Wednesday, July 19, 2017

READ Worksheets

I once had a fellow teacher tell me she had googled READ Worksheets to find out what exactly they are! That's where the idea came for me to blog about this concept. I came up with the word to label a product I had created on TpT. Maybe now if you google it, it brought you here. But I doubt it. I'm not that well known! Jajajajajaja (that's my inner Latina).

For a long time now I've been obsessed with the word READ. I have created bookmarks and written out Read Each And every Day. I *think* that works. When my kids ask me for their screen turn, my response is typically, "Have you read yet?" I am always going to the library trying to find new series. I am obsessed with the little libraries all around my town. And I go a bit crazy at the school's book fairs and donated books to our librarian and my children's classrooms.

My other obsession is grammar. Of course it is. Who else puts the word into their store name? My kids call me a Grammar Nerd. They tell other people I'm a Grammar Nerd. Truthfully, I'm pretty proud of myself for being a Grammar Nerd. If I don't know the answer, I will look it up. But change are I do know the answer because yes, I'm that nerdy about grammar.

So when I saw One Stop Teacher Shop's product on grammar, I bought it. Not for myself. I'm not in the classroom. But I bought it and shared it with my son's teacher. And then I was inspired to create something of my own. And then I labeled it a READ worksheet. I love the idea of offering choices to students for homework. I love rigorous work that challenges students to go above and beyond. And more than anything else I love when grammar is authentic and connects students to a story. So here it is . . . . TA - DA . . . . the READ worksheet for the story Charlotte's Web.



Directions: The student finds and corrects the one mistake in each sentence. The can complete one box in each row, or go above and beyond and attempt the other boxes. They can outline the box in color of errors they are certain about.

This particular worksheet can be assigned after your class has read Chapters 1-2. These worksheets aren't meant to overwhelm your students. They are designed to give your students confidence in what they know, and they target 2nd and 3rd grade learners. Rigor with choice. They offer practice with concepts that are typically challenging for ELLs. After all, that's how I became a Grammar Nerd. I taught ESL for many years and as I sat in a Language Acquisition course at Georgetown after spending four years studied Spanish, I had the urge to return to my college advisor who said to me, "Why are you studying Spanish if you are only interested in the grammar and not the literature?" and scream, "Because I love grammar! I love analyzing why and how a *mistake* happens when someone is learning a language. There is a term for this . . . error analysis. So darn fancy.

I have set up the worksheet so that your student is practicing the same skill they would if they were doing peer editing. They have to use proofreading marks to correct the errors. I don't want to make them rewrite the sentence. That's torture (my eldest made me use the word torture because the act of physically writing feels like torture to him).

If you are using this as a homework assignment, you can go around the room and stamp the papers of the students who made a solid attempt. Then have your students work in pairs to complete the worksheet. Let them learn from their classmates who might understand why you need the article an instead of a before the noun (an ax). Let another classmate show them how to use proofreading to connect two words that form a compound word: outside and backyard.

I promise you teachers in higher grades will come back to thank you the first time they try peer editing in their classrooms with their students' original writing!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Heroes in Training

Two of my boys loved reading about the Greek gods and goddesses last year. The Lightening Thief was the Read Aloud in one of their classrooms, and my then-fourth grader read through the entire first 5 books by Rick Riordan. I purchased Percy Jackson's Greek Gods which we are just now reading aloud together, and I am now becoming familiar with the early stories. I need to find out this book on tape! I just outed myself as a middle-aged woman with that term, but I'll admit that I have no idea how to download a book on my IPHONE. Yes! I have an IPHONE. I just don't know how to use most of what it can do :(




My third grader's teacher chose Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thuderbolt of Doom for his reading group and asked if I could produce some grammar worksheets to go along with it. I always draw the grammar from the story, so after a thorough reading, I saw the opportunity to review the simple present tense, the simple past tense with irregular and regular verbs and through those tenses, highlight simple predicates and compound predicates. I've done this with other stories and though it might seem "ESL-ish" to a regular elementary school teacher, it works. The terms are just different. Base form versus infinitive. Infinitives are the "to" form of the verb, and it's important to know all those terms because if you have English language learners in your class, they will see terms like "gerund" and "infinitive" in their textbooks. Certain verbs and verb expressions are followed by either a gerund or infinitive and others require one or the other. Consider the verb to like.

I like to swim. (infinitive)

I like swimming. (gerund)

The meaning doesn't change.

After pouring over the story for its verbs and finding those with CVC patterns with consonants that needed to be doubled in the simple past and verbs ending in -y which needed changing to -ie, I noticed that when Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi speaks in the beginning, there was an opportunity to introduce the verb to be. An oddball as my littlest calls it. Why? The verb to be doesn't follow the typical spelling patterns in the past tense (or the present). I am/was, you are/were, he, she, it is/was . . . . . .

Zeus keeps hearing "You are the one."

Pythia begins the story, "I am the Oracle of Delphi."

Therein, a good opportunity to review those very irregular forms.

I took the opportunity with all of the verb review to touch on adverbs. I highlighted only those that ended in -ly to simplify things since the review is geared for second and third grade. And I created a review of singular and possessive noun forms. The authors consistently use the 's after proper nouns ending in -s. Zeus's thunderbolt, King Cronus's belly. And there are several nice examples in the authentic text of plural noun forms and opportunities to review ones which I derived from the story itself.

And then there is the fact that King Cronus is the "baddest . . . " Well, just like with Ramona the Pest, I teased that out for students and reviewed comparatives and superlatives with various spelling patterns.

This book is the first in a series of 15 books which the authors wrote to retell the stories at a third-grade level. The story is full of expressions which need to be explained but provide a great opportunity for exploring language. The back and forth in time also requires explaining but the content will hopefully engage students enough to hold their interest. And who knows? Maybe your child will read through the entire series! I've got the collection on Santa's list this year for Matthew.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The One and Only Stuey Lewis

by Jane Schoenberg.

Halloween and seasonal celebrations should tie in to the curriculum and not be an excuse for a party. Try something other than Halloween B-I-N-G-O this year. Read Aloud this story about Stuey's inventive caper and use the story to two important CCSS-Aligned Standards:

I think I came across this book at a school book fair when David was in second grade. There is one story, in particular, about Halloween. I think it is one of those perfect Read Alouds for second graders, even first graders, on Halloween. Stuey Lewis is the main character who comes up with an idea to collect as much candy as possible without breaking his mother's rules about not crossing the street. He plans to circle his block three times in three different costumes so none of his neighbor's catch on. However, he faces two surprises on Halloween night. The first is that his teacher, Ms. Curtis, is his new neighbor and the second is that Lilly, a girl in his class, thinks she recognizes him.

Early on in the story there is a reference to how adding -e to the end of the word makes a long vowel sound. The year before, Stuey misunderstood the note from Ms. Curtis to bring SNACKS to school and brought a SNAKE to school instead. This is a great place to stop and elicit examples from your students. Cover the board or cover a flip chart with examples. Give bonus points for students who come up with words related to Fall or to Halloween.


Worksheets should encourage students to reexamine the text. There are several great examples of compound words in the story as well as one or two which can be derived from the story. Halloween and its season also provide wonderful context for practicing compound words:

A Daily Language Review worksheet reviews the story and key grammar that students struggle with.

Even though part of me cringes when I read the word stupid in a children's book, the reference is realistic, and it is probably one of the parts of the story that my kids would laugh about. Brothers love to tease each other. I read it so long ago to David that I don't remember if he laughed. Let's see if Matthew will laugh at the Stuey-Stu-pid reference. This is a good place to pause and talk about teasing and hurt feelings.

Lastly, I always love a book that has a sequel. When you introduce a new story in class, you hope that on your children's next library visit, they pick something worthwhile to read. Make sure you've posted your Read Aloud titles (and their sequels) in your classroom newsletter so that if you students come home with yet another book about guinea pigs, parents can make a trip to the library with their children and choose something worthwhile.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Charlotte's Web

I've recently finished reading this story to my second grader who was just about to begin reading chapter books on his own. Though I showed him the movie too soon because I was so eager when I found out Julia Roberts was the voice of Charlotte, he let me read to the end of the story.

I had had a product up to practice coordinating conjunctions, an activity which could also be reinforced through homework. As I've been exploring Rachel Lynette's success with Task Cards, I decided to create Daily Language Review Task Cards which chronologically review this classic and help students practice their proofreading skills. I must admit that my obsession with finding the right clip art and making this product easy for teachers to prepare (i.e. cut easily on the lines with as few slides of that dreaded always uneven paper cutter) took over. Here is what the finished product looks like. I'm pretty proud :) and thank you to fellow TpT seller, Mae-Hates-Mondays, for the graphics.


The Courage of Sarah Noble

Such a perfect Read Aloud for advanced fourth graders or fifth graders. Pair this Newbery Honor book with your study of the native Americans and the colonization of America.

In 54 pages, Alice’s Dalgliesh tells the poignant story of eight-year-old Sarah Noble, who accompanied her father from Westfield, Massachusetts to the wilderness of Connecticut to build a home. As the only one of his daughters who likes to cook, Sarah is chosen for this journey. While her father builds the house, she plays with the Indian children. And when her father returns to Westfield to bring the rest of the family, Sarah lives with Tall John and his family.

It is a short enough story that it can be read quickly, and the story brings home for students the difficulty that families faced as they settled this country. Great discussion can follow as students read about Mr. Noble’s conflicted feelings about leaving Sarah and how Sarah takes what she heard about the Indians and makes her own decisions based on her own experiences.

By fourth and fifth grade, students should have begun to create compound sentences in their writing. Below is an example taken directly from the text which employs the coordinating conjunction FOR. Fourth and fifth graders will have begun to see FOR texts rather than the subordinating conjunction BECAUSE as it is more formal. 



Using REAL examples not only bring students back to the text for discussion (Who is speaking? What made Sarah impatient?), but it also gives credibility to your grammar teaching. Students can be given endless de-contextualized exercises on grammar, but try the following.

Sarah and her father slept in the forest                                there were no settlements nearby.

This is an original sentence that retells an important piece of Dalgliesh's story and directs a student to use the coordinating conjunction FOR. The student clearly identifies two independent clauses and physically places down a card in between. Students can work in groups on this type of activity to generate discussion about the relationship. The example above is part of this activity mat which gives students practice using other conjunctions. 

Students are given this mat and a "pile" of conjunctions cut from the page below.





This story can be followed up by a more in-depth read such as The Sign of the Beaver. Students would have the opportunity to make text-to-text connections and can complete a Comparison/Contrast map.

I hope you feel confident adding this wonderful story to your lessons and introducing the grammar that can authentically go along with it!

~Debby

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Hundred Penny Box by Sharon Bell Mathis

A short read, The Hundred Penny Box relates the story of Michael, whose Aunt Dew has come to live with him. Michael loved to count the pennies in Aunt Dew's box. Each year has its own story when Aunt Dew can remember to tell it.







This is a wonderful Read Aloud to celebrate Presidents' Day when we honor Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, whose image is on the penny. After the Read Aloud, students can visit the library and bring back to the classroom books about the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Students research a date in the life of Abraham Lincoln, record the year on their penny, and relate biographical information about our 16th President. This is a wonderful way to practice punctuating dates properly.

Here is the rule for using the comma when writing a date: CCSS: ELA-Literacy.L.1.2.C

The date can be written as follows.

February 12, 1809
12 February 1809
February 1809
February, 1809

If you begin a sentence with the date, you have a choice because it is optional whether or not to use a comma after one introduces a sentence. Typically, if the prepositional phrase is long, it is followed by a comma. If short, you do not need one, but it is not incorrect to use one.

Both sentences below are correct.

On February 12, 1809 Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Kentucky.
On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Kentucky.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Freckle Juice & Coordinating Conjunctions

This is such a quick Read Aloud, and my boys loved it in second grade. Andrew Marcus, enthralled with the freckles on Nicky Lane, especially those on the back of his neck, tries to get some of his own. This is a great choice for a day that the substitute has your class. You can come in the next day after the reading and introduce the grammar. If your students have already been introduced to compound sentences, you can do some pair or group work with activity mats. As you walk around your classroom, you will be able to revisit the story and assess your students' comprehension in a more personal way. No need for a multiple choice worksheet or enough computers in your classroom to take an on-line quiz! Kids are engaged and participating immediately.

Aid students in understanding the sentence structure of a compound sentence. Consider the five examples below. They are original, but they derive from the story.



  • Miss Kelly asked Andrew to begin reading, he couldn't find the correct page.
  • Andrew was always thinking about freckles, he couldn't concentrate in Miss Kelly's class.
  • Andrew was the line leader for the boys, Sharon was assigned to lead the girls.
  • Andrew has to go back to school, his mother will make him take three baths a day.
  • Nicky Lane asked Miss Kelly for her magic formula, he wanted to get rid of his freckles.

  • These sentences are a typical example of student writing. You can call this a comma splice or a run-on sentence. There are many ways to correct this type of sentence. Of course, the simplest way is to divide them into two sentences. However, your third and fourth graders should be beginning to form compound sentences in their writing. A coordinating conjunction can show the relationship between the two sentences. Choose among AND, BUT, FOR, OR, SO for each of the five sentences above. Only one fits perfectly in each.

    After they understand these four examples, let them work in pairs to come up with original examples which relate to their own experience.

    For example, ask the following types of questions.

    Has your teacher ever asked you a question which you had trouble answering? What was the reason?

    Example of response: Mrs. Spencer asked me to look up the word, but I couldn't find my dictionary.

    What are you busy thinking about that makes it difficult to concentrate in class?

    I was busy thinking about recess, so I had trouble concentrating in Mrs. Spencer's class.

    Next, introduce the activity mats. Make sure each group has enough of the conjunctions to complete the activity. After they finish one mat, they can pass it along to the next group.



    Review as a class.

    If you are interested in purchasing this activity, click here: Freckle Juice: Novel Work. The digital download includes an additional 14 examples in worksheet format as well as on activity mats which give students the opportunity to place down the correct conjunction in between the two independent clauses.

    ~ Debby