Archive for December, 2015

Concept/Question Boards

Dec 29

My school district currently teaches reading from the Imagine It! curriculum. We have a walk to read program throughout our building in first through fifth grades. I, of course, teach second grade, where we have three sections of walk to read. We have the above grade level students, benchmark students and two classes of intervention students. I teach one of the two interventions classes.

One of the issues I have had in my classroom in the past with this curriculum is it is very hard for my kids to come up with questions or bring in concept ideas to go with what we are studying. In fact, to be honest, last year my board stayed empty 90% of the time. This drove me crazy. I racked my brain trying to think of ways I could get my kids to become involved with the concept/question board. After much debate I decided to help them with the concept or theme of each story but following the curriculum prompts and us completing the board as a class. We have now finished two units of the curriculum and I wanted to share with you our completed boards so far this school year. To be quite honest, I am not sure that this is what Imagine It! Had in mind for the concept board, but my ESL readers ( who are at least 12 to 2 grade levels in reading below the benchmark) are enjoying this part of reading each week. So I will call this a win just for helping to bring more interest and understanding to each story we read.

Our first unit is titled: Kindness is…


And our concept /question board question is: How can you show kindness to others?

These are the questions we posed to the students during each of unit ones stories and what we used as for the concept/question board.

Lesson 1: How can you help make the world a kinder place?


Lesson 2: In what ways can you show kindness to the earth?


Lesson 3: Is it better to give kindness or to receive it?


Lesson 4: Can animals be kind to one another?


Lesson 5: How can being kind help you make friends? Tell me about your favorite stuffed animal and how you are friends with it.



Our second unit is titled: Let’s Explore


And our concept/question board question is: What did you discover outside today?

Lesson1: How much do you know about the daily lives of ants?


Lesson 2: Have you ever found a rock that reminds you of something? Tell me about it.


Lesson 3: What other insects might you find in the grass?


Lesson 4: What other animals might use a birdhouse for their home?


Lesson 5: Compare and label a conifer and a deciduous tree.


I hope you enjoy our examples. We are a couple of stories into unit three. I will try to put those pictures on in a timelier manner. Have a wonderful last week of December

100 Ornament

Dec 19

As a gift for their parents for Christmas this year, my students and I decided to make 100 ornaments. Not 100 of them, but one ornament with 100 items in each ornament . It was great fun. The kids enjoyed all the sparkly things they got to use to make the ornament and I enjoyed all the counting they did. I gave them each a counting cup from our math center and they had to put:

20 pony beads

20 plain sequins

20 shaped sequins

20 pompoms

17 pieces of glitter paper

And 3 feathers into their cup.

I had purchased big clear plastic ornaments at Walmart after Christmas last year for only .o5 a piece for them to use this year. I purchased everything else at my local dollar store.

The kids transferred everything from their math cup into the ornament, we wrapped them up and they went off to home yesterday.

This was a fun, education activity and they turned out really great!!!

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November Is Over!

Dec 01

Wow, where has this time gone. I can’t believe November is over today! And with that all my good intentions to get things onto my website for the fall have now fallen to the wayside (Sorry!!!!) So I am going to continue to try to get all my fall stuff on here throughout the next two months while still trying to get my Christmas stuff on here as well.

I love this time of year, but the craziness of trying to get my family Christmas ready, while still getting the Christmas stuff done for my students is an overwhelming job every school year. These next three weeks will be flying by as I try to squeeze as much fun stuff as I can into the curriculums already set from my school district.

So, today will be my first lesson to include a Christmas theme. I am planning to do a interactive read aloud with the story “Too Many Tamales” by Gary Soto. I absolutely love this book for a variety of reasons. Most importantly because it is fun and the kids can relate to both the problem and the solution the kids in the story come up with. Gary Soto has filled the book with a great life lesson as well as great language in both English and Spanish that you can discuss with the kids and they can discuss with their reading partners.

That said, let’s talk interactive read aloud. They are by far one of my favorite lessons to teach. I wish I had more time to include more of them into our class learning but I only have time for once a week on Monday afternoon. (I choose Monday for the interactive read aloud since Mondays are a hard day for everyone to be at school missing our weekend and this teaching brings both me and the kids a lot of joy).

Each week I focus on two things during the read aloud- 1. A discussion strategy for the students to work on with the reading partner and 2. A craft that the author has included or used in the story. Since I teach in an ESL classroom a lot of my focus is also on language during the year.

This is an example of the chart I use with my second graders during the read aloud. We use it both as our expectations for the session and as a reminder of what we are working on.

reading poster1

Here are some of the books I use throughout the school year for my read aloud time. I have also tried to list what strategy or focus I use with the book. Also, since I am now teaching second grade (after many years in Kindergarten and first grade), I have listed my 6 favorite books ( and it was so hard to just pick 6) by the grade level I used them in. I am sure many of you use these books in other ways or for different reasons than I do. I would love to hear how these books are resources for you in your classroom and what strategies you use them for each year.

Have a great last day of November!



Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (Reading the pictures)

The Napping House by Audrey Wood (Great for showing the passage of time as well as cause and effect)

Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen Fletcher (using picture clues to understand the story)

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann (problem and solution)

Clip Clop by Nicola Smee (Reading the pictures and adding those ideas to what the author has written)

A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown (Voice)

First Grade

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (the pictures set the mood, what is the mood or emotion the author wants you to feel)

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant (Wonderful language with what does the author mean by)

The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog by Cynthia Rylant (Making a connection to your own life)

Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie (A story within a story, or inferencing to understand the deeper meaning of the two lives in the story)

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Time passing)

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (connections within the story between what is happening to the baby bear and Sal and how it is the same)

Second Grade

New Shoes for Silvia by Johanna Hurwitz (Time passing)

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin (making a connection)

The Wall by Eve Bunting (the pictures set the mood, what is the mood or emotion the author wants you to feel)

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto (problem and solution)

Going Home by Eve Bunting (Wonderful Language and what does the author mean by)

Abuela by Arthur Dorros (Telling the difference between realistic fiction and fiction within a story and how both genres can be used within a story)