Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Day Traditions: Free Resources and Activity

Hard to believe that it's time to say "good-bye" to the old and ring in 2013. Are you looking for some resources for your students to learn about New Years Traditions from around the world? Well, you have come to the right place. At the Holiday Spot you will find some interesting traditions from Mexico, Scotland, Greece, Japan and China as well as interesting foods that people around the world eat on New Year's Day. Just click on the picture below to check them out.  

At Kids These Days I found 10 New Year's Traditions that were really interesting. Did you that in Denmark people throw old dishes at their neighbors front doors at midnight on New Years Eve? Click on the picture below to see 9 more.
If you click on the picture below you will find Good Luck foods to eat from around the world. Do you know which country believes that eating pomegranates is good luck? You'll have to click on the picture below to find out.
I had a lot of fun making a new unit called New Year's Traditions Around the World for Grades 2-3. 

Here is the 2nd Grade  Reading text and Comprehension  Questions you will find inside this unit. They are part of my Preview file which you can download for free by clicking on either picture below.  You can also see all the other materials in this unit as well.                                                                           

I wish all of you a very Happy and Healthy New Year. I hope that 2013 is all that you hope for. I am looking forward to a new year of blogging and bringing you some great resources and information to help you make a difference for your students. Thanks for making a difference for your students over the past year as I know it will continue in 2013.

What New Year's activities will you be doing in your classroom?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter Edition: Using Sentence Frames to Help Struggling Writers Make Sentences

The one skill that seems to be the most difficult for ESL and low performing students is writing. The hardest part is getting them started. I have always used themes to get my students to write for several reasons:

  1. It is a topic that they are learning about.
  2. They have lots of new vocabulary words in their word bank.
  3. They have talked about the topic during Read Alouds.
  4. They have read books at their reading level about the topic.
Writing should begin as a Teacher-Directed activity with lots of guided practice to help students become more independent writers. Of course learning to write a complete sentence is the first step. I like to start with a Whole Class Activity. I also want to get 100% participation so I can informally assess who understands and who needs more help. I make a set of the frames (parts of the sentences) for each student. I cut out the 3 cards for each student to have as I am modeling the parts of the sentence. (You can read more by clicking Here)

Then I write a sentence like the following one on a sentence strip and place it in a pocket chart.
                  The girl is running on the playground.                        
I would tell my students that this is a complete sentence because it has a Who, Is Doing, and a Where. 
Every sentence needs all these parts to be complete.
  • The Who or What describes the subject of the sentence.
  • The "is doing" or "did" describes the action of the subject( The Who or What)
  • The "to whom or what", "where", "when" or "how" tell us more about the subject or the action.
  • Ask your students what part of the sentence "The girl" is by showing the correct frame card. (The Who or What)
  • Then ask them what part of the sentence "is running" is. (is doing or did) Ask them to hold up the sentence frame part.  Ask them if they can see the action the girl is doing? Then ask them if they can show you "is running?"
  • Then ask them what part of the sentence is "on the playground" is (Where) and hold up the sentence frame part. Ask them to close their eyes and listen to the sentence. Can you see the girl running on the playground. 
  • Now say: The girl on the playground. Ask them if that is a sentence? Hopefully they will say that it isn't and then ask why? It is missing the action part.
 Copy and cut out the following cards. Place them in a different order in the pocket chart: 
in his notebook is writing The boy.

Hold up different parts but not in order. Then hold up each card and ask the students to hold up the sentence frame part. After all 3 parts the sentence should be:
                           The boy is writing in his notebook.

Don't forget to talk about the correct Capitalization and End Punctuation.

You can continue with a longer sentence depending on your students' writing ability. 

    Now they are ready to write and illustrate a sentence about the theme "Winter. " 

                                                The boy is playing in the snow.

I like my students to illustrate their sentence to assess comprehension. If your students need more practice before doing this writing activity say each sentence part and have them hold up the sentence frame to make sure they understand what they need to do. This is the time to walk around the room to make sure they understand the task. 

Finally they are ready for independent practice: 

You can download this free activity packet by clicking on the Picture below.

You may also like my "What Happens in Winter packet. Just click on the image below and download the preview to see all the activities in this packet.

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. Hope you have a wonderful holiday break.

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                                             .Freebie Fridays

What resource or activities do you use to get your students started with writing sentences?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Moving On

I am sure that this was a very difficult day for all of you who are still in school. I spent the weekend with family and friends full of hugs and tears. This tragedy opened up some terrible memories for me at my Elementary School in Anchorage , Alaska. On May 7, 2001 a deranged man carrying a knife slashed the throats of 4 boys, 3 on the playground before 8:30 am and then entered our building and stood 4 feet from me trying to get into the room across the hall. I managed to get my door locked as he headed to the class next to mine and attacked one more boy. Miraculously they all survived because of the heroism of teachers and we started the healing process.

I would like to share my thoughts about lessons learned from my experience. There were many teachers at my  school who didn't know how to connect with their students. They didn't know anything about their students lives outside the classroom. Their focus was on how to get them to be proficient on State Benchmark Tests. In this time of High Stakes Testing and the pressure of making AYP teachers sometimes need to be reminded that we can only do so much with the students we are given each fall. When I began teaching in Alaska someone told me to have a vision of what I wanted my classroom to be. I wanted my classroom to be like a family where there was love, kindness and respect for each other. I wanted my students to feel safe and not be afraid to take risks for fear that someone would make fun of them. I wanted them to know that they could never fail as long as they tried their best. Every success was celebrated and for many they were baby steps.I worked  in a Title I school with limited English learners where we had failed to make AYP 4 years in a row. When the bell rang I closed my door and embraced my students and started from where they were academically and scaffold their learning in order to get them to where they needed to be. I took time to listen to their stories and connect with them. I set aside my lunch time a few days a week so they could come and have lunch with me or get extra help. They blossomed and achieved far beyond what I thought was possible.

There is no getting around teaching standards and high stakes tests but don't lose sight of why you became a teacher and your love for your students. Make learning fun and exciting. Make connections by getting to know them. Don't be afraid to let them know that you are human, too. Find ways to make all of them succeed. Try not to listen to all the negative people around you - focus on the positive. Make sure they leave each day with kind words.

Thank you for letting me share my experience with you. It has been very healing for me and I'm ready to move on. Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Vacation is Almost Here!: So Grab One More December Holiday Free Activity

   Since this is my first December blogging and making products I ran out of time making Holiday packets in time for the Cyber Monday sale at TpT. Yesterday I finished my December Holiday Literacy Packet and wanted to share a fun freebie from it in case you need one more whole class activity before vacation. Just click on the picture above to download your free activity.

I also decided to offer my new December Holiday Literacy and Writing Activities Packet at 30% this weekend from 12/8-12/9 . 
It includes a Word Wall of all 3 December Holidays: Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, Picture/Word Cards for Center Activities, Holiday Word Sort Activity, I Spy Holiday Word Activity, 2 Writing Prompts for 1st and 2nd Grade, How Many Words? Activity and 20 Questions Draw and Write. You can check it out by clicking on the image above.

Don't forget to get your free December Holiday Edition of "Don't Get Skunked" at my TpT store. I'm excited to see the number of downloads and great feedback.

I would like to wish all my followers and viewers who will be celebrating Hanukkah which starts Sunday night a very Happy Hanukkah.

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for  your students.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dreidel, Dreidel What Do You See? I See a Freebie Waiting for Me!

    Are you looking fro some fun free Hanukkah  activities to add to your December Holidays around the World? I have found several for you to check out. The first one is Activity Village, which you can visit by clicking on the image below. There are some crafts, activities, and puzzles that your students may enjoy doing.
If you are looking for some games, activities and recipes  you might want to check out .Apples4theTeacher.
One more website that you may like to check out  has several links to lots of free resources . Just click on the picture below.
I decided to make a special K-1 Symbols of Hanukkah packet a few days ago and at the last minute I added a Dreidel Poem and Headband with the Templates for the Hebrew Letters and Driedel that students can color. Then they can wear them when they are reading the poem. You can see the picture of the poem and headband templates at the top of this post. I decided to make it a freebie so all you have to do is click on it to download your free copy. If you would like to check out my new K-1 Packet that includes 2 Shared Reading books including "Latke, Latke What do you see?, 4 make and take books at the K-1 Levels, Picture/Word Cards, 2 Writing Activities and the activity above just click on the image below to read the description and download a preview.
With the holiday break just a few weeks away I hope you will find some great freebies from this post.
Thanks for all yo do to make a difference for your students.
Freebie Fridays

What December holidays do you teach in your classroom?