December 27, 2011

Quick Engaging Read Aloud: Cabin Creek Mysteries (grades 2-4)

Have you guys heard of the Cabin Creek Mysteries? Great mystery series!

Here's the back story... I  ordered these books from Scholastic as they came out, but I never read one.   It is relatively new series that I think first came out around 2008.  I flipped through the pages and thought it was just another beginning reader chapter book...perfect for 2nd and 3rd graders... but lacking any kind of depth for a more sophisticated reader. Honestly, I thought I get bored. 

But, this year, I needed a read aloud that would only take a few weeks and would engage all my kids... especially my lower readers.  I randomly choose this book out of my classroom library and was more than pleasantly surprised.  The books (written with a lexile range of 570L to 630L) are fast paced with lots of cliffhangers.  My 4th graders (high and low readers) were hanging on every word.  They loved the intrigue and the spooky factor (ooo...ghosts), and they were paying close attention to clues as we read.  Kids were inferring, asking questions, making predictions, using context clues to figure out new was great! They kept saying, "It's just like Scooby-Doo!" They really enjoyed it.

.  For many of my 4th graders these are the perfect books for them to be reading independently.  Many of my students are reading just at 4th or slightly below 4th grade level.  The beauty of reading this aloud is that now all the books from this series are in book boxes and getting read (start to finish). They are super excited about the books and I'm excited to hear "Can we read just a little longer?"

So, if you haven't read one... check them out and share them with your class.  You won't be disappointed and it may be the book that hooks one more reluctant kid on reading!

December 23, 2011

Great Review for Content or Vocabulary

Have you ever played Taboo or Catch Phrase?  These are two of my favorite party games.  Basically, you give clues to your team to help them guess the mystery word. Sooo much fun!

I have incorporated this game in my classroom for review of academic vocabulary or content in all subject areas. The kids love it and it takes zero prep work so I love it too!

Here we go:

1) Students choose partners.  One partner sits in a chair facing away from the projector screen.  The other partner stands in front of them waiting for the word list.

2) Teacher puts up word list.  Students give any clues they can to help their partner guess the words in order.  (I write the lists write on the spot and include a mix of words from things we have been studying and some words just for fun.)

Sample List:
  1. erosion
  2. factor
  3. hippopotamus
  4. fraction
  5. weathering
  6. renewable resource
  7. Cinderella
3) Students have 2 minutes to give clues and help their partner guess all the words. I will stop time early if it looks like the kids have breezed through everything.

4) We quickly discuss the kinds of clues that were given for the academic words.  How did you get your partner to guess fraction? What words did you use to describe renewable resources?

5) Partners switch roles and participate in another round. I usually mix in some of the same words on each word list so that the really important words get reviewed over and over again.  

You can play as many rounds as you want and use this fun activity to review for any subject.  Have fun!

December 6, 2011

Hilarious Student Answers

I don't usually enjoy grading papers, but occasionally I get a truly spectacular answer.  Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to get two.  My class is nothing if not FULL of personality!

Hope these answers put a smile on your face. 
(Sorry for the crummy photos.)

From a reading test...

 Q: What kind of person is Cara? Explain your answer and support with details from the story.

A: If I had to describe Cara I would say she's Crazy with a capital C because who brings a snake into the library? I mean seriously do you know anyone who took a snake to the library? That's why I call her a crazy kid and I hope she's not a teenager because if she is it's going to be three times worse.

From a science test...

Q: A soil found in Texas has very small particles. When water was added, most of it stayed on the surface. The soil does does not have many nutrients. Would this soil be good for plants?  Explain why or why not.

A: I think no because it doesn't have nutrients and for crying out loud water doesn't even go through!

December 3, 2011

Sunshine Beats Stress

Hi everyone! How are you?  It's been awhile.
I have been out of the bloggy world for far too long. I'm embarrassed that I completely missed the month of November. It has been a tough couple of weeks at school.  I have been so overwhelmed, stressed and anxious about the progress of my students, benchmark scores, RTI paperwork, ISP paperwork, and of course the impending STAAR test. For awhile there, I was falling apart.

I regained some composure and have found some better ways to handle my stress.  One way is to read the comments from you all.  Thank you so much for not giving up on my blog.  In fact, even in my absence another amazing fellow blogger nominated me for the Sunshine Award.  I needed some sunshine, so I HUGE thank you to Tina over at Quench Your First. Please go check out her incredible blog.

The Sunshine Award rules are...
1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
2. Answer the following questions below.
3. And pass the award to 10~12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them.

* Favorite Color?  blue
* Favorite Animal?  dogs
* Favorite Number? 3
* Favorite Drink? I love coffee. I drink a tall white chocolate americano with a dash of cream. Delish!
* Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
* Your Passion? Lately, I have been obsessed with puzzles. (I have found this is another good way to destress.)
* Giving or Getting Presents?  I love giving, especially when I have found the perfect gift.
* Favorite day? Saturday
* Favorite flowers? Gerber Daisies

Here are 12 more blogs I have chosen to pass this award on to: