Teach students to summarize and relate that to theme.
4. Introduce texts and passages. 
5. Allow them to practice over time.
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1.Review the different types of literature.
 When teaching theme, it is very important to use a variety of different literature texts. This is because theme often comes in many different forms. Theme is not spoken or defined anywhere in the text, the students have to infer and critically think to figure out theme. Myths, folk tales, tall tales, and more are perfect for teaching theme because these types of literature almost always have an overall message from the author. So, before I teach theme, I like to back up and teach the different types of texts that you'll be using over the entire unit.

Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
(Link: RL4.2 Theme)
During their genre mini lesson, students can review the types of literature that will have great theme lessons within them. Then, they can use this knowledge to do a book find to find the different types of literature. Before this lesson, head to the local library and stock up on at least 5 or 6 different books from each folklore category.


2. Introduce what theme is. 
Now, it's time to introduce what theme actually is. Anchor charts are very useful for students when teaching a new topic. In my ELA pack, there are two pre-made anchor charts that you can display on the white board, or you can recreate them and complete them with the students. 

Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)    Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
(Link: RL4.2)
On the left, you see the pre-made anchor charts that you can project on the white board when teaching a mini lesson. Or you can use these pre-made anchor charts to create an anchor chart with your students on chart paper.

Once you have introduced theme, it is time to teach the students how to find theme using text, which is our next section. 

Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
(Link: RL4.2)
Then, give students a matching game that will help them read a short paragraph and read between the lines. Usually, no texts that authors write will have the theme written out clearly. The students will have to comprehend and infer what the theme is.
 

3. Introduce texts and passages. 
 Once students can recognize what theme is, they will need to able to apply it to their texts. Below are 7 links to books with good themes. These are affiliate links for Amazon! They will be useful to use during your read-alouds or partner reading time in your theme unit.
Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)

Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)     Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
 (Link: RL4.2)
 Here are three reading related activities for teaching theme. In my ELA packs, I always offer passages and printables to use with any text. In the top left picture, you see a printable that students can use with tall tales or folk tales from your classroom library. On the right at the top, you see a myth about Arachne and Athena, with interactive notebook activities for comprehension. And the bottom picture, seen above, are two sample passages and comprehension questions from my Theme pack! These are all great ways for students to get their practice with theme and reading.


4. Teach students to summarize and relate that to theme.
Also included in this standard is summarizing. The beginning part of the standard deals with finding the theme, but the 2nd part deals with summarizing. Teaching your students to summarize is not easy at all, but hopefully, they've been practicing retelling and recounting in the last three years of primary grades! That will help them summarize.

Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)    Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
 (Link: RL4.2)
 Teaching the SWBST is such a great device to use for summarizing. It's easy for students to remember and it covers all the bases when it comes to summarizing. You can choose to project the mini anchor chart on the board or use it as inspiration to create your own with your class, like the one shown on the right.

5. Allow them to practice over time.
Students need to practice theme and summarizing throughout the year and in many different ways.

Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)    Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
(Link: RL4.2)
Incorporating task cards, interactive notebooks, passages, printables, and more into your ELA rotations is highly suggested. If you teach Daily 5 or reading centers, these will fit perfectly into your different stations. Have students complete them with partners or independently. Just let them practice a lot! After your initial theme unit, which may take a week or two, I suggest having theme be a cyclical practice where they're working on it throughout the year as review.



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Need THEME resources?
For 4th grade, I have a specific resource for theme.
Click the image below to grab it.

Theme, Teaching Theme in your ELA block; hands-on activities and reading activities to help students determine theme (RL.4.2, RL4.2)
RL4.2

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Warming Your Kids Up for Writing Block


Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals
Have you guys heard of bell-ringers? If you have, it was likely for middle or high school, or even 4th and 5th grade when students switched class periods. BUT I partnered up with The Superhero Teacher and we created Bell Ringers for primary students, too. 

Below, I'm going to tell you what Bell Ringers are, how they can be used, and all the different options! 


So let's start with what Bell Ringers are. In middle and high school (the grades Britt started out with), bell ringers are writing prompts that students use as they first come into that period. Now, it will look quite different in primary grades!! Bell ringers cover a variety of different writing styles. They are cyclical practice activities, which means they will spiral throughout the year. Each week will deal with narrative skills, opinion writing, informational writing, sentence editing, and more!
Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals    Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals

Now, let's talk about how you can use them in primary classes. Obviously, you can use these however you see fit, but here is my recommendation. I think bell ringers would work best in your first or second grade classroom in the first 5 minutes of your writing block. The kiddos can grab their bell ringer journals, answer the prompt that they either see in their journal or on the board (depending on which format you choose), and they will answer the prompt. To turn it into a great self-assessment, you can have the students read their responses to 3 other friends. Then, they'll put them away and start your writing lesson. It's a great writing warm-up activity.
Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals
 (Link: Bell Ringers Journal)

And, this particular Bell Ringer product comes with MULTIPLE options. So, it can fit any format in your classroom. You can print it off like a journal or you can display the prompt on the board while kids respond in their journal. Also, you get to choose if you want to use colored ink or black and white. AND there are editable options, too if you need to write your own prompt one week or for the entire year. So you've got options!
-Color journal
-Editable black and white journal
-Black and white journal
-Editable color journal
-PowerPoint to display

Let's get a closer look at each of those options below!
Option #1: Color Journal
Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals
 (Link: Bell Ringers Journal)
Option 1 is to have a journal with color images. The days of the week also come in color, too. It comes with primary writing lines OR regular writing lines. You can choose which you need for your class.

Option #2: Black and White Journal
Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals
Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals     Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals

 (Link: Bell Ringers Journal)
The black and white journal comes with the photographs in gray scale and the clip art in black and white so that the students can color in the clip art. The cover is also black and white so the kiddos can color theirs and make it their own. Just like with the color version, you can choose between primary and regular writing lines.

Option #3 & 4: Color or B/W EDITABLE Journal

Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals   Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals

 (Link: Bell Ringers Journal)
Also included in the bell ringer journals is a PowerPoint version of the bell ringers. This is so that you can put your own prompt in if you would like. Or you could decrease the amount of lines, move the lines, or increase the amount of lines your students write on. The text and the writing lines are editable in this version.

Option #5: Presentation Version to display
Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals
Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals  Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals
(Link: Bell Ringers Presentation Version)
This presentation version of the bell ringers journal is the SAME writing prompts as the journal. It's just offered in PPT format so that you can display the prompt on the board and the students can record their answers into blank writing journals. This may be for the teachers who have extremely limited copies for the year, are out of copies for the year, or just want to be eco-friendly. Some teachers choose to buy the bundle, too. This includes both the presentation and the journal prompts so that students can write in their journals and see it on the board as they come in, too.


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Want to check out a week for free? 
In Britt's store, she has put a full Monday-Friday set up that you can check out to see if it would work out for your kiddos. If so, check for links below! 
Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals

Bell Ringers Writing Activities- writing warm-up and writing review activities for primary classroom- can be used as daily writing journals
(Link: Freebie)


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Want to get started today? Grab the journal, PowerPoint, or bundle here! 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Teaching Inferences (With Free Mini Lesson)



Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
Inferences can be very difficult to teach students. As teachers, we begin teaching inferences at a young age when we ask and answer questions for them while reading. According to common core, the act of making inferences and finding evidence is documented at 4th grade. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd deal with asking and answering questions in this standard, which preps them for this difficult 4th grade skill.

So, this Exploring ELA blog post is a bit different because I'm going to focus on 4th grade resources, but the ideas can carry over to all grade levels if you plan to teach inferences in your classroom. Check it out! 

Here are the common core standards before we start talking strategies. 
Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
So, for informational and literature, the two standards are the same thing. The skills and activities that your students will do while making inferences will be the same. They will just use different types of texts to get there. 

Now for the teaching aspect. HOW can we teach our students to make inferences? 
1. Start by teaching what inferences are.
2. Have students making inferences without texts.
3. Introduce texts and passages. 
4. Allow them to practice over time. 
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1. Start by teaching what observations AND  inferences are.
Anchor charts and mini lessons... 2 of my favorite things!
When introducing inferences to students, it's very important to give them an idea of what an inference is and how to come to an inference before expecting them to do it on their own. 

Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
Anchor charts are a good introduction. They can stay up throughout the entire unit or stay up throughout the year to constantly refer to. Making inferences is such a huge topic to learn and practice, that I would suggest keeping them up year-round! 


Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
This lesson is an incredibly fun inference game that involves books, a mystery, and inferences. The students will have to use their knowledge of the books to figure out which book matches which piece of evidence. This is a good way to tie in the vocabulary: scheme, evidence, questions, and inferences.


Here are two mini lessons. Both of them are for observations. I suggest teaching observations first when introducing inferences. Observations are a little bit easier for the students to come to. Also, they have been taught the act of making observations in texts for the past three years in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. In the left picture, you see an informational activity where the students have to read two schema and evidence cards to make a question. The picture on the right shows a literature mini lesson where the students have to ask themselves questions, collect evidence, and use their schema.

OQI charts are incredible for teaching inferences. On the left you see an OQI chart for informational texts (pieces included in the mini lesson pack linked). And on the right you see a class anchor chart for a literature OQI. The main difference between the two is simply text and story, character and topic, etc. An OQI chart is a place for students to write their observations, questions, and inferences. Doing these mini lessons will help students to have these types of phrases, questions, and mindsets always during their independent reading. I would even suggest making the OQI chart as a class, laminating it, and leaving it up throughout the unit/year.

Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences    Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
(Link: Inferences in Literature Texts RL4.1)
Here are two more mini lessons to help teach inferences. They involve short stories, task cards, and charts to help introduce students to inferences.



2. Have students make inferences without texts.
Next, we are going to discuss how to teach inferences in your ELA unit without constantly reading texts. Here are a few ideas that don't all include passages and texts. Fun mini lessons and hands-on activities are a great way to teach inferences before asking students to read a text and make inferences. Here are a few activities that can help guide students to make inferences without texts.

Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
(Link: Inferences in Informational Texts RI4.1)
This mini lesson from my RI4.1 pack includes pictures instead of text that will help them see mystery items and infer what occupation the picture refers to. Some of the tools in the pictures are a little bit more vague, so they will have to use more detailed inference skills when drawing a conclusion about what job the picture represents.
Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
(Source: The Inspired Apple)
This popular free activity from Abby is a lot of fun. This could be used as an introductory lesson or a mini lesson throughout your unit. What the teacher does is load up her purse with items and pull out the items one at a time. The students will have to formulate questions for each of the items that will help them eventually draw an inference for each item. 

Making Inferences video- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
(Source: Brain Pop Jr.)
I feel like I can't write a blog post without included a BrainPop video. They are my absolute favorite tool to use in the classroom. This video is particular to making inferences while reading. It puts it in kid-friendly language and helps students learn about schema and inferences.  


3. Introduce texts and passages. 
Time to introduce reading into their new knowledge of inference skills. They've learned what they are and what they need in their brain to come to an inference. Now it is time to practice that skill using read alouds, mentor texts, and independent passages.

Making Inferences- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
(Link: Inferences in Literature Texts RL4.1)
This is a mini lesson than involves reading practice. This can be used as a whole group activity or a group activity. It's the step before letting the students venture out on their own with passages and texts. The students will have to make an OQI chart based off of a literature story called Skipping Breakfast.

(Link: Inferences in Literature Texts RL4.1)
(Link: Inferences in Informational Texts RI4.1)
In the passages shown above, there are two pages of text with one page of comprehension questions. There are inferences questions that also ask for evidence from the text. On the left, you see literature passages. On the right, you see informational passages. This is NOT an easy reading skill to master, so these passages may need to be used in small group, with partners, and or in groups. Multiple reads of the passage is also suggested due to the fact that students will pick up small hints and pieces of evidence every single time they read. 

The next three pictures show great mentor texts and printable worksheets to use when reading them. Each of the books listed below are books that are great to use when teaching the inference skill. They have affiliate links to them, as well.

Making Inferences while reading- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
(Link: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble)
(Link: Two Bad Ants)
(Link: My Lucky Day)
(Link: Enemy Pie)
(Link: Just a Dream)
(Link: Fireflies)
(Link: Thank You, Mr. Faulker)
(Link: The Stranger)
When reading each of these stories, you can read them aloud to your students or you can have them read to a partner or independently. Then, have them use one of these generic printables from my RL or RI packs to help them follow along with their text. 

Making Inferences while reading- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences    Making Inferences while reading- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
 (Link: Inferences in Literature Texts RL4.1)
(Link: Inferences in Informational Texts RI4.1)
 Use these templates when reading read alouds, texts, or passages. Like explained above, these generic printables are great to use to help the students track their evidence, schema, observations, and inferences!


4. Allow them to practice in many ways
Here are several different ways to incorporate inferences into your daily lesson plans without simply asking students to read a book and write down their inferences. These are a few different ways to keep students interested and engaged! 
Making Inferences while reading- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
(Link: Inferences in Informational Texts RI4.1)
Interactive notebook pieces can fit in with any text that they read. They are generic questions about schema, observations, questions, evidence, and inferences that students can apply to any information or literature text. I suggest using these during reading groups or centers!

 (Link: Inferences in Literature Texts RL4.1)
(Link: Inferences in Informational Texts RI4.1)
These are also activities that I would suggest using in reading groups or reading centers. Having task cards handy when students are reading informational or literature texts are very important. It helps keep their reading meaningful and gives them a purpose for reading.


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Want to try out a free mini lesson from my Inference packs?
If you click the image below, you can get a mini lesson out of my RL4.1 set for free!

FREE Inference Activity- Making Inferences while reading- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
Here is a picture of a friend's 4th grade class testing out this freebie. What the mini lesson is is an informational lesson based on schema, observations, and inferences. There are three topics where the students are given schema and evidence, then they have to formulate a question. Then, the students will do the same with their own text from the classroom library.
 
FREE Inference activity- Making Inferences while reading- Activities and Lesson Ideas teaching students to make inferences
(Link: Freebie)

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Grab some resources! 
The two resources that I have to offer in my store that you've seen throughout this blog post are geared towards 4th grade students, simply because these ELA packs are so domain/standard specific. 

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If you're not a 4th grade teacher, check out my Ask and Answer sets, which is Common Core's precursor standards to Inferences.
1st Grade Informational Ask and Answer
1st Grade Literature Ask and Answer Questions
2nd Grade Informational Ask and Answer
2nd Grade Literature Ask and Answer Questions