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Brainy Apples: May 2014
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Summer Book Study: Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading

I hope you will join me and some of my bloggy friends this summer as we host a book study on Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Beers and Probst. I actually read this book last summer, and it was so good (and had so many amazing ideas), I have to read it again! This is a great book to begin your Close Read journey or to simply sharpen your knowledge.

We would love it if you joined us, and you can head over to DillyDabbles for the schedule. You can link up a blog post or you can simply comment. We would love to hear your thoughts, take on the book, what's worked for you, what has NOT worked for you, and just any questions or concerns you might have. Let's all learn from each other! DillyDabbles will be hosting the kick-off on June 3, so we hope to see you there!

If you want to grab the book before we start, you can order it from Amazon by using the link below:

I can't wait to get started. Until next time!

**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)

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Close Read Linky Party #5: Integrating Reading with Content Areas

I know some of you are getting out on summer break and teaching is the last thing on your mind, but I wanted to post the fifth installment of my Close Read linky party in case you want to start thinking about next year a little early :)
**Be sure to visit the other blogs in the link-up below for additional tips and strategies on Close Reads. And if you have a blog post on Close Reads, feel free to link up yourself! The more the merrier!**

Last time I focused on student led discourse. This time I want to focus on one reason why I absolutely love Close Reads- it makes integration of reading and the content areas so stinkin' easy!

Why Integrate
There are only so many hours in the school day. By the time we throw in transition times, unplanned interruptions (whether its from an unannounced visitor or the office), hallway chats with students, we don't have as much time as we want, need, like to teach ALL the stuff we are responsible for teaching our students. I spend at least 3 hours every single day on literacy instruction. Between small reading groups, whole group guided reading, phonics/spelling, and grammar/writing, those 3 hours fly by. Then I spend another 75 minutes on math, and that leaves me with about 45 minutes for science and social studies. Problem is, I need another 45 minutes in the school day to accomplish this, and I just don't have it. So, either guided reading or science/social students would have to go. And I don't want to throw out either. However, if I integrate my guided reading with science/social studies, I have magically created more minutes in the school day. Viola! Nothing gets left out, and I get to spend as much time as I want on the aforementioned subjects. Woo hoo! Plus, integrating seamlessly connects the different blocks of the day, so the students see a natural transition between reading and science/social studies. What they are learning during reading time is reflected during the science/social studies block, and vice versa.

How do I reflect this integration on my schedule? For the 45 minutes that I intentionally integrate guided reading and science/social studies, I display it as "Science/Social Studies with Guided Reading." Pretty easy :) Then, to ensure my administration knows I am really integrating and not just saying that I am, I include both reading AND science or social studies standards I am focusing on during the block of time. I also include essential questions (EQ) that incorporate both reading skills and science/social studies concepts.

Example of Integration
So here is an example (and I am going to use a 4th grade example and Georgia science standards):
*CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3- Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
*S4E2c- Students will demonstrate the revolution of the earth around the sun and the earth's tilt to explain the seasonal changes.

I chose just 2 standards because you don't want to focus on too many at a time. These standards are a perfect match because the ELA standard references a cause and effect relationship, and the science concept is a cause and effect relationship.

*How does the relationship between the earth's tilt and its position around the sun influence seasonal changes? (Use specific evidence from the text to support your answer)

One EQ. That's it. This EQ is a pretty meaty one, so one is plenty. It addresses both ELA and science standards. It clearly shows the integration of reading and science. As students answer the EQ, it will be necessary for them to refer explicitly to the text.

I didn't include an EQ of "How can information in a text help explain events in a scientific text?" because when would a student ever answer this question in the real world? Never…except in school. If students can answer the EQ I chose, by providing specific evidence from the text, then they also will know how a text helps explain events. An EQ should be the driving force of the lesson. If you have an undying urge to ask students the 2nd question, you can, it just doesn't qualify as an EQ for the lesson (IMO).

There is SO much more I could include about integration, but I know many of you are in summer mode already, or unfortunately test-prep/testing mode, so I will save the further details for another linky party in the fall :)

I am working on a line of products that will help you integrate reading with science/social studies. I have one set completed right now, but I will be adding more over the summer months and into next school year. The sets will focus on specific science or social content, and I will also provide various grade levels. Perfect for differentiating for the varying reading levels in your classroom. This first set is bundled and is about American Revolutionary war heroes. It is available specifically for grades 34, and 5, and each grade level edition includes passages in that grade level band as well as questions focusing on that grade level's standards. I like the bundled pack, though, because you can give students a reading passage on their own level because we know students are on different levels :) Oh, and there are answer keys included for easy grading! You could easily have students glue the pages into an existing Interactive Notebook, or have student begin a new one specifically for integration.

**The bundle has 33 passages and 66 pages of Close Read questions**
I also have 3 FREE sampler packs you can download and try out in your classroom first (complete with answer keys, because who doesn't love answer keys?!) The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade sampler packs include the lessons on Abigail Adams. Or you can download the bundle preview that includes the Abigail Adams lessons from all three grade levels so you can see how you could use the different grade level packs to differentiate for your students.

Taken from the 3rd grade version

Taken from the 4th grade version. This one has the CCSS listed, but there is also an option without the CCSS listed.

Taken from the 5th grade version. This one does not have the CCSS listed, but there is also an option with the CCSS listed.

Are there specific concepts (along with grade level) you would like to see me offer a pack for? Put in your requests now, and I will try my best to create them! :)

Now I want to hear from you: Do you integrate reading with the content areas? How? With Close Reads? If you have a great Close Read integration tip (or any Close Read tip), please link up below!

Until next time!

***If you liked what you read please consider subscribing to my email list. You will receive free goodies, blog posts, and updates right to your inbox! Just click here to join.

I do have some EXCITING news! I am going to be offering a free LIVE webinar next week! I will offer one training on Wednesday, July 27, and one more on Thursday, July 28. Both will be at 8pm EST. You can sign up {here} or the image below to save your seat. I hope to see you there!
**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)

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Bright Ideas: Wordle as a Bucket Filler

I am excited to once again be participating in this month's Bright Ideas blog linky! I am most excited that so many of us bloggers are able to give you tons of FREE ideas and tips that you can easily use in your classroom.

This bright idea post will focus on using Wordle. Wordle is basically a word cloud and the more times a word is used, that word appears larger in the cloud. It's super easy to use and the kids love it! There are many ways you can utilize Wordle in your classroom from KWL charts, review of topics, and even before or after staff development trainings to see what the big ideas teachers took away if you do trainings. This post will focus on using Wordle as an end of the year award and bucket filler.

Wordle as a Bucket Filler
We know how important it is for children to feel special and acknowledged for their talents. We also know how important it is for children to be compassionate and caring towards others. This activity will meet both of these goals. Yeah! You can do this anytime during the school year, but I really love to do it at the end of the year. I use the Wordles as a special award (aka bucket filler) for each of my students. I do other awards, too, but I definitely give these out!

So here is how I use Wordle as a bucket filler. First I typed up a list of my students' names. I made enough copies so each student had one. Then I asked each student to write 1-4 words to describe each of their classmates. Positive descriptions only, please! For younger children you could brainstorm a list of positive traits if needed. When students finished, I collected all the papers. This next part is time consuming, but oh so worth it! I compiled all the words onto a Word document. So each name had a list of traits associated with it. If there were duplicate words, I typed the word in however many times it was listed. This is important as it will make these words larger in the Wordle! Important note- I counted how many times the most frequently used word was used. Then I made sure to type in the child's name a lot more times than that word so their name would be huge on the Wordle. You don't have to do this last part, but I liked it with their names on their Wordles.

After I had a list of my students with positive traits, I went to Wordle and copied and pasted in the traits. Once you click "Go" the Wordle is created! You can play around with the Wordle as far as font, color, layout, etc. to make each one a little different. (You do have to have Java Script installed on your computer to use Wordle.) You can also use fun colored or patterned paper on which to print out the Wordle.

The best part? Seeing each child eagerly await his/her Wordle to see what his/her classmates thought about him/her. Not only did each child have a huge grin, but I did, too. Reading the thoughtful and positive things each of them thought about others made my heart warm. I told my students that when they have a rough day, take out their Wordle and read it. To let it be a reminder that each one is special and worthy. They each had a bucket filler they could read whenever they needed a pick-me-up. I also had a few parents tell me that they were going to frame their child's Wordle and hang it in their bedroom. Great idea! :)

Here are a few examples of Wordle in action:

I hope I gave you a new idea for your end of the year activities! If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook, Twitter, or TpT.

For more bright ideas from over 130 bloggers, please browse through the link-up below, and choose a topic/grade level that interests you! Thanks so much for visiting! Until next time!

***If you liked what you read please consider subscribing to my email list. You will receive free goodies, blog posts, and updates right to your inbox! Just click here to join.

**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)

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My Favorite Mother's Day Gift EVER!

Mother's Day is just around the corner, and every day I stare at the best present one of my children have ever given to me….and it came home from school. When my oldest son, Alex, was in Kindergarten, he came home with this little present wrapped with tissue paper and mostly tape. He also had a little card he had made. He had handwritten it, so it wasn't typed, which made it even better. It wasn't much, but when I read the card and opened the clumsily wrapped gift, I cried. Want to know what simple gift it was and what the card said?

"You may hold my hand for a while, but you will hold my heart forever"

Simple but touched my heart! To think this was actually his little hand! I started having my students make these little magnets for their parents, and I have my students report back on whether or not their moms shed a tear…..and in most cases they do, which is my goal! Hee hee hee :) I have had many moms email me that this is their favorite gift for Mother's Day ever, and I definitely concur. This was 5 years ago, and I still have it handing on my fridge during the summer months and on my desk during the school year.

From the teacher's end, they are relatively easy and cheap to have your students create. All you need are:
Shrinky Dink paper which you can find at Michael's or any craft store. I think I ended up buying 3 packs just because I wanted some extras in case we made mistakes. How many packs you buy will depend on the age of your students…bigger hands = more paper. The oldest grade I did this with was 3rd grade, and I could fit 2 kids' hands onto 1 sheet. This is the pack I bought. You get 10 8"x10" sheets. I think they were about $6-7 per pack. Oh, and make sure you get the "frosted" version. It has a rough side that "grabs" the color. I like this kind the best. They have "clear" paper, and these work great if you want the hands to be sun-catchers.

Magnet strips which you can find at Michael's or any craft store (and Michael's does give a teacher discount with ID- score!). You can cut the magnet strips to fit the back of the hands, or you can hot glue real magnets onto the back. The magnet strips do tend to fall off over the years, though. I did recently find these magnet dots and I bet they would work great!

Colored pencils or paint pens or permanent markers. Crayons will NOT work! Colored pencils work well enough, paint pens and permanent markers work even better, but can be harder to use especially if kids use multiple colors to keep them from smearing. Use the fine tip ones! Probably use colored pencils for younger kids.

And your oven at home (or if you have one at school you can use).

Paper for the card

Coloring utensils for the card
That's it!!!

Here's the process I followed. You will want to get started at least a day before your kids will need to take them home.

*Trace your kids' hands onto the shrink dink paper. Be sure to trace on the correct side! You will want to trace and color on the rough side. Not the smooth side! DON'T cut out the hands yet! It is far easier for kids to color the hands before they are cut out. Learn from my mistake :)
*If you have more than one hand on a sheet, bubble cut around the hands. If there is one hand per sheet, just give each kid their hand.
*I write each kid's name at the bottom of the hand where the wrist begins. That way I can tell whose is whose after I bake them, and so mom will remember whose hand it belongs to :) If you want to also write the year, you can do that, too.
*Kids can now color their hands. I have my students draw a heart in the palm first, but for younger kids who can't draw hearts, I drew it for them.
*Once they have colored their hands on the ROUGH side, they need to be cut out. If you have young students, you will probably want to cut them out. You don't want them to cut off their fingers (of their shrinky dinks, not their real fingers!) and the edges of the plastic can get quite sharp. I even cut out my older kids' hands, too, because I didn't want to have to buy more paper. But if you have older kids, you may trust them to be careful and meticulous :)
*Collect them to bring them home to bake.
*That night, I follow the directions included with the shrinky dink paper to bake them. My first time doing this, I messed up a couple of hands because I panicked when I saw them folding up on themselves and pulled them out of the oven to fix them. Well, apparently this is quite normal (It has been a long time since I made shrinky dinks as a child!) So guess what we did the next day at school? New hands were made! Give yourself a few days to get these done and you will save yourself stress! Again, learn from my mistakes! :)

Follow the directions!!! Make sure your oven is hot enough, and keep an eye on them! It will take what seems like FOREVER for them to start to move and shrink, but once they do, it happens quickly! Don't burn them because then your oven is a little stinky for quite some time! The first batch I baked, I panicked when the little fingers started curling into the palm. I pulled them out and tried to straighten them. Don't do that! Just leave them alone! Don't touch them! After several seconds, the fingers will jump back to their normal positions and all is well. I promise! Also, when you pull them out to remove them from the baking sheet, if they stick AT ALL put them back in! They are not finished baking. When they are done baking, you can easily remove them with a spatula. I think the longest it took was maybe 7-8 minutes.
Oh, and I used a non-stick baking sheet. Then I put them on a cooling rack to cool.

*All that's left is to put the magnets on the back and have the kids write the cards. I put the words up on the board and let them create their own handwritten cards. I had my students write the little poem on one side and a letter to mom on the other side. I even had my younger students handwrite the message because that is what made it so special for me :)

*Then have your kiddos wrap them up and take them home! Pretty easy, cheap, and non-messy. Just the way I like 'em!

I have also had my own children make these for their grandparents, too. And I got tears from them, as well. Score! :)

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Until next time!

***If you liked what you read please consider subscribing to my email list. You will receive free goodies, blog posts, and updates right to your inbox! Just click here to join.

**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)

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