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!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Annotating With First Grade ~ Animal Tracks by Arthur Dorros ~ Lexile 540

Part of my job as a Reading Specialist is to work with high flier students.  Today, I worked with first graders, who are reading Animal Tracks by Arthur Doros.  We paid special attention to the raccoon in this story because I knew that we were going to annotate a Nonfiction paragraph after reading.

Because this book is filled with woodland animals, I found several nonfiction articles to expand these kids' vocabulary base.  We circled words that were "juicy" and wrote their definitions or a synonym in the margins.  We then underlined interesting facts that were new to us.  I modeled annotating while the students annotated in their notebooks.

This was a fabulous, engaging introduction to annotating that was developmentally appropriate and engaging.

To find the close reading articles that we are using, click {HERE}.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau ~ Lexile 680

Right now I have the best job EVER!  My most favorite part of my job, other than working directly with kids, is writing curriculum.  I am blessed to work in a district that values quality literature and strong writing skills, so we write our curriculum based on research-based BEST PRACTICES!

As a Reading Specialist, I live in many worlds.  Right now, my worlds are:

  1.  A Castle ~ The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
  2. On top of Mt. Everest ~ Peak by Roland Smith
  3. In the town of Manifest during the Great Depression ~ Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  4. Today, my newest world is in the city of Ember well below the ground where the lights are growing dim.  

Jeanne DuPrau is the author of this book.  Click {HERE} for her website.  I don't think there could be a  better lead for this book than the book synopsis below.

Book synopsis from DuPrau's site:
The lights shine in the city of Ember-but at the city limits the light ends, and darkness takes over.  Out therein the Unknown Regions, the darkness goes on forever in all directions.  Ember - so its people believe - is the only light in the dark world.  And now the lights are going out."

 Our fifth grade students are going to LOVE this book.  I have posted the anchor charts and key integrated comprehension & writing strategies that we will focus on.  This book unit starts in one week.  

Based on our "I Can" statements, I decided that using Think Marks would be the best format for this unit.  We will only use Think Marks related to the statements for this book.  We are also reading several more texts this year and I plan to extend the Think Marks throughout those books.  Below is the interactive journal and corresponding anchor chart to start the unit.  Each of the 4 areas will be expanded with an additional anchor chart outlining more ideas.

The fabulous clip-art that I used came from Teachers Pay Teachers and it was FREE!
Click {HERE} for the direct link to Science in a Box for this clip-art.

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