Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Week 4: Sequence (Giant Test Prep, Sequence Popcicle Sticks, Quia)

Welcome Again!
    So, first of all, I am so very pleased with the fact that it is Tuesday and I am blogging about this week's centers.  Normally, I'm running behind so this is a good thing!  I have made a promise to myself, my students, life, that even though November is going to be CRAZY with days off (Veteran's Day, Conference Day, Thanksgiving), we will still be completing our centers.  I can't stop now, we are on a roll!
    Speaking of this "roll" that we are on, I am pretty pleased with how this block is shaping up to be.  We are getting to a point where the students are managing themselves.  Granted it helps to have an aide, as well as push in SpecEd and AIS Reading certain days, plus a library that graciously is open and running so that my "read to self" kids can have a quiet place to go.  In no way are my kids little angels applying for sainthood, but generally they can take care of themselves and do what they need to do.  I am so thankful we took centers slow, discussing each one so the expectations are clear.  That way, when we have drama...tape players that are on a setting so they sound like chipmunks blaring across the room, a deck of homonym cards dropping on the floor for a classic game of 52 pick up...we can stay on track pretty well!
   Anyway, I should note that I am not leading a group this week.  I am taking the time to complete Fountas and Pinnell benchmarking on 5 of my students.  I learned the system with grade 2, and grade 6 takes so much longer!  So, I have been using this time to benchmark while the rest of the students work on centers.
   Without further ado, here are the centers for this week.  We are reinforcing main idea/details from last week, as well as beginning sequencing.  The sequencing skill ties in to our next Writer's Workshop task, which is Explanatory, or How-To, writing!

Read to Self: Students are reading their book club books, independently, in the library.  They are also continuing to record their reading (# of pages) in their logs.

Writing: Reinforcing main idea and details.  Students are reading short stories/informational paragraphs and filling in a graphic organizer on what happened.  Why this rocks?  Because we enlarged the pages so they are bigger, mounted two each on poster paper, and laminated it.  Now, we can use those Vis-A-Vis markers for overheads and wipe them clean with baby wipes in between use.  Wonderful! Yes!  Plus, what kid doesn't enjoy markers and big, bright, orange paper?
 Listening: We are sequencing with the story, The Mitten...and before you say, "Isn't that used in, like, well, 2nd grade?"  I will answer that.  Yes, it is.  There is a distinct reason for this.  One, kids are familiar with it to practice a skill with. Two, it is a full fledged sequence based story.  Three, it is the perfect length to complete the activity.  Which was to first listen to the story only.  Then use a batch of popsicle sticks, one per person, to sequence events of the story (the sticks have phrases/story events on them).  Then, students were to listen to the story again, using the book this time, and check their work.
 Word Work: Seeing that this week's spelling words were to focus on words needed for our book clubs (realistic, genre, personality, character, fiction...) we had a place for a fun word game.  Plus, I had these cards out from the Sage library, which helped.  We discussed what a homonym was, and then students used cards with the words in context, "I ate STEAK for dinner" and "I tied my plants to a STAKE in the ground" to play a modified "Go Fish!" game.

Read to Someone: Out of the necessity to have students work with students not necessarily in their book clubs (due to the benchmarking), and out of the necessity to work more with expository writing, our read to someone center had students reading an article of their choice from an old issue of NatGeo's Explorer magazine.  The students could choose from "Crunch, Crunch, Crunch" (about caterpillars), "Vanishing Cultures" (about world traditions/lifestyles), or "Swimming with Flat Sharks" (about manta rays).  Students then used the same "checkmark" questions for checking their 5W's of the story.
Awesome idea of the week.  I taught the two years at Junior Achievement where they gave me one of those plastic briefcase-like bags for my materials.  I had two.  I have two groups at "Read to Someone."  Perfect! These handy plastic bags look cool, have an outside pocket, as well as inside pockets.  Each week or so I will be adding something else to that bag for students to work on.  Sometimes I will assign the materials, and other times I will be leaving it up to them.  Either way, it is so awesome!  It keeps everything so neat and pulled together!!! YAY for organization!

 Group: I think I am formally going to rename this center to "Group" (originally "Teacher").  I've decided that I will be using center time to conferencing about writing, reteaching/reinforcement of a past week's concept, benchmarking/assessments, monitoring, etc.  I will also be meeting with whole groups, but it hasn't been realistic so far to do that during this time (between my own BRI assessment, and now Fountas).  Anyway, this center was absolutely great this week.  Using my fixed projector, I projected the Quia site onto the screen.  Students worked to number the sequence on mini chalkboards.  Then, one student went up to enter it in.  A correct sequence yielded the image beneath to be revealed.

For those of you who have not checked out Quia, I recommend it.  I just stumbled upon it this weekend and loved it.  It has a bunch of free quizzes that you can have students complete as practice.  Unfortunately, you can't seem to search the site without a membership.  However, you CAN Google "Quia Character Traits" and the links will arrive that way.  Here are the ones I used for sequencing:

Making homemade pizza: http://www.quia.com/pp/1310.html

Making toast:

Planting flowers: http://www.quia.com/pp/1303.html

Washing your hair: http://www.quia.com/pp/1330.html

Brushing your teeth: http://www.quia.com/pp/1298.html

Carving your pumpkin: http://www.quia.com/pp/1300.html?AP_rand=2088389480

Have a happy week!
Lisa :)

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