Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Amazon Book Listing

A few weeks ago I found this post on one of my favorite teacher blogs, Teaching With a Mountain View. I was just finishing up my last novels for the year with my kiddos and was looking for a fairly simple, but still engaging project to wrap them up. When I read about how Mary used the Amazon listing format to have her students think critically about their novel, I knew I had to try it.

At the time, I was reading two different novels with two different groups of students. My students who were reading above grade level read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. My on and below grade levels kiddos were reading Wonder. I wanted all my students to be challenged, but also working at a level that was appropriate for them, so I create a differentiated version.

I allowed students to use this template or create their own based on the format they were given. In hindsight, I think I'll have the kids create their own next year. My borders are cute, but definitely limit the amount of space they have to write. Above is a sample from the template. The student below created her own!

I'm so bummed that I forgot to take pictures of my differentiated students' work! Their version still required critical thinking, but focused more on levels one and two on the DOK- recalling important plot events, citing significant quotes, etc.

My kiddos loved this, because they knew it connected the real world concept of Amazon listings with a book that they felt they were experts on! Want to try this for yourself? Download both the standard and differentiated versions for free here!

XO Emily

Monday, June 15, 2015

June Survival Guide

I have four and a half days of school left with my kiddos, and then I will officially be done with my second year of teaching! Time certainly flies, however it's been especially slow in the month of June when the weather is warm and both my students and I are dreaming of summer vacation. Here are a couple of things I've been relying on heavily to get through the past fifteen days:

  • Coffee. Today was the last day that our fabulous building tutors were with us this school year and they were generous enough to leave bagels, muffins, and coffee in the teacher's lounge! Much needed on this rainy Monday.
  • Good tunes. My students wouldn't stop singing Taylor Swift on the bus ride to our most recent field trip, and now I've had Bad Blood stuck in my head ever since. Have you heard this version by Brooklyn Duo? Brilliant.
  • Me time. Without as much need for planning, my weekends have been gloriously free to play golf with my husband and spend more time in the kitchen. (I can't get enough of these healthy sweet potato skins by Pinch of Yum!)
  • Engaging literacy activities that are fun, but still challenge my students and allow them to get creative. Below is one of my favorites!
Available at Scholastic
Have you read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio? Guys, it's phenomenal for the upper elementary grades! The changing point of view and distinct voices keep my students engaged while also teaching them valuable lessons about empathy, friendship, and courage. As a wrap up to this novel and a way to keep my kiddos actually focused and working, I found images of the faces of the characters that make up the book's changing perspectives (what did we do before Google?!). Then I asked students to brainstorm a list of important characters/events and adjectives associated with their favorite character/perspective. From there, they created word art in the characters' heads characterizing their perspective! Take a look at some of their work...

I love how they came out! It was so fun to see what characters/events from the book my students included along with what adjectives they came up with. There was a lot of "Mrs. Gablenz, can I go get a thesaurus?" going on in my classroom. I love how they "fit" their words into their silhouettes all so differently!

Fun? Check.
Easy? Check.
Still related to literacy skills? Check.
What more could you want from a June project?

Want to try this out in your class? Click here to download the PDF of the face silhouettes. 

Full disclosure: the images are super pixel-y on my computer and print a bit blurry as well due to enlarging them/my lack of computer skills. My students remedied this by tracing around the borders with a sharpie or tracing it onto a new piece of paper. Tracing it onto a separate piece of paper also allows students to leave the hair portions empty so they can fill in that space as well!

I'd love to know if you use this in your own class! Leave comments below to share your experience.

XO Emily

Sunday, June 14, 2015

New Here

Hi friends!

I'm Emily, and I'm new here. I'm so excited to finally get this little project of mine off the ground! Thanks for joining me on this journey and check back soon for my first official post!

XO Emily

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