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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Color Coding Reading Passages

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Now the school year is back in full swing, I'm trusting most everyone is getting to the nitty gritty of reading comprehension in mini lessons and guided reading groups.  What am I talking about you ask? TEXT EVIDENCE.  Oh, how it can be such a frustrating phrase heard in education.  The Common Core is known for asking students to identify text evidence in both oral and written comprehension questions.  If you look on Pinterest or search the internet you will find an abundance of paid resources for students to practice finding text evidence in short reading passages.  I'm definitely guilty of purchasing my share of cutesy passages for homework and guided reading practice over the years. Well folks, this year I wised up and saved my money because we are building a house (and time) aint NOBODY got time for that creating passages and now prefer to use Readworks or Newsela instead.  

Are Readworks or Newsela cutesy?  Nope!  Not really; however it's free and does the job of providing did I mention FREE interesting leveled passages/articles for students to find text evidence with.  Now, I'm sure you might be sitting there thinking, how will I know what evidence students have found if there isn't directions for my students with cute little crayons beside each question?  I've got you covered!  In my classroom and with the students I work with this year, I control the colors for each question.  There's nothing complicated about it.  I just pick a few colors (crayons or markers) for the comprehension questions and ask students to color a dot for each number using the color I say (i.e.  put a red dot next to number one, and green dot next to number two, etc).  I stick to basic colors as much as possible because the goal is to keep it simple.  When students come to my guided reading table, I get out the smelly markers; because who doesn't love a good smelly marker?!  Research shows that when information is presented in color, people retain more of it.  The smelly markers are just the cherry on top because they are fun and not available at student desks.  Students actually get excited to meet with me because of the markers.  Who knew?!

Below is an example of a Readworks passage I'm currently working with a student on, so you can better visualize what I'm talking about.  Need to save paper?  You can print two pages to a page by simply changing the printer settings.

Inexpensive smelly markers you don't mind sharing with students

free reading passages
Text evidence highlighted to match color dot beside question number

Different colors for each question

So what do you need to get started?  Markers, passages printed for free from either ReadWorks or Newsela, and students to practice the text evidence.  Easy peasy my friends!  I hope I've shed some light on reading passages and text evidence.  The more money you save on cutesy passages, the more money you have for fun things like shoes or Target!  Until next time friends! :)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Brag Tags Post #2

Welcome Back!

I'm here to wrap up my thoughts on all things brag tags!  This is the second part (a little late) of my brag tag series. If you missed my first post, you can read all about it here.  Like I mentioned in my previous post we have a brag tag end of year celebration party.  Basically students have collected brag tags all year and get to spend an hour or so reminiscing over tags earned with friends and create necklaces with a variety of beads.  They have so much fun and it's so cute to listen to the conversations about the tags.

These kids were rockstars and kept up with the binder ring all year!!  I had 20 second graders last year and these 7 were responsible and kept up with the binder ring!  
If you remember from my previous post, I mentioned starting the year with binder rings for each kiddo to put brag tags on.  At the end of the year students exchange the binder rings for a beaded chain to create a unique brag tag necklace.  Now, you might be wondering what happens to the kids who have lost the binder ring at some point in the year???  That's a fabulous question!!  I DO NOT replace binder rings at any point in the year.  I make the expectation crystal clear at the beginning when I'm introducing brag tags.  If a student loses the ring they DO NOT get replacement tags; instead he/she will get a snack bag to keep tags in for the remainder of the year.  When it comes time to trade in rings for necklaces, students without a ring are given a piece of yarn to make the necklace. At the end of the day all students DO get to make a brag tag necklace; however, the material the necklace is made with depends on the student being responsible throughout the year.  Below are some pictures of materials to make the necklaces as well as pictures of my cuties at the end of the year necklace party!  My biggest piece of advise when starting brag tags is to play by rules you are comfortable with.  If you search brag tags on TPT or Pinterest, you will find thousands of variations which could be challenging/overwhelming to manage.  Keep it simple and do what you are most comfortable with!  A teacher on my team last year only used one specific brag tag.  In her classroom the children worked hard to see how many they could get during the year.  The beauty of brag tags is they are flexible and can be made easy to use based on individual teacher comfort.  If you would like to check out some brag tags I have in my TPT store click here.  I would love any comments about your experiences with brag tags. :)))
Materials for the necklaces.  The cheapest place for the chains was amazon or Hobby Lobby at a $1/necklance.

These are the specialty beads.  My thoughts were to keep it simple.  I bought the beads at Hobby Lobby using 40% off coupons.

I called one table at a time to the necklace making station to gather materials to take back to seat for necklace making.

Hard at work.

Students with the yarn making the necklaces.

If students needed more materials they could go back to the station and gather more materials.

Some of the brag tags

All students enjoyed making the necklaces and each was so cute and different.