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Hero Writing Activity

Reading, Writing
This week with our Journey’s series, we read Roberto Clemente, The Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  What a great story! Our focus this week with essential questions was – what causes someone to be called a hero? 
So, for a writing activity, I had the kids write about one of their heroes and what made them special. Here are some of the responses….

Here is our Hero Bulletin Board….

And here is a freebie – the hero’s page write-up. Check it out in my TPT store here.

Who is Your Hero? Writing Prompt

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Nate the Great Goes Undercover Book Study

I’ve finally finished up my next book study that I’ve had my kids work on.  See how I use book studies/book clubs in this blog post here.
My 2nd graders and even past 1st graders have always enjoyed reading Nate the Great.  I’ve added the finishing touches and Nate the Great Goes Undercover is now ready.  I’ve broken the book into five parts with 10 pages or less in each part.  Each part has 6 questions that go along with it. These questions mainly focus on the who, what, when, where, and why, but there are a few with inferring so Common Core Standards RL1.1 and RL2.1.  An answer key is also included.

Check it out….

Book Study for Nate the Great Goes Undercover


 Head over to TPT to check out my Nate the Great Goes Undercover packet.
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Reading Plans Binder

Organization, Reading
Yesterday I blogged about how I use my Math Plans Binder and today I’m talking about my Reading Plans Binder.  Yes, they are very similar, however the reading one I use for Reading and Writing.
Here’s how I set it up…
Cute, fun cover

5 Tabs – Standards, Calendar, Plans, Book Lists, Assessments – Pretty much anything you would need to plan out reading lessons.

I’ve updated these with my new school’s standards. They use ERB and also CPAA. 

Next up is the calendar. This is an example from last year. I wanted to show one filled out. I use this monthly calendar as a way to map out reading for a quarter or a few months at a time. I like being able to see it all on one page.  Here’s where I put down what phonics skill we were working on, reading standard, and also writing standard.  From this, I would come up with daily plans and weekly lesson plans, but I had this with me to show the big picture.

Here’s my new calendar for 2014-15.  This awesome calendar can be found in A Modern Teacher’s TPT Store.  It’s a refill calendar that you can find….here.

After the calendar, I put in my planning pages. I like to take each standard and map out what the daily lessons will look like. This also is a great tool to share during team planning meetings so that everyone is on the same page or has ideas for how to teach the different standards. Below is an example for inferring.  I have the standard at the top, the dates I’m teaching it, a book list that focuses on that standard, and then ideas for each day. I then take this to fill in my weekly plans. My weekly plans are typically less detailed, but I have these standard focused plans that are the detailed versions.

The last two tabs I didn’t get pictures of, but one is a book list.  Over the years I have found a few different book lists that give a billion book ideas and next to each book have the reading skill that they work best with. I love these! 
The last tab is an assessment tab. Here’s where I put different assessments that I’ll use to measure progress on the various reading standards.
Thanks for checking out my reading plans binder. I know it might seem like extra work, but it helps me to have a long range plan, a weekly plan, and then a more focused detailed standard plan. The nice thing is that the standard plan can really be used from year to year.  I always tweak or add to the standard plans, but at least the general lesson ideas are there. Then, each year, I look at it and fill in the weekly plans from it. So, while it take more time upfront it saves me time in the end.
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New Favorite Kid’s Books!

Books, Common Core, Reading
I came across these books on Pinterest and recently bought them for my unit on Point of View and Comparing and Contrasting Fairy Tales and had to share them!  I loved them and so did the kids! These authors did a wonderful job of updating fairy tales.  These books work great for the RL2.6 and RL2.9 standard, but they are also just great to have in the classroom.  I highly recommend purchasing them for your classroom library.  I purchased the three below and they also have a few more – one for Snow White, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk.  I’ll be adding those to my Amazon cart ASAP!
Product Details

Product DetailsProduct Details

What are some of your favorite new kid’s books?  Share in the comments below…

Text Features Anchor Chart

Anchor Charts, Common Core, Informational Text, Reading

Over the first half of the year in 2nd grade, we have spent a lot of time working with informational text.  While some of the text features have been easy for the kids to identify and use, some have been more difficult.  So one morning we worked together to make a Text Features Anchor chart using clippings from National Geographic for Kids, Time for Kids, and the regular Time Magazine.  What I love about this is the kids have been referring to it while on their text features hunt at literacy stations.  I love anchor charts for this very reason and it’s even better when the kids remember to refer to it on their own!

Five for Friday…well Saturday

Holidays, Reading, Report Writing
I’ve seen this awesome Five for Friday linky party and been meaning to join it, but I can’t seem to get my act together on Fridays.  So, this week instead of Five for Friday….we’ll call it Five for Saturday.  I’ll try to be more on time next week :-).  Join in on the Linky Party fun with Doodle Bugs Five For Friday.

Best Homework Response Ever! We asked the kids to write about where they live and give details/facts.  This student wrote, ” I live in Las Vegas.  It is the city of sin.”  Too funny!

So, I’m in a portable at my school and the heating/AC doesn’t work at night and it turns on every morning when you walk in…or so I thought.  So, every morning it takes awhile/2 hours to warm up.  Only problem was Friday it just never warmed up.  Apparently the heater is broken and finally by 3:00 it was 66 degrees, but for most of the day we were hovering around 59.  No heat, in a portable, on a rainy day = no fun.  But, we made the best of it wearing our winter coats while we worked.

Back to the rainy day on Friday in my number 2.  Rainy day =  no recess = cold kids and restless kids.  So, for our indoor recess – we did a Thanksgiving Deskercise video.  I love these videos – great way to get the kids moving all while they’re learning facts at the same time.

The last 2 weeks we’ve been working our way through 1st Grade is WienerFUL’s Turkeys and Thanksgiving packet on TPT.  She has great ideas and lots of great resources for informational text reading and writing and additional Thanksgiving activities.  On Friday, we read the book The Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving and filled out her Thanksgiving tree map and then wrote All About The First Thanksgiving. Check out her awesome packet here

 We also read the book Turkey Trouble this week.  It is about a turkey that doesn’t want to be eaten on Thanksgiving so he tries to disguise himself as different animals that won’t get eaten.  It’s a pretty cute story with a funny ending that my students loved.  After reading it, we then wrote about what we would disguise a turkey as so it wouldn’t be eaten.  Their responses were so cute! Some students chose animals – cat, dog, duck, etc and then the few I posted below chose the Hulk, Spiderman, and a ninja.  Great creative writing response to a fun book!

Thanks for checking out my Five for Friday/Saturday.  Be sure to link up here

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!

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.