Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Freak the Might Novel Study - FREE Quizzes, + Sentence Writing

My students are just finishing up their novel study for Freak the Mighty this week. They'll take the final test tomorrow and watch the movie on Thursday. Of course, we'll be comparing the book to the movie. I'm using the test and book vs. movie chart from Secondary Solutions' Freak the Mighty unit.

I'm loosely calling this a novel study since my students read almost all of this novel outside of class. I gave them a schedule to follow and quizzed them every five chapters. Here's what the schedule looked like.

I couldn't find a set of objective quizzes for Freak the Mighty so I had to make my own. When assigning chapters to be read at home, I like to hold students accountable with a closed-book literal comprehension quiz each day a section is due. Otherwise, I KNOW that some of my kiddos wouldn't read. And because I gave the quizzes, I KNOW that one or two of them didn't read every time it was assigned, or at least, didn't keep up with the schedule. I'm BIG into accountability - if I'm going to give my students an assignment outside of class, you better believe I'm holding them accountable. I don't want any of them taking my assignments lightly or feeling like they can skate by without keeping up.

Anyway, I'm sharing those quizzes with you, my wonderful readers, just in case you teach the novel or plan to in the future. There are five quizzes total with 20 multiple-choice questions on each quiz. The questions are NOT higher order, but simply check for careful reading of each section by asking literal questions, no inferring or figuring out needed. I've already emailed the quizzes out to all of my email subscribers, so if you'd like a copy, simply subscribe below, and after you confirm your email, the quizzes will be automatically emailed to you.

I wanted to do some extra sentence writing-practice with my students, so I had them write two sentences for each five-chapter section. I use some of the sentence-building methods discussed in Interactive Writing Notebooks and give students sentence formulas to write. Here is what I gave them:

You can download a PDF copy of that by clicking on either one of those images.

The best part is the end product that my students ended up producing! Here are just a few examples of their writing.

We wrote the first two sentences together as a class, so you'll notice that they start the same. I could have posted 20 essays here if I chose all of the really great ones! Of course, we are still working on consistent verb tense and other things, so keep in mind that these are sixth graders. Boy I wish I had some "before" papers to post!

For tips on improving your students writing before testing time, check out this blog post from last year.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cheap Classroom Book Sets for Novel Studies

I can't think of many things worse than having to settle for a less-than-great class novel because it's all that's in your closet and you can't afford anything better.

This happened to me four years ago when teaching sixth grade reading for the first time. I had no choice but to teach Esperanza Rising.

I didn't love it, but my kids absolutely despised it. With the exception of a handful of students who did like it, most of my students continued to complain about this book until they left me and went to high school. (I taught the same students for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade!) Every time I broke out a new novel to read and said, "It's a great book! You're going to love it!" they would remind me that I said the same thing about Esperanza Rising. This book became infamous among my students as the time I lied to them. So, I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen to you (or never happens again)! 

When I went through the closets at my new school this year, I wanted to throw up when I found the novel sets. Nothing usable. The titles were so awful I can't even remember most of them, except for A View From Saturday. Nope. NOT settling this year!

Fortunately, I know better now! We're on our fourth class novel, and my students just started reading Freak the Mighty last week. They are already LOVING IT! Thank God for Scholastic Reading Club, formerly Scholastic Book Clubs!

I'm sure most of you know about the Scholastic book orders. Even if you don't feel like sending home the order forms, and even if you don't bother because your students never order from them anyway, you STILL need to shop from them yourself. This is where I get the vast majority of my class novel sets!

And I would love to say that I choose novels based solely on their merit and literary value, but that just isn't true. I shop the Scholastic $1 deals!

Earlier this school year, I purchased 75 copies of Freak The Mighty for $75. Can't beat that deal! If you're really on a budget, you can get by with only purchasing a class set of 25 or so and reusing them with all of your classes. I prefer for my students to have their own copy while we're reading whenever possible. I have 68 students, so 75 is a good number for me to always have an extra for a lost book or book left at home.

I'm sorry to tell you that this deal has expired, but you can still buy them for $3 a copy through Scholastic Reading Club. That's more affordable than usual, at least. Most deals last half a year, so even though they're only in the book order for a month, you can still buy them either Sept-Dec or Jan-June.

So how do you find the $1 deals?

I go in every few weeks and look for the updated order forms. There is always a $1 book in each grade level brochure, so I make sure to check grades 3 and up, just in case. A few weeks ago I noticed that this little gem of a book was $1 AGAIN!

I've taught this novel for years, and I've never found a better novel for teaching the value of figurative language. I was so sad that the 7th grade ELA teacher at my school was using this novel, meaning I couldn't teach it this year. Well, low and behold, she came to my room last week and announced that I "could have it!" because she didn't like it and wouldn't teach it again.

Woo to the HOO!! Last time they went on sale for $1, I bought an extra 50 for myself, even though I was taking a new job and didn't know if I would need them. BUT I've decided I still want to buy 75 more copies, because this is an AWESOME novel for annotating, and I still want to maintain my stash. SO I'll buy each of my students his own copy and we'll annotate. This will be my book for March.

Book hoarding problem, anyone?

And I was JUST feeling sorry for myself because I couldn't find a great Civil Rights novel to teach this year. The 8th grade teacher has Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry claimed, and those were the two best ones I've read.

I'm still SOOO excited about this one! I'm going to do something different in March with reading novels so I'll blog about that soon.

For now, here are the novels that you can currently buy for $1 through Scholastic Reading Club and where you can find them. No matter which grade you teach, you can order from any of the flyers. And don't wait on it for too long. Even though I seem to remember that they usually stay valid from Jan-June, nothing is guaranteed!

These are in order of my preference.

In 5th Grade February, one of my favorites of all time!

In Tab February, I'm ordering this as a new choice for literature circles.

In Tab January, I haven't read this one but it's on my list.

In 5th Grade January, this one's a classic I really should read!

In 4th Grade February, I have several of these I use in small groups for those who need extra fluency practice.

In 3rd Grade February, haven't read this one.

In 4th Grade January, another one I haven't read.

And here are a few $2 deals worth mentioning!

Arrow February

Teens January

The March flyers will be out soon, and I get excited just THINKING about what deals might be in them!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Teaching Adages

Do you teach adages? Amelia from Where the Wild Things Learn asked me if I could create a page on adages that matched the figurative language papers from my Interactive Reading Literature Notebooks.

Adages are mentioned in the Common Core Language standards for 4th and 5th grades:

L.4.5.B & L.5.5.B:  Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs.
(The standard actually reads the exact same for both grades.)

I wanted to help out this brand new mama who just returned from maternity leave, so I made a page to match the rest. Here it is, just in case you teach adages as well!

Just click the photo below to download through Google Docs:

Adages included:
You can't have your cake and eat it, too.
Life is short and sweet.
Get out of the kitchen if you can't take the heat.

I also had a request for a matching page on oxymorons, but I can't for the life of me find a song that includes oxymorons AND is not obscene. Plenty of songs with oxymorons are beyond obscene. What's up with that?

Know of any oxymoron song lyrics?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter Wonders Birthday Blog Hop

Welcome! One year ago today, a group of teacher-bloggers launched the website Adventures in Literacy Land to share tips and tools for effective literacy instruction. 
In honor of reaching our first full year of blogging together we are hosting a Winter Wonders Blog Hop and Birthday Celebration. Join us, if you will, to read a short post by each author, download a free literacy resource, and enter a raffle for a chance to win a Barnes and Nobles gift certificate.
Dystopian fiction is a very hot genre right now, and my students love this book! There are 7 books in the series, and I *always* have reluctant readers continue after this book and finish the entire series.
After we read the book, I like to do some compare and contrast activities. My students watch a video clip about an "illegal" second child living in China. It's really a great video news clip. Then, students complete this graphic organizer.

Some of you may have read about my teaching this novel last winter, so I apologize if some of this information is a repeat. Since we had teacher inservice Monday, we'll be starting Among the Hidden today! It's the third class novel we've done this year, and I'll expect my students to read it all outside of class, except for the first two chapters. They'll be reading by a schedule I gave out today and taking literal comprehension quizzes as they go. 

This will be my third time teaching this novel, and sixth graders always love it! The main character is a 12 year old boy named Luke. He is a third child, illegal in the dystopian society in which he lives. He must stay hidden and isn't allowed to go to school, have any friends, or even go outside. In fact, no one outside of his immediate family knows he exists! When he discovers another third child living next door, he realizes that he wants freedom more than anything else.

These activities can be downloaded free in my TpT store and include graphic organizers with keys and a very structured writing activity. Just click on one of the images above to link to it.

I hope you'll click below and follow this blog on Bloglovin' before skating over to JD's Rockin' Readers!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Victory Freebies #7

Well, about the only thing I can say about this season is...

I'm so sad that I'll have to wait until next fall for some more Saints football! In honor of the Saints beating the Bucs this Sunday, you can pick up my Figurative Language Stories, Set 2! This freebie, worth $6, is only free for an hour! Grab it by 10pm CT!

Click the thumbnail to download on TpT!
Freebie #2 is from Teresa Kwant.   My Country Report Project Booklet is a fun project that mixes social studies and ELA!

Check out her TpT store and be sure to follow her at her Facebook page, Teresa Kwant.

Victory Freebie #3 comes from Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching.

Understanding Air and Weather

Check out more of her stuff at her blog and from her Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Freebie #4 is Bayou Revue Add The Room from Kamp Kindergarten.

Be sure to thank Kamp Kindergarten by following her TpT store here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Victory Freebies #6

Well, I almost can't believe it, but the Saints sure are still alive! Here are a few freebies to celebrate, but grab them quick before they expire!

This first one's a flash freebie from my store, so you can only grab it for the next two hours! It will expire at 10am CT.

Freebie #2 is from Melissa Dalton. I suppose that when I planned this, I took for granted that 6 wins should come much sooner! Still, this unit is useful any time or can be saved for next year. Thanks to Melissa for sharing this unit with all of us!  Thank you, Sarah - A Thanksgiving Writing Unit
*This freebie has expired*

Check out her TpT store here and be sure to follow her at Don't Let The Teachers Stay Up Late Facebook page too!
*This freebie has expired*

Victory Freebie #3 is from Teach with Fergie. You can grab this Bill Nye Video Worksheets (FOUR) - Ecology Worksheet Collection FREE for a limited time!
*This freebie has expired*

Do thank her by following her blog here and by checking out her Teachers Pay Teachers store.

And finally, freebie #4 is from Little Smarticle Particles. Looking for a fun math activity to get you through the hard times? Look no further than Combinations in Math - I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream. It's free, but not for long!
*This freebie has expired*

Do check out her blog and follow her at her TpT store here.

Sunday is a HUGE game, so here's to hoping I see you again next week! Until then, you can read about what I'm teaching the week before Christmas break here.