Monday, October 31, 2011

Wise Guys Reading Review and Activity: Al Capone Does My Shirts

 Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Imagine you and your family lived on Alcatraz Island in the early 1900s with all the criminals locked up just yards from your house. And one of those criminals happens to be Al Capone! This story is about a boy named Moose and how his family moves onto Alcatraz Island because of his dad's job. Now you think that would be enough of an adventure, but the warden's daughter, Piper, is more trouble than Moose can handle. She is constantly scheming up new ideas to get in touch with the famous criminals behind the prison walls. And it all comes to a big mess when Moose's sister, Natalie, is not accepted into a special school and Moose's mom is beside herself. Will Moose and Piper be able to help Natalie get into the special school? You'll have to read the book to find out!

Activity Related to the Story
We have created a free game board that would be an excellent review for the students after reading the book. This activity comes with the game board that we print out on card stock in color ink and then laminate so we can use year after year. Also included are the game cards. We copy those onto card stock as well, and then cut them out. The only materials that you will need to provide are the game pieces to move around the board (you can even have the students make them out of paper) and dice. Students enjoy reviewing the story in this fun way.

Extensive Reading Activity Guide
We also have a 50 page activity guide and answer key that goes along with the story. Our student love to do these guides because it provides them with fun activities related to the book. They are also challenged to search for answers in the book and to use reading strategies such as: summarizing, predicting, connecting, visualizing and so much more. The guide is easy to use and includes an answer key that is a tremendous help for the teacher.
We hope you take the time to read this book and hopefully use it in your classroom too!

For more great reading comprehension guides on other great books click here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

11-11-11: Ideas and Activities to Use in Your Classroom


This fascinating date only comes around once every hundred years. So to celebrate this amazing event, we have come up with some activities and ideas that you can use in your intermediate grade classroom.

Prime Numbers: The number 11 is a prime number. You could have an introductory lesson on prime numbers and why the number 11 is prime.

Multiplication: Multiplying by 11s is up to 11 x 9. Have your students practice the facts of 11.

Addition/Subtraction: Have students create story problems that have 11 as part of the problem or answer. 

Have the students problem solve when the next 11-11-11 will occur? How many years from now?

Probability: Have some dice on hand. Have students get in teams and see what the probability of rolling 11 will be in 20 tries.

Social Studies
11/11/11 is Veteran's Day.

You could invite 11 Veterans in to talk to your students.

You could do an 11 minute lesson on Veterans' Day.

You could tell 11 facts about why Veteran's Day is important to celebrate, and what veterans have done for our country.

-List any words that have 11 letters.

-Write a sentence with exactly 11 words.

-Write a poem that has 11 lines, 11 syllables...

-Write a quick story about 11-11-11 in 11 minutes. 

-Write a story about what life will be like the next time 11-11-11 comes around.

-Students read a book silently for 11 minutes.

-Do a read aloud to the class for 11 minutes.

-Meet with your guided reading groups for only 11 minutes today.

-Find 11 books and have groups of students classify them into different genres.

-Read a "whodunit" or "problem to solve" book and give the students 11 minutes to solve the mystery.

-There are 11 players on a football team. Have a discussion as to why that is and see if anyone can name the positions on offense and defense.

We hope you can use some of the activities in your classroom for  11-11-11. Please feel free to add your own ideas to our list too!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

State Testing: Ideas to Take the Stress Away


When our students hear the word "test" they cringe and you can see the fear on their face. When we start to talk about the state test, that fear turns to panic and sheer horror. Thoughts flood their minds, "I'm going to have to repeat 5th grade! My parents are going to ground me forever if I don't pass this test. Maybe I can pretend I'm sick and get out of the whole test. I wonder if I broke my writing arm if I would have to do it?"

After 30 years of combined teaching at grade levels where state tests are administered, we have developed a TOP 10 LIST that we think will help not only your students, but yourself cope with the "stress of the test."

#1: Treats!
What student, or teacher for that matter, doesn't love treats? About a week before the test begins we read a letter to our students about how their parents can bring in healthy snacks and healthy drinks on the days of the test. This gets the students excited. You can find the FREE letter by clicking here.

#2: Morning Meeting
It is important to start off testing days with a short morning meeting. For those of you that have never done this, don't worry. Students need to be acknowledged and appreciated, especially on testing day. First, it's a simple greeting in the morning to everyone. We have used a koosh ball to throw around the room, have the student give high 5s to each other,  and do a pinky shake to name a few. Next is a quick share. Some topics that we have done during testing are: raise your hand if you ate breakfast today, raise your hand if you got at least 7 hours of sleep and so on. The third activity is a cooperative game. This is a time to get up and do an activity together. The favorite activity of our classes is the beach ball toss. We bring a beach ball into the classroom and pick 3-4 students to be in a circle. Their goal is to see how long they can keep it in the air. Then we pick the next group until all students have been picked. The final part of the meeting is news and announcements. This is where we share what part of the test they will be doing that day, when snacks are, and any other events happening during the day. Students like to know the routine ahead of time.

#3: Stress Chain
Students always bring worries with them to the state test. To combat this, we created a stress chain activity that we do the day before the test. What the teacher needs are various colors of regular size construction paper. Take each piece of construction paper and cut into about 8 equal strips.  Hand out two different colors of construction paper per student. Tell them that you want them to write their worries about the test on the paper. Some examples are: "I might fail. I might not know an answer. I will get nervous and forget everything I know..." After they have finished, have the class help you make them into chains by looping them together and stapling. Take the completed chain and tell the students that you are going to hang all their worries outside the classroom door. So when they come in to class tomorrow they are to leave their worries at the door! You can find a printable version of the directions for FREE here.

#4: Test Taking First Aid Kit
Another fun idea is to create a test taking first aid kit for the students to "use" during testing. The kit includes items that students could use during the test. Check out the contents of the bags and the FREE activity here.

#5 Brain Breaks
One important thing that you need to do with your class is to take brain breaks when portions of the test are complete. This could be the time that  you have your snacks, or when you do some quick movement activities (jumping jacks, running in place, wiggling arms and legs..). Students need the time to get up and move around.

#6 Sharpened Pencils
Before testing begins, we make sure that EVERY student has at least two sharpened #2 pencils in their desks. We also make sure that we have a can of sharpened pencils available too. The last thing you want is for a student to panic when s/he breaks a pencil.

#7 Bubbles
It's not what you think! No, we do not allow bubbles in our classrooms, but that could be fun. Instead, we are talking about those fun bubbles that students need to fill in on the test booklets and/or answer sheets. If your students are grades 4 or higher they can probably do this on their own. If they are in a lower grade, we would ask for assistance from an aide in the school or someone that can help you do this ahead of time. If your students are doing this on their own, make sure to give clear directions. Something fun to do at the end, would be to give them a blank bubble sheet and have them make up designs.

#8 Music
During our brain breaks we often turn on music to let the students unwind. Sometime it might be soothing classical music, or other times it is the music we downloaded on our ipods that has more modern (appropriate) songs that the students would enjoy. They love it!

#9 Basketball Trash Shooting with stress chain.
At the end of testing, we take apart our stress chain and hand back the pieces. Each student gets two shots at the garbage can after crumpling them into balls. They have a blast with this!

#10 Ice Cream Party 
What better way to celebrate the end of testing than with some ice cream. You become the students' waiter/waitress and serve them ice cream and various toppings. Check out the letter that we send home to ask parents for items for the party here

Those were 10 tips that we have used in our classrooms. I would love to hear what has been successful for you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Multiplication Help for Parents: Activities and Ideas

This packet is a great resource for teachers to send home to parents of students who struggle with their multiplication facts. Included are 18 pages of fun activities that parents can do with their children. Examples are: games with flash cards, playing cards, and game boards. The facts from 2-12 are included with the game boards as well. There are also extra credit opportunities where a child could create a multiplication rap as well!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

November Reading, Writing, and Math Activities for Intermediate Grades

November Reading, Writing, Math, and other Activities and Games for Intermediate Grades

This 29-page activity packet is intended to help a grade 3-5 teacher with some November ideas. Included in the document is a reading log with a giving theme with certificates, a turkey writing/coloring contest with rubric, an adding and subtracting puzzle, a November making words activity, a stranded on an island decimal math activity, and a 13-page reading activity packet that can be used for any novel.

These documents are in Microsoft Word 2003. Our students enjoy the activities, and we're sure your students will too!

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Guided Reading Worksheets Activities Strategies on CD

Guided Reading Worksheets, Activities, and Lessons on CD

Common Core Reading Standards Met: #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,

This is the most comprehensive unit with activities, lessons,strategies, and worksheets that you will find out there regarding guided reading. This CD will be shipped to you for ease of use at home or at school. All of these products have been used effectively in the classroom!

The CD will include the following documents:
-Our Bestselling Guided Reading Worksheets and Activities packet (38 pages)
-Character Profile, Vocabulary, Connections and -Questions Worksheets (4 pages)
-Discussion Questions Example for Guided Reading from The 39 Clues (5 pages)
-End of Story Project Choices
-End of Story Project Choices Example from When You Reach Me (2 pages)
-Guided Reading 10 Day Activity Packet (5 pages)
-Guided Reading Challenge University Packet (13 pages)
-Guided Reading One Page Strategy Worksheet
-Guided Reading Packet to Use With Any Novel (14 pages)
-Guided Reading Rubric and Teacher Grid (2 pages)
-Guided Reading Strategies Workshop (4 pages)
-How to Assess Guided Reading Groups (2 pages)
-Introduction Lesson to Guided Reading (5 pages)
-Kid Friendly Strategy Cards (3 pages)
-Guided Reading Activity Cards (2 pages)
-The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Guided Reading Packet Example (42 pages)
-Guided Reading Sticky Notes Project (2 pages)

All of the above files are in 2003 Microsoft Word. SHIPPING IS FREE!

Please allow a week for delivery. If you would like individual digital downloads instead, you can check out our store for guided reading activities.
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The Lightning Thief Reading Activities Lessons on CD

The Lightning Thief Unit with over 15 lessons, activities, worksheets, projects, and test on CD (aligned with the Common Core Reading Standards 1-6).

This is the most comprehensive unit that you will find out there to teach the novel The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. This CD will be shipped to you for ease of use at home or at school.

The Lightning Thief CD will include the following documents:
-Reading Comprehension Guide and Answer Key
-Literature Circles Packet
-Board Game
-Comprehension Quiz, answer key and rubric
-Author Study: Rick Riordan Powerpoint (11 slides)
-Introduction to The Lightning Thief Powerpoint (5 slides)
-Main Characters worksheet and answer key
-44 Discussion Questions
-Vocabulary Word Study and answer key
-End of book choices and rubric (2 separate documents)
-Movie to Book Comparisons and answer key
-Mythological Creatures and Gods
-Text Messaging Activity
-Facebook activity
-Setting activity and answer key

Also included in the CD is a BONUS comprehension guide for the book, Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech! All of the above files are in 2003 Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. SHIPPING IS FREE!

Please allow a week for delivery. If you would like the digital download instead, you can check out our store at the below link and search for The Lightning Thief products.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Setting Long-term Writing Goals Powerpoint

This is an 8 slide powerpoint activity that will help your students develop writing goals for the school year. It discusses long-term goals and how to develop short-term goals in the beginning of the year. It includes an assignment at the end. Below is the first slide of the presentation.

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Math Activity: Using World Population for Estimation, Number Operations

Do you want a fun way to teach estimation and rounding with bigger numbers? This is a four page activity and answer key where the students will use the population of various parts of the world to answer mathematical questions. Such concepts included are: number order, estimation, and writing a number in word form. Here is an example of the first page below.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Tuck Everlasting Reading Activities for the Novel

Tuck Everlasting Reading Comprehension Guide Activities
Reading Common Core Standards: 1,2,3,4,5,6
This is a reading comprehension activity guide for Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. This is one of the most comprehensive reading packets you will find directly related to this specific book. Included are comprehension questions for each chapter, reading strategies such as: visualizing, summarizing, predicting, connections, and so much more. There is also a vocabulary word study included that has vocabulary words for each chapter and page numbers. Also included is a guided reading rubric to assess your students in areas such as: fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and predicting, and a handy sheet to use for scoring when working with groups of children, and so much more!

Check out our store for more excellent reading comprehension guides and packets.
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