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Thinking Maps

Learning About Bats

Informational Text, Reading, Report Writing, Thinking Maps
I can’t believe it’s been an entire month since I last posted. I keep wanting to blog about different things we’re doing in the classroom, but time has been flying by! So, I’m trying to get back on the blogging bandwagon now…
The last 2 days we’ve been researching and learning about bats.  We read two informational books about bats and also watched a Brainpop video on bats. 

Then, we used a tree map to keep track of our research information.  We used the format  Bats – can, have, and are…

After completing the tree maps, the kids started writing their All About Bats paper that I got from Anna Brantley’s Common Core – Writing All Year Long 2nd Grade. I love this packet and have used it for many different things!
Below is a kiddo who I am super proud of. This student doesn’t enjoy reading and writing and often turns in writing assignments with one or two sentences.  He filled up the first page (written beautifully and well) and is now on page 3. He was so excited to write about bats he wanted to keep going! I love it!

Thanks for stopping by to see what we’ve done with bats. I promise to try to be better about blogging regularly.

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All About Penguins Book

Common Core, Informational Text, Thinking Maps, Writing

Our most recent National Geographic Kids focused on penguins lend itself nicely to a little penguin unit study.  We researched penguins using a Brainpop clip, reading our awesome Nat Geo which provided a lot of great info for my 2nd graders, and using a few nonfiction easy readers.  After reading/watching, we’d add facts to our penguin circle maps. Then, after our circle maps were full of wonderful penguin facts we then moved them into a tree map to organize our facts.  For our penguin tree map, we had four branches – looks like, lives, eat, and predators.  The kids organized their facts under the specific branches to make writing their penguin book easier.  I decided to focus the kiddos instead of just letting them write. I’m finding on report writing at 2nd grade level in a highly ELL population, we’re really struggling at knowing what to write, how to sequence, and how to focus on important information, so I’m using this writing assignment as a way to scaffold their learning.

Here’s our tree map and planning…


Below are some pictures of their finished books…..

**Sorry for the sideways pictures, BlogSpot and my computer weren’t working with me :-).

Learning about Settings

Anchor Charts, Common Core, Literary Elements, Reading, Thinking Maps

We’ve continued our study of Common Core Standard 2.RL.1 and have moved on to focusing on the where question – the setting.  For setting, I found some great picture books that have a very descriptive and easy to identify setting to start with.  I’m teaching mainly ELL students so I didn’t want to confuse them with too many settings.  Even though the setting was semi-easy to identify I still wanted my kids to use text evidence to back up their setting choice.  To show text evidence, I used a brace map (thinking maps) and then also had students write a sentence response. 

The first story – Library Mouse we read whole group and discussed the setting and evidence together.

The second story – Gingerbread Cowboy – we read whole group, discussed, and completed a class brace map together.

The third story we used was Owl Moon.  To scaffold, we read the story and discussed whole group. Then, the students helped me fill out the brace map.  After filling out the brace map together, students copied the brace map and then had to fill in parts of the sentence on their own.

For the last story, for now, I used The Tickly Octopus. Now, I thought this would be a good one to see what kids could do independently on their own, but they struggled a bit.  I’m not sure if it was because of being ELL or just not having a lot of background knowledge, but kids had a hard time saying the setting was the ocean or the sea and they had difficulty coming up with evidence – fish, water, sand, octopus, coral, etc.  But, we move forward and will come back to setting again to re-teach as necessary. Below are a few samples of student work and the chart we filled out after they completed their student work.

Stay tuned for some plot ideas coming up in the next few days!

Doubles Math Station and Fact Family/Addition Station

Math, Math Stations, Thinking Maps, TPT

Again, I’m a few weeks behind, but I still figured why not share.  A few weeks ago we spent time learning about doubles and fact families in math. I found and created some great activities that I wanted to share with you.

Double Math Station

I found this great game Dinosaur Doubles from Oceans of 1st Grade Fun.

I can’t remember where I found these cards, but I found a doubles memory game that I then glued to cardstock. The kids love playing this!

Here is a Doubles Tree Map activity that I created. You can find it as a freebie in my TPT store, here.  This activity gives kids a chance to practice their facts, learn some vocab, and use the tree map to organize their doubles facts.
Another station I added, included this great Fact Family Triangle I found at This Reading Mama’s Blog.
And, my last game addition is a math game from Everyday Math. Students start their counters at 1 and roll the die to move up. The first person to 120 wins. The neat thing about this game though is if you roll a 1, you can choose to move 1 or 10. If you roll a 2, you can choose to move 2 or 20. It’s a great way to start adding up 10’s from different numbers.
These are a few of the additions to my math stations. Stay tuned for more as the year continues and please check out my Doubles Tree Map freebie in my TPT store.

Weather Books

Anchor Charts, Common Core, Informational Text, Report Writing, Thinking Maps

I’m a little/lot late in blogging about this, but I still had to share. In September, my 2nd graders and I did an informational text study on weather. We focused on clouds, sunlight, rain, and snow.  We read informational books (there are some great weather informational books written by Erin Edison), watched clips on Brainpop Jr., and shared background knowledge.  After learning about the type of weather, we created a circle map with facts we learned. Then, we turned the circle maps into an informational book about weather that we wrote together. Since we’ve been studying informational text and text features we also included a table of contents and headings into our books. Here’s a ton of pictures of our work.

Here are our circle maps that we created with the information we learned from the books and the Brainpop videos.

Here the students are working on their own circle maps of information using the information learned and the information we put on our class circle map.
Here are the finished products! They are turned out great and the kids loved how they were able to write their own book about weather that looked just like the ones we read in class.



Short and Long Vowel Tree Maps

Phonics, Reading, Thinking Maps, TPT

I have a new product in my TPT store that I am excited to share with you! We’ve been working on reviewing short and long vowels in 2nd grade and I love to use thinking maps, so I thought, why not combine the two!  So, I created Short and Long Vowel Tree Maps, which is now active in my TPT store. 

In this pack, you’ll find tree maps for each vowel – a, e, i, o, and u. You’ll find two pages for each with a word bank and one page without a word bank so students can come up with their own short and long vowel words.  I’ve used it a few times for homework and also during literacy stations. This is a great way for kids to practice reading the words and also having a chance to sort them.

Here are a few preview pages and a sample for you to see.



Thanks for stopping by and please check it out in my TPT store, here

Analyzing Characters – Part 3

Literary Elements, Reading, Thinking Maps

I love, love, love teaching literary elements. We’ve continued to work on analyzing characters the last few weeks and below are a few lessons I’ve done with my 2nd graders.

Another great character book is No David.  We read the story together in class and they created a bubble map describing David.

Next up on the reading list, we read Strega Nona. This is a great book for characters and for comparing and contrasting the two main characters, Strega Nona and Big Anthony.  We read the story, completed a bubble map for each character, and then the students had to write down one of the traits and provide text evidence for the trait.


Class Completed Bubble Maps
Student Bubble Map on Big Anthony

I love this one – Big Anthony was sad because he had to eat all the pasta.


And, the most recent story we used was Chester’s Way.  After reading, we created a circle map for all of the characters.  We used stars or little clouds to show which characters were the main characters.  Then, students picked the main character that they were most like and told why.

I am like Chester because I like to rake the leaves.

Chester’s Way Character Circle Map – Lilly, Wilson, and Chester starred because they are the main characters.

Love this one – I am like Lilly because I do things my way.
Sorry I’ve been MIA for awhile. We had report cards and conferences this week and getting ready for that took some time since I’m new to the school and district!  Almost done though – only 3 conferences left! I promise to be a better blogger :-).

Using Time for Kids to Learn About Bats

Informational Text, Nonfiction, Reading, Thinking Maps

We are very lucky and have a Time for Kids subscription for each class at our school.  Time for Kids is a great way to incorporate informational text, learn about text features, and write informational responses.  On Friday, we read the recent Time for Kids issue about bats. 

As we were reading, we talked about text features.  We spent time looking at the headings, fact box, glossary, photographs, and captions, and the kids are starting to pick up the text features on their own.  When we were done we started a circle map about bats and added the facts learned from Time for Kids. After adding those facts, we read an informational book about Bats. Then, we added more facts. The kiddos loved learning all of the cool things about bats and the pictures in both the article and book were awesome.



More Analyzing Characters

Literary Elements, Reading, Thinking Maps

I posted the other day about my first analyzing character lesson using Lilly from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse that I saw on ReadWorks.org.  Now, this next lesson I did started with an idea from ReadWorks.org, but then took off on it’s own. To continue with the Lilly theme and see how a recurring character would be in two different stories, towards the end of last week we read Julius, The Baby of the World. Another great Kevin Henkes book – his books are fantastic for literary elements.

While reading we stopped a few times, once after the first page to write down Lilly’s traits, once towards the end of the middle section, and then again at the end. To show Lilly’s character traits we used a bubble map.  As we were going we saw that Lilly’s characteristics changed throughout the book.  In the very beginning, she was excited to have a baby brother.  Then, in the middle she was jealous (love that my ELL kiddos came up with that word that describes Lilly perfectly).  And, in the end, she sticks up for her brother and becomes protective.  As we were charting this together as a class and independently, I was talking with the kids about how confusing the chart looked since it said she was nice, mean, excited, grumpy, and rude.  I had an aha moment! I decided to have the kiddos and myself mark each bubble with a B for beginning, M for middle, and E for end, so we knew which part of the story we saw those traits in.  I’m sure someone has thought of this before, but it was one of those teaching moments where I was like how have I not thought of it. 
So, on day 1 we completed the bubble map….see examples

Then, on day 2, we took the bubble map and wrote up a little analysis as a class since it was our first time writing it. 
For our first try at character analysis I think we did a pretty good job.  Look for these lessons and lesson ideas to continue with Strega Nona next week.

Opinions, Opinions, Opinions

Thinking Maps, TPT, Writing

We’ve been coming up with lots of opinions in my second grade class.  We’ve done a variety of opinions – some literature based, favorites, and taste-tested.  Here’s what we’ve been working on…

We started off with this great opinion writing unit by writing about Oreos.  We taste tested two different types – Halloween Oreos and Mint Crème Oreos.  I got this fantasic idea and cute Oreo writing paper from First Grade Fanatic. The kids loved this! Who wouldn’t love eating Oreos in class.  Most students picked the Halloween Oreo, but there were a few who liked the Mint Crème flavor.  Below I have a picture of my circle map.  In the middle, we put our favorite Oreo and then we put our reasons why in the bigger circle.  I also have my teacher model of the Oreo paper. This was a great way to start opinion writing because the kids were engaged instantly!

Next, we wrote about our favorite pets.  Again, we used a circle map to set-up our paper and brainstorm our reasons.  We had quite a few different favorite pets – ranging from your typical dog and cat to bunny rabbits, snakes, etc.  Here are two student samples.  We have spent a great deal of time slowly writing our paper and doing parts together.  We’ve been focusing on including a topic sentence, three reasons, and a conclusion. 
My example that I modeled for the kiddos:

Student Samples:

We’ve also read a lot of stories that went well with opinions. Some stories we’ve used include: I Wanna Iguana, Chrysanthemum, and Listen Buddy.
Here is my teacher example for I Wanna Iguana:

Student Sample:
I also decided to incorporate opinions into my writing station during literacy stations.  I’ve created some Opinion Writing Prompt Cards on TPT here.  These cards can be used for whole group prompts or could be put on a ring like below and used for students to pick a prompt to write about during their station.
Happy Saturday!