Sunday, July 20, 2014

Interactive Notebooks FAQ



I have been getting a huge number of emails lately asking questions about various aspects of interactive notebooks as well as how I use them. I really try hard to respond to each and every email, even if it takes a few days. So, if you've emailed me and haven't received a response, please email me again.

I'll be on vacation at the end of July and August will be SO busy as I get my brand new classroom ready for the new year, so I decided to put all of the frequently asked questions in one place to make sure everyone's questions are properly answered. Please don't be offended if I direct you here. And as always, feel free to email me again if your question is not answered in this post.


Interactive Notebooks FAQ

To find an answer quickly, use cmd+F (Mac) or ctrl+F (Windows) to search this page by keyword.

Section A – Supplies
A1. Can I use spiral notebooks or binders? 
A2. Will glue sticks work in place of liquid glue? It’s so messy!
A3. My students keep forgetting their supplies! What do I do?
A4. I have so many students that manila folders for lapbooks are too expensive. What else can I use?

Section B – Implementation
 B1.  How many notebooks do my students need? Do they need a different composition book for Literature, Informational Text, Writing, Grammar, and Poetry? 
B2. Some students take so long to construct the pages. Do you give them a time limit? How do you handle the slowest students?
B3. Do you do all of the lessons in order? Do you finish one notebook before moving onto the next?
B4. The pages in your notebooks mostly look like right side activities. What do you do on the left side?
B5. I have the same students for multiple years. Do they use a new notebook each year? Do they make the same notebook for 3 years in a row?
 
B6. Do you have a suggested pacing guide?
B7. Do you make an interactive notebook page every day?
B8. Do you have a routine in your classroom? How do you structure your day?
 
B9. You suggest some short stories in your lessons. Where can I find them? 
Just Google the name of the story and include PDF in the search. You’ll probably find something! 
B10. Do you have a rubric? / How do you grade your notebooks?
B11.  What if I get a new student in the middle of the year?
B12. What if a student loses his notebook?
 
B13. What can I put in the interactive notebook? Where do I put everything else? 
B14. When students are constructing the pages, how do you give directions so that they aren't constantly asking questions?
B15. How do you organize the notebook or set up the Table of Contents?
B16. What do you do when a student is absent?


Section C – Purchasing
C1. Do you have a bundle for all / some of your notebooks?
C2. If I already have the digital version, do I have to pay full price for the spiral bound hard copy?
 
C3. Do you have math/science/social studies/ notebooks for other grades?



Section A – Supplies

A1. Can I use spiral notebooks or binders?
Yes you can, but I don’t recommend either. Composition notebooks are definitely superior. Spiral notebooks tend to come apart and wear faster. Students also tend to tear pages out of spiral notebooks when they need paper. They’re more likely to flip to the back (or not) to complete an assignment for another class. And good pages with content are more likely to be torn out by accident, especially as students interact with the elements of the page that open, flip, etc.

A2. Will glue sticks work in place of liquid glue? It’s so messy!
NO! Glue sticks definitely won’t suffice for a truly interactive notebook because it won’t stick forever. In fact, after the students have interacted with the flaps, pockets, or tabs, it will definitely come off. Elmer’s School Glue holds forever! Just use baby dots about 1 inch apart on anything you glue. Be very specific about HOW to glue with your students.  NEVER use the toaster strudel method with glue! This results in wet, sticky, and wrinkled up pages. Gluing in an interactive notebook MUST be overtly taught. See next question for managing glue.



A3. My students keep forgetting their supplies! What do I do?
My students are required to bring scissors and colored pencils to class. What do I do when they forget them? Ridicule and belittle the student into submission. No, really… I have extra supplies on hand that are inferior to their own. Little kindergarten scissors they use when they forget their big pair. Old discarded crayons and pencil colors (most left on my floor!) when they forget to bring their own. This way, students have the supplies they need, but are still motivated to bring their own. As for glue – I supply that. I buy 60 bottles per year at Wal-Mart when they’re 25c-50c for back to school. I put duct tape around them to claim the bottles as mine. This definitely keeps them from walking away! I keep them in a big bucket and distribute as needed. I usually need new bottles by January. If students close the bottle and wipe the tip when finished, they’ll last a long time.



A4. I have so many students that manila folders for lapbooks are too expensive. What else can I use?
They won’t be as durable, but try the big sheets of construction paper (12x18) that Kindergarten always has.



Section B – Implementation

B1.  How many notebooks do my students need? Do they need a different composition book for Literature, Informational Text, Writing, Grammar, and Poetry? 

In the past, I've put all ELA activities into one notebook. I did not separate it into sections - that would be way too much to manage, I think. The only organization you need is to keep a running table of contents - save the first three pages of the notebook for this, and update it each time you make a new entry.

Next school year, I plan to use two notebooks instead of one. The first notebook will be for all reading (informational text and literature) and the second notebook will be for grammar and writing. I'll let you know how that  goes!


B2. Some students take so long to construct the pages. Do you give them a time limit? How do you handle the slowest students?

I'll say "Throw some color on it, you've only got a minute left!" and I let my students assist each other when running behind. Some of my students, mostly girls, want to take their time and work slowly and meticulously. Ain't nobody got time for that!! Really, I tell them they'll have to come back to it later and do the perfect coloring after class because we're moving on. For students who struggle to keep up, I let my busy-body girls who want to be in everyone else's business assist that person. I also tell them that when they've finished their part, look around them and assist anyone who needs it. This way keeps everyone on task and everyone caught up! 

B3. Do you do all of the lessons in order? Do you finish one notebook before moving onto the next?
No way! While I do re-use many lessons, I hardly ever keep them the exact same or teach them in the same order from year to year. And I do the literature/informational text lessons interchangeably during my reading block and the writing/grammar in my language block. For an idea of what my year with interactive notebooks looks like, please check out my pacing guides. The one for grade 6 includes all of ELA, while 7th and 8th only include reading. Since I won't be teaching 7th or 8th grade this year, I don't plan to update those.


B4. The pages in your notebooks mostly look like right side activities. What do you do on the left side?

I have seen the left/right side business, and honestly, I'm just not willing to commit to that for a few reasons. First, I typically don't have my students reflect in their journal since I don't pick them up to grade and don't want them writing false information in what is their reference for the content that I've taught them. If you wanted to use that format in your notebooks, then yes, my pages would be the teaching pages and you could add a reflection on the left hand side. 

B5. I have the same students for multiple years. Do they use a new notebook each year? Do they make the same notebook for 3 years in a row?

That's one of the harder parts of interactive notebooks - keeping it fresh for the 3 years in a row that I see these kids. Honestly, I just do it as I go. For example, my 7th graders did conflict this year (4 types) with the 4 triangle tabs that meet in the middle that are in my literature notebook. Now in 8th grade, I'm not going to go through the motions of teaching the lesson - and I'm not going to teach the lesson like it's new again, but instead review. Sometimes I will use the same template again, even though it is the same as the year before, if it really contributed to the lesson - such as the point of view templates with the windows - but otherwise, I'll just change it up. I'll do a simple 4 tab shutter foldable and put conflict on it instead of using the triangle tabs. Also, when reviewing, sometimes I'll review the 4 types with my students and then give them a sheet of notes to have them copy in the foldable themselves - not as part of the lesson - and sometimes even as homework. So they've got the notes, but they aren't new, just a review. There are lots of places to find template ideas online for interactive notebook templates - try pinterest or just googling them. I do have a template pack for sale in my store, but it's mostly for convenience, as you can find most of them for free online if you're willing to look for them


B6. Do you have a suggested pacing guide?

Yes, and I uploaded them to TpT as freebies:

B7. Do you make an interactive notebook page every day?


Of course not! It really varies for me. When I introduce a concept, we make a page. We keep working on that concept and doing other stuff even though we're not making pages every day. We'll read a story or a few stories to apply that skill or concept and refer back to the page when we need to this week and throughout the rest of the year. If it's grammar or writing, then we'll practice the skill or write something after making the page, and the students are to use the page and the notes on/in the page as their reference. As far as how many per week, it really just depends on the week. Sometimes a few, sometimes just one. But on average, about one per subject per week.
B8. Do you have a routine in your classroom? How do you structure your day?

I have a 100 minute block for teaching reading, writing, grammar, and spelling. Describing my daily structure is much harder since it seriously varies so much from day to day!  I mesh reading and writing together so much as we write about what we're reading I really do focus my teaching on the reading aspect and add the rest in around it. I'll cut corners and sacrifice some of one subject to do more of another, as needed. I like to get grammar out of the way since it requires less critical thinking, then spend the bulk of my day on reading and writing activities. Spelling is done mostly out of class and tested once per week.


B9. You suggest some short stories in your lessons. Where can I find them?

Most popular short stories can be found online. Just google the name of the story and include PDF in the search and you'll probably find something.

B10. Do you have a rubric? / How do you grade your notebooks?
No! I don't grade notebooks. All of the information in there is dictated by me, and none if it is original student work, so I don't grade it. It's just part of the lesson. I wouldn't grade dictated notes, so I don't grade this. You might assign a grade for completion or neatness or something but I don't. 

B11.  What if I get a new student in the middle of the year?

Don't stress about this. Hand them a blank notebook and have them copy your table of contents (the whole thing) into their notebook and number the pages the same as you have them numbered. Ask them to look over the table of contents and let you know if there's anything they've never learned before (an excellent quick immediate assessment of where they're coming from). Then, have them pick up wherever you are. As you come across content that the student doesn't know but needs, have them do that page. Sometimes after school, sometimes sent home, I find a time. You don't want them going through and doing all of the pages, especially since you're NOT teaching it to them and technically they haven't learned all the concepts. Now you can teach the concept as needed. Their notebooks won't be complete at the end of the year, but it's the best solution I've found and it's still an accurate record of what they've learned in YOUR class.

B12. What if a student loses his notebook? What if he just doesn't bring it to class one day?

In three years, no student of mine has lost his notebook. I hope I'm not jinxing myself here! But we've always found it some place. If or when a student does lose his notebook, my back-up plan is to treat it like a new student. See question B11 for that advice. Ultimately, it's more work on the student who loses the notebook, so there is no incentive for that.

If a student doesn't have his notebook in class one day when we're gluing into it, I'll have him do the activity with us on looseleaf paper and save it. When he brings his notebook back, we can glue in that entire page where it belongs.

B13. What can I put in the interactive notebook? Where do I put everything else? 

Can my students use their interactive student notebook for DOL (Daily Oral Language)? Can they use them for daily journal entries? For these two items, my answer is definitely NO. Each page has a specific purpose. There are no "throw away" pages in the notebook. What's the rule for knowing if something is a "throw away" page? Well, if your students will need to refer back to this information in the future, it definitely goes into the notebook. If your students really won't need to refer back to this information (like a journal prompt answer, daily activity, or comprehension questions), then put it somewhere else.

Also, don't be afraid to put extra stuff in the notebook that isn't necessarily interactive or perhaps not even content-related. My students set AR goals each 9 weeks, so of course, we put those in the ISN and include it in the table of contents. No more students asking me what their goal is - it's right in their notebook! Goals, data, etc. that you want students to keep for the year should definitely go into the notebook.


My students bring a red folder to class each day and that's where I have them put everything else I need them to hang on to. They're required to always have loose leaf paper in there. I also keep some in my room because it's easier to give them paper than it is to make a stink over it.

B14. When students are constructing the pages, how do you give directions so that they aren't constantly asking questions?

I construct each page right along with my students. I use a document camera and model every step for them. They do it as I'm doing it. I keep one separate notebook for each class so that I always know where I left off. Also, sometimes different  classes do different things or at different paces for various reasons, so it helps me keep track of that, too.

B15. How do you organize the notebook or set up the Table of Contents?

To start your notebooks, just leave 3 blank pages at the beginning and number the first page with a 1. There. You've started! Now, label the very front page "Table of Contents" and begin listing what is on each page as it is completed. This way, you can do whatever you like in any order. Here's what one of my 6th grade notebooks looked like after about 9 weeks of school:



B16. What do you do when a student is absent?

If a student misses an activity, I'll have them come to me during lunch, after school, or some other time and I give them my notebook (See B14 above!) and the pages and they complete the activity. I'll give brief instructions when it isn't obvious, but it clearly doesn't take the place of that lesson. Normally, I'm going to teach this concept over and over again (not just that day) so they should pick it up later, unless they missed a whole week or something. In that case, they're going to need extra remediation anyway, so I'll have a high student help me with some of the catching up and instructing on the pages and just do the best I can.

Section C – Purchasing

C1. Do you have a bundle for all / some of your notebooks?
I do not sell the digital notebooks in a bundle for several reasons. TpT size restrictions makes that very difficult (impossible actually). Furthermore, the larger the file, the more technical difficulties some seem to have. Instead, I keep all of the notebook prices competitive to compensate for this.

C2. If I already have the digital version, do I have to pay full price for the spiral bound hard copy?


If you've already purchased the digital file and want to upgrade to the hard copy version, the price will be the same as the price of the notebook. So, the reading literature notebook upgrade is an additional $12, plus $3 shipping per book. If you'd like an upgrade, please email me (ecobb at me dot com) your purchase receipt of the digital file (screen shot is fine) and your PayPal email address and I'll send you a PayPal invoice that you can pay directly through PayPal.

C3. Do you have math/science/social studies/ notebooks for other grades?

Right now, I only have ELA notebooks. I’ll have an elementary version of the reading literature notebook for grades 2-3 by the end of summer 2014.




Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer News & Helpful Posts for Back to School

This is one of my favorite ecards of all time, so I had to share it despite the error.


I absolutely can't believe that the week of the Teachers Pay Teachers conference is actually here! I have been working overtime to prepare for my session, Accelerate Your Store's Success. I've also been working on some goodies that participants will receive!




I've also got some new products in the works, including a new version of my Reading Literature Notebooks for 2nd-3rd grades! I hope to have it posted by the end of the month.



Now for those of you already gearing up for the new school year, I have some resources to help you! Earlier this year, I guest blogged over on the Educents blog, but it seems to have disappeared and I've had several requests from people to read my post about independent reading. So, I've revised and reposted that over on the Adventures in Literacy Land blog today and you can find it here:

How to Run a Successful Independent Reading Program in the Middle Grades

My blogging friend, Anne-Marie from Elementary AMC, has created an awesome poster to compliment my ACE method for answering questions with constructed response using text evidence. Find her blog post and freebie here. And in case you don't already have it, here's my blog post linked to the lesson:

Interactive Writing Notebooks FREE Lesson on Citing Text Evidence


And finally, here's a list of past blog posts that may be helpful to you when planning to start your new school year.


Middle School Teacher's Survival Guide


Classroom Library Organization (by Genre)


Where to Find (FREE) Nonfiction Articles For Your Classroom




Meaningful Collaborative Groups in Reading

September 11th Reading Lesson

The Wednesday Wars Novel Study

Teaching The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963

Teaching "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street"

Tour of My Classroom

How to: Literature Circles

Classroom Library Software (C.L.A.S.)

Sentence Writing: Build a Better Sentence

Automatic Grading in Google Docs with Flubaroo

Symbolism Scrapbooks



Have a great week and I hope to see you in Vegas!



Monday, June 16, 2014

TpT Conference Presenter Blog Hop

Are you a TpT seller looking to give your store a big boost? Are you wondering how to take your store to the next level? If so, I hope you'll join me at the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference for Session T-19: Accelerate Your Store's Success!

I am both humbled and thrilled beyond belief to have been given this opportunity by TpT! Just a few short months ago, I could only dream about success on TpT. I'd pour over the Top 100 each week and wonder what it was going to take to earn a spot on that list. I hope that I can spare you some blood, sweat, and tears, and get down to the nitty gritty of what I've learned over the past year or so!

I must say that one of the most helpful things that happened to me when I started was getting invited to join a Facebook group of other success-minded, supportive sellers. (thanks Jivey!) So, I decided to form a Facebook group exclusively for session attendees. This will allow me to extend the session beyond July 11th as well as give you an additional place to receive support from me and other sellers who are working towards the same goals.

I truly cannot wait to meet so many of you in a few weeks!

Please download my session handout for more information. Keep in mind that these handouts aren't meant to be a replacement for attending the conference, but rather to give you an outline of topics that will be discussed. I've included a few questions for you to think about as you prepare for the conference. And, you'll have the chance to ask questions, so be sure to write them down and bring them with you!




The next stop in the hop is Nikki at Melonheadz.


See you in Vegas!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Interactive Grammar Notebooks ~ And I'm Back From the Dead!


Well.. it sure seems like I'm back from the dead! I've pretty much shut down life in order to finally get this notebook published and I'm thrilled to say IT'S DONE!

Here's a little sneak peak that's ready to pin:

And I'm running a special offer with the notebook this week! Purchase the Interactive Grammar Notebook between June 15th and June 21st and receive the FULL Grammar Poster Set FREE! My Grammar Poster Set includes posters for every lesson of the notebook so that you can display words and concepts that your students are working on. I'll add them as a paid product in my store when the promotion is over.

To claim this offer, you MUST follow these steps on or before June 21, 2014:

1. Purchase the Interactive Grammar Notebook digital OR hard copy pre-order.
2. Leave feedback on your purchase through TpT. Access through your My Purchases page. Then,email me at lovinlitoffer@gmail.com and include your TpT username and the date of feedback. DO NOT send to my personal email. Keep in mind that you can always go back and edit feedback later if needed!
3. You will receive a download link for your FREE poster set on or before June 22, 2014!

I'll be back later this week with a more in-depth look at the new notebook. You know.. now that I'm back from the DEAD!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Winners + A Memorial Day Freebie: Arlington

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway for my sub units.

Here are the winners:
A Zoo Day 3rd-4th Grades: TeachTrue2
A Zoo Day 5th-6th Grades: Suzie H
A Roller Coaster Day 3rd-4th Grades: Melissa D.
A Roller Coaster Day 5th-6th Grades: Dawn W.
A Dog Day 3rd-4th Grades: Melanie A.
A Dog Day 5th-6th Grades: Kristy C.

I'll be emailing the winners tonight, so if you don't hear from me, that means I need your email address. Please drop me an email ASAP by using the email link at the top right of this page.

All of my sub plans will be 25% off throughout the rest of May! Click below to browse them on Teachers Pay Teachers.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Lovin-Lit/Category/Sub-Plans




Next, I have good news and bad news. I'll start with the bad. My current project, my grammar notebook, has been delayed. I planned to have it finished before the end of May. A few days ago, I made the decision to walk away from it and take a much-needed breather! See, I manage my time by setting deadlines for myself. I ALWAYS meet those deadlines, even when it means pulling an all-nighter. Recently, I pulled two all-nighters in a row over the weekend to meet a deadline. I do not recommend this! I realized that I was snapping at my family and very, very stressed out. I made the decision to move my deadline for my grammar notebook back to the first week of June.

I knew I had a vacation coming up and I'd be out of town and forced into not working, but I had to start my vacation a few days early. It has been wonderful and my family has appreciated it as well!

The good news is that I've just posted a new FREEBIE lesson in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! The mini-lesson pack celebrates one of our most important holidays.


Click above to view and download this free lesson. If you find it useful, please consider leaving feedback.

Have a great week!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fabulous Freebies on the 15th! ~ Five for Friday


Since I'm linking up with one of my BBBs, the awesome lady Molly at Lucky to Be in First for her Fabulous Freebies on the 15th, I want to share with you something ELSE that's fabulous AND free and  see if I can't turn this into a Five for Friday as well!







I was so excited to get my text this morning from SYNC YA Literature that their free summer audiobooks are starting this week! I've enjoyed these for the past two summers and I'm thrilled it's back for this year. Each week, there are two free audiobook downloads. One is a classic title and the other is a new title! This week's titles are The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Coffer and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
 

These audiobooks are FREE but for one week only! They do not expire, however, like books in a digital lending library, so if you download them during this week they are yours forever and you can listen whenever you like!

Here's how:

1. Simply download the OverDrive Media app through iTunes or whatever your mobile OS has.
2. Create an OverDrive account through the app.
3. Navigate your mobile browser to http://download.audiobooksync.com.
4. Choose the audiobook you want to download. You can come back and do the other after, too!
5. Enter your name and email address and click Download.
6. Touch the file and choose to open it in Overdrive.

BAM! Free audiobooks all summer! Check back each week for new ones. I actually like to download them to my iMac via the desktop console and then transfer them to my iPhone so that I have them forever.

Share this info with your students!!

Oh, and if you aren't listening to audiobooks regularly, then you're missin' out. Just sayin'!



I haven't uploaded any brand new freebies but wanted to share a couple with you from my store that can help you wrap up your year!


If you've read a class novel this year, then consider making a symbolism scrapbook. It's such a powerful way to teach this difficult concept. Oh, and it's a project that takes lots of time - and who doesn't love one of those in May? You can easily adapt this concept to any novel and here's a blog post I wrote when my students completed this. 



Here's another one of my favorite freebies!


In this fun activity, students read a series of interviews by people involved in this unusual situation, including the man who owned the zebra (illegally?), the lady who hit it with her car, the vet who treated it, and the tween who caught the whole thing on his cell phone camera. They'll pull out only the most important facts to write a short yet informative newspaper article.

If you're looking for something more comprehensive to finish out your school year, consider one of my 7-Hour Sub Plan Units for grades 3-4 or 5-6. It's designed so that anyone could pick it up and implement it, including a sub or yourself, and includes enough engaging activities in ELA, math, science, and social studies to cover an entire day! Most teachers report that it spilled over into multiple days for them because the students were so involved.




And since it's Friday, how would you like to win a set of sub plans? I'll give 6 sets away this Sunday evening, so to win one, simply follow these instructions.

View this pin, and pin it to any board:
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/216032113350043003/

Comment below with the link to your pin AND your choice of sub plans! You must include which topic and grade level you'd like in order to be eligible since I'm giving away one of each of the 6! Choose from:
A Roller Coaster Day
A Zoo Day
A Dog Day
And choose Grades 3-4 or Grades 5-6.

You can also play via my Facebook page, but please don't enter into both.

Happy Friday!
*UPDATE* OK, so Happy Thursday. And yes, I actually wrote this post today fully believing it was Friday. *sigh*



Monday, May 12, 2014

Why We Watch Movies in Class ~ And Why You Should, Too!

It's May. School is out for us next week! For those of you who are teaching in June... I'm so, so sorry. This is the hardest time of the year, isn't it? The only one more antsy than the students is YOU.

*GASP!* The teacher down the hall is showing a movie! She only has one more year and then she's retiring, and she doesn't CARE anymore. You wish you had the balls to put a movie on, but you're like me - a Goody-Two-Shoes, and you'd die if your principal walked in on *GASP* your students watching a movie!

Well, it's time to get rid of the movie-teacher Cameron Diaz from Bad Teacher stereotype of teachers who show movies. I show a few feature length movies each year. While one or two of them might be directly from the standards (the comparing the book to the movie bore) I also show some movies for which we didn't even read the book. Heck, for most of them, there isn't a book!

Here's why.

How many of your students read on their own nightly, for pleasure? How many of them read over the weekend? Over the holiday breaks? Most importantly... over the SUMMER?

 Believe me, I'm working my rear off to make sure my students have access to high-interest independent reads. But it isn't a reality that I'm going to turn all 140 of them into avid independent readers, try as I might.

Now, how many of them are going to watch movies over the weekend or during the summer? MOST of them, right? So, let's go ahead and take advantage of all of that movie watching.

If you're teaching in 2014, then you're doing close reading. Have you ever close-read a movie scene? Oh yeah! That's a WHOLE other blog post. But the concept is the same. It's time to train your students to look at movies in a whole new light. Not as means of mindless entertainment, but rather as stories - or even NOVEL-like things -  that can be classified by genre, analyzed, diagrammed, predicted, and yes, entertaining!

Here's an example for you from my End of the Year Lessons.


 I recently rekindled my flame for a childhood classic when my own boys fell in love with the timeless Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. If you grew up in the early 90s like me, then I'm sure you've already seen it! But if you've somehow missed this treasure, you just might like it even more than your students. And they're going to LOVE it, because chances are most of them haven't seen it, either.

There is so much analysis potential in this movie that I have only scratched its surface with my students!

One of the things I loooooove about this movie is its clever dialogue, so I created a Figurative Language & Expression Guide so that my students could "close read" some of the dialogue. Here's an example.


Chance used an allusion to compare a mountain lion to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Chance is implying that they are both ...?

I love this example of allusion! Some of my students struggle with allusion so much. It's hard to teach when students don't have the background knowledge needed to GET the allusion in the first place! But this one is pretty easy for just about everyone.

In addition to dialogue, my students are also analyzing other aspects of the movie, including how a song played during a certain scene influenced the mood and tone, a perfect example of irony, and one of the most suspenseful parts of the movie.

This is just a small excerpt from the guide my students complete as they watch the movie.

Then, because they love the movie so much, and because they love "making stuff," our final project analyzes theme, plot, and focuses on complications.



We also talk about this movie being a journey and how just about every journey in a story or movie will have a series of complications that keep the hero from reaching his destination and keep the reader (or viewer) in suspense and sometimes frustrated.

My students love talking to me about the books they read. I work hard to be very approachable and many students enjoy book talking with me. I find that some students who aren't as passionate about reading (or who struggle more) will approach me and movie talk with me. And even though they didn't read a book over the weekend, we can still have a meaningful conversation about the movie they watched, what genre it fell into and why, and even how the student found irony in the movie. Hmm.. initiating a conversation that includes content-specific vocabulary. Nice!

And that's why you should be watching movies during precious school hours. Working them in to key times of the year, such as MAY or the week before Christmas holiday, makes it even more wonderful for your students and you as you find a way to enjoy the time together and still accomplish something meaningful.


I'm going to link this post up with Holly's Tried It Tuesday in the hopes that you'll try analyzing movies, too! Visit Fourth Grade Flipper's blog for more Tried-Its!




Monday, May 5, 2014

Win It Before You Can Buy It! & Stock Up & Save Sale

Today's blog post is over on the Adventures in Literacy Land blog. Be sure to head over there and read about how I use cartoons for teaching inferences! You can also download a free Angry Birds Toons viewing guide.





Since I'm releasing my End of the Year Lessons pack tomorrow, I'm going to do a Win It Before You Can Buy It today!



To enter, simply enter the Rafflecopter below and comment on this post with the date of your last day of school!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I'm running a special during this week's TpT sale. All holiday and seasonal units will be 35% off! TpT takes an additional 10% off when you enter promo code TPTXO, making these units over 40% off!


Have a great week!




Friday, May 2, 2014

Five for Friday ~ Busy Busy Busy! and... NEWS!

It's Friday! I'm linking up with Doodlebugs today for Five for Friday!


These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind! We took our first ever trip to Disney World last week, and would you believe that we ALL GOT SICK!? My 9 year old started throwing up the first night we were there, and things spiraled. All 7 people traveling with us (husband and me, three kids, and in-laws) had this stomach virus before we left. It couldn't all be at once, either. We took turns. I'll never go on a trip again without a mini-pharmacy in my suitcase! We're going to try and squeeze out a few make-up days at Disney next month when school lets out.



We got home last Saturday and my husband and I headed to New Orleans on Wednesday for the Louisiana Middle School Association Conference. I presented sessions yesterday and this morning on interactive notebooks and we're driving home now. I have another conference in New Orleans next weekend - it's the International Reading Association Conference. Talk about busy!! If you're going to the IRA conference then be sure to stop by and visit us in the exhibit hall!


And in between these two little jaunts, I made it to my *new school* this week to sign my contract. That's right! I'm SO excited to share this news with you! This fall I'll be teaching in a wonderful school that's closer to home with an amazing principal that supports creativity and innovation. If you've ever worked for someone who didn't, then you can appreciate this the way I certainly will! I'm also really, really, REALLY excited about focusing on one grade only! I'll teach three sections of (my absolute favorite!) 6th grade ELA in 100 minute blocks. It'll be reading, writing, grammar, and spelling. I can't wait to spend this summer pouring over and revising my 6th grade scope and sequence in preparation for next school year. That kind of sounds sarcastic, but it is TOTALLY NOT! Hahah!


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Just in case you're living under a rock these days (I feel like I sure am!) TpT announced that its final sale for the school year will be next week. Yay!! I've got tons of stuff in my wish list that I want to purchase for my new gig next year!


And finally, I'll spend this weekend finishing up my lesson pack for the last few weeks of school and hopefully getting it posted! I'm also working on finishing up my grammar notebook. I've given myself a two-week deadline on it, so hopefully I can manage it!

Happy Friday!