March 31, 2014

Better late than never... Must Read Mentor Text for Poetry Month!

Mention Spring Break and I'm on a no calendar, no clock schedule! I lost track of time and totally forgot about Stacia and Amanda's weekly Must Read Mentor Text linky... and this week's featured texts are for Language Arts, my area of teaching! Ah well, don't they say that being fashionably late is en vogue? If so; I am, so here goes!


The mentor text that I have selected to share this week is one of my all-time favorites, if not favorite book, and is perfect to use during April, National Poetry Month. I first used this text in my Language Arts methods class back in undergrad school, more than thirty-five years. It has stood the test of time and become a classic children's poetry book... Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O'Neill.


From its early cover...

... and monochromatic pages...

...through its evolution in appearance...




... this is my go-to book when first introducing the concept of imagery (not to mention personification, alliteration, metaphor, etc.). Mary O'Neill makes color come alive for readers of all ages. And if you don't like poetry when you begin this book, you will be a fan when you complete it.

Like acrobats on a high trapeze
the Colors pose and bend their knees. 
Twist and turn and leap and blend 
Into shapes and feelings without end.

The Colors live between black and white
in a land that we know best by sight.
But knowing best isn't everything,
for colors dance and colors sing,
and colors laugh and colors cry -- -- --
Turn off the light and colors die,
and they make you feel every feeling there is
from the grumpiest grump to the fizziest fizz.
And you and you and I know well
each has a taste and each has a smell
and each has a wonderful story to tell...

There are numerous resources and ideas to accompany this perennial favorite from the complete text online to a delightful video created by school children. One of my favorite accompanying activities is to have my students create their own color poems. I no longer have them simply write their poems with pencil on paper, they input their ideas into a website and with the click of a button... VOILA! instant poem.


Click on the graphic above to try your hand at writing an instant color poem, or visit Instant Poetry Forms and select "Color Poem" from the sidebar menu. While I wouldn't recommend having your students write poems in this fashion regularly, this method can be a motivating jump start to a poetry unit or the perfect solution for reluctant poets.

Be sure to stop by Collaboration Cuties to read more Must Read Mentor Texts!

And while you're at it, please stop by the Classroom Game Nook where I am guest blogging today about my favorite classroom game. Author Rachael Parlett is taking time off to spend with her beautiful newborn daughter Clara.


March 29, 2014

Spark Student Motivation with Games, even Religious Games

I just love my bloggy friend Joanne's weekly linky. I find so many wonderful ideas posted there each week. However, I never seem to have anything to share! This week I decided to jump in.


I can always motivate my students with task card activities; they call them games. If they become squirrelly during the day, I can channel that energy with a "game". If they are droopy, I can energize them with a "game". If we need to review a skill, I can pull out a "game" and provide them with the needed practice.

The current favorite with my sixers is I Have, Who Has? My fifth graders love ZAP!, and my eighth graders beg to SCOOT or SCATTER. It takes a bit of time to fashion one of these games, but it is well worth it! Here you can see my classes involved in task cards activities...







And because I teach in a Catholic school, I can even help them learn their religion with a "game". To read more about these religious task card games, just click on the links or any of the graphics below.










Be sure to stop by Joanne's blog, Head Over Heels for Teaching,  to read more of what motivates our students to learn!


March 28, 2014

Fuel Your Faith: A Walk with the Lord

I teach in a Catholic school; however, this year my class has only eight Catholic students in a total of 22 students. As a result some of the customs and prayers that we do are unfamiliar to most of my students and their families. I've enjoyed teaching about our traditions and finding new activities to help my students understand our customs and feel a part of our worship.

During Lent we have been learning about the Stations of the Cross, a set of fourteen events that recall the final hours of Our Lord's life. I've even created a few classroom games to accompany our lessons. Most Catholic Churches have images of these 14 events displayed around the worship space. Here is a photo of Station 12 (Jesus dies on the cross) being blessed during a prayer service at my parish. The images had recently been removed to be refitted with new crosses and had just been returned to use.


My students colored a set of the stations while they learned about each of the events:

1. Jesus is arrested and condemned to death.
2. Jesus is given his cross.
3. Jesus falls the first time.
4. Jesus meets his mother.
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross.
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
7. Jesus falls a second time.
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
9. Jesus falls a third time.
10. Jesus' clothes are taken away.
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross.
12. Jesus dies on the cross.
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross.
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

This week we began to pray the stations using a set of candle stations that I created from an idea that I found on a blog. We broke them into two sets for our first time doing 1-7 on Wednesday morning and 8-14 on Friday morning. I forgot to take pictures during the simple service; I was so moved and involved in the prayer.

All my students were rapt, too! You could've heard a pin drop in the room. This is a miracle; my kiddos are NEVER quiet for more than a moment. I was pleasantly surprised by their reactions. Although these events had occurred nearly two thousand years ago, they felt like they were walking with Our Lord on his way to Calvary. Students who were new to this Lenten devotional said they liked this the BEST of everything we had done in religion class all year... they felt so close to Jesus.

We are on our Spring break next week, but when we return the following week we will pray all 14 Stations during Monday morning prayer. I'll add a little music to this experience, a song that I learned when I was a child, a song that we sang during the Stations of the Cross... a song about walking with the Lord, carrying our own cross, finding our freedom! I love this music clip. The singers are not professional, there are no fancy video effects, just the voices of school children singing earnestly during Mass about their walk with Lord.



Lenten practices like Stations of the Cross and songs like "Lord, Let me Walk" really Fuel my Faith so I'm joining my friend Jessica's weekly linky party.




Be sure to visit Jessica's blog, Joy in the Journey, to read more Fuel Your Faith posts.



March 23, 2014

Must Read Mentor Text: The Butterfly


One of my favorite topics to read about is World War II, especially the events that occurred in Europe. Each year I have my sixers read at least one novel that discusses the plight of the Jewish during this period in history. It's a tough subject for them, but it fits beautifully into what our year is all about. They study the Old Testament and the history of our salvation via the patriarchs so they learn a great deal about Jewish history, the constant oppression they underwent. They are beginning to be aware of the world around, taking note of other peoples and countries since they study world history in Social Studies. And unfortunately, they are at the age when they really notice the difference between them and others with many of them "poking fun" at those who are different.


This year my sixers will read "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry in Literature Circles, but they won't read this novel until after Spring Break. To set the historical stage and give them a bit more background I'll be reading several picture books/short novels about this same topic. I've already read to them Lauren Tarshis' new novel "I Survived the Nazi Holocaust 1944."

OH MY! She's done it again! I just LOVE this series as do the kiddos! They wouldn't let me put it down and I ended up reading it in just five days.

The book that I am currently reading aloud is not fiction, however. It is a true story by perenially favorite author Patricia Polacco.



Ever since the Nazis marched into Monique?s small French village, terrorizing it, nothing surprises her, until the night Monique encounters ?the little ghost? sitting at the end of her bed. She turns out to be a girl named Sevrine, who has been hiding from the Nazis in Monique?s basement. Playing after dark, the two become friends, until, in a terrifying moment, they are discovered, sending both of their families into a nighttime flight...Amazon.com

 I'm about halfway through this marvelous book! My sixers' reactions are so...? Some are frustrated, some are angry, some are trying to predict, some are absolutely silent! All are engaged and rapt! On Monday we will finish the story, but their questions will begin. They are learning about a time and place so, so different than our own yet they are seeing characters so like them, everyday characters: mothers, fathers, children.


Once we've read the book and had time to talk about the subject matter, we'll return to the text and talk about the literary elements. My sixers and I will be completing this INB foldable as a review of all the elements we have been working with. You're welcome to grab a copy to use in your classroom. It's not book specific so you can use it even with a short story. The directions are designed to give my sixers practice with following written directions. The colors coordinate with the markers I will use when I am scribing notes for each section on the whiteboard.


Later in the week, I'll be sharing more mentor texts about the same subject with my sixers:






There are SOOOOO many wonderful books about this topic! All age appropriate, all thought-provoking! All memorable. Please be sure to stop by Stacia and Amanda's blog, Collaboration Cuties, to discover more outstanding mentor texts for all subject areas.







Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

March 22, 2014

Five for Friday and Fuel Your Faith

Well, it's Saturday again and I'm just getting around to joining two special weekly linkies! While the full moon this past week seemed to play havoc with three students' behavior, it shined pleasantly on mine!  I had a busy, productive week and didn't even check into the bloggy world on Friday. From St. Patrick's fun on Monday to a pleasant dinner party with favorite friends on Friday, I couldn't have asked for a better time!





FIRST... St. Patrick's Day found my students dressed in green, a festive change from their usual uniforms. Don't you just love the leprechaun hat? You see my sixers partcipating in a Scatter activity with parts of speech task cards created by Rosa Mauer. Those mischievous leprechauns miniaturized then scattered the task cards everywhere around our room! My kiddos love this type of activity as it gets them up and moving around the room.

SECOND... We worked really hard on our Dale Chihuly inspired art project, hanging sculptures created from colored water bottles. We are in week six of the project and finally nearing completion. I think by next week you'll be able to see the completed works of art hanging in their glory in the hallway. I hope you'll notice the first pic in this section. Do you see how this young lady has colored her bottle with three colors? Can you guess what the colors represent? I thought this was just AWESOME!!! The green is the earth, the blue is the sky, and the yellow is the sun! I can NOT wait to see her completed project!!!!!

THIRD... My fivers continued working in their Literature Circles this week. They are becoming more confident and independent with the process. There are still one or two students who come unprepared or forget their supplies. Goodness! Their circle mates have been applying positive peer pressure to encourage them to comply and step-up! Just lovin' this aspect of the activity!

FOURTH... We had a visit from the Diocesan Director of Vocations. The kids loved him! He celebrated a beautiful Mass with us. My fifth grade Language Arts students were selected to be lectors at the Mass while my sixers and I lead the music. Because this liturgy centered on vocations, one of the songs that we selected to sing dealt with being called to serve. It's a particular favorite of mine that I've used during worship for nearly thirty years. The song was inspired by a verse in the book of the Prophet Micah...




... which brings me to a special linky hosted by my bloggy friend Jessica of Joy in the Journey.



FIFTH.... Just love my fur babies! Well, most of the time! Little Lulie has discovered how to get ON TOP of the furniture, and she is determined to make the top of the dining room table her special place. Not to be out done her big sissy Daisy Mae is now also getting on top of things, something she has never done. When I am on Spring Break the following week, the two girls and I are going to come to an understanding... no table tops! I'm afraid that I will understand that they will have their way. LOL!


March 17, 2014

Fuel Your Faith

My sweet bloggy friend Jessica of Joy in the Journey hosts a wonderful linky each week. I've been absent from it the past two weeks so I wanted to be sure to join her this week.


This past week I have had a Bible verse floating through my mind constantly. It's been a bit of  a mantra for me, a reminder of my Lenten personal project.


Please join Jessica and me this week and share what Fuels Your Faith!


March 14, 2014

Five for Friday with a HUGE Spring Giveaway

I made it on time for Doodle Bug's weekly Five for Friday linky this week. It's been quite a while since I've been on time. Last week it was Sunday before I finally made it.


This was a testing week for some of my students. Our diocese requires fifth and eighth graders to take the Ohio off-year proficiency testing in writing. Since I teach fifth, sixth, and eighth grade English I was a -testing on Tuesday and Thursday. Thank goodness that beast is done until next year.


I recently delved into creating a few I Have, Who Has? activities after doing one created by Deb Hanson of Crafting Connections. WOWZA! Do my kiddos love these! Both the fivers and sixers enjoyed playing I Have, Who Has? Degrees of Adjectives this week. The activity is available in my TpT Store along with several others. If your students enjoy this type of activity you might like to check them out.






Would you believe that we had ANOTHER snow day? YEP, another one! That makes 13 snow days... THIRTEEN! We've already made up two! But at this rate our last day of school will be The Fourth of July! LOL!

To give the eighth graders a bit of a break from the writing test, we played a round of Scatter using an old set of Author's Purpose task cards that I've had for years. It was a great way to review a ho-hum but necessary skill. I think the kiddos were just glad to be up and moving around after being forced to sit still for so long!





Are you ready for Spring? I know that I sure am! Tabitha over at Flapjack Educational Resources recently reached 10,000 Pinterest Followers. She's celebrating by throwing a HUGE SPRING giveaway, and she's invited 84 bloggers to join her (yours truly included). What a prize package she has put together! There will be SEVEN winners! That's right, SEVEN! Be sure to enter below before March 20, 2014, the first day of Spring! GOOD LUCK, everybody!



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