Thursday, April 26, 2012

Because of Winn Dixie

If you have never read the story, Because of Winn Dixie, by the amazing author Kate Dicamillo, do it!! Our students have been mesmerized over the past month as we have been reading this novel. It is a wonderful, heartwarming story about a little girl from a single parent home, who takes in a dog as a best friend. Opal, the main character, meets several interesting friends along her journey of moving to a new town. It is a sweet story and one that people of all ages can connect with.

The book discusses some very serious issues that are present in our world today, and many that my kids related to. It opened up some serious conversations about life, as well as endless talk about reading and strategies an author uses to write! After several weeks of studying the novel, we ended our study with a celebration just like the party they had at the end of the book! The students were given permission from parents to view the movie that was created based on the book(the movie is PG), and we enjoyed "egg salad sandwiches cut into triangles", pickles, Dump punch, and Littmus Lozenges. As they watched the movie, they completed a venn diagram comparing the events from the book to the movie. I was THRILLED at how they filled their page...and then another page...and another! It was very evident that the students were completely intrigued and engaged in this book study! I was SO proud of them!
Our spread for the party! Complete with Littmus Lozenges. The students said they could even "taste the melancholy"! :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

We aren't scared of that FCAT!

This week we have been busy preparing and reviewing for our state's standardized test next week- The FCAT, or Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. We've been reviewing through fun games like classroom jeopardy, centers, and sample test items. It is such a huge test for the kids this year because as we all know, the FCAT 3rd grade reading test must be passed in order to be promoted to 4th grade. The kids have been awesome and in high spirits until yesterday when several of them experienced their first tinge of testing anxiety as we took a sample test. In order to scare away some of those fears, our school had an AWESOME FCAT Pep Rally this afternoon. We also made a HUGE banner for the hallway to show our FCAT spirit! :) These kids are going to...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Text Mapping and Context Clues

This week our focus in reading is reviewing context clues. Recently, our school purchased an amazing resource to support the informational genre- The Comprehension Toolkit. The more that we use this resource, the more I. LOVE. IT!!...and so do the students! :) Each reading strategy is centered around several informational articles taken from sources like National Geographic for Kids, Discovery Kids, Time for Kids, and many others. The articles are all centered around high interest topics and subjects that the students can really relate to! THANK YOU to the creators of this toolkit.

It just so happens that our strategy of using context clues this week, leads us to an article in the Toolkit about the Titanic. The students have been so interested in this amazing "colossus", because the 100th anniversary is approaching. What an awesome time to introduce this article! The students had a great time sharing their "BK" (background knowledge) about the subject. It was very interesting listening to them discuss what they know about the ship! :) My favorite was that there were "signs" in the water that an iceberg was there but the captain wouldn't listen!

We reviewed inferring the meanings of unfamiliar words by discussing the different types of clues to help us in figuring out the unknown word. We also discussed the equation- BK+TC=I...Background Knowledge+ Text Clues= Inference.

The students then went into their groups and used the Titanic article from Kid's Discovery magazine to infer the meanings of unfamiliar words. The Titanic article is a lengthy 9 page article, so for the students to work easily together without flipping back and forth through pages, we used a strategy called text mapping. In text mapping, an article's pages are laid out side my side to make it easy for many to see all at one time.

The students then read the article and charted words they were unfamiliar with on a context clues graphic organizer. They were to apply their background knowledge plus context clues to infer the meanings of these words, and then use each word in a new sentence.

Each pair of students completed a graphic organizer. All in all, they did an awesome job with inferring the meanings of unknown words. It makes me so happy to see that they have also transferred our equation- BK+TC=I into other avenues of their learning. I. LOVE. IT!! Way to go guys! :)