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!


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.