Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bright Ideas: No prep interactive notebook activities

I don't know about you, but sometimes my best lesson activity ideas come to me right in the middle of the lesson. There is no time to run to the office to make copies, so I've got to raid the closet to make it happen. This has happened several times when I wanted my students to add an interactive component to their notebooks. Luckily, most interactive notebook activities don't require a fancy template, you can whip them up with just a plain sheet of paper, some scissors, and glue!

Even if you have time to prep, there is often no need to copy a template for students. I love teaching them how to fold and cut the paper because it allows them to practice listening skills, work on following directions, and gives them experience with manipulating paper in different ways. Plus it makes them even more INTERACTIVE!

There are so many that I could share, but I narrowed it down to three...the shutter fold, the petal book, and an easy pocket.

 To create the shutter fold...
1. Fold the paper in half and open it up.
2. Fold the sides in to match the center.
4. Cut the shutters. I choose to make six, but you can easily make two to eight.
5. Label the outside and write definitions, examples, draw pictures, etc. on the inside.

 To create the petal book...
1. Fold the paper to make a square and cut off the excess.
2. Open it up and fold the corners in about an inch.
3. Cut off the corners (you can save these and make little flaps for another interactive notebook page!).
4. Fold the "petals" in towards the center.
5. Add the details!

To create the pocket...
1. Fold the paper to make a square and cut off the excess.
2. Keep the paper folded so that it is a triangle. Keep the base of the triangle facing down and the right angle pointing up.
3. Take one of the other points and fold it across the triangle meeting about halfway along the opposite edge.
4. Do the same with the opposite point, lining up the edges.
5. Fold the top point of the top layer of the triangle down over the folded pieces.
6. Flip the pocket over and fold the other layer of the top point.
7. Glue the pocket in, label, and place things inside.

For more bright ideas from other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Back To School Read Aloud

I have a confession to make...I had never read the book Frindle. That probably makes me the worst upper grades teacher ever, but what is really bad, is that one of the reasons I didn't read it was because I judged it by the cover *gasp*. Sorry, but a kid holding a pen wasn't all that interesting to me. I knew the premise - some kids rename pens with the word frindle - and it "seemed" like more of a 4th grade book; most kids coming to 5th had already read it in 4th anyway. It was never on my to-read list.

Well, as summer wound down I wanted to squeeze in one more teacher book (see my Summer Reading posts for more great teacher books I read over the summer) and I chose reading guru Donalyn Miller's "Reading the the Wild". What a lovely book! It really invigorated me and reminded me of how important it is to foster a love of reading.

I started to think about which book I wanted to start with this year, and I REALLY wanted to have a book that my students could each hold in their hands and follow along with. Last year our district adopted the Journey's reading series. I'm not a fan of basals/anthologies/programs like this, but Journey's has one great bonus, actual books - and enough for all the kids! Well, Frindle happened to be one of the trade books for 5th grade and so I knew that I'd finally have to read it.

And you know what...I LOVED it! I'm a tough critic and rarely give a book 5 stars, this was an easy 5 stars and I knew it was the book to start the year off! I had lofty goals to start it on day one, but that day flew by, so we started on day 2.

As I introduced Reading Workshop I explained that I wasn't going to use Frindle to teach them vocabulary and there weren't going to be "assignments" on it. We were just going to read it to ENJOY it! And enjoy it we did. Yesterday we wrapped up week two of school and finished Frindle. I think I enjoyed even more the second time around!

Frindle is such a satisfying read and perfect for 5th grade. The themes make it ideal to kick off the year:
* a teacher's influence on students
* thinking "outside the box"
* being a risk taker
* how words evolve/the importance of word study
* being yourself

Now to decide on a read aloud for week 3...

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