Powered by Blogger.

Cursive Club

Although cursive is no longer a part of our standards, there most definitely is a case for cursive. Research shows the following benefits of teaching cursive to students: 

  • Cursive movements tend to be more natural for children.
  • Cursive engages more cognitive skills and improves motor skills.
  • It is an effective way for note taking.
  • Cursive can help students with disabilities (i.e. dyslexia) 

Check this out! The news came to my room and even completed an awesome study as to why cursive should make its way back to the classrooms! 

Knowing how cursive can help our students as learners, in my opinion, creates a strong case as to why it is beneficial to bring back to our classrooms. However, many may argue, "How can I find time to add one more thing to my schedule?" I totally get that.

This is where Cursive Club comes in...

What is Cursive Club?

When I created a Cursive Club, I designed it to be simple and manageable for any teacher to implement.

Cursive Club consists of a 10-week plan to teach, practice, and apply cursive handwriting. There are practice pages for each letter, weekly word practice, and weekly sentence practice. In addition to this, I have included activities or games to help the students continue the application of writing each, but also identifying letters. The simplistic lesson plans and directions are included, along with some extras for you to complete with your class! 

There are two ways that I would recommend to bring cursive back to your schools:

1. Create a club that meets after school, during a specials time, lunch, etc.

2. Start your day with cursive and implement it as a center rotation.

For me, I teach Cursive Club as an after-school activity. (Don't worry, if you can't do that, stick with me here! I have another idea!) Students sign up for the club and we meet once a week for about an hour. If this is something you are truly passionate about, it may be worth talking to your administration on how to get it rolling.

If you don't have this time, it's ok! I have you covered. In class implementation could look like this:

Start your day with cursive. Make this be the do-now, bell ringer, or whatever you'd like to call it. Teach the letter (this literally takes a few minutes) and then let them practice while you take attendance and get the day started. During this time, they will be completing their practice pages, where they trace and write the letters. From my experience, you can hear a pin drop during this time. My students are always so focused and engaged in their letter formations.

To continue the practice and application of the letters, I have created games and other pages to implement. I know what you're thinking again, "When will I do that?" Well, my response would be during a center rotation time, or maybe for early finishers. Create a spot in the room, where the games and directions will be stored, and make it a rotation for them. This will become routine and run so smoothly!

Head over to my Facebook to check out Cursive Club LIVES that I have taken during our actual club!

Facebook Lives

Cursive Club
Please feel free to email me with any questions that you may have about Cursive Club!

Literature Circles

Literature circles are a way for students to discuss a particular piece of literature. In my opinion, there are many ways to set these circles up in your classroom. For me, I try to make it as simplistic and student-centered as I can.

First, which book should the students read? (This is probably a good topic for another blog post.) In my room, I start with everyone reading the same book. To be honest, I struggle with this because it doesn't allow student choice. However, it does permit us to take the time and set up the expectations and discuss the given book. Figure out which book is best for you, or how you can integrate student choice into your classroom.

I have created a literature circle pack that has helped me organize this part of my classroom tremendously. It is easy to grade, simple for the students to keep track of, and allows for choice.

I'm going to walk you through how I've designed it and show the options provided. To view the product, click HERE.

When you download this pack, there are three ways that you can organize it:

Once you have this figured out, it is smooth sailing! I have tried each option, which also allows for differentiation. From there, make sure that you take a lot of time to practice, practice, practice. I go over expectations very clearly. I model for the students what a literature circle should look and sound like. We talk about norms and the goals that should be met from literature circles.

From there, I introduce the schedule and jobs:

I keep this consistent so the students know what to expect.

When the students meet on Monday, I allow them to choose their job for the week. They are responsible for keeping track of what they have done and those that they need to still complete. With some books, I let them choose their pages, too. Currently, we are reading Refugee, and I have paced the book for them.

Now, the students are on their own! They are responsible for their reading and work. I check in with each group on Friday. I pull small groups every day during the week, but on Friday, I sit with each group to hear what they have to say. (I highly encourage you to do this!)

Here are examples of the half-sheets for their jobs:


If you would like to try a sample of this, I have a freebie for you in my store. You can click HERE to snag it!

Thank you so much for your continued support. Please let me know if you have any questions about how I set up literature circles.

Chapter Book Companions

Year after year, I sit down with my administration for my evaluations and we talk about my "glows and grows." Higher level questioning is ALWAYS an area that I mention I want to continue growing in. Anyone else feel this way? Teaching students to think deeply and respond to higher level questions is vital when comprehending.

The thing is: I know I do this. I know it's something I think about on a daily basis. Whether it's during our mini lesson, small group, etc. it's happening. However, there's always room for more.

With that being said, I knew that with higher levels of questioning, not only would I be challenging the students, but I would be strengthening the engagement within the classroom. It would invite them to partake in rich conversation, rather than simple discussion.

Getting Started

Have you felt like this and need a place to start? This product by Teaching and So Fourth is an outstanding way to keep this concept up all year in your classroom. It is interactive and helped me be more accountable with questioning.

The Problem

As I started teaching upper grades, I was finding a ton of awesome products that aligned with novels. I used them, but I was struggling.

Problem: I had 128 students. I taught two grade levels. Multiply that by 5-10 questions per chapter and different novels. You do the math. It was TOO much for me to grade. Quite frankly, it was too much for the students, too.  I couldn't keep up. So not only was this failing, but I felt as though it was busy work for students, while not giving them a quality purpose for reading. It was IMPERATIVE that I fixed this and gave them a deeper meaning for reading.

The Solution

So, what did I do? Well, instead of complaining, I started brainstorming. I was having a hard time staying on top of teaching everything in an hour. I knew I had to fix this for the upcoming year.

That's when the idea for Chapter Book Companions came about. How are these different than what I was already using? Well, I developed a way to integrate reading, writing, language arts, vocabulary, and higher level questioning.

I needed that quality of questioning and instruction vs. the quantity. I needed value in what the students were producing. Selfishly, I needed a simpler way for me to look at their understanding of the novels. (Let's be real, I also wanted less copies to make...)

That's when I developed this affordable and valuable companion to go with these novels.

What will you get?

Without further ado, check out my latest: Chapter Book Companions for the novels Pax and Wonder.

If you'd like to try out a sample of PAX, click HERE!

Grammar Bundle

Let me introduce you to my first bundle.

When I found out I would be teaching 6th grade language arts standards, I may or may not have panicked. You see, grammar was never "my jam." I had to re-teach myself a lot of these skills, yet had a ton of fun creating resources that would engage my big kids, and get them excited about grammar.

This bundle is jam packed with assessments, data tracking pages, activities, entrance/exit slips, and more.

Let's take a closer look... and stay tuned for a freebie!

Surf's up for pronouns! (it's a beach/surfing theme haha) As mentioned above, you'll get assessments, tracking pages, and more. The types of pronouns covered are subjective, objective, intensive, and possessive. Here is a sneak peek at the types of activities you'll get in this section: 

The editing pack covers a wide range of skills. You'll start out this mini unit with spelling, capitalization, and punctuation rules. From there, you'll teach the students how to correctly use commas, parentheses, and dashes. There is a TON to be covered, but don't fret! Here is a sneak peek at the types of activities you'll get in this section: 

Ensuring you have sentence variety and maintaining your reader's attention can be tricky. In this mini unit, I suggest you start with reviewing the types of sentences with the students. From there, build on these by talking about formal vs. informal styles and tone or mood. I included a few pictures books that you can use to help teach these skills, too.  

Holy word skills, batman! This standard is loaded. We go from reference materials to Greek and Latin affixes. There is SO much you can do here. With that in mind, this will help you get started, but I can imagine there are a ton of fillers that you could use to add more to these standards. 

Call me a nerd, but this is by far one of my favorite units. I love hearing students talk about word meaning and delving deeper into their vocabulary. This can be incorporated with any novel you are using in the room. In addition, I always kick this unit off with music. I play a variety of music types and ask the students to discuss tone and mood. It really gets them excited about words and how they make you feel! 

(click on the image for your freebie) 

Head over to my Facebook to watch how I have all of this organized!  

Thank you so much for your support! 

The Jelly Donut Difference

The Jelly Donut Difference: Sharing Kindness with the World

How do you share kindness in your classroom? Do you read books? Participate in service learning projects? Whatever it may be: thank you.

Sharing kindness in the classroom is one of my favorite things to do. In fourth and fifth grade, we are constantly talking about being kind to one another, while sharing this in our community, too. When I heard about my favorite author's new book, I knew I needed to share this with my students.

Maria Dismondy's books share simple messages of kindness. Not only do these books share kindness, but they are written in a way that students can relate to. In The Jelly Donut Difference, siblings, Leah and Dexter, do not get along. However, they learn how to get along and share kindness and it all
begins with a donut.