Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen ~ Lexile 1020

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is such a treasured classic and  Newberry Honor Book as well!  Although the lexile is high, 1020, our Fifth grade teachers pick this book as their final universal text because it is engaging and captures our students' attention from the beginning!

Summary from

On a trip to visit his father, 13-year-old Brian is the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness. With only the clothes on his back and a hatchet he received as parting gift from his mother, Brian begins to shape a life for himself in the wild. This splendid coming-of-age story has sold more than two million copies. 
The following posters are a list of 5th grade "I can" statements that are directing our teaching.   The focus is on learning more about the FAST-C Strategy where students will elaborate on student understanding the main character's feelings, actions, saying thoughts and story conflicts.  Along with the FAST-C strategy, we will utilize shades of meaning to cover all of the emotions in this book, focus on context clues and focus on character change.  Each grade level has focused on the QAR (Question-Answer-Relationship) strategy to help students understand depth of knowledge and different responses to questions.

Below is the anchor chart teachers will use to explain and model the FAST-C Strategy.

One last anchor chart~ This is our anchor chart for modeling context clues.  I created a Power Point to model these ideas for students.

Here are 3 pages from the Power Point from Chapters 1-3 of Hatchet.

I will continue to add more ideas as we progress through this unit.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Annotating Nonfiction Texts

Our AMAZING elementary school has a 30 minute WIN (What I Need) block of time for differentiated instruction with skills. The next focus area with differentiated levels of texts is on nonfiction.  Our fourth grade team discussed that they needed new think marks for annotating nonfiction texts and that these should be different than fiction.  In each classroom, students have chosen a nonfiction text at their instructional level for literature circle reading and discussion.

 We decided that three areas would be focused on over the next four weeks:

1.  Text Structure
2.  Text Features
3.  Connections

I made a simple anchor chart with key ideas for teachers with a corresponding chart for student interactive notebooks.  See below.

We downloaded the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction explanation for text features and text structure to elaborate on each area. These are the BEST explanation and elaboration on each of these areas that I have seen.  These were shrunk to notebook size and placed in student interactive notebooks for reference during literature circles as well.

 {LINK} for Text Structure explanation

{LINK} for Text Features explanation

Students will be given on large piece of anchor chart paper and a pack of notebooks.  Each day, students pick one area to focus on, write it on their Post-It note and place this on their anchor chart to utilize as a springboard for discussion.

OF COURSE this process ALWAYS starts with teacher modeling!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dead End in Norvelt ~ Middle School ~ Lexile 920

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I absolutely adore Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.  The Lexile level is 920, but is not filled with overly complex language that will engage students who might not quite be at the listed reading level. Jack is such a likable young man, who exudes an "all boy" personality and has a WILD imagination.  His personal quirk is that his nose bleeds whenever he gets upset or excited...always at the wrong time!

Summary from the book jacket:
Being grounded has never been so deadly!  Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt portrays an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents.  But plenty of adventure is coming Jack's way once his mother loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with an unusual activity involving the newly dead and the long departed...a motorcycle gang and a man on trike... as well as twisted promises and possibly MURDER!  Endlessly surprising, the achingly funny New York Times bestseller depicts growing up in an off-kilter place haunted by its amazing past.
As a literacy teacher, the use of descriptive and figurative language to draw the reader is exemplary and I have laughed out loud more times than I can count.  The part in the beginning of the book that will hook our readers describes Jack's first visit to Miss Volkler's house where sits at the kitchen table and watches her put her hands in a pot.  Jack thinks that she is boiling her hands off, where in fact, she has arthritis and has soaked her hands in paraffin wax to help her fingers relax.  Jack passed out because he thought Miss Volker showed him her melted off hands and OF COURSE he had a bloody nose all over his shirt!

Our sixth grade teachers are using this book as their next universal text. Our main "I can" statements/focus areas are below.  

Read this book ~ you will be delighted!

  Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Tale of Despereaux ~ Complete Literacy Unit

I am so very excited because I have FINISHED my 139 page COMPLETE literacy unit for The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo!  What is even more exciting is how best practices in literacy evolved through anchor charts, figurative language, close reading, cause & effect and characterization.  

This unit has integrated writing and metacognitive strategies while keeping the FUN in reading.  Students created an interactive journal to house their ideas.  Final comments included, "Can we read another book by Kate DiCamillo?!"  Success!

Below are a few snippets of what you will find in this unit.  Click the cover and you will find this on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

If you LOVE this unit, check out the companion lapbook final product!

Happy Reading, Happy Teaching!

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Sick Day at Home ~ for a Reading Specialist

I am poking a little fun at myself today as I have 2 kids home running fevers and driving me a little crazy.  In addition to being a Mom, which is my #1 job, I am a Reading Specialist.  The picture below is my floor and what I am frantically working on (The City of Ember universal 5th grade unit)  in between handing out Advil, making pudding and being a general waitstaff at home.  Sometimes the balance between the two is a little crazy!

Wishing you good health and a heap of sanity!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Tale of Despereaux Lapbook Final Project

It is finished! ~ The Tale of Despereaux final project lapbook is finished, printed and looks amazing!  Sadly, I have not yet finished the day by day breakdown of lessons with accompanying activities, but they are not far behind!

This lapbook can be used in conjunction with our fourth grade target standards OR you can use the generic printables to create your own writing assignment.  This lapbook takes 3-4 days to assemble and write extension ideas.  It is well worth the time and students LOVE their final products!

Purchase link {Here}.

Happy Reading!
back to top
Pin It button on image hover